Breitbart is indeed the most culpable in this. But the media, NAACP, the White House do not come out so clean in all this. For sure it has a lot to do with the age of instant reporting and instant polls. A basketball player was ridiculed a couple of days ago because he used the metaphor of the World Trade Center tragedy to describe hypotheticals of winning or losing. The whole world does get awfully stupid sometimes.
“And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed—if all records told the same tale—then the lie passed into history and became truth.’”
- George Orwell, 1984, Book 1, Chapter 3
Shame on all concerned in Sherrod’s firing, including the NAACP leadership, who betrayed her and the media who spread the lie. Breitbart’s despicable tactic worked. In order to get the matter off the front page officials sacrificed Sherrod without bothering to look at the evidence. Ons assumes that even if they had, she would have been summarily dismissed because the powers-that-be had other ‘priorities’. Thus, she was considered to be expendable.
…And now, she’s a cause celebre. It serves them right.
To be sure; this woman got a raw deal. Whatever the reason, Mr. Obama’s team obviously did not give this matter or this woman, the sort of thoughtful consideration they both deserve.
In our land, both inferring and hollering around that someone is a racist is a serious charge, not something to be taken lightly. As a nation we have worked very hard and for years, to reduce the amount of racism in our culture and in our hearts.
It is also very true in this world (one need not be a genius to know) that simply because someone makes a serious accusation, does not mean the accusation is true. The severity of the accusation should not matter; the truth should matter.
Someone at USDA should have bothered to look into this before firing this woman.
The President now needs to direct the USDA to eat a bit of crow, to re-instate Ms. Sherrod and apologize. If I were him, I would do this sooner (i.e. before this friday) rather than later.
Ken… Obama/administration will do it..
The good news about this Sherrod flap is that it will help the progressives to get hot and enlist time and money in this culture war. The Dem. base needed this as a wake -up. The right, the Tea party, and Fox have to be more aggresively confronted. This fake right wing edited video was a bridge too far for the right.
I say it is time to end the culture wars. Turn our sword into plowshares and spears into prooning hooks.
This is actually a good time for journalists, and the rest of us, to take a pause.
The rush to be the first, gotcha games, attacking people, going for the jugular, all need to stop.
And Breitbart would get a lot more respect if he simply said that he was wrong, he did not look carefully at the context of the whole speech and misrepresented it. He should be the first to apologize to Ms. Sherrod for the hurt that he has caused her and pledge to never again broadcast anything without careful and cautious review.
At the same time this is a wake up call to journalists because they have a sacred responsibility to accurately and fairly report the news. The reality is that most of us rely on their summations and there is an implied trust that STILL exists between the public and journalists.
Good work on this story Eduardo!
George D. The right culture war troops have already marched onto the battle field. Forget your swords spears and pruning hooks.. the right has started ‘a throwing dung war’ which they will lose. They have fielded themselves for two years. Is it honesty for you to say that Brietbart mistakenly put out a video that sent a ‘wrong’ message.?? He deliberately faked it and you know it yet have the nerve to mis-characterize his motives. , Brietbart made up that stupid fake pimp suited guy in the Acorn videos. No, don’t ask for people to take a pause. The right has been sucker punching the progressives ever since Obama won. Please. don’t give us the pious we are asking for a truce after 2 years of sucker punching. Sacred responsibility? . The good news for progressives is the election season is about to begin. Right …Man your life boats.
Re the media:
Investigative Journalism has become Exploitive Journalism.
And I’m not only talking about cable “news” networks.
CNN has reported that Vilsack has apologized and offered Ms. Sherrod a new job. High time.
Yes, Ed Gleason. There are times when the right thing to do is to discredit people who need discrediting.
Jim Carville says Ms. Sherrod’s husband was killed by the Klan. Remarkable woman.
Just a footnote: Tonight on the Lehrer Newshour the take on this was the Obama Administration and Vilsak have apologized. No reference to who doctored the clip; barely any mention that the clip was doctored. If Breitbart gets away with this, the MSM should hang their heads in shame. PBS’s new Political analyst, David Challan, looks like a man who doesn’t know how to get a story or how to tell one! I hope this only a six-week trial period for him.
“If Breitbart gets away with this, the MSM should hang their heads in shame.”
Perhaps liberal journalists can commiserate on their partisan Journolist.
“I say it is time to end the culture wars.”
Please repeat that, more loudly, to liberal PBS producer Sarah Spitz:
In a post to the list-serv Journolist, an online meeting place for liberal journalists, Spitz wrote that she would “Laugh loudly like a maniac and watch his eyes bug out” as Limbaugh writhed in torment.
