Video ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF & TOM ALLISON
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Yesterday, Fox News contributor Kirsten Powers poked holes in Megyn Kelly's campaign to promote the phony scandal involving the Department of Justice's handling of the New Black Panther voter intimidation case. Kelly told Powers: "You don't know what you're talking about." But it was Kelly who made false and misleading statements to back up her case.
During the interview, Kelly told Powers: "And unlike you, I have read the testimony before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, and Bartle Bull, a lifelong Democrat who worked for Robert F. Kennedy was given a civil rights award by Ted Kennedy, who happened to be at the polling station that day, testified that this was the worst case of voter intimidation...he had ever seen in his life." In fact, if Kelly read Bull's testimony, she would have known that Bull himself acknowledged that he was "troubleshooting on Election Day for the McCain Campaign." Bull also told Kelly that that he "didn't like Obama from the beginning" and "thought he was a hustler." Bull currently serves as chair a campaign to draft Rudy Giuliani to run for New York Governor.
When Powers asked Kelly if she asked conservative activist J. Christian Adams "about when he was in the Bush administration and how politicized that office was and how they only hired conservatives and how there's an entire GAO report?" Kelly responded: "If you watched the interview -- I have asked him." She later commented: "I did. I asked him." Kelly did ask Adams about complaints from the left that "the voter registration requirements of the voter registration law were not being followed" and calls for then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales needed to do more, asking: "What you're alleging now Christian, is it just politics? A tit-for-tat?" Kelly did not, however, ask Adams about his role as conservative activist and "exhibit A" of the politicized hiring in the Bush Justice Department.
Powers also told Kelly: "I cannot believe that this one case, after all the cases that were dismissed during the Bush administration, is getting the amount of attention that it's getting. I find it absolutely shocking." Kelly responded: "Let me tell you why. Because the voting place is sacrosanct." Kelly made no effort to square her current outrage with reports that the Bush Justice Department declined to pursue similar allegations against members of the Minutemen, one of whom reportedly carried a gun in 2006 while harassing Hispanic voters in Arizona. The incident was reportedly referred to the FBI, but as Thomas Perez testified, the DOJ "declined to bring any action for alleged voter intimidation" "when three well-known anti-immigrant advocates affiliated with the Minutemen, one of whom was carrying a gun, allegedly intimidated Latino voters at a polling place by approaching several persons, filming them, and advocating and printing voting materials in Spanish."
For weeks, Fox News has been hyping J. Christian Adams' discredited allegations that the Department of Justice has "a hostility in the voting section and in the civil rights division to bringing cases on behalf of white victims for the benefit of national racial minorities." Predictably, right-wing media quickly used the phony controversy to race-bait, attempting to connect the Obama administration to the New Black Panther Party -- a designated hate group. Fox News' Glenn Beck, for example, said on his radio show that the New Black Panther Party represented "the kinds of people that our president aligns himself with," and Fox News' David Asman accused Obama of "defending racists" by "letting the Black Panthers off." More recently, Megyn Kelly, the biggest Adams cheerleader of them all, devoted airtime interviewing New Black Panther President Malik Shabazz. This episode follows a pattern of Fox highlighting this radical fringe group over the years.
Republican Vice-Chair of the Commission on Civil Rights Abigail Thernstrom said in April that a line of questioning establishing that the New Black Panther Party was a fringe hate group was not relevant to the Justice Department's handling of the case, or to the Commission's dubious investigation into the DOJ, saying it did not "really get to the matter of the internal DOJ decision to dismiss this lawsuit. "Yet Fox News has recently focused the story on the NBPP itself, seemingly portraying Obama's Justice Department as defenders of an organization that is labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
The Anti-Defamation League describes the New Black Panther Party as "the largest organized anti-Semitic and racist black militant group in America." But research compiled by Media Matters shows that for years this fringe hate group has essentially had an open invitation to appear on Fox News, amounting to at least 51 appearances by its members. And that's only on primetime shows that are available in the Nexis database.
After the jump is a list of more than fifty instances Fox has hosted a member of the NBPP:
J. Christian Adams' discredited accusations that President Obama's Justice Department engaged in racially charged "corruption" in the New Black Panther Party case are being promoted and defended by a slew of former Justice Department officials connected to the Bush-era DOJ and its "legacy of politicized hiring."
Media figures have emphasized the fact that the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights is technically "bipartisan" to hype its investigation of the Justice Department's actions in the New Black Panther Party case. In reality, the commission's chair has acknowledged that conservatives "gam[ed] the system" and packed the panel with conservative activists, and the commission's two Democrats, as well as one Republican, have criticized the investigation.
While promoting the U.S. Civil Rights Commission's "kangaroo court" hearings into the Justice Depatment's decision not to pursue additional charges against members of the New Black Panther Party Fox has begun playing reel after reel of NBPP footage, notably President Malik Zulu Shabazz and Minister King Samir Shabazz screaming about wanting to kill "cracker babies."
But as Republican Vice-Chair of the Commission Abigail Thernstrom pointed out back in April, the investigation into the DOJ's decision to drop some of the charges hinges on whether allegations of voter fraud can be substantiated, not whether NBPP is a bad group. We know NBPP is a bad group.
In April Thernstrom criticized her fellow commissioners for a line of questioning that attempted "to establish the fact that the New Black Panther Party is exactly as they describe themselves...not a pretty picture" saying that that line of questioning didn't "really get to the matter of the internal DOJ decision to dismiss this lawsuit."
But Fox keeps promoting the NBPP's radical views and violent aspirations: Megyn Kelly just dedicated airtime to an interview with President Malik Zulu Shabazz. I guess scary makes for great television. Just look at those uniforms, those berets, that nightstick. The truth is, these guys are jokers, a cartoon of a legitimate political voice in America. They deserve as much media credence as any other hate group that the Southern Poverty Law Center tracks. Fox's obsession with highlighting them -- particularly focusing on video of the NBPP that was captured prior to Election Day 2008 -- says absolutely nothing about the DOJ's decision not to pursue additional charges. It simply suggests that the Obama administration is actively defending a radical racist group.
In a Washington Post op-ed, Mitt Romney makes false and misleading assertions to claim that the strategic missile reduction treaty with Russia "jeopardizes our missile defense system." In fact, the head of the Missile Defense Agency testified that "the new START treaty actually reduces constraints on the development of the missile defense program."
Steve Doocy falsely claimed that the Justice Department "still has not explained why they dropped the case" against members of the New Black Panther Party. However, Assistant Attorney General Tom Perez testified that a "default judgment was sought and obtained" against a defendant carrying a nightstick and that DOJ attorneys concluded that "the evidence did not support" additional charges.
Megyn Kelly and GOP activist J. Christian Adams deceptively cited Justice Department official Thomas Perez's testimony to accuse the DOJ of racially motivated corruption in its handling of a voter-intimidation case against members of the New Black Panther Party. In testimony Kelly avoided mentioning, Perez made clear that the DOJ did, in fact, obtain a judgment against one defendant and also explained that the Bush-era DOJ chose not to pursue a similar case.