How could the White House have screwed up so badly in the case of Shirley Sherrod, the Georgia USDA official who Wednesday received an apology from the Obama administration (through Robert Gibbs and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack)?
Sherrod was the victim of a smear by the right-wing agent provocateur Andrew Breitbart and his fellow travelers at Fox News. (Yes, that side has adopted some Leninist tactics, as conservative antitax activist Grover Norquist has admitted over the years.) They took a two-and-a-half-minute clip from Sherrod's address to the NAACP and used it to depict her as a black racist who discriminated years ago against a white farmer. It turns out the farmer thought Sherrod had been a terrific help, and a full review of Sherrod's speech suggests that, far from being a racist, she had honestly (and successfully) worked through the complex racial preconceptions we all carry around in our heads.
Later in his post, Alter added more spin and half-truths by noting that:
An indignant Anderson Cooper railed against Andrew Breitbart with an uncharacteristic angry commentary at the top of his eponymous CNN program yesterday, calling the conservative activist a "bully," likening him to a "weasel," and accusing him of posting a video which was "clearly edited to deceive and slander [Shirley] Sherrod."
Admitting he has never met Breitbart, Cooper preached, "Watching him try to weasel his way out of taking responsibility for what he did to Ms. Sherrod today is a classic example of what is wrong with our national discourse."
After pointing out that Breitbart should have apologized for posting an out-of-context video that made Sherrod, a black woman working at the Department of Agriculture, appear racist toward white farmers, Cooper dismissed the publisher of BigGovernment.com as a ideologue who will never own his mistakes: "Today, Mr. Breitbart could have just apologized, said he was wrong, but he didn't. Bullies never do. And nor do ideologues in our divided country." It's strange that Cooper would demand honesty in our discourse and then suggest he's not one of those "ideologues." As if he never snarkily attacked "teabaggers."
The ongoing controversy surrounding the actions of two members of the New Black Panther Party at a Philadelphia polling place during the last presidential election has become increasingly less about facts and more about opinions. The mainstream media ignored the story for so long, basically giving Fox News exclusive rights to deliver the story to a mass audience and now they’re incensed over Fox’s coverage.
On Sunday Washington Post ombudsman Andrew Alexander wrote “Indeed, until Thursday’s story, The Post had written no news stories about the controversy this year. In 2009, there were passing references to it in only three stories” and “For months, readers have contacted the ombudsman wondering why The Post hasn't been covering the case.” Alexander’s column prompted a response by Joel Meares in the Columbia Journalism Review. His point was that Fox News’ coverage cannot be trusted because of the channel’s alleged conservatism and, in a nice example of ideological bigotry, that the story is not worth being covered because conservatives are interested in seeing it covered.
He wrote “The story has been mostly told online and on TV by those whose political shadings have dictated the angle, and the content” and questions The Post’s motivation in publishing something its readers apparently want to read:
UPDATE (3:20 PM): A couple of quotes below the fold demonstrate just how ideologically diverse critics are who note that Fox played no direct role in Sherrod's resignation. Pundits from the Washington Post and National Review weigh in.
Shirley Sherrod placed the blame for her ouster at Fox News's feet. Hardly surprising. She's a liberal (former) member of a liberal administration. More surprising, given the clear preponderance of facts contradicting this meme, is that much of the media has followed her lead.
Ironically, while a number of mainstream media outlets claim that Fox News is responsible for getting Sherrod to resign, Fox's first call for a resignation, made by Bill O'Reilly just before 9:00 pm on Monday, came roughly an hour after Sherrod had actually resigned.
In other words, Fox News exerted no meaningful pressure on the administration to take any specific actions with regard to Sherrod before the administration took those actions on its own accord. FoxNews.com had run a story earlier (no longer available on its site) displaying Breitbart's video and reporting what were then assumed (erroneously, it turns out) to be the facts of the situation - Sherrod had acted in a condemnable, racist manner.
Jonathan Capehart is the early frontrunner to win my Obama Parrot of the Week, the dubious award I hand out on my local TV show to the media member most wantonly toeing the White House line.
