Unsatisfactory Answers on the New Black Panther Case

by Hans A. von Spakovsky

I watched NRO’s own Jim Geraghty this Sunday on Howard Kurtz’s Reliable Sources, discussing the lack of coverage of the New Black Panther Party case by the mainstream media. Both the Washington Times and National Review have been covering this story for the past year while the New York Times and the Washington Post ignored it. Bob Schieffer claimed he didn’t know about the case. He was on vacation when the story exploded back into the headlines after J. Christian Adams testified before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, and that’s why he didn’t ask Attorney General Holder any questions about it. I guess all of the producers, researchers, and writers who work for him must have been on vacation, too.

A liberal radio commentator on that same episode of Kurtz’s show kept trying to downplay this case by claiming there was no corroboration — a clear sign that he knows nothing about the case and has read none of the testimony or sworn affidavits that are in the commission’s record. There is more than sufficient confirmation of the charges being made by Adams.

I have to say, I was amused by the Washington Post ombudsman’s piece about the newspaper’s lack of coverage: The newsroom blamed it on a lack of resources, and the fact that so many other stories were happening at Justice. Of course, that lack of resources did not seem to handicap a recent WaPo story about the Civil Rights Division that was such a puff piece, it almost could have been written by the Justice Department’s own Public Affairs Office — a story which, of course, did not mention the New Black Panther controversy.

The ombudsman failed to mention that one of the paper’s reporters did blog about the first Civil Rights Commission hearing and wrote a story saying there was no evidence produced showing that voters were affected. I called the reporter immediately after that story appeared, because I was at that hearing and his claim was flat-out wrong — the poll watchers all testified that they spoke with and saw voters approaching the polling place turn away and leave when they saw the NBPP thugs blocking the entrance. The Post reporter acknowledged to me that he had heard that testimony, but he never corrected his story. I know for a fact that this error was brought to the attention of the ombudsman, but he never mentions it in his story.

When career lawyers in the Civil Rights Division leaked internal legal memoranda during the Bush administration, it was front page news at the Washington Post. But the news division of the paper has exhibited no interest in this scandal or the internal legal memoranda on the New Black Panther case that are now in the public record. The fact that politics and race ideology are driving law-enforcement decisions at Justice does not seem to be news worth covering.

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