WashPost Gushes Over Attorney General 'Recalling Racism' In Ferguson: 'Holder: I Understand'

President Obama insisted he wasn’t going to the Mexican border to learn more about massive illegal immigration because that would be a “photo op.” So what was Attorney General Eric Holder’s trip to Ferguson, Missouri if not first a photo opportunity? But The Washington Post, like The New York Times, thinks Holder is too loaded with “empathy” for blacks to ask.

On the front page of Thursday’s Post, a Holder photo was titled "Recalling racism." The caption explained Holder "met with students at a community college and shared stories of being pulled over by police when he was growing up in New York." Translation: unlike the untrustworthy racist locals here in charge, I can be trusted.

Inside the A-section, the headline was “In Ferguson, Holder tackles race: Attorney general shows his willingness to assail what he sees as bias.” Online, it was “Eric H. Holder Jr., in Ferguson, shares painful memories of racism.”

In the Post’s free tabloid paper for commuters, Express, the headline was “Holder: ‘I understand.’” The press mocked George H.W. Bush for the phrase “Message: I Care,” but that’s exactly what the Post is saying about Holder. Reporters David Nakamura and Nia-Malika Henderson helpfully explained that addressing minority concerns is a "legacy" issue for Holder:

Long before the white-hot spotlight of the racially charged protests in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Holder had been intent on reforming an American criminal justice system that he said imposed “shameful” disparities on minority communities. Brown’s death on Aug. 9 has thrust Holder, 63, into the heart of a national debate over racial justice that he has aimed to make part of his legacy.

In meetings with residents, Holder shared his own stories of being pulled over and accosted by police while growing up in New York City — and of being skeptical of police even while serving as a federal prosecutor in Washington.

In other words, Holder, now the nation's chief law enforcement officer, travels the country disparaging law enforcement. From there, Nakamura and Henderson explained that Holder has a special role in speaking out where Obama feels he cannot:

Holder’s presence in the St. Louis suburb showed again his ability, and willingness, to take the debate over race to places the president feels unable to go.

But the nightly clashes also have vividly illustrated just how far Holder’s Justice Department has to go to address the undertones of racial mistrust in the criminal justice system — and how much the black community yearns to hear Obama speak with the same force and passion.

At times when he has weighed in publicly on racially sensitive debates, Obama’s remarks have been politicized and had the effect of hardening the country’s racial divide.

Their story never mentions the conflict in Obama poses. He ran for president as a uniter of all Americans, not a divider. Black liberals want him to be a divider, to strike a blow against what they see as white discrimination and injustice.


To their credit, the Post reporters recall Holder calling America "a nation of cowards" in 2009, but only as proof of "Holder's outspokenness." The closest thing to an Obama critique in this article is a "hip-hop justice" professor who gently insists Obama needs to be more like Holder:

“Obama is now concerned about his legacy and, like it or not, it will be about race,” said Paul Butler, a professor at Georgetown Law School who worked at the Justice Department and attended Harvard Law School with first lady Michelle Obama.

“If his legacy was like a newsreel,” Butler continued, “it might have images of black folks in Harlem dancing when he was elected, and the last image might be black folks protesting in Ferguson like it was the 1960s. He doesn’t want that to be the last image of race. He will have to do something new, and the attorney general will have to advise him.”

Nowhere in these articles in there a sense that Holder and his Justice Department are ideological, after the Post and the rest of the liberal media routinely disparaged Bush's Justice team as a nest of ideologues. Instead, Post writer Jaime Fuller at The Fix blog suggests Holder isn’t a liberal ideologue, he is the directing the national conscience:

During the first day of his confirmation hearings in January 2009, Attorney General Eric Holder told the Senate Judiciary Committee, "The Civil Rights Division is unique. It is in some ways the conscience of the Justice Department. And I think in some ways you can measure the success of an attorney general's tenure by how the Civil Rights Division has done."

In the five years since, the Justice Department's priorities have mirrored what Holder said five years ago. There is federal litigation on voting rights pending in several states, and earlier this year, Holder called for changes in how low-level drug offenders are sentenced. He has given many speeches, at home and abroad, on race and civil rights. Earlier in July, he told ABC News that "we are still a nation that is too afraid to confront racial issues."

Right above the Holder photo on the front page was a story on how "Hip-hop's beats capture pulse of Ferguson's pain." Reporter Krissah Thompson explained "the artists here have been working overtime to broadcast news from the small suburb of Ferguson, the nation's latest crisis point in the ongoing struggles around race and justice."

“Got the world watching. They can feel the tension of an angered generation,” one spat out. “F--- a politician.”

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis