Right-wing media outlets are criticizing Loretta Lynch, the highly-qualified attorney that President Obama has nominated to replace outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder, by attacking her support of voting rights litigation and claiming her membership in one of the country's leading African-American sororities is “controversial.”
On September 25, Holder announced that he would step down as attorney general, but would stay in office until his replacement was confirmed. The president nominated Lynch to the post on November 8, citing her extensive legal experience and stating that “it's pretty hard to be more qualified for this job than Loretta.” Even conservative figures appear to agree, with Republican Senator Lindsay Graham calling her a "solid choice." News Corp Chairman Rupert Murdoch echoed Graham's sentiment, noting that the nominee has a "reputation for fairness and strict legality." Lynch is a Harvard Law graduate, has decades of experience as a successful and widely praised federal prosecutor, and has served as U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York since 2010, when she was confirmed by unanimous consent.
But after Obama's announcement, conservative media ignored her qualifications and began to attack Lynch anyway, falsely accusing her of partisanship. Breitbart.com was so eager to find fault in her nomination that it went after the wrong Lynch, erroneously claiming that she was involved in former President Bill Clinton's defense during the Whitewater investigation in 1992. In reality, it was a different attorney named Loretta Lynch who defended the president during the probe that cleared the Clintons; the current nominee Lynch was serving in the U.S. attorney's office at the time.
The attacks have continued even after Breitbart.com issued a correction to its story. On the November 11 edition of Lou Dobbs Tonight, host Lou Dobbs claimed Lynch's membership in one of the country's leading African-American sororities was “controversial” because Holder's wife, a classmate of Lynch's, also pledged Delta Sigma Theta.
Other right-wing media figures have characterized Lynch as a biased Democrat, and have resorted to attacking her record on voting rights, a tactic they have used before against Obama nominees who have experience with civil rights law. Appearing on the November 10 edition of the Laura Ingraham Show, National Review Online contributor and frequent Fox News guest Hans von Spakovsky determined that Lynch was “on the side of radical” because of her support of the Department of Justice's ongoing litigation against unnecessarily strict voter ID requirements -- the same kind of voter suppression that von Spakovsky has long championed:
VON SPAKOVSKY: Well, it's funny they all keep talking about how what a wonderful U.S. Attorney she's been, because remember Eric Holder had been a U.S. Attorney before he came in and you know, he's done a terrible job. There's all these things that are now starting to pop up and surface on her, including a video that I just watched where in January of this year, she was talking about how she approved of Eric Holder's war on election integrity, and saying that all these lawsuits that they're filing against voter ID and things like that are going to continue and that's something that ought to very much concern members of the Senate.
INGRAHAM: So, she -- on the scale of radical to just a kind of dyed in the wool Democrat-type, how would you rate her?
VON SPAKOVSKY: Well, I think if -- based on what I saw in that video, she's on the side of radical. I also ran across something this morning where the Brennan Center in New York, you know the Brennan Center --
INGRAHAM: Oh, yes.
VON SPAKOVSKY: -- one of the most extremist left-wing groups, and they put out something talking about how she had been associated with them. They didn't give any details, but that's an intriguing statement. I'd like to know more about that.
Ingraham and von Spakovsky failed to mention the fact that these lawsuits against strict voter ID and other legislative efforts to restrict the franchise are succeeding. The illegal and unconstitutional impact these laws have had against voters of color has been recognized not by “radicals,” but by judges across the political spectrum. In fact, both conservative Judge Richard Posner of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals and former Republican-appointed Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens -- who had previously upheld the legality of Indiana's voter ID law -- now argue that strict voting requirements are a form of voter suppression, rather than one of “election integrity.”
This isn't the first time that right-wing media have gone after Obama nominees who have experience fighting for civil rights. When the president nominated attorney Thomas Perez to run the Department of Labor, Fox News called him an "extremist race-baiter" due to his previous experience as a successful head of the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division. When the president announced Perez's replacement, Debo Adegbile, right-wing media distorted his civil rights background and criminal defense experience to such an extreme that Adegbile was never confirmed.
It didn't take long, but it appears that right-wing media are already recycling tried and true smears -- as well as baseless and bizarre new ones -- to go after Lynch in the absence of any compelling counterarguments against this highly-regarded attorney general nominee.