Still digging: Conservatives won't let up barrage of attacks on Shirley Sherrod


Even after Andrew Breitbart's video of Shirley Sherrod's NAACP speech was uncovered as a deceptively edited excerpt that distorted her comments, conservatives have continued to attack Sherrod with a barrage of false or ludicrous smears.

Right-wing media ran with Breitbart's video to declare Sherrod "racist"

Breitbart posts Sherrod video, calls her "racist," claims "Context is everything." On July 19, Breitbart posted heavily edited video of Sherrod and falsely suggested that Sherrod discriminated against a white farmer in her capacity as the Agriculture Department's Georgia Director of Rural Development. Breitbart said that the video provides "video evidence of racism coming from" Sherrod.

Right-wing media trumpet video, declare Sherrod a racist. Right-wing media subsequently promoted Breitbart's video, showering him with praise and agreeing that it proved Sherrod is a racist.

NAACP releases full tape vindicating Sherrod. The NAACP released the full video of Sherrod's comments on the evening of July 20. In the video, Sherrod states that "working with him [the white farmer] made me see that it's really about those who have versus those who don't." She went on to state that "they could be black, and they could be white, they could be Hispanic. And it made me realize then that I needed to work to help poor people -- those who don't have access the way others have."

Even after Breitbart's claims are debunked, right-wing media declare Sherrod a "racist," "race-baiter"

Even after Breitbart's story dissolved, certain right-wing media figures absurdly continued to accuse Sherrod of racism.

Limbaugh: "Andrew Breitbart was exactly right. ... If you listen to the whole speech ... she's racist." On the July 22 edition of his radio show, Rush Limbaugh claimed,"Andrew Breitbart was exactly right. This woman did not have an epiphany when she was at the USDA. When she was speaking to the NAACP, she did not have an epiphany. ... If you listen to the whole speech, as people have, 43 minutes, she's racist. The NAACP is racist."

Levin: Sherrod is a "race-baiter." On July 23, Mark Levin called Sherrod a "race-baiter," "an idiot" and claimed, "Breitbart was right about her."

Hannity: Sherrod "still admits" "discriminating against this white farmer." On the July 20 edition of Fox News' Hannity, Sean Hannity said that Sherrod "still admits that she was discriminating against this white farmer" even though the full context of Sherrod's comments were available at the time of his program.

Hoft: "Obama called radical Shirley Sherrod today to ... apologize for firing her for her racist remarks." In a July 22 Gateway Pundit post, Hoft wrote, "Barack Obama called radical Shirley Sherrod today to ... apologize for firing her for her racist remarks at an NAACP event in March." Hoft posted part of a Wall Street Journal article about the phone call and again claimed, "Far left anti-white radical Shirley Sherrod is linked to terrorist Bill Ayers like Barack Obama."

Andy McCarthy: "Ms. Sherrod's Speech Was Most Certainly Not About Transcending Racism." In a July 22 National Review Online post, Andy McCarthy wrote: "I don't understand the sudden pendulum swing in the other direction. Now, in Take Two, we are to understand that Ms. Sherrod was not exhibiting racism. Instead, 'taken in context,' we're told, she is actually a heroic figure who has transcended the racist views that, given the terrible things she saw growing up in the South, were understandable." McCarthy posted parts of her speech and wrote: "Pardon me, but I think I'll stay off the Canonize Shirley bandwagon. To me, it seems like she's still got plenty of racial baggage. What we're seeing is not transcendence but transference. That's why the NAACP crowd reacted so enthusiastically throughout her speech."

Conservatives claim Sherrod is a "Marxist," favors "redistribution," and is a "radical"

Breitbart: Sherrod has "Marxist way of looking at the world". On the July 26 edition of The Savage Nation, Andrew Breitbart said that when viewing "the entirety of the tape" "you will see a person who has a very Marxist way of looking at the world."

Beck: Sherrod "obviously has some sort of Marxist or redistributionist qualities to her." On the July 21 edition of his radio show, Beck stated that Sherrod "obviously has some sort of Marxist or redistribution qualities to her." He further said that Sherrod is "class warfare just not race warfare." On his Fox News show, Beck said Sherrod should have been made a "czar" because "she fits in" with the "Maoists" in the Obama administration.

Limbaugh: Sherrod supports "the need for redistribution." On the July 21 edition of his show, Rush Limbaugh claimed that Sherrod was a supporter of "Obamunism" and favors "the haves versus the have-nots and the need for redistribution."

Crowley: Sherrod may be among "radicals, racists, socialists" "stocked" in Obama administration. Fox News' Monica Crowley said Sherrod may be among the "radicals, racists, socialists" that are "stocked" in the Obama administration. Crowley asked, "How many Van Joneses are in this administration? How many Shirley Sherrods?"

Hoft: Sherrod is "communist, radical, socialist, terror-sympathizer." Hoft called Sherrod "a communist, radical, socialist, terror-sympathizer" and "white farmer-hater."

Mattera: "The broad is a Marxist." Human Events editor Jason Mattera posted on his Twitter account: "Sherrod shouldn't be given her job back. The broad is a Marxist. I have no sympathy for her."

Derbyshire: Sherrod is "a revolutionary radical." On his "Radio Derb" podcast, National Review's John Derbyshire called Sherrod "a revolutionary radical."

American Spectator's Lord claimed Sherrod's story about relative's lynching was "false"

Spectator's Lord: Sherrod lynching story "did not happen" and "not true." Jeffrey Lord, writing in the American Spectator on July 26, claimed that Sherrod's story in her NAACP speech about how her relative Bobby Hall had been lynched was "not true. It did not happen." Lord's explanation was that because Hull was beaten to death by three law enforcement officials, rather than hanged, he had not been lynched. Lord went on to ask, "Did Ms. Sherrod deliberately concoct this story in search of a piece of that ugly romance to add 'glamour' to a family story that is gut-wrenchingly horrendous already?" He adds that "nine Justices of the United States Supreme Court" -- in the ruling they issued following the trial of Hall's killers in the 1940s -- "says not one word about Bobby Hall being lynched."

Experts on history of lynching rebut Lord's Sherrod claim. In interviews with Media Matters, several experts on the history of lynching criticized Lord's article. Christopher Waldrep, a professor of history at San Francisco State University, said "I don't know how in the world you can say" Hall's death is "not a lynching," adding that "People at the time had no question that it was a lynching. I mean, there was no particular debate." Michael Pfeifer, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice likewise concluded that "Jeffrey Lord's reasoning is fallacious" and "profoundly ahistorical." Pfeifer added that while the word "lynching" "has always eluded simple, consensus definitions," its use "was most often, but never exclusively, hanging (shootings, beatings, burnings, etc. were also called 'lynchings.')"

Lord's Spectator colleagues criticize his article. On July 26, John Toobin wrote, "What on Earth is Jeffrey Lord talking about on the mainpage? ... Lynching is defined as an extrajudicial killing by a mob (which can be as few as two people). The fatal beating of Bobby Hall most certainly qualifies." Philip Klein wrote, " I am rendered speechless by a 4,000-word article that is based around the suggestion that somebody is a liar for saying that a black man was lynched, when he was merely beaten to death by a white sheriff who evidence suggests had previously threatened to 'get him.'"

Lord stands by his claims. In a July 27 blog post, Lord stood by his article, writing:

Random House Webster's College Dictionary defines lynching as: "to put to death, esp. hanging by mob action and without legal authority."

I have read the Court's decision. Three people are not a "mob." A mob is defined as a "large crowd." So there was no "mob action" because there was no mob. Second, the Supreme Court specifically said the Sheriff and his deputy and a local policeman acted "under color of law." Which means they had legal authority.

So to say that Bobby Hall was lynched is, factually, according to the Supreme Court and, if you prefer, Webster's, not true. No mob. Therefore no "mob action." And the three had "legal authority."

Yet another Spectator colleague criticizes his follow-up. In a July 27 post, W. James Antle called Lord's follow-up "wildly unpersuasive, to put it mildly," noting that Lord's definition of lynching would exclude the killings of Emmett Till and James Byrd, and that "Both of these high-profile, racially motivated, 20th-century murders are widely and popularly described as lynchings."

Right-wing media attack Sherrod's role in discrimination suit against USDA

Blumer, Shapiro, Breitbart use Sherrod's role in discrimination suit to attack her. Conservative media outlets have attacked Sherrod's participation in a lawsuit charging the U.S. Department of Agriculture with discrimination against African American farmers. Tom Blumer claimed that the class-action lawsuit "has a checkered history" and that Sherrod's participation in the case "deserve[s] further scrutiny, Ben Shapiro said that USDA "had been shaken down by Sherrod," and Andrew Breitbart suggested that Sherrod had been fired to prevent people from "looking into" the lawsuit.

Congressional Republicans supported black farmers' allegations of discrimination by USDA. Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) has sponsored or co-sponsored a number of bills seeking to allow more African American farmers to join the settlement of discrimination claims by USDA, and said of the settlement, "I'm not going to give up until we get a good ending for it." Former Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH) has also sponsored or co-sponsored bills to allow more African American farmers to participate in the settlement. In 2004, as chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Chabot held an oversight hearing on the "Status of the Implementation of the Pigford v. Glickman Settlement." In his opening statement, Chabot noted that "in an ironic twist, the process that was created to provide a forum for those whose claims had been shut out has itself shut out nearly two-thirds of all who wanted to have their discrimination claims heard."

Federal judge, independent study found gross racial disparities in USDA programs. In 1999, federal district Judge Paul Friedman wrote an opinion approving the settlement in the original Pigford v. Glickman settlement. In that opinion, Friedman recounted the history of discrimination against African American farmers by the USDA. The Congressional Research Service reported that a USDA-commissioned study found that "found that from 1990 to 1995, minority participation in FSA programs was very low and minorities received less than their fair share of USDA money for crop payments, disaster payments, and loans."

Conservative blogs attempt to smear Sherrod by attacking SNCC

Hoft, Illinois Review attempt to connect Sherrod to William Ayers through SNCC. In a post promoted by Gateway Pundit's Jim Hoft, conservative blog Illinois Review attempted to connect Sherrod to William Ayers, writing, "Ms. Sherrod's husband is a former honcho in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee back in the 1960's. You can read more about it in Bill Ayers book 'Fugitive Days.' Yes, that Bill Ayers. He was involved in SNCC as well."

Sweetness & Light: Charles Sherrod was "one of the founders" of SNCC, which "evolved from a non-violent group to a pro-violent group." The blog Sweetness & Light claimed, "Charles Sherrod was one of the founders of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. The SNCC quickly evolved from a non-violent group to a pro-violent group under Stokely Carmichael and H. Rapp Brown."

Sites ignore SNCC's role in the civil rights movement. None of the sites notes SNCC's role in the lunch counter sit-ins and "freedom rides" in the South they organized and participated in as part of the civil rights movement.

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