It’s more than a little interesting how Megyn Kelly suddenly ditched, or at least vastly dialed down, the coverage of the supposedly super-important story about the “real reason” the Obama Department of Justice dropped its voting rights case against The New Black Panther Party and a few of its members (think black-against-white racism). Kelly had been breathlessly hyping and rehashing every development as she strung out a series of accusations by a GOP activist, dubbed “DOJ whistleblower” by Kelly, for nearly three weeks. But when Fox News Democrat Kirsten Powers threw a spotlight on the racial agenda lurking ever so shallowly beneath the surface of Kelly’s “reporting,” she first threw an on-air temper tantrum and then suddenly ran away from the story. Well, not all the way away from it. At the same time that she stopped reporting on it, she appeared on The O’Reilly Factor Thursday night (7/15/10) and touted the importance of the case.
The day after her meltdown, Kelly (who never had the class to apologize for her behavior, at least not on the air) hosted what was clearly designed to be a self-vindicating segment about how her “discussion” of the case had led to unfair “pushback” of being called a racist. As I noted in my post about that segment, “discussing” is nowhere near an accurate description of the kind of biased promoting of this racially-charged story that Kelly has been doing.
Since then, there has been no or virtually no coverage on Kelly’s show of a story that had been previously teased several times an hour.
Kelly’s appearance on O’Reilly seemed more like a joint rehab endeavor on her behalf than a real discussion of the case, even by Fox News’ standards of the word “discussion.”
First, O’Reilly kindly set up Kelly as a victim of the “liberal press” which had the nerve to question Kelly’s nearly obsessive presentation of this questionable – at best – story as nearly incontrovertible proof that the Obama DOJ had played “racial politics” with the New Black Panther Party case.
O’Reilly began with a misleading swipe at ACORN: saying that more than 30 ACORN employees have been convicted without noting how many formal investigations have cleared the organization, itself, or telling the “we report, you decide” network’s viewers just how thoroughly the undercover videos – which Fox News previously salivated over the way it’s now doing with the “whistleblower” – have been discredited.
One clear indication that the point of the discussion was Kelly, not DOJ, was O’Reilly’s lead-off question: “Why do you feel so passionately about the Panther story when… it’s a very miniscule organization?”
“It’s not about the Panthers,” Kelly said, “The reason that I’m passionate about this case and this story, Bill, is because I believe in fidelity to the law.” She went on a long tangent about how she looks at the law from a dispassionate, not ideological viewpoint. And to her credit, I’d agree with her about that – until now. But then she said, “What this whistleblower is alleging is that there is not fidelity to the law at the Department of Justice.”
That’s a true representation of the allegations. But from calling her source a “whistleblower” to fear mongering about black radicals with billyclubs showing up at voting precincts around the country, Kelly has taken her passion for “fidelity to the law” to a whole new level that was surely never imagined by any bar association that admitted her. Second, one would assume that anyone passionate about fidelity to the law would also care about fidelity to the facts. Kelly repeatedly distorted, selectively highlighted and ignored facts that didn’t fit the narrative of her GOP activist guest “whistleblower.” She has also nearly completely ignored the opinions of others (if she allowed them to speak at all) who have challenged that perspective. Why, for example, has Kelly not hosted Angela Thernstrom, the conservative voting rights expert who has completely and utterly rejected Kelly’s view?
In fact, Kelly’s distortions continued right there on O’Reilly when she complained that her liberal media critics “try to discredit (“whistleblower”) J. Christian Adams by saying he’s a conservative which, apparently, he is… That’s what you’ve got. He’s a conservative. Based on that and the fact that he was hired at the DOJ at a time when they tended to hire more conservative people, they dismiss his sworn testimony.”
Kelly was either so ill-informed it’s laughable or else deliberately misleading here and I’m not sure which would be worse.
As Kelly ought to know, Adams is no conservative. He’s a GOP activist, hired by a rankly political appointee in a Justice Department that came under fire for its politicization. The fact that Kelly either doesn’t know that or would describe Adams as a mere “conservative” without discussing frankly the larger picture of his background speaks volumes about either her ignorance about her own star interview subject or about her willingness to mislead her audience while claiming to care so much about “fidelity to the law.”
I can’t help but think it’s the latter. Because Kelly also went on to say, “(People) always say nobody testified to voter intimidation… That’s not true. I’ve read the testimony, unlike almost everybody who comments on this case.” Actually, that’s not what I’ve said or what I’ve read. What I wrote, based on information from Main Justice, is that NO VOTERS have come forward to say they were intimidated. Kelly told O’Reilly she had read testimony from poll watchers that voters had not come in. But as Main Justice noted, those complaints were from white Republican poll watchers.
As O’Reilly magnanimously (for Kelly) claimed that this is, in fact, a big story, nobody explained why – other than the fact that it looked like the Attorney General MIGHT have played racial politics. As “fidelity to the law” Kelly must surely know, attorneys drop cases all the time for legitimate reasons. Other than asking the Department of Justice, which, apparently, has refused to discuss the case with Fox News, Kelly seems to have done no independent investigation about when the DOJ might legitimately drop voting rights cases, how often it does drop such cases, what’s involved in prosecuting them, how many voter rights cases it has on its docket and, most importantly, how big a problem is voter intimidation against whites vs. voter intimidation against blacks? After nearly three weeks of focus on this case, I have yet to see Kelly (or anyone else on Fox, for that matter) even consider issues concerning voter intimidation against blacks.
The fact that Kelly and O’Reilly seemed to take it as a given that the bigger, more important problem is whites being intimidated out of voting says much more about their own racial attitudes than any of their reporting has said about the Obama administration. O’Reilly further showed his own racial stripes by adding that Holder “doesn’t deserve to be Attorney General… apparently doesn’t know the law, doesn’t care.”