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  • UPDATED: Erickson Misrepresents Media Matters To Bolster His CDC Conspiracy Theory

    Blog ››› ››› JOCELYN FONG

    Erick Erickson claims Media Matters has bolstered his allegation that the Obama administration suppressed an annual CDC report on abortion statistics because we posted an email showing that the abortion report was submitted to CDC's scientific publication for review and editing in November. According to Erickson, the fact that the report was not published promptly after it was submitted for review is evidence that CDC "suppress[ed]" the report. That's some pretty strained reasoning. (SEE UPDATE BELOW: Editor of the publication explains why Erickson's claim is false.) Moreover, it's clear that Erickson didn't read our item.

    For one thing, he's still claiming that "each year since 1969 the Centers for Disease Control has published its 'Abortion Surveillance System' the week after Thanksgiving," which we showed was simply not true. Either Erickson is deliberately misleading people about this, or he didn't read our item, which noted that while the report was published in November during most of the Bush administration, the publication date has varied greatly in the past.

    Erickson further claims:

  • CDC Debunks Right-Wing Claim That Obama Canceled Annual Abortion Report

    ››› ››› JOCELYN FONG

    On RedState.com, CNN contributor Erick Erickson claimed that the Obama Administration has canceled an annual Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report on abortion statistics because it is "afraid of the truth," and continued to insist that the report was "killed" even after the CDC said it was merely delayed and will be published. Indeed, an internal CDC email obtained by Media Matters shows that the report was submitted for review and editing on November 12.

  • Wash. Times Bases Call For Pigford Investigation On Falsehoods

    ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    The Washington Times editorial board has demanded a congressional investigation into the allegations pushed by right-wing fabulist Andrew Breitbart of fraud in the Pigford settlement for black farmers who were victims of discrimination committed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. But the Times op-ed is filled with distortions intended to bolster those fraud allegations and use them to attack President Obama.

  • Credibility Coup De Grace: GOP Activist Adams To Speak At CPAC

    ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    While the right-wing media have declared former Justice Department attorney J. Christian Adams a "whistle-blower" for his claims that the department's handling of the New Black Panthers case constitutes racially charged corruption, it has long been clear that Adams has an extensive history of GOP activism. In the final blow to any claim that Adams is neutral or impartial, Adams is scheduled to appear as a panelist during next month's CPAC, the conservative activist convention.

  • The Right Wing Doesn't Want You To Know Coates Is "A True Member Of The Team"

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    The right-wing media's smear that the Obama administration Department of Justice as engaged in race-based justice depends on the credibility of the witnesses that have come forth to make those allegations. That's why the conservative media has been so diligent in lauding them as career attorneys and "whistle-blowers."

    In their interim report on the Justice Department's response to the New Black Panther Party case, the right-wing Republicans at the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights likewise do their darndest to cover the tracks of their top witness, Justice Department attorney Christopher Coates. They claim that Coates has been victim of a vicious smear campaign to paint him as a right-wing hack, and cite his past credentials as an attorney for the ACLU as evidence that he is no such thing:

    The troubling nature of these allegations of misconduct in the Division might explain why some anonymous sources within the Department have attempted to paint Coates as a disgruntled right-wing ideologue. A review of his career, however, speaks for itself and paints a picture at odds with his detractors' characterization.

    Before beginning his work at the Department, Mr. Coates served with the Voting Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union in Atlanta, Georgia. During his time there, he litigated cases on behalf of African-American clients, particularly those challenging at-large election procedures. In 1993 he argued a case before the United States Supreme Court on behalf of six African-American citizens in the local NAACP chapter in Bleckley County, Georgia. For his service with the ACLU he was awarded the Thurgood Marshall Decade Award by the Georgia Conference of the NAACP, as well as an award from the Georgia Environmental Association for his representation of African-American clients opposing the installation of landfill in their neighborhood.

    Of course, the Commission has a bit of a problem: The primary evidence that Coates is a "right-wing ideologue" comes not from leaks from the DOJ, but from his own mouth.

    Back in 2008, the Justice Department's Inspector General and Office of Professional Responsibility found that Douglas Schlozman, a senior Bush appointee in the department, had improperly considered ideology when making personnel decisions and cited numerous emails in which Schlozman discussed adding conservative members to "the team." In one of those emails, Schlozman recommended a DOJ attorney for a position as an Immigration Judge, writing: "[D]on't be dissuaded by his ACLU work on voting matters from years ago. This is a very different man, and particularly on immigration issues, he is a true member of the team."

    In September testimony before the USCCR, Coates admitted that he believed he was the person to whom Schlozman was referring. Moreover, he defended Schlozman's hiring practices, saying:

    Mr. Schlozman found a Civil Rights Division that was almost totally left-liberal in the basis of the ideology of the people who were working in it, and that he made some concerted effort to diversify the division so that conservatives as well as liberals could find work there.

    Kind of sounds like a right-wing ideologue, doesn't he?

    As for J. Christian Adams, the Commission's other top witness, don't look through the report for the USCCR's attempt to wash away his years as a GOP activist before and after (and during?) his work on the New Black Panthers case. They don't even make an attempt, instead simply ignoring his past and referencing him as a "Voting Section attorney" and the like.

  • Right-Wing Civil Rights Commission Trumps Up Report On Phony New Black Panther Party Scandal

    ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    On January 27, the U.S. Civil Rights Commission released a report on the Department of Justice's investigation into the New Black Panther Party case. USCCR's report largely adopts the right-wing media's bogus allegations that President Obama's Justice Department engaged in racially charged corruption in the case. This is unsurprising; the USCCR is dominated by conservative activists, and the witnesses they rely upon are J. Christian Adams, a longtime GOP activist deeply tied to the Bush-era politicization of the DOJ, and Christopher Coates, who reportedly became "a true member of the team" during that administration.

