Eric Holder

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  • Conservative Media Advocated For Illegally Keeping Immigrant Students Out Of School, And Now It’s Actually Happening

    ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G.

    Right-wing media figures have for years advocated in favor of denying undocumented immigrant students access to public education,and now an Associated Press investigation reports that it may be happening "in at least 35 districts in 14 states." These policies may be not only unconstitutional -- according to a Supreme Court ruling that specifically bans public school districts from denying enrollment to children based on their immigration status -- but also illegal under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act.

  • How Fox News' Primetime Lineup Demonized Black Lives Matter In 2015

    Blog ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    In 2015, Fox News' three primetime hosts engaged in a smear campaign against the Black Lives Matter movement, fearmongering about the alleged threat they pose to law and order and hyping racist canards aimed at discrediting the movement's calls for justice.

    The Black Lives Matter movement -- which emerged after the 2013 shooting death of black teenager Trayvon Martin -- became a regular news fixture in 2015 following the high-profile deaths of several unarmed black civilians at the hands of police officers. The movement brought national attention to the issues of police brutality and racial disparities in criminal justice. One group associated with the movement introduced a set of concrete policy solutions, and the movement as a whole became a politically relevant force amid the 2016 presidential race.

    In response, Fox's primetime lineup -- Bill O'Reilly, Megyn Kelly, and Sean Hannity -- spent the year disparaging the movement, caricaturing Black Lives Matter as extreme and dangerous while downplaying the problem of police brutality.

    Accusing Black Lives Matter Of Extremism

    At the forefront of Fox's primetime coverage of Black Lives Matter has been an effort to cast the movement as a radical, militant group that poses a threat to law and order.

    The network has primarily sought to disparage the Black Lives Matter movement by likening them to marginalized hate groups by and large rejected from mainstream society. In October, Sean Hannity decried the Democratic National Committee's decision to approve a presidential town hall hosted by groups associated with Black Lives Matter, asking "why don't you let the [Ku Klux] Klan host a party?" Bill O'Reilly bemoaned that "the rise of fascism on American college campuses" has been "no doubt encouraged by groups like Black Lives Matter and other radical concerns," and once equated the Black Lives Matter movement to the Nazi Party, reasoning that they are both "extreme group[s]."

    Bill O'Reilly has also outright labeled Black Lives Matter a "hate group," claiming they "want [police officers] dead":

    BILL O'REILLY: I think they're a hate group, they hate police officers ... they hate them, they want them dead.


    They're a hate group and I'm going to tell you right now I'm going to put them out of business. And any media person who supports them, I'm going to put them on this program and put their picture right up on the air.

    Fox's top hosts have also suggested that Black Lives Matter protesters and demonstrations endanger social cohesion and nationwide safety. After a video went viral in June showing a white McKinney, Texas police officer manhandling a black teenage girl, pinning her to the ground and drawing his gun on other black teens, Bill O'Reilly opened his June 9 show with a segment titled "The War On Cops." In the segment, which included b-roll of Black Lives Matter protesters interspersed with footage of riots, O'Reilly stoked fears about the possibility of a "war between the police and minorities in America," charging that "anti-police zealots are given wide latitude to spew their hatred and irresponsible ravings." O'Reilly gave the police in the video a pass, instead noting that "there is a growing disrespect for police officers in some American neighborhoods" and arguing that "that attitude is going to lead to violence."

    Fox's primetime line-up also baselessly connected the Black Lives Matter movement to the September death of a Fox Lake, Illinois police officer. Megyn Kelly labeled the death a "murder," noting that "it comes just days after" a Texas sheriff claimed the death of a deputy was inspired by Black Lives Matter. Bill O'Reilly asked whether "the Black Lives Matter crew and other radicals are igniting violence against cops." The officer's death was later ruled a suicide.

    Fox's primetime hosts have also fixated on extreme comments of random protesters to discredit the Black Lives Matter movement as violent extremists. On August 29, a small group of protesters at the Minnesota State Fair protesting police brutality chanted "pigs in a blanket, fry 'em like bacon." Black Lives Matter organizers distanced themselves from the controversial chant, but in the following months, O'Reilly, Kelly, and Hannity repeatedly invoked the chant to decry the Black Lives Matter movement as a whole. Fox's Juan Williams called out the ploy on Hannity:

    SEAN HANNITY: Your Democratic Party is going to allow the "pigs in a blanket, fry them like bacon" group to host a Democratic forum? What's wrong with your party? ... Talk about killing cops? Fry them like bacon?

