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July 22, 2010 03:04 PM MDT

Latest Conservative Blogosphere Takedown Misfires Badly

  • by: Colorado Pols

Although it’s not directly related to Colorado politics, it’s an interesting case study of a subject we care very much about. The developing story of video released by conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart, purporting to show a USDA official admitting to reverse prejudice against white people but in fact heavily edited from remarks that seem to indicate the exact opposite, is making a whole lot of people on the right side of the media, old and new, look really bad. The Hill with the latest:

The government is being sometimes “held hostage” by Fox News and other media outlets, the chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus charged Thursday.

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), the chairwoman of the caucus, said she was concerned that outlets like Fox were creating a culture of “misinformation” that has led to controversies like the one following Shirley Sherrod.

The edited video had first been posted on Big Government, the website of the conservative activist and pundit Andrew Breitbart. He has since acknowledged that the video was edited, but said it was presented to him that way, and has denied editing it in-house…

Republican operatives, working with fully complicit media figures, enjoyed a string of successes in ‘exposing’ allegedly illegal or radical involvement by organizations like the now-defunct ACORN, and officials such as former Obama appointee Van Jones. We’re not here to judge either of those two actions morally, or the response by Democrats in power, but this latest controversy involving edited video and clear deception is going to make the next person in charge think twice before demanding an immediate resignation. That robs these scandalous video releases, many of which are ameliorated a few news cycles later by proper context or exoneration in ensuing investigations, of their usefulness beyond firing up a low-information base.

And it’s a huge credibility hit for the budding conservative candid camera industry–we have a local affiliate, you know. And we know that they would never stoop to the level of editing video entirely out of any recognizable context just to score political points, right?

Just to be safe, we expect everybody will be double-checking now.


52 thoughts on “Latest Conservative Blogosphere Takedown Misfires Badly

      1. In that McCarthy’s investigations of individuals stretched out for months and years, whereas each of these hit jobs has taken hours or days.

        At least 5 of Obama’s people have been taken out in this way, by fabricated “evidence” that FOX News repeats interminably until their targets’ blood is on the floor.

        I don’t see that trend stopping now.

    1. And Breitbart’s stated purpose of “exposing the NAACP’s reverse racism” is completely unsupported by the video, but those who believe in such things will think it anyway.

      This ruined numerous lives 60 years ago and looks like it has to potential to ruin lives today. And these people think they’re standing up for liberty?

      1. He is basically admitting that he has no interest in the truth.  Whatever he can  spin or make up to serve his purpose of punishing (not even “refutiating” –  just punishing) anyone who says anything critical about the right is fine in classic ends justifying means rationalization.  

        You’ll note he is completely unrepentant.  The farthest he’ll go is to say he didn’t purposely set out to get anyone fired. He just purposely set out to punish the NAACP and, for him, honesty for its own sake is irrelevant. Welcome to the morality and ethics of the world of Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and their allies, the supposed voice of the holier than thou, family values right.

        1. until we hear from Libby and other superior human beings who know what’s just.

          Do deceptions aimed at attention away towards the actual victim beneficial in a functioning democracy?  What say you oh denizens of self-righteousness?  

        2. http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpoi

          It’s also important to understand that Andrew Breitbart’s timing of the release of the grossly distorted video of Sherrod, which he admits having had for weeks, may not be entirely random. Congress will soon vote on whether to fund part of a settlement between the USDA and African-American farmers who faced acknowledged discrimination — farmers like Sherrod and her husband used to be. It’s a tiny piece of the upcoming war supplemental bill.

          Could he be trying to get the racists all indignant and riled up?

              1. Here’s what I think about racism:

                It’s stupid, whomever it is.  There are racist people in every color, in every walk of life.

                Now, how much of Obama’s opposition (by percentage) is because of racism?

                  1. But I want to know the percentage that you Pols think OBama’s opposition is that’s motivated only by race, rather than a straight policy disagreement.

                    1. If you would have come up with this first, you would not have had to move the goal posts, ever.

                      … that’s motivated only by race … [emphasis added]

                      Given that disagreement with Obama is a multi-variate problem, to tease out any individual uni-variate factor (especially one which proponents have high motivation to disguise) will be nigh near impossible. Add on small sample size complications, and you’ve got yourself a winner of a position.

            1. They clearly use it as a tool to rally a certain percentage. Considering that elections in this era are generally decided by smallish margins, they see the percentage as big enough to help.

              After all, changing demographics are against your side going forward. The hard right may have some fun in 2010 but as more young voters and more Hispanic voters come on line, even with lesser voting rates, and more grumpy old bigots leave the scene, the future isn’t bright for your team.

