Democracy Has Prevailed.

July 22, 2010

More On Breitbart's Smear

An update.

So far both the White House and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack have apologized to Shirley Sherrod:
The Obama administration issued an extraordinary public apology Wednesday and offered to reinstate a federal official who was fired after she appeared to make racial comments on a misleading snippet of video.

When it became clear that Shirley Sherrod's comments had been taken out of context, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack spoke to her by phone to apologize and to ask if she would return to the department.
And in what must be a new definition of chutzpah, Andrew Breitbart has even chimed in:
Andrew Breitbart, who posted the clip of USDA official Shirley Sherrod that got her fired, said today that he feels sorry for Sherrod.

"I feel bad that they made this about her, and I feel sorry that they made this about her," he told MSNBC. "Watching how they've misconstrued, how the media has misconstrued the intention behind this, I do feel a sympathy for her plight."

Breitbart says his intention was never to prove that Sherrod, until this week the Georgia state director for rural development, was racist. He says the video he posted proves instead that the NAACP is racist, because of the audience's reaction to her speech.
That last part? That's just bullshit.

From Mediamatters:
Since his smear of Sherrod was repudiated, Breitbart has claimed that his story is "not about Shirley Sherrod" but rather about "the NAACP." In fact, in his initial post on July 19, Breitbart claimed that the video is "evidence of racism coming from a federal appointee" and that Sherrod discriminated against a white farmer in her "federal duties" as the USDA Georgia Director of Rural Development. The video itself also included text that said, "Ms. Sherrod admits that in her federally appointed position, overseeing over a billion dollars she discriminates against people due to their race." Breitbart also posted a tweet on July 19 asking, "Will Eric Holder's DOJ hold accountable fed appointee Shirley Sherrod for admitting practicing racial discrimination?" After the USDA forced Sherrod out of her position in response to the deceptive video, Big Government celebrated with a post titled: "Racist Govt Official/NAACP Award Recipient Resigns after Big Government Expose."
And Breitbart bullshit part II:
In a July 20 Fox News appearance, Breitbart claimed that the video proves there are racists among the NAACP because "the audience was laughing and applauding as she described how she maltreated the white farmer," and he argued that the audience did not "know that there was going to be a point of redemption" in her story. On a July 21 appearance on ABC's Good Morning America, Breitbart again claimed that his video shows that "at an NAACP event, people are applauding racism." But in his initial post, Breitbart described the audience reaction as only "nodding approval and murmurs of recognition and agreement," not applause. Indeed, a review of the full video indicates that the NAACP audience does not applaud at any point in her story about her interaction with the farmer.
Apart from Shirley Sherrod, no one looks good in this. The wingnut press (Andrew Breitbart, Fox "News" and so on) for lying, the mainstream press for not (not ever) calling them on it and finally and unforgivingly the Obama Administration for caving so quickly.

A pox on all their houses.


MJ said...

Why are the Ag department and White House the only ones taking a beating for this story? Are the "news" outlets that falsely reported this story not more responsible for destroying this woman's reputation?

If Fox was an actual new source, it would have run a retraction or correction by now. Not that it would make a difference to the millions of Americans who blindly follow this conservative megaphone.

Social Justice NPC Anti-Paladin™ said...

Correction Request: Media Matters For America Incorrectly Labels Two Full Video Excerpts as ‘Heavily Edited’

Anonymous said...


Breitbart is a completely shameless liar. It says a lot about you that, even as he spins like a top, you still buy into him. He has no shame. Where does that leave you?

Social Justice NPC Anti-Paladin™ said...

So you agree with Media Matters that
taking single out of context clips from a larger video is "Heavily Edited"?
Using that standard, Media Matters/TPM "Heavily edits" all of their videos.

EdHeath said...

HTTT, the post you link to is from Breitbart's website. This correction request is hardly coming from a neutral or disinterested party. But whatever.

It contains the phrase (which I am copying and pasting, and can be verified by looking at the post) "full unedited excerpts". Now, you can lift an entire portion of video as an excerpt, and not edit the portion. But unless I do not understand the meaning of the word, the act of lifting an excerpt is the very essence of editing.

Now, I gather Breitbart claims he received the video in the form he put on his website. In which case he (or his team) may have done no editing themselves, but Breitbart is guilty of not having investigated the video to make sure it was accurate.

And regardless of who did the video, Breitbart posted an inaccurate video, and has yet to specifically apologize for having done so (nor apparently has Fox). If you had any shame, HTTT, you would agree that Breitbart was a very poor journalist in this instance, commiting mistakes that wouldget most reporters fired, if not sued. And you certainly would stop referencing or linking to his website.

Social Justice NPC Anti-Paladin™ said...

Breitbart credibility took a Major hit.
I posted the link because it is fun to be as pedantic with Media Matters as they are with Right-wingers.

If you had any shame, HTTT, you would agree that Breitbart was a very poor journalist in this instance, commiting mistakes that wouldget most reporters fired, if not sued. And you certainly would stop referencing or linking to his website.

Didn't you scold me when I took to task.

You are quoting the guys who claimed that Karl Rove was Indicted by Patrick Fitzgerald.
When the story turned out to be pure BS, they gave this lame retraction.
"we erred in getting too far out in front of the news-cycle."

EdHeath said...

HTTT, I think Media Matters would not disagree they sometimes edit videos, to show parts they think are relevant. I believe they always to link to the original site where the original video can be found, however, and also make some effort to explain the total context.

Breitbart did neither.

