Is there a phony right-wing attack WaPo's Ombudsman won't promote?

Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

Last Thursday, the Washington Post reported on the phony New Black Panther Party controversy, under the ludicrous headline "2008 voter-intimidation case against New Black Panthers a political bombshell."

In May, months prior to the publication of the Post article, Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez testified to the Commission on Civil Rights that the Bush Justice Department chose not to pursue criminal charges in the case because it "determined that the facts did not constitute a prosecutable violation of the criminal statutes."

Again, that testimony has been public for months, and the fact that the Bush DOJ decided not to pursue criminal charges against members of the New Black Panther Party for alleged voter intimidation was easily found on Media Matters' web site -- among other places -- for more than a week before the Post article ran.

But the Washington Post made no mention of the fact that George W. Bush's Justice Department determined that there was insufficient evidence to pursue a criminal case -- which is kind of a big deal, given that the right-wing allegation is that Barack Obama's Justice Department is going easy on the NBPP. Instead, the Post reported: "Justice officials who served in the Bush administration have countered that the department had enough evidence to pursue the case more fully and called the decision to narrow it political."

Then Washington Post Ombudsman Andrew Alexander weighed in, praising the Post article for having "succinctly summarized the issues." Like the original Post article, Alexander didn't mention that the Bush DOJ had found insufficient evidence to support a criminal case.

Like the Post article, Alexander didn't mention that J. Christian Adams, the right-wing activist behind the attacks onto Bush administration, worked in the Bush DOJ, having been hired "under a process the DOJ Inspector General later determined was improperly influenced by politics." That's kind of a big deal, given that he is accusing the Obama DOJ of being improperly influenced by politics.

Like the Post article, Alexander glossed over Adams' history of right-wing activism. Alexander wrote only: "Liberal bloggers have accused Adams of being a right-wing activist (he insisted to me Friday that his sole motivation is applying civil rights laws in a race-neutral way)." But Adams' history isn't simply something "liberal bloggers" have alleged; it's fact. It's a fact that he filed an ethics complaint against Hillary Clinton's brother -- a complaint that was dismissed. It's a fact that Adams was a volunteer with the Republican National Lawyers Association. It's a fact that Adams was a 2004 Bush campaign worker.

Like the Post article, Alexander failed to mention that Adams has admitted he doesn't have first-hand knowledge to support his attacks.

Like the Post article, Alexander failed to mention that no voter -- not a single one -- has claimed to have been intimidated by the NBPP. That's kind of a big deal, given that the attack on the Obama DOJ is that it's going easy on NBPP voter intimidation.

To sum up: Prior to the publication of the July 15 Washington Post article, the following facts were known:

  • J. Christian Adams, the person claiming the Obama DOJ going easy on a voter intimidation case because of political considerations, was himself hired by the Bush DOJ under a process the Department's IG has concluded was "improperly influenced by politics."
  • Adams has a history of conservative activism, including an ethics complaint against a Democrat that was dismissed.
  • Adams has admitted lacking first-hand knowledge to support his attacks.
  • The Bush DOJ concluded there wasn't sufficient evidence for a criminal case.
  • Not one voter has alleged intimidation.

None of those facts appeared in the Washington Post article. Not one. But Washington Post Ombudsman Andrew Alexander bizarrely praised the article for having "succinctly summarized the issues" and criticized the paper for not having covered the bogus controversy sooner.

Long before Alexander's column appeared, Civil Rights Commission vice chair Abigail Thernstrom, a conservative Bush appointee, repeatedly debunked and blasted the right-wing "fantasies" of "toppl[ing]" the Obama administration over the NBPP non-scandal. Thenstrom's name does not appear in Alexander's column.

And, as Salon's Joan Walsh has reported, Alexander touted a reader complaint about the Post's lack of coverage of the non-scandal without revealing that reader's partisan background:

The Post's "silence," Alexander complains, "prompted many readers to accuse The Post of a double standard. Royal S. Dellinger of Olney said that if the controversy had involved Bush administration Attorney General John D. Ashcroft, 'Lord, there'd have been editorials and stories, and it would go on for months.'"

First, a note to Alexander: Royal S. Dellinger of Olney, a former Reagan administration labor official, was last seen online attacking federal mortgage insurers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and complaining about President Obama in Sarah Palin's words: "We have a community organizer running the government, and I ask, "Does the response to the Gulf oil spill look organized?'" Though the letter was apparently written to the Wall St. Journal, I only found it posted online at, a Web site for Sig Sauer gun enthusiasts (who don't seem terribly enthused about Obama). Dellinger is apparently a regular righty letter to the editor writer,defending the Tea Party and opposing cap and trade legislation. Ironically, two years ago he was also quoted in former Post ombudswoman Deborah Howell's column complaining that the Post had been too easy on Rev. Jeremiah Wright. (Why not just make Dellinger the Post ombudsman?)

Gee, sort of seems like Alexander should have disclosed Dellinger's background, doesn't it?

This, by the way, is not the first time Andrew Alexander has criticized the Washington Post for being too slow to repeat bogus right-wing attacks. Last September, Alexander devoted a column to criticizing the Post for taking too long to parrot the right's attacks on ACORN, noting "several explosive hidden-camera videos" of ACORN "employees giving tax advice to young conservative activists posing as a prostitute and her pimp." The Post, Alexander suggested, "simply [doesn't] pay sufficient attention to conservative media or viewpoints."

But it turned out that those tapes, according to prosecutors, had been "edited" by the conservative activists in order "to meet their agenda." One of the activists ended up pleading guilty to breaking the law during one of his undercover stunts. They are, in short, entirely untrustworthy.

Did Andrew Alexander follow up on his column once it became clear that the ACORN story was bunk and the conservative activists whose videos he touted were merely scam artists? Nope. He hasn't written a word about the story since his column last September that chided the Post for not paying more attention to the likes of James O'Keefe. He just moved on to promoting the latest bogus conservative attack.

UPDATE: And Alexander completely ignored the obvious race-baiting at the heart of this bogus story.

The Washington Post
James O'Keefe, Andrew Alexander
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