              In the meantime it behooves them to get every bigot they possibly can to the polls by whatever means possible. And news flash, plenty of nice people of all races and ethnicities harbor a certain amount of inner, autopilot bigotry.  

              Enjoy 2010, LB.  Although I don’t think it’s going to be quite as much fun as advertised for your side. Our side will have some tough moments but reinforcements are going to be coming over the hill soon enough; voters who like universal health care, like the sound of a new green energy and envirinmentally friendly economy, aren’t scared every time someone says “Boo!Socialism”, who believe in birth control and a woman’s right to choose and who couldn’t care less who Steve marries or what religion or non-religion he and his mate are into.

              1. A concern for Democrats

                Still, Rangel’s political and perhaps legal troubles are bad news for majority Democrats working to lose as few seats as possible in the November election. Rangel has long been a close ally of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D) of California.

                Last year, another ethics watchdog group, the Sunlight Foundation, examined Rangel’s financial record going back to 1978, the first year House members were required to detail their personal finances. The group “found 28 instances in which he failed to report acquiring, owning, or disposing of assets.”

                  1. You were saying (if I understood you correctly) that although 2010 will not be a winning year for Dems, it’s not going to be that bad.

                    So, being someone who’s perhaps never witnessed a Republican win of note since I’ve been on Pols (2006) until Scott Brown – might be a little giddy every now and then at the prospect of massive Dem losses this fall.

                    I remember what the Foley thing was like in 2008.  Rangel now has the ability to eclipse that, turning an already bad election for D’s into an absolute bloodbath.   The fact that Pelosi et al spent so much time promising the ‘most transparent blah blah blah evah’ makes this that much more delicious.

                    Ok, Schadenfreude over.

                    Actually, your post (as usual) is really poignant.

                    The R’s are going through a reformation, and the tea party is a huge part of that.  From the inside, anecdotally of course, most of us younger R’s are saying exactly what you did.

                    While we are a nation of laws, most R’s (again, anecdotally) understand that the vast majority of illegals are here to work their asses off and provide for their families.  They have no interest in becoming citizens, but would like to be able to work in peace without fear of retribution because of their status.  They’d like to be able to send money home, and go back and forth at will.

                    Why can’t we make this happen?

                    The social-issues R is a dying breed.  Look at Frazier.  Look at me – soon to be gone are the days (in most States) where you can draw a big turnout with anti-gay marriage garbage on the ballot.

                    So, you’re right.  The R’s have work to do, but it”s in motion – I really believe that.  Getting your ass kicked three cycles in a row will set things like that in motion.  Hopefully, the R’s will be able to set similar things in motion for the D’s, beginning in 2010.


                    Oh, BTW, this was brilliant:

                    And news flash, plenty of nice people of all races and ethnicities harbor a certain amount of inner, autopilot bigotry.  

                    I think that’s the most accurate thing that’s been said about race on Pols in months.  Bravo.

                    1. Not defending Rangle at all, but money scandals like this are a dime a dozen in Washington. Rangle will be tried by House Committee. Foley was preying on underage congressional pages, apparently with the knowledge of GOP House leadership who shared none of this with their Dem counterparts.

                      I don’t see how Rangle can be seen to even be as bad, let alone worse.

                    2. Foley did nothing illegal, just icky.  Aren’t pages at least 18? (I might be wrong about this, but I don’t think he was ever charged or indicted for a crime).

                      Rangel was chairman of probably the most powerful committee in the House, maybe in Congress.  Responsible for setting tax policy for the rest of us, and it looks like he might have been cheating on his own taxes.  Reprehensible.

                    3. pages usually are about 15. And sexual harassment, unfortunately, is hard to prove. The court of public opinion took care of him, but he did commit a crime.

                      Of course, the real crime (not in the legal sense of the word) was that the House GOP leaders knew about his proclivities, and decided to let him harass Democratic pages. And, like the many other cases of closeted gay Republicans, there was the hypocrisy factor in his faithful execution of antigay legislation like DOMA and support of a marriage amendment.

                      Personally, I’ll never equate bribery as being as low as this. It’s fucked, but it’s not preying upon kids.

                    4. Obama, the Dem candidate, took 66% of voters from 18 to 29 and 76% of Hispanic voters in 2008 He won in all age groups except 65+. Even among voters under 40 it would have been a landslide of major proportions.  This goes with gains in self identified Dems among young voters and a host of other factors, none of which look great for Rs.  

                      Your poignant trust that somehow  most of these new young voters will become an important part of the GOP instead of continuing the trend away from that party is touching, especially since their positions on religion, abortion, gay marriage, etc. so much more closely match Dem positions, and I do want to thank you for your kind words.  LB is complicated, that’s for sure.   Aggravating, but complicated:)


                1. If voters are really that upset about him, they’ll vote him out in the primary, where there’s already a crowded field looking to replace him due to his alleged ethical violations.