    JUAN WILLIAMS: I don't think that they were serious by the way. You guys make this into, like that was the anthem of all Black Lives Matter. This was a group making some offhand remarks.

    HANNITY: Oh no? That was the Black Lives Matter movement.

    WILLIAMS: You tried to connect it to the death in Houston. It had nothing to do with it.


    HANNITY: Right, the "pigs in the blanket, fry them like bacon" group.

    WILLIAMS: I don't think that's fair.

    HANNITY: Larry, is that fair? That's their group. That's their chant. They did it.

    In response to the chant, Megyn Kelly remarked, "You're supposed to put on somebody from the Black Lives Matter movement to represent their side of the story," but asked "why should we be listening to someone who speaks like that?"

    Inviting Extreme Guests To Attack Black Lives Matter

    When they're not demonizing Black Lives Matter themselves, Fox's primetime hosts invite extreme right-wing commentators to do the job for them.

    Megyn Kelly hosted notorious right-wing race-baiters Ron Hosko and Mark Fuhrman to discuss Black Lives Matter, crime, and policing over a dozen times in 2015, and in doing so mainstreamed and legitimized some of the most racist impulses of the right-wing.

    Ron Hosko is the president of the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund, a conservative nonprofit that "prop[s] up right-wing organizations to which they have ties." Hosko has made inflammatory remarks in the past about policing, once calling former Attorney General Eric Holder "chief among the antagonists" of unrest in Ferguson, Missouri. Hosko also suggested that Darren Wilson, the police officer who shot Michael Brown, had been symbolically lynched, claiming that Eric Holder wanted cops to "watch" the lynching and that Holder should "cut Darren Wilson down from that tree."

    In keeping with his record of disparaging comments, Hosko frequently attacked the Black Lives Matter movement on Kelly's show. On the September 1 edition of The Kelly File, after the Fox Lake police officer was found dead and Fox News rushed to associate the death with Black Lives Matter, Megyn Kelly asked Hosko about President Obama's response to instances of police brutality. Hosko quickly pivoted towards attacking Black Lives Matter:

    MEGYN KELLY: [President Obama] always gives a shout out to the cops when he comments on this matter. But the critics have said, Ron, whenever he compliments the cops or, you know, pays tribute to the hard work they do, there is always a but. You know, but, we have seen this epidemic. But, you know, young black men have good reason to fear. But we have this problem that the cops are responsible for, and so on.

    RON HOSKO: We have. And too often it does seem like it is superficial, like it's something he has to say, not something he feels strongly about or truly believes in. Here we have a movement with hundreds of people standing behind a Black Lives Matter banner discrediting themselves. They have done it before. When is it time for senior administration officials to discredit them, as well? These are people who are tugging as hard as they can and tearing at the fabric of trust between our community and law enforcement. It is time to push them to the margins.

    Mark Fuhrman, a Fox contributor and former detective for the Los Angeles Police Department, is a regular on both The Kelly File and Hannity. Fuhrman has a record of racist comments that he has made publicly and privately, including using the word n***** more than 40 times over a 10 year period. Yet despite Fuhrman's problematic past statements regarding race and policing, he regularly appears on Fox during primetime to disparage the Black Lives Matter movement. On the one-year anniversary of the death of Michael Brown, Fuhrman derided peaceful demonstrations in Ferguson as "gang members and street drug dealers ... just hanging out" and "taking advantage of a hesitant police department," lamenting that the protesters always "just take more and more."

    Sean Hannity frequently hosts Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke to discuss crime and policing. Clarke, himself an African-American, has called Black Lives Matter "an ideology of victimhood with a list of grievances that do not exist" while appearing on Hannity, and said that the endorsement of Black Lives Matter by Democratic politicians is "plantation politics."

