Fox News' strategy for assembling a stable of commentators appears to follow this pattern: find the biggest possible failure in an area of expertise and ask them to comment on that topic. When there's a story involving responses to disasters, they call in “heckuva job” Michael Brown; Mark Fuhrman is the network's “forensic and crime scene expert” and the guy they turn to for discussions of race and law enforcement; Judith Miller appears regularly on Fox News' media criticism program.
Nonetheless, the network's use this afternoon of serial fabricator J. Christian Adams for commentary on recent stories involving the Department of Justice is so pathetically absurd that it leads us to ask the question: Is it possible that this is all some sort of joke?
You may remember that it was almost a year ago when Fox News first introduced Adams to the world on America Live, the same program on which he appeared today. At the time, Adams was an obscure lawyer and writer for websites like Pajamas Media and American Spectator who had served for a few years in the Bush administration's Justice Department Civil Rights Division.
Adams had an explosive, but entirely unsubstantiated story: that DOJ improperly dismissed voter-intimidation charges against members of the New Black Panther Party for political reasons, namely an unwillingness to protect white voters from intimidation by black defendants. It being Fox News, and given that the story was critical of the Obama administration, the network put the emphasis on the “explosive” and kept quiet about the “unsubstantiated.” Adams' lengthy two-part interview with Megyn Kelly, and the wall-to-wall coverage the story would receive on the network over the following month, catapulted Adams into political relevance.
But even as Fox was promoting Adams' allegations, it quickly became clear that his story didn't add up[[,]] and that he was in fact a political hack whose goal was to damage the Obama administration and the Justice Department. Soon even Fox News pundits were pushing back on the network's obsessive coverage of Adams' tale, while other media clued into the way that Fox's coverage seemed obviously agenda-driven.
One year later, Adams is completely discredited, a fabulist whose obsession with bringing down the Obama Justice Department consistently leads him far from the facts. Except on Fox News, where he's apparently the person they turn to for commentary on what DOJ is up to.
Take a look. Make sure to pay special attention to the parts where a) Adams compares current DOJ “scandals” to the New Black Panthers case, as if that story hadn't been thoroughly repudiated and b) the host closes the interview by saying of Adams, “we know that you know so well the culture inside the DOJ”:
Mere hours after Adams' initial Fox News appearance, Media Matters was pointing to reports that Adams had been hired by Bush Justice Department political appointee Bradley Schlozman, who was found to have illegally politicized the hiring at DOJ by purposely seeking to hire conservatives. And indeed, before and after his DOJ tenure, Adams engaged in a variety of partisan political activities on behalf of the Republican party and the conservative movement.
In addition to his partisan ties, it quickly became clear that the facts did not line up with Adams' story. Notably, Adams admitted that he didn't have first-hand knowledge of many of the events he discussed; the Obama administration did take action against one of the Panthers; the Bush administration DOJ did not act in a similar case involving white allegedly intimidating Hispanic voters; no voters ever came forward claiming intimidation by the Panthers; and the Obama DOJ has acted in other cases to protect white voters from black leaders who had previously discriminated.
The story more or less dissolved altogether after Abigail Thernstrom, the Republican vice chairwoman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, said that the USCCR's investigation of the case was baseless and motivated by a desire to “topple” the Obama administration.
In April, the full report of DOJ's Office of Professional Responsibility from their investigation into the controversy was released. OPR found no evidence of political interference or consideration in the case, determining that all parties had acted based on their interpretations of the facts in the case.
Adams, desperately trying to salvage whatever credibility he might have left, quickly used the report to further his attacks on DOJ. He has since moved on to a new series of alternately absurd and blatantly false assaults on the department.
Fox, meanwhile, devoted what must have been a humiliating 88 seconds to the OPR's debunking of the story the network had spent hours promoting. You would think that if Fox was incapable of learning any sort of lesson about fact-free attacks on the Obama administration, they would at least have learned that they shouldn't trust Adams.
Unless, of course, Fox is a relentlessly partisan right-wing megaphone dedicated to misinforming its viewers. In that case, Adams is the right man for the job.