The Media Mob Versus Clarence Thomas

Commentary Earlier this month, ProPublica triggered a media frenzy by publishing a story about Justice Clarence Thomas’s friendship with billionaire Harlan Crow and how that friendship included the Thomases having been Crow’s guests on multiple expensive vacations. On April 13, ProPublica published a follow-up story, this time about Crow’s purchase of some modestly priced properties owned by the Thomas family. Most media outlets have been careful not to actually accuse Justice Thomas of corruption, while at the same time striving via innuendo to create the impression that he is, indeed, corrupt. They do so by using manipulative, emotionally charged buzzwords. Justice Thomas must be corrupt because—well, golly!—he has accepted the generosity of a friend who happens to be rich. And not just any rich person, but a “GOP megadonor,” “a right-wing billionaire”—a man who has treated Justice Thomas to “opulent” (horrors!) vacations. U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) was bolder, or more reckless, if you prefer. He tweeted his outrage at Justice Thomas’s “conflict of interest.” So far, though, the accusatory mob has been noticeably reticent about making specific charges. Improper quid pro quos remain in the realm of potential, conjectural accusations, not concrete charges. Those who would dare to accuse Clarence Thomas of such malfeasance have additional challenges to meet beyond the starting point of making a specific allegation. Over his 30-plus year tenure on the Supreme Court, Justice Thomas has been remarkably consistent in voting in accord with his well-known conservative philosophy, which is the closest thing to a “strict constructionist” philosophy on the Court today. Can anyone point to a vote that departs from his philosophy as a favor or payback to a friend? Good luck with that! If journalists really want to find officeholders in Washington receiving monetary gifts in exchange for voting a certain way, they could make an entire career out of investigating Congress and the not-so-mysterious reasons why so many members of Congress become wealthy or wealthier in and after holding office. Indeed, one might think that the media would find more fertile ground for exposés of corruption by investigating the alleged quid pro quos involving millions of dollars being funneled from foreigners to bank accounts owned by people with the surname of Biden, but no—they would much rather go after a conservative Supreme Court justice. Why is that? You can’t ask that question without being willfully blind or ideologically driven. Going after Clarence Thomas instead of President Joe Biden or members of Congress and their cronies is an example of the Biblical metaphor about straining out gnats and swallowing camels. The reasons for the attempted character assassination of Thomas, and the unjust attempt to convict him without a trial, aren’t just personal, but partisan and ideological. Many of the frenzied media stories painting lurid, sinister images of Justice Thomas either assert directly or quote (progressive) “experts” who make absurd statements, such as, “The Supreme Court is operating with lower ethical standards than any other federal government institution.” The person making that charge apparently forgot about the FBI, the Department of Justice, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Federal Trade Commission, Congress and the president of the United States, and who knows how many other ethically challenged federal government entities. The most common charge is that Thomas’s continued presence on the Supreme Court is causing a “catastrophic loss of legitimacy” and tarnishes the Court’s reputation. The media should be more concerned about tarnishing their own reputation. It’s unseemly, reckless, and fundamentally unjust that a media mob has essentially convicted and condemned a man without first identifying an actual crime. Their scorched-earth attacks are morally repugnant. Clarence Thomas is a good man. Ask anyone who knows him, starting with me. No, I’m not a buddy or an intimate of Justice Thomas, but I was privileged to engage him in a private, one-on-one conversation and then to watch him interact with college students for a couple of hours. What a noble human being! He embodies admirable character traits, including goodness, genuineness, honesty, and humility. He’s a man of integrity and (to use a pair of words that seem sadly outdated today) virtue and honor. Those who insinuate that such a man is somehow “corrupt” are themselves behaving dishonorably. In his private life, besides happening to have a close rich friend, Thomas can be found helping black youths in various ways, including working to enable them to attend private schools. He’s also occasionally spotted quietly doing volunteer community work, such as laying wreaths at Arlington National Cemetery. Is this humble, unpretentious man to be denied a freedom that you and I have—the freedom to accept the generous hospitality of a rich friend, if we

The Media Mob Versus Clarence Thomas

Commentary

Earlier this month, ProPublica triggered a media frenzy by publishing a story about Justice Clarence Thomas’s friendship with billionaire Harlan Crow and how that friendship included the Thomases having been Crow’s guests on multiple expensive vacations. On April 13, ProPublica published a follow-up story, this time about Crow’s purchase of some modestly priced properties owned by the Thomas family.