In boasting that she would gleefully watch a man die in front of her eyes, Spitz seemed to shock even herself. “I never knew I had this much hate in me,” she wrote. “But he deserves it.”
“Jim Carville says Ms. Sherrod’s husband was killed by the Klan”
If you want civility, bringing Carville into the discussion is the last thing to do. Actually, her FATHER was killed by a white farmer, but Carville’s KKK allegation is a complete fabrication.
Rachael Maddow hit it right on MSNBC . There is a Fox/Rush campaign to scare whites by saying that the blacks are after them. Fox is owned by an Australian, with British sons and his biggest stockholder is a Saudi. An All-American joke.
They have a full time attack on progressive politics by ‘scaring whites’ with scary made up news about blacks. . And the media is missing it.
The world is far from emotionally intelligent. If only our societies could practice:
1) practice self awareness
2) seek valid information and
3) assume good intent
We would thrive!!!
P Flanagan posted that it was a complete fabrication that it was a KKK who killed who killed her father. However his link says 1, The white famer who shot her father in the back was not charged and 2. later on ” one night about 40 white men burned a cross in her family’s yard,’ How about a job with Fox News.??
George D: “I say it is time to end the culture wars. Turn our sword into plowshares and spears into prooning hooks.”
Ed Gleason: “The right culture war troops have already marched onto the battle field. Forget your swords spears and pruning hooks.. the right has started ‘a throwing dung war’ which they will lose. They have fielded themselves for two years.”
I realize that you’re both speaking metaphorically, but this exchange does capture the tension in the Christan response to actual warfare. If you substitute “Israel” and “neighbors” for “right” and “left” in the dialogue pasted here, you have a conversation that has taken place countless times over the last forty years.
FWIW, my view in regard to both culture warfare and warfare with real ammunition is … at some point, we have to break the cycle of “well, they started it first” and begin the journey to peace.
FWIW, my view is that se have to end the ethic that says the end justifies the means to attain ideological power.
I wonder, what would it mean for Breitbart to “get away” with this? He obviously doesn’t mind being exposed as dishonest. It doesn’t threaten his enterprise. The only possible consequence I can see actually hurting him would be if all the major news outlets (save Fox) decided to behave like grownups and ignore his future attempts to provoke. But they would only do that if they felt they’d been burned by his deceptions in this case — and I don’t think they do feel that way. From their perspective, Breitbart performs a service. He stirs up controversy that they can then cover — and the shallower the controversy, the easier it is to cover.
This isn’t the first, or the most shameless, smear campaign he’s orchestrated — just the first to fall apart so quickly and publicly. People in the media already knew (or should have known) he was untrustworthy, but I don’t think they care much. In fact, it would be bad for them if the broader public figured out that “Andrew Breitbart” = “dishonest smear-campaigner.” As long as his involvement is obscured, this looks like a legitimate part of the debate-over-racism “narrative,” and he can go on turning up new nonsense for them to cover.
P.S. Breitbart is (of course) claiming that the video was deceptively edited when he received it (from an undisclosed source), and he was just passing it on. This is, conveniently, what he said about the ACORN “expose” when that started to fall apart. How can you prove he knew his version of the story was a lie? And you all may remember the attempt to smear (mostly black) health-care-reform advocates by claiming they were praying to Obama. Another winner.
“The only possible consequence I can see actually hurting him would be if all the major news outlets (save Fox) decided to behave like grownups and ignore his future attempts to provoke. But they would only do that if they felt they’d been burned by his deceptions in this case — and I don’t think they do feel that way. From their perspective, Breitbart performs a service. He stirs up controversy that they can then cover — and the shallower the controversy, the easier it is to cover. ”
Mollie, interesting comments. I had heard the name “Andrew Breitbart” before, but I knew nothing about him until Eduardo started posting on the Sherrod controversy here.
Just speaking for myself: I’ve developed a sort of personal filter for what is presented to me as newsworthy, because I don’t trust that what the mainstream media presents is always important, valuable or objective. So there is a layer of personal discernment involved as well. Adding to this skepticism is that the news outlets all seem to repeat each other’s story, creating a sort of amplification effect. So my filter is sort of a set of “ear plugs” to keep stories that strike me as more sensational or slanted than substantial and important from occupying too much of my attention.
“FWIW, my view is that we have to end the ethic that says the end justifies the means to attain ideological power.”
Bob – good, and I might agree – but how?
