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Lies, Damn Lies, and Andew Breitbart
July 20, 2010 11:07 AM   Subscribe

Breitbart strikes again. Conservative media activist and propagandist Andrew Breitbart made news again this week, bringing to light apparent video evidence of racism among the NAACP's ranks, in the form of USDA official Shirley Sherrod, who was allegedly caught on tape in a speech to the NAACP, admitting that race had influenced her decisions not to provide assistance to white farm workers. But despite the fact that Sherrod was summarily dismissed from her USDA post as a result of Breitbart's accusations, the complete, unedited footage of the speech reportedly confirms Sherrod's claims that "her comments were taken out of context... that the anecdote was part of a larger story, one in which she explains how she overcame her initial prejudice" and that in fact, the reported incidents took place before Sherrod worked for the USDA, when she worked for the Federation of Southern Cooperative/Land Assistance Fund. The white farmers described in the story have since confirmed to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that, in fact, Sherrod saved them from bankruptcy. [Via]

Breitbart's smear campaign against ACORN discussed previously here.
posted by saulgoodman (291 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
Breibart is a liar, but it was fascinating to see his wholly fabricated ACORN story taken on face value so quickly (even here on the 'filter). The powerful allure of certain lies is undeniable.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:11 AM on July 20, 2010 [12 favorites]


I hate Republicans.
posted by stavrogin at 11:12 AM on July 20, 2010 [26 favorites]


Cry wolf one more time Breitbart, I double-dare ya.
posted by pyrex at 11:13 AM on July 20, 2010


Wait...why was his second story given any credence after the ACORN nonsense?

Oh, I forget myself. Conservative media activist.
posted by DU at 11:13 AM on July 20, 2010 [5 favorites]


What an asshole.
posted by jquinby at 11:13 AM on July 20, 2010 [6 favorites]


That Breitbart walks free is an indictment of our society.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:14 AM on July 20, 2010 [27 favorites]


Why doesn't anyone sue these people for slander?
posted by Sys Rq at 11:17 AM on July 20, 2010 [4 favorites]


Breitbart is not the problem here. It's the fact that other media report his buillshit as news. If it was just him, nobody would care.
posted by empath at 11:17 AM on July 20, 2010 [13 favorites]


Christ what an asshole.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 11:17 AM on July 20, 2010 [5 favorites]


I would love to see someone make a car with a giant magnet, then videotape Breitbart's car seeming to swerve into them on the interstate.
posted by notsnot at 11:17 AM on July 20, 2010 [5 favorites]


Here's Breitbart calling Max Blumenthal "despicable" and the "lowest life-form [he] has ever seen." His projection is practically 3-D.

Promise you won't read the YouTube comments. They'll hurt your brain.
posted by defenestration at 11:19 AM on July 20, 2010


Whatever happened to his little criminal monkey?
posted by Artw at 11:19 AM on July 20, 2010


Breitbart is not the problem here. It's the fact that other media report his buillshit as news. If it was just him, nobody would care.

Well, he's in bed with Drudge, so apparently he's important?
posted by defenestration at 11:19 AM on July 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


"Breibart is...fascinating...The powerful allure...is undeniable."

- Blazecock Pileon
posted by burnmp3s at 11:20 AM on July 20, 2010 [104 favorites]


I would love to see someone make a car with a giant magnet, then videotape Breitbart's car seeming to swerve into them on the interstate.

Hey now, don't wish physical harm on him, no matter what.

The real way to take this guy down is to post the Matt Drudge/Brietbart sextape on the internet.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 11:20 AM on July 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


O'Keefe was sentenced to three years of probation and 100 hours of community service on top of a $1500 fine (via wiki)
posted by mkb at 11:21 AM on July 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


Why doesn't anyone sue these people for slander?
Defamation law in the United States is much less plaintiff-friendly than its counterparts in European and the Commonwealth countries, due to the enforcement of the First Amendment. In the United States, a comprehensive discussion of what is and is not libel or slander is difficult, because the definition differs between different states, and under federal law. Some states codify what constitutes slander and libel together into the same set of laws. Criminal libel is rarely prosecuted but exists on the books in many states, and is constitutionally permitted in circumstances essentially identical to those where civil libels liability is constitutional.
You know, it's Free Speech. Or Freedom of the Press. Whatever works.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:21 AM on July 20, 2010


Man, I could've sworn Breitbart was doing time.
posted by box at 11:25 AM on July 20, 2010


her comments were taken out of context... that the anecdote was part of a larger story, one in which she explains how she overcame her initial prejudice

Fine, but for someone in her position, she instantly lost all credibility and made herself into a giant distraction to her agency's billion-dollar work in that state. Even if she hadn't been forced out because of retribution, she needed to be forced out because there's no way she could have continued working in her present role.

Apart from this one instance, should could have had a perfectly pure record of good work and we could be fitting her for sainthood.

But she can't do the job now. Buh-bye.

What kills me is the audience's reaction (or rather, the non-reaction) to "one of his own." /facepalm
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:27 AM on July 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Breitbart is like the Right's answer to Michael Moore. Only where Moore seems to care about being taken at least someone seriously as a filmmaker, Breitbart doesn't; he's content to take his out-of-context clips and carefully engineered interactions and just dump them directly onto the public, without the bother of constructing an actual film.

And the interesting thing is that he seems to be more effective as a result. Moore is more successful, and I suspect makes more money, but Breitbart seems to have actually accomplished more in terms of political gain. I find this more than a little ironic; of the two propagandists, Moore is the good capitalist while Breitbart seems to be operating out of the Alinsky playbook.

It just feels like bizarro-world to me.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:29 AM on July 20, 2010 [7 favorites]


Wow, way to take a measured response to this one, Obama administration.

I wonder what winters were like at the Obama household back in Illinois; did Barack even bother to see if there was rock salt in the garage or did he just figure throwing Malia under the front wheels would be the best way to go?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 11:32 AM on July 20, 2010 [14 favorites]


I find this more than a little ironic; of the two propagandists, Moore is the good capitalist while Breitbart seems to be operating out of the Alinsky playbook.

Yes, I suspect Alinsky is the bible for more of these right-wing agitprop mavens than they would care to admit publicly.
posted by blucevalo at 11:34 AM on July 20, 2010


Threeway Handshake: "Hey now, don't wish physical harm on him, no matter what. "

I wish him no physical harm, just for his car to get dented.
posted by notsnot at 11:34 AM on July 20, 2010


I disagree, Kadin. Moore puts together feature-length films in an effort to persuade people that his point of view is correct and useful. Agree with him or not, you have to admit that he has his ideals and beliefs and that he's doing what he can to persuade people.

Breitbart, on the other hand, is nothing but a character assassin. He puts together fraudulent video clips that have no purpose other than to destroy the people depicted in them. He is scum, vile, vicious scum, who has no purpose in what he does apart from the destruction of his enemies.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:34 AM on July 20, 2010 [15 favorites]


The really, really, sad and disheartening thing is that the Administration came down on her. She said she got four calls from folks saying the White House wanted her to resign. On the spot. Of course I doubt it was the President himself, but it's where the credit belongs.

Obama, let me say something to you. If you just want to avoid a kerfuffle - don't go into fucking politics.

Now you have thrown someone under the bus, and even George Bush was better than that.

The Republicans, the Tea Partiers, they love knife-fighting. Even more, they love making Democrats squirm and squeal like the simpering, hand-wringing, ineffectual intellectuals the Right accuses them of being. It's why I remain independent. I hate the Republicans for their lying, crass, despicable, underhanded, illegal, warmongering, hypocritical bullshit, not to mention their idiotic policies. But the Democrats...well, they are just weaksauce.

Fight, you sons of bitches, let's see some fight. Republicans are like dogs - you have to make them respect you.
posted by Xoebe at 11:35 AM on July 20, 2010 [21 favorites]


Fine, but for someone in her position, she instantly lost all credibility and made herself into a giant distraction to her agency's billion-dollar work in that state.

?!

Because her words could be edited in such a way as to make them suggestive of something they didn't suggest when not edited? Are you serious?

The entire point of her speech was the opposite of what Breitbart claimed and edited the footage to support: far from evidence of "racism in black president's administration" as it was echoed throughout the cavernous moral and intellectual void that is the conservative echo chamber, the speech was in fact evidence of members of that black president's administration speaking out in a highly public setting against black on white racism!

What are we now, the goddamn Eastern Bloc with our weekly purges, witch hunts and whispered smear campaigns?

I wonder what winters were like at the Obama household back in Illinois; did Barack even bother to see if there was rock salt in the garage or did he just figure throwing Malia under the front wheels would be the best way to go?

Way to make Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack the entire Obama administration! He's solely responsible for hiring and firing, as he should be in any but a ludicrously micromanaged system.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:37 AM on July 20, 2010 [11 favorites]


The Tea Party true believers got angered when they were accused of being racists. Well then here is some stuff that the media did not show you:

http://freakoutnation.com/2010/07/18/the-tea-pary-signs-you-wont-see-on-tv/
who is racist? oh, my...
posted by Postroad at 11:37 AM on July 20, 2010


So if Breitbart splices together footage of the President saying he kicks white people's puppies, will Obama fire *himself*?
posted by edheil at 11:37 AM on July 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


Breitbart is not the problem here. It's the fact that other media report his buillshit as news. If it was just him, nobody would care.

This. The story here is that Breitbart once again made shit up, and unless Sherrod is completely lying, the administration cowered in record setting time. There's multiple levels of disgraceful here.

I don't see any way that Sherrod will get her job back, but at the very least maybe this can bring some more media light onto the nature of Andrew Breitbart, who is clearly a very deranged and vindictive person with an insatiable hardon for ruining black peoples' lives.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 11:38 AM on July 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


Don't forget this is a guy who had someone on his payroll try and tamper with the phone lines of a Senator.

Can you imagine a liberal being able to repeatedly publish fake stories, support criminal acts, and STILL have enough media influence to get the Bush government to fire someone?

Even Dan fucking Rather got shitcanned for one bad story about Bush where someone put one over on him.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:41 AM on July 20, 2010 [10 favorites]


a very deranged and vindictive person with an insatiable hardon for ruining black peoples' lives.

He's a modern Republican. That's more or less a tautology.
posted by aramaic at 11:42 AM on July 20, 2010 [7 favorites]


Way to make Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack the entire Obama administration! He's solely responsible for hiring and firing, as he should be in any but a ludicrously micromanaged system.
Shirley Sherrod says she was forced to step down by the White House even though her comments, in which she says she withheld support for a farmer because he was white, were really part of a story of racial reconciliation. In an interview, Sherrod said the White House's wishes were relayed by an Agriculture Department undersecretary.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 11:42 AM on July 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


Obama, let me say something to you. If you just want to avoid a kerfuffle - don't go into fucking politics.

Now you have thrown someone under the bus, and even George Bush was better than that.


Tom Vilsack is the Secretary of Agriculture, not Presiden Obama, and it would be ludicrous to think for one second Vilsack goes around getting presidential sign-off every time he hires and/or fires a low-level staffer.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:43 AM on July 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Xoebe: Republicans are like dogs - you have to make them respect you.

What you say is an insult to dogs.

saulgoodman: What are we now, the goddamn Eastern Bloc with our weekly purges, witch hunts and whispered smear campaigns?

If that's what the Republicans want ..... of course.
posted by blucevalo at 11:44 AM on July 20, 2010


XQUZYPHYR: I trust the AP to be accurate and precise almost as much as I trust Breitbart.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:44 AM on July 20, 2010


If that's what the Republicans want ..... of course.

I should amend that to add, just wait till November 3.
posted by blucevalo at 11:45 AM on July 20, 2010


Breitbart's Sherrod narrative unravels.
posted by ericb at 11:46 AM on July 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


Don't forget this is a guy who had someone on his payroll try and tamper with the phone lines of a Senator.

...and is also the guy who had to write an apology on the Washington Times editorial page (ensuring no one would read it) titled "I, Jerk" about him "owning the moment" where he drunkenly gave protesters marching against child conscript soldiers the finger.
posted by Challahtronix at 11:46 AM on July 20, 2010


I'm hoping there is more to the video of Shirley Sherrod, because otherwise it seems like the right just got the scalp of a penitent lady.
22 minutes ago via web
Retweeted by 4 people
Reply Retweet

ewerickson
Erick Erickson


Even the asshole from redstate thinks Breitbart went too far.
posted by stavrogin at 11:47 AM on July 20, 2010 [8 favorites]


Breitbart is Breitbart. The real scandal here is the assorted establishment liberals/left/Democrats who reliably roll over on their backs whenever someone wags a finger in their direction. Grow some fucking balls already.
posted by 2N2222 at 11:47 AM on July 20, 2010 [15 favorites]


Tom Vilsack is the Secretary of Agriculture, not Presiden Obama, and it would be ludicrous to think for one second Vilsack goes around getting presidential sign-off every time he hires and/or fires a low-level staffer.
Shirley Sherrod, who resigned Monday as the department's director of rural development for Georgia, told CNN she had four calls telling her the White House wanted her to resign.

...

Sherrod told CNN that she got four calls Monday from Cheryl Cook, USDA rural development undersecretary. In the first, she said, she was told she was being put on administrative leave. In the second, she said, she was told she needed to resign.

XQUZYPHYR: I trust the AP to be accurate and precise almost as much as I trust Breitbart.

You should stop now.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 11:47 AM on July 20, 2010 [4 favorites]


Another point worth mentioning is that Moore takes on Goliaths, where this guy seems to prefer to attack small-timers.
posted by Mister_A at 11:48 AM on July 20, 2010 [13 favorites]


Fight, you sons of bitches, let's see some fight. Republicans are like dogs - you have to make them respect you.

This. Show some gumption. Shout the libelous motherfuckers back down. Stomp your feet. Something. Anything.

These guys keep going back to the same playbook, and the Democrats keep coming off looking spineless. It's ridiculous.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 11:48 AM on July 20, 2010 [7 favorites]


ACORN hoax victim files lawsuit against O'Keefe and Giles: Falsely portrayed as promoting teenage prostitution in the ACORN videotapes, Juan Carlos Vera is seeking damages
posted by homunculus at 11:53 AM on July 20, 2010 [5 favorites]


But guys, fighting back is WRONG. Liberal ideas are strong enough that we shouldn't resort to the sorts of tactics that HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA oh god I have no straight face.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:53 AM on July 20, 2010 [10 favorites]


Sherrod told CNN on Tuesday that she was told repeatedly to resign Monday afternoon after the clip surfaced. "They harassed me," she said. "I got three calls from the White House. At one point they asked me to pull over to the side of the road and do it because you are going to be on Glenn Beck tonight."

Uneffingbelievable. Clearly Breitbart and Beck are calling the shots.

Stupefying.
posted by blucevalo at 11:56 AM on July 20, 2010 [6 favorites]



So, fox ran with an unverified story from secondary or tertiary sources and didn't verify the veracity of the claims.

And CNN, et al, just ran with with Fox said ?

WTF do they teach in journalism school ? It's still a four year degree, right ? I know I studied engineering and blahblah hard science snobbery blah, but how dumb can you be and still get a job as a reporter or an editor ?
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 11:59 AM on July 20, 2010 [15 favorites]


So, fox ran with an unverified story from secondary or tertiary sources and didn't verify the veracity of the claims.

Oh, I'm pretty sure it's handjobs all round.
posted by Artw at 12:01 PM on July 20, 2010 [8 favorites]


So, fox ran with an unverified story from secondary or tertiary sources and didn't verify the veracity of the claims.

This is their modus operandi.

And CNN, et al, just ran with with Fox said ?

And this is CNN's modus operandi, always playing catch-up and copycat with FOX News.

QED.
posted by blucevalo at 12:01 PM on July 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


Why doesn't anyone sue these people for slander?

saulgoodman was on the right track with his earlier comment, but some additional clarification might be of interest.

In the US, the First Amendment protects speech far more rigorously than most other countries' laws. The truth of a statement serves as an absolute defense to defamation in almost every case. You might be liable for some other tort--invasion of privacy, tortious interference, etc.--but you'll totally win the defamation claim. So because the factual assertions in Breitbart's piece are, in fact true--she did in fact say the things he claimed she said, even if what they mean is something totally different--he's going to have a decent defense against the most obvious tort here.

On top of that, speech about public figures is even more strongly protected. If what you do for a living puts you in the public eye, especially in any sort of political context, almost anything about you is open season. It's almost impossible to invade the privacy of a public figure unless we're getting as blatant as publishing people's personally identifiable information (SSN, address, bank account numbers, etc.).* Even if you twist the situation to make someone look worse than they are, i.e. false light defamation, there would need to be actual malice, which is something of a subjective test, i.e. the speaker had to have actually doubted that the statements were true. It isn't enough that he should have known something, you have to be able to show that he actually did suspect that what he was saying was false.

Now it's all well and good for the MeFite crowd to assert that he damn well know what he was doing--I certainly think he did--but this is not actually evidence. It's entirely possible that Breitbart actually believes the things he writes, which would defeat any assertion of actual malice.

Ergo, Breitbart isn't likely to get sued here, because no defamation case is likely to prevail.

Liberty, as it turns out, is not an end in itself.

*Speech issues aside, if releasing someone's information subjects them to actual damages, they can almost certainly recover those damages, even if they can't get any award for the release per se.
posted by valkyryn at 12:01 PM on July 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


We've got the White House and both houses of Congress. Right now is the best national politics are going to get for probably decades. Rejoice!
posted by keratacon at 12:02 PM on July 20, 2010 [6 favorites]


XQUZYPHYR: She says she got four calls from Cheryl Cook, telling her the White House wanted her to resign. I don't see any reports of a single call directly from the White House. Here's another account of these details that reinforces the point:
...when USDA deputy undersecretary Cheryl Cook called her and told her the White House wanted her to resign. “They called me twice,” Sherrod told The Associated Press in an interview. “The last time they asked me to pull over the side of the road and submit my resignation on my Blackberry, and that’s what I did.”

A USDA spokesman would not comment on whether the White House was involved, but Secretary Tom Vilsack issued a statement saying the agency has no tolerance for discrimination.
I'm not saying I don't believe Sherrod was told and believes she was forced out by the White House. I'm just saying that we don't actually know that yet, and there's been no comment at all from anyone higher ranking than Vilsack, despite how the press has been covering it.

And, no, I don't need to stop now, just because I don't agree with you and am withholding judgment until the smoke/dust settles.

Many, many times in the past, the finer points of these stories when they hit the press turn out to be misleading or just plain wrong. Hell, you're asking me to trust the same press to report accurately on this when the whole point of this story is that the press initially ran with Breitbart's bogus spin! Besides, I think there's a good chance Cook may have overstated any direct White House role in an overeager attempt to kill the story and spare her boss any embarrassment (ironically, making the situation worse in the process). That kind of thing happens all the time in governmental organizations--I've seen it firsthand.

The point is, despite these initial reports (which, in case you hadn't noticed, always seem to implicate the White House in everything, as if the White House had a direct hand in absolutely every aspect of governance even down to the state level), I'm not going to casually accept or pass along any claims about the White House having played a direct role in pushing Sherrod out. You're free to take the easy explanation, but I think my ass-covering take on things is much more likely, given eight years working with and around (state) government types.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:02 PM on July 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


I do not like that the Obama administration is making decisions based on lies. At least when the Bush administration did it, it was their own lies.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:03 PM on July 20, 2010 [8 favorites]


Let me rephrase/clarify that point above: Tom Vilsack, as a cabinet level apointee, technically is "the White House" to someone in Sherrod's position. That doesn't mean President Obama or anyone higher ranking than Vilsack actually played any role in the decision to pressure her out.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:07 PM on July 20, 2010 [5 favorites]


All the people saying the Democrats should fight back on equal terms don't seem to be paying attention. What Democrats' think are their strengths are what the right wing thinks are their weaknesses, and what Democrats think are the right wing's weaknesses are viewed by it as its strengths.

The people responsible for this sort of insanity may be unpleasant, but the American public likes that sort of unpleasantness. Accusing them of it is like trying to fight fire with gasoline. For a population that seems to hate urban intellectuals, accusing right-wing activists of, well, not being urban intellectuals, doesn't strike me as an obviously successful strategy. It also tends to establish exactly the sort of condescension of which the left is so often accused.

No, "fighting back" on their terms isn't fighting fire with fire, it's throwing punches at a tar baby.
posted by valkyryn at 12:12 PM on July 20, 2010 [5 favorites]


I have contacted the White House (through their form here) to express my disapproval. Now to write my senators and congressman.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:13 PM on July 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


saulgoodman, I'm fully aware of the ridiculous tendency for people to think Barack Obama has magical powers, but let's get real here. The President has been awake for at least, let's say eight or nine hours. "Requests for comment from the White House" have been met with silence. There was far less time in addressing Van Jones' departure.

One of two things should be expected by the end of the day: Sherrod having her job back or a statement from the White House on the now top story of a USDA official being fired by the Secretary of Agriculture over accusations of racism from right-wing pundits. The lack of either will be an implicit endorsement of what multiple news sources are now reporting.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 12:14 PM on July 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


Hat tip to The Washington Monthly comment thread
http://www2.washingtonmonthly.com/mt/mt-comments.cgi?entry_id=24811
where I just read this:

-----
Huh... The FOX News website has an update for this story as well.

Does the headline say anything about FOX running with an inflammatory piece of video without checking the facts first? Nope! Quite the opposite:

Ex-Ag Official Says White House Forced Her Out Without Hearing 'Truth' About Video.

Nor do they ever admit any wrongdoing in the article.

What a bunch of assholes.
-----------
posted by hank at 12:14 PM on July 20, 2010


There was far less time in addressing Van Jones' departure.

Yeah, but my understanding is Sherrod is not nearly that high-profile or high-level a person. The White House may not have even had this on their radar before she resigned.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:16 PM on July 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Again, I'm with saulgoodman on this one: I've seen no reason to believe that anyone outside of the USDA had anything to do with this. Yeah, technically the entire bureaucracy works for the President, but below the top level or two you're looking at career civil servants.

Controlling the bureaucracy is one of the single most difficult things about being President. The vast majority of them have been there for years before you showed up and will be there for years after you leave. They know this. And you've only got four years, eight if you're lucky, to get anything done. Stalling you for just six months can be devastating but is really, really easy. Push the bureaucracy even a little bit and you could see your signature legislative victory go down in flames. They exist significantly outside presidential control and indeed, this is one of the single most cogent criticisms of the administrative state.

So just because this little flap occurred in the USDA doesn't necessarily reflect on the Obama administration anymore than Social Security stooges processing claims has anything to do with him. They're just doing what they do.
posted by valkyryn at 12:19 PM on July 20, 2010 [4 favorites]


For a population that seems to hate urban intellectuals, accusing right-wing activists of, well, not being urban intellectuals,

I agree, so lets call them out for being they disingenuous sacks of shit that they are. These people are liars, who are knowingly selling lies,

Every time Breitbart puts out anything, the appropriate response should be "Is this another lie? We have to ask because the last thing you said was a lie, and what with you being a known liar and all, we figured that we'd just ask you up front. Not that we expect you to tell the truth, what with all the lies that come out of your mouth."
posted by quin at 12:21 PM on July 20, 2010 [10 favorites]


CNN just reported that Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will be holding a press conference sometime soon to discuss the matter. CNN is also devoting an hour (4:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.) on this story alone.
posted by ericb at 12:26 PM on July 20, 2010


"They harassed me," she said. "I got three calls from the White House. At one point they asked me to pull over to the side of the road and do it because you are going to be on Glenn Beck tonight."

Sherrod said the calls came from Cheryl Cook, USDA deputy undersecretary for rural development.

"The administration was not interested in hearing the truth. They didn't want to hear the truth," Sherrod said.


When she refers to "the White House" and "the administration" she's referring specifically to the calls she received from Cheryl Cook.

Sherrod was director of the USDA's rural development program at the state level, for the state of Georgia. That's not nearly as high profile as the Van Jones case. Van Jones was a personal, handpicked appointment of President Obama's to a newly created post. You really think the president enjoyed watching that effort go down in flames? I've heard interviews with Van Jones on NPR since, and he's not as bitter about it as you seem to be.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:27 PM on July 20, 2010


Obama, let me say something to you. If you just want to avoid a kerfuffle - don't go into fucking politics.

Now you have thrown someone under the bus, and even George Bush was better than that.


Lewis "Scooter" Libby.
posted by hippybear at 12:29 PM on July 20, 2010


Andrew Breitbart Perfects 'White Victimology'.
posted by ericb at 12:29 PM on July 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sorry; never mind. I'm being obnoxious. What Valkyrn said. I'm done now.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:30 PM on July 20, 2010


BREITBART: 'I, Jerk'
In this day of polarized politics, it's incumbent on good citizens to be vigorously truthful. Even in the heat of battle, partisans should own up to their mistakes. Rectifying errors builds credibility. Honest self-criticism ensures a healthy debate and a healthier democracy.

OK, fine. I messed up.
His gaff? Flicking off a demonstration by people marching for Invisible Children, against the Lord's Resistance Army in Uganda, not people protesting young US soldiers. His penance? An editorial that ended with a link back to invisiblechildren.com. Sleep well, you sleazy fucker.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:31 PM on July 20, 2010


"The NAACP, which originally condemned USDA appointee Shirley Sherrod, is now saying it is conducting an investigation of her story and will issue a new statement.

'The NAACP is conducting an investigation into the recent revelations about the situation with Ms. Shirley Sherrod, including attempting to speak with Ms. Sherrod, the farmer in question and viewing the full video,' the NAACP said in a statement to CNN. Following a full and comprehensive process, we will issue an updated statement.'

... The owner of the video company who shot the video tells TPMmuckraker he has sent the full video to the NAACP." *
posted by ericb at 12:32 PM on July 20, 2010


I agree, so lets call them out for being they disingenuous sacks of shit that they are. These people are liars, who are knowingly selling lies,

YHBT. YHL. HAND.
posted by valkyryn at 12:39 PM on July 20, 2010


So, fox ran with an unverified story from secondary or tertiary sources and didn't verify the veracity of the claims.

And CNN, et al, just ran with with Fox said ?


The right wing's greatest achievement was convincing the public that the mainstream media is liberally biased.

(well, they do employ a liberal amount of bias, so I guess they're right in that sense)
posted by dirigibleman at 12:39 PM on July 20, 2010 [4 favorites]


I saw a bumper sticker the other day, said "I don't believe the liberal media!". Pulled up alongside and told the guy, "I don't believe Santa Claus!"
posted by notsnot at 12:44 PM on July 20, 2010


And people still think that reasonable discourse has a chance of accomplishing anything in this country.
posted by Legomancer at 12:46 PM on July 20, 2010


but how dumb can you be and still get a job as a reporter or an editor ?

Oh, it's not a question of intelligence. These people aren't dumb for the most part, that's letting them off easy. They want a big screaming headline to get people watching, right or wrong.
posted by Kirk Grim at 12:48 PM on July 20, 2010


I would love to see Sherrod named to some cabinet or near cabinet level post. At her introduction I would like to see Obama segway into a scathing attack of Limbaugh, Beck, Breitbart and others whose malicious reporting has been based on lie after lie. Then apologize to Sherrod for having been taken in by said lies of the loony right.
posted by notreally at 12:50 PM on July 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


CNN interview with Shirley Sherrod [video].
posted by ericb at 12:53 PM on July 20, 2010


The right wing's greatest achievement was convincing the public that the mainstream media is liberally biased.

Okay, I hear this a lot, but it's a really facile position to take. Most of the old mainstream publications do lean left-of-center. The NYT, the networks, Hollywood, most major magazines, you name it. All of them pretend to be objective, but they aren't. Objectivity is impossible anyways, right? And the way that worked itself out before Murdoch created FoxNews was that it was almost impossible to hear conservative opinions in any sort of major media publication. I mean, hello?

FoxNews was created in response to this. Now granted, somewhere the decision was made that they weren't even going to pretend to be objective, which given the pretensions to objectivity by the old-guard MSM essentially means they aren't playing the same game.

Now I completely grant that by MeFi's left-of-Stalin standards, even the MSM is cravenly right-wing. But in the broader scheme of things, the vast majority of the major news outlets are comfortably left of center. Fox has forced them to move to the right somewhat--if you're going to maintain you're pretense of objectivity then Fox's criticism isn't something you can afford to ignore--but if you were to line up all the major media institutions on a spectrum, or even on the compass, you'd still end up with most of them on the left.

I don't think this is a good or bad thing, it's just a thing. Bias is unavoidable. But at least Fox makes no bones about where they're coming from. Beck may be bullshit, but the last time I was forced to listen to him--I hate TVs in waiting rooms--I never got the impression that he was trying to trick me into believing anything. He's a partisan and makes no bones about it. At least he has the courage of his convictions.

I think maybe what really gets to most MeFites and other lefty types about right-wing media is that there's absolutely no mistaking the fact that the intended audience doesn't like you. There's an us-them thing going on right on the surface, unlike most traditional outlets, which are forced to resort to urban-centrism and veiled condescension. Give me open dislike any day. At least I know what I'm dealing with.
posted by valkyryn at 12:55 PM on July 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Is there a place to send money to give her funds to sue the guy?
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 12:55 PM on July 20, 2010


Apparently, the NAACP was also taken in by Breitbart initially, and released a statement right after Sherrod's resignation saying that they were "appalled by her actions." Now though, the NAACP is backing off that initial response, and launching a more thorough investigation into the case.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:57 PM on July 20, 2010


At least he has the courage of his convictions.

I believe that every person who votes Republican is in league with Azathoth and should be worked to death in a brutal Antarctic nickel smelting facility, regardless of age, gender, income, or racial identification.

I await my kudos.
posted by aramaic at 1:02 PM on July 20, 2010


Man, the Dems really need to find someone who knows how to kill a story.
posted by fleacircus at 1:07 PM on July 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


As an attorney, I either have an unedited original source (recording, document, etc.) to rely on, or I have nothing. An edited/redacted/partial source is of no value whatsoever. Were I to go into a case using something like that as evidence and not having seen the original unedited version, I would be looking for a new job tomorrow.

Of course there is no reason CNN should have to be held to the level of professionalism of a two-bit South Carolina lawyer.
posted by ND¢ at 1:07 PM on July 20, 2010 [11 favorites]


Report: Breitbart called Sherrod a racist without having the full tape
"This afternoon in a Hot Air blog post, Ed Morrissey wrote:
'[Former USDA official Shirley] Sherrod and others can complain about Fox News and the editing of the tape, but two points should be remembered. First, Andrew Breitbart made it clear to me last night that this was the entirety of the speech he had in his possession. He also wants to find the whole speech and is trying to get it.'
... All day, we've been asking when Breitbart was planning to release the full tapes. Now, it looks like he may never have had one. If what Morrissey says is true, Breitbart tried to destroy the life of a largely unknown Obama administration official and called her a racist, and he didn't have the full context to back it up. As Erick Erickson just tweeted, 'I'm hoping there is more to the video of Shirley Sherrod, because otherwise it seems like the right just got the scalp of a penitent lady.'

The sad kicker: The first sentence of Breitbart's smear of Sherrod was 'Context is everything.' But he never bothered to get context of Sherrod's comments. He simply didn't care. He wanted a scalp, got one, and took a curtain call.

It should go without saying, but if this is true, it really should end for all time the media's willingness to play along with Breitbart's fact-free witch-hunts."
posted by ericb at 1:09 PM on July 20, 2010


But in the broader scheme of things, the vast majority of the major news outlets are comfortably left of center.

This is so wrong in so many ways I don't even know where to start.
posted by longdaysjourney at 1:11 PM on July 20, 2010 [10 favorites]


This afternoon in a Hot Air blog post, Ed Morrissey wrote...

Link to Morrissey's blog post.
posted by ericb at 1:11 PM on July 20, 2010


Every time Breitbart puts out anything, the appropriate response should be "Is this another lie? We have to ask because the last thing you said was a lie, and what with you being a known liar and all, we figured that we'd just ask you up front. Not that we expect you to tell the truth, what with all the lies that come out of your mouth."

The saddest thing is, many of Breitbart's fellow conservatives appeared to be very skeptical of the tape, as ericb's link shows. You had a number of conservative bloggers immediately saying, "This seems edited to me." And it turned out they were right. But without putting up so much as a cautionary "let's get all the facts on the table before we lose our heads", the USDA has this woman resign from her position.

That's what boggles my mind about this - even Breitbart's allies more vigorously questioned the veracity of this video than Sherrod's co-workers. God forbid we appear to be "playing the race card" (a term I absolutely despise) by correctly identify when an enemy with a history of slander is blatantly race-baiting and pandering to an increasingly racist fringe base.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:15 PM on July 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


Tom Vilsack's statement on requesting Sherrod's resignation. (Unlike the NAACP, he's not backing down.)
posted by saulgoodman at 1:20 PM on July 20, 2010


Now I completely grant that by MeFi's left-of-Stalin standards

I took you seriously at some point.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:21 PM on July 20, 2010 [10 favorites]


Vilsack: The controversy surrounding her comments would create situations where her decisions, rightly or wrongly, would be called into question making it difficult for her to bring jobs to Georgia.

That's it right there. It's not her fault, but just because it's not her fault doesn't mean that having her in that position is good idea. It would be far better if she were shuffled to some other job instead of fired, but if somebody's impeding your ability to get shit done, you can't have them around.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:22 PM on July 20, 2010


I'd like to see Breitbart wearing braces, and put a big magnet in my clenched fist, and watch his mouth swerve into my fist.

What a fuckhead class-A racist scumbag douche.
posted by fourcheesemac at 1:22 PM on July 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


Now I completely grant that by MeFi's left-of-Stalin standards, even the MSM is cravenly right-wing. But in the broader scheme of things, the vast majority of the major news outlets are comfortably left of center.

You acknowledge that the left/right labels are fairly subjective, but then say that the vast majority are left of center. Based on what?

An alarming amount of the right wing's talking points since at least the Bush years have been demonstrably false to anyone willing to subject them to even mild scrutiny. That certain media conglomerates don't automatically run with the GOP's outrageous claim du-jour is not proof of political bias. 'Balance' is not running a false story with every true one.
posted by Kirk Grim at 1:23 PM on July 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


Tom Vilsack's statement on requesting Sherrod's resignation

So his last name is pronounced "Vile Sack"?
posted by lord_wolf at 1:23 PM on July 20, 2010


And the way that worked itself out before Murdoch created FoxNews was that it was almost impossible to hear conservative opinions in any sort of major media publication. I mean, hello?

That's not the kind of claim that can be assessed by intuition. It needs to be backed by research, and a recent post on Andrew Sullivan's blog wouldn't count as research even if it related in any way to your claim, which it doesn't.
posted by stammer at 1:26 PM on July 20, 2010


Beck may be bullshit, but the last time I was forced to listen to him--I hate TVs in waiting rooms--I never got the impression that he was trying to trick me into believing anything.

"The people he speaks to are also terrified of Mr. Obama — and Mr. Beck fuels their fears about the President and his objectives.

“I’m not saying he doesn’t like white people. I’m saying he has a problem ... I believe he’s a racist,” he said on one broadcast.

“We are a country that is headed towards socialism, totalitarianism, beyond your wildest dreams,” he said in another. “If you have any kind of fear that we might be heading towards a totalitarian state: look out. Buckle up. There’s something going on in our country … that ain’t good.”



That's from The National Post, I'm pretty sure it's a paper with a right-wing slant but I haven't read it in years.
posted by Kirk Grim at 1:30 PM on July 20, 2010


I took you seriously at some point.

Don't worry. A few more months in the Metafilter Education Camps for Political Decency and he'll come around.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:35 PM on July 20, 2010


I disagree Pope Guilty. You can't force the resignation of blameless people who are lied about or you just encourage more lies. This individual did nothing wrong. Vilsack or whomever did wrong by requesting her resignation without hearing both sides of the story out of fear of being criticised by Glenn Beck. Vilsack could have done something powerful by making a statement saying "I made a mistake in relying on known and proven propagandists with no regard for the truth and requested the resignation of an employee who did nothing other than become the victim of one of their unjustified smears. I would like to apologize to that former employee and ask her to return to her former position."
posted by ND¢ at 1:35 PM on July 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


by MeFi's left-of-Stalin standards, even the MSM is cravenly right-wing.

What? In a comment that says this and then goes on to congratulate Glenn Beck on the sincerity of his ravings, I find myself wondering if this is a weird joke I am not getting, because otherwise it's a Mefite who doesn't care about his/her own credibility. ("Left of Stalin"? That's Grade AA Tea Party nonsense.)
posted by aught at 1:36 PM on July 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


The controversy surrounding her comments would create situations where her decisions, rightly or wrongly, would be called into question making it difficult for her to bring jobs to Georgia.

What an assnozzle. I can't believe I ever voted for that guy.
posted by dirigibleman at 1:37 PM on July 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


But in the broader scheme of things, the vast majority of the major news outlets are comfortably left of center.

This is so wrong in so many ways I don't even know where to start.


I don't know. The American public seems pretty far to the right from where I'm standing, so if you're using them as the metric to decide where the "center" is then yeah, most of the major news outlets are in fact on the Left side of the spectrum.

That's not the way things are everywhere, of course. Having spent time in Europe, I have to say that their metric of what constitutes "left-of-center" is essentially inconceivable on this side of the Atlantic.
posted by AdamCSnider at 1:38 PM on July 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


And the way that worked itself out before Murdoch created FoxNews was that it was almost impossible to hear conservative opinions in any sort of major media publication.

Well, in years past, we used to have the Fairness Doctrine, which allowed a response / rebuttal to any really biased reporting by offering equal time to an opposing viewpoint. That went away, sadly, and now we're stuck with a field of bullshit.

I think reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine would go a long way toward improving public discourse in this country.
posted by hippybear at 1:42 PM on July 20, 2010 [5 favorites]


Vilsack's statement, in full:
Yesterday, I asked for and accepted Ms. Sherrod's resignation for two reasons. First, for the past 18 months, we have been working to turn the page on the sordid civil rights record at USDA and this controversy could make it more difficult to move forward on correcting injustices. Second, state rural development directors make many decisions and are often called to use their discretion. The controversy surrounding her comments would create situations where her decisions, rightly or wrongly, would be called into question making it difficult for her to bring jobs to Georgia.

Our policy is clear. There is zero tolerance for discrimination at USDA and we strongly condemn any act of discrimination against any person. We have a duty to ensure that when we provide services to the American people we do so in an equitable manner. But equally important is our duty to instill confidence in the American people that we are fair service providers.
Holy shit, if it wasn't for valkyrn's comment about liberal media I would say that's the biggest load of horseshit I've read all day. So basically, Vilsack is backpedaling around the defense that Sherrod had to be fired because if she wasn't, people would constantly complain that the administration was racist. You know, like the guy who fabricated a video to claim that the administration was racist.

These people are fucking idiots. Complete fucking idiots. And the saddest part is if we voted for Clinton in the primary, Vilsack would merely be Vice President. If fear about pissing people off is now an excuse for firing someone then Vilsack should not only be resigning right now I expect him at my apartment to wash my fucking car. Christ almighty we are losing so many fucking seats in November.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 1:43 PM on July 20, 2010 [10 favorites]


At least he has the courage of his convictions.

"Say what you will about the tenets of National Socialism, Dude, at least it's an ethos."

But in the broader scheme of things, the vast majority of the major news outlets are comfortably left of center.

I don't think this is true. I think major news outlets have had a pro-State bias that I regard as essentially right wing, regardless of the window dressing they put on top in terms of how they lean on "the issues."
posted by invitapriore at 1:45 PM on July 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've been led to believe that while many junior journalists are indeed left-leaning, editors and especially publishers tend towards the right. But the suggestion that the mainstream media is on the whole leftist just makes me LOL. The way the MSM slurped up this Breitbart story is an exemplary source for whence my LOL. I mean sweet biscuits and gravy. LOL.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:46 PM on July 20, 2010 [6 favorites]


This is hilarious when you consider that not a few weeks ago the Obama administration sent off Senator Byrd in a burning longboat to Valhalla desptie the fact he was a one time KKK member.
posted by PenDevil at 1:47 PM on July 20, 2010 [4 favorites]


the vast majority of the major news outlets are comfortably left of center.

Yeah its obvious - just read any paper and see all those editorials calling for lower taxes competing for space with the editorial calls to seize the means of production and nationalize various industries.
posted by anti social order at 1:53 PM on July 20, 2010 [9 favorites]


I think major news outlets have had a pro-State bias that I regard as essentially right wing

I'd suggest that identifying pro-state with right-wing is problematic, at best. But this is a bit of a tangent, and I'm going to drop it now.
posted by AdamCSnider at 1:53 PM on July 20, 2010


And the way that worked itself out before Murdoch created FoxNews was that it was almost impossible to hear conservative opinions in any sort of major media publication

William Safire writing for the New York Times. Bill Kristol on This Week on ABC. Pat Buchanan, Robert Novak, John H. Sununu, Tony Snow, and Lynne Cheney on Crossfire. John Stossel on ABC News' 20/20. P.J. O'Rourke in Rolling Stone. Charles Krauthammer in Time and the Washington Post. The list goes on.

There were, in fact, lots of conservative opinions in virtually every major media publication prior to the advent of Fox News.
posted by jedicus at 1:54 PM on July 20, 2010 [9 favorites]


Beck may be bullshit, but the last time I was forced to listen to him--I hate TVs in waiting rooms--I never got the impression that he was trying to trick me into believing anything. He's a partisan and makes no bones about it. At least he has the courage of his convictions.

Sorry, but being a gibbering crybaby who really means it doesn't make him any more credible. I mean, doesn't he still identify himself as a Libertarian, despite his party line talking point support of all things Republican?

Fox may make no bones about where they come from, but Beck and a lot of the other pundits over there certainly obfuscate whenever possible.
posted by quin at 1:56 PM on July 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'd suggest that identifying pro-state with right-wing is problematic, at best.

You're right, of course, and looking back I think I wasn't clear: the specific type of pro-state bias they display is one that I regard as right wing. But you're right, this is tangential, and I think it would take a fair amount of bloviating to really explain why I think so, so I too will drop it.
posted by invitapriore at 1:58 PM on July 20, 2010


if this is true, it really should end for all time the media's willingness to play along with Breitbart's fact-free witch-hunts.

Oh, that's funny. You think that the post-'94 Great Clinton Cock Hunt was frivolous bullshit? Just wait for the sequel, with extra sprinkles of inflammatory racial rhetoric!
posted by holgate at 1:58 PM on July 20, 2010 [4 favorites]


So basically, Vilsack is backpedaling around the defense that Sherrod had to be fired because if she wasn't, people would constantly complain that the administration was racist.

Stanley McChrystal was just fired because his statements made it impossible for Obama to put him into a position where he had agency to use discretion -- no one could take McChrystal seriously, he wouldn't have been able to get anything done. Everybody would be going over and around McChrystal to get to the "real" decision-maker.

So, regardless of his past performance or future potential, he wouldn't have been able to get today's job done today.

This is virtually the same scenario. You probably have a version of this scenario at your current place of employment -- a boss that nobody trusts, so you go to his/her boss for real answers. Now add a billion-dollar budget.

You don't have to like it. But this is how the world works.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:00 PM on July 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


If you have a personal bias in any particular direction, you will tend to see those who aren't biased in the same way as having a bias in an opposing direction, just as surely as a man standing on his head will see others who aren't standing on their heads as seeming to be oriented upside down. So sure, in that sense, anything that isn't biased to the right can seem to have a bias to the left, to someone on the right. But the media's bias is strictly pro-corporate and pro-consumption. It's basically amoral and apolitical at its core.
posted by saulgoodman at 2:05 PM on July 20, 2010


This is virtually the same scenario.

Only it isn't. Sherrod's "statements" were cobbled together with sloppy editing to say the exact opposite of what she actually said. The right response would be to call Breitbart out on his bullshit. There is a window of time when you can fight fiercely and seriously enough to turn a false smear campaign to your favor. "The way the world works" is, sorry, a pretty lame stance to take on this. It's a way the world works, sure. But it's not that only scenario.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:13 PM on July 20, 2010 [5 favorites]


This is virtually the same scenario.

How? McChrystal made public comments, verified and recorded by a major publication, that directly disparaged his superior. Sherrod told a story about how she did something bad 20 years before she worked at the USDA, and it taught her how to be a better government employee. McChrystal said things that legitimately tarnished his credibility to lead because he was in opposition to another leader. Sherrod said something that a right-wing blogger pretended to be angry about. The right wing also thinks Elena Kagan is secretly a lesbian and it makes her unfit to rule on gay marriage. Guess what? That's also complete horseshit, no matter how many right wingers are pissy about it.

This is hilarious when you consider that not a few weeks ago the Obama administration sent off Senator Byrd in a burning longboat to Valhalla desptie the fact he was a one time KKK member.

Actually, a much better example would be Jeremiah Wright. I don't know how many people two years down the line still reflect on the frustration of that entire incident, or thinking back on it realize that maybe it really was an indicator of bus-throwings to come. A lot of liberals took a risk eschewing the Sista Soulja moment, standing behind Obama when he made a very dignified, rational speech about the nature of his relationship with Wright- even Jon Stewart joked that night "so for a few moments, a politician talked to us like grown-ups." Then a few weeks later Wright said stuff even stupider and Obama was all like "oh, well, yeah. Eff 'em I guess." Gosh, thanks.

Sherrod isn't getting an impassioned speech. She's not even getting a beer summit. Hell, she might not even get an actual comment from the President. Instead, we get a person who cared about working for her government losing her job because she talked honestly about how people can learn from racial animosity. And instead of getting another grown-up talk, we got "oh well, yeah, Eff 'em I guess."

This isn't just a setback for Democrats in the election, though it's a clear sign of how brutally dogleashed they're going to be when Republicans score massive gains in November. It's a huge setback for any sign that this administration wants to take the blatantly encroaching racial angle of political opposition to the White House head-on. For godssakes, people, this is the second major assault from right-wing media about the Obama administration being racist in three goddamn days. Vilsack didn't just give a mouse a cookie here, he gave the right the goddamn copyright to the Keebler corporation. Maybe in thirty or so years when we ever have another progressive majority this big again, we'll remember that every punch you roll with means two more are coming.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 2:18 PM on July 20, 2010 [21 favorites]


Vilsackofdung: But equally important is our duty to instill confidence in the American people that we are fair service providers.

But equally important is our duty to kowtow to the filthy lying smears of right-wing sleaze peddlers who will do things to us on and after November 3 that will make Matt Drudge look like a drooling baby playing pattycake in his widdle sandbox in the backyard.
posted by blucevalo at 2:20 PM on July 20, 2010


before Murdoch created FoxNews was that it was almost impossible to hear conservative opinions in any sort of major media publication. I mean, hello?

Good lord! I've been watching Novak (RIP) Krauthammer, Buchanan, George Will, Safire (RIP) etc. on TV since the early 80's.

This country has been tilting right for 3 decades, and it is largely due to the Librul Media.

And WTF does that Journo List non scandal have to do with anything?

Money talks, these media corporations don't give a shit about you they are going with the team that promises less regulation, and that team ain't the liberals.
posted by Max Power at 2:25 PM on July 20, 2010 [4 favorites]


This woman was fired for saying that black people can be racist towards white people, and that such racism can and should be overcome in order to make the world a better place, and it's the right winger who caused the firing.
posted by dirigibleman at 2:26 PM on July 20, 2010 [7 favorites]


oh and breitbart is a sack of shit.
posted by Max Power at 2:26 PM on July 20, 2010


Stanley McChrystal was just fired because his statements made it impossible for Obama to put him into a position where he had agency to use discretion -- no one could take McChrystal seriously, he wouldn't have been able to get anything done. Everybody would be going over and around McChrystal to get to the "real" decision-maker.

No, he was fired because it is *illegal* for a military officer to make public disrespectful comments about various civilians in the executive branch, e.g. president, vice-president (Bite Me), sec. of defense. by rights, McChrystal could have been court martialed (and this wasn't his first offense against civilian control; he gave a policy lecture in london which defied the white house.)
posted by ennui.bz at 2:36 PM on July 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


This woman was fired for saying that black people can be racist towards white people, and that such racism can and should be overcome in order to make the world a better place, and it's the right winger who caused the firing.

So you are calling Obama a right-winger? Breitbart didn't fire this woman, Vilsack did, likely in coordination with at least someone in the White House. This isn't Breitbart's responsibility or the media's, it's ultimately Obama's whether he made the call or not.

It reflects far worse on Obama that his administration can be pushed around by scum like Breitbart, than it does on scum like Breitbart doing what activists do.

Also, career civil servants do not ask people to resign over a media controversy. This was a "White House" i.e. political decision, one way or another.
posted by ennui.bz at 2:40 PM on July 20, 2010


This is virtually the same scenario. You probably have a version of this scenario at your current place of employment -- a boss that nobody trusts, so you go to his/her boss for real answers. Now add a billion-dollar budget.

It is not the same scenario. McChrystal's statements were his views, and not out of context. Furthermore McChrystal was military and letting him get away with badmouthing his commander sets a very bad precedent for an organization that needs discipline to keep people from getting killed.

Even if what you say is true, about not being able to get stuff done, how much uncertainty do you insert into the bureaucracy running the other trillion dollars worth of stuff when these people see that they can get thrown out of their job just like that because of political bullshit? If that even makes it even a fraction of a percent more difficult for people for do their jobs, you lose.

You don't have to like it. But this is how the world works.


Well then it's high time someone got to fixing it.
posted by Zalzidrax at 2:45 PM on July 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


If anyone in the WH ordered her shitcanned, dollars to donuts it was Rahm.
posted by blucevalo at 2:45 PM on July 20, 2010


Most of the old mainstream publications do lean left-of-center. The NYT, the networks, Hollywood, most major magazines, you name it. All of them pretend to be objective, but they aren't. Objectivity is impossible anyways, right? And the way that worked itself out before Murdoch created FoxNews was that it was almost impossible to hear conservative opinions in any sort of major media publication.

This is kinda bullshit. The subtle but important fact-twist that the Fox news types use to get to this is that journalists tend to vote left of center. So the phony conclusion they make is that they therefore do their jobs in a left of center way.

Then, to prove this, the right-wing-media combine fakes up a bunch of "outrageous" "news" with a right wing slant, that the normal media rightly doesn't cover. Now the right-wing media combine can say "look at all these stories they don't cover! See, we were right!"

It's kind of like the KKK complaining about how the mainstream media doesn't cover stories about the various shiftless minorities, jews and catholics.
posted by gjc at 2:56 PM on July 20, 2010 [5 favorites]


Point of Clarification (TPM):
Now that purported declaration -- that she got three calls from the White House demanding her resignation -- seems off to anyone who follows these things.

[...]

here's the thing: We can't find any evidence she actually said that, either in the video or in CNN's transcript. What she did say, our review of the video shows, was: "I had at least three calls telling me the White House wanted me to resign."

That's very, very different.
posted by Anything at 3:02 PM on July 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


So you are calling Obama a right-winger? Breitbart didn't fire this woman, Vilsack did, likely in coordination with at least someone in the White House.

Err, I didn't say Breitbart fired her. I said (implied) he caused her firing, moral cowardice of the administration notwithstanding.

Anyway, I was just pointing out the irony of a White Man's Burden wingnut getting someone fired for saying pretty much what he says.
posted by dirigibleman at 3:07 PM on July 20, 2010


than it does on scum like Breitbart doing what activists do.

I agree with what your saying, but I would like to take issue with your use of the word "activist"; I do think this is what a lot of right wingers think activists do, and that's why they felt so comfortable disparaging Obama for having been a community organizer. But the word activist has a more noble meaning -- somebody who acts on their principals -- and I'd rather it not be associated with somebody who has no principals, except the one that goes "win at any cost."
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:14 PM on July 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


Operator: 911 state the nature of your emergency.

Breitbart: A man broke into my house! Send the police.

Operator: Alright Mr. Breitbart, can you give me a description of this man?

Breitbart: He's pretty tall. And black-

**click**
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 3:33 PM on July 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Vilsack is a good fit for the Obama admin.
posted by wrapper at 3:57 PM on July 20, 2010


After eighteen months of a frustratingly passive and coldly professorial leadership style even when the Democrats hold both houses of Congress, this may nearly be the last straw for me. I'm about ready for a Hillary Clinton primary challenge in 2012.

And Tom Vilsack, I will remember what you did today if you ever decide to run for national office.
posted by MegoSteve at 4:13 PM on July 20, 2010


What's amazing is that even when taken out of context Sherrod's story isn't that scandalous. She said that when tasked with helping people who talked down to her and insulted her intelligence, she only did "enough" to help them and didn't go the extra mile. There's nothing virulently racist about that, just a certain peevishness and resentment that I think most people would be guilty of when put in her shoes.
posted by Rhaomi at 4:16 PM on July 20, 2010 [4 favorites]


while many junior journalists are indeed left-leaning, editors and especially publishers tend towards the right. But the suggestion that the mainstream media is on the whole leftist just makes me LOL. The way the MSM slurped up this Breitbart story is an exemplary source for whence my LOL.

Until it's understood that The MSM (to the extent there is such a thing) has problems that go well beyond any political bias (delivery stream valued over depth, journalism is not the product -- viewers/readers are, feeds from PR), it's going to be easy to let confirmation bias select from a veritable buffet of both sins of omission and commission, digested down to whichever conclusion you prefer.
posted by weston at 4:22 PM on July 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


the full video has been posted
posted by yeoz at 4:59 PM on July 20, 2010


THE WHITE HOUSE DID NOT CALL THIS POOR WOMAN. That is misinformation that spread like wildfire earlier today. TPM was all over the clarification. I am still working my way through all of these comments but please stop spreading this rumor. It is simply not true.
posted by joe lisboa at 5:19 PM on July 20, 2010


I'm about ready for a Hillary Clinton primary challenge in 2012.

Hillary is not going to run against Obama in a Democratic primary after having been his Secretary of State.
posted by blucevalo at 5:19 PM on July 20, 2010


Not that those of you who've already formed your opinions based on the questionable initial reporting are likely to care, but now there's this:

USDA, White House Deny White House Involvement In Sherrod's Forced Resignation
posted by saulgoodman at 5:20 PM on July 20, 2010


“With regard to the initial media coverage of the resignation of USDA official Shirley Sherrod, we have come to the conclusion we were snookered by Fox News and Tea Party Activist Andrew Breitbart into believing she had harmed white farmers because of racial bias,” said Jealous. “Having reviewed the full tape, spoken to Ms. Sherrod, and most importantly heard the testimony of the white farmers mentioned in this story, we now believe the organization that edited the documents did so with the intention of deceiving millions of Americans.”

If you were indeed "snookered" by a charlatan like Breitbart, Mr. Jealous, and if because of that "snookering" your organization's comments helped lead to the forced resignation of Shirley Sherrod, it stands to reason that you are no longer qualified to continue leading the NAACP.
posted by blucevalo at 5:22 PM on July 20, 2010


I'm about ready for a Hillary Clinton primary challenge in 2012.

*facepalm*

If people bothered to follow up, you would see that the White House had absolutely nothing to do with contacting this poor woman, here. I know it would be convenient to have this as another whining-point with which to cudgel the Obama Administration, but seriously: you are making this whole sordid affair worse. Here is hoping she is reinstated and Vilsack gets the browbeating he deserves from his boss, which I suspect he will for stepping into the muck that even the NAACP is backpedalling from now.

But Obama killed my kitten, also. Too.
posted by joe lisboa at 5:28 PM on July 20, 2010


("even the NAACP" is not meant in the Tea Party sense, I hope that is clear)
posted by joe lisboa at 5:34 PM on July 20, 2010


If people bothered to follow up, you would see that the White House had absolutely nothing to do with contacting this poor woman, here.

President Barack Obama was briefed on the situation after Vilsack decided to seek Sherrod's resignation, according to a White House official, who said the president fully supports the decision.
posted by dirigibleman at 5:57 PM on July 20, 2010


Nice selective quoting:
Vilsack told CNN on Tuesday that he "didn't speak to anyone at the White House. ... I made this decision, it's my decision. Nobody from the White House contacted me about this at all." A White House official also told CNN that "the White House did not pressure her or the USDA over the resignation. It was the secretary's decision, as he has said."
Now that the facts are out, we can judge the response of the White House in the short term as the rest of this nonsense plays out. But by all means do not let me stand in the way of your self-erected circular firing squad or anything.
posted by joe lisboa at 6:02 PM on July 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm about ready for a Hillary Clinton primary challenge in 2012.

Hillary is not going to run against Obama in a Democratic primary after having been his Secretary of State.


But I won't be surprised if she's the candidate for VP instead of Biden. In fact I'll be surprised if she isn't.
posted by homunculus at 6:10 PM on July 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


And as I "selectively" quoted, the President fully supports Vilsack's decision.
posted by dirigibleman at 6:10 PM on July 20, 2010


MegoSteve: After eighteen months of a frustratingly passive and coldly professorial leadership style even when the Democrats hold both houses of Congress, this may nearly be the last straw for me. I'm about ready for a Hillary Clinton primary challenge in 2012.

Do you really think POTUS Hillary would have accomplished more? Or opened up more cans o' whoop-ass? I hate to pull out the "NOOB!"—but srsly, how many presidential campaigns have you seen? How many administrations have you lived through? How closely do you follow politics now?
posted by dogrose at 6:11 PM on July 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


AdamCSnider: I don't know. The American public seems pretty far to the right from where I'm standing

Really? And so on, and so forth. But it's literally impossible to convince our representatives to actually do anything about it.

On other issues, it also depends on when you ask the American public, because the media will relentlessly repeat any number of false or misleading Republican claims, without fact-checking or debunking, until it tanks the popular opinion. Support for the measures of the health care bill was pretty high last summer. Then we had months and months of stalling and hammering on points like "death panels," Socialist takeover of the government, and so on, until public support dropped below 50%. Surprise surprise, now that Republicans have stopped talking about it for a while, public support is back above 50%. (And other independent polls always showed that, if you explained to people what various provisions of the health care bill actually meant, a majority supported them)

That move to open up more offshore drilling areas a while (a couple of years?) back was the same way - people were opposed at first, until we watched weeks of clips of Republicans talking about how offshore drilling would be our path to energy independence, how gas prices would skyrocket if we didn't allow it, and so on and so forth.

Hell, most people hadn't HEARD of ACORN before that initial (faked, fraudulent) video, and there are still a healthy chunk of Republicans (in their Internet commenters, anyway) who seriously talk like they think ACORN is some massive cabal scheming to subvert our entire democratic republic instead of a network of small organizations designed to help poor people out. After we saw weeks of coverage of that bullshit. (How much time was spent on the accusations, vs. the coverage of the reports clearing the organization of charges?)

Even if all news organizations did was give EQUAL time to the blatant, easily falsifiable outright lies that some prominent Republican or Republican-sympathizing pundit is spewing at any given time, literally all of the time, it should be enough to dispel this constant refrain of "liberal bias" in the media. Refusing to point out that the representatives of one side are outright lying about what's included in the healthcare bill, or what will happen if our government is allowed to negotiate for lower drug prices, or fucking whatever, when doing so actively hurts liberal/progressive causes, is a sign that hey!, even if a lot of liberals work in the news industry, they sure as shit aren't trying that hard to brainwash everyone into believing their side of things.

But that's not all they do. They hold Democratic politicians to different standards, or at least use inconsistent descriptions for the same thing based on the party of the target. Don't even get me started on Octavia Nasr's firing, while conservative pundits can sling hate about Muslims or gays or Mexicans or whoever the fuck they feel like with impunity.

As long as our populace lends so much credence to seriously awful news reporting, I have little hope that there will ever be the popular support to actually accomplish serious, massive undertakings that we desperately need (e.g., serious action to address climate change). As long as so many people are still convinced that the media has a liberal bias, the media will be too scared to actually fix this busted he-said, she-said, who knows? model of reporting serious issues that makes it such an awful way to learn about politics. And as long as conservatives are given so much air time to whine about how biased the Liberal Media is, people will be convinced that the media exhibit a liberal bias. And so it goes.

(AdamCSnider I know I addressed this comment at you but really your comment was just a launching-off point and this turned out to be my response to a lot of stuff that's come up in this thread, so please don't see this as some kind of attack on you because I don't mean it that way)
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 6:14 PM on July 20, 2010 [13 favorites]


And as I "selectively" quoted, the President fully supports Vilsack's decision.

SupportED as of this afternoon when the unedited version of her comments were not yet available. Again, if the Administration does not respond appropriately in light of this new (i.e., true) information, I will be disappointed as well. But piling on at this point amounts to doing the heavy lifting of the Right for them. It is not helpful, to say the least.
posted by joe lisboa at 6:17 PM on July 20, 2010


White farmers at the center of Shirley Sherrod controversy: ‘No way in the world’ she is a racist.
posted by homunculus at 6:49 PM on July 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


From the actual Breitbart proclamation:

Sherrod's racist tale is received by the NAACP audience with nodding approval and murmurs of recognition and agreement. Hardly the behavior of the group now holding itself up as the supreme judge of another groups' racial tolerance.

This exemplifies what is really the stain on the Republican's entire racial gestalt for me; they in some offhanded way actually admit being racist, and justify it by trying to point out that hey, it's OK because everyone is racist! The language is also leading in many ways; supreme judge, could they be trying to tie this to anger over the supreme court, or perhaps religious figures? Fucking disgusting, Andrew Breitbart. I hope you get to be one among the virginal harem in a lucky and good-hearted gay man's Muslim afterlife.
posted by StrangerInAStrainedLand at 6:49 PM on July 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


The Administration did the right thing. We've known since the campaign that Obama thinks one of his biggest challenges is ensuring that his presidency doesn't get defined by race, so it makes sense that the administration is hyper-sensitive to even ambiguous suggestions of racial bias. I don't think what Shirley Sherrod said is racist, I think she was trying to send a message of "let's move past race" and didn't want to come off preachy so she implied that she too has been tempted to stick it to Whitey at times, maybe exaggerating a bit for dramatic effect. But on a purely political calculation, firing her was the right call. If the media successfully spins something like this as evidence of racism, and they didn't fire her, it would look very bad for the administration. But if they did fire her and it turns out it was taken out of context, the administration just looks like they overreacted in trying to take people's concerns seriously, and Breitbart and the Tea Party types are exposed as being on a witch hunt and trying to smear any black person in the administration they can get their hands on. As Erick Erickson knows, the firing of Sherrod is a Pyrrhic victory for the right.

Accusing Obama of being a moral coward is misguided. Isn't it obvious that there's an inverse "Only Nixon could go to China" effect here? The last person you should expect to make his/her presidency about fighting racism is the first black president. It sucks for Sherrod of course, but I think she'll land on her feet.
posted by AlsoMike at 6:50 PM on July 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


It should be noted that Little Green Footballs defended Sherrod from the moment Breitbart first posted. Just sayin'.
posted by Neale at 6:59 PM on July 20, 2010


I do not like Ambinder (his analysis) generally, but this sheds some interesting context: here. tl;dr WH is reviewing their response in light of revelation that Ag was duped by shoddy reporting of even shoddier reporting. We will see.
posted by joe lisboa at 7:01 PM on July 20, 2010


So you are calling Obama a right-winger? Breitbart didn't fire this woman, Vilsack did, likely in coordination with at least someone in the White House.

Not what you meant, but FWIW, by the standards of the world's developed countries, Obama is right wing.

But in the most radical-right of those developed countries, and in shit-hole dictatorship countries, he seems left of center.
posted by -harlequin- at 7:07 PM on July 20, 2010


Also I maintain that I typed that comment with perfect grammar, etc. and the flecks of spittle and bile on the keyboard introduced those errors.
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 7:15 PM on July 20, 2010


I read something today (by Alain Badiou, a Marxist) which seems highly relevant to what some are saying in this thread:
Our suspicions are first aroused when we see that the self-declared apostles of ethics and of the 'right to difference' are clearly horrified by any vigorously sustained difference. For them, African customs are barbaric, Muslims are dreadful, the Chinese are totalitarian, and so on. As a matter of fact, this celebrated 'other' is acceptable only if he is a good other - which is to say what, exactly, if not the same as us? Respect for differences, of course! But on condition that the different be parliamentary-democratic, pro-free-market economics, in favour of freedom of opinion, feminism, the environment... That is to say: I respect differences, but only, of course, in so far as that which differs also respects, just as I do, the said differences. Just as there can be 'no freedom for the enemies of freedom', so there can be no respect for those whose difference consists precisely in not respecting differences. To prove the point, just consider the obsessive resentment expressed by the partisans of ethics regarding anything that resembles an Islamic 'fundamentalist'.

It might well be that ethical ideology, detached from the religious teachings which at least conferred upon it the fullness of a 'revealed' identity, is simply the final imperative of a conquering civilization: 'Become like me and I will respect your difference.'
posted by AlsoMike at 7:19 PM on July 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't care if the WH was involved or not. Vilsack continued the Obama admin policy of sucking up to people who will hate you no matter what you do.
posted by wrapper at 7:23 PM on July 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


I disagree, Kadin. Moore puts together feature-length films in an effort to persuade people that his point of view is correct and useful. Agree with him or not, you have to admit that he has his ideals and beliefs and that he's doing what he can to persuade people.

Breitbart, on the other hand, is nothing but a character assassin. He puts together fraudulent video clips that have no purpose other than to destroy the people depicted in them. He is scum, vile, vicious scum, who has no purpose in what he does apart from the destruction of his enemies.


Jeeesuss. The open-a-bank-account-get-a-free-gun video clip? Or any of the other well documented Moore lies? Let it go, Popey wopey.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 7:33 PM on July 20, 2010


AlsoMike: (quoting)"It might well be that ethical ideology, detached from the religious teachings which at least conferred upon it the fullness of a 'revealed' identity, is simply the final imperative of a conquering civilization: 'Become like me and I will respect your difference.'"

What a horseshit strawman. It's not some willy-nilly preached "I respect our differences only as long as we're the same." It's "I respect our differences only as far as carry a baseline of inter- and intra- respect." Being tolerant of cultural or philosophical differences doesn't mean I have to just take it when you're an asshole.
posted by notsnot at 7:36 PM on July 20, 2010


I don't care if the WH was involved or not. Vilsack continued the Obama admin policy of sucking up to people who will hate you no matter what you do.

This strikes me as seriously unhinged.
posted by joe lisboa at 7:38 PM on July 20, 2010




American Conservatives : Beating up on nice middle aged black women for over 200 years.

Hopefully, this will be the Tea Party's Dan Rather moment, but somehow I doubt it.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:46 PM on July 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


In retrospect I may have misread your comment.
posted by joe lisboa at 7:46 PM on July 20, 2010


The NAACP overreacted and didn't check out the false accusation precisely because it had just gotten done denouncing Tea Party racism.

Breitbart and the rightwing continue to outdo the rest of us with their carefully constructed campaign of lies. The victims of these lying sacks of shit are always put on the defensive.
posted by etaoin at 7:55 PM on July 20, 2010


Just elect Palin and get us to the Rapture already. We've made the Chinese wait long enough to own us.
posted by bardic at 8:21 PM on July 20, 2010


Andrew Breitbart and his henchmen are anti-American fascists, unrepentant liars, and open, proud racists. They have already released several videos that slandered ACORN and its workers.

Given that, the administration (and the NAACP!) took video released by this flying sack of scrotum hair at face value. Based solely on the lies of a known liar, Tom Vilsack fired -- without allowing even a syllable of defense, much less an investigation -- a totally innocent victim of these vile, vile people. Based solely on the word of America's Goebbels, the President supported this decision. In order to appease these tarballs of society, the administration sacrificed an innocent victim. That is absolutely moral cowardice.

This Neville Chamberlain style of politics perpetrated not just by Obama, but by all Democrats for the last 20 years is why I gave up my party affiliation earlier this year. I expect psychopaths like Breitbart to act like psychopaths. I expect more from the people who are supposed to be on the side of good.
posted by dirigibleman at 8:36 PM on July 20, 2010 [5 favorites]


Now Glenn Beck is defending Sherrod. Just sayin'.
posted by Neale at 8:42 PM on July 20, 2010


"Now Glenn Beck is defending Sherrod. Just sayin'."

Beck is a more decent guy than Obama I guess.

/head asplodes
posted by bardic at 8:48 PM on July 20, 2010


Beck is a more decent guy than Obama I guess.

If you believe the hysterical rhetoric here, then yes.
posted by joe lisboa at 8:50 PM on July 20, 2010


Beck is doing more to get this woman's job back than Obama, currently. Just sayin'.
posted by bardic at 8:51 PM on July 20, 2010


You folks have lost your minds, good night. :)
posted by joe lisboa at 8:52 PM on July 20, 2010


Accusing Obama of being a moral coward is misguided. Isn't it obvious that there's an inverse "Only Nixon could go to China" effect here?

What the hell does this mean? Only Nixon could go to China, so only Obama could... throw a black civil servant under the bus because a white person told him to?

And this is.... good?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:08 PM on July 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


It should be noted that Little Green Footballs defended Sherrod from the moment Breitbart first posted. Just sayin'.

LGF has been out of the club for years now. They went off the reservation back in the late Bush era when it became overwhelmingly obvious what a wretched monster Dubya was.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:15 PM on July 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


For a population that seems to hate urban intellectuals, accusing right-wing activists of, well, not being urban intellectuals,

I agree, so lets call them out for being they disingenuous sacks of shit that they are. These people are liars, who are knowingly selling lies,


A million times this.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:17 PM on July 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


The Administration did the right thing.

No. Fucking no.

An innocent woman just had her career destroyed. She has been labeled a filthy, horrible label that a large percentage of this stupid population will stubbornly refuse to disbelieve, and no matter what happens from here on out she carries the stigma of the abuse that her superiors, who should have reasonably and rationally handled this, allowed to be cast upon her because of a combination of laziness and cowardice.

She should not have been fired. This isn't even an argument anymore. If you truly believe otherwise after the full untainted video, the retractions from the NAACP, the multiple right-wing bloggers refuting the accusations against Sherrod, and the defense from the very people claimed to be her victims then you have escaped reality. And a woman's career has been destroyed because unable to put toothpaste back in the tube the administration decided that public image trumps justice. That is not and will never be right. It is one of the most shameful failings imaginable. It is a betrayal.

Argue about how Obama is now in a PR disaster. Talk about how politically, he's in a bind. Suggest that a larger dialogue about race relations in this country has been opened.

But do not, do not fucking ever, say that they "did the right thing."
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:28 PM on July 20, 2010 [14 favorites]


I don't know if we are at the point where we know what the White House's role is in all of this.

Let's look at the facts. A close examination of the interview Sherrod gave on CNN indicates that the woman who told her to resign via blackberry said the White House wanted her to resign.

As a federal employment lawyer, I have to say that we do not have evidence that the White House did Cook to ask Sherrod to resign. We have evidence that Cook invoked the White House while pressuring Sherrod to resign. This is not the same thing.

Although it is possible the Administration was involved, there is no evidence in the transcript that the White House was involved, directly or indirectly.

They do have a shitstorm on their hands though.

And Vilsack has been a shit throughout.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:41 PM on July 20, 2010


Although it is possible the Administration was involved, there is no evidence in the transcript that the White House was involved, directly or indirectly.

What we have (per the CNN link above) is that (a) Tom Vilsack authorized the firing of Shirley Sherrod, and (b) Barack Obama supports Tom Vilsack's decision. And that this was based solely on the video evidence provided by a known psychopathic racist liar who propagates his lies through heavily edited video.
posted by dirigibleman at 9:48 PM on July 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


And here's another thing. Because of the moral cowardice of the administration, the right wing has been able to spin this as defending the woman that not 12 hours ago they were condemning as a racist.

And the right wing wins again. Say hello to President Palin.
posted by dirigibleman at 10:13 PM on July 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Breitbaaaart!

Hopefully, this will be the Tea Party's Dan Rather moment, but somehow I doubt it.

They will never have a "Dan Rather moment," because they have nothing to lose. The secret to the success of a group like the Tea Party is that they never have to salvage their reputation, as they never had a good one to begin with, so they can do or say almost anything ... almost. They pretended to purge the racists from the party, but I can't see their "LBJ moment" coming from this. Still, as far as they're concerned, so what if they're tarnished? What else is new? It's not like CBS will fire them.
posted by krinklyfig at 10:14 PM on July 20, 2010


Accusing Obama of being a moral coward is misguided.

If she remains fired now that we know clearly that she said nothing wrong and was deliberately taken out of context, then it means the Obama administration is more concerned with appearances than reality. I understand politics is about appearances, but it has to be about more than that, at least if you expect me to vote for you.
posted by krinklyfig at 10:27 PM on July 20, 2010


As usual, Rachel Maddow sums it up perfectly: Who's next?
posted by dirigibleman at 10:40 PM on July 20, 2010


And Wonkette! The prize for most disappointing and spineless has to go to the Obama administration, however. Not only did they try to distance themselves from the Vilsack’s decision, they made sure Breitbart and the reactionaries who listen to him know they agree with this firing at the same time. They are spineless two ways!

Dear Obama apologists: Stop shitting on my face and calling it leeches who are sucking the badness out of my face for happy times! It is not happy times!
posted by dirigibleman at 11:00 PM on July 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


What a sick world we live in.
posted by phaedon at 11:05 PM on July 20, 2010


Any other Dems like me totally fired up and excited to donate money and vote in down-ticket elections this November to stem the Teabagger/GOP tide of racial resentment, because we know Obama is above all else a tough-nosed fighter, and Rahm Emmanuel would never, ever sacrifice principles on the altar of political triangulation?

Yeah, me neither.
posted by bardic at 11:28 PM on July 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Salon: Update: The White House says this was all Tom Vilsack's call. But they stand by it. Of course. According to Vilsack's statement, the perception of a controversy, even where non exists, "would create situations where her decisions, rightly or wrongly, would be called into question making it difficult for her to bring jobs to Georgia." So, that's pretty much license to make shit up about any low-level federal employee you want canned, I guess.
posted by dirigibleman at 11:55 PM on July 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


The Administration did the right thing. We've known since the campaign that Obama thinks one of his biggest challenges is ensuring that his presidency doesn't get defined by race, so it makes sense that the administration is hyper-sensitive to even ambiguous suggestions of racial bias.

Actually, no. By firing her, Obama just confirmed what the right-wing already believes -- that the administration is full of black people who hate whites.
posted by JackFlash at 12:05 AM on July 21, 2010


And no matter what they do now (hire her back [I wouldn't go back, we've seen what loyalty they have to their employees], fire Vilsack), it will be seen as merely damage control, instead of standing up to the racist right wing.
posted by dirigibleman at 12:15 AM on July 21, 2010


To review:

Stupidity and a complete lack of fact-checking cause an exemplary person to lose a valuable thing, and -- despite universal agreement that the denial of said valuable thing involves an overt contradiction of reality -- the leadership with power to reverse that decision declines to do so for no adequately explored reason!

This is Obama's refusal-to-recognize-Galarraga's-perfect-game.
posted by Rhaomi at 12:29 AM on July 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Actually, no. By firing her, Obama just confirmed what the right-wing already believes -- that the administration is full of black people who hate whites.

No, it's worse than that. It means any bozo can get anyone in the Obama administration fired if they get their clip on Fox News, no matter if it's true to reality or not. It means Obama's willing to throw anyone under the bus if you spread your lie far enough.
posted by krinklyfig at 12:31 AM on July 21, 2010 [5 favorites]


so it makes sense that the administration is hyper-sensitive to even ambiguous suggestions of racial bias . . . Breitbart and the Tea Party types are exposed as being on a witch hunt and trying to smear any black person in the administration they can get their hands on

So, basically, just accuse anyone in the administration of racism (especially white man's burden type shit), throw together some bullshit lies concocted from edited video tape, and voila, someone is fired. What a crock. And as we've seen, Breitbart and the tea drinkers are not beholden to the same standards as one might think or prefer. The whole point of them being exposed as lying liars who are a witch hunt should have happened long before this, but it hasn't. So what exactly are you talking about?
posted by IvoShandor at 12:57 AM on July 21, 2010


"by MeFi's left-of-Stalin standards"

"before Murdoch created FoxNews was that it was almost impossible to hear conservative opinions"


Here we see, yet again, a conservative being spectacularly dishonest.

In a thread about right-wing dishonesty, no less.

Disgusting, Valkyryn. Pathetic and utterly disgusting.
posted by Ogo at 2:20 AM on July 21, 2010


>Now I completely grant that by MeFi's left-of-Stalin standards

I took you seriously at some point.


Sheesh. The level of earnestness around here is a little smothering. I would have thought the sarcasm there would have been obvious.
posted by valkyryn at 2:57 AM on July 21, 2010


Disgusting, Valkyryn. Pathetic and utterly disgusting.

Oh, get over yourself. The left is does not have a monopoly on 1) feeling persecuted, and 2) feeling that the other side has absolutely no reason to feel persecuted.

If that's the sort of sentiment that can't even be expressed, then the quality of discourse around here is a lot lower than I had hoped.
posted by valkyryn at 3:02 AM on July 21, 2010


Actually, a much better example would be Jeremiah Wright. I don't know how many people two years down the line still reflect on the frustration of that entire incident, or thinking back on it realize that maybe it really was an indicator of bus-throwings to come. A lot of liberals took a risk eschewing the Sista Soulja moment, standing behind Obama when he made a very dignified, rational speech about the nature of his relationship with Wright- even Jon Stewart joked that night "so for a few moments, a politician talked to us like grown-ups." Then a few weeks later Wright said stuff even stupider and Obama was all like "oh, well, yeah. Eff 'em I guess." Gosh, thanks.

My understanding of that was that Wright decided that he was too much of a liability to Obama, and the second set of statements was him deliberately turning kamikaze to force Obama to repudiate him rather than to remain a millstone round Obama's neck.

That said, Vilsak needs removing from his job here. And Breitbart needs to be treated as a liar by the entire MSM.
posted by Francis at 4:23 AM on July 21, 2010


Vilsack issued a statement this morning to the AP saying that's he's willing to reconsider his position on Sherrod's dismissal. So she may get her job back after all.

I love this thread, because it's a perfect illustration to me of the knee-jerk enthusiasm some people will always have for bashing President Obama personally, given even the merest, deliberately-staged opportunity. We all know Breitbart meant to hurt the administration with this little trick, and even when we figured that out and the attempt was exposed for the underhanded trick it was, many of you still found a way to rationalize it back around in a way that led to you condemning the administration.

Even when a manufactured narrative like this is revealed to be the hatchet job it is--and no mistake about it, this began as nothing more than a deliberate attempt to smear the administration--instead of focusing primarily on punishing the cynical manipulators behind the smear, you still find a way to reach the worst conclusions about the president on your own, facts be damned, and to focus on punishing the administration for its perceived deficiencies. Beautiful. And people have the gall to wonder why the Dems have such a hard time effectively countering the right's dirty tricks.
posted by saulgoodman at 6:35 AM on July 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh, and god forbid, Vilsack try to accede to your judgments and correct his error now. Oh, no, it's too late for that. Unless I miss my guess, your condemnations of the administration over this flap are already absolute and irreversible: it won't be enough now for Vilsack to set things right by reconsidering his decision (which in your mind will forever remain President Obama's sole personal decision, despite all evidence to the contrary and even if you have to selectively edit the facts on the record to fit that picture).

Even if Vilsack asks Sherrod to return to her position now, that won't be enough, because Vilsack's mistake couldn't possibly have just been a mistake. It must be a reflection of some deep, abiding lack of personal integrity or principle. Even though it was a mistake made initially by the NAACP as well, and we know this whole thing was a calculated attempt to damage the administration and the NAACP in retaliation for the recent NAACP condemnation of racism in the Tea Party. No matter. Let's skewer them anyway.

You're mad at Vilsack for throwing one of his subordinates under the bus in the midst of a manufactured flap about racism, yet you'd love to see President Obama throw Vilsack under the bus over that same manufactured flap about racism. Except that if he does, there will be plenty of you lining up to attack the president for betraying Vilsack and for showing such weakness in letting a minor controversy force him to reorganize his cabinet.
posted by saulgoodman at 6:57 AM on July 21, 2010


Ousted USDA official: I'm not sure I'd take job back.
posted by ericb at 6:57 AM on July 21, 2010


Sherrod may not want her job back. And who can blame her? We've seen how the administration supports its employees.
posted by dirigibleman at 6:59 AM on July 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Why no one looks good in this story, especially the media.
posted by ericb at 6:59 AM on July 21, 2010


And that's what I get for not previewing.
posted by dirigibleman at 6:59 AM on July 21, 2010


When race-baiting backfires: The Shirley Sherrod teachable moment.
posted by ericb at 7:01 AM on July 21, 2010


I love this thread, because it's a perfect illustration to me of the knee-jerk enthusiasm some people will always have for bashing President Obama personally, given even the merest, deliberately-staged opportunity. We all know Breitbart meant to hurt the administration with this little trick, and even when we figured that out and the attempt was exposed for the underhanded trick it was, many of you still found a way to rationalize it back around in a way that led to you condemning the administration.

Well I guess it helps that an innocent woman got fired because someone in the Obama administration fucked up royally. I'm so sorry, was that a complicated "rationalization?" You, know... reality?

Jesus Christ, man, if the cops busted into my apartment and shot my cat because they heard I was running a drug ring based on a tip from an anonymous e-mail, and then they later said "oops, we totally jumped the gun on that one," you know what? I have the right to say the cops were fucking morons. And if there was a thread on MetaFilter about it I really doubt you'd jump in and snivel about how this is the typical kneejerk reaction of people who just love to hate the cops for anything they do because it would be even more obvious what an obnoxious contrarian you're trying to be about all this.

Explain to me- please, for god's sake, explain to me- what the fuck this being a "manufactured narrative" from Breitbart has to do with whether or not Sherrod was unfairly treated. NO SHIT, no one is arguing that Breitbart set this all up. IT'S THE FPP, FOR CHRIST'S SAKE. THAT YOU YOURSELF MADE. But Team Obama fell for it. And that is bad, and we should say it's bad, and I don't think anyone here is anywhere near as "enthusiastic" to revel in that as you are in trying to ignore it.

I am truly, truly sorry that in light of a massive fuckup from the administration, people decided to make part of your thread a discussion about how the administration fucked up instead of whatever you were really hoping it to be- I dunno, maybe an extended hatefest on Andrew Breitbart devoid of no other discussion or whatever. But the thread, like the story itself, has evolved.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 7:02 AM on July 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Breitbart, in an interview with TPM Muckraker, not only claims that he neither possesses the full video of Sherrod's speech nor editted the clip his site hosted, but also asserts that it was "way more evidence of racism than anything that the mainstream media and TPM and all of the rest of you Spencer Ackerman friends provided to prove that the tea party was racist."

Meanwhile, the NAACP has posted the full video on Youtube.
posted by Doktor Zed at 7:10 AM on July 21, 2010


Breitbart’s New Conspiracy Theory: The ‘Purported’ Farmer’s Wife Is A Plant.

Christ, what an asshole!
posted by ericb at 7:13 AM on July 21, 2010


Well I guess it helps that an innocent woman got fired because someone in the Obama administration fucked up royally. I'm so sorry, was that a complicated "rationalization?" You, know... reality?

She got fired by Tom Vilsack, who in all likelihood had more important things to do than devote a lot of time to figuring out what exactly (if anything) all the fuss was about, and figured it would be better, if Sherrod was becoming a polarizing or controversial figure to simply ask her to step down, than to let the situation go on feeding into right wing rumors about the administration being racist. That was obviously not a very good decision, but it's not an unreasonable one. It's the kind of decision people who lead large organizations make every day. Was Vilsack wrong? Undoubtedly. But Breitbart deliberately trashed Sherrod's reputation and called her professional integrity into doubt, knowing full well that he had a well-established network of irresponsible partisans who would take his lies and distortions as gospel and spread them far and wide regardless. Breitbart deliberately defamed Sherrod publicly, for the sole purpose of tarnishing the image of the administration and the NAACP. And now he's gotten what he wanted, and he's being helped most in achieving his goals by those who claim to be the most outraged by Breitbart's deception. It's just too rich.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:14 AM on July 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh, by the way, the highly popular finance bill is to be signed today, and Kagan is one step closer to confirmation, and the filibuster against the unemployment extension was broken yesterday. So congratulations on winning that news cycle, guys.
posted by dirigibleman at 7:14 AM on July 21, 2010 [7 favorites]


I am truly, truly sorry that in light of a massive fuckup from the administration, people decided to make part of your thread a discussion about how the administration fucked up instead of whatever you were really hoping it to be

I don't care what the thread's about. My point isn't to say what the thread should or shouldn't be about, XQUZYPHYR. I just think you're funny, that's allowed isn't it?
posted by saulgoodman at 7:16 AM on July 21, 2010


Even if Vilsack asks Sherrod to return to her position now, that won't be enough, because Vilsack's mistake couldn't possibly have just been a mistake. It must be a reflection of some deep, abiding lack of personal integrity or principle.

