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Fox News Sunday And Wallace Aided Issa’s Attacks On DOJ And Holder

Reported by Ellen - January 2, 2011 -

On Fox News Sunday today, host Chris Wallace didn’t just open the door for his guest, Republican Darrell Issa, to attack Attorney General Eric Holder and the Department of Justice, Wallace also failed to note the falsehoods and distortions used in the attacks. Then, just in case the viewers didn’t get the message, Fox News producers posted a graphic filling the screen reiterating (and validating) Issa’s illegitimate allegations.

It was yet another Fox News Sunday show with no Democratic guests (unless you count Juan Williams in the panel discussion). As News Hounds’ Brian pointed out in an email to us, there were no Democratic guests last week, either (the line up included Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, D. C.).

In his introduction to the show, Wallace asked, “With Republicans in charge of the House, how much will they shake up Washington?” Then he brought on two Republican Congressmen, Darrell Issa and Fred Upton. The other guests were Republican Senator-elect Mike Lee (R-UT) and Congressman-elect Allen West (R-FL).

At about the 10:55 mark in his interview with Upton and Issa, Wallace offered this question DOJ/Holder-bashing opportunity to Issa:

Over the last two years, you have repeatedly criticized the Justice Department over not investigating the community group, ACORN, scaling back a voter intimidation case against the New Black Panther Party and for failure to go after WikiLeaks. Question: what do you think of Attorney General Holder?

As Wallace spoke, a graphic appeared on the screen saying, “SEEKING JUSTICE,” and “No ACORN Investigation,” “Scaling Back Case Against New Black Panther Party” and “Failure to Act on Wikileaks.”

Issa said, “Well, I think he’s guilty of all those things… He didn’t do anything about ACORN. We’re gonna continue to make sure that we don’t have that kind of waste in government. He didn’t do anything effectively about the New Black Panthers. Chairman Lamar Smith, as a civil rights issue will take that on… And when it comes to WikiLeaks, at the end of the last Congress, we couldn’t get a whistleblower bill passed because ultimately, the next whistleblower bill has to deal with WikiLeaks and the loss of these classified documents in a mature, bipartisan way. And we’re gonna do that right off the bat because the kind of transparency we need is not to have somebody outing what is said by diplomats in private and we need to change that…”

In fact, ACORN has repeatedly been cleared of any criminal wrongdoing, including being cleared by the GAO, the Congressional Research Service, an independent investigation by the former Attorney General of Massachusetts as well as by prosecutors in California and New York.

Furthermore, the New Black Panther Party case is dubious at best. Based on the accusations by a right-wing activist (aided and abetted by a boatload of friendly coverage on Fox News). It was the Bush administration which downgraded the case from a criminal case to civil charges. As I wrote in a post last summer about Fox News’ incessant harping on this phony controversy:

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 (a website dedicated to reporting on the DOJ) 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.

Last summer, during the height of Fox News’ frenzy over this “controversy,” Wallace interviewed White House senior advisor David Axelrod without feeling the need to ask a single question about the New Black Panther Party case.

But now, instead of providing any correction, context or challenge to Issa’s assertions, Wallace merely served up another avenue for attack. “When you say that Attorney General Holder is guilty of all of those failures, should he step down?”

Issa replied, “Well, I think he needs to realize that, for example, WikiLeaks, if the president says, ‘I can’t deal with this guy as a terrorist,’ then he has to be able to deal with him as a criminal. Otherwise, the world is laughing at this paper tiger we’ve become. So he’s hurting this administration. If you’re hurting the administration, you either stop hurting the administration or leave.”

By the way, Issa’s history of suspected arson, weapons charges and auto theft hardly makes him a poster child for integrity. Not that Wallace seemed to think it worth bringing up.

I’ve long thought that Fox News has been deliberately setting up Holder and the DOJ as the new ACORN. This segment further solidified my suspicions.

By way of contrast, check out Issa’s same-day appearance on CNN’s State of the Union in which he was challenged on some of his outlandish previous statements by host Ed Henry. As Nicole Belle at Crooks and Liars noted in her excellent breakdown of that interview, “It's amazing how ridiculous these GOP talking points are rendered when the media does their job even a little bit. And of course, used to a compliant and unquestioning media platform, Issa doesn't know what to do to save himself.”

But Issa had no need to worry about any of those pesky questions on Fox News.