                  If they do vote to keep him in, he’ll either stay in through the general election, or if the ethics violations are too great will drop out in time for Dems to name a replacement.

                  The district is D+41.  Rangel could probably (sadly) win it even with his alleged ethical problems on full display.

            2. However:


              So a canvasser goes to a woman’s door in Washington, Pennsylvania. Knocks. Woman answers. Knocker asks who she’s planning to vote for. She isn’t sure, has to ask her husband who she’s voting for. Husband is off in another room watching some game. Canvasser hears him yell back, “We’re votin’ for the n***er!”

              Woman turns back to canvasser, and says brightly and matter of factly: “We’re voting for the n***er.”

              The above is from a tour that Nate Silver did in Western Pennsylvania.  Explained a little in the link above.



              This link has a great video of Nate Silver’s presentation at a TED conference explaining where there are problems with race in the US.

    1. to believe that Republicans wouldn’t be such low down dirty skunks as to fake evidence of racism to protect the racists in the Tea Party.  He really needs to get over this whole bi-partisan utopia fantasy and come to the realization that Republicans are scum who will cheat whenever there is an opportunity.  You can’t work with scum.  They have no respect for anyone who disagrees with them.  Time to take off the rose-colored glasses Barack.  These folks won’t ever change and support the rebuilding of America.  They are just scum who edit videos to ruin lives.

        1. But you can’t or won’t condemn this lying can you bj.  You do don’t see where Breibart did anything wrong do you?  That is pretty much the definition of scum.

          1. ACORN was never exonerated. It was shut down and defunded by congress, despite the best efforts of the MSM to cover for them. As I already said, if you were paying attention, Breitbart made a dumb move.

            1. to help the organization, ACORN was exonerated.  The videos were edited, the guy making them lied and cheated.  ACORN did nothing illegal and no one was indicted.  Just run out of town

            2. ACORN was exonerated in several different investigations by law enforcement, and the law defunding them was overturned in court – but not before they were run out of town on a rail, as it were.

              ACORN – a long-time advocate for the poor, kinda like Sherrod – was falsely demonized by Breitbart and many in the MSM, including especially FOX News.  By the time someone thought to question the validity of the tapes, the damage was done.  Sound familiar?

              So shame on Breitbart for pulling the same shit twice.  Shame on you for believing it twice.  And shame on both Democrats and Republicans in Congress and the Administration for acting like the biggest bunch of hyper-sensitive babies ever imagined in panicking over the reaction to these two “stories”.

            3. because FOX didn’t cover that part of the story. They had no problem covering the lying piece of shit O’Keefe for weeks and weeks nonstop. But when proof came out showing him and that bitch Giles to be complete frauds? Nothing. Did they even cover the lawsuit against O’Keefe & Giles for illegally taping people in California without their written consent? Nope. Doesn’t fit Fox’s narrative.

              Beej – Try changing the channel sometime. Doesn’t have to be MSNBC (although it might open your eyes) it could just as easily be CNN. Hell the interwebs is full of information. Try it out sometime.

              1. to Democrats what about this whole thing about “Bearing False Witness” against another.

                Doesn’t that qualify as breaking one of the ten commandments which is an automatic trip to hell fire?  Do you support bearing false witness if you don’t get caught and you can smear some Democrats in the process and make your party more important than God?  How big are the ten commandments versus worshiping your political dogma?

        2. James O’Keefe, whom Breitbart gladly paid for several videos heavily edited along the same lines as the Sherrod video, presented himself one way to the ACORN workers, and then overlaid his wild pimp self and different questions over top of the original video.

          As GG notes, several investigations into ACORN found the videos were heavily edited and did not represent what the ACORN workers were actually talking about (and responding to).

          This is twice – if you’re still listening to him, shame on you.

          1. but there’s no way you could spin what the ACORN people said into following the law. 60 minutes does undercover investigations all the time, what’s the big deal? Oh that’s right I forgot, ACORN is on the list of “groups which fraudulently help socialists get elected and must be protected at all cost”.

            1. 60 Minutes undercover investigation, where people go in, find out what’s going on, and report what they find

              James O’Keefe video drama, where he goes in, has a conversation with someone, and then edits in different questions and outrageous pimp outfits where they didn’t originally exist.

              ’cause they’re pretty much the same to you, right?

        3. ACORN is a perfect example of the Republican tactic of find a innocuous group or person to attack and kill off.

          Everything the R’s did to ACORN was planned. Picking a scary black neighborhood group that helps people survive and register to vote is first.  Then create a phony reason to attack, exaggerate something that strikes the racist groups as bad, or make up sh*t if there isn’t anything.