YES! Why are you typing that like it's some kind of condescending sarcasm? That is 100% right! As I said earlier, you can't take back mistakes like that. You know what people in a presidential administration get fired for? Making mistakes. Or is that only for black people, you know, to prove no one's racist?

A fantastic comment on Balloon Juice sums this up nicely:
For those of us who admired the temperament of the Obama campaign and hoped the combination of intelligence, patience and confidence exhibited during his 2008 win would become part of their style of governing, this stupid, panicky and insecure response indicates that the right wing noise machine has some of the Obama crew rattled. Being provoked by a fringe provocateur is one of the dumbest political moves around, because it simply greases up the puke funnel. Mainstream media looks at this case and believe that they missed a major scoop: Sherrod was out before most of them had even filed a story on the controversy, and they’re not going to let that happen next time.
This is NOT, no matter how many ponies we all wish for, going to teach the media to treat stories like this more sensitively. It's going to do the opposite- inspire them to jump on arbitrary accusations from bloggers faster, hoping they'll be the ones to get a scoop. It's Matt Drudge times a billion, making it more and more justified to throw any shit they're served at the wall and seeing if it will stick. And Vilsack's incompetent reaction to this incident facilitated that so yes, that's why of all the people who should be out of a job for it, it's him. Because he has created an irreversible situation for his administration that increases pressure on it. And it would have been avoided by taking a bathroom break and making a phone call before doing anything first.

All they had to do here was nothing. You'd think they'd have some expertise at that by now.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 7:18 AM on July 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Meanwhile, the NAACP is walking back their initial position - with an apology.

Right-wing trolls and Fox pwns the libruls - again.

Librul baiting, easier than pie. Vilsack blew this one by shooting from the hip. That's bad, inept and a problem. Time to get smarter or get ready to get run over in the fall.
posted by warbaby at 7:38 AM on July 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


It was really embarassing to watch Vilsack fold and fire this woman, but to be fair, even the NAACP went on the attack immediately. There should be some sort of troll-defense training for democrats: If you're ambushed by Bill O'Reilly, just keep repeating Andrea Mackris, Breitbart just makes shit up, that sort of thing.

My only hope is that people remember how these things end more than how they begin. So if the last act is her reinstatement and Breitbart looking like a complete douchebag, even in the eyes of the right, at least that's a silver lining.
posted by condour75 at 7:56 AM on July 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


NAACP
July 20, 2010
(BALTIMORE, MD) - NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous issued the following statement today after a careful investigation into the presentation of former USDA Official Shirley Sherrod.

"The NAACP has a zero tolerance policy against racial discrimination, whether practiced by blacks, whites, or any other group.

The NAACP also has long championed and embraced transformation by people who have moved beyond racial bias. Most notably, we have done so for late Alabama Governor George Wallace and late US Senator Robert Byrd -- each a man who had associated with and supported white supremacists and their cause before embracing civil rights for all.

With regard to the initial media coverage of the resignation of USDA Official Shirley Sherrod, we have come to the conclusion we were snookered by Fox News and Tea Party Activist Andrew Breitbart into believing she had harmed white farmers because of racial bias.

Having reviewed the full tape, spoken to Ms. Sherrod, and most importantly heard the testimony of the white farmers mentioned in this story, we now believe the organization that edited the documents did so with the intention of deceiving millions of Americans.

The fact is Ms. Sherrod did help the white farmers mentioned in her speech. They personally credit her with helping to save their family farm.

Moreover, this incident and the lesson it prompted occurred more that 20 years before she went to work for USDA.

Finally, she was sharing this account as part of a story of transformation and redemption. In the full video, Ms.Sherrod says she realized that the dislocation of farmers is about “haves and have nots.” "It’s not just about black people, it’s about poor people," says Sherrod in the speech. “We have to get to the point where race exists but it doesn’t matter.”

This is a teachable moment, for activists and for journalists.

Most Americans agree that racism has no place in American Society. We also believe that civil and human rights have to be measured by a single yardstick.

The NAACP has demonstrated its commitment to live by that standard.

The Tea Party Federation took a step in that direction when it expelled the Tea Party Express over the weekend. Unfortunately, we have yet to hear from other leaders in the Tea Party movement like Dick Armey and Sarah Palin, who have been virtually silent on the “internal bigotry” issue.

Next time we are confronted by a racial controversy broken by Fox News or their allies in the Tea Party like Mr. Breitbart, we will consider the source and be more deliberate in responding. The tape of Ms. Sherrod’s speech at an NAACP banquet was deliberately edited to create a false impression of racial bias, and to create a controversy where none existed. This just shows the lengths to which extremist elements will go to discredit legitimate opposition.

According to the USDA, Sherrod’s statements prompted her dismissal. While we understand why Secretary Vilsack believes this false controversy will impede her ability to function in the role, we urge him to reconsider.

Finally, we hope this incident will heighten Congress’s urgency in dealing with the well documented findings of discrimination toward black, Latino, Asian American and Native American farmers, as well as female farmers of all races."

FWIW - note that there is a strong distinction to draw between racism and racial discrimination. They are not equivalents.

Racism is an ideology that creates separate classes of citizenship with whites in a permanently supreme and unassailable role. Racial discrimination is being a dickhead over race. It's not that hard a distinction to make but any discussion these days seems to start off with the fallacy of their equivalence. Look upthread how many times the two are confused.
posted by warbaby at 8:06 AM on July 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I am so tired of being told that it's simply IMPOSSIBLE to get a progressive agenda in place, so we have to be content with microscopic incremental changes (if any at all) and avoid ruffling any feathers. The loony right has absolutely no problem with getting its shit done, so why can't the loony left?

Why are democrat pols too chickenshit to get anything done? Because the democrat voters excuse them for it?

Why is it that the right can get a person in a left-wing administration fired in less than 48 hours, but we're supposed to feel victorious over a health care "reform" bill that the right wing and insurance companies pretty much wrote themselves?

Tell me again why Obama's election mattered now. Has it prevented hippo attacks?
posted by Legomancer at 8:07 AM on July 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Being provoked by a fringe provocateur is one of the dumbest political moves around, because it simply greases up the puke funnel.

But "the administration" wasn't provoked into anything until progressives started applying pressure for them to step in. Vilsack (a cabinet-level member of the administration with his own prerogatives, duties and powers, not merely a proxy for the will of Obama) handled a situation that was under his purview as he saw fit. Had he done nothing, the story would have kept spreading on its own anyway, feeding into vague suspicions that can nevertheless do grave political harm in much the same way that the trumped up Vincent Foster scandal fed into the erosion of trust that allowed the Republicans to recapture congress under Clinton, feeding into the right's narrative that the administration harbors ant-white racists in this case.

Vilsack's dutiful if misguided attempt to defuse the situation backfired. But the fact remains, Vilsack was perfectly within his authority to make the mistake. If he had done nothing, eventually the story would have been a different one--about how the administration didn't react quickly enough to stem the criticisms. You now blame President Obama--who by all published accounts played no direct role whatsoever in the affair--by association more than you do Breitbart, Vilsack, the NAACP, or any of the parties involved in the affair. That's almost certainly one of the outcomes Breitbart anticipated when he hatched this nasty little character assassination plot. It's a tasty irony, that to punish the targets of Breitbart's hatchet job for not having comported themselves as you deem fit in their defense against Breitbart's vicious, unwarranted attack, you're determined to reward Breitbart--the biggest offender in the whole sad mess--and his supporters by giving them exactly the outcome they hoped for.

Breitbart and his type may be the real problem, but we're their enablers.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:10 AM on July 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Breitbart and his type may be the real problem, but we're their enablers.

Thank you.
posted by valkyryn at 8:45 AM on July 21, 2010


But "the administration" wasn't provoked into anything until progressives started applying pressure for them to step in. Vilsack (a cabinet-level member of the administration with his own prerogatives, duties and powers, not merely a proxy for the will of Obama) handled a situation that was under his purview as he saw fit. Had he done nothing, the story would have kept spreading on its own anyway, feeding into vague suspicions that can nevertheless do grave political harm in much the same way that the trumped up Vincent Foster scandal fed into the erosion of trust that allowed the Republicans to recapture congress under Clinton, feeding into the right's narrative that the administration harbors ant-white racists in this case.

In what way should I not be reading this as you saying that Vilsack did the right thing? That's what it sounds like you're saying but you don't just want to say that.

You now blame President Obama--who by all published accounts played no direct role whatsoever in the affair--by association more than you do Breitbart, Vilsack, the NAACP, or any of the parties involved in the affair.

(Sigh.) Alright, fine.

This is my last comment in this thread to you saulgoodman because I'm just tired of this. You clearly just want to whinge over and over again that I won't Leave Obama Aloooone and as I noted in the first part of this comment, you're equally struggling to simultaneously defend what everyone here clearly sees was a failing on the part of the administration while trying to duck around saying you're doing just that. I stand by my previous observation that you're somehow frustrated that I'm talking about an angle of this story that you were hoping wouldn't be the subject. I'm not really interested in another "you're doing it wrong" lecture from you.

And given my comments, including my very previous two, where I specifically called into account the failings of Vilsack and Breitbart, to claim that I'm just placing all the blame on the President himself is a sign that you're either not reading my comments or choosing to ignore them anyway.

If you're so adamant that this is solely about pushing back against people like Breitbart than I hope you'll take a breath and reread the point of what I've been saying here, in that effective counters to people like Breitbart will only exist when the adminstration has people in it willing to push back. The greatest lesson of this entire story is that Vilsack is not one of those people, and by extension Obama isn't really either, at least at the time of this posting by the sheer fact that Sherrod is still unemployed and devoid of an apology from anyone in the chain of command that betrayed her.

Meanwhile, while this is going on, the administration is busy bailing on yet another qualified progressive candidate for a major government position, one that would be one of the most beneficial ones for the American people, because it'll "be hard." So, yeah, kudos to your dozens of comments explaining how we're idiots for saying that this attitude of the administration is a bad idea that'll keep getting worse just because it's, umm, getting worse.

But ultimately I'm done with this because I don't see how I can express any discourse with someone who has spent the last 24 hours bitching non-stop about people criticizing the administration for kowtowing to right-wing radicals and then screaming that those of us saying so are the ones who are "enabling" them. I'm glad you found some tasty irony in our conversation but the irony in your last comment tastes like fresh shit and I'd prefer not to have another spoonful.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:47 AM on July 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


Breitbart’s New Conspiracy Theory: The ‘Purported’ Farmer’s Wife Is A Plant.

Oh for fuck's sake, why does anyone still give this assclown any camera time at all? He's proven himself a liar and a fool several times over. Lame.
posted by homunculus at 8:59 AM on July 21, 2010


Vilsack should reinstate Sherrod and then offer his own resignation. If they keep trying to appease the right-wing over the bullshit scandal of the day, there's just going to be new invented scandal the next day.
posted by octothorpe at 9:07 AM on July 21, 2010


Here's a piece from Ken Silverstein on how the Washington Post is still covering this story in a way that feeds the controversy and furthers the right wing allegations of racism, for further illustration of the role the media plays in giving these manufactured controversies legs and facilitating their spread. Their angle? They originally reported the story under the following headline (which they've apparently since changed):

New front in racism battle: USDA official’s words provide fodder to those who call Obama biased
posted by saulgoodman at 9:09 AM on July 21, 2010


In Meeting, [Deputy Chief of Staff] Messina Praised Sherrod Handling
But three Democratic sources said Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina, singled the White House’s initial response to the incident out for praise in the regular 8:30 a.m. staff meeting Tuesday morning. The sources differed on the substance of Messina’s praise, but concurred that he had praised the speed of White House communications in response to the flap, which was driven by a misleadingly-edited video posted to Andrew Breitbart’s Big Government website.

One source, who is unhappy with the administration’s handling of the incident, paraphrased Messina’s remarks: ’We could have waited all day – we could have had a media circus – but we took decisive action and it’s a good example of how to respond in this atmosphere.’
Heckuva job, Sackie.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:11 AM on July 21, 2010


I've been reading this thread on and off all morning and while I really (really!) have no interest in feeding this particular argument, I feel the (no doubt misguided) need to respond to the following:

If he had done nothing, eventually the story would have been a different one--about how the administration didn't react quickly enough to stem the criticisms.

Or, they could have waited one day, one day, to see if they could get a copy of the full tape. Then they could have gone to the public with a story about how lying right-wing media activists had released a dishonestly edited videotape, smearing a hard-working public servant in order to discredit the administration, but they didn't fall for it (unlike the media). That story would have shown them as loyal and courageous.

Now they just look like fumbling boobs who jump whenever Fox yells frog.
posted by qldaddy at 9:11 AM on July 21, 2010 [12 favorites]


Shirley Sherrod Blasts Fox News as Racist

Good:
"They were looking for the result they got yesterday," she said of Fox. "I am just a pawn. I was just here. They are after a bigger thing, they would love to take us back to where we were many years ago. Back to where black people were looking down, not looking white folks in the face, not being able to compete for a job out there and not be a whole person."
Better, from Greg Sargent:
This is pretty incendiary stuff. Sherrod is clearly not going away, and now she appears determined to force a larger conversation about the Breitbart-Fox News axis's broader efforts to stoke white resentment towards the nation's first African American president.

Of course, if the White House's goal is to avoid racial controversies, this blast from Sherrod isn't going to make it any easier for them to take a stand and resolve this.

But let's have that conversation about what Breitbart and Fox are really up to, say I! Looking forward to Fox's coverage of this.
I've also seen multiple blog posts now suggesting that Sherrod has grounds to sue the USDA. I really hope someone's working on an apology that actually includes the words "sorry." Because it's getting clear that Sherrod is rightly pissed off.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:17 AM on July 21, 2010


saulgoodman, in a universe where the Sherrod firing occurred either before or in the absence of Breitbart's other shenanigans, I might be inclined to agree with you.

However, some of us are deeply disturbed and angered by what now seems to be a pattern: right wing f*ckface shouts "WHARGARBL!" and the Democrats immediately concede, fold, and retreat, usually punishing an innocent person or group in their haste to appease Fox and company.

I'm not saying we need to be Ents and spend a week or more discussing even the most minor of actions as a group. But moving so swiftly in response to claims made by a man known to engage in subterfuge and falsehood is akin to a judge immediately slapping a 5 - 10 year sentence on someone fingered as a drug dealer by the lying sack of sh*t who got all those people arrested in Tulia a while back.

Before the full video surfaced, people on Fark of all places -- Fark!!! -- were pointing out that something about the clip Breitbart presented seemed off. But Vilsack and the White House couldn't be arsed to investigate anything before throwing one of their own to wolves. It's sad. And it's a little frightening, because, as Rachel Maddow points out, who's next?

From where a lot of us are standing, it looks like any person or organization connected with the Obama administration is just one right-wing lie and fabricated piece of evidence away from being fired or de-funded. Of course we're angry.
posted by lord_wolf at 9:18 AM on July 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


Vilsack should reinstate Sherrod and then offer his own resignation.

That's ridiculous. Vilsack is a major cabinet official. Getting another guy confirmed in his position would take months, if not years given the complete lack of scruples the Republicans continue to show in obstructing even the most basic legislative functions (like getting unemployment benefits to people who need them).

If Vilsack reinstates Sherrod, you should just give him some credit for being human and later acknowledging his mistake. There was initially even pressure from the NAACP for the USDA to drop Sherrod. You can't just ignore it when the NAACP says one of your low level appointees needs to go for reasons related to the perception of racism. If Vilsack had, you can bet all the stories today and in the weeks to follow would be about the growing perception that the administration encourages racially-biased practices against whites, and how its refusal to confront the issue directly shows its lack of political savvy. If the administration had confronted and rejected the claims, you would have made a big fuss about how the administration shouldn't have let itself be duped into paying attention to such a non-issue.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:19 AM on July 21, 2010


From where a lot of us are standing, it looks like any person or organization connected with the Obama administration is just one right-wing lie and fabricated piece of evidence away from being fired or de-funded. Of course we're angry.

So throwing an actual high-ranking official (Vilsack) to the wolves over a right wing lie is the only remedy now?
posted by saulgoodman at 9:25 AM on July 21, 2010


Oh, now Breitbart's sorry too... He's so sorry "they" made this about Sherrod, when the real story is how racist the NAACP is:
"I feel bad that they made this about her, and I feel sorry that they made this about her," he told MSNBC. "Watching how they've misconstrued, how the media has misconstrued the intention behind this, I do feel a sympathy for her plight."

Breitbart says his intention was never to prove that Sherrod, until this week the Georgia state director for rural development, was racist. He says the video he posted proves instead that the NAACP is racist
posted by saulgoodman at 9:28 AM on July 21, 2010


White House Asks for Review of Firing of Official
posted by saulgoodman at 9:32 AM on July 21, 2010


Breitbart says his intention was never to prove that Sherrod, until this week the Georgia state director for rural development, was racist. He says the video he posted proves instead that the NAACP is racist

Watching this idiot stammer and stutter was amusing. "I feel so bad for this poor woman that I smeared with a sloppy edit job. The video isn't about her - it's about how the NAACP is racist, my proof being things she said. Jeez!"
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 9:44 AM on July 21, 2010


So throwing an actual high-ranking official (Vilsack) to the wolves over a right wing lie is the only remedy now?

