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Fox News reports 'Black Panther' poll intimidation

November 4, 2008 | 12:30 pm

Midday Tuesday, Fox News Channel was highlighting reports that at least two men it identified as "Black Panthers" were intimidating voters at a polling place in Philadelphia.

The network showed grainy black-and-white footage of uniform-clad men, at least one of whom was said to be carrying a nightstick. Fox News reporter Rick Leventhal, live on the scene at the polling place around 2:25 PM Eastern time, told viewers that a voter had complained to police, who had escorted one of the men away. He also reported that the alleged Panthers had proclaimed, "We're tired of white supremacy."

Leventhal approached a black man wearing a beret, who spurned his questions. "Is there any reason why you're wearing that uniform?" Leventhal asked. When the man, who was not identified, said that people wanted to vote without cameras and questions from journalists, Leventhal replied that he and his camera crew had a right to be as close as 10 feet to the entrance to the polling place.

The details behind the story remained unclear. Fox News neither identified the men it said were Black Panthers nor explained how the network knew that they belonged to such an organization. The source of the amateur video was unknown. And as Leventhal cautioned viewers, "We don't know that any voters were denied entry to the polling place."

Even so, the story began sweeping political websites and blogs by midday. Conservative blogger Michelle Malkin headlined a post "Obama's civilian security force: Billy club-wielding security guards at Philly polls." That inspired one commenter to write: "Still waiting for a collectivist troll to defend this."