Earlier today, we pointed out that Fox & Friends host Steve Doocy had provided Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) with a forum to accuse the Obama administration of creating a "Nixonian type enemies list" based on their draft executive order to require federal contractors to be more transparent with their political donations. Now Fox's "news" shows are running with the smear.
In a segment on America Live, Alisyn Camerota and Mike Emanuel pushed claims that under the proposal, "if you've given to Republican candidates, well maybe you won't get a federal contract."
Later in the hour, NDN's Simon Rosenberg pointed out that this claim is ridiculous, since much of the information the draft order deals with is already disclosed, with the order extending the disclosure to new, currently undisclosed political contribution streams:
CAMEROTA: Even if it isn't intended to be a blacklist, couldn't it somehow be abused where if you find, "Oh, interesting, this contractor has given to Republican candidates, perhaps I'm not interested"?
ROSENBERG: All of that information is already publicly available. If these companies have political action committees, then the money that they already give out to federal officeholders has been publicly available for generations.
Indeed, information on companies' political action committee donations and contributions from their officers is already publicly available online. If the Obama administration wanted to find out who those companies were giving to and use that information to inform their contracting decisions, they could do so currently through publicly available information. Note that neither Issa nor Fox has uncovered any instances of this actually occurring.
Indeed, one company, KBR, held more than $4.5 billion in federal contracts last year, seventh in the country, while giving 93 percent of its PAC's donations to Republicans. And Congressional Quartely Weekly reported in February that KBR is continuing to get government contracts during the Obama administration: "[T]he Army told reporters last year that the company, now called KBR, would have no competition and would get another extension worth $568 million to support U.S. forces in Iraq through the end of this year" (retrieved via Nexis).
As to former Bush White House aide Brad Blakeman's complaint that the information shouldn't be disclosed as part of the bidding process, the draft order makes clear that the information is being collected from bidders and distributed on the Internet precisely so that taxpayers can see it and have information on the degree to which contracting decisions are being influenced by corporate money.
As Rosenberg points out, it's curious that conservatives don't want this information out there if they don't have something to hide.
Yesterday on Fox & Friends, network "attack poodle" and possible Bin Laden deather Steve Doocy put on an absolute clinic on how to interview a GOP congressman - if you're a Republican shill whose goal is to help him levy attacks on the Obama administration.
This is not particularly surprising; Fox & Friends is famous for conducting Charmin-soft interviews of Republican officeholders and candidates. But it's worth taking a look at just how Doocy uses his position to bolster, rather than challenge, his guest, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA).
Doocy opened the interview with a statement, not a question, noting that "some lawmakers" are blaming "industry regulations" for high gas prices because they restrict U.S. drilling. Of course, this is a faulty premise; energy experts and Fox's own Stuart Varney have said that those lawmakers are wrong and that gas prices would be high regardless of U.S. drilling.
But rather than challenge Issa with those facts, Doocy simply set up the premise that Issa agreed with, introduced him, and let him tee off on the administration.
Doocy responded to Issa's attack by agreeing it was true, then asked the congressman if he believed "this administration wants lower gas prices," or if they want gas prices to rise to reduce consumption. Issa replied, "I think you hit it right on the head," agreeing that Obama wants gas to be expensive.
Doocy then moved on to another topic Issa wanted to talk about, raising the issue of a draft executive order to increase transparency in the political donations of federal contractors that the congressman will be attacking in a hearing this week. Doocy asked Issa, "you feel that this could be a way to punish the enemies of the White House. Right?" Issa replied, "absolutely," before claiming that if the order was implemented, there "could be a Nixonian type enemies list in the making."
You would think that Doocy would pause at the invocation of President Nixon, especially since Issa was discussing what "could" happen while citing absolutely nothing to support the idea that it "would" happen. Nope! Instead, he replied, "And the thing about an executive order, and I don't have to tell you, Congressman, is the fact that when the president issues something like that, then he does an end run around the will of the Congress."
Issa responded "absolutely," then accused the Obama administration of compiling an "enemies list" a few more times. Doocy again declined to take issue with the characterization, bringing the interview to a close and adding, "Didn't know about some of that."
It's hard to imagine how that's possible, since he was the one setting up every statement Issa made.
Conservative media figures have claimed that the National Labor Relations Board is seeking to ban companies from moving to states with lax labor laws by filing a complaint against Boeing's decision to move the production facility for its new 787 Dreamliner to South Carolina. In fact, the NLRB's general counsel has alleged that Boeing moved its 787 production line in retaliation for strikes by Boeing workers at its Seattle-area plant, which, if proven true, constitutes a clear violation of federal labor laws.
