On Thursday for Friday's print edition, the New York Times carried a weakly headlined but well-written story entitled "U.S. Opens Spigot After Farmers Claim Discrimination" on its front page. Written by Sharon LaFraniere with the help of three others, it laid out how what began in 1997 as a class-action suit by black farmers (Pigford v. Glickman) claiming they had suffered discrimination at the hands of the U.S. Department of Agriculture "became a runaway train, driven by racial politics, pressure from influential members of Congress and law firms." Moreover, LaFraniere covered how the scope of the litigation grew "to encompass a second group of African-Americans as well as Hispanic, female and Native American farmers" to the tune of over 90,000 claims and potential ultimate taxpayer cost of over $4.4 billion, in the process morphing into a vehicle for the Obama administration to unjustifiably dole out taxpayer money to as many people and constituent groups as possible. It is worth reading the entire story, though it will make just about anyone concerned about the financial and cultural future of this nation shudder.
The Times coverage indeed "vindicates" the late Andrew Breitbart, whose Big Government blog exposed the fraud associated with Pigford, but that vindication is hardly satisfying. We're supposed to be impressed that the paper finally got around to substantively covering it, and that the paper even noted the "Public criticism (which) came primarily from conservative news outlets like Breitbart.com and from Congressional conservatives like Representative Steve King, Republican of Iowa, who described the program as rife with fraud." I don't see why.
There's been a lot of ugly stuff in the blogosphere as well as various social networking websites such as Twitter since Thursday's shocking announcement that conservative publisher Andrew Breitbart died at the age of 43.
Anyone who saw what the Associated Press wrote when former Bush 43 press secretary Tony Snow died in 2008 (original AP article; related NewsBusters post) knew that the wire service would do what it could to subtly distort Andrew Breitbart's considerable accomplishments in exposing leftist hatred, duplicity, and criminality. The only question was what form(s) it would take.
Not surprisingly, reporters/distorters Philip Elliott and Sue Manning misrepresented or omitted key elements of the three episodes for which Breitbart will be best remembered -- the James O'Keefe-led ACORN stings; Shirley Sherrod, Pigford lawsuit opportunist; and his exposure (so to speak) of former Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner's sleazy online escapades. The 11:44 a.m. version of their report (saved here for future reference, fair use and discussion purporses) was bad enough. In their 1:56 p.m. revision (saved here), perhaps egged on by the vitriol which has been posted all day at leftist sites, they descended into cheap-shot name-calling adjectives which would rarely if ever be used to describe activist leftists. In his opening hour today, Rush Limbaugh covered some of what happened during the three key episodes; I will expand on them later in the post:
As someone who was one of the best fighters against the left-wing media hegemony, Andrew Breitbart was also frequently victimized by lazy reporters who didn't bother to report correct information about him. This was a particular problem for Andrew because he was such a target for liberals making up lies which got repeated so often, they've become widely accepted as truth.
Unfortunately and unsurprisingly, the media haven't stopped repeating lies about Breitbart even after his untimely passing. Contrary to much of the reporting about him today, Breitbart did not falsely represent Shirley Sherrod, former U.S. Department of Agriculture director of Rural Development in Georgia in relaying a video of her discrimination against white applicants for a farm subsidy program in 2010.
If you're not familiar with GRITtv or Laura Flanders, you will be because her far-left, antagonistic, attack dog style is starting to become all the rage to liberal hosts especially on MSNBC.
On Friday, as part of the panel discussion on HBO's "Real Time," Flanders in her own aggressive style impolitely went after fellow guest conservative publisher Andrew Breitbart feeling the need to bring up last year's Shirley Sherrod affair after which she called him a con man (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Following Martin Bashir's absolutely pathetic interview with Andrew Breitbart Wednesday, the conservative publisher has proposed a $10,000 bet with the perilously liberal MSNBC host.
"I’m willing to take a lie detector test next to him on anything," Breitbart told WOR radio's Steve Malzberg Thursday, "if he’s willing to take a lie detector test next to me talking about whether he read my book" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Yes, Virginia, there is someone in media more unhinged than Ed Schultz -- left-wing radio host Mike Malloy.
If you've heard of Malloy, most likely it's because of his bizarre, on-air fantasies of violence toward Dana Perino, Matt Drudge, Glenn Beck, and Rush Limbaugh, as described here with audio clips from Brian Maloney at The Radio Equalizer.
Malloy has decided to remind us again of his pathologies, this time issuing a veiled threat against new media impresario Andrew Breitbart (embedded audio clip, courtesy of Maloney, after page break) --
Perhaps AOL acquiring The Huffington Post isn't such a bad thing after all.
Liberal filmmaker, writer and photographer Lee Stranahan did something one doesn't often see at the left-wing news aggregator -- he broke from the pack to defend "the notorious Andrew Breitbart," publisher of Breitbart.com and a slew of similar sites where he basks in skewering liberals.
In his HuffPo article, Stranahan wrote how he "spent a slightly surreal weekend" hanging out with Breitbart at CPAC --
... and at the end of the conservative convention, he was served with a lawsuit from Shirley Sherrod, the former USDA official who was forced to resign by USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack back in July, 2010 after Breitbart had published two videos of her as part of a long blog post. One of those videos showed Mrs. Sherrod (ironically, it turns out) telling the NAACP audience that she suggested people get work with the government because "you can't get fired." The second, better known video showed Mrs. Sherrod telling her story of how she didn't give a white farmer 'the full of force' of her help for a period of time. After the USDA fired her, apparently without an investigation, the full tape was released.
At NPR, you cannot admit your prejudices, even in the context of disavowing them. You can, however, suggest that a U.S. Senator and his grandchildren should be infected with the AIDS virus, claim the world would be a better place if everyone who believes in the Christian rapture did not exist, claim that Newt Gingrich seeks "a civil way of lynching people," and, as long as you are just a freelancer, call for Rush Limbaugh's death.
That is National Public Radio's editorial (double) standard. NPR fired analyst Juan Williams, an 10 year employee of the organization, for admitting that he gets "nervous" when he sees people in Muslim garb on an airplane. But NPR employees (and a freelancer in one case) have made each of those statements above without suffering the swift action brought against Williams.
Why are Americans not being bombarded with sermons on the irresponsibility of blogs and new media generally? After all, the White House's attacks on the Chamber of Commerce originated with a salacious, factually-erroneous report on a highly partisan left-wing blog. Shouldn't we be hearing about the dangers of relying on new media for political news?
We were inundated with such talk after the video that led to the Department of Agriculture's fired of Shirley Sherrod turned out to have misrepresented her words. The story - that Sherrod made race-based decisions in her capacity as an Ag Department employee - was based on faulty evidence. It would never have made it into the mainstream were it not for the lax journalistic standards of digital reporters - in this case, Andrew Breitbart.
Earlier today, Shirley Sherrod, who, according to the current version of ruling class wisdom, was prematurely evacuated from the USDA by Director Tom Vilsack, decided not to accept an offer to return to the agency.
Instead, according to Politico's Matt Negrin, "she hasn’t accepted the department’s offer to work there again, but that she wants 'some type of relationship' with it later." We wouldn't closure or anything, would we?
Five weeks or so have intervened since Andrew Breitbart posted a video excerpt of Sherrod's speech at an NAACP event. (It should be noted USAactionnews.com actually posted the video earlier; though their link has been taken down, their original July 15 tweet is here.)
In that time, the establishment press has either seriously downplayed or totally ignored the several important items relating to the background and outlook of Ms. Sherrod and her husband Charles.
Former USDA employee Shirley Sherrod says she will meet Tuesday with agriculture secretary
Shirley Sherrod, the former USDA rural development director for Georgia, said today she plans to meet Tuesday with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to discuss a new job offer.
... Sherrod today spoke in the Sumter County town of Epes at an event hosted by the Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund. Ben Jealous, executive director of the NAACP, shared the stage with Sherrod during a panel discussion.
Sherrod said she had no ill feelings toward the NAACP or President Barack Obama.
It the meeting does indeed occur, it will be an interesting test of establishment media credibility, given the accusations leveled at Ms. Sherrod and her husband Charles by Ron Wilkins at the leftist publication Counterpunch several weeks ago. Here are some of the specifics:
What follows was eminently predictable, but noting it is nonetheless necessary.
Shirley Sherrod, and to a lesser extent her husband Charles, were media celebrities for a while in late July. Readers might have noticed their near absence from establishment media news reports during the past seven days. It would be easy to think that this has occurred because the story played itself out, with nothing newsworthy to add.
That stopped being true on Monday, August 2, when a column by Ron Wilkins ("The Other Side of Shirley Sherrod") appeared in the leftist alternative publication Counterpunch.
Wilkins is currently a professor in the Department of Africana Studies (not misspelled) at Cal State University. He claims in the final sentence of his column that he is knowledgeable concerning what he is writing because "I was one of those workers at NCI." "NCI" is New Communities, Inc., described at a RuralDevelopment.org link as "the land trust that Shirley and Charles Sherrod established, with other black farm families in the 1960's."
Here's part of what Wilkins alleges (excerpted items are not in the same order as they originally appeared; out of order verbiage is identified):
Rachel Maddow on Friday highly-edited a video from the previous evening's "O'Reilly Factor" in order to make the Fox News host look racist.
For some background, Bill O'Reilly wrote a syndicated column Friday in which he chastized Maddow and David Letterman for "without a shred of evidence" claiming on CBS's "Late Show" Tuesday that FNC intentionally runs stories about "scary black people" in order to frighten white folks into voting for conservatives.
Maddow responded by calling this "bullpucky," and presented video "evidence" from "Factor" programs to prove that this indeed is what Fox does.
Unfortunately, in the most damning clip, Maddow's minions conveniently edited out that O'Reilly was referring to a recent Gallup poll about how blacks and whites have differing views of President Obama.
