Monday's New York Times front page contains a "Congressional Memo" by David Herszenhorn and Carl Hulse, "In Personal Ethics Battles, a Partywide Threat." The party is the Democrat Party, the threat possible ethics trials for prominent Democratic representatives Charlie Rangel and Maxine Waters.
After summarizing the danger that the trials pose for Democrats in an election year, the Times checked in on an unreliable source, Rep. James Clyburn, Democrat of South Carolina, to raise a defense of Rangel and Waters, both of whom are black, as is Clyburn.
Clyburn bears responsibility for the evidently false charges of racial slurs being hurled at civil rights hero turned congressman John Lewis of Georgia during the Capitol Hill protests March 20 against Obama-care. Herszenhorn and Hulse gave Clyburn (who has a history of making dubious accusations of racism) an unimpeded platform to indirectly repeat his allegations.
And the cases could feed racial strains both inside the Democratic caucus, where black members are asking why so many investigations seem to be aimed at them, and out among voters, especially in rural and white districts where many conservative Democrats face tight races.
Representative James E. Clyburn, Democrat of South Carolina and the House whip, defended the two lawmakers' rights to a trial, but said it was inevitable that some political opponents would try to turn the ethics questions into a race issue. "Those Tea Party people that showed up at the health care debate, they will not hesitate for one moment to racialize something," said Mr. Clyburn, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus. "They did, and they will."
Mr. Clyburn said there was a lesson to be learned from the case of Shirley Sherrod, the Agriculture Department official who was dismissed after being wrongly accused of racism based on an incomplete video clip. "If you saw what went out initially, you got one impression," he said. "When you got time to put the whole thing in proper perspective, you got the opposite impression."
It's really no surprise that the Times's reporters failed to challenge Clyburn, since both reporters swallowed the same allegations of racism against Obama-care protesters.
David Herszenhorn did so in an April 1, 2010 podcast sliming protesters against Obama-care:
One is clearly there's a racial component. Some members of Congress you know, had epithets hurled at them as protesters marched around the Capitol on the day of the big House vote.
Co-author Carl Hulse, who covers Congress, made the same charge in a blog post March 21, referring to the previous day's protests on Capitol Hill:
After racial slurs and other derogatory terms were hurled at Democrats by protesters on Saturday, numerous Democrats walked en masse from the House office buildings to the Capitol, running a gantlet of jeering and booing demonstrators.