Dereliction Of Duty: Dylan Ratigan Demonstrates How Not To Interview Andrew Breitbart
Blog ››› ››› JEREMY HOLDEN & MELINDA WARNER
MSNBC's Dylan Ratigan hosted notorious liar and deceptive video editor Andrew Breitbart to promote Breitbart's latest book and his "passion" for media accountability. In the process, he missed the opportunity to press Breitbart on his past transgressions against journalistic ethics and basic human decency. Not only that, but Ratigan also supported Breitbart's goal to use MSNBC as a platform for some much-needed credibility. Thus he became one of the unaccountable media figures Breitbart claims to be so passionate about exposing.
After introducing Breitbart as a "controversial blogger," Ratigan described the Big Government entrepreneur as a "sharpshooter who's good," a "smart man," and "an incredibly passionate and effective man." He then bonded with his guest by complimenting Breitbart's work and highlighting what he said were their shared passions. Breitbart said that his role in the media is "attacking people like" Ratigan, complained that he was "misunderstood," referred to himself as "the Upton Sinclair of the mainstream media" and expressed dismay that the national discourse could not be conducted as an "adult conversation." Ratigan concluded by saying that he would "love to continue this conversation" with Breitbart.
During the interview, it became clear that Ratigan was not prepared with the hard-hitting questions Breitbart expects of responsible journalists -- questions that could have exposed Breitbart's history of using lies and distortions to fabricate smears and the tactics that belie his hollow call for an "adult conversation." Here is a small sampling of what questions Breitbart should have been asked to answer:
Question #1: Can you explain the factual basis for the claim you make in Righteous Indignation: Excuse Me While I Save The World that William Ayers "probably" wrote President Obama's autobiography? In the book that Breitbart is promoting, he wrote that "citizen journalists" have "raised the question whether Barack Obama's autobiography, Dreams from My Father, was ghostwritten by domestic terrorist Bill Ayers." Breitbart later referred to the book as Obama's "probably Ayers-ghostwritten autobiography." This analysis was popularized by WorldNetDaily writers Jack Cashill and Aaron Klein, who based their theories on "evidence" like the frequency of nautical terms in Obama's book, despite the fact that "Obama gives little indication that he has any real experience with the sea or ships beyond bodysurfing at Waikiki." (Slightly less unhinged conservatives like David Freddoso have labeled Cashill's work on this "a lot of crap, all conjecture and no concrete evidence.") [Click HERE for more.]
Question #2: Why did you say heavily edited video you released provided "evidence of racism" on the part of Shirley Sherrod? Breitbart posted heavily edited video that he claimed showed "evidence of racism" by Shirley Sherrod, at the time an official in the USDA. But her full comments, subsequently posted by the NAACP, belied Breitbart's accusations and demonstrated that he was promoting a deceptively edited video. In a Newsweek interview, Breitbart himself said that he agreed the video "took things out of context." [Click HERE for more.]
Question #3: After evidence completely discredited your attempt to smear Sherrod as racist, why did you disingenuously claim that the story you fabricated was "not about Shirley Sherrod?" In his initial post regarding Sherrod on July 19, Breitbart claimed that the Sherrod video was "evidence of racism coming from a federal appointee" and that Sherrod discriminated against a white farmer in her "federal duties" as the USDA Georgia Director of Rural Development. The video itself also included text that said, "Ms. Sherrod admits that in her federally appointed position, overseeing over a billion dollars she discriminates against people due to their race." [Click HERE for more.]
Question #4: Why did you systematically deprive the media of information relevant to the anti-ACORN campaign you orchestrated with James O'Keefe? Breitbart himself acknowledged that his strategy in promoting the heavily edited ACORN tapes was to ensure that people "would be deprived of the type of information that a defense attorney would try to gather in order to create a defense." Long after Breitbart and O'Keefe's media campaign smeared ACORN with lies and obfuscation, independent investigations found no evidence of criminality on the part of ACORN. [Click HERE for more.]
Question #5: Did you ask Kevin Pezzi to write for Big Government? Kevin Pezzi, author of two Big Government posts accusing Sherrod of racism, claimed that "Breitbart asked me to write for BigGovernment.com." Pezzi has repeatedly used racial epithets like "Japs" and "Chinks," and claimed Native and African Americans should have been grateful for their subjugation by whites. He also claims to be responsible for "over 850 inventions" and schemes such as a "magic bullet" for cancer, a "robotic chef," and sexual inventions like "penile enlargement techniques" and "ways to tighten the vagina" (because "men like women with tight vaginas"). [Click HERE for more.]