On today's Morning Joe, the Washington Post editorialist, trying to suggest the White House was not involved in the firing of Shirley Sherrod, offered a strained theory of how Sherrod misunderstood what she was being told by a USDA official about the White House wanting her gone.
But when Willie Geist asked the obvious question, Capehart's house of cards largely crumbled, forcing Jonathan to beat a hasty tactical retreat. It's actually quite amusing: do check out the video.
If you're going to write an article blasting the opposition for distorting facts, it absolutely behooves one to double check all of their own statements for accuracy.
Such is the case of Joan Walsh, Editor-in-Chief of Salon, who recently penned a piece titled, The Shame of Right-Wing "Journalism". The article includes the sub-heading, "Andrew Breitbart and Tucker Carlson distort facts to smear liberals, and it works. What liberals should learn."
Apparently, it didn't take long for liberals to learn at all, as Walsh was quickly called out by Chris Hayes of The Nation, feeling it necessary to make ‘a factual correction' in the piece.
Oh, sweet irony.
Walsh updates her piece with Hayes' response at the end, and admitting to the error, but it remains an amusing endeavor to combat alleged distorted facts with actual distorted facts.
The problem, as Hayes explains it to Walsh (emphasis mine throughout):
Memo to media members wishing to invite the Tea Party Founder on your show, or use him as a source for your biased reports: He isn't exactly who you think he is.
Since the NAACP voted to condemn extremist elements in the Tea Party, news networks, sites, and liberal blogs have rushed to include ‘Tea Party Founder', Dale Robertson, in their reports. Problem being, Dale Robertson as Tea Party anything has frequently and thoroughly been, um ... ‘refudiated'.
Despite this, the media has a history of holding Robertson up as a shining example of Tea Party racism. Why? Robertson once demonstrated a level of ignorance that boggles the mind by holding a sign reading "Congress = Slaveowner, Taxpayer = (N-Word)", at a Houston Tea Party Society (TPS) event.
The reality however, is that Robertson has predominantly self-described, if any, links to the Tea Party movement, while legitimate factions of the movement have had to repeatedly distance themselves from the man. Robertson was expelled from the event at which he was holding the aforementioned sign on the very same day. He was formally denounced in a statement released by the Houston TPS. He was called ‘no friend' of the Tea Party at Pajamas Media, and mocked at RedState. He was shown to be for his infamous sign, before he was against it.
So logically, the media has decided to help further the cause of the NAACP by bringing Robertson back out of the shadows. Since word of the the NAACP resolution got out, Robertson's name has appeared at...
Appearing on Wednesday's Dylan Ratigan Show on MSNBC to discuss the Shirley Sherrod controversy, Politico co-founder Jim VandeHei pointed out the NAACP's role in fueling racial accusations: "If you think about this, where this thing started, the NAACP comes out and makes this charge against the tea party movement."
VandeHei rejected the NAACP's claim of racism in the political movement: "It's a very, very diffuse group. You cannot say that they are racist anymore then you can say the Republican Party's racist or the Democratic Party is racist, so it creates this culture and it's a dangerous topic, it's a dangerous fire to light, and then when it happens this is the outcome."
Explaining how the NAACP charge led to the accusations against Sherrod, VandeHei observed: "I'm not defending Breitbart. But conservatives are outraged, they feel like 'listen, you're – because I'm part of the tea party movement you say, therefore, I'm racist.' And so what Breitbart's arguing is 'I want to push back.'"
ABC and CBS last week jumped to advance the NAACP’s charge of racism within the Tea Party movement with friendly stories which provided corroboration for the allegation as neither identified the left-wing group’s ideology. On Tuesday night, however, the ABC and CBS evening newscasts had a sudden concern for the accuracy of the racism charge leveled against a USDA official via video posted by BigGovernment.com, a group the networks were quick to label “conservative” as they painted Shirley Sherrod as a victim of distorted editing of the video of her remarks – as if the news media never do that.
Meanwhile, the NBC Nightly News, which last week managed to refrain from promoting the NAACP’s anti-Tea Party agenda, ran a full story on Sherrod and BigGovernment.com’s “lie,” but also ran the very first broadcast network story on the Justice Department’s refusal to pursue the New Black Panther Party voter intimidation case.
“We turn now to a story about race, politics and what constitutes a rush to judgment,” ABC anchor Diane Sawyer intoned. (Last week: “The NAACP has just adopted a resolution this evening at its annual convention condemning quote, ‘racist behavior by Tea Party members.’”) Jake Tapper referred to “a conservative Web site posting a video clip of Department of Agriculture official Shirley Sherrod at an NAACP event talking about meeting with a white farmer...” He noted the NAACP, which had condemned Sherrod, later in the day “reversed course, saying they'd been snookered by conservative media.”
On his July 20 afternoon program, Dylan Ratigan shouted down the Washington Examiner's J.P. Freire for challenging the MSNBC host's liberal orthodoxy and accusing him of giving more air time to the liberal panelist appearing opposite him.
Eschewing any sense of balanced reporting, Ratigan thundered: "I said I'm in charge of the show. I decide who I'll talk to. I might spend the entire time talking to Jonathan Capehart and not talk to you at all. And then you can choose never to come on my show again."
"I'm sorry, Jonathan was taking up a lot of my time earlier in the segment," explained Freire. "Look at the amount of time he's been talking and the amount of time I was talking."
Is MSNBC concerned about charges of a lack of racial diversity among its on-air staff? Perhaps the cable network is realizing that its glass house is increasingly at risk of shattering from all the stones it keeps hurling at the allegedly-racist Tea Party movement.
The folks at Inside Cable News noticed a slight change in the header at the MSNBC TV homepage. See if you can spot it in the picture at right. It shouldn't be that hard; the folks at the cable network put Tamron Hall front and center in a bright pink shirt (click here for a larger image of the new header).
Did MSNBC add Hall in an effort to satiate critics who have pointed out the lack of racial diversity on the cable network? Though ICN notes the comical video produced by the Dallas Tea Party, the Congressional Black Caucus has also chided MSNBC for its lily-white staff.
Managing Editor's Note: Earlier today, Media Research Center President Brent Bozell demanded that the media cover the explosive video footage of an NAACP banquet speaker admitting her racist views and abuse of power that led to her resignation as a Department of Agriculture official yesterday. The full text of that statement is found below:
The liberal media are deliberately spiking the shocking video that reveals an NAACP banquet speaker admitting her racist views and actions. We’ve waited a full 24 hours to see if any coverage of this exposé would surface. So far, nothing but crickets. The ABC, CBS and NBC evening and morning ‘news’ shows have all failed to even mention the damning video admission that is dripping with disdain for white people and that caused the official to tender her resignation.
Worse yet, it comes from the NAACP, the same organization that has feverishly accused the Tea Parties of racism. The thoroughly untrue accusation against the Tea Parties has been propped up and propelled by the incessant reporting of these same networks. Yet they decide to thwart this story about the NAACP.
The only thing more newsworthy than the charges of racism are the hypocritical charges of racism. The media must report this scandal.
The USDA employee that was forced to resign Monday as a result of racist comments she made at an NAACP gathering in March has blamed Fox News and the Tea Party for her inability to convince her employers of her innocence.
As NewsBusters reported Tuesday, Shirley Sherrod, the USDA's Rural Development director for the state of Georgia, delivered a racism-laden address at the NAACP's 20th Annual Freedom Fund Banquet back on March 27.
On CNN's "American Morning" Tuesday, after Sherrod said that the video published by Big Government didn't accurately depict what really happened, host John Roberts asked, "When the U.S. Department of Agriculture came to you and said you have to step down, why didn't you just say, wait a minute, you don't know the full story?"
Sherrod amazingly answered, "I did say that, but they, for some reason, the stuff that Fox and the Tea Party does is scaring the administration" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
On Monday, Andrew Breitbart, on his blog Big Government, revealed video of a Department of Agriculture official making racially charged comments at an NAACP meeting in March. While the media were quick to jump on the civil rights organization accusing the tea party of racism last week, they have failed to provide any coverage of this controversy.
The comments were made by the USDA's Georgia Director of Rural Development Shirley Sherrod at a NAACP Freedom Fund dinner in Georgia on March 27. As the video clearly shows, Sherrod's description of discriminating against white farmers was well received by the audience. The comments stirred so much controversy that Sherrod resigned Monday night and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack was forced to issue a statement on the matter: "“There is zero tolerance for discrimination at USDA, and I strongly condemn any act of discrimination against any person.”
As NewsBusters' Noel Sheppard earlier reported, none of the network evening news broadcasts touched the story on Monday . On Tuesday, the CBS Early Show, NBC's Today, and ABC's Good Morning America were all silent on the controversy and resignation. However, all three morning shows did manage to focus on a recent verbal gaffe made by Sarah Palin.
It's pretty hard—even for media liberals—to defend a guy in paramilitary duds swinging a billy club outside a polling site, or a government official bragging about having declined to do everything in her power to help someone because of the white color of his skin. So on today's Morning Joe, Margaret Carlson, Norah O'Donnell and Mike Barnicle were obliged to engage in a modicum of hand-wringing over the incidents. But once having discharged that duty, the trio set about doing what libs do best: finding ways to minimize the matters and excuse the MSM's failure to cover them.
To be sure, Carlson did call the statement by the USDA official "hateful" and said one should be "ashamed." And Norah O'Donnell and Mike Barnicle agreed with Joe Scarborough that the MSM can fairly be criticized for undercovering these stories.
Despite all the attention given to last week's National Association for the Advancement of Colored People's resolution against the Tea Party, all three broadcast evening news programs completely ignored Monday's revelations of racist comments made at one of the civil rights organization's meetings in March.
At 8:18 AM Monday, Big Government reported that on March 27, Shirley Sherrod, the USDA's Rural Development director for the state of Georgia, delivered a racism-laden address at the NAACP's 20th Annual Freedom Fund Banquet.
Here's a taste of what the so-called news divisions at ABC, CBS, and NBC ignored Monday (video follows with partial transcript and commentary):
CNN this weekend invited a "diversity consultant" on its "Saturday Morning" program that actually likened black Tea Party members to Jews that worked as guards in Nazi concentration camps.
For his part, host T.J. Holmes did a fairly good job of playing devil's advocate to his two race-baiting guests, Dr. Marc Lamont Hill of Columbia University and Luke Visconti, owner of Diversity Inc.
Despite Holmes's efforts to impart some balance to the discussion -- imagine that! -- the schedulers might have done a better job finding an opposing view to the disgustingly offensive anti-Tea Party rhetoric on display.
Unfortunately, after reading some of what Tea Party Express's Mark Williams wrote at his blog Wednesday, a sickening hatefest against the movement commenced (video follows with transcript and commentary, h/t NBer math4life):
George Will on Sunday challenged Vice President Joe Biden and the Chicago Tribune's Clarence Page about the as yet unproven allegation that a Tea Party member called a black Congressman the N-word earlier this year.
During the Roundtable segment of ABC's "This Week," host Jake Tapper asked Page about the recent resolution by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People condemning alleged racism in the Tea Party.
Page replied, "We can debate over whether or not Congressmen really were called the N-word or not. It's a he said/he said dispute."
Will was having none of this, and marvelously addressed the flaw in Page's thinking (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Liberal activists are so desperate to paint the Tea Party as racist that some, apparently, are willing to fabricate evidence and fallaciously draw unsupported conclusions to support their point.
Lee Fang, a writer for the far-left blog Think Progress, recently posted a video purporting to show racism at Tea Parties. But the video was a total fraud. It took statements out of context, claimed racism where there really was none, claimed liberal plants were authentic members of the movement, and even used video from 2006, three years before the movement existed!
Liberal writers at the Nation and the Huffington Post, as well as former Fox News cohost Alan Colmes all trumpeted the Think Progress video as evidence of Tea Party racism, despite the easily-verifiable evidence to the contrary.
A senior official of the NAACP appears to have further undermined the credibility of his organization when, in a Fox News debate with Project 21's Deneen Borelli Friday, he directly contradicted something he said on Fox News Tuesday.
The debates centered on the controversial, though still secret, NAACP resolution adopted this week at the NAACP annual convention, which alleges racism within Tea Party events. A number of Tea Party officials and attendees have hotly disputed the charge, including a series of black Tea Party speakers, organizers and attendees whose statements have been published at BigGovernment.com.
Shelton replied to Borelli, referring to a Tea Party rally held in March, "I was. As a matter of fact… I was on Capitol Hill at that tea party rally…"
It seems impossible that Shelton could have been telling the truth both times, raising the question: If a senior official of the NAACP is confortable telling a fib on national television, whatever else might the organization be fibbing about?
CBS News contributor Nancy Giles rudely told St. Louis Tea Party founder Dana Loesch to shut her mouth during a panel discussion on Wednesday's "Larry King Live."
In the midst of a heated debate about allegations of racism within the movement, Giles asked, "Where is the Tea Party's outrage when members of their own party spit on members of the United States [Congress]?"
Loesch accurately replied, "That was proved false. Let's not engage in defamation and libel."
"Excuse me," barked Giles. "I'm talking so shut your mouth."
When Loesch told Giles, "Be honest when you speak and I wouldn't have to interrupt you," Giles again barked, "You know, Larry, can you just turn off her mike?" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
The Dallas Tea Party on Thursday accused MSNBC hosts Keith Olbermann, Chris Matthews, Ed Schultz, and Dylan Ratigan of racism.
Since January 20, 2009, all four of these men have criticized Barack Obama for one reason or another.
As MSNBC has been one of the strongest proponents of the despicable concept that anyone critical of this president must be a racist, DTP's founder Phillip Dennis believes the same should be true for that network's employees.
With this in mind, the DTP has created a marvelous video illustrating the point (video follows with commentary):
On Thursday's Newsroom, CNN's Don Lemon conducted a confrontational interview of a black tea party member and disputed his assertion that the U.S. is "more divided now, racially, than any other time in modern history." Lemon bizarrely reached back to the Confederacy to challenge his guest's claim: "Some of the reasons for the Civil War....was racism....How can you say the country is more divided now?"
The CNN anchor brought on the Reverend C. L. Bryant during a segment eight minutes into the 10 am Eastern hour to discuss the NAACP's recent condemnation of the tea party's "racism." After playing a clip of Bryant from the 2009 9/12 tea party rally in Washington, DC, where the tea party leader accused the Obama administration of "building walls of racism... [and] class-ism," Lemon first asked, "What do you think about this new resolution from the NAACP?" Bryant replied, "Well, unfortunately, those types of statements...are echoes of the left at this point in time."
Think it's just a coincidence, or could this be a response to President Obama's plummeting poll numbers and the panic in the liberal media that November could be a realigning election that results in a massive Republican sweep of Congress?
Before you answer, consider the following written Wednesday by Gina Loudon, the founder of Buycott Arizona:
Keith Olbermann on Wednesday said the recently adopted resolution by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People condemning alleged racism within the Tea Party "was kind of mild."
Speaking with NAACP President Ben Jealous on MSNBC's "Countdown," Olbermann asked, "Do you think that what you passed was actually kind of moderate?"
With a straight face, Olbermann continued, "Because it struck me that, that one of the points that you emphasized was that the Tea Party is, is not a racist movement, but is merely tolerating racism and bigotry by its, by its members."
Still with a straight face, "I thought that was kind of mild" (video follows with commentary):
CNN's Rick Sanchez returned to attacking conservative talk radio on Wednesday's Rick's List program, lamenting that "a lot of people in this country...think that Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh are legitimate news organizations." Sanchez also brought on liberal CNN contributor Roland Martin to do the same: "The Glenn Becks of the world...use the race-baiting...Rush Limbaugh and his racist language" [audio clips available here].
The left-leaning CNN anchor brought on Martin and Memphis, Tennessee Tea Party founder Mark Skoda just after the bottom of the 4 pm Eastern hour to discuss the NAACP's recently-passed resolution condemning the tea party movement's "racism." As you might expect, Sanchez singled out two isolated examples of racially-tinged signs at tea party rallies: a birther tea party protester who held a "sent Obama back to Kenya" sign while carrying a stuffed monkey, and a sign from the 9/12 rally in Washington, DC in 2009 that depicted President Obama as an African witch doctor.
Martin treated Skoda in a confrontational manner from almost the beginning. The Memphis tea party leader brushed aside Sanchez's citation of a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll which apparently found that "49 percent of Americans saying that they believe the tea party movement is based in some part on racial prejudice." The pro-Obama contributor then pounced: "Well, actually, he didn't actually answer your question. He danced around your question because I don't- he obviously did not want to answer it. So I will let him have a second opportunity, Rick, to actually answer the question."
A night after ABC's World News elevated the NAACP's allegation that the “Tea Party movement is a threat to the pursuit of human rights, justice and equality for all,” the CBS Evening News pitched in to advance the charge from the unlabeled liberal group. Over “BIGOTRY ALLEGATIONS” on screen beneath a Tea Party sign, from New Orleans Katie Couric teased at the top of her Wednesday newscast: “The NAACP accuses the Tea Party movement of tolerating bigotry.”
Anchoring from New York, Harry Smith announced “the Tea Party movement has come under fire from the NAACP. The accusation: the party tolerates racism in its ranks.” John Dickerson related the charge the “Tea Party tolerates racists, says the NAACP, and these signs allegedly made by Tea Party supporters, are proof.” The two signs shown, “Obama's Plan: White Slavery” and “Obama, What you talkin about Willis! Spend my money?”
Explaining how the NAACP's resolution calls “on Tea Party leaders to 'repudiate those in their ranks who use racist language in their signs and speeches,'” Dickerson featured expert comment from race-hustler Al Sharpton who insisted the Tea Party mission “is to reverse what civil rights did.”
Four months after ABC's World News spent a weekend defaming anti-ObamaCare Tea Party protesters as “very ugly” with “reports of racial and homophobic slurs,” citing “protesters roaming Washington, some of them increasingly emotional, yelling slurs and epithets,” Tuesday's newscast, unlike those on CBS and NBC, credentialed the NAACP's charge that the “Tea Party movement is a threat to the pursuit of human rights, justice and equality for all.”
Sans any ideological label, anchor Diane Sawyer set up the full July 13 story: “The nation's oldest civil rights organization, the NAACP, has just adopted a resolution this evening at its annual convention condemning quote, 'racist behavior by Tea Party members.'” Reporter Dan Harris relayed:
The NAACP points to the racial epithets allegedly hurled at black members of Congress by Tea Party members during the health care debate and to the racist signs that critics say they spotted at Tea Party events to support its conclusion that the “Tea Party movement is a threat to the pursuit of human rights, justice and equality for all.”
Going to a Tea Party leader who is black, Harris pressed: “We've all seen the signs. There have been signs that compare Barack Obama to a monkey, there have been signs that have had the 'n' word on them. When you see those signs, how do you feel?”
Reporters Ray Rivera, Al Baker, and Janet Roberts combined on a front-page Monday New York Times story questioning the frequency of "stop-and-frisk" policing by the NYPD in high-crime sections of the Brownsville neighborhood in Brooklyn: "A Few Blocks, 4 Years, 52,000 Police Stops." The text box: "Frisk Tactic Draws Questions Where It Is Used Most."
It's a quasi-followup to an overheated May 13 front-page Times story which focused more on the racial aspect of frisking: "City Minorities More Likely To Be Frisked -- Increase in Police Stops Fuels Intense Debate." The shoe leather analysis of that story was performed by the hard-left Center for Constitutional Rights, which the Times identified only as "a nonprofit civil and human rights organization." Monday's story also relied on research from the unlabeled leftists of CCR.
Yet the paper's reporters seem more worried about the frisking "frenzy" than do the residents of the crime-ridden neighborhoods that were the alleged victims of excessive stops and searches.
When night falls, police officers blanket some eight odd blocks of Brownsville, Brooklyn...The officers stop people they think might be carrying guns; they stop and question people who merely enter the public housing project buildings without a key; they ask for identification from, and run warrant checks on, young people halted for riding bicycles on the sidewalk.