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WaPost slides offensive remark against Clarence Thomas into 'news' report: 'Why don't they just call him an Uncle Tom?'

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Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty Images

A Washington Post report on a top Democratic lawmaker's influence over President Joe Biden's next Supreme Court nominee denigrated Justice Clarence Thomas, the court's only black justice, with a racially charged reference.

The Post referred to Thomas as "the Black justice whose rulings often resemble the thinking of White conservatives," dismissing all of his personal convictions and legal philosophy as merely co-opted from white people.

The report, authored by White House reporter Cleve Wootson Jr. and congressional reporter Marianna Sotomayor, covers House Majority Whip Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) and his advocacy for U.S. District Judge J. Michelle Childs to be Biden's nominee to replace retiring Justice Stephen Breyer on the Supreme Court. Childs, a federal judge from South Carolina, is feared by some progressives to be one of the more moderate of Biden's possible nominees.

The derogatory reference to Thomas — the only reference in the lengthy article — comes after a quote from Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), a friend and ally of Clyburn's who assured the Washington Post that no one believes a judicial nominee supported by Clyburn would turn out to be a secret conservative on the court.

“Nobody that I’m aware of feels that opposing Clyburn’s nomination would be the wise thing to do,” Thompson told the Post. "If you know that a person has been vetted by Jim Clyburn, you know that person won’t go to the court and end up being a Clarence Thomas."

The Post explained that Thompson was "referring to the Black justice whose rulings often resemble the thinking of White conservatives."

That offensive description of Thomas was wholly an invention of the reporters. Thompson said no such thing, nor did he even imply that by his remarks, although he has previously called Thomas an "Uncle Tom."

Some commentators accused the Washington Post of doing the same thing in spirit.

"Why don't they just call him an Uncle Tom?" commented Jeff Jacoby, an op-ed columnist with the Boston Globe who criticized the Post article on Twitter.

Other conservatives piled on the Post, including Sen. Mike Lee (Utah).

"This bon mot in a reported analysis about Rep. James Clyburn’s credibility doesn’t even qualify as a dog whistle. It’s as subtle as an air horn," said Ed Morrissey, senior editor for Hot Air.

"What is it about Clarence Thomas that brings out liberals’ inner racist?" asked Tom Elliott, the founder of Grabien.

"Just a little casual racism in the news section of the Washington Post," said John Daniel Davidson, senior editor of the Federalist.

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