ABC Skips Label for Liberal Media Matters During Shootout With 'Conservative' Andrew Breitbart
Conservative journalist Andrew Breitbart and Eric Boehlert of the liberal organization Media Matters debated each other on Wednesday's Good Morning America. But ABC only identified the ideology of the right-leaning guest. Boehlert was simply the "senior fellow with the watchdog group Media Matters for America." [MP3 audio here.]
Yet, Breitbart's website was described in a previous segment as "conservative." In a follow-up piece, news anchor Juju Chang labeled him "a conservative blogger." Breitbart and Boehlert were appearing to discuss the firing of USDA employee Shirley Sherrod, following the posting of a tape of her on Breitbart's website.
A number of topics not usually highlighted on network television were discussed. Host George Stephanopoulos actually allowed Breitbart to raise the 2008 case of voter intimidation by the New Black Panther Party, a story previously ignored on GMA.
He also explained how the mainstream media ignored factual challenges to the assertion that African American congressmen were called the N-word during protests in Washington.
After pointing out that videos of the day's events don't back up the Democrats' claim, Breitbart challenged, "When I showed four exculpatory videos that it did not happen, the mainstream media would not show it, because the lie is so massive, it was meant to hurt the Tea Party."
An odd moment at the end of the segment occurred when Stephanopoulos turned to Boehlert and wondered, "Why not show the four videos he's talking about?" Boehlert simply replied, "You can show them."
George Stephanopoulos hosts a two hour, daily program on a major network. If he was interested in the subject, he certainly could have shown the videos at some point in the past.
A transcript of the July 21 segment, which aired at 7:33am EDT, follows:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: And joining us now to debate all this fallout, Andrew Breitbart, publisher of BigGovernment.com, which started this firestorm by posting that video of Shirley Sherrod. Also, Eric Boehlert, senior fellow with the watchdog group Media Matters for America. You guys are on different sides, obviously, of this issue. But, Andrew, let me begin with you. After seeing the whole tape, White House calls Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. He's now reconsidering this firing. Any second thoughts for you?
ANDREW BREITBART: I have no second thoughts regarding the course that Vilsack took. I have no idea why a video that was posted to draw attention between the conflict of the Tea Party and- the Tea Party- and the Democratic party, are trying to attack-
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me stop you there. Because, your original column said that the video lays out, in stark detail, that her, Shirley Sherrod's federal duties, are managed through the prism of race and class distinction. When you see the whole video, that's clearly not true.
BREITBART: No, she does talk about race and class distinctions in it. But this was always-
STEPHANOPOULOS: But, not in the context of her job as a federally appointed executive bureaucrat, which is what you say in the column.
BREITBART: What this video clearly shows is a standard that the Tea Party has not been held to. The NAACP shows people in the audience there, applauding her when she discriminates against a white farmer. That was the point that I was trying to make. Because what the NAACP is arguing about the Tea Party is that there are people in-
STEPHANOPOULOS: But, you said she did this as a federally appointed bureaucrat.
BREITBART: Let me finish my point. There are people in the crowds of tea parties. And they're rebuking the tea party on that behalf. And I'm telling you, that this is a standard. If you want to talk about people clapping racist behavior, that's exactly what you see in the video.
ERIC BOEHLERT: Well, Andrew had no idea what the context of the comments were. But that didn't stop him from launching the smear campaign. That's what Andrew Breitbart and Fox News and the right-wing media does. And they've been doing it for a long time. And it's sort of ugly and contemptible. If he had decency, he would apologize to Shirley Sherrod. And he would also stop with the race-bating that we've seen all summer.
BREITBART: He talked about race-baiting here. The context is laid out here by an icon within the civil rights movement. Mary Francis Berry, who was appointed by both Clinton-
STEPHANOPOULOS: Former head of the Civil Rights Commission-
BREITBART: Civil Rights Commission- said this. Appointed by Clinton and Carter said this: "Tainting the Tea Party movement with the charge of racism is proving to be an effective strategy for Democrats. There's no evidence that Tea Party adherents are any more racist than any other Republicans and, indeed, many other Americans. But getting them to spend their time purging their ranks and having candidates distance themselves should help Democrats win in November. Having one's opponents rebut charges of racism, is far better than discussing joblessness." An ally as you described, Think Progress, has been at the forefront of pushing out false videos, which you didn't show here, in which they take infiltrators of the Tea Party, who put up artificial racist signs, to improperly taint the racist-
STEPHANOPOULOS: False videos?
