Media Silence on Allegations of Partisanship in Hiring Career Lawyers at DOJ

American Spectator senior editor Quin Hillyer appeared on the Fox News Channel's America's News Headquarters program on Sunday to highlight the media's continued silence about the Obama administration's use of liberal ideology as a criterion in hiring lawyers for career Justice Department positions, even though the media leaped on similar accusations during the Bush years.

While Bush's DOJ was subjected to media condemnation and an official investigation over it's hiring practices, Hillyer recounted, 'cut forward to the Obama administration and they are doing not just the same thing, but to the Nth degree. They are doing it far worse than the Bush administration ever did, without any, any attention until now, certainly from the big newspapers.'

Indeed, the Media Research Center documented how in March 2007 the networks swiftly piled on to Democratic complaints about partisanship in the firing of eight U.S. Attorneys a few months earlier. After Senate Democrats began attacking Bush's Attorney General, the networks followed suit.

As the MRC's Brent Baker recounted at the time, on her March 13, 2007 CBS Evening News, Katie Couric declared that 'the uproar is growing tonight over the firing of eight federal prosecutors by the Justice Department,' while fill-in NBC Nightly News anchor Campbell Brown teased: 'The Attorney General and the firestorm tonight over the controversial dismissal of several federal prosecutors. Was it political punishment?' Brown soon asserted that 'it's a story that has been brewing for weeks and it exploded today.'

Three years later, in 2010, the Justice Department's special prosecutor found that while the firing of the U.S. Attorneys 'violated Justice Department principles,' no crime was committed and no criminal charges were filed.

But in the midst of that investigation, in 2008, the Justice Department's inspector general did find fault with the way the Bush administration had handled the hiring of career positions. The New York Times reported on June 25, 2008: 'Justice Department officials illegally used 'political or ideological' factors in elite recruiting programs in recent years, tapping law school graduates with Federalist Society membership or other conservative credentials over more qualified candidates with liberal-sounding resumes, an internal report found Tuesday.'

As Hillyer recounted more than a month ago in a report posted at the Center for Individual Freedom's Web site, a review conducted by Pajamas Media has so far found complete liberal conformity in their review (using the Freedom of Information Act) of hiring at Obama's Justice Department.

While political appointees (usually the top officials of a department or agency) usually match the administration's ideology, career officials are supposed to be selected based on merit, not partisanship or ideology.

But in stark contrast to the way they handled similar charges during the Bush years, the networks and big papers so far have been silent about this potential violation of hiring rules at the DOJ.

So you can compare and contrast the two situations, here's an excerpt of what Hillyer wrote last month, followed by a lengthier excerpt of the Times report from 2008 which recounted the rules which Bush DOJ officials had allegedly violated:

# Hillyer, 'Holder Justice: No Conservative Need Apply,' August 24, 2011:

... When I was at The Washington Times, we broke the story (in this editorial) that a whole slate of 16 new hires or promotions consisted of nothing but liberal activists. Again, if these are 'career' slots in which political considerations are not supposed to prevail, it stands to reason that at least a reasonable percentage of the hires would lean right. But not here.

That Washington Times report was the tip of the iceberg. Now Pajamas Media has analyzed the hiring in five – count them, five – different sections of DoJ. So far, those five sections in the Civil Rights Division have hired 70 lawyers. According to Pajamas, every single one – every single one, every single one, every single one – has boasted a resume full of ideologically leftist connections.

These people were members of groups like 'Queer Resistance Front,' 'Intersex Society of North America,' and of course People for the American Way. Their published essays focused on issues such as 'Genital Normalizing Surgery on Intersexed Infants' and on arguing that providing material support for terrorism isn't a war crime. They, or those promoted, have histories of extracurricular activities that include getting arrested at a World Bank protest, going on a hunger strike while chaining oneself to an oak tree and doing advocacy work for 'the rights of incarcerated native Hawaiians to dance the hula and perform Hawaiian chants and rituals in privately owned prisons in Arizona.' A large number of them have donated significant campaign funds to Barack Obama, and some to other liberal candidates.

Not a single one has a single affiliation with any group seen as right of center. Actually, according to Pajamas, none is even apolitical. Instead, all are definitively liberal. ...

# New York Times, June 25, 2008, 'Report Assails Political Hiring In Justice Dept.'

Justice Department officials illegally used 'political or ideological' factors in elite recruiting programs in recent years, tapping law school graduates with Federalist Society membership or other conservative credentials over more qualified candidates with liberal-sounding resumes, an internal report found Tuesday.

The report, prepared by the Justice Department's own inspector general and its ethics office, portrays a clumsy effort by senior Justice Department screeners to weed out candidates for career positions whom they considered 'leftists,' using Internet search engines to look for incriminating information or evidence of possible liberal bias.

One rejected candidate from Harvard Law School worked for Planned Parenthood. Another wrote opinion pieces critical of the USA Patriot Act and the nomination of Samuel A. Alito Jr. to the Supreme Court. A third applicant worked for Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and posted an unflattering cartoon of President Bush on his MySpace page.

Another applicant, a student at the top of his class at Harvard who was fluent in Arabic, was relegated to the 'questionable' pile because he was a member of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a group that advocates civil liberties. And another rejected candidate said in his essay that he was 'personally conflicted' about the National Security Agency's program of wiretapping without warrants.

The report, prepared jointly by the office of the inspector general, Glenn A. Fine, and the Office of Professional Responsibility, is the first in a series of internal reviews growing out of last year's controversy over the dismissals of nine United States attorneys. The report is the first from an official investigation to support accusations that the Bush Justice Department has been overly politicized.

'When it comes to the hiring of nonpartisan career attorneys, our system of justice should not be corrupted by partisan politics,' said Representative John Conyers Jr., the Michigan Democrat who is chairman of the Judiciary Committee. 'It appears the politicization at Justice was so pervasive that even interns had to pass a partisan litmus test.' ...

The obvious question for the media is, if Bush's 'partisan litmus test' was so awful, why no interest in whether Barack Obama's Justice Department is apparently doing the same thing?

- Rich Noyes is Research Director at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.