    O'Reilly often invites former Fox host Glenn Beck onto The O'Reilly Factor. Beck has equated politicians speaking to Black Lives Matter supporters to "choosing death." Fox commentator Bernie Goldberg once lamented to O'Reilly that networks "were all showing [Black Lives Matter protesters'] good racial manners" instead of their "bad racial manners" due to "white liberal guilt because of slavery."

    Linking Black Lives Matter To Criminality

    Fox News' primetime hosts have also been quick to caricature Black Lives Matter protesters as criminals, implying that if black people didn't rob, join gangs, use drugs -- so the story goes -- they wouldn't be subjected to such heavy policing. The hosts have repeatedly seized on events that have inspired Black Lives Matter protests, deriding victims of police brutality and black communities broadly in an attempt to discredit the Black Lives Matter movement.

    In May, after Black Lives Matter protesters took to the streets in Baltimore to protest the death of Freddie Gray, Sean Hannity blamed the community reaction on a "tragic wave of violent crime" in American cities "with no end in sight." Hannity then attempted to lecture black activists about crime in the black community, mocking the idea that racism could be a root cause of violence in Baltimore.

    Megyn Kelly is notorious in her own right for shaming and blaming black victims of police brutality. Kelly suggested that Sandra Bland's death could be due in part to her failure to obey the police officer, arguing that her death could have been averted if she had just "compl[ied] and complain[ed] later." Kelly also interjected that the black teenage girl manhandled by a McKinney police officer "was no saint either," after bemoaning that people had "made this into a race thing."

    Characterizing Black Lives Matter protesters or black victims of police brutality as criminals occurs within a broader context of Fox News implying that there is something inherently criminal within black communities. After a nine-year-old boy was killed by gun violence in Chicago, Bill O'Reilly argued that the people perpetrating violence in Chicago have "no conscience at all ... and do what they want" and claimed that violence in Chicago comes from a "culture that is sociopathic." He also suggested that Chicago's high incidence of violence "never improves" "because these deaths are in the black precincts" and "in the white precincts ... this would never happen." Megyn Kelly once bemoaned the "anti-cop ... thug mentality" she sees in "black communities." And throughout 2015, Sean Hannity has aired several segments linking black-on-black crime to the "problems" in black communities. 

    Fox's obsession with black criminality highlights how the network dissuades largely-white audiences from believing that police brutality is indicative of systemic racism, working to mainstream the notion that injustices in the black community are deserved. As media outlets disproportionately misrepresent black people as criminals, Fox's primetime hosts help to "[reinforce] a culture in which the benefit of the doubt is not distributed evenly" and "inaccurate and harmful stereotypes" of black criminality are pervasive. The network's portrayal of black communities as "out of control and replete with danger" consequently "reduces [white people's] empathy and heightens animosity," all to distract from or even excuse police brutality.

    The reality is that black people still face incredibly disproportionate rates of police brutality, unarmed killings, and incarceration. Black people are more than twice as likely than white people to be murdered by police. In 2015 alone, nearly 70 unarmed black people have been killed by law enforcement.

    And yet, instead of embracing these facts, Fox News has impugned Black Lives Matter, fearmongering about the movement's potential and blaming them for the very injustices that befall the black community.

  • WSJ Lists Debunked Right-Wing Myths On Holder's Civil Rights Record As His "Worst Overreaches"

    Blog ››› ››› MEAGAN HATCHER-MAYS

    Following Eric Holder's announcement that he was resigning, The Wall Street Journal attacked the legacy of the nation's first black attorney general by repeating debunked descriptions of his civil rights work and accusing him of turning the Department of Justice "into a routine instrument of social and racial policy."

    On September 25, Holder announced that he will step down as soon as his replacement is confirmed. Right-wing media were quick to celebrate, with Fox News host Andrea Tantaros calling him one of the "most dangerous men in America" because "he ran the DOJ much like the Black Panthers would" and Fox and ABC News contributor Laura Ingraham asking, "What are the race-baiters going to do now?"

    The Journal joined the opportunity to bash Holder's civil rights legacy as attorney general, claiming in an editorial that he "explicitly turned the Justice Department into a political weapon." The editorial specifically attacked Holder's efforts to curb racial discrimination in hiring, to promote desegregation in Louisiana schools, and to fight election restrictions that violate the Voting Rights Act:

    Mr. Holder also turned Justice into a routine instrument of social and racial policy. Under the former head of the Civil Rights Division, Thomas Perez (now Secretary of Labor), Justice used "disparate impact" analysis to force racial adjustments on cities, police and fire departments and banks. The settlements were not based on proven racial discrimination, as traditionally required, but on arcane statistical analyses.

