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The Martyrology of the American Right


This is a truly fascinating NYT investigation of how Clarence Thomas came to hire a virulent racist as one of his judicial clerks.

Some background: For a law school graduate, getting a SCOTUS clerkship is just about the most plum job out there. In the extremely hierarchical and status-obsessed world of Elite Lawyer Brain, it’s something of golden career ticket, that includes future emoluments such as $400,000 signing bonuses with law firms and the like. So the competition for these jobs, of which there are only 36 per year, i.e., less than one per every 1,000 annual law graduates, is very fierce.

Which brings us to Crystal Clanton:

The Thomases and Ms. Clanton, a 29-year-old conservative organizer turned lawyer, have built such a close relationship that the couple informally refer to her as their “nearly adopted daughter.” Ms. Clanton, who was previously accused of sending racist text messages, including one that read “I HATE BLACK PEOPLE,” has lived in the Thomas home, assisted Ms. Thomas in her political consulting business and joined her in a “girls trip” to New York. . . .

For Justice Thomas’s critics, his selection of Ms. Clanton as a clerk is blatant favoritism, if not nepotism, particularly for a justice already under an ethics cloud for revelations about his gifts and travel from wealthy benefactors. To his defenders, Justice Thomas is showing admirable willingness to take in a young conservative and shield her from a firestorm of attacks for text messages that he and other supporters say were fakes designed to malign her.

Either way, his decision is another example of the justice landing himself in public controversy, this time by hiring his wife’s former employee and a virtual family member primarily known outside the justice’s circle for allegations that she sent anti-Black texts. Friends say Ms. Clanton’s hiring also reflects Justice Thomas’s sympathies to a young woman under siege, as he has been, from what he has long viewed as a sanctimonious liberal elite.

Quite apart from the blatant nepotism here — there’s not the slightest doubt that Clanton’s resume wouldn’t have gotten five seconds consideration for a SCOTUS clerkship if she wasn’t Clarence and Ginni Thomas’s “nearly adopted daughter” — the side of this story I find fascinating is the retro-engineering of Racist Nepo Baby into an Innocent Victim of The Liberal Media, just like a certain SCOTUS justice or two, who were also “smeared” by “false allegations.”

The Times, in the style we’ve all come to know and love so well, turns this into a he said/she said story, when the facts on the ground couldn’t be clearer. In its demure way, the paper doesn’t actually quote the particular text that got the talented Ms. Clanton fired from Charlie Kirk’s crypto-fascist front organization Turning Point USA back in 2017.

Screenshots provided to me by a source show that Crystal Clanton, who served until last summer as the group’s national field director, sent a text message to another Turning Point employee saying, “i hate black people. Like fuck them all . . . I hate blacks. End of story.”

The Times goes on to inaccurately characterize the situation as one in which Clanton merely claimed to Jane Mayer that she didn’t recall sending this text. As wildly implausible as that story is, it’s actually less damning than the complete story, which is that, when confronted by Mayer with a screenshot of the text, Clanton refused to comment on it!

Clanton, who resigned after serving as the group’s second-highest official for five years, at first declined to comment. “I’m no longer with Turning Point and wish not to be a part of the story,” Clanton told me over e-mail. Later, in a second e-mail, she said, “I have no recollection of these messages and they do not reflect what I believe or who I am and the same was true when I was a teenager.”

BTW, Clanton’s comment to Mayer was made all of about 18 months after she sent the text, way back when she was a “teenager” (she was about 20 when she sent it, and 21 when she was responding to Mayer’s queries).

And in case you need any more evidence that the preposterous story cooked up later by Charlie Kirk — that Clanton was the victim of a smear by a former Turning Point USA employee who fabricated the text — is nothing more than the typical Orwellian jamming of a little not so light racism down the memory hole:

John Ryan O’Rourke, the former Turning Point employee who received the text messages from Clanton, requested that the messages “not be used in any article or background information concerning Turning Point” and declined to comment on them. Kirk said in an e-mail that “Turning Point assessed the situation and took decisive action within 72 hours of being made aware of the issue.” Soon after, Clanton left the organization.

How Mayer independently got access to the text messages is not clear, but if O’Rourke was trying to smear poor innocent little Crystal, he certainly went about it in a remarkably ineffective way, given that he gave the information to Mayer on background!

In other words, it couldn’t be more obvious that Clanton sent the wildly racist text in question, just as it couldn’t be more obvious that Clarence Thomas sexually harassed Anita Hill, and Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted Christine Blasey Ford. But a little thing like historical truth is hardly an obstacle to the right wing propaganda machine, which always stands at the ready to re-write history, in order to turn the perpetrators into the victims of a vast left-wing conspiracy to smear the stars of Fox’s Book of Martyrs.

BTW there’s a whole lot more here, including the fact that George Mason University’s law school gave a full tuition scholarship — given to only 4% of the members of Clanton’s entering class — to somebody who, besides being an avowed racist, also broke the law by helping Ginni Thomas use Turning Point USA resources to campaign for Ted Cruz in 2016 (see Mayer’s story for the very grimy details). Turning Point USA is a 501(c)(3), so that’s a big no-no, legally speaking, not that Ginni or Clarence or Charlie Kirk or anybody at George Mason’s law school cares about these sorts of petty legalities.

But the really striking thing here is how racism, sexual harassment, sexual assault, tax fraud, bribery, and who knows what other violations of federal law, judicial ethics codes, and basic human decency, all get laundered through the right wing propaganda machine, until the guilty have been made once again as pure as the new-driven snow.

Jesus only forgave sins. Murdoch et. al. make sure they disappear completely.

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