EdHeath said...

Just to clarify, HTTT, you are saying (again) that if Dayvoe or Maria refeence an organization that has ever made a mistake, you can invalidate anything that organization says by bringing up that mistake. And further if I defend Dayvoe or Maria, you can invalidate anything I ever say on the future?

Does that mean that all those times you referenced things Breitbart's website said, you were wrong?

MJ said...

Journalists must gather a tremendous amount of information and then break it down into relatively small pieces so that the reader/viewer can understand the overall issue. If a journalist quotes a source, but jumbles the meaning by cutting off pieces or using it out of context, then the reporter has failed.

Either willfully or mistakenly, both Breitbart and Fox misinterpreted the story. And in an industry that thrives on being accurate, either excuse is unacceptable.

Joshua said...

MJ, this is what I gathered from Rick Sanchez yesterday: Breitbart made intentional edits to pull quotes out of context. Fox ran with it, while CNN sat on it, preferring to wait on the full video and a response from Sherrod first. The Fox furor pushed everything forward. Not sure whether that's the truth about CNN, but Rick Sanchez is pretty reliable on the goings-on at the studios. What it appears to me, then, is that Fox "sub-contracted out" investigative reporting to an unscrupulous Breitbart, accepting his word as pure gospel. Not exactly the first time, either (see ACORN and Sen. Landrieu's office).

MJ said...


Fox didn't accept the reporting from Breitbart. They USED his "reporting" to run with a false story and justified it by saying this "story was out there." That's why real journalists like Rick Sanchez and CNN waited to hear from a credible source before running a false story.

Look at how many times Fox reports that "some experts think the Obama administration is wrong in (insert random problem here)." Yet those experts are really their own pundits who are complaining about the White House. So round and round it goes until they find someone within their own company who dissents with a decision.

That's not news. It's not even fake news. And as a former journalist, it's despicable.

Conservative Mountaineer said...

I watched the entire 43 minute video and I'm not totally willing to grant Shirley Sherrod a full and unconditional pass. She may be sincere in what she said.. except she also made comments like "I will do all I can to rule communities like yours" (~1:30); lamenting that black people weren't pursuing government as a career because "Have you ever heard of anyone in Federal Government losing their job?" (~2:10) and the coup de grace - "Some of the racism we thought was buried, didn't it surface? Now we endured eight years of the Bushes, and we didn't do the stuff these Republicans are doing because you have a black president". There's more, but these will suffice.

Ms. Sherrod was correct, imho, on her assertion that the rich/haves want keep the black down. Only she should have been more specific in saying the rich/haves Liberal DEMOCRATS want to keep blacks down on the plantation.

Again, maybe, just maybe Ms. Sherrod is the real deal, but I am skeptical.

As to the NAACP and black 'leaders' (yeah, the self-appointed 'leaders' such as Sharpton and Jackson), they are race-baitors. They don't want blacks to succeed. If blacks would succeed, their profit-making enterprises would grind to a halt.

EdHeath said...

You know, CM, I guess the reason you see liberal democrats as slimy, despicable thugs is because that is how conservative/libertarian republicans behave, and you can't imagine anyone behaving any other way.

And before you get huffy and start throwing around unrelated charges, I will say simply Breitbart and Fox News.

And I will note that you didn't say anything about them, instead you followed the old political trick of accusing the victim.

I would never say that African Americans are saints (not more than a few, anyway, as in every group), never make mistakes or always act in their own best interest. Nor, I suspect, would Shirley Sherrod say that. But for God's sake, apparently her father was killed by a white man who was never brought to justice because he was a white man. African Americans have endured extraordinary hardships in America, and still face enormous difficulties. But apparently you feel you (the god-like, omniscient conservative) are the best qualified to judge that she *might* be no more than just misguided (about who wants to keep her down on the plantation).

I am not particularly fond of Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton myself, but I have never seen a reason to question their motives. Your comment suggesting they wish to keep blacks from succeeding is offensive, and says quite a bit about you personally.

Perhaps you can offer some proof that rich liberal Democrat "haves" are actively trying to keep African Americans "down on the plantation". Or perhaps Breitbart can manufacture some for you.

Conservative Mountaineer said...

@Ed.. Did you view the entire 43 minute video? Just askin'. (Not fair to go do it now and say you did, btw.)

Anonymous said...

Just look at the conservative reactions here...

One takes to the tried and true conservative tactic of deflecting from the journalistic scum that is Andrew Breitbart by going after Media Matters and Talking Points Memo.

The other continues to push this rightwing racebaiting with Sherrod.

The three last big stories the right as been hysterical about:

1) New Black Panther Party
2) Muslims in NY
3) Sherrod/NAACP

Anyone see a pattern?

EdHeath said...

So to be honest, CM, I hadn't watched her video, I was reacting to your comment. Now, of course, you are going to make something of that. Funny, though, I have watched her video since, and she didn't mention anything about liberal democrats keeping blacks down on the farm. I did hear her say "do all I can to help rural communities". I find it offensive that you would try to twist her pronunciation of a word.

I heard her say (and getting an approving reaction from the crowd) that African Americans need to help themselves. I heard her say that African Americans need to become entrepreneurs. Why didn't you repeat anything about that? Oh yeah, because you are one of those conservatives who call poor people stupid.

Did you read "Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II" before you made your comment? No lying and reading it now and then saying you did.

I assume by your silence of Breitbart and Fox News that you entirely approach of their actions. At least Obama, Vilsack and the NAACP apologized.