Andrew Breitbart is at it again.
A week after he promised to "go after the teachers and the union organizers," his website BigGovernment.com started running a series of choppy, heavily edited videos taken from labor studies courses taught at the University of Missouri-St. Louis and the University of Missouri-Kansas City. The posts promoting these videos claim, among other things, that the professors "instruct students on how fear, intimidation, and, even, industrial sabotage are important and, often, necessary tools," and that they teach their students that the US flag is "racist."
But given Breitbart's history of dishonesty and his declared intention to "go after" teachers and unions, do we have any reason to think Big Government's claims are credible?
In a word, no. And in fact a quick review of the full context of these clips reveals that Breitbart is up to his old tricks again.
1.) Big Government Edited A Rejection Of Violent Tactics To Make It Sound Like An Endorsement
The opening to Big Government's first video, "Thuggery 101," quotes Professor Don Giljum to make it sound as if he recommends that unions use violent tactics.
Here's a transcript of his remarks as edited by Big Government:
GILJUM: Because I think if you look at labor's history over the years, you'll find that, you know, we've had a very violent history with violent protests-- [CUT]
GILJUM: ...in certain instances, strategically played out, and for certain purposes, that industrial sabotage doesn't have its place. I think it certainly does. But as far as -- You know, and I can't really honestly say that I've never wished, or have never been in a position, where I have haven't wished real harm on somebody or inflicted any pain and suffering on some people--
STUDENT: We're all human.
GILJUM: --who didn't ask for it, but, you know, it certainly has its place.
These comments are very clearly edited, with a jump in the video at the 0:52 mark. But the longer version of those remarks, as obtained by Media Matters, makes clear that Big Government carefully edited around all of the portions where Giljum explicitly rejected violence as an ineffective tactic. Here's a longer video and a transcript with portions that Big Government edited out in bold:
I tend to agree with you, because I think if you look at labor's history over the years, you'll find that, you know, we've had a very violent history with violent protests and reaction to suppression. OK? But as time has changed, the tactics have changed, or the need for those have changed. OK?
Now, you know, that's not to say that in certain instances, strategically played out and for certain purposes, that industrial sabotage doesn't have its place. I think it certainly does. But as far as -- You know, and I can't really honestly say that I've never wished, or have never been in a position where I have haven't wished real harm on somebody or inflicted any pain and suffering on some people--
STUDENT: We're all human.
GILJUM: --who didn't ask for it, but, you know, it certainly has its place. It certainly makes you feel a hell of a lot better sometimes, but beyond that I'm not sure as a tactic today, the type of violence or reaction to the violence we had back then would be called for here, and I think it would do more harm than good.
Big Government clipped out both crucially qualifying statements, and putting them back in changes the entire context of the quote. Given how they edited it, it's hard to see how you could argue that the deception wasn't intentional.
2.) Big Government Clipped Movie Quote To Make It Sound Like Professor's Own Words
"Thuggery 101" also depicts Professor Judy Ancel saying, "Violence is a tactic, and it's to be used when it's appropriate-- the appropriate tactic." (Around the 1:30 mark.) But as a longer clip of that statement makes clear, those are not Ancel's own words. She was only quoting a person being interviewed in the documentary At the River I Stand, which the class had just watched for discussion purposes. Media Matters has a longer video and a transcript with the key part bolded:
ANCEL: The one guy in the film, one of the guys who had been one of the young SNCC types, said-- What?
ANCEL: The invaders, thank you. Yeah, right, right, right. Yeah. Those-- But he represented the kind of thinking that went into the Student Underground Coordinating Committee and then later, probably-- Well, coinciding with the Black Panthers, I'd say. You know, he said "Violence is a tactic, and it's to be used when it's appropriate -- the appropriate tactic."
Whether they-- They never come back to him to ask him what he thought of the window smashing in that march. Or whether or not that was done by them, or others, or provocateurs. We don't know that.
There's nothing in the longer video to indicate that Ancel endorses the position of the man she was quoting. Yet Big Government presents this quote like it was Ancel's own original opinion.
After Ancel and Giljum pointed out that they had been deceptively edited by Breitbart's team, Big Government posted a subsequent rebuttal acknowledging the context missing from the tapes it provided to news outlets. But the editors fail to provide an even marginally reasonable explanation for why they edited the videos in the way they did. Nor do they concede how including it changes the entire meaning of those clips. But that's because the only explanation isn't reasonable: that they intentionally warped the meaning of Ancel and Giljum's words to score a cheap point.
Given what we know about Breitbart, and the given that the first video alone is saturated with dishonesty, how can we take anything about this new Big Government campaign to target teachers at face value?