(I do think the churches have an important role to play in making this happen).
There is no God: it’s written in the Bible (Psalm 14, verse 1). I have unfortunately lost the rest of the text, but I still have that little bit clipped straight out of it: “There is no God”. No kidding!
This whole thing seems like the speech-code and poltical correctness underwhich we have lived in recent years is getting out of hand.
Nobody even wanted to listen to what this woman actually said.
Zero tolerance usually means zero thought.
It is called the lively art of diversion. This much we know is true-
In the video, Shirley Sherrod made the accusation that those who did not support The Health Care Bill are racist and we all know a healthcare bill is not and can never be a race, to begin with. The fact the the administration did not address this issue is evidence that the administration supports Shirley Sherrod’s accusation that the group of those who did not support the Health Care Bill are racist. Such accusations are part of the problem, not the solution. This needs to be addressed before she is reinstated, don’t you think?
Last I checked, Breitbart did not fire Sherrod, the administration did. People who support this administration must come to terms with that fact…or does the buck not stop there?
True enough, the administration fired Sherrod, not Breitbart, not the press, not anyone else. That’s the really scary part of the story. Put aside Sherrod, Breitbart, the case itself and all the rest of it, and look at it in the abstract: the administration acted not only without justice, but without thinking, as if instant news were really accurate.
If this is the way policy really is being made in Washington, we are all in for a rough ride. I hope that our Afghan policy is not being run by people on Facebook and such.
“the administration acted not only without justice, but without thinking, as if instant news were really accurate. ”
If it’s accurate that the administration fired her before Fox aired the story, then that gives me pause … I suppose it’s not surprising to me that the administration’s political apparatus extends to monitoring conservative blogs, but that they would take such drastic action on the basis of something that appeared on one of them – it’s a little surprising. Maybe there’s more to the story.
Nicholas C. congratulations ….To leap from the personnel decision about a minor federal employee to the way the administration handles the Afgan war strategy sounds like a FOX news special report.
I think Eduardo’s comment on Breibart is mild – the (expletive) still hasn’t apologized and he and his followers here are still politiicizing – or as someone suggested -what jerks!
Howard Kurtz, media critic for the Washington Post, doesn’t find much to praise in the NYT’s reporting of the Sherrod firing:
“the problem with the chronology (as given by the NYT) in this case is that by the time the O’Reilly and Hannity comments aired Monday night, Sherrod had already been cashiered.”
“To leap from the personnel decision about a minor federal employee…”
On the other hand, you can learn a lot about someone by the way he treats *minor* people, and what we’ve learned from this incident is quite troubling. In fact, just classifying someone as *minor*, i.e., unimportant, typifies the hubris that likely led to the decision to fire the woman in the first place. It dovetails with the woman’s observation that the president does not seem to know what it’s like to live in her world. If he surrounds himself with the same type of people, it’s no surprise how it came to this.
Patrick, thanks for the Howard Kurtz link – I’d think it’s must-read for anyone who wants to understand how the story unfolded and the responsibility of the various players.
(It even paints Glen Beck in a somewhat sympathetic light).
“To leap from the personnel decision about a minor federal employee…”
“On the other hand, you CAN learn a lot about someone by the way he treats *minor* people, and what we’ve learned from this incident is QUITE TROUBLING. In fact, just classifying someone as *minor*, i.e., unimportant, typifies the hubris that LIKELY led to the decision to fire the woman in the first place. It DOVETAILS with the woman’s observation that the president DOES NOT SEEM to know what it’s like to live in her world. IF he surrounds himself with the same type of people, it’s NO SURPRISE how it came to this.”" (Emphases Ann’s)
Mark P. –
I capitalized the words that do not actually make statements about facts. They just assert hypotheticals and subjective reactions to them.. While this sort of rumination has its uses, piling one on top of another doesn’t amount to a hill of actual beans.
But Ann, if blogs included only facts, well, in my opinion…oops!
“Last I checked, Breitbart did not fire Sherrod, the administration did. People who support this administration must come to terms with that fact…or does the buck not stop there?”
That’s a fair cop.
Othello oughtn’t to have listened to Iago. But it was Iago who was the more perfidious of the two.
It’s absolutely true that the fear of being attacked by right-wing demagogues should never have motivated the administration, or the NAACP. But that doesn’t mean Breitbart and Fox are scapegoats here. You can say (as many here have said, last I checked!) that the administration acted shamefully, and also say that it’s time to acknowledge and reject the dishonest tactics of Breitbart et al. They are not mutually exclusive concepts.