No, that's not what I'd propose doing, although I know some who share my anger and disappointment feel that way. I think tossing out Vilsack would make this whole thing an ever bigger victory for Breitbart and the unhinged elements on the right.

I think that Vilsack and the White House should rescind Sherrod's dismissal and release a statement akin to the NAACP's: "We acted hastily in response to information from someone who by now should be well-established and recognized as an extremely questionable source. We regret any harm done to Ms. Sherrod's reputation etc etc etc...." and then let the word trickle out via other channels that by no means will they be falling for this kind of bullshit in the future -- let it be known that extraordinary claims by the unhinged elements on the right will require extraordinary proof and that they will stand by groups and individuals who can be objectively demonstrated to be working for the greater good.
posted by lord_wolf at 9:46 AM on July 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


lord_wolf: i agree, and i think that may be exactly what happens.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:48 AM on July 21, 2010


I think it's worth pointing out that the USDA program within which Ms Sherrod worked has had serious racial issues in the recent past, which may have made Vilsack a bit more sensitive to racial complaints than you might expect. That said, the firing was definitely hasty and unwarranted, and should be revoked immediately.

And if Vilsack himself is let go, he's not being "thrown to the wolves over a right-wing lie," he's being dismissed for poor judgment that he demonstrated. There's a big difference between the two.
posted by me & my monkey at 9:57 AM on July 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


We all know Breitbart meant to hurt the administration with this little trick, and even when we figured that out and the attempt was exposed for the underhanded trick it was, many of you still found a way to rationalize it back around in a way that led to you condemning the administration.

At the very least it illustrates a real problem in allowing the other "team" to dictate the terms of the game. Obama didn't start out like that, in fact just the opposite. You can't win at their game, so the only way to deal with it is to refuse to play, and unfortunately they took the bait. This has been the albatross for the Democrats for far too long, and it's a very bad sign that they let themselves be lead by the nose by someone like Breitbart. They need to get on top of this and put a stop to it immediately or it will continue to get away from them.
posted by krinklyfig at 10:01 AM on July 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


NPR: Shirley Sherrod Becomes Obama Political Problem.
posted by ericb at 10:02 AM on July 21, 2010


Does the name Pigford ring a bell with anyone?
posted by ahimsakid at 10:05 AM on July 21, 2010


Pigford, Pigford... did he run for president on the YIP ticket in 1968?
posted by box at 10:50 AM on July 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Here's some more of that liberal media bias at work today:
NPR: Conservative Blogger Pushes For NAACP Takedown

Andrew Breitbart and his conservative allies see the the NAACP as hypocritical and want to wrest it from its privileged place in the national conversation on race.
The article, while acknowledging that "the battle for the narrative is on" devotes the remaining seven out of nine paragraphs to helpfully summarizing and restating Breitbart's own version of the narrative, citing only conservative commenter Charles Krauthammer and "a top NAACP official" on the side critical of Breitbart's misrepresentations, and not once actually acknowledging unambiguously that they have since been confirmed to be misrepresentations.

No, this isn't a story about Breitbart lying and defaming some low-level official to further his political goals, the press being duped by the attempt, and the NAACP and Vilsack being perhaps a bit too eager to show themselves willing to condemn anti-white racial bias, nope: it's a story that can only be told from the agnostic perspective of someone watching two otherwise equivalent sides of a controversy fighting to "control the narrative" to their advantage. The fact that one individual deliberately precipitated the manufactured controversy that led to this point, while the other side has been forced against its will to waste time and energy reckoning with the unfortunate fallout from that blatantly dishonest and reckless attempt at character assassination is seemingly irrelevant.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:31 AM on July 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Can we just get everyone to agree that Breitbart is a scum filled piece of shit?
posted by AzzaMcKazza at 11:32 AM on July 21, 2010 [6 favorites]


I am watching the White House Press Briefing and Press Secretary Robert Gibbs apologized to Ms. Sherrod on behalf of the entire administration. He said that Vilsack will be calling her this afternoon to offer a formal apology and to "talk about next steps." Gibbs also said, "Bungled would be a good way to describe how the administration handled it."
posted by ericb at 11:55 AM on July 21, 2010 [5 favorites]


Ms. Sherrod watched the press conference at CNN's Atlanta studio ... and is being interviewed right now. I really like her.
posted by ericb at 12:09 PM on July 21, 2010


Sherrod: "I accept the apologies. You know, I am bigger than some of them. I can move beyond this."

Good for her.
posted by ericb at 12:13 PM on July 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Violent, racist haters among the Tea Partiers? NAACP gets death threats that pretty much prove their point
posted by homunculus at 12:17 PM on July 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yesterday:
Sherrod told CNN on Tuesday that she was told repeatedly to resign Monday afternoon after the clip surfaced. "They harassed me," she said. "I got three calls from the White House. At one point they asked me to pull over to the side of the road and do it because you are going to be on Glenn Beck tonight."

So the White House decides to fire her.


Today:
"Glenn Beck Defends Shirley Sherrod: It's Possible This Woman Deserves Her Job Back"

So the White House decides to apologize and give her job back.

Why doesn't Obama move out of the White House and let Glenn Beck move it. It would be much more efficient.
posted by JackFlash at 12:48 PM on July 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


I've also seen multiple blog posts now suggesting that Sherrod has grounds to sue the USDA.

Highly unlikely to have a cause of action here, if you mean a suit in federal court. I do federal employment law almost exclusively. The government is generally immune from suit and where it waives that immunity, it does it via statute. Here, the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 more or less controls the ability of government employees to adjudicate their rights against the government. It provides for administrative actions against the government through the Merit Systems Protection Board, the EEOC and the Office of Special Counsel. There is no provision for direct suit except for certain situations involving the EEO laws. My examination of the facts here does not have the facts necessary to plead such an action. Of course there could be more info, but I don't see it.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:49 PM on July 21, 2010


she said. "I got three calls from the White House. At one point they asked me to pull over to the side of the road and do it because you are going to be on Glenn Beck tonight."

Again, TPM's examination of the CNN transcript contains no such assertion. CNN put words in her mouth. Apparently the lady who pressured her to resign claimed the White House wanted it.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:50 PM on July 21, 2010


I am so tired of being told that it's simply IMPOSSIBLE to get a progressive agenda in place, so we have to be content with microscopic incremental changes (if any at all) and avoid ruffling any feathers. The loony right has absolutely no problem with getting its shit done, so why can't the loony left?

Nobody said it was impossible. They said it was hard. Its called the Senate, and its rules protected us in 2000-2001 and 2002-2006 from the worst excesses.

Also, I am tired of the overstatement that the "loony right has absolutely no problem with getting its shit done, so why cant the loony left?" Fact is, we'd have Christianity as the law of the land and gaydom illegal if that were the case. What thing has the loony right gotten done that you complain of?

To win in our system, you need the votes. If you don't have them, you can't win. The Looney Left doesn't have the votes. Haven't seen it yet. All of their complaints rely on some sort of evil arm-twisting of moderate dems who don't agree with them. The reason that the right seems to get its way is that it has the votes--its representatives are narrow in belief and agree with one another. It is simple votes.

Please find us the votes.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:56 PM on July 21, 2010


Tell me again why Obama's election mattered now. Has it prevented hippo attacks?

Have you been attacked by a hippo in the last year? No?

I think you have your answer.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:56 PM on July 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Why doesn't anyone sue these people for slander?

saulgoodman was on the right track with his earlier comment, but some additional clarification might be of interest.

In the US, the First Amendment protects speech far more rigorously than most other countries' laws. The truth of a statement serves as an absolute defense to defamation in almost every case. You might be liable for some other tort--invasion of privacy, tortious interference, etc.--but you'll totally win the defamation claim. So because the factual assertions in Breitbart's piece are, in fact true--she did in fact say the things he claimed she said, even if what they mean is something totally different--he's going to have a decent defense against the most obvious tort here.

On top of that, speech about public figures is even more strongly protected. If what you do for a living puts you in the public eye, especially in any sort of political context, almost anything about you is open season. It's almost impossible to invade the privacy of a public figure unless we're getting as blatant as publishing people's personally identifiable information (SSN, address, bank account numbers, etc.).* Even if you twist the situation to make someone look worse than they are, i.e. false light defamation, there would need to be actual malice, which is something of a subjective test, i.e. the speaker had to have actually doubted that the statements were true. It isn't enough that he should have known something, you have to be able to show that he actually did suspect that what he was saying was false.

Now it's all well and good for the MeFite crowd to assert that he damn well know what he was doing--I certainly think he did--but this is not actually evidence. It's entirely possible that Breitbart actually believes the things he writes, which would defeat any assertion of actual malice.


Breitbart claims he didn't see the whole video. Perhaps. Let's see the E-mails. Because if he saw the whole video or edited himself to present her words in a false light, then we have a whole different ball game. His entire defense right now is unsworn statements to the press. Also, not evidence.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:58 PM on July 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Tell me again why Obama's election mattered now. Has it prevented hippo attacks?

What world are you living in? Stimulus? Check. Massive Health Care Reform that Truman, Clinton, Roosevelt and Johnson couldn't get through. Check. The largest financial reform bill ever? Check. Repeal of Dont Ask, Don't Tell? Check. A totally new foreign policy? Check.

Dude has been following through on his promises, one by one. If you wanted Nader, you should have voted for him. Because Obama didn't promise whatever it is you think he did.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:01 PM on July 21, 2010 [8 favorites]


"A black government employee helped save a rural white family from bankruptcy."

That's the diametric opposite of the Beck / Tea Party narrative. A direct contradiction of all their fears. Like, if they were actually right, and Obama was going to socialize the country for his black and Muslim brothers, stealing the collective wealth of Palin's "real americans", this is the sort of propaganda that his notional minister of truth would have to come up with.

So there's a certain elegance to the fact that Andrew Breitbart has caused this level of cognitive dissonance in the right wing media.

Definitely the glass-half-full side of this story, but hey I'm an optimist.
posted by condour75 at 1:06 PM on July 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Being tolerant of cultural or philosophical differences doesn't mean I have to just take it when you're an asshole.

Right, and this explains why racism among white liberals comes out when black people vote for Prop 8.
posted by AlsoMike at 1:16 PM on July 21, 2010


http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/22/us/politics/22sherrod.html

Let's all take a deep breath here; if we shout instead of listening, the Breitbarts win.
posted by Erroneous at 1:25 PM on July 21, 2010


Please find us the votes.

Please find me a competent tactician that can get shit done in the Senate with 60 votes. Tell me why Joe Lieberman still sits on any committee.

Also, it should be noted that the timing of the initial release was exceptionally well planned. They created a media feeding frenzy knowing that the president would be signing the Wall Street reform bill today. Reforming Wall Street is very popular with the public, but everybody's ignoring Obama's (admittedly partial) victory in favor of talking about this crap.
posted by vibrotronica at 1:29 PM on July 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Vilsack has offered her her job back. She says she's considering.
posted by CunningLinguist at 1:36 PM on July 21, 2010


On Lacking All Conviction
posted by homunculus at 1:41 PM on July 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Tell me again why Obama's election mattered now. Has it prevented hippo attacks?

Have you been attacked by a hippo in the last year? No?

I think you have your answer.


This is such a common derail, I wish there were just a single, authoritative site I could always link to that has a comprehensive list, but since there's not, here's my response, based on a couple of less ideal sources.

Here's one list of things the administration has already accomplished (though admittedly some of these are debatable) that you can be sure the McCain/Palin ticket wouldn't have even attempted, here's another article discussing accomplishments the "liberal" media establishment has seen fit to largely ignore in preferring to help promote the Republican's play-book message of how little the administration has accomplished.

(I'd add to these list the facts that Obama's is the first administration we've yet had to recognize and honor medical marijuana laws in states that have such laws on the books, even including President Clinton's administration, and that the administration has in essence already made goos on its pledge to repeal DADT because, although the Pentagon still effectively has this as policy, it's no longer an issue of standing law since the repeal the administration coordinated, and the military brass have been ordered to reevaluate and revise the policy within a strict time-frame).

posted by saulgoodman at 1:41 PM on July 21, 2010 [5 favorites]


Hatewatch: Shirley Sherrod and the Right: A Day That Will Live in Infamy

On Lacking All Conviction

"this is what happens when you treat the arrest of a black man, in his home, as something that can be fixed over beers"
posted by mrgrimm at 1:47 PM on July 21, 2010


I notice we have this, but no finance reform FPP.
posted by Artw at 1:55 PM on July 21, 2010


Tell me again why Obama's election mattered now...

Do you remember the years 2000 through 2008? The White House was wrong. Vilsack is going to apologize. Maybe the mainstream press will be a bit more wary about anything Breitbart puts out in the future. The White House has definitely bought itself an extra hour or two the next someone starts to stir up a counter-factual shit storm.

I know Obama has to do something other than not be Bush but I can't imagine the last administration admitting that it made a mistake and trying to fix it. It's weird that Bush never fessed up to making a mistake because Americans love that narrative. This redemption mini-play may be embarrassing in the short term but it's extremely appealing in the long term.
posted by rdr at 2:00 PM on July 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Bush couldn't have been that bad, after all he was exactly the same as Gore.
posted by Artw at 2:02 PM on July 21, 2010


Wake up Sheeple!
posted by Artw at 2:06 PM on July 21, 2010


And lest you mistake this being essentially a political story, NPR wants to gently remind us yet again it's really about race, and how the Obama administration has yet again failed to fulfill our hopes:
USDA Flap Shows 'Post-Racial' Future Has Not Arrive
The decision to fire Agriculture Department official Shirley Sherrod — an action Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has now rescinded — is clearly part of a larger debate about discrimination and racial sensitivity in the public sphere.

It's also evidence that hopes so often expressed during the 2008 presidential campaign that Barack Obama would lead the country into a "post-racial" future have thus far gone unrealized.
Moral of the Story: Pulling cheap, immoral political stunts that involve defaming innocent people in order to get the media to talk about some issue you want to bring up and frame in a particular way still works every time.
posted by saulgoodman at 2:06 PM on July 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


You know, I'm going to go ahead and blame your "post-racial future" arriving on all of the racists, of which it turned out you have quite a lot.
posted by Artw at 2:08 PM on July 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


I just watched Vilsack's press conference. He said that he acted in haste and was wrong in not speaking directly with Sherrod and getting her side of things before forcing her resignation. He takes full responsibility and apologized to her. He also said that he asked for her to forgive him and that she did.
posted by ericb at 2:13 PM on July 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


I just watched Vilsack's press conference. He said that he acted in haste and was wrong in not speaking directly with Sherrod and getting her side of things before forcing her resignation. He takes full responsibility and apologized to her. He also said that he asked for her to forgive him and that she did.

This is pretty much exactly what I wanted to see happen. Cheers all around to Vilsack and Sherrod. And now I feel like I can hope that maybe, just maybe, as rdr suggested above, the MSM will be more wary about fellating Breitbart in the future.
posted by lord_wolf at 3:01 PM on July 21, 2010


So we're having a family picnic and we invite Uncle Bruce because Grandma and Grandpa don't want us to exclude him because he's family. He's a problem, though, because he's crazy and mean and yells a lot when things don't go his way.

We don't bring salad to these events anymore, because one time Uncle Bruce thought we were forcing him to become vegetarian because of the salad. There's was plenty of meat at the picnic, too, but Uncle Bruce freaked out and threw the salad at all of us and made my sister (who made the salad) cry. He also called her some unrepeatable names. Anyhow, we wanted to avoid confrontation, so we stopped bring salad.

Then there was the time that we were listening to the least offensive top 40 radio at the picnic and Shakira came on and Uncle Bruce wigged out about how English was America's language and we shouldn't be listening to "that Mexi crap." He threw the radio in the lake and called my dad, who'd picked the station, "hombre" for the next year and a half. Anyhow, we stopped playing music at the picnics, too. It's just easier that way.

And don't even get me started on the time where my cousin Sheila brought her girlfriend to the picnic. Uncle Bruce really flipped out then. He nearly turned green with rage and smashed the headlights on his own car. Then he screamed at all of us "look what you made me do?" We didn't want our grandparents to think we were excluding Sheila (who is a very nice lady), so we quietly asked her if she could please turn down all invitations to future family picnics so that we wouldn't upset Uncle Blake.

That was really too bad, because none of us had a problem with Sheila having a girlfriend.

Anyhow, this all really makes me furious and I can't understand why Uncle Blake thinks he can get away with this kind of behavior.

/parable
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:06 PM on July 21, 2010 [8 favorites]


I notice we have this, but no finance reform FPP.

I am probably not the best person to have done this, being not an American and not particularly an expert on finance, but I went ahead and did it anyway.
posted by Artw at 3:29 PM on July 21, 2010


I just want to add my two cents into saying how pleased I am that Breitbart, that POS Alpaca-fucking douche-cockface is finally going to get some comeuppance for the endless horseshit he manufactures.
posted by Skygazer at 5:09 PM on July 21, 2010


How is Breitbart getting any comeuppance? I still see him on TV flapping his jaws and spreading rumors, innuendos, and lies. He's not losing his job, losing his web sites, losing any of his followers, and he's certainly not losing any money with all the page views he's been getting. The same people who hated him before still hate him, and the people who like him still like him. Unless there's been some new development in the last few minutes, Breitbart goes on to do this again and again with no actual repercussions at all.
posted by Orb at 5:50 PM on July 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Dear they-had-to-get-rid-of-her-that-is-just-the-way-the-world-works people,

Sometimes the world can surprise you.

