[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]
Oddly enough, the only mention whatsoever of the New Black Panthers Party on Fox News in the past few days was the above snippet, one of Bill O'Reilly's "Reality Check" tidbits near the end of his show on Tuesday.
Odd, because there was this significant bit of news involving the NBPP case that has been the subject of so much coverage and discussion at Fox for the past year:
The Obama Justice Department did not improperly let politics or the race of the defendants affect the handling of a high-profile civil voter intimidation case against members of the New Black Panther Party, a probe by DOJ's Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) concluded after an extensive investigation.This is most odd indeed. Why, we can remember when our Fox morning and afternoon broadcasts were dominated by the breathless coverage of the NBPP scandal, including that nasty catfight on Megyn Kelly's show when Kirtsen Powers tried to point out that there was no there there, and of course video and audio of racially incendiary rants by NBPP leaders. It was always pathetically obvious as race-baiting goes, but then, Fox is nothing if not shameless.
Justice Department attorneys "did not commit professional misconduct or exercise poor judgment, but rather acted appropriately, in the exercise of their supervisory duties in connection with the dismissal of the three defendants in the NBPP case," the head of OPR wrote in a letter to Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) obtained by TPM.
OPR's investigation began in the summer of 2009. After an extensive investigation which included reviews of the New Black Panther Party file, "thousands of pages of internal Department e-mails, memoranda, and notes" and interviews with 44 current and former Department employees, OPR "found no evidence that the decision to dismiss the case against three of the four defendants was predicated on political considerations," wrote DOJ's Robin Ashton.
Indeed, as Matt Gertz at Media Matters explains, Fox has been obsessing about the NBPP for the better part of the past couple of years, evidently certain that an Obama-dooming scandal lay therein:
For nearly two years, the right wing has been obsessed with the decision by those senior career attorneys to drop civil charges against three defendants affiliated with the New Black Panther Party who allegedly intimidated voters at a Philadelphia polling place in 2008. This fixation became stronger last year, when two DOJ attorneys on the trial team who are linked the Bush administration's politicization of the DOJ claimed in media appearances and in testimony that the DOJ's actions were part of a pattern of racially-charged corruption at the department, in which lawyers there refused to protect white voters from intimidation by minorities.And yet, this week, nary a word about these findings could be found on Fox, particularly not on Megyn Kelly's show, where the coverage was high-pitched, heavy-handed and heavily promoted.
These allegations received a ready airing on Fox News, but they simply never added up: There was simply no evidence that this was anything more than a disagreement between career attorneys on how to apply a rarely-used provision of the Voting Rights Act; the Obama DOJ did get obtain an injunction against one of the defendants in the case; it also took action in another case to protect white voters from intimidation by black political leaders; and the Bush administration had failed to take action in a similar case in which Latino voters were allegedly intimidated by whites.
Adam Serwer at the Plum Line observes:
Republicans seized on this case for one reason, and one reason only. Despite the absence of any actual intimidated voters, and the hasty, weak nature of the original case, the GOP sought an opportunity to inflame white resentment by leveling charges that President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder are racist against white people. Though the staffers who filed the case have also been cleared, conservative media seized on the case to support a narrative of white racial victimhood, where virtually every single policy of the administration is attributed to a covert hatred for white people.Indeed, this was manifest in the only mention of the NBPP at Fox this week -- the O'Reilly snippet above. It's played as a demonstration of just how beyond the pale this racist group really is, since it even attacks President Obama.
But why the NBPP? Why give them any airtime at all? As we noted when Fox was running another incendiary NBPP rant, it's certainly an easy thing to dig up racially incendiary video and audio snippets from right-wing hate groups and their leaders, because there is no shortage of them whatsoever.
One can just as readily find equally nasty things being said about Obama by David Duke in his weekly podcasts, or by Stormfront's Don Black or some other Ku Klux Klan/Aryan Nations/Hammerskins hatemonger. They're much easier to find than the comparatively tiny handful of such rants produced by anti-white racists such as the NBPP.
So why did O'Reilly give this one airtime? For the same reason the NBPP was Fox's favorite whipping boy for the past year: Because publicizing the work of an insignificant and tiny faction of black haters is a handy way of scaring white viewers into believing all kinds of nonsense.