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.
This morning on Fox & Friends, during a discussion about how President Obama is (maybe!) a scary socialist, Gretchen Carlson and Andrea Tantaros enthusiastically agreed that George W. Bush set the country on the "slippery slope" to socialism.
Carlson declared that the "definition of socialism" is "advocating state ownership of industry" which is "kind of" what Obama did with the auto industry. Tantaros agreed, but said that "though it's not full-blown socialism, it's certainly a slippery slope that's on the road."
But if we're to abide by this definition of "socialism," then the person ultimately responsible for starting us down this "slippery slope" of the supposed "state ownership" of the auto industry is George W. Bush, and not Barack Obama.
President George W. Bush stepped in Friday to keep America's auto industry afloat, announcing a $17.4 billion bailout for GM and Chrysler, with the terms of the loans requiring that the firms radically restructure and show they can become profitable soon.
"If we were to allow the free market to take its course now, it would almost certainly lead to disorderly bankruptcy," Bush said at the White House, in remarks carried live by the national broadcast networks. "In the midst of a financial crisis and a recession, allowing the U.S. auto industry to collapse is not a responsible course of action. The question is how we can best give it a chance to succeed."
If you listen closely, you can hear the hoof beats of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse, racing toward the battle.
John Hagee, Can America Survive?
Earlier this month, Glenn Beck hosted a variety of preachers and pastors on his TV show to give us a look at the news "through their prism." Beck called his guests "leaders in the faith community" and a "few brave preachers" who are examples of "people that need to start standing up."
One of these "brave preachers" was John Hagee, whose controversial views caused John McCain to publicly reject his endorsement during the 2008 presidential campaign.
During the show, Beck plugged Hagee's "excellent" new book, Can America Survive? 10 Prophetic Signs That We Are The Terminal Generation, saying that he "just started to read last night." As we documented last week, this book is about how the world is fast-approaching Biblical Armageddon. Hagee offers a wide variety of "evidence" to buttress this theory, but much of it focuses on a supposedly impending conflict involving Israel, Iran, Russia, and the rest of the world that, according to Hagee, was foretold in the Bible.
Not only did Beck promote Hagee's book, but he also explicitly endorsed Hagee's theories by stating as fact that "a lot of the pieces that have never been here for the prophecy are here now."
The "prophecy" Beck referred to was the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, which Hagee describes in great detail in his book. After reading through the book and discovering the "prism" through which Hagee views current events, it's worth asking why Beck singled out Hagee as one of the "few brave preachers" that "need to start standing up."
Defending his focus on Bible prophecy, Hagee explains in the book that "prophecy is the history of the future," and writes that "people in this era of doubt and skepticism feel that a person has to be either mentally unbalanced or a religious fanatic to manifest an interesting in Bible prophecy."
You be the judge.
Last week on his TV show, Glenn Beck assembled a panel including "pastors and preachers" to provide a "look at the news through their prism." As Media Matters detailed, the panel was made up entirely of evangelical Christians, many of whom have long histories of extreme rhetoric and conservative or Republican activism.
Among those pastors was John Hagee, whose extreme comments led John McCain to publicly reject his endorsement during the 2008 presidential campaign. While introducing Hagee, Beck described him as the "author of the book 'Can America Survive?'" which he said is an "excellent" book that he "just started to read last night."
So what is this "excellent" book about, and through what "prism" does Hagee view current events?
Well, the subtitle of the book is "10 Prophetic Signs That We Are The Terminal Generation," and it's apparently about how we are fast-approaching Biblical End Times.
After dozens of companies bailed on Glenn Beck's TV show in the wake of him calling President Obama a "racist" with a "deep seated hatred for white people or the white culture," most of the companies left advertising on his show are a mix of sketchy gold companies and fringe groups selling things like "survival gardens."
Occasionally, there are notable exceptions, such as last night when Kaplan Online Tutoring, which is owned by The Washington Post Company, advertised on Beck's show.
When Beck isn't launching baseless conspiracy theories, trying to rehabilitate Joseph McCarthy's legacy, running "documentaries" comparing progressives to Nazis, or attacking the Obamas' 11-year-old daughter, he is frequently crossing the line into violent, revolutionary rhetoric.
Earlier this week, following the lead of Matt Drudge, conservative media figures absurdly claimed that Vice President Biden "compared Republicans to Nazis" when he used the term "blitzkrieg" in a fundraising email. As we pointed out, not only have numerous conservative elected officials and media outlets used the term "blitzkrieg" in a political context before, but they also routinely make far more explicit comparisons of Democrats to Nazis.
Well, using Matt Drudge's "standards," apparently Ted Nugent compared himself to a Nazi today in an op-ed he published in The Washington Times:
I'm on my 47th annual blitzkrieg rock 'n' roll tour across America. I have many guitars, oversized amplifiers and plenty of guns and ammo. The American Boy Scout lives. Prepared is good. Unprepared is for losers. Know it.
It would be absurd and dishonest to accuse Ted Nugent of comparing himself to a Nazi here - just as dishonest as it was when conservative media figures played dumb to accuse Biden of comparing Republicans to Nazis.