Fox baselessly links Obama and Holder to New Black Panthers case, but their key witness says otherwise

Fox News figures have used J. Christian Adams' unsubstantiated allegations to suggest that President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder were involved in the Justice Department's decision in the New Black Panthers case. However, Adams himself testified that he had no “indication” that the decision involved anyone “higher up” than an acting assistant attorney general.

Adams testifies he had no “indication” higher-ups were involved in decision

Adams: No “indication” of involvement by higher-ups. As The American Prospect's Adam Serwer noted, during his July 6 testimony before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Adams was questioned about who was involved in the decision to pursue a civil penalty against one of the defendants, King Samir Shabazz, and drop other charges in the case (from Page 35):

MR. [David] BLACKWOOD [general counsel, DOJ Office of General Counsel]: Was there any indication that anyone higher up than Loretta King [then the acting assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division] or Steve Rosenbaum [then the acting deputy assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division] was making the decision to override the six career attorneys who said the case should go forward?

MR. ADAMS: None that I had any indication of.

Hyping Adams' testimony, Fox figures baselessly assert Obama and Holder were involved

Kelly: "[B]rand-new evidence ... suggest[s] the decision to dump this case ... may have come from the Oval Office." On the July 12 edition of America's Newsroom, Megyn Kelly teased an interview with former Bush DOJ official Hans von Spakovsky by saying, "[S]erious allegations today that the decision to drop the now-infamous voter-intimidation case against members of the New Black Panther Party may have reached all the way to the White House." She later said, "[B]rand-new evidence in that now-dropped voter-intimidation case against the New Black Panther Party. Details breaking now that suggest the decision to dump this case after it had already been won may have come from the Oval Office. We look inside the White House guest book."

Kelly: DOJ official might be “taking his marching orders from some White House lawyer.” During the interview, Kelly asked von Spakovsky if he thought the case had “been discussed by [then-deputy White House counsel] Cassandra Butts and President Obama.” Von Spakovsky said in reply: “I think it's certainly a possibility.” Kelly concluded: "[I]f you've got the top -- the number three official going over to the White House and taking his marching orders from some White House lawyer who may or may not have been pressured by the NAACP, it's a problem."

Beck: “Obama comes in and decides suddenly in May of 2009 to drop the case.” On the July 12 edition of his Fox News show, Glenn Beck said:

Now, this is supposedly a open-and-shut case. And it was. Bush started the prosecution before the end of his term.

But then Obama comes in and decides suddenly in May of 2009 to drop the case. Here's where it gets interesting, because a former DOJ official ends up resigning in protest over the case. He testifies last week about it and he says, “There's something really wrong.”

O'Reilly: Holder's “failure to prosecute is simply a dereliction of his sworn duty.” On the July 12 edition of his Fox News show (accessed from the Nexis database), Bill O'Reilly accused network news of “ignoring Attorney General Eric Holder not prosecuting three Black Panthers who allegedly intimidated voters in Philadelphia” and commented: “Now, as far as Mr. Holder is concerned, his failure to prosecute is simply a dereliction of his sworn duty.”

Doocy: "[I]nexplicably, the attorney general drops it." During the July 7 edition of Fox & Friends, Dana Perino asked for “some sort of an explanation as to why they thought it wasn't a good case.” Co-host Steve Doocy responded: “Because, initially, they did win a default judgment against these guys, and then, inexplicably, the attorney general drops it.”

Asman: “In letting this guy off, in letting the Black Panthers off,” Obama “is defending racists.” During the July 6 edition of Fox Business Network's America's Nightly Scoreboard, host David Asman claimed that Obama “is defending racists ... in letting the Black Panthers off.” Asman concluded: "[W]hen you defend racism and defend racist acts, it's virtually the same in my mind as to whether you're a racist or not." Andrew Breitbart replied: “I couldn't agree with you more.”

O'Reilly: “It's on Holder, with a very strong Obama component.” During a segment in which he and his guests falsely suggested that the Obama administration was responsible for the decision not to pursue criminal charges in the case, O'Reilly said, “I don't like Holder. I don't think Holder is representing the United States in a fair and balanced way. I think he's a far-left ideologue. I think his ideology comes into every decision.” The discussion continued:

LIS WIEHL (Fox News legal analyst): But the blatancy of this is so awful --

KIMBERLY GUILFOYLE (Fox News legal analyst): Names were mentioned here, though.

WIEHL: -- because it's not just the criminal charges. OK, let's say we could even differ about that, that maybe the criminal charges shouldn't have been brought. But, Bill, they won --

O'REILLY: Nobody differs about that, Wiehl.

WIEHL: Well, let's just say that some people do. They won the civil complaint. They had them and they let them go.

GUILFOYLE: And they dismissed it, and that's a problem.

O'REILLY: Right, I got it.

GUILFOYLE: He does mention --

O'REILLY: All right, it's on Holder --


O'REILLY: -- with a very strong Obama component.