From the May 9 edition of Fox News Channel's The O'Reilly Factor:
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From the May 9 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Glenn Beck Program:
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John Stossel -- who believes that private businesses should have the right to engage in racial discrimination -- devoted another segment of his Fox Business show to attacking the Pigford lawsuit that provided recompense to black farmers who were victims of systemic discrimination by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Stossel set the segment up as a debate between Al Pires, a lawyer who represented the black farmers, and serial liar Andrew Breitbart, who has attacked Pigford as part of his eight-month smear campaign against former USDA official Shirley Sherrod, who first came to prominence after Breitbart posted a deceptively-edited video of a speech she gave that falsely portrayed her as a racist.
Stossel and Breitbart didn't make any new claims about Pigford. Rather, they rehashed the same tired distortions that we've previously debunked -- that the case is a "scam" and the claimants don't deserve their money.
But the segment was notable for Stossel's refusal to acknowledge that there was real, systematic discrimination against black people by the USDA. Recall that back when Stossel argued that "private businesses ought to get to discriminate" on the basis of race and called for the repeal of part of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, he at least acknowledged that the government should not discriminate.
In this case, there is clear evidence that the government discriminated against black farmers. As the Congressional Research Service found, a report commissioned by USDA revealed that "from 1990 to 1995, ... minorities received less than their fair share of USDA money for crop payments, disaster payments, and loans." Furthermore, the federal judge overseeing the Pigford case also found that there was systemic discrimination against black farmers.
But just like the last time he did a segment on Pigford, Stossel refused to acknowledge that discrimination had occurred, preferring instead to attack the people claiming discrimination and their attorneys.
From the May 5 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
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A couple of months ago, J. Christian Adams put up the following breathless headline on the Pajamas Media blog: "Bombshell: Justice Department Only Selectively Complies with Freedom of Information Act (PJM Exclusive)." In the post, Adams claimed that the Obama Justice Department has "politicized compliance with the Freedom of Information Act. According to documents I have obtained, FOIA requests from liberals or politically connected civil rights groups are often given same day turn-around by the DOJ. But requests from conservatives or Republicans face long delays, if they are fulfilled at all."
If anyone had asked us, we would have warned them not to take the bait without closely double-checking Adams' claims. After all, Adams is a long-time Republican activist who appears to be willing to promote any falsehood in order to attack President Obama's Justice Department. However, Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee did fall for Adams' claims, pressing DOJ on whether it has politicized FOIA responses.
As we've noted, Attorney General Eric Holder has already testified that he looked into the issues raised by Adams' blog post and "I can assure you there is no ideological component with regard to how we can respond to FOIA requests." Now, the Justice Department has sent a detailed response to a letter from Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) answering Adams' claims, and the response shows that the "bombshell" Adams touted was actually a total dud.
It turns out that Adams' claims are based on falsehoods and apples-to-oranges comparisons. In fact, the letter shows that Adams even lied about the FOIA request made by his own organization, Pajamas Media, in his original post.
In a Pajamas Media blog post, New Black Panthers fabulist J. Christian Adams reports on a request from the town of Southbridge, Massachusetts to the Justice Department to monitor upcoming elections. Adams thinks that he's really trapped the Obama DOJ in a way that proves his central theory that the Obama DOJ is willing to protect minorities from voter discrimination but not willing to protect white people.
Unfortunately for him, he's entirely wrong about why the town is requesting monitors. His trap unravels quickly after that.
Adams claims that the town is requesting monitors because of a recently posted billboard in the town which recommends people voluntarily show identification at the polls. Adams responds:
So what is more intimidating: black panthers with billy clubs, or billboards urging citizens to voluntarily show photo identification? I'd lay odds that right now inside the Voting Section, you'd find more votes for the billboard. The two photos, the lady on the billboard vs. the black panthers, serve as a DOJ Rorschach test. Hold both up, and watch what happens in the next few weeks.
Adams is correct that Latino advocates have said that the billboard is "meant to intimidate Latino voters." But that's not why Southbridge asked for DOJ monitors. As you can read by clicking on one of the links that Adams helpfully includes in his post, the town contacted DOJ in response to Tuesday's election. During that election, according to the town clerk and a local judge, Latino voters were allegedly targeted for intimidation by tea party groups.
J. Christian Adams sure packed a lot of falsehoods and poisonous comments into one op-ed attacking the Obama Justice Department. As we've already pointed out, Adams falsely claimed that DOJ "stopped the debut of the Amazon Kindle." He also employed falsehoods and smears to attack Justice Department attorney Varda Hussain because of her prior work representing detainees at Guantanamo Bay.
