The right-wing media initially praised Andrew Breitbart for his "great work" in publishing a video which he said depicted the supposed "racism" of then-Obama administration official Shirley Sherrod. However, Breitbart's claims quickly unraveled when more information about the incident emerged and the full, unedited video was released.
"Breitbart gets results": Right-wing media initially praised Breitbart's video
Limbaugh: "Andrew Breitbart's done great work getting this video." On the July 20 edition of his radio show, Rush Limbaugh stated: "Andrew Breitbart's done great work getting this video." Limbaugh went on to claim that "you don't need Shirley Sherrod, or whatever her name is, to prove racism at the NAACP," and said that the "NAACP is as racist an organization as there has been and is in this country."
Ingraham: "Andrew Breitbart ... did a great piece on this whole thing." In a July 20 appearance on Fox & Friends, Laura Ingraham praised Breitbart's video and his coverage of the story, stating "Andrew Breitbart, by the way, did a great piece on this whole thing. Fantastic." Ingraham went on to ask "where was the media on this" and claimed that it took "Breitbart to come forward with this story."
America's Nightly Scoreboard: "The triumph of Andrew Breitbart over the establishment." On the July 20 edition of Fox Business' America's Nightly Scoreboard, host David Asman began the show declaring the "triumph of Andrew Breitbart over the establishment." The on-screen text repeated this claim. Asman also referred to Breitbart as "our friend Andrew Breitbart" and stated that the video "shows how inept government bureaucrats can be."
From the show:
Hannity: "It took the new media to expose this." On the July 19 edition of Fox News' Hannity [via Nexis], host Sean Hannity credited Breitbart with the story, saying, "[i]t was on Breitbart.com and it happened some time ago. So it's interesting that it took the new media to expose this." Hannity later added that "Andrew Breitbart broke this."
Obenshain: "It's just a shame that it takes...Breitbart having to put it on his Web site, for her resignation to be forced." Also on the July 19 edition of Hannity, Kate Obenshain of the Young America's Foundation said that "[i]t's just a shame that it takes an expose, it takes Breitbart having to put it on his Web site, for her resignation to be forced."
Weasel Zippers: "Andrew Breitbart strikes again. Bravo." The conservative blog Weasel Zippers reported on Shirley Sherrod's resignation on July 19 and stated "Andrew Breitbart strikes again. Bravo." In a previous post, Weasel Zippers embedded the edited video of Sherrod's remarks and claimed in the post's headline that "Andrew Breitbart Proves the NAACP Awards' Racism."
Ace of Spades: "Breitbart gets results." On July 19, the blog Ace of Spades HQ reported on the coverage Breitbart's video received on a CBS affiliate in New York, saying that "Breitbart gets results." Ace also noted that CBS ran the video "with a 'SHOCK' headline, no less."
Morrissey: "Breitbart hits NAACP with promised video of racism." On July 19, Hot Air's Ed Morrissey published a blog post titled ""Breitbart hits NAACP with promised video of racism." In the post, Morrissey claimed that the "NAACP is about to learn one of the most basic of all lessons in life," thanks to Breitbart who "announced that he would publish at least one video of the NAACP itself cheering racism." Morrissey announced that "Breitbart delivers on that promise today at Big Government," by posting a video of USDA official Shirley Sherrod at an event for the NAACP. Morrissey also emphasized that the audience supposedly "murmurs approvingly of using race to determine outcomes for government programs, which is of course the point that Andrew wanted to make."
Breitbart's allegations against Sherrod quickly unraveled
Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Sherrod says clip "completely misconstrued" her comments. In the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's July 20 article (since updated) on the controversy surrounding Shirley Sherrod's statements at an NAACP banquet, the paper reported that "the tale she told at the banquet happened 24 years ago -- before she got the USDA job -- when she worked with the Georgia field office for the Federation of Southern Cooperative/Land Assistance Fund." The article also reported that, according to Sherrod, the "38-second video posted online Monday by biggovernment.com and reported on by FoxNews.com and the AJC completely misconstrued the message she was trying to convey."
Video producer confirmed that "the full speech is exactly as Sherrod described ... she goes on to explain learning the error of her initial impression." Talking Points Memo reported on July 20 that "The Douglas, Ga., company which filmed the banquet for the local NAACP has refused to release" the video until the national NAACP gives him "permission" to post it. However, Wilkerson told TPM "that the full speech is exactly as Sherrod described, and that she goes on to explain learning the error of her initial impression and helping the farmer keep his farm."
"White farmer" and his wife": Sherrod is a "friend" who "helped us save our farm." Later in the day, Sherrod appeared on CNN Newsroom to discuss the accusations against her. On the show, anchor Tony Harris contacted the wife of the "white farmer" Sherrod had discussed in her appearance at the NAACP banquet. The wife, Eloise Spooner described Sherrod as "a good friend" who "helped us save our farm." In a later CNN interview, the farmer, Roger Spooner, said that Sherrod "did her level best" to help him save his farm and those that are smearing her as a racist "don't know what they're talking about."
NAACP releases full tape vindicating Sherrod. The NAACP released the full video of Sherrod's comments on the evening of July 20. In the video, Sherrod sates that "working with him [the white farmer] made me see that it's really about those who have versus those who don't." She went on to state that "they could be black, and they could be white, they could be Hispanic. And it made me realize then that I needed to work to help poor people -- those who don't have access the way others have."
As the story dissolved, media across the board rejected Breitbart's race-baiting lies. Media figures and outlets from across the board have subsequently rejected Breitbart's false claims against Sherrod. For example, National Review Online's Jonah Goldberg has said that Sherrod "owed apologies from pretty much everyone, including my good friend Andrew Breitbart," CNN's Anderson Cooper said Sherrod's "comments she made were taken out of context." with Sherrod smeared by allegations of racism, lost her job, and is now being redeemed by the truth, it seems, the whole truth," and Fox News' Glenn Beck said Sherrod "deserves her job back."