Love,

ND¢
posted by ND¢ at 6:01 PM on July 21, 2010


Sometimes the world can surprise you.

Though, sadly, the comments at the bottom of that link don't surprise me one jot.
posted by Joey Michaels at 7:19 PM on July 21, 2010


You ain't lying. The ignorant fuck-facery is strong in those comments.
posted by quin at 8:38 PM on July 21, 2010


Please find us the votes.

Please find me a competent tactician that can get shit done in the Senate with 60 votes. Tell me why Joe Lieberman still sits on any committee.


Really? So Health Care Reform, DADT, the Recovery Act, Financial Reform got through by themselves?

Because it seemed like that all of those things passed in the teeth of Republican opposition.

As for why Lieberman sits on any commitee, do you really think he'd caucus with the Dems if they cut him out of the commitees? Its simple math. 59 or 60, which is better?

Name a Majority Leader who did better than Reid with exactly the amount of votes needed for a filibuster
posted by Ironmouth at 9:40 PM on July 21, 2010


Also, whatever mistakes were made, they were corrected. I think that's the best thing ever. This is an administration that admits its mistakes. Quickly. Isn't that what we are really hoping for?
posted by Ironmouth at 9:41 PM on July 21, 2010


The biggest problem with Reid is that he did nothing to fight back against the unprecedented Republican abuse of the filibuster. I mean, look at this chart (background color indicates the minority party). If the GOP threatened using the nuclear option when Democrats filibustered some of their judicial nominees, then why couldn't Reid do the same in the face of the GOP trying their best to filibuster the entire chamber into a screeching halt?
posted by Rhaomi at 10:06 PM on July 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


If that's the sort of sentiment that can't even be expressed, then the quality of discourse around here is a lot lower than I had hoped.

The quality of discourse around here will be improved immeasurably when right-wingers like yourself stop lying.

And then, when you get caught, blaming everyone and everything, rather than accept a shred of responsibility.

Eerily reminiscent of Breitbart. Or the Tea Party.

Do you guys all get trained at one big central academy?

"Conservative Activism 101, lecture 3: I know you are but what am I."
posted by Ogo at 3:24 AM on July 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Josh over at TPM summarizes quite nicely how I feel about this whole mess: link.
posted by joe lisboa at 7:18 AM on July 22, 2010


As for why Lieberman sits on any commitee, do you really think he'd caucus with the Dems if they cut him out of the commitees?

I used to work at a magazine. Of course, since it was a magazine, the publishers were always bitching about their money troubles, and god forbid you ask for a raise. Then I find out that one month they had more than $12,000 in outstanding ad invoices. That's dozens of clients who bought ads, but who didn't pay up after the ads ran. So I asked the publisher, if we're so hard up for cash, why don't we go after some of those outstanding debts.

"We don't want to piss off the advertisers!" she said.
posted by vibrotronica at 7:30 AM on July 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I love this thread, because it's a perfect illustration to me of the knee-jerk enthusiasm some people will always have for bashing President Obama personally, given even the merest, deliberately-staged opportunity. We all know Breitbart meant to hurt the administration with this little trick, and even when we figured that out and the attempt was exposed for the underhanded trick it was, many of you still found a way to rationalize it back around in a way that led to you condemning the administration.

When a con man suckers the person I have hired to manage my money it is well within my ability and right to think less of both of them.
posted by phearlez at 7:42 AM on July 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


When a con man suckers the person I have hired to manage my money it is well within my ability and right to think less of both of them.

But when the con man's only purpose was to make you think less of the person you hired to manage your money for no reason other than he hopes to manage your money badly someday, it isn't in your best interest to do so.

You are the one being conned here, not Obama. You are the one falling for the trap. He is not aiming at his minions, who already hate Obama because he is black and a leader. He is aiming right at you.

And really, did Obama actually fire this woman? What facts do you actually have? The only people telling you are the very people who are trying to "con"you. Its been demonstrated that CNN's claim that Sherrod said the White House called her three times isn't supported by the transcript of the interview she did with them. Instead, the manager who fired her said the White House wanted it done.

What should impress you is the fact that as soon as Vilsack's mistake became apparent, he went on national fucking television and totally apologized and said it was his fault. Would Bush have done that? No. Would Clinton? No. That's the way it should be done.

You know who makes the Dems so bad? The rank and fucking file--who expect mistake-free, perfect execution which corresponds exactly to their particular brand of politics. They are the one's fueling the whole "Dems never win" scenario. Predictions of doom seem to be the preferred way individual democrats deal with the anxiety of poltical battle. It hurts us far more than the human foibles of Dem leaders or the natural human mistakes they make. And god forbid that the actual compromise nature of our political institution continue to get in the way of their desires. No matter that this is the core nature of American politics and has been since the founding of the Republic. Because if it doesn't fit the fantasy of the perfect utopia, then it by definition totally sucks.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:09 AM on July 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


I used to work at a magazine. Of course, since it was a magazine, the publishers were always bitching about their money troubles, and god forbid you ask for a raise. Then I find out that one month they had more than $12,000 in outstanding ad invoices. That's dozens of clients who bought ads, but who didn't pay up after the ads ran. So I asked the publisher, if we're so hard up for cash, why don't we go after some of those outstanding debts.

"We don't want to piss off the advertisers!" she said.


The management of a magazine is not the United States Senate. Simply put, due to the fact that Dems need that one vote, Lieberman is in a powerful spot. If the Dems lost seats or gained them, he would not be in that position. Instead he is in that exact position and assholes like him and Ben Nelson are fully aware of what is going on.

Put another way, Lieberman voted for every key thing we are talking about up there. All of them. If he wasn't there, no stimulus, no hcr reform, no DADT repeal, no financial services bill.

Even in the few votes where a few GOPers crossed the line, his vote was critical, because if he was voting against it, they could safely vote against it, saying "it was never going to pass anyway." But when right-wing dems (or motherfucking Russ Feingold that ass) declare that they are going to vote against something, it gives cover to the left-wing GOP members.

Where mistakes have been made, it has been in not concentrating on the GOP's most-centrist members. If they are pressured, the right wing dems would have to fall in line. Instead, too much effort was spent on wooing the Dem right on individual bills. But Lieberman and Nelson must be partially appeased. It feels good to go after them--but is massively counterproductive.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:16 AM on July 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Where mistakes have been made, it has been in not concentrating on the GOP's most-centrist members. If they are pressured, the right wing dems would have to fall in line. Instead, too much effort was spent on wooing the Dem right on individual bills. But Lieberman and Nelson must be partially appeased. It feels good to go after them--but is massively counterproductive.

No, any effort spent trying to woo any GOPers is totally wasted, because they have something called "party discipline", meaning, when you go against the wishes of the leadership, you pay a price for it. For reference, see the entire health care debate.
posted by vibrotronica at 9:59 AM on July 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Obama calls fired USDA worker, expresses 'regret'.
posted by ericb at 10:46 AM on July 22, 2010


Where mistakes have been made, it has been in not concentrating on the GOP's most-centrist members. If they are pressured, the right wing dems would have to fall in line. Instead, too much effort was spent on wooing the Dem right on individual bills. But Lieberman and Nelson must be partially appeased. It feels good to go after them--but is massively counterproductive.

No, any effort spent trying to woo any GOPers is totally wasted, because they have something called "party discipline", meaning, when you go against the wishes of the leadership, you pay a price for it. For reference, see the entire health care debate.


You're not getting my point. I'm not talking about wooing at all. I'm talking about putting them on the spot. Running ads in their districts, getting local news outlets to run stories on their position on the legislation. This will cause them to have to answer questions and at least to pretend to hem and haw on the legislation, and appear to be listening.

But who you are trying to affect by doing this isn't the GOP members in question. Its the Dem members immediately to their left, who can't be seen as being to the right of these GOP centrists. So they end up defending and voting for the legislation.

Let's look at the GOP "party discipline." Why is it that for Obama, they are uniting? Is it that Obama is actually pushing some sort of Trotskyist agenda? Hell no. He's pushing generally centrist positions that most Americans are very comfortable with.

The problem for the Republicans is that the country has moved away from their positions on almost every issue, if they were indeed ever really there. The reason the GOP seems so united is that they are in a battle for the soul of their party. The few centrists left want to keep the party relevant, the Lindsey Grahams and the rest. But the conservative wing wants to keep its ascendancy, electoral results be damned. But if they get whipped, then the conservative wing will lose the dominance it built up between 1964 and 2006. So there is a huge ideological battle in the GOP. Will they be centrist on issues or not. If they are not, they will go down to an eventual, crippling defeat, the current economy notwithstanding.

So everyone is currently towing the line because if anyone breaks for Obama, all hell will break loose. And this is exactly what you are seeing in the GOP candidates right now. Sharron Angle, the indian lady in S.C. who wants you to think she's a super xtian type of candidate, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio in FLA. All these people hold positions most Americans disagree with. Yet they are crusing to victory in the GOP primaries.

I think FLA is most instructive on this matter. The centrist in the GOP senate primary was popular governor Charlie Crist. Crist bet long on centrism, appearing with Obama to support the stimulus and the like. What happened? Rubio was crushing him in the GOP primary.

So Crist, rather than pull a McCain and repudiate everything he stood for to get reelected, jumped ship and ran as an independent. And what do you know? Dude is pulling away from both Rubio and Meeks, the dem presumptive nominee. Crist is gonna cruise to that win. Becasue the country doesn't support GOP policies. The dems have won the policy war. Independents aren't for lowering taxes more, gutting social security or anything else. They oppose HCR repeal in the low 60% range. They just don't agree with the GOP on very much.

What I'm saying is that the dire position of the GOP is causing them to have a tremendous internal battle that their right wing is going to win. And that is influencing all of the GOP reps and senators so profoundly that they are forced in an election year to tack right.

That "party unity" isn't strength, its weakness that they will pay for.

Its also less existent than you make it out to be. Stimulus? Snowe and Specter (then GOP) voted for it. Collins flirted with it until the last second. So it was easy to keep dems in line.

Health care? they fought like dogs, but lost, because Specter defected to our side. Financial Reform? Brown, yea, Collins, yea, Snowe, yea. The GOP was so scared of that vote, they didn't call for a roll call vote. Unlike most situations, after the voice vote, the victors called for the roll call vote. Except for that tremendous ass Feingold, every Dem senator voted for. Every one. So who had the party unity? Dems. Health care? All dems voted for.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:43 AM on July 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


That "party unity" isn't strength, its weakness that they will pay for

Dems abandon comprehensive climate change legislation.

"Many of us want to do a thorough comprehensive [climate and energy] bill that creates jobs, breaks our addiction to foreign oil, and curbs pollution," Reid said. "Unfortunately at this time we don't have a single Republican to work with in achieving this goal. For me it's terribly disappointing and it's also very dangerous. So the President, Senator Kerry and I and others, large numbers of my caucus will continue to reach out to Republicans and work with environmental and energy committees, communities, to garner the support we need to move forward on a much larger more comprehensive bill."
posted by vibrotronica at 12:48 PM on July 22, 2010


How is Breitbart getting any comeuppance? I still see him on TV flapping his jaws and spreading rumors, innuendos, and lies.

The difference is he no longer controls the narrative. The ACORN issue was not resolved in a way that made the headlines, unfortunately, and the investigation took a while and people/the media lost interest, so their narrative stuck. This time it didn't, because Breitbart was a little too ambitious and ran up against someone who wouldn't roll over, and the whole thing was covered in the media and happened very quickly. Regardless of what he might say now, I don't think Breitbart is going to be taken at face value anymore, although I'm not sure why he should have been in the first place. This particular incident seriously undermines whatever credibility the Tea Party might have left with moderates, so I can't see how it helps him or them.
posted by krinklyfig at 2:13 PM on July 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


While I enjoyed that TPM link Joe Lisboa shared above, this closing sentence, in article about race baiting, wins some sort of poor word choice of the year award:
In the course of a lot of criticism of mainstream journalism, I'd be remiss not to explicitly mention CNN and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, two Atlanta-based news organizations that did the real spade work debunking this travesty
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:18 PM on July 22, 2010


Anyhow, this all really makes me furious and I can't understand why Uncle Blake thinks he can get away with this kind of behavior.

This parable is a great illustration of what's wrong with this kind of thinking. First, it's implied that we ought to exclude "Uncle Bruce" (the racists) from society - what would that mean in the real world? Prohibition of racist speech? Revoking their voting rights? Prison terms for advocates of racist ideologies? Second, you portray society as made up of many good and decent people who "don't have a problem with Sheila having a girlfriend", vs. a tiny minority who should ideally be excluded. A more accurate society would have 3 racist uncles, 2 people who may or may not be racist themselves but defend them, 1 ambivalent guy and 4 people who want the uncles and their defenders out. Perversely, it's the people who are saying "We need to stand up to these haters!" who are minimizing the problem, thinking it's even possible for us to all band together and send a message that racism isn't cool.

Incidentally, this is how racist conservatives see society: a peaceful, harmonious, tolerant whole with every member in their proper place, only disrupted by a foreign element who does not have a place - the Jew, the Black, the Immigrant, etc. - who must be eliminated. So in this very narrow sense, the Tea Party are correct to perceive themselves as victims of prejudice, not from black people but from tolerant PC liberals. This doesn't mean "You shouldn't be hypocritical, you must also tolerate the racist!" It means the goal of a tolerant society is in itself a failure, because it relies on and promotes what is a fundamentally conservative vision of an ordered society, with only a minor change in who occupies the roles. The cultural notion of tolerance signals the abandonment of the traditional radical Leftist political agenda organized around justice, and the rise of the Tea Party is the result. Rather than saying, "You whites enjoy a privileged place in society, you should tolerantly allow minorities to enjoy the benefits", we should be much more radical: as long as there is no justice for minorities, there is no justice for any of us, Tea Partiers included. The claim that the importance of the first black president is that it advances the interests of an minority group should be denounced as the worst racist slander, something that only Rush Limbaugh would dare say. But also none of this PC bullshit "Don't we all benefit from a more tolerant, diverse society with multiple viewpoints?" which is also antithetical to a shared notion of justice.
posted by AlsoMike at 2:30 PM on July 22, 2010


I thought the parable was more about excluding racist, insane conspiracy theorists from being taken seriously by the media.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:33 PM on July 22, 2010 [6 favorites]


Marisa wins, but parable really exist to allow anyone to impose their own view on them
posted by Joey Michaels at 6:06 PM on July 22, 2010


Andrew Breitbart Declares Himself Democrats' 'Public Enemy #1'.
posted by ericb at 8:30 AM on July 23, 2010


Boehner, Fox’s Shep Smith, And Other Journalists Slam Breitbart For His Race-Baiting Smear Campaign.
posted by ericb at 8:36 AM on July 23, 2010


That "party unity" isn't strength, its weakness that they will pay for

Dems abandon comprehensive climate change legislation.

"Many of us want to do a thorough comprehensive [climate and energy] bill that creates jobs, breaks our addiction to foreign oil, and curbs pollution," Reid said. "Unfortunately at this time we don't have a single Republican to work with in achieving this goal. For me it's terribly disappointing and it's also very dangerous. So the President, Senator Kerry and I and others, large numbers of my caucus will continue to reach out to Republicans and work with environmental and energy committees, communities, to garner the support we need to move forward on a much larger more comprehensive bill."



The American people want that bill. And they will punish the GOP for not helping.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:50 AM on July 23, 2010


ericb: Boehner, Fox’s Shep Smith, And Other Journalists Slam Breitbart For His Race-Baiting Smear Campaign.

This looks like comeuppance to me. Breitbart's rats will certainlly still go to his sites and spew their venom, but even they'll know now that they're involvement and comments on Biggovernment.com (and the other Breitbart sites, including of course the rebranding tactic/new websites he'll have to employ now) is discredited and a masturbatory exercise.

One hopes this is only the beginning.
posted by Skygazer at 10:50 AM on July 23, 2010


Very interesting op ed from Maureen Dowd Saturday in the NYT, arguing that Obama's failure to have a close African American adviser means no one was there to realize right away that there was something seriously wrong with a story that cast either Sherrod as a racist.
posted by bearwife at 11:38 AM on July 26, 2010


As a followup: It looks like Sherrod may well sue Breitbart. As discussed above, I don't think she has a fantastic case, but the narrative may be compelling enough for Breitbart's lawyers to encourage him to settle.
posted by valkyryn at 1:15 PM on July 29, 2010


...may well sue Breitbart.

May sue?
"At the National Association of Black Journalists convention Sherrod said she would 'definitely' sue Breitbart over the video and isn't interested in an apology from the firebrand blogger."
posted by ericb at 1:46 PM on July 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Analysis on why filing suit is a bad idea.
posted by valkyryn at 6:54 AM on July 30, 2010


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