It Turns Out That Obama Doesn’t Hate Whitey After All

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This promises to be fun. The Justice Department’s Inspector General has released a report investigating charges that the Civil Rights Division has been misbehaving. The short answer is: Yes during the Bush adminstration, no during the Obama administration. In particular, the IG took a look at a longstanding Fox News pet rock, the handling of the voter intimidation case against the New Black Panthers, and concluded that there was political interference from Obama’s political appointees. But not quite the kind that conservatives think. Here’s Adam Serwer:

The Inspector General’s report, like a previous OPR report, found that the decision to narrow the New Black Panther case was “based on a good faith assessment of the law and facts of the case,” not on anti-white racism or corruption. The report also concludes that the political leadership at Justice did influence the handling of the New Black Panther case—but not improperly—by insisting that that the case could not be dismissed outright. This turns the GOP attack on its head, for Republican critics have accused the Obama administration of trying to bury the case to protect a black separatist group. The IG notes no such thing was done.

Rather than interfering with the case because Obama loves the Black Panthers and hates whitey, DOJ leadership interfered to make sure the case continued. In fact, the report says that in early 2009 Attorney General Eric Holder paid a visit to the voting section and declared that he “would not tolerate any politicized enforcement or hiring in the division, including retaliation from his own political staff.”

Needless to say, none of this is likely to slow down conservatives. There are always tidbits here and there that can be cherry picked, and as Adam says, “The IG report, no doubt, will provide the division’s conservative foes with just enough material to continue their crusade.” No doubt.

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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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