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Fox News Setting Up Obama And Holder As The New ACORN

Reported by Ellen - July 5, 2010 -

As the right wing gears up for its regular, election-year fear-mongering over “voter fraud,” there are signals Fox News is setting up Attorney General Eric Holder and President Obama to become this year’s ACORN for conservatives. The opening salvo in the latest “voter fraud” war came last week when Megyn Kelly interviewed a former DOJ attorney “whistle blower” who alleged that Holder has instituted a policy of not protecting whites’ voting rights or prosecuting African American violators. Not only did Kelly and Fox News buy into their source’s secondhand allegations about an insignificant case that showed no indications of representing a larger pattern – either of voter fraud or the DOJ’s policy – but Kelly trumpeted her interview as evidence that black thugs now have license to intimidate white voters in upcoming elections. It's little more than an outsourced echo of Glenn Beck's now-infamous accusation that Obama is a racist with a "deep-seated hatred for white people" but with an electoral, Department of Justice twist.

The so-called whistle blower, J. Christian Adams, is a GOP activist who contends that the DOJ dropped its voter intimidation case against a few members of the New Black Panther Party, who behaved thuggishly at a polling place on Election Day 2008, because African American Holder – and by extension, Obama – has decided not to enforce whites’ voter rights.

The DOJ has an entirely different point of view, one that was barely explored on “fair and balanced” Fox News, even though Kelly’s 1 PM show is supposed to be part of its “objective news” line up. The DOJ has said that the case against the Black Panthers was shaky and that this one incident didn’t constitute an orchestrated campaign or pattern to deny voting rights, the usual criteria for deploying federal resources in litigation. In fact, as Main Justice has reported, no voters at all in the Philadelphia precinct have come forward to allege intimidation. The complaints have come from white Republican poll watchers, who have given no evidence they were registered to vote in the majority black precinct.

Nevertheless, Kelly deliberately led her viewers to think that Black Panthers would be showing up at voting precincts across the country. After guest host Laura Ingraham on The O’Reilly Factor asked “What happened to (Obama’s) post-racial presidency?” Kelly said, “Think about that… You’re going to have instances like this where Black Panthers and others can go to the polling stations and do this if they so choose. And they just basically are gonna get a pass (from the Obama administration).”

In 2008, Fox News led its viewers to think that ACORN was on the verge of stealing an election through its supposedly rampant, unchecked voter fraud throughout the country. Yet a recent Government Accountability Office report found that both the FEC and the FBI had closed all their voter fraud investigations against the organization for lack of evidence. It’s worth noting that the GAO reported on Page 7, “Six cases were identified by DOJ involving voter registration fraud, with all but one case resulting in guilty pleas.” That alone undercuts Adams’ claim that the DOJ was only interested in prosecuting cases involving black victims. Although the report doesn’t state the race of any individuals who pled guilty, given that ACORN’s constituencies were poor and largely minority, it’s a no brainer that voter registration fraud on their part would tend to improperly benefit that constituency.

With ACORN formally disbanded now, Fox and the GOP will likely need a new voter-fraud boogeyman or boogeymen. There are plenty of signs that Holder and Obama are their guys: Kelly didn’t just suggest that a network of black radicals were on their way to a voting precinct near you, she offered that thought on the top-rated cable news show, which happened to have hosted her to tout her two-part interview. Rush Limbaugh has echoed the sentiment – a hint of GOP talking points to come if ever there was one – saying the dismissals were a “natural course of events” with a black attorney general and a black president. Fox News Radio’s John Gibson reported the case as though all Adams' allegations were true. Fox headlined Gibson's comments, ANTI WHITE RACISM GETS OK FROM OBAMA ADMINISTRATION.

And now, just like with ACORN, the Fox Newsies are relentlessly promoting their "exposé" while complaining there should be more press coverage of it elsewhere. Mediaite’s Steve Krakauer swallowed the Fox News bait uncritically, cheering the fact that AP picked up the story and writing, “This is an important story” that “should be” covered by the rest of the media. Just like Fox News, Krakauer neglected to mention the reasons the DOJ offered for dropping the case as well as the fact that no formal complaints from any of the actual voters affected have been lodged. So why is this case, which offers no evidence of future significance, important? Krakauer didn’t say other than the fact that it included the “the element of race-related double standards, racism and, well, the Obama administration… and frankly, it hasn’t really been a topic they’ve had to address yet.” As if they've gotten an undeserved pass. For what? Being President and Attorney General while black?

Regardless of the immediate news coverage, Fox and Krakauer can take heart that this story is not over. As Main Justice reported, the conservative-dominated U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has been investigating this case and its report is expected this summer, in advance of the midterm elections. What a coincidence that Kelly's "explosive" "exclusive" should turn up just now and that Fox News is reporting that Adams will testify before the Commission tomorrow.

As Simon Maloy at Media Matters noted, this case is following a disturbingly familiar pattern, one in which responsible media outlets don't determine that the bogus story is bogus until long after the damage is done. He could have added that it’s also a pattern for Democrats to fail to effectively push back against this kind of slander until long after the damage is done. We can only hope that this time they'll smell the "Swiftboat" coffee, recognize the pattern and not fall victim to the same old tactics all over again.

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