It’s important to know that Howard Kurtz is not, I am sorry to say, a very perceptive media critic. You only need to look at some of the Fox coverage of this “story” to see that their self-justification about “chronology” is less than exculpatory.
Of course, the claim that “Fox didn’t touch the story until after Sherrod was cashiered” has a hole in it, namely Bill O’Reilly’s unequivocal on-air call for Sherrod’s resignation. (The fact that she had already resigned by the time the show aired is a meaningless technicality.) But here’s another very important detail: the Fox News Web site pushed the video as soon as they got it from Breitbart (just as they have with his other baseless smears in the past). And yes, before Sherrod was fired. They disseminated the smear online, and once it had its intended effect, they covered that as a news event. That’s how Fox operates: pushing rumors with its “opinion” arm and then covering the resulting hubub with its “news division.” E.g., Hey, Bill O’Reilly said he thinks Sherrod is an obvious racist who should be fired. That means we can say “controversy is mounting, as people are calling for Sherrod to be fired.” (The Daily Showexposed this pattern handily last fall, for anyone who needs a demonstration. Skip ahead to 3:45ish for the relevant part.)
Second, as I said above, look at how Fox covered the story. (Jason Linkins has an illustrative montage, if your stomach is strong. Media Matters has one with slightly different footage.) Not because they did a particularly bad job for Fox, but because it’s an especially clear case study in how Fox works (and why they’re in a separate league than other mainstream media outlets, which nevertheless lower their own standards by regularly chasing after “controversy” stirred up by the likes of Fox). While CNN was looking into the background of the story on the tape (what Kurtz calls “enterprising hustle,” although I think “responsible journalism” might be a better term under the circumstances), Fox was uncritically repeating Breitbart’s lies as facts (with the notable exception of Shepard Smith); pretending that this speech was some major event that the so-called liberal media conspired to cover up; and of course, folding it seamlessly into the noxious narrative they’ve been pushing, the one that accuses the Obama administration of favoring minorities over whites (what they call “reverse racism”). I’d like to think we’ve seen the last of THAT ridiculous accusation, but I’m not so optimistic. The administration obviously finds it terrifying.
Which leads me to my third point: Kurtz says Bill O’Reilly “apologized to Shirley Sherrod.” Yes, and he immediately pivoted to suggesting that, based on the full tape, she’s still probably a racist and therefore unfit to work for the government. What a mensch.
Look, Fox has a history of pushing Breitbart’s ugly racebaiting smears, even though he has long since been exposed as an untrustworthy source (as Shepard Smith acknowledged). They also have their own history of airing misleadingly edited video and lying about its contents (and issuing “we don’t know how that could have happened!” non-apologies no more convincing than Breitbart’s insistence that you can’t blame him because the video was cut that way when he got it). Until getting caught in major violations of journalistic ethics actually prompts Fox to change its ways — and until they openly repudiate Breitbart as a source — pretending that Fox News is anything but an outlet for anti-liberal propaganda is beneath any serious media commentator.
This morning NPR tribute to the late Dan Schoor had a nice interview with the editor he mentored as young man there.
Schoor stressed that JOURNALISM needed to get facts stright, be integral and truthful.
Politicians react to journalists and news but the Breibart/ Fox defenders here continue to zero on on the political aftermath and its problems.
They are jerks who care not about the integrity of how journalism should function.
What matters is ideology to be defended at all costs by an apologetic of loyalty (as we often see in Church discussions here.)
“Othello oughtn’t to have listened to Iago. But it was Iago who was the more perfidious of the two.”
And since ruminations can be useful, who is the Iago in this sorry saga? Iago must be someone our protagonist would have trusted without question. And who could be trusted in such a delicate matter when the antagonist is a woman of color? Let’s face it, all signs point to the role of Iago being played by Lady Macbeth.
“You can say (as many here have said, last I checked!) that the administration acted shamefully, and also say that it’s time to acknowledge and reject the dishonest tactics of Breitbart et al. They are not mutually exclusive concepts.”
Yes, yes, the fault is never in ourselves, only in the stars. You can also say the administration acted shamefully, and the sun rises in the east. They are not mutually exclusive concepts either. What you’ve done is put Breitbart, a right-wing hack (to you), a nobody (to the rest of the world), on an equal footing with the president. Two peas in a pod. Tweedle dee and tweedle dum. So how, Mollie, does that serve your purpose?
Mark P., if I haven’t complimented your norquisting skills recently, let me do so now!