The Right-Wing Media's Nonsense Attacks On Attorney General Nominee Loretta Lynch

Loretta Lynch, President Obama's pick to replace Eric Holder as the U.S. attorney general, is a highly regarded and well-qualified federal prosecutor who has support from law-enforcement authorities and politicians on both sides of the aisle. But that hasn't stopped right-wing media from mounting a smear campaign to thwart Lynch's nomination. With reports indicating that GOP leadership may yet again block an up-or-down vote on Lynch's nomination, here are some of the most nonsensical arguments against her confirmation and facts that media outlets have missed -- or misrepresented -- about Lynch.

Conservative Website Accuses Loretta Lynch Of Being A Different Woman, Who Worked For The Clintons

In a rush to find fault in Obama's well-qualified nominee, the right-wing website Breitbart.com managed to attack the wrong Loretta Lynch, not once, but twice. In a November 8 post, Breitbart.com writer Warner Todd Huston claimed that “few are talking about” the fact that Lynch defended the Clintons during the Whitewater probe in 1992 -- probably because it wasn't the same Loretta Lynch who was nominated. After learning of the mistake, Breitbart.com noted at the bottom of the one article that was not taken down, “The Loretta Lynch identified earlier as the Whitewater attorney was, in fact, a different attorney.”

Right-Wing Media Failed To Paint Lynch As A Partisan Radical -- But It's True She Was A Sorority Sister

Right-wing media have also tried to paint Lynch as a dangerous partisan. National Review's Hans von Spakovsky characterized Lynch as “on the side of radical” because she supported the Department of Justice's legal challenges against strict voter ID laws, which are based on half a century of modern civil rights precedent. Fox Business host Lou Dobbs complained that Lynch's membership in the historically black sorority Delta Sigma Theta was “controversial” because Holder's wife pledged at the same time. It is true: At times, she has defended civil rights, and she once belonged to a well-known sorority.

Senate Republicans Relied On Right-Wing Media's Favorite Guests During Lynch's Confirmation Hearing

Senate Republicans turned to some of right-wing media's go-to contributors to turn Lynch's confirmation hearing into what Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) called a “sound bite factory for Fox News.” The Republicans' witness list included:

  • Conservative journalist Sharyl Attkisson, who has brought a lawsuit against the DOJ alleging that “the government” illegally surveilled her three computers and phones in retaliation for her reporting on the Benghazi attacks and the “Fast and Furious” investigation
  • Catherine Engelbrecht, a Tea Party activist who has claimed that the DOJ's litigation against unnecessarily strict voter ID laws is a “radical, racialist assault on voting rights”
  • Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke, who has claimed that Obama encouraged violence in Ferguson, Missouri, after the shooting death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown
  • Jonathan Turley, the lawyer representing House Republicans in their lawsuit against the president

When Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) asked if any of them had a problem with Lynch's nomination for attorney general, none of them raised their hands -- they were there to complain about their favored right-wing media topics, and they did.

Right-Wing Media Got Lynch's Comments On Immigration Backward

In her confirmation hearing, Lynch testified that, as a prosecutor, she would “want to retain the ability” to bring charges on a case-by-case basis, “even if it was an area that was not an immediate priority.” In a January 28 post, Breitbart.com mistook that statement to be proof that Lynch had “effectively admit[ted]” that Obama's recent program of deferring deportations for certain undocumented immigrants “far exceeds any reasonable definition of prosecutorial discretion.” In reality, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has exercised its discretion in the past to deny 32,000 deferred-action applicants, and the current form the agency uses to assess applications explicitly lists  “exercise of discretion” as one reason for denial.

Right-Wing Media Took Lynch's Praise Of The Immigrant Work Ethic Out Of Context, Completely Ignored Her Clarification

National Review also misconstrued Lynch's testimony to argue that the Senate should “resist” her nomination. In a January 29 editorial, National Review took Lynch's testimony about whether undocumented immigrants have the right to work completely out of context. During her confirmation hearing, Lynch testified that “the right and the obligation to work is one that's shared by everyone in this country regardless of how they came here.” Later during that same hearing, she clarified that she did not believe there was a federal right to work, but “was making a personal observation based on the work ethic that's been passed down to me by family, not a legal observation.”  National Review ignored this clarification in order to claim that Lynch's position was “constitutionally insupportable.”

Media Missed The Truth About Republican Opposition to Lynch -- They Are Grasping At Straws

A handful of Republican senators have already announced that they will reject Lynch's nomination, including Sen. David Vitter (R-LA). During Lynch's confirmation hearing, Vitter held up an oversized copy of a federal law that he claimed put the attorney general in charge of immigration decisions. Because of this law, Vitter said, Obama's immigration order was illegal because it gave the secretary of homeland security the responsibility instead. In reporting on Vitter's opposition, media outlets missed the fact that the statute cited by Vitter was not only irrelevant to deferred action, but also that it had been superseded by a federal law passed in 2002. As Vitter's colleague Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) pointed out later in the hearing, the law “no longer assigns responsibility for immigration policy to the attorney general. The provision that [Vitter] quoted, and another provision which more directly authorizes what President Obama has done, are to be implemented by the secretary of homeland security.”