Some black journalists sympathetic to Attorney General Eric Holder’s political plight have been underwhelmed with the support being provided to him by the White House and leaders within the black community.
Holder has been under fire for his handling of multiple controversies, including the Operation Fast and Furious scandal and the investigation into whether Obama administration officials were complicit in the recent spate of intelligence leaks.
On Sunday’s airing of TVOne’s “Washington Watch with Roland Martin” — a show that describes itself as the “voice to the newsmakers, politicians, community leaders, and celebrities that offer perspective from the African American point of view” — several black journalists questioned the support shown by the Obama administration and black leaders for Holder.
“This week we’ve seen lots of attacks on Attorney General Eric Holder,” host Roland Martin said.
“Many Republicans are calling on him to resign by demanding he release more documents, also in the Fast and Furious case. So, I want to ask the panel, is this White House doing enough to protect the attorney general? And also, where is black leadership? I mean, here you have Eric Holder, who has been — first of all, he was a high-ranking official in the Justice Department under President Bill Clinton. He becomes the black, first African-American attorney general. He has been very aggressive on many issues. But some folks are saying that look, he’s been taken to the woodshed and he is not getting the kind of support that you would think he would be getting.”
MSNBC contributor and former DNC spokeswoman Karen Finney proposed that the White House send out surrogates who are experts in each of the individual controversies Holder is embroiled in to defend the attorney general.
“What I would like to see is — to me the way to do it is let’s have — because you’re right, these programs are hard to explain, there are a lot of different pieces, it started under Bush,” Finney said.
“But how about some surrogates in the intelligence community, some surrogates in the homeland security community that can come out and speak to that? I think there’s a way to be defending Eric Holder and substantiating the points that he’s making because he’s making some very important points in terms of legal precedents, which we’ve heard it in the past from other administrations. And I think that’s the time when you need other validators on the outside.”
Finney later reiterated that point, which she said was the best way to defend Holder from the right’s attacks on him. But Martin, who is also a contributor for CNN, expressed bewilderment that the White House and black leaders have not done more to defend Holder, especially when compared to how two of George W. Bush’s controversial attorney generals were vigorously defended by their supporters.
“I’m saying looking at various cable shows, looking at what’s in print, I am not seeing the aggressive defense of the attorney general,” Martin said. “I think back to President George W. Bush. I look at AG Alberto Gonzalez. I look at John Ashcroft. And again, I mean, you saw folks saying we’re going to have your back. And I’m looking at again black leadership. I have not seen an aggressive defense of AG Holder.”
Co-panelist Armstrong Williams, host of “The Right Side with Armstrong Williams,” argued that Obama was implicitly supporting Holder since the president had given no indication that Holder’s job was in jeopardy. Still, Martin maintained that providing strong support for Holder was vital at a time when the Justice Department faced so many pressing issues.
“The bottom line is one of the reasons I say when we look at these various attacks, you look at what’s happening in Florida when it comes to voter purge,” Martin said.
“You look at the DOJ’s involvement. Look at voter ID laws. At this moment when it comes to the election being months away, it is important to have stability and a strong Department of Justice to ensure that those voting rights are protected. And so that’s why I’m saying, when you have an attorney general who has been taken through — taken to the woodshed, it makes it more difficult when some of these other cases come out. And that’s why I’m still very surprised that I have not seen an even more aggressive defense of him from black leadership considering the fact he is the first African-American attorney general.”