Sep 18, 2012 No Comments ›› Pat Dollard
(THE DAILY CALLER) Internal Department of Justice emails obtained by The Daily Caller show Attorney General Eric Holder’s communications staff has collaborated with the left-wing advocacy group Media Matters for America in an attempt to quell news stories about scandals plaguing Holder and America’s top law enforcement agency.
Dozens of pages of emails between DOJ Office of Public Affairs Director Tracy Schmaler and Media Matters staffers show Schmaler, Holder’s top press defender, working with Media Matters to attack reporters covering DOJ scandals. TheDC obtained the emails through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. Emails sent in September and November 2010 show Schmaler working with Media Matters staffer Jeremy Holden on attacking news coverage of the New Black Panther Party voter intimidation scandal.
Holden attacked former DOJ Civil Rights Division attorneys J. Christian Adams and Hans von Spakovsky on Sept. 20, 2010 for what he called an attempt “to reignite the phony New Black Panther Party scandal.”
Before Holden posted his article at 7:52 p.m., Schmaler sent him several emails with information helping him attack both former DOJ oficials.
“Here’s one Wolf letter,” read the subject of one email Schmaler sent Holden that contained no text. The email was likely a reference to Virginia Republican Rep. Frank Wolf, a member of Congress who led the Republican charge on the New Black Panther Party scandal involving alleged voter intimidation at a November 2008 polling place in Philadelphia.
In response, Holden told Schmaler that “The response to interog 38 is particularly helpful. Thanks!” Interrogatory 38 was a reference to a question from Congress that the Justice Department answered, concerning the role of several senior officials in discussing litigation related to that voter intimidation case.
A follow-up email shows Schmaler sending Holden more information.
“[H]ere’s another one to Smith,” Schmaler wrote. “[I]t’s about perrelli contact with w. WH. helpful in that it makes clear perrelli didn’t have discussions w/ WH on the case (obviously confirming he knew of it) … but also illustrates [REDACTED] they’ve tried to throw up that won’t stick[.]”
Holden responded at 8:34 p.m. — three hours after Schmaler sent her first email at 5:34 — to say, “Post is live, FWIW [for what it's worth]. Thanks again.”
Nearly two months later, on Nov. 18, 2010, Holden wrote a new blog post he described as an “EXCLUSIVE,” titled “Right-wing commission to vote on flawed New Black Panthers report.”
“The conservative-dominated U.S. Commission on Civil Rights will vote Friday on an interim report that omits critical evidence disproving allegations that the Obama administration refuses to enforce voting-rights laws against racial minorities, according to Media Matters’ analysis of a copy of the report we obtained,” Holden wrote in the Nov. 18 article.
Holden attacked Adams again, and Christopher Coates — another now-former DOJ attorney.
After Holden published that piece, Schmaler sent him an email titled “Great piece…” and continuing in the body of the message, “On USCCR investigation.’” One minute later, Holden responded, writing, “Thanks!”
At 9:50 a.m. on July 8, 2011, Media Matters’ Matt Gertz wrote to Schmaler asking for her help “debunking what I think is a conservative media myth about Operation Fast and Furious.” Gertz told Schmaler that “Xochitl directed me to you as the person to talk to.” Gertz was referring to Xochitl Hinojosa, a DOJ spokeswoman and former Media Matters staffer.
“Several media outlets, including Fox News this morning, are claiming that Fast and Furious was paid for with stimulus dollars,” Gertz wrote to Schmaler. “My research suggests that this is not true, and I was hoping you’d be able to confirm that.”
Gertz added that he needed a response “by 1 p.m.” because he thought the issue was “likely to snowball if it isn’t stopped.”
In less than two hours, Schmaler responded with an answer from her “budget folks” in DOJ. “You’re right,” she told Gertz, before explaining why she thought so.
At 1:13 p.m., Gertz responded, writing, “Thanks again for your help, here’s the piece” and adding a link to his online article. An email chain from Sept. 9, 2011, shows Gertz and Schmaler expressing concern over an upcoming Fox News segment on Fast and Furious.
“This is Vanderboegh, who broke the story in the first place and has contacts in the media and at [the House] Oversight [commission]. Any idea what it’s about?” Gertz wrote to Schmaler at 8:29 a.m. that day in an email that quoted conservative blogger Mike Vanderboegh’s website: “FOX Got ‘Em. Huge Gunwalker Story Breaking Later This Morning.”
At 9:19 a.m., Schmaler replied: “So far, no one’s got an idea … unless it’s something that’s already been out. Let’s stay in touch…”
Gertz responded at 9:25 a.m. with a guess that if it were something that had already been out, it would have been a story on Indiana gun sales.
Fox News played its tease shortly after of a segment promising new information on Fast and Furious, and at 10:18 a.m. Gertz sent the text of Fox News anchor Bill Hemmer’s tease to Schmaler.
“Also two weapons found at the scene where Border Agent Brian, uh, Terry was murdered linked to a botched federal gunrunning sting operation, and today the plot thickens once again,” Gertz quoted Hemmer as saying.
Eight minutes later, Schmaler wrote a terse “??” back to Gertz, likely indicating that she did not understand Hemmer’s statement.