Democracy Now: Amy Goodman’s Hate Sessions

For members of the “mainstream” media, an odd metamorphosis occurred this week: somehow the confirmation hearings of Sonia Sotomayor became a referendum on Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-AL.

His leftist critics paint Sessions as a racist, citing as “evidence” discredited tales of a spate of racist black church burnings in the 1990s.  Several of  MSNBC’s talking spleens have trotted out the line, but none as effectively as Amy Goodman of the George Soros-funded program “Democracy Now!”

Goodman interviewed Sarah Wildman of the George Soros-funded left-liberal magazine The American Prospect. Wildman claimed that Sessions, while attorney general of Alabama, “was accused of not looking into the [black] church burnings that crossed the state of Alabama in the early ’90s.” Goodman added she remembered covering him in the mid-90s  “[w]hen he was attorney general…It was the time of the rash of church burnings, black church burnings, across the South.”

The only trouble was, the “black church burnings” of the mid-90s were a media feeding frenzy, not an actual occurrence.  The myth was discredited by that far right-wing rag, the American Journalism Review, which noted the work of USA Today in popularizing, then dismissing the story. The AJR recorded that paper “concluded that there was no evidence of a grand conspiracy or even of a significant increase in church arsons.”

The idea that Sessions ignored this simmering (pun intended) scandal is odd. In 1996, during Sessions’ tenure as attorney general, Alabama Fire Marshal John Robison investigated and discovered some reported “arsons” were accidental, some were merely vandalism (rather than arson), and one “racist” black church burning was set by its (black) pastor. The Klansman had no robes.

Attempting to paint Sessions as outside the mainstream, Goodman, Rachel Maddow, and others reported that Jeff Sessions called the ACLU an “unAmerican” and a “Communist-inspired” organization — which only proves he was paying attention. The ACLU was founded by Roger N. Baldwin, a lifelong Marxist who parroted the party line on the Hitler-Stalin Pact. As director of the ACLU, Baldwin wrote in his 1934 article “Freedom in the USA and the USSR” that “the Soviet Union has already created liberties far greater than exist elsewhere in the world.” Lest the Stalinist praise be missed, Baldwin later mused on his legal work:

Communism is the goal…I don’t regret being part of the Communist tactic. I knew what I was doing. I was not an innocent liberal. I wanted what the Communists wanted, and I traveled the United Front road to get it.

However did Sessions come to his conclusion?

The Goodman segment includes an illuminating sidenote: archival news footage stating Sessions was targeted in the 1980s by People for the American Way, Hollywood producer Norman Lear’s front for perpetual culture wars, which is currently taking aim at Connecticut fireman Frank Ricci.

At least the 20-year-old news segment puts a name to one of Sessions’ accusers. Sarah Wildman, who has made a career of smearing the senator. consistently hid behind the passive voice and anonymous, third party allegations of Sessions’ wrongdoing. For instance, Sessions’ actions in Alabama “led to a record which people have said at best was insensitive to race.” (She went on to cite Ted Kennedy as an outstanding moral authority.) She stated Sessions “has been praised by some of the most far right-wing groups, groups like FAIR [The Federation for American Immigration Reform], which have been called associated with white supremacists.” Were these allegations true? Who cares; Wildman is interested in making her point by stringing along citations that support her. (And FAIR consistently represents the American mainstream view of immigration, all the more reason to misrepresent it.) Though Wildman admitted “I don’t know what his affiliation is with them,” in the next breath she assured her viewers Sessions’s “association is far more connected” than Sotomayor’s with identity politics-obsessed lawyers.

Really? Sotomayor set policy at Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, now LatinoJustice on such items as labeling the death penalty racist. Did Sessions make policy at FAIR, or the Klan, or wherever?

One can take the MSNBC/left-wing assault on Sessions as an acknowledgement that he has damaged the Left’s it-girl during what was supposed to be an uncontested coronation, or see it as yet another example of the Democrats’ bottomless preference for the politics of personal destruction. However you classify it, classify these particular aspects of it as an assault on the facts.

This story originally appeared on Thursday, July 16, 2009, on NewsRealblog.