The conservative media is divided on anonymous sources: Some right-wing media figures have been hyping a claim by an anonymous source that Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is "likely involved with the sexual harassment" allegations against Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain. At the same time, however, other conservative media figures have tried to cast doubt on the sexual harassment allegations against Cain by pointing out that they are based on anonymous sources.
In an American Spectator blog post, Jeffrey Lord opined on the Fox 2012 Primary, writing that Karl Rove is "wrong," in his criticisms of Christine O'Donnell's unsuccessful, Palin-backed candidacy for the Delaware Senate race. Lord wrote that Rove's criticism "is setting the boundaries for a very serious discussion to come."
From Lord's November 2 American Spectator post headlined, "Rove Gets It Wrong: O'Donnell's Loss is Conservative Win":
What startles in the Karl Rove declaration that there is a "lesson" in the defeat of Christine O'Donnell is that he simply doesn't get it.
Ms. O'Donnell deserves conservative thanks.
Karl Rove is setting the boundaries for a very serious discussion to come.
It's more than a month until Election Day, but it seems conservatives are already scraping the bottom of the barrel for baseless attacks on Democratic Delaware Senate candidate Chris Coons.
First up is Jeffrey Lord of The American Spectator. Lord -- who we last saw trying to parse whether Shirley Sherrod was "lying" about a relative being lynched because only two people were involved in the act, a position so ridiculous that even his fellow Spectator writers wouldn't back him up -- attacked Coons' work as a college student with the South African Council of Churches. Why? Because Coons was "emerging as a leftist," and thus "decided he had some sort of obvious attraction to the work of SACC," which "support[ed] Black Liberation Theology." Things get tangential from here, as Lord plays Six Degrees of Black Liberation Theology (with a brief stop at Rev. Jeremiah Wright) to depict the SACC has having "pro-Marxist, pro-socialist, anti-capitalist views." Lord proclaimed, "Now, the liberation theology chickens that Chris Coons was supporting in Africa have come home to roost in America."
Lord overlooks a few things. Like: What is the one thing people think of when they think of South Africa in the 1980s? Apartheid. And what was one of the leading groups fighting apartheid in that country? The South African Council of Churches. Bishop Desmond Tutu, a prominent anti-apartheid leader and recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, is a former secretary-general of SACC, and Nelson Mandela praised the group as being among those who "resisted racial bigotry and held out a vision of a different, transformed South Africa."
Isn't it more logical that Coons was attracted to working for the SACC over its anti-apartheid stance? Yep. Does Lord make that connection? Nope -- he's too invested in his convoluted conspiracy theory.
And since we're on the subject of defending Andrew, let me disassociate myself with this reprehensible effort. I have no idea what Jeffrey Lord was drinking or smoking, but Breitbart doesn't need friends like this. I'm not sure anyone does.
In other Lord news, he was back defending his claims in an interview with TPM Media this morning.
Jeffrey Lord is now defending himself in the comments section of fellow American Spectator writer James Antle's post criticizing Lord's comments about Shirley Sherrod and the lynching of Bobby Hall.
The results are not pretty.
Lord is now claiming -- and this is not a joke -- that he never personally claimed that Bobby Hall was not lynched, that he just pointed out that the Supreme Court supposedly said he hadn't been lynched.
Lord, responding to Antle's criticism of his argument:
I confess I am continually astonished at the notion that the lynching standards are MY standards. I simply said what the Court said ... the color of law business comes straight from the decision, written by William O. Douglas and signed onto by Hugo Black, Stanley Reed, Chief Justice Stone. Wiley Rutledge later made the fifth vote.
Lord, in his original piece:
Plain as day, Ms. Sherrod says that Bobby Hall, a Sherrod relative, was lynched. As she puts it, describing the actions of the 1940s-era Sheriff Claude Screws: "Claude Screws lynched a black man."
This is not true. It did not happen.
More comparisons of Lord's latest defense with his prior comments below the fold.
Experts on the history of lynching are criticizing an American Spectator report which claimed that Shirley Sherrod's statement that her relative Bobby Hall was lynched was "factually, provably untrue."
In his article, Jeffrey Lord, a former Reagan administration official, said that because Hall was beaten to death, rather than hanged, Sherrod's statement that Hall had been lynched was a "straight out fabrication." Lord's article has come under fire, both from other American Spectator writers and from progressive bloggers and columnists, since its publication on July 26.
"I don't know how in the world you can say" Hall's death is "not a lynching," said Christopher Waldrep, a professor of history at San Francisco State University. "People at the time had no question that it was a lynching. I mean, there was no particular debate." Waldrep has authored several books on lynching, including The Many Faces of Judge Lynch: Extralegal Violence and Punishment in America, in which he discusses the Hall case.
Michael Pfeifer, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and the author of Rough Justice: Lynching and American Society, 1874-1947, likewise concluded that "Jeffrey Lord's reasoning is fallacious" and "profoundly ahistorical." Pfeifer added that while the word "lynching" "has always eluded simple, consensus definitions," its use "was most often, but never exclusively, hanging (shootings, beatings, burnings, etc. were also called 'lynchings')."
