Newsweek's Daniel Stone just posted a very interesting interview with Andrew Breitbart. While the entire thing is well-worth reading, this question and response is particularly notable:
Stone: But do you agree that the edited video took things out of context?
Well, yes. But I put up what I had. It granted a great portion of her redemptive tale, but not all of it. If I could do it all over again, I should have waited for the full video to get to me.
It's interesting that Breitbart not only doesn't object to Stone's characterization of the video as "edited," but also agrees that it "took things out of context." Breitbart's "Big Journalism" website has been using its ridiculous "correction Alpaca" to demand corrections from outlets - including Media Matters - that correctly referred to the video as "edited."
I guess Retracto needs to turn on his owner now.
Second, "I put up what I had" is an absurd defense. Telling people that you were sent a tape, but didn't bother to fact check it before using it to smear someone as a "racist" does not absolve you of wrongdoing. If Media Matters ran a completely misleading story, but our defense was that someone sent us an inaccurate tip, we would be (justly) pilloried.
Continuing the utterly predictable conservative freak-out over the news that President Obama will be addressing the Boy Scouts' 100th anniversary jamboree via taped message rather than in person, Rush Limbaugh used the occasion to take a shot at Obama's past experience as a community organizer:
According to Limbaugh, Obama "stiff[ed]" the Boy Scouts, even though they visited the oval office two weeks ago, he's addressing the gathering via video, and several past presidents (including Limbaugh hero Ronald Reagan) did not attend jamborees. Rush purports to explain this imagined snub of the Scouts by saying it is "probably because there isn't a merit badge for community organizing."
As usual, he has no idea what he's talking about.
Seizing on a report from CNS News' Penny Starr, several conservative blogs are attacking President Obama for not speaking in person at the Boy Scouts' upcoming 100th anniversary jamboree because he will be in New Jersey to speak about the economy before heading to New York City to film an upcoming appearance on ABC's The View.
The CNS article includes several points that should (in a sane media world) mitigate the inevitable freak-out from conservative media figures:
Here's an image of an allegedly Boy Scout-hating Obama on July 12, during a visit in which the White House described Obama as "eager to hear from the extraordinary scouts who spoke with smiles and enthusiasm about the organization's 100 year anniversary.":
Though conservative blogs are in high dudgeon over this story, one group that does not seem bothered by Obama's plans is...The Boy Scouts. Here's the statement from the Scouts -- which, to their credit, CNS News includes in their article -- but bloggers like Jim Hoft and Weasel Zippers conveniently leave out of their posts:
"Due to his schedule, President Obama will not be able to attend the 2010 National Scout Jamboree," the statement reads. "In February, the President sent a letter honoring the BSA's 100th Anniversary and his signature appears on Eagle Scout cards."
"Also, he has welcomed Boy Scouts contingents in the Oval Office twice since taking office," the statement reads. "President Obama serves as the Honorary President of the BSA, as has every President since Howard Taft. While each President is traditionally invited to attend the Jamboree, not every President has been able to attend the event."
"We thank the President for his effort to recognize Scouting and look forward to working with his administration as we work toward accomplishing our mission of preparing young people to become exceptional adults," the statement concludes.
Can't you just feel the outrage?
Like clockwork, Beck is running with the lame attack.
Well, that was predictable -- this has slowly turned into Fox's favorite attack of the week. Laura Ingraham on The O'Reilly Factor, Dana Perino on Hannity, and Bret Baier on Fox's flagship "news" program, Special Report, have all advanced this inane attack.
Yesterday, the noise machine's nonsense scandal du jour was that the Obama administration supposedly "supported" the release of the Lockerbie bomber. Fox News' Dana Perino, FoxNews.com, Drudge, and several conservative bloggers hyped the story, with the always-unhinged Pam Geller going so far as to call for a "special investigation" and a "charge of treason." Rush Limbaugh claimed that Obama "backed the release," because he "wanted to make nice with the Muslim world." As we pointed out at the time, reports indicated that the administration opposed the release of the Lockerbie bomber on compassionate grounds, but stipulated that if he were to be released, he should go to Scotland, and not to Libya.
Predictably, the story has continued to disintegrate. Yesterday, The State Department released its correspondence with the Scottish Ministry of Justice, which states in no uncertain terms that the administration "is not prepared to support Megrahi's release on compassionate release or bail," and that "it would be most appropriate for Megrahi to remain imprisoned for the entirety of his sentence."
