CNN omits GOP criticism of Black Panther investigation

Blog ››› ››› TODD GREGORY

The trumped-up allegations that the Obama Justice Department engaged in racially charged "corruption" in its handling of the New Black Panther Party case jumped from Fox News to CNN this morning. Anchor Kyra Phillips hosted Republican activist J. Christian Adams, whom she referred to as a "whistleblower," to repeat his unsubstantiated accusations, which are based on hearsay and charges made by other people.

One of the on-screen graphics described Adams' allegations as "Voter intimidation scandal at Justice Dept.":

During the segment, Phillips discussed the Commission on Civil Rights' investigation into the case with Ashley L. Taylor Jr., a Republican member of the commission. Phillips said that the investigation has "divided" the commission and that two commissioners were Democrats. She then read a portion of a statement from Michael Yaki, a Democratic member of commission, that criticized the commission's months-long investigation as "incredibly shallow," "partisan," and "a one-sided farce."

But Yaki isn't the only member of the commission to criticize its investigation -- Abigail Thernstrom, the Republican vice chair of the panel, has done the same.

Thernstrom, who is an adjunct scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and former senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, said during testimony for the commission in April, "I do not think that this inquiry has served the interests of the Commission as being a bipartisan watchdog for important civil rights violations, and I do not believe it has served well the party to which I belong."

Similarly, Thernstrom wrote in a July 6 National Review Online article:

Forget about the New Black Panther Party case; it is very small potatoes. Perhaps the Panthers should have been prosecuted under section 11 (b) of the Voting Rights Act for their actions of November 2008, but the legal standards that must be met to prove voter intimidation -- the charge -- are very high.

In the 45 years since the act was passed, there have been a total of three successful prosecutions. The incident involved only three Panthers at a single majority-black precinct in Philadelphia. So far -- after months of hearings, testimony and investigation -- no one has produced actual evidence that any voters were too scared to cast their ballots. Too much overheated rhetoric filled with insinuations and unsubstantiated charges has been devoted to this case.

A number of conservatives have charged that the Philadelphia Black Panther decision demonstrates that attorneys in the Civil Rights Division have racial double standards. How many attorneys in what positions? A pervasive culture that affected the handling of this case? No direct quotations or other evidence substantiate the charge.

Thomas Perez, the assistant attorney general for civil rights, makes a perfectly plausible argument: Different lawyers read this barely litigated statutory provision differently. It happens all the time, especially when administrations change in the middle of litigation. Democrats and Republicans seldom agree on how best to enforce civil-rights statutes; this is not the first instance of a war between Left and Right within the Civil Rights Division.

Posted In
Elections, Voting Rights & Issues, Government, Cabinet & Agencies
Kyra Phillips, J. Christian Adams
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