    Among Mr. Holder's worst overreaches was filing suit last year to block Louisiana's private-school voucher program. That program overwhelmingly helps the state's poorest minority families escape bad schools. No matter, Justice's statistical cops said the program was unbalancing the "racial identity" of public schools by admitting too many black children into better schools.

    In July 2012 the Attorney General invoked the specter of Jim Crow amid a presidential campaign. In a speech to the NAACP, he likened voter ID laws to "poll taxes," an argument rejected by the Supreme Court in 2009.

    These three specific complaints have been among right-wing media's favorite myths about Holder and his successful civil rights track record at the DOJ.

  • Stalin, The Nazis And A Serial Killer: The Villains Right-Wing Media Compared To Eric Holder


    The announcement that Eric Holder would resign as attorney general was met by renewed attacks on his tenure by conservative pundits, continuing a long tradition of ugly right-wing smears against President Obama's top law enforcer. Here is a selection of the worst villains that right-wing media have compared Holder to over the years:

    Al Qaeda

    In a June 5, 2013 fundraising email, Fox News contributor and former Republican Congressman Allen West claimed Holder was a "bigger threat to our Republic" than terrorist Ayman al-Zawahiri, who took control of al Qaeda after Osama bin Laden's death. West also suggested Holder was guilty of treason. On June 7, he appeared on Fox & Friends to discuss his smears with sympathetic co-host Brian Kilmeade.

    Joseph Stalin

    On the January 10 edition of his radio show, Rush Limbaugh called Holder a "Stalinist" for announcing that the federal government will recognize same-sex marriages in Utah.

    LIMBAUGH: Eric Holder, the Attorney General of the United States says that the federal government will recognize same-sex marriage in Utah for the purpose of federal benefits despite the Utah governor's directive not to, pending the Supreme Court's review of the state's ban. So the states, when you've got people like Holder and Obama in office, it doesn't matter what governors do, it doesn't matter what the people of the state want. What Holder and Obama want is what's going to happen. Holder does not have this kind of power or authority but he does if nobody's going to stop him or challenge him.


    LIMBAUGH: You have the Attorney General engaging in executive actions, executive orders. Just as if Obama were to do it. Stalinists, folks.

    George Wallace 

    National Review Online published an editorial on September 4, 2013 criticizing the Obama administration's blocking a Louisiana school voucher program. NRO compared Holder to George Wallace, the notorious Alabama governor who attempted to illegally maintain school segregation. From the editorial:

    It was 50 years ago this June that George Wallace, the Democratic governor of Alabama, made his infamous "stand in the schoolhouse door" to prevent two black students from enrolling at an all-white school. His slogan was "Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever!"

    These many years later, Democrats still are standing in the schoolhouse door to prevent black students from enjoying the educational benefits available to their white peers, this time in Louisiana instead of Alabama. Playing the Wallace role this time is Eric Holder, whose Justice Department is petitioning a U.S. district court to abolish a Louisiana school-choice program that helps students, most of them black, to exit failing government schools.

    The New Black Panthers

    On the August 22 edition of Fox News' The Five, co-host Andrea Tantaros claimed in a discussion about the protests in Ferguson, MO that "Eric Holder is one of the biggest race-baiters in this entire country." She added that Holder runs the Department of Justice "like the Black Panthers would...allowing them to be outside that polling place was absolutely abominable" -- a reference to a favorite Fox smear that Holder improperly dismissed voter intimidation charges against members of the New Black Panther Party.

    Serial Killer And Cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer 

    Washington Times columnist and National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent claimed Obama's decision to have Holder and Vice President Biden lead the administration's gun safety task force was akin to "hiring Jeffrey Dahmer to tell us how to take care of our children."