"The term had no official definition," agreed Illinois State University professor Amy Wood, author of Lynching and Spectacle: Witnessing Racial Violence in America, 1890-1940. Wood said that anti-lynching activists used varied definitions in the first half of the last century, but "No definitions of lynching limited it to hanging."
While Lord continues to dispute Sherrod's statement that Hall was lynched because lynching supposedly requires "mob action" and "Three people are not a 'mob,'" Wood says that "the NAACP (which had the most influence in crafting anti-lynching legislation) defined lynching as an extralegal killing, committed by at least 3 person in the name of justice or tradition." Pfeifer adds that "by the early to mid twentieth century racially motivated murders perpetrated by small groups -- as opposed to large mobs -- became most characteristic of such violence."
Asked for comment, University of North Carolina professor Fitzhugh Brundage, author of Lynching in the New South: Georgia and Virginia, 1990-1930, said that "Sherrod's use of the term is well within the conventions that both blacks and whites have recognized for at least a century." He also calls Lord "clearly insensitive to the ways in which African Americans used the term lynching," given what he terms an "historical imprecision of the term lynching in general."
Brundage also identified a flaw in Lord's argument that the Supreme Court agreed that Hall was not lynched because they did not identify his death as a lynching in the ruling in which the case ultimately resulted. Brundage commented, "The Supreme Court would have had no reason to label Sheriff Screws' actions a lynching; there was no federal statute against lynching so the Court would have no reason to invoke the language of lynching in its decision."
Waldrep similarly identified Lord's Supreme Court argument as "kind of crazy" and "nuts," saying that the Supreme Court did not address the issue of whether Hall was lynched in their decision because it was "not the question they were being asked."
Waldrep went on to say that while they did not address whether Hall was lynched in their decision, the Court was well aware that his death was a lynching. He cited 16 pages of notes taken by Justice Frank Murphy during the Court's private discussions on the case, in which Murphy quoted Justice Robert Jackson stating that if they upheld the convictions of Hall's murderers, they would have effectively created the federal anti-lynching statute that had failed to make it through Congress. "They knew full well it was a lynching," said Waldrep. "That was the problem."
According to Waldrep, Murphy's notes are published in Del Dickson's The Supreme Court in Conference (1940-1985): The Private Discussions Behind Nearly 300 Supreme Court Decisions. The notes are "readily available," said Waldrep. Finding them "doesn't take any great feat of detective work."
Jeffrey Lord begins his July 26 American Spectator article with this provocative assertion:
Shirley Sherrod's story in her now famous speech about the lynching of a relative is not true. The veracity and credibility of the onetime Agriculture Department bureaucrat at the center of the explosive controversy between the NAACP and conservative media activist Andrew Breitbart is now directly under challenge. By nine Justices of the United States Supreme Court. All of them dead.
Actually, not so much (except for the part about the Supreme Court justices in question being dead -- Lord did get that right).
Lord is writing about a reference in Sherrod's now-famous speech to a county sheriff in segregation-era Georgia by the name of Claude Screws. To summarize the case: Screws and two other law enforcement officials arrested a black man named Bobby Hall at his home on a warrant over a theft charge; he was handcuffed and taken to the courthouse. According to the Supreme Court ruling that this case ultimately resulted in, when Hall got out of the car at the courthouse, Screws and his companions began beating him with fists and blackjacks, and continued beating for as much as a half-hour after Hall had been knocked to the ground. Hall was then dragged feet first through the courthouse yard into the jail. He was later taken to a hospital, where he died. Screws and his companions claimed that Hall had reached for a gun and had used insulting language against them, but there was also evidence that Screws had a grudge against Hall and threatened to "get" him. Screws and his companions were convicted of depriving Hall of his civil rights; that conviction was appealed to the Supreme Court, which in 1945 essentially overturned Screws' conviction on a technicality over jury instructions.
"Claude Screws lynched a black man," Sherrod said in her speech. This is false, Lord asserts. Why? Because Screws and his companions didn't use a rope, and the court ruling didn't use the word "lynching."
From the November 11 edition of CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight:
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From the November 11 edition of CNN's The Lou Dobbs Show:
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As part of their smear campaign against Obama Education Department official Kevin Jennings, conservative media figures including Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, and Ann Coulter have compared Jennings to film director Roman Polanski, stating -- in the words of Fox News contributor Kirsten Powers -- that "there needs to be zero tolerance for this kind of stuff," specifically citing Jennings and "the Roman Polanski stuff." Thus, media conservatives are smearing Jennings -- who counseled someone who was of age at the time and who has said he did not have a sexual relationship -- with the outrageous suggestion that he is comparable to Polanski, who was charged with rape and pleaded guilty to having sex with a girl who was 13 at the time after allegedly plying her with drugs and alcohol.
In recent weeks, several conservative media figures, echoed by Republican lawmakers, have responded to comparisons in the media of President-elect Barack Obama to FDR, or assertions in the media that a New Deal-level of government intervention will be necessary to resolve the current economic crisis, by asserting that the New Deal was a dismal failure, plunging the 1930s economy into a depression, an assertion that prominent progressive economists flatly reject.