Responding to the release of the letter in a post headlined "Two Cheers For The Administration On Megrahi," PowerLine's John Hinderaker states that this story is a "non-controversy in which the State Department and the Obama administration acted honorably and appropriately."
Despite the letter from the State Department clearly demolishing this non-scandal, some conservative bloggers just won't give up the ghost. Undeterred (as usual) by reality, Jim Hoft responded to the letter by announcing in a headline that the administration "Preferred [Lockerbie Bomber's] Release." This serves as more evidence that Hoft either does not bother to read the things he links to, or that his deranged hatred of the administration is such that it leads him state with a straight face that up is down.
Even more embarrassing than Hoft's post was this inane screed by RedState's Lori Ziganto about how Obama "can't seem to man up." This was posted after the release of the letter, yet completely ignored its existence:
It's been a bad week for Andrew Breitbart and the "Big" websites. The Breitbart-created smear that Shirley Sherrod is a "racist" has turned both Breitbart and his websites into well-deserved targets of public criticism. The response from both Breitbart and his websites has been to deny reality, lash out, and make things up.
Apparently, the Big websites now think they can move on from this embarrassment and return to what they do best: give sanctimonious lectures about standards to which they don't adhere. Seemingly immune to reality and characteristically lacking in self-awareness, Big Government's Tim Slagle is now proposing "Godwin's Law II," which he describes as, "if you call your opponent a Racist, you have also lost the argument."
So, if I follow this correctly, the website that is currently inundated with a heaping pile of criticism, anger, and ridicule for smearing someone as a "racist" based on a terribly misleading video, is now lecturing about how calling people "racist" is a bad thing.
That's almost as shameless as Breitbart complaining that it was "the media" that made the Sherrod fiasco "about her." Almost.
Andrew Breitbart and the "Big" websites are currently receiving a hefty dose of well-deserved criticism due to their shameful smear against Shirley Sherrod, and they have been scrambling to defend themselves.
Their attempts at defending their behavior have been, in equal doses, delusional and shamelessly dishonest. In other words, their response to this scandal nicely encapsulates the utter lack of journalistic integrity practiced by Breitbart's fledgling media empire.
A quick tour of their defenses so far:
Now, Big Journalism is seeking corrections from Media Matters for referring to Breitbart's original video as "heavily edited," courtesy of his childish "Correction Alpaca."
Now that the Breitbart-created "scandal" about supposedly "racist" comments from now-former USDA official Shirley Sherrod has completely fallen apart and been revealed as a dishonest smear campaign, conservative media figures are doing their best to whitewash their own involvement and pin all of the blame for the story on the administration.
It is unfathomable to exclude conservative media figures from criticism over the story. After all, they were the ones who created the entire "scandal" out of thin air and breathlessly promoted it. This story wouldn't have existed without their shameless dishonesty and irresponsibility.
This is not a defense of the administration, which quite obviously never should have trusted Andrew Breitbart in the first place.
Strangely enough, Big Government, which broke the story in question, seems to be making the same argument. After posting video of her appearance on CNN this morning, Big Government writer Jeff Dunetz writes [emphasis added]:
If this story is true, and there is no reason to doubt her, it shows the extent that Breitbart, Fox,and the Tea Party have gotten under the skin of the White House. Rather then to think it through they overreacted and forced Sherrod to pull over on the side of the road and resign without telling her side of the story.
It is also hard to understand why the NAACP would instantly condemn Ms Sherrod, if the speech was indeed as she said, why wouldn't they respond by releasing the entire speech? One explanation may be that she is lying, but if you listen closely to the end of the clip she does seem to be pivoting toward saying it was about income not race (and then seems to change her mind again).
Another explanation for the White House and the NAACP not releasing the entire tape is the possibility that Shirley Sherrod is their sacrificial lamb. Possibly they do not care about the truth. Perhaps they realized their resolution attacking the Tea Party as racist was such a political loser, especially coming right after disclosure of DOJ Black Panther scandal, they see the condemnation of Sherrod as a way out of theses crises and seem racially balanced.
Either way Shirley Sherrod is the victim of a White House so incredibly thin skinned, so frighted of the media and the citizens of the United States who believe these words written by William Shakespeare "Tell truth and shame the devil"
As we've been documenting extensively, based on what appears to be heavily edited video, Andrew Breitbart and the conservative noise machine have smeared now-former USDA official Shirley Sherrod as a "racist" for supposedly "abusing power" and discriminating against a white farmer.