    In 2011, Mike Vanderboegh, a blogger featured on Fox News, repeatedly posted a manipulated photograph of Eric Holder dressed in a Nazi uniform:


  • Fox News Thinks Eric Holder Is Pushing For Illegal Gay Marriages

    Blog ››› ››› LUKE BRINKER

    Fox News is blasting Attorney General Eric Holder for allegedly telling state attorneys general that they don't have to enforce their states' gay marriage bans. In reality, Holder merely instructed the attorneys general that they don't have to defend such bans in court if they deem the laws unconstitutional.

    It's unclear if Fox is misreading or simply willfully distorting what Holder actually said, but either way, the network is wrong.

    Addressing the National Association of Attorneys General on February 25, Holder stated that if state attorneys general conclude that their gay marriage bans violate core constitutional principles like equal protection under the law, they're not obligated to defend those bans in court. Holder also explicitly stated that attorneys general shouldn't base such decisions on "policy or political disagreements" and should stick to legal analysis of the bans' constitutionality.

    Holder's guidance doesn't mean that marriage equality bans won't be enforced while they're still in effect. However, an attorney general does have the option of refusing to defend laws that he or she believes won't survive judicial scrutiny. In such circumstances, other parties may then intervene to defend a law on the state's behalf. That's precisely what's currently happening in the court battle over Kentucky's same-sex marriage ban.

    This isn't Fox News' first baseless attack on Holder when it comes to the defense of anti-gay marriage laws. It was only three years ago that Megyn Kelly asserted Holder had decided not to enforce the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) after the Obama administration dropped its defense of the law in court. But the administration kept enforcing DOMA as the law of the land until the Supreme Court struck down its core provision last summer.

    Three years later, it appears that Fox remains unable - or unwilling - to get its facts right.

  • Right-Wing Media Accuse Holder of Lawlessness For Confirming Federal Benefits For Same-Sex Marriages in Utah

    Blog ››› ››› MEAGAN HATCHER-MAYS

    Right-wing media are already spinning falsehoods and fear-mongering about the federal government's administrative decision to recognize federal marriage benefits for same-sex couples who were married in Utah.

    On December 20, a federal judge ruled that Utah's ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. Shortly thereafter, state officials began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. However, on January 6, the Supreme Court of the United States temporarily blocked the ruling as an appeal progressed -- halting the issuance of marriage licenses and causing a great deal of confusion for those couples who had already exchanged vows under state law.

    In light of that confusion, Attorney General Eric Holder announced on January 10 that for purposes of federal law, legally married couples affected by the ruling would in fact be eligible to apply for federal marriage benefits while the litigation worked its way through the courts. As Holder observed, one of the core holdings of the landmark marriage equality decision of United  States v. Windsor is that the federal government is prohibited from discriminating against lawfully performed same-sex marriages.

    Nevertheless, right-wing media were quick to overreact to Holder's announcement, with Rush Limbaugh accusing him of acting like "Stalinists." National Review Online joined Limbaugh in condemning Holder, calling it another example of the "lawlessness of the Obama administration." From The Rush Limbaugh Show:

    LIMBAUGH: So the states, when you've got people like Holder and Obama in office, it doesn't matter what governors do, it doesn't matter what the people of the state want. What Holder and Obama want is what's going to happen.  Holder does not have this kind of power or authority, but he does if nobody is going to stop him or challenge him.


    So the law doesn't mean anything. Existing law doesn't mean anything if changes to it are being contemplated, and so the people of Utah -- same-sex marriage, yes, no, are now victims, and the federal government is just going to ride in and wave the powerful magic wand and say, "This is the way it's gonna be."  So who needs governors?  You have the attorney general engaging in executive actions, executive orders, just as if Obama were to do it.  Stalinists, folks.

    There is nothing lawless about the federal government making a determination about the disbursement of federal benefits. Doing so does not usurp the state's authority to recognize or acknowledge certain relationships for the purposes of state benefits. Holder's statement today does not require Utah or any other state to recognize same-sex marriages. Rather, it provides some certainty to couples whose marriages were legal under state law at the time they were performed. Among others, this legal opinion has been offered by Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, who informed state officials that "marriages between persons of the same sex were recognized in the state of Utah between the dates of December 20, 2013 until the stay on January 6, 2014. Based on our analysis of Utah law, the marriages were recognized at the time the ceremony was completed."

  • Fox News: New IRS Investigation Isn't Fair Because DOJ Follows The Law

    Blog ››› ››› MEAGAN HATCHER-MAYS

    Fox News continued to attack the Department of Justice (DOJ) attorney selected to investigate the IRS targeting scandal because she has donated money to President Obama's past campaigns, ignoring the fact that it is illegal for DOJ to take such donations into consideration in assigning investigators.

    Last year, Obama announced an investigation into claims that the IRS was unfairly targeting conservative non-profit groups. Barbara Bosserman, senior legal counsel of the DOJ's civil rights division, was selected to head up the investigation. Despite Bosserman's extensive qualifications, right-wing media have been quick to call her objectivity into question based on the unremarkable fact that she is one of the millions of Americans who contribute to Democratic political candidates. Right-wing media also ignored the fact that it would be illegal for the DOJ to take her political affiliations into consideration when managing her professional advancement.

    In a January 10 segment on Fox & Friends, Fox contributor and attorney Peter Johnson, Jr. joined host Steve Doocy to complain that, regardless of the outcome, the DOJ's investigation of the IRS is "tainted" because of Bosserman's campaign contributions.

    JOHNSON: The Justice Department says, don't look at those campaign contributions. Let us look at what those campaign contributions are, totaling about $6,000.


    So Ms. Bosserman, who I'm sure is a fine lawyer, is tainted by these contributions. Tainted by these contributions. And so we expect her to put all of that aside, put all her political procliviites aside, and say "I'm going to be fair now, to this. I'm for the president, I've given repeatedly, but I'm going to give these poor tea party people -- who have been screwed over, big time -- a fair shake."

    DOOCY: You know, this would be like -- with the Chris Christie thing, a US Attorney is looking into it, who is appointed by Barack Obama -- this would be like Chris Christie appointing somebody to investigate the bridge thing.

    JOHNSON: You don't have to go to law school, all you have to have is a sense of fairness and justice, and ethics, and a sense of Americanism. Now the DOJ says, "No it's OK, we can do this. A spokeswoman said, "it is contrary to department policy and a prohibited personnel practice under federal law to consider the political affiliation of career employees or other non-merit factors in making personnel decisions." So what they're saying is, that person could give $15,000, $20,000 --

    DOOCY: A million!

    Johnson and Doocy quickly dismiss the DOJ's explanation that it would be a violation of federal law for the agency to remove Bosserman from the investigation based on her political leanings. But their skepticism of DOJ is completely unfounded, and it is their suggestion of discriminating against Bosserman that is both improper and illegal. 

  • Fox Host Welcomes Allen West To Network After He Calls Holder "Worse Threat" Than Al Qaeda

    Blog ››› ››› ELLIE SANDMEYER

    A Fox News host warmly welcomed former Republican Congressman Allen West to "the team" after he said that Attorney General Eric Holder is a bigger threat to Americans than the leader of Al Qaeda.

    In a June 5 fundraising email, West claimed that Attorney General Holder was a "bigger threat to our Republic" than terrorist Ayman al-Zawahiri, a former deputy of Osama bin Laden, who took control of al Qaeda after bin Laden's death. West also used a quote from the ancient philosopher Cicero to imply that Holder was guilty of treason.

    The June 7 edition of Fox & Friends gave West a platform to expand on his smear. West answered co-host Brian Kilmeade's question about why he claimed Holder was as dangerous as al-Zawahiri by pointing to Cicero's claim that a nation "cannot survive treason from within" and "[a] murderer is less to fear, the traitor is the plague." West charged Holder with having "the arrogance of officialdom," and claimed that "When the rule makers are not adhering to the rule of law, then the very foundations of this great nation will start to crumble."

    Co-host Brian Kilmeade took a moment at the end of the segment to thank West for his input and welcome him to the Fox News team:

    KILMEADE: Lt. Col. Allen West, always swimming against the tide, telling us how he feels. It's great to have you on board and a member of the team. 

    Fox & Friends teased West's appearance by airing a graphic showing Holder and al-Zawahiri, which asked "who's the bigger threat?"

    Fox News has previously hyped calls for Holder's resignation.