Most media outlets have been careful not to actually accuse Justice Thomas of corruption, while at the same time striving via innuendo to create the impression that he is, indeed, corrupt. They do so by using manipulative, emotionally charged buzzwords. Justice Thomas must be corrupt because—well, golly!—he has accepted the generosity of a friend who happens to be rich. And not just any rich person, but a “GOP megadonor,” “a right-wing billionaire”—a man who has treated Justice Thomas to “opulent” (horrors!) vacations.

U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) was bolder, or more reckless, if you prefer. He tweeted his outrage at Justice Thomas’s “conflict of interest.” So far, though, the accusatory mob has been noticeably reticent about making specific charges. Improper quid pro quos remain in the realm of potential, conjectural accusations, not concrete charges.

Those who would dare to accuse Clarence Thomas of such malfeasance have additional challenges to meet beyond the starting point of making a specific allegation. Over his 30-plus year tenure on the Supreme Court, Justice Thomas has been remarkably consistent in voting in accord with his well-known conservative philosophy, which is the closest thing to a “strict constructionist” philosophy on the Court today. Can anyone point to a vote that departs from his philosophy as a favor or payback to a friend? Good luck with that!

If journalists really want to find officeholders in Washington receiving monetary gifts in exchange for voting a certain way, they could make an entire career out of investigating Congress and the not-so-mysterious reasons why so many members of Congress become wealthy or wealthier in and after holding office.

Indeed, one might think that the media would find more fertile ground for exposés of corruption by investigating the alleged quid pro quos involving millions of dollars being funneled from foreigners to bank accounts owned by people with the surname of Biden, but no—they would much rather go after a conservative Supreme Court justice. Why is that? You can’t ask that question without being willfully blind or ideologically driven. Going after Clarence Thomas instead of President Joe Biden or members of Congress and their cronies is an example of the Biblical metaphor about straining out gnats and swallowing camels. The reasons for the attempted character assassination of Thomas, and the unjust attempt to convict him without a trial, aren’t just personal, but partisan and ideological.

Many of the frenzied media stories painting lurid, sinister images of Justice Thomas either assert directly or quote (progressive) “experts” who make absurd statements, such as, “The Supreme Court is operating with lower ethical standards than any other federal government institution.” The person making that charge apparently forgot about the FBI, the Department of Justice, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Federal Trade Commission, Congress and the president of the United States, and who knows how many other ethically challenged federal government entities.

The most common charge is that Thomas’s continued presence on the Supreme Court is causing a “catastrophic loss of legitimacy” and tarnishes the Court’s reputation. The media should be more concerned about tarnishing their own reputation.

It’s unseemly, reckless, and fundamentally unjust that a media mob has essentially convicted and condemned a man without first identifying an actual crime. Their scorched-earth attacks are morally repugnant. Clarence Thomas is a good man. Ask anyone who knows him, starting with me. No, I’m not a buddy or an intimate of Justice Thomas, but I was privileged to engage him in a private, one-on-one conversation and then to watch him interact with college students for a couple of hours. What a noble human being! He embodies admirable character traits, including goodness, genuineness, honesty, and humility. He’s a man of integrity and (to use a pair of words that seem sadly outdated today) virtue and honor. Those who insinuate that such a man is somehow “corrupt” are themselves behaving dishonorably.

In his private life, besides happening to have a close rich friend, Thomas can be found helping black youths in various ways, including working to enable them to attend private schools. He’s also occasionally spotted quietly doing volunteer community work, such as laying wreaths at Arlington National Cemetery. Is this humble, unpretentious man to be denied a freedom that you and I have—the freedom to accept the generous hospitality of a rich friend, if we should happen to have one?

Beyond the personal calumnies, the larger target of the media and progressive mobs is to discredit, and, if possible, end the current conservative majority on the Supreme Court. The left are unhappy with a conservative-leaning Supreme Court, just as conservatives tend to be unhappy when the Court leans left. That’s just the way it is. After more than half a century of a liberal slant to the Court, the pendulum has swung back. Hopefully, some members of the angry mob on the left will calm down and acknowledge that in a truly democratic republic, one side doesn’t deserve a permanent hegemony.

Bottom line: While it’s alleged that Justice Clarence Thomas may not have fully complied with the Court’s ethical guidelines, it’s also clear that his ideological foes have come up with no evidence of corruption. It also seems like those guidelines may need to be revisited and updated. They should target real corruption, and not deny Supreme Court justices the same freedoms that the rest of us have.

For the second time in his public career, Thomas is the target of a campaign of character assassination. He’s a man of deep faith imbued with a Christian conscience. I hope he’s comforted at this ugly time by the beatitude, “Blessed are ye when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake” (Matt. 5:11). The Judge of all knows whose heart is with Him.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.