I’ve expressed my concerns about Breitbart before (and I always get slammed when I do).
When he’s sat in for Dennis Miller, I’ve often found him… right on one moment, and odd and off-putting the next.
He himself admits he goes off half-cocked; when he had a newspaper column. he told a self-deprecating story about overhearing a conversation, going far out of his way to confront and yell at the strangers who were talking — and turning out to be completely wrong about who they were and what they thought.
(Whatever happened to that column, btw? I guess he just got too busy with other projects.)
His second undercover “scoop” wasn’t that pristine, and now this. He’s one of those people you want to like, who seems to “get it” and could make a real difference. You want him to succeed.
But my gut says this all ends badly.
I think she should get her job back. I think she’s owed apologies from pretty much everyone, including my good friend Andrew Breitbart. I generally think Andrew is on the side of the angels and a great champion of the cause. He says he received the video in its edited form and I believe him.
But the relevant question is, Would he have done the same thing over again if he had seen the full video from the outset? I’d like to think he wouldn’t have.
Because to knowingly turn this woman into a racist in order to fight fire with fire with the NAACP is unacceptable. When it seemed that Sherrod was a racist who abused her power, exposing her and the NAACP’s hypocrisy was perfectly fair game. But now that we have the benefit of knowing the facts, the equation is completely different.
I owe Shirley Sherrod an apology, and I do apologize for leaping to my conclusion from the edited clip. I believe that Sherrod should at least be offered her job back, and not because I support her politics (I don’t) or think she should have been appointed to the position in the first place (that’s the prerogative of the White House).
She lost her job because of a controversy in which she had no role to begin with and didn’t participate in, and regardless of any other considerations, that’s just not right.
On the phone on the evening of July 20, a friend asked me: “Can Breitbart possibly survive?” I could only laugh incredulously. I answered: “Of course he’ll survive, and undamaged. The incident won’t matter at all.”
There will be no apology or statement of regret for distributing a doctored tape to defame and destroy someone. There will be not even a flutter of interest among conservatives in discussing Breitbart’s role. By the morning of July 21, the Fox & Friends morning show could devote a segment to the Sherrod case without so much as a mention of Breitbart’s role. The central fact of the Sherrod story has been edited out of the conservative narrative, just as it was edited out of the tape itself.
The fallback position for Breitbart’s die-hard defenders is that the point of the story isn’t Shirley Sherrod; it’s the NAACP audience that responds with “laughter and cheers” when she describes her attitude toward the white farmer she was initially reluctant to help.
Even if that summary were true, it wouldn’t change the fact that the edited clip falsely claims that Sherrod “discriminates against people due to their race” while “in her federally appointed position, overseeing over a billion dollars.” But it isn’t true. In the full video, her story begins with this statement: “When I made that commitment, I was making that commitment to black people and to black people only. But you know God will show you things, and he’ll put things in your paths, so that you realize that the struggle is really about poor people.” So the audience knows going in that it’s a redemption story, and it knows what the moral will be.
Anyway, the church-style affirmations that you hear clearly mean I understand, not Hooray. If she was testifying about overcoming a cocaine addiction, you’d hear the same sounds, complete with laughter at the appropriate junctures. But only a fool would think the audience is enthusiastic about drug abuse.