UPDATE: The Washington Post has removed the “imprecise” description of Thomas. See a fuller update below for more on what changed.
The Washington Post on Thursday unloaded an ugly attack on Clarence Thomas, seeming to smear the Supreme Court Justice as an Uncle Tom. In a story on the relationship between Joe Biden and Democratic Congressman James Clyburn, writers Cleve R. Wootson Jr. and Marianna Sotomayor described Thomas as someone “whose rulings often resemble the thinking of White conservatives.”
Here’s the full context. Quoting Democratic Congressman Bennie Thompson, the Post writers slimed:
Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), a friend and ally of Clyburn’s for over 30 years, said even Clyburn’s critics respect his political instincts and his connection with a valuable but often disappointed subset of Democratic voters.
“Nobody that I’m aware of feels that opposing Clyburn’s nomination would be the wise thing to do,” he said. “If you know that a person has been vetted by Jim Clyburn, you know that person won’t go to the court and end up being a Clarence Thomas,” referring to the Black justice whose rulings often resemble the thinking of White conservatives.
Did you catch that? According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of Uncle Tom is this: “A Black person who is overeager to win the approval of whites.” Sure seems like that’s what the Post is implying.
UPDATE: After considerable blowback, the Post removed the insistence that Thomas’s rulings are designed to please “white conservatives.” Here is the paper's update, which is featured at the top of the online version:
A previous version of this story imprecisely referred to Justice Clarence Thomas's opinions as often reflecting the thinking of White conservatives, rather than conservatives broadly. That reference has been removed.
The offending section now simply reads:
“Nobody that I’m aware of feels that opposing Clyburn’s nomination would be the wise thing to do,” he said. “If you know that a person has been vetted by Jim Clyburn, you know that person won’t go to the court and end up being a Clarence Thomas,” referring to the Black conservative justice.
Here's a screen shot of the original version:
These types of nasty attacks on Thomas by liberal journalists are common. On November 2, 2007, Jeffrey Toobin, who years later would expose his penis to media colleagues on a Zoom call, sneered about the conservative justice: “The guy who, sixteen years after he’s been on the court, is as bitter, is as angry, is as isolated from the black community as he was on the day he was confirmed.”
The Post piece, other than the hateful aside against Thomas, is a puff piece on the relationship between the President and the House Majority Whip and who Clyburn might want to be Biden’s Supreme Court pick. Wootson and Sotomayor laughably describe the deeply liberal Biden and Clyburn as “pragmatic” and “incremental.”
Other Democrats without a decades-long relationship with Biden or a dinner invite say they worry that the friendship between two of the nation’s most powerful men will drown out their opinions of who should fill Justice Stephen G. Breyer’s Supreme Court seat. It’s a particular concern considering Biden and Clyburn both have reputations for embracing pragmatic, incremental policymaking over liberal causes with less chance of becoming law.
What world do Washington Post writers live in?