Andrew talked incessantly about controlling the narrative, as Stacy reflects. Byron York stressed in his remembrance that Breitbart always insisted that culture was upstream from politics. This morning, Jeff considers the cost of backing down, with respect to the Rush Limbaugh fallout. And it has become a truism that even in death Breitbart exposed the nature of the liberal left by virtue of all the abuse hurled at his memory on Twitter and elsewhere.
Twitter, particularly, and blogs also though to a lesser extent, are ‘hot media,’ in the sense that a good deal of what gets uttered is off the cuff, with little or no time for reflection. That’s why it’s particularly disturbing that the major newspapers in this country have used his death as an opportunity to repeat the lies about Breitbart’s role in l’affaire Sherrod. The facts are these. Breitbart never edited the initial video that caused such a disturbance. The video he published of Sherrod’s address to an NAACP audience regarding the Pigford swindler included her turn-about, where she stated to the audience that after she had turned away a white farmer who had asked for help she had an epiphany that it wasn’t about race so much as opportunity and representation. What appalled Breitbart, and what he stressed, was that while Sherrod had spoken to the audience about having sent the white farmer to seek help from ‘his own kind,’ they seemed pleased with that turn of events. Glenn Beck then ran with another narrative, that it was about Sherrod’s ‘reverse racism,’ only to turn about and cast the blame later in the day on Andrew Breitbart’s shoulders, by accepting the rapidly forming leftist narrative that this was a hit job on Andrew Breitbart’s part.
Breitbart did release the rest of the video when he got it, but I have to insist and will insist again and again that the video he originally released did not paint Sherrod in a bad light, because it included the exculpatory turn in her thinking. It was the Obama administration who threw her under the bus, forcing her to resign, and then later turned around and joined the chorus in blaming Breitbart and ‘ambush journalism’ for their mistake, offering Sherrod her position back, or even a higher one. And the maintenance of this narrative is very important to the left, because it serves to blacken by implication all the other truth telling that Breitbart did, and because it excuses the Obama administration from ‘acting stupidly,’ and because it relieves all of those liberal narrators in the media from having to retract what they said.
However, the facts are out there. It’s easy to research Andrew’s claims if one has any respect for the truth, and even Chris Matthews has admitted that Breitbart’s representation of the events is the truthful one. When Breitbart happened to be on hand in a cluster of DC media that had turned out to cover Anthony Wiener’s resignation over salacious tweets, he was asked to take the podium to answer some questions from the press as they were waiting for Wiener, and in the extemporaneous fashion that he became famous for, he challenged them to demonstrate one lie that he’d told them. Nobody took the bait.
As Jonah Goldberg reminds us on the Ricochet podcast, Breitbart released the Sherrod speech in reaction to a claim by black activists and politicians that they were insulted and spat upon as the walked to the signing ceremony for ObamaCare. There were citizen journalists with cameras videoing every step they took. No such thing happened, and Breitbart offered $10,000 to anyone who could prove that the charge was true. Nobody did, because mysteriously, those incidents seem to have been recorded by nobody with any of the many cameras trained on the events. Likewise, it was similarly claimed that O’Keefe’s videos from ACORN offices around the country showing them willing to give advice to further a criminal scheme were doctored, even though O’Keefe’s video as published by Breitbart showed the one person in the entire investigation who refused to help them and actually called the cops on O’Keefe and Giles. The methods that they used, as Goldberg stresses, were the same ones that brought 60 Minutes so many accolades.
Here, then, is the Chicago Tribune on Breitbart’s legacy:
The civil rights community has bitter memories of a story Breitbart got wrong, the video he posted of Shirley Sherrod, an Agriculture Department official, because she appeared to be advocating anti-white racism at an NAACP conference. When the entire speech was viewed, it turned out to be quite the opposite, a poignant plea against racism of any kind.
To me, it was a lesson for Breitbart and other new-age journalists: Respect old-school media values like accuracy and accountability, despite your skepticism about old-school media. Our first mission, whether in old or new media, is to help clear up the public’s confusion, not add to it.
Yet an unapologetic Breitbart was determined to rewrite the traditional standards of accountability, too. When we last talked a few months back, he still wanted an apology from the black caucus, but remained unapologetic about his own unfairness to Sherrod. Instead he was trying to sell me on his new suspicions about her long-time activism to win back payments from the Department of Agriculture for black farmers. I listened politely but he had a lot more suspicions than evidence. Journalism can be frustrating.
A stunning piece of hypocrisy from Clarence Page. Mr. Page, the evidence is all in the public sphere. You can easily establish a time-line. You don’t care enough about accuracy to do it, though. Beyond that, there’s plenty of opportunity to investigate Pigford and whom it benefited. Do. Your. Job.
Another snippet from the same paper:
He also forced the resignation of Dept. of Agriculture official Shirley Sherrod over select comments he posted that were taken from a much longer speech. President Obama offered Sherrod her job back but she declined.
He did no such thing. Breitbart never once asked for Sherrod’s resignation.
Mr. Breitbart earned a reputation for being playful but also selective with the facts; in an infamous case in 2010, he helped to instigate the firing of an Agriculture Department official, Shirley Sherrod, by publishing a misleading video clip of her speaking. At the time of his death, she was suing him for defamation.
No, you lying hacks.
Breitbart stumbled in the summer of 2010, when he posted a deceptively edited video purporting to show racist statements by an obscure African American government official named Shirley Sherrod. Sherrod, whose story actually illustrated how she overcame feelings of racism to help a white farmer save his land, was fired. Embarrassed, the Agriculture Department offered her a new job. She sued Breitbart for defamation. (Attorney Michael Rothbert, an expert on media law, said Sherrod could sue his estate.)
Defamation, huh? Well, good luck with that. You MSM journalists keep on telling us about your probity. You have now had years to get this story straight, and you can’t be bothered, because what you would find would be most inconvenient to the fairy tales that you tell about yourselves, to yourselves and to us. I’m sick of your pious stupidity.
The 24-year-old Fluke spoke with poise as she described a friend at Georgetown who was taking birth-control pills to control ovarian cysts but had to stop because the cost was too high. “She had to have surgery to remove her entire ovary as a result,” Fluke said. “She’s been experiencing night sweats, weight gain and other symptoms of early menopause.”
In Milbank’s column, she will be forever 24, and that’s not going to change. Because?
UPDATE: Professor Jacobson recounts the evidence supporting Breitbart’s claim that he never altered the Sherrod video.