The Washington Post ombudsman on Sunday raised questions about why it took the newspaper more than a year to write a news story about the controversy surrounding a 2008 voter intimidation case against the New Black Panther Party.
The case received its first full story in The Post on Thursday. The newspaper made only “passing references” to the controversy in three stories in 2009, while major media outlets including the New York Times, Associated Press and Fox News had more thorough coverage of the case, Post ombudsman Andrew Alexander wrote.
Main Justice has offered comprehensive coverage of the New Black Panther Party case for more than a year.
The case centers on two members of the anti-white fringe group who stood outside a majority-black polling place in military-style clothing. One of them held a nightstick. Conservatives have turned the case into a rallying cry against Attorney General Eric Holder’s Justice Department, which dismissed the case against all but one defendant.
The ombudsman said the controversy “screams for clarity” on whether Holder’s DOJ is colorblind in its prosecution of civil rights cases, if the investigation into the handling of the case by the independent Commission on Civil Rights is nonpartisan and whether former DOJ Civil Rights Division prosecutor J. Christian Adams, a leading voice in the controversy, is trying to propagate a conservative agenda.
National Editor Kevin Merida told Alexander the controversy is “significant.” He said he would have liked the controversy covered sooner, but blamed limited resources for the lack of coverage.
“Better late than never,” Alexander wrote. “There’s plenty left to explore.”