But that's not all. Adams also has the audacity to attack the Justice Department for employing an attorney who used to work for D.C. Legal Aid Society, an organization that provides attorneys for residents of Washington, DC, who are involved in civil court cases but are too poor to afford attorneys.
In a piece for the Washington Examiner, Adams writes:
Who did Holder pick to head the unit inside civil rights to bring civil rights lawsuits against police departments and prisons? Why none other than Jonathan Smith, formerly of the Prisoners Legal Services Project and the D.C. Legal Aid Society, two anti-police and anti-prison guard antagonist groups. Hopefully America's police unions will take note of Smith's hiring when deciding presidential endorsements next year.
What's so bad about the D.C. Legal Aid Society and the Prisoners Legal Services Project?
The D.C. Legal Aid Society states that it provides "civil legal aid to individuals, families and communities in the District who could not otherwise afford to hire a lawyer." You would think the civil rights division would be a good place for someone whose career includes providing legal representation to those who can't afford it.
Indeed, the ethical rules for District of Columbia attorneys state: "A lawyer should participate in serving those persons, or groups of persons, who are unable to pay all or a portion of reasonable attorney's fees or who are otherwise unable to obtain counsel."
So, rather than paint Smith as "anti-police" for his work at the D.C. Legal Aid Society, one might say that Smith was fulfilling his ethical duties as an attorney to provide representation to those who can't afford it.
New Black Panthers fabulist J. Christian Adams attacked Department of Justice attorney Varda Hussain for previously defending terror suspects and suggested she was one of the purported "activist lawyers" hired by the Obama DOJ. But Hussain is one of several attorneys hired during the Bush administration who previously represented Guantanamo Bay detainees, and several Bush administration officials have criticized attacks against lawyers who represented terror suspects as "inappropriate" and "wrong."
If you are wondering if there was any lie about the Obama Justice Department so absurd that even New Black Panthers fabulist J. Christian Adams wouldn't push it, today is the day to eat some crow.
In an op-ed in The Washington Examiner, the rightwing activist cites as an example of "bizarre cases have come out of the Holder Civil Rights Division" that "DOJ stopped the debut of the Amazon Kindle because it was not in Braille." Problem 1 with this claim: the Kindle debuted in 2007, during the Bush administration. Problem 2: DOJ didn't block the Kindle's debut.
Adams seems to have a lot of trouble getting the facts right on this; back in August 2010, he offered the similarly false claim that Amazon "tried to sell a talking Kindle reader, but Justice said it couldn't because the button to make the Kindle talk didn't have Braille."
Here's what actually happened: In June 2009, the National Federation of the Blind and the American Council of the Blind filed suit against Arizona State University on behalf of a bind student after the university announced plans to participate in a pilot program to use the Kindle DX in the classroom. ASU was one of several universities to participate in this program. According to NFB, the program was in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act because:
The Kindle DX features text-to-speech technology that can read textbooks aloud to blind students. The menus of the device are not accessible to the blind, however, making it impossible for a blind user to purchase books from Amazon's Kindle store, select a book to read, activate the text-to-speech feature, and use the advanced reading functions available on the Kindle DX.
The advocacy groups also filed complaints with DOJ, which began an investigation of the use of Kindle in classrooms. The impact of these efforts was swift and positive for the blind. Under pressure, Amazon began improving the Kindle to be more accessible to the blind. In January 2010, the groups -- joined by DOJ -- settled with ASU, citing "making improvements to and progress in the accessibility of e-book readers" and the university's agreement that they would "strive to use devices that are accessible to the blind.
In the fifteen days following Megyn Kelly's June 30, 2010, interview hyping the unsubstantiated allegations of right-wing activist J. Christian Adams, six Fox News shows devoted 95 segments and more than eight hours of airtime to the phony New Black Panthers scandal. By contrast, those shows have devoted a total of two segments and 88 seconds to the Justice Department's release of the results of an internal investigation clearing DOJ officials of any wrongdoing or misconduct in that case.
I'm sure you are shocked to read this, but J. Christian Adams, the former DOJ attorney and Republican activist who has been the prime mover of the New Black Panther Party conspiracy theory, is not moving on with his life now that the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility has found no evidence of wrongdoing in the DOJ's handling of the case. Instead, Adams is using his platform at the right-wing blog Pajamas Media to continue his attacks.