          Then attack and attack and attack. Constantly attack. File frivolous lawsuits. Then use the lawsuits filed to state the group are law breakers because of the lawsuits.

          Somewhere along the weak DINO’s will jump on board.

          And then get Congress involved.  Oh it all worked perfect with ACORN.  However, this case fell apart.  And, now the bastard who did this is claiming to be the victim.  He is a despicable ass and should be sued by Sherrod and others.  She has a good basis for a suit.

  1. Sherrod should also include Fox News and put the punitive damages at over a $100 million.  The only way to stop these lies is to make it very very expense when the liars get caught.

  2. Professionally, if Brietbart wants to be taken more seriously, he should have applied standard journalitic due diligence before publishing.  And politically, it doesn’t help anyone on the right to pull this kind of crap.  Meanwhile, I think crazy stuff gets handed to media outlets all the time – but it usually gets vetted (Fox included).

    However, the left here is guilty as well.  Sherrod is now the world record holder for fastest govt. employee to get fired.  Typically, a govt. employee can’t murder people and get fired within a month.

    The Obama administration and the NAACP were both incredibly negligent in their initial reactions.  Just when Obama, et. al. had Fox right where they wanted it – they monumentally screw it up.

    1. Were lefty blogs and talking heads calling for Sherrod’s resignation? Were they coming to the defense of the Dep’t of Agriculture’s actions? Do you know the difference between “getting fired” and “asked to resign” (even if it’s under duress) ?

      What happened there is on Obama, but not the left.

      1. Ari – you have got to be a lawyer.

        It’s hard for me to believe that you would draw such a bright line between Obama and ‘the left.’  I’m working on the premise that left = Democrat.  Last time I checked – Obama seems to hold the mantle of Democratic Party supreme commander.  At the least he is fairly influential.

        And… ummm…  NAACP is another (the Democrat leader of the free world being the other mentioned here) very influential member of the left.

        The only reason the rest of the left didn’t comment affirmatively is because they didn’t have time!  I still can’t believe how fast it all happened.

        What is the difference between being forced to resign under duress (e.g. pulled over on the side of the road, in the oval office after a stupid Rolling Stone interview, etc) and getting fired?  Are those differences germaine to the argument?

        Finally, how often did you distinguish what George Bush did from the Right?

        1. if I’m reading you correctly, everything Obama does receives 100% approval of all liberals, progressives, hard lefties, etc, because we’re like the Borg. Sorry, but that’s just nuts.

          Yes, those differences are germane to the argument because you brought up how hard it is to fire a government employee. Your words.

          Not that your last aside is germane either, but I always distinguish the actions of a leader from the general actions of bloggers, activists, organizations and protesters. If you didn’t perceive much distinction in the criticism, it’s because the right (represented by the groups I mentioned) have a habit of closing ranks around their leaders and every action they take, and only criticize them when they do something that really can’t be defended (e.g., Scott McInnis’ plagiarism). Maybe that’s why you assume the left would do the same?

          BTW, you forgot the “-ic” suffix in “Democratic.” It’s poor English to use a noun (“Democrat”) when you’re supposed to use an adjective (“Democratic”).

          1. the ProgressNow’s of the world condemning the adminstration and the NAACP.  In fact, this would be the perfect opportunity to demonstrate their non-partisan status!

            I think I was well within reason to paint both the firing and the reaction from major Democratic agents – with a broad brush.

            When Hillary Clinton claimed the “vast right-wing conspiracy” was after her, I didn’t hear defensive Republicans demanding that she name every involved individual constituency of the right because she was wrongly disparaging the entire group.

            Most people get this.  I can’t believe we’re having this conversation.  Am I going to get sued?


            1. I don’t know what some mean ol’ lawyer ever did to you, but it’s made you paranoid.

              Anyway, here’s some of that condemnation you’re missing.




              There are many others if you wish to search.

              Now, none of this is germane to your original post, where you said “The left is guilty as well.” You imply that the left also threw Sherrod under the bus. Nothing of the like happened.

              If you feel that you’re “well within reason” to use broad-brush painting, it would help if you actually said your reasons for doing so. It seems that that puts you on the defensive – why that should be, I don’t know.

  3. She realized that what she did was wrong and then went out of her way to help the family that she first said about should get help from white people.

    Because she corrected her own wrong, that family stood by her on this witch hunt.  

    The video – which I’ve not watched – is lying by omission.

    “And now, breaking nooze on the Faux Wayback Machine: Young George Washington admits he chopped down a valuable family cherry tree.  Correspondent Andew Breitbart was there with his quill pen when young Washington broke down under intense questioning from his father.”

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