  • CNN Botches Key Facts In Holder Story

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Reporting that House Republicans are investigating whether Attorney General Eric Holder lied to Congress during his recent testimony about Justice Department seizures of communications records in connection with a national security leak investigation, CNN's Dana Bash misstated key facts of the controversy. In so doing, CNN helped bolster the hollow claims of Republicans  -- wildly hyped by Fox News -- that Holder may have perjured himself.

    On May 15, Holder appeared before Congress to answer questions about the revelation that the Department of Justice had seized phones records from the Associated Press covering a two-month period and had done so without notifying the news organization. The seizure was part of an investigation of the leak of classified information published by the wire service.

    During the hearing, Holder was asked if prosecutors could charge journalists with a crime if they published leaked material.

    Holder said that was a bad idea: "With regard to the potential prosecution of the press for the disclosure of material - that is not something I've ever been involved in, heard of, would think would be wise policy." [Emphasis added.]

    Since then, it was revealed that Fox News' James Rosen had been described as "at the very least, either as an aider, abettor and/or co-conspirator" in a 2010 FBI affidavit in support of warrant seeking permission to look through the reporter's phone records as well as the contents of his personal email account. The FBI was looking for correspondences with then-State Department security adviser Stephen Jin-Woo Kim, who has been charged with leaking classified information to Rosen about North Korea in 2009. Holder approved of the  warrant request. (Rosen was never charged with a crime.)

    Using his May 15 testimony, Republicans and Fox hosts have pounced, claiming Holder contradicted himself.

    As CNN explained it (emphasis added): 

    Though he testified in a May 15 Congressional hearing that he's "never heard of" the press being potentially charged for obtaining leaked material, it has since been reported that he signed off on the Justice Department's decision to seek a search warrant in 2010 for Fox News reporter James Rosen's private e-mails as part of a leak probe.

    That was CNN's first mistake: In the Congressional testimony cited, Holder did not address the idea of charging reporters with a crime for "obtaining leaked material," as CNN suggested in its report. Instead, Holder said he had never been involved with potentially charging a reporter for "the disclosure of material." (i.e. Obtaining and disclosing materials are two different acts.)

  • 17-Year-Old Speech Latest Pretext To Link Holder, Fast And Furious

    Blog ››› ››› CHRIS BROWN

    Another chapter in the right-wing media's campaign against Attorney General Eric Holder was launched yesterday as they attacked Holder's efforts to discourage people from violating the District Of Columbia's gun laws as detailed in a speech Holder gave in 1995. Not surprisingly the 17-year-old speech about trying to convince young men not to illegally carry guns instantly became the latest excuse to use the ATF's failed Operation Fast and Furious to attack Holder.

    Following's release of a short portion of Holder's speech, Glenn Beck's The Blaze, The Daily Caller and's own Mary Chastain all pushed the highly tenuous connection to Operation Fast and Furious. As Media Matters noted this morning, Holder's speech addressed his role of U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia and efforts to teach young people in the city that "it's not hip to carry a gun anymore," an action that was illegal in the District Of Columbia at the time.

    The Blaze opened with the suggestion that "New video of Eric Holder from 1995 has surfaced, and it may put "Fast and Furious" in a much broader perspective." The Daily Caller similarly suggested a connection saying "The revelation that Holder wanted to "brainwash" people into being "anti-gun" appears to be supported by what Congress and the American people have learned about Operation Fast and Furious."'s Chastain asserted that Fast and Furious was about providing Holder with "material" for the "anti-gun curriculum" described in this 1995 speech.

    Despite a tremendous amount of hand waving, these attacks fail to personally link Holder to the initiation or approval of the controversial tactics used in Fast and Furious. As accurately noted by Charlie Savage in his December New York Times profile of Holder, "no documents or testimony" have disproved Holder's statement that he didn't know about Fast and Furious as it was underway.

    Further, Bush-era investigations featured similar 'gun walking' tactics as those used in Fast and Furious. Rather then suggesting those investigations were gun control plots, Fox News and right-wing media outlets rushed to defend the Bush-era programs. The Democratic staff of the House Oversight Committee released a report in January documenting the three similar operations conducted under the Bush administration out of the ATF's Arizona offices.

    Neither the Bush-era gun walking investigations or the dearth of evidence regarding Holder's purported connections to the tactics used in Fast and Furious have slowed down the right-wing media's increasingly nonsensical attacks against Holder.