In an appearance yesterday on PJTV, Adams claimed that the report showed "there's more amazing things that the taxpayers would be shocked that this is how the Justice Department runs law enforcement." Specifically, Adams highlighted that Steve Rosenbaum, a senior DOJ attorney who called for the trial team to be overruled and the case be narrowed, suggested that the trail team "should go out in the community, the investigators should talk to people, 'What do you think about the Black Panthers? What's their reputation? Do you kind of know them?'" Adams added, "It was this crazy, 'You didn't do enough investigation because you didn't see what people's feelings were.'"
Adams is carefully extracting what he apparently considers a laughable idea from Rosenbaum's extremely damning criticism of the trial team's failure to adequately investigate the case. From the report, regarding Rosenbaum's review of the trial team's J Memo as of May 14, 2009:
Rosenbaum said that, in his opinion, the information in the J Memo reflected an incomplete factual investigation. Rosenbaum Transcript at 307. He was surprised at the absence of basic information about the specifics of what transpired at 1221 Fairmount Avenue on election day, such as how long the NBPP members were present or what Jackson did or said after Samir Shabazz left. Id. at 306, 308. Rosenbaum said he expected a memorandum that described the NBPP team's efforts to contact witnesses, such as contacting both the Republican and Democratic officials who may have been present; interviewing all of the poll watchers and poll workers to determine what they saw or heard; interviewing people who lived or worked in the building, to determine if they had witnessed the incident, or if Jackson and Samir Shabazz were known in the community and how they were regarded. Id. at 307-09. Rosenbaum said the NBPP team also could have accessed the voter list to try to contact voters who may have witnessed the incident, particularly if they were able to identify individuals who voted in the morning. Id. At 308-09. Instead, Rosenbaum noted, it appeared that the factual investigation was based largely on talking only to Republican party members who - were in Philadelphia or at the polling place, without including the accounts of Democratic party officials or other people who were present at the polls that day. [emphasis added]
I can see why Adams wants to talk about Rosenblum's alleged excessive attention to "people's feelings" rather than his criticisms of the trial team's failure to even attempt to find an intimidated voter for their voter intimidation case, or the coincidental way all the poll watchers and poll workers they interviewed happened to be Republicans.
That said, Adams' criticism of Rosenbaum makes no sense in and of itself.
Along with clearing the Obama Justice Department of wrongdoing in its handling of the New Black Panther Party voter intimidation case, showing that an Obama administration appointee said that the case could not be dismissed in full, and revealing that the NBPP trial team seemed to withhold exculpatory information in its dealing with senior Justice Department attorneys, the Office of Professional Responsibility's report appears to clear up a loose end that has long gone unexplained -- and exposes the trial team as petty, deceitful, and incompetent.
One of the original claims made by former DOJ attorney, GOP activist, and conservative blogger J. Christian Adams in his first Fox News interview on the case was that one of the senior Justice Department attorneys who overruled the trial team's recommendations "hadn't even read the memos which detailed all of the facts and the law before he started arguing against the case." According to Adams, this indicated that for that lawyer, Steve Rosenbaum, "the mind was mind up," supposedly due to political partisanship and the Obama administration's unwillingness to enforce the law in a race-neutral manner. From the interview:
MEGYN KELLY: You say there is evidence that they did not review the facts of this case and even the briefs of this case.
ADAMS: Yeah. It's obviously false that they knew all the evidence. They -- Steve Rosenbaum hadn't even read the memos which detailed all of the facts and the law before he started arguing against the case. The mind was made up.
And it was so derelict and so corrupt that Chris Coates actually threw the memo at Rosenbaum and said, "How dare you make these arguments without even knowing what's in the briefs?"
Adams was making these claims based on his conversations with Christopher Coates, who had been the head of the Voting Section at the time of the case, about Coates' May 1, 2009, meeting with deputy Voting Section chief Robert Popper and Rosenbaum and Loretta King, both of whom were senior career DOJ attorneys who were serving as acting deputy assistant attorney general and acting assistant attorney general. At that meeting, King and Rosenbaum criticized the trial team's handling of the case.
In a September 2010 hearing before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Coates said that he would not testify "about the statements made during my meetings with Ms. King and Mr. Rosenbaum because of the DOJ's assertion of the deliberative process privilege." An October 2010 Weekly Standard article on the case based largely on interviews with the trial team reports only that the meeting led to "two days of shouting."
The OPR report appears to indicate that the statement that Rosenbaum "hadn't even read the memos" is based on Rosenbaum's lack of familiarity with a parenthetical reference in one of those memos that did not even make the point about which he was inquiring to the trial team.