  • Dissenting Commissioners Savage USCCR's New Black Panthers Report: "A Tremendous Waste Of Scarce Government Resources"

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    Yesterday, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights released its report on its year-long investigation into the right-wing media's ridiculous claim that the Department of Justice's handling of alleged voter intimidation by members of the New Black Panther Party indicates racially-charged corruption on the DOJ's part. Unsurprisingly, given the commission's conservative activist composition and its previous flawed draft report, the report largely adopts the right-wing media's storyline as its own.

    The three commissioners who opposed the release of the report are not happy with the investigation's direction or the report's conclusions, and are making their feelings known.

    Republican Vice-Chair Abigail Thernstrom - who has called the case "very small potatoes" and said that the USCCR majority's investigation "doesn't have to do with the Black Panthers, this has to do with their fantasies about how they could use this issue to topple the [Obama] administration" - wrote in her dissent:

    This investigation lacked political and intellectual integrity from the outset, and has been consistently undermined by the imbalance between the gravity of the allegations and the strength of the evidence available to support such charges. Some commissioners offered serious, principled critiques of the process, and questioned the evidentiary record. Their views were contemptuously ignored by the commission's majority.

    Likewise, Democratic commissioners Arlan Melendez and Michael Yaki slam the investigation as "a tremendous waste of scarce government resources" that "squandered" the commission's reputation. They also criticize the USCCR majority and the pseudoscandal's chief promoter, Fox News, for having "given the NBPP more media attention than it ever could have garnered or purchased on its own." From the dissent:

    The Commission's investigation into, and this Report concerning, the New Black Panther Party ("NBPP") have been a tremendous waste of scarce government resources. They have wasted our own resources at the Commission but those of the Department of Justice as well. In addition to squandering time, money and attention, the majority has further squandered the reputation of the United States Commission on Civil Rights as it spent more than a year on an Ahab-like quest to hobble the Obama Administration and to attempt to rehabilitate the disgraced record of the previous Administration's Department of Justice.

    Our dissent does not attempt to make definitive claims about the motives or actions of the United States Department of Justice ("Department") past or present. We have no special insight into the hearts or minds of the people working at the Department. Where we differ from our colleagues is that we did not enter into this investigation having already made up our minds that there was wrong-doing by the Department. Therefore, we did not interpret all evidence in light of any foregone conclusions or ignore any evidence that flatly contradicted any conclusions.

    [...]

    Our dissent should also not be read as a defense of the NBPP. The NBPP is a hate group whose views are as ugly as they are outlandish. We would not even bother to include this disclaimer were it not for the fact that a good deal of this Report relies on sources who maintain absurd beliefs in the out-sized significance and influence of what is in reality a tiny fringe group. Among the many ironies surrounding this NBPP hullabaloo is the fact that the NBPP's exaggerated sense of its own importance (or menace) and its conspiracy theory mentality is matched (or even exceeded) by the Commission's majority and its ideological allies in the news media and in government. A further irony is the fact that, but for the constant promotion of this partisan investigation by FOX News and the USCCR, the NBPP might well have vanished into even further obscurity these last two years. We must posit that the USCCR majority has given the NBPP more media attention than it ever could have garnered or purchased on its own.

  • Fox Rings In The New Year By Rehashing 2010 Falsehoods

    ››› ››› JUSTIN BERRIER

    Fox News Sunday's Chris Wallace rang in the New Year by hosting Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) to attack Attorney General Eric Holder for supposedly not "do[ing] anything about ACORN," or "anything effectively about the New Black Panthers." In fact, both issues are phony scandals pushed by Fox News.

  • Kristol Launches Bogus Attack On Recess Appointment of DOJ Official

    Blog ››› ››› ADAM SHAH

    On Fox News Sunday, Bill Kristol attacked President Obama's decision to give a recess appointment to Justice Department nominee James Cole. Kristol claimed: "The recess appointment there is odd. I mean, it's one thing to recess appoint some foreign service officers who were held up for various reasons for their ambassadorships. To recess appoint the deputy attorney general of the United States when the Senate -- the Democratic Senate seemed unwilling to bring to the floor to have a debate and to have a vote is, I think, unusual."

    In fact, President George W. Bush used his recess appointment power again and again to install high-ranking members of his administration.

    Furthermore, Cole has received bipartisan support, including from former Republican Sen. John C. Danforth (MO) and Michael Toner, former general counsel for the Republican National Committee and the Bush-Cheney 2000 presidential campaign. And according to Sen. Patrick Leahy, the reason Cole's nomination was not brought to the Senate floor for a vote was that "Despite repeated requests, for more than five months, Senate Republicans refused to debate the nomination of Jim Cole to be the Deputy Attorney General."

    On December 29, Obama gave a recess appointment to Cole, naming him deputy attorney general - the number two position at the Justice Department.

    But such an appointment is hardly new. Indeed, according to a Congressional Research Service report issued shortly before the end of the Bush administration, Bush made 171 recess appointments. Six of these people were recess appointed to the second-highest position in their respective agencies:

    • Gordon England who was given a recess appointment to be deputy secretary of defense;
    • Eugene Hickok, recess appointed to be deputy secretary of the department of education;
    • Romolo Bernardi, recess appointed to be deputy secretary for the Department of Housing and Urban Development;
    • Kirk Van Tine, recess appointed to be deputy secretary for the Department of Transportation;
    • Theodore Kassinger, recess appointed to be deputy secretary for the Department of Commerce; and
    • Stephen Johnson, recess appointed to be deputy administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency.