Thursday, July 22, 2010

Breitbart - Mote vs Beam (and some Frum)

Breitbart screwed up.  A bit.  But quite a few of his detractors are just as guilty as they claim Breitbart is.

Matthew 7:3 (KJV)
And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

Breitbart's initial video showed two things. (1) It showed Shirley Sherrod recounting an incident where she acted in a racist manner.  (2) It showed her NAACP audience reacting positively to Sherrod's recounting of her event.

What the video did not show was the rest of the story, the redemption of Shirley Sherrod.

Breitbart's claim that the story was never really about Sherrod doesn't wash.  It was always first and foremost about the woman speaking in the video and her confession of racially motivated (in)action.  The audience reaction was always secondary.

But I'm bothered by the claims that the video was "heavily edited".  It wasn't.  It was taken out of context,  but it wasn't heavily edited.  Sherrod spoke those words -- a firsthand (and presumably true) account of her previous behavior.  It was about 1:40 of Sherrod's uninterrupted narrative.  Anybody -- like for instance, the NAACP, or Tim Vilsak, or the Obama White House -- could have (and did) come to the conclusion that Ms. Sherrod was describing something morally repulsive when she "didn't give him the full force of what [she] could do". 

Blogger "Political Math":

Purported conservative David Frum says Andrew Breitbart is the Right's Dan Rather.  I don't think Frum's analysis works.

(1) Dan Rather had a fake document.  Breitbart has genuine source material.
(2) After Rather's document was outed as a fake, Rather continued to stand by it.  Breitbart has changed his angle on the source material, even if he has done so without quite owning up to his original error.
(3) Dan Rather worked for an ostensibly "straight" major media outlet, who for some time continued to allow him enough rope to hang his career with.  Breitbart runs a few websites with a plainly-stated conservative perspective.
(4) Rather continues to work in "straight" journalism (albeit in a more limited manner), and contra Frum, has not been drummed out of the biz.  He continues to land guest spots on mainstream programming, where he is still treated like a straight journalist.
(5) Dan Rather had a long history of offering propaganda as straight news.  Breitbart's reporting has been pretty darned good, if a little bombastic, and seeks to counter the nonsense coming from much of the traditional media.

But back to the motes and the beams -- already falsified reports of racist Tea Party misbehavior directed towards members of the Congressional Black Caucus still get cited as gospel truth.  Infiltrators and "Mobys" with racist signs get reported as genuine examples of conservative racism.  An uncomfortable phrase used by a black writer ("magical negro") gets tacked to a Rush Limbaugh when Limbaugh picks up the ball and runs with it.  A network purposely crops the photo of a black man carrying a gun at a protest in order to promote a narrative about racist white folks carrying guns at protests.

For these sins and several others, we're still waiting for our apologies, Lefties. 

The word "racist" has been thrown at conservatives so much it's become a free-standing punch line in conservative circles.  Dislike Obamacare? Racist.  Think the stimulus was counterproductive?  Obviously racist.  Don't care for arugula?  Blatant racism.  Those stubbornly high unemployment figures.  Also racist.

The dismissal of the Black Panther case?  Not at all racially motivated.  "Wise Latina" jurists.  Innocuous.  Jumping to conclusions about cops acting stupidly? Without any prejudice whatsoever.

I can't pretend that Andrew Breitbart is without fault here, but the reaction from the left and the Frum-ish Toady-Right is absurd.  The White House saw the same video Breitbart did and came to the same (wrong) conclusion.

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