As usual for Breitbart's "scoops," the story doesn't hold up to basic scrutiny. The events discussed by Sherrod happened 24 years ago -- long before she was an administration official -- and she said the video "completely misconstrued" her comments because she was discussing "getting beyond the issue of race." TPM posted confirmation from the video producer that "the full speech is exactly as Sherrod described." The wife of the farmer who Sherrod supposedly discriminated against says that Sherrod actually "helped" "save our farm," and that she considers Sherrod a "friend for life." Additionally, Hot Air's Ed Morrissey indicated in a post today that Breitbart smeared Sherrod as a racist without having seen the full tape.
Despite all of this information being publicly available for several hours, Media Research Center President Brent Bozell just sent out an embarrassing press release, wherein he "demanded the media cover" this story:
Media Research Center President Brent Bozell has demanded the media cover the explosive video footage of an NAACP banquet speaker admitting her racist views and abuse of power that led to her resignation as a Department of Agriculture official yesterday:
"The liberal media are deliberately spiking the shocking video that reveals an NAACP banquet speaker admitting her racist views and actions. We've waited a full 24 hours to see if any coverage of this exposé would surface. So far, nothing but crickets. The ABC, CBS and NBC evening and morning 'news' shows have all failed to even mention the damning video admission that is dripping with disdain for white people and that caused the official to tender her resignation.
"Worse yet, it comes from the NAACP, the same organization that has feverishly accused the Tea Parties of racism. The thoroughly untrue accusation against the Tea Parties has been propped up and propelled by the incessant reporting of these same networks. Yet they decide to thwart this story about the NAACP.
"The only thing more newsworthy than the charges of racism are the hypocritical charges of racism. The media must report this scandal."
First, a point of agreement with Bozell: I wholeheartedly agree that the "media must report this scandal." However, Bozell and I differ on what part of this story constitutes the "scandal." The actual scandal here is, once again, the shameless dishonesty from Andrew Breitbart and the conservative echo chamber.
As we have documented, conservatives are freaking out this morning over the Daily Caller's not-so-shocking revelation that liberal journalists talked to each other before signing a public, open letter criticizing a debate televised by ABC during the 2008 presidential election.
Not only is this far from the "obituary" for American journalism that Andrew Breitbart thinks it is, but it's not even a new story. Yahoo News' Michael Calderone points out that he reported on the exact same story well over a year ago, when he was a reporter for Politico:
Last April, criticism of ABC's handling of a Democratic presidential debate took shape on JList before morphing into an open letter to the network, signed by more than 40 journalists and academics -- many of whom are JList members.
But beyond these specific examples, it's hard to trace JList's influence in the media, because so few JListers are willing to talk on the record about it.
This morning, Fox News reporter Carl Cameron touted a recent survey by Public Policy Polling that found several prominent Republicans essentially tied with President Obama in theoretical 2012 match-ups. While Cameron found time to offer flattering descriptions of each of these "top Republicans," he neglected to mention that 75% of them are current Fox News employees.
Using a tag line Sarah Palin couldn't have scripted better herself, Cameron called her the "culture warrior tea party candidate." Palin was hired by Fox News in January, and since then has regularly appeared on various Fox News programs to not only attack the administration, but promote herself and other Republican candidates.
Cameron described Mike Huckabee as "the President of Iowa, having won its caucuses the last time and a social conservative." Huckabee also has a prominent platform as the host of a forthcoming Fox Television Stations group show, and a Fox News show, which he uses to attack the administration and promote his PAC and various GOP candidates around the country.
Newt Gingrich, whom Cameron described as the "big ideas guy in the GOP," has been a "political contributor" for Fox News since 1999. Like fellow potential 2012 potential candidates/Fox employees Palin and Huckabee, Gingrich uses his Fox News platform to promote himself and attack the administration. In a nice example of being able to do both at the same time, Gingrich recently appeared on Fox News Sunday to promote his latest book and claim that Dems are currently threatening America as much as "Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union once did."
Fox News president Roger Ailes recently claimed he's "not in politics anymore. I don't do politics, I do the news." Based on the actions of his network, Ailes doesn't see much difference between the two.