In the fifteen days following Megyn Kelly's June 30, 2010, interview hyping the unsubstantiated allegations of right-wing activist J. Christian Adams, six Fox News shows devoted 95 segments and more than eight hours of airtime to the phony New Black Panthers scandal. By contrast, those shows have devoted a total of two segments and 88 seconds to the Justice Department's release of the results of an internal investigation clearing DOJ officials of any wrongdoing or misconduct in that case.
Internal Investigation Cleared DOJ Attorneys Of Wrongdoing In Handling Of NBPP Case
OPR Report: “Department Attorneys Did Not Commit Professional Misconduct.” On March 29, The Washington Post reported:
The Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) has concluded an investigation finding that politics played no role in the handling of the New Black Panther Party case, which sparked a racially charged political fight.
After reviewing thousands of pages of internal e-mails and notes and conducting 44 interviews with department staff members, the OPR reported that “department attorneys did not commit professional misconduct or exercise poor judgment” and that the voter-intimidation case against the Panthers was dismissed on “a good faith assessment of the law” and “not influenced by the race of the defendants.”
The OPR's findings were released in a letter Tuesday to Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.) that was signed by department attorney Robin Ashton.
The probe was an outgrowth of a political controversy over a 2008 voter-intimidation case against members of the New Black Panther Party. Some conservative lawyers, politicians and commentators have said that the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division improperly narrowed that case -- part of broader allegations among conservatives that the Obama Justice Department has failed to protect the civil rights of white voters. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and other Justice officials have strongly denied the charge. [Washington Post, 3/29/11]
Fox Shows Devoted Two Segments And Less Than Two Minutes To OPR Report
Media Matters reviewed Fox News' coverage of the OPR's investigation of the phony New Black Panthers Party scandal on America Live and Fox News' evening shows available in Nexis from March 29 through April 12.
Special Report Devoted A Single 24-Second Segment To Report On Release Of OPR's Results. From the March 29 edition of Special Report with Bret Baier:
BAIER: An internal Justice Department probe found no evidence of political interference in the decision to settle a voter intimidation case brought against three members of the New Black Panther Party. Congressional Republicans have long sought a probe into the matter, in which the three men were initially accused of voter intimidation outside a Philadelphia polling place. The House Judiciary Committee has launched its own investigation into the matter. [Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier, 3/29/11, via Nexis]
America Live Discussed OPR Letter In A Single Segment For One Minute Four Seconds. From the April 1 edition of Fox News' America Live segment:
KELLY: Well, new developments today in the New Black Panther voter intimidation case. Congressman Frank Wolf now giving the Department of Justice a 30-day deadline to produce documents on why it essentially dropped major portions of that voter intimidation case. You may remember on Election Day in 2008 members of the New Black Panther Party were caught on videotape holding a nightstick and hurling racial taunts at white and black voters as they entered a polling station in Philadelphia. The Department of Justice decided internally, in connection with an internal probe, that no wrongdoing occurred, and that neither race nor politics played any role - no politics, I should say -- in the dismissal of those charges. Now, that's from the DOJ's Office of Professional Conduct, clearing essentially the lawyers in the case. Now that the DOJ 's investigation is over, Congressman Wolf is pushing Congress to get their hands on the documents. He's the chair of the subcommittee on Commerce and Justice that's been looking into this case. [Fox News' America Live, 4/1/11, via Media Matters]
Other Fox News Evening Shows Ignored The Report Absolving The DOJ In The NBPP Controversy. A Media Matters search of Fox News transcripts since the OPR report's release on March 29 found no mention of the investigation on The O'Reilly Factor, Glenn Beck, Hannity, or On the Record with Greta Van Susteren.
In First 15 Days, Fox News Trumpeted Phony Scandal During At Least 95 Segments
Fox News Launched Phony Scandal With More Than Eight Hours Of Coverage. According to a Media Matters analysis, Fox News' evening shows extensively touted the NBPP story in the fifteen days following Kelly's interview with the former DOJ attorney. Between June 30, 2010, and July 14, 2010:
- America Live discussed the phony scandal during 45 segments totaling more than 3.5 hours.
- The O'Reilly Factor discussed the phony scandal during 18 segments totaling more than 1 hour.
- Glenn Beck discussed the phony scandal during 15 segments totaling more than 2 hours..
- Hannity discussed the phony scandal during 10 segments totaling more than 42 minutes.
- Special Report with Bret Baier discussed the phony scandal during 6 segments totaling more than 14 minutes.
On the Record with Greta Van Susteren discussed the phony scandal during 1 segment totaling more than 7 minutes. [Media Matters, 7/16/10]
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