BREITBART: Yes or no? Yes or no? Yes or no? Yes or no?
BOEHLERT: Andrew gets very excited about this charge of racism. I think he knows Mark Williams. Mark Williams is a national spokesperson for the Tea Party, who was expelled for making racist comments. The NAACP called out the Tea Party for racist elements. There are clearly racist elements. If you look at the Tea Party media, Glenn Beck is saying Barack Obama is orchestrating a race war. Rush Limbaugh is saying Obama is keeping unemployment artificially high to exact revenge on white America. There's elements that the race-baiting is out of control. And Andrew's smear on Shirley Sherrod is-
BREITBART: This was never about Shirley Sherrod.
BOEHLERT: So, apologize to her.
BREITBART: This was not about Shirley Sherrod.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, you did say-
BREITBART: This was not about the Tea Party. This was not about Shirley Sherrod. It's about the smears that have gone about the Tea Party. Including the primary one that led the charge that got reinstigated by the NAACP, condemning the Tea Party by saying the N-words were hurled at congressmen Carson, Lewis and Eldridge Cleaver. That did not happen. When I showed four exculpatory videos that it did not happen, the mainstream media would not show it, because the lie is so massive, it was meant to hurt the Tea Party.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's get into this. Because, this was during the health care debate.
BREITBART: Yes. The day before.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And you say that you have videos of the members of Congress showing that they were not-
BREITBART: They were walking down the steps. They said- Congressman Carson said as he was walking down the steps that the N-word was said 15 times by 15 different people. 400 People gathered around him. He thought there would be rocks being thrown at him. The police finally interceded. When they isolated that it happened on those steps, we found four videos that show them walking down briskly. Cleaver, who says that he was with them, is not in the video. But Congressman John Shadegg from Arizona, is walking behind them. And you can hear, "kill the bill. Kill the bill" and "you arrogant bastards." But, there was no N-word. And it became the basis-
STEPHANOPOULOS: So, what's your response?
BOEHLERT: My response is this is sort of a he said/he said, between Andrew and John Lewis. I'll take John Lewis any day over Andrew Breitbart. John Lewis is an American icon. Andrew Breitbart is a propagandist.
BREITBART: Four videos that nobody would show. Four videos tell the story. And the thing is, once they were out there, camera-hogging, saying the event happened, the second we said we had four videos and we offered $100,000 to try and show that this was- this was concocted, the people hogging the cameras wouldn't take response, even from Associated Press. Jesse Washington from the Associated Press, could not get responses from Carson, Lewis or Cleaver.
STEPHANOPOULOS: How about the broader point-
BREITBART: This is the basis of the smear against the Tea Party movement. It's a massive smear. If we can prove that three Congressmen were participants in a hoax of that proportion, that's why we're here today. And I was trying to make a huge point here. If they're going to create a false argument against the Tea Party-
STEPHANOPOULOS: We're running out of time. And I want to get your response. We have ten seconds. But, you were wrong about Shirley Sherrod. And that's what started it.
BOEHLERT: Absolutely he was wrong.
BREITBART: No, it isn't. The video shows racism. The video shows racism. And when the NAACP is going to charge the Tea Party with racism and say that people in the audience are racist, I'm going to show you that it happens on the other side. At an NAACP event people are applauding racism.
BOEHLERT: He's going to show you a video out of context. He has no idea what's going on. He's going to launch a smear and label her a racist without having the slightest clue.
STEPHANOPOULOS: We're out of time. Why not show the four videos he's talking about?
BOEHLERT: You can show them.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You think they're accurate?
BOEHLERT: I don't think they're accurate. I would take John Lewis' word any day over Andrew Breitbart.
STEPHANOPOULOS: We are out of time.