Ironically, this came moments after Maddow scolded O'Reilly for airing the edited version of former USDA official Shirley Sherrod on his July 19 program (videos follow with transcripts and commentary):
Rachel Maddow on Tuesday told David Letterman that scaring white people is good politics for conservatives.
After the host of CBS's "Late Show" asked his perilously biased guest about the Andrew Breitbart-Shirley Sherrod affair, the MSNBCer predictably pointed her accusatory finger at Fox News and everybody on the right.
"The idea is you sort of rile up the white base to be afraid of an other, to be afraid of the scary immigrants or scary black people," Maddow said.
"Somebody coming to take what is white people's rightful property," she continued. "And you get them riled up so they feel like they need to vote in self-defense, and they vote for conservative candidates because of that fear" (video follows with partial transcript and commentary, h/t TVNewser):
If things don't work out for Rachel Maddow at MSNBC, she could always fall back on unintentional comedy.
In last week's back and forth between Fox's Bill O'Reilly and Maddow over the Sherrod controversy, Maddow criticized O'Reilly for mocking MSNBC's meager ratings while also accusing him of playing fast and loose with facts.
Here's the kicker in Maddow's remarks aimed at O'Reilly, stated on her show July 22 (first part of embedded video) --
MADDOW: You were trying to take the attention off me saying that your network, Fox News, continually crusades on flagrantly bogus stories designed to make white Americans fear black Americans, which Fox News most certainly does for a political purpose even if it upends the lives of individuals like Shirley Sherrod, even as it frays the fabric of the nation, and even as it makes the American dream more of a dream and less of a promise. You can insult us all you want about television ratings, Mr. O'Reilly, and you'll be right, that yours are bigger, for now and maybe forever. You are the undisputed champion.
But even if no one watches us at all except for my mom and my girlfriend and people who forgot to turn off the TV after Keith, you are still wrong on what really matters, and that would be the facts, your highness.
... while she and MSNBC, Maddow implies, get it right where it really matters. If only Maddow hadn't gotten it wrong every other day last week, a feat of Rick Sanchezesque proportion.
"But it is an open question whether conservative media outlets risk damage to their credibility when obscure or misleading stories are blown out of proportion and when what amounts to political opposition research is presented as news." -- Media reporter Brian Stelter on the Andrew Breitbart-Shirley Sherrod tape controversy, July 26.
Leave That Sort of Thing to Us, Part II
"But what is emerging is more of a permanent crusade, where information is not only power, but a means to a specific end. As content providers increasingly hack their own route to an audience, it's becoming clear that many are less interested in covering the game than tilting the field." -- Media columnist David Carr on the Andrew Breitbart-Shirley Sherrod tape controversy, July 26.
Conservative Sen. James Inhofe, "Laughable Fool"
"Senator Inhofe should be a harmless diversion, the kind of laughable fool that any state can kick back to the capital, where hard-earned ignorance is supported by a well-paid staff." -- From former reporter Timothy Egan's July 21 post at nytimes.com.
In yet another example of the news media being selective about which party labels it chooses to share, a recent CNN online story about Shirley Sherrod mentioning three Democrat politicians included the "D" when the politicians where doing something the story applauded, and left it off when the Democrat was a bad guy.
When drought struck the South in the 1970s, the federal government promised to help New Communities through the Office of Economic Opportunity. But the money was routed through the state, led by segregationist Gov. Lester Maddox, and the local office of the Farmers Home Administration, whose white agent was in no hurry to write the checks, she said.
But later in the story, when two Democrats do something of which the author clearly approves, the party label is included:
Using that experience, Sherrod worked with the Federation of Southern Cooperatives to help black farmers keep their land. The group worked with U.S. Rep. Mike Espy, D-Mississippi (who later became agriculture secretary), and Sen. Wyche Fowler, D-Georgia, to pass the Minority Farmers Rights Act in 1990. The measure, known as Section 2501, authorized $10 million a year in technical assistance to black farmers, but only $2 million to $3 million a year has been distributed.
This sort of bias is so obvious, I sometimes wonder why the media even bothers.
Is there more to the Shirley Sherrod story than the White House has let on - and the media has discovered? While the mainstream media continues to focus on the more sensationalistic, scandalous aspects of the story, a number of bloggers have unearthed facts that suggest further effort is needed to figure out Sherrod's dealings with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Sherrod's involvement is not at all clear, nor is there definitive evidence of any wrongdoing. But Sherrod's sudden presence in the spotlight has led to investigations that turn up some strange numbers.
In short, the 2008 farm bill earmarked $1.25 billion to compensate a predicted total of 86,000 African American farmers for discriminatory practices against them. But according to the Census Bureau, there are were 39,697 African American farmers in the nation in 2007, and even fewer in previous years.
This week the Obama administration announced it does not have the funds to pay that $1.25 billion. Yet the administration also announced that it will pay $1.5 billion in relief to farmers in Arkansas, leaving some wondering whether the recall of the $1.25 billion was more a matter of choice than necessity.
Chuck Todd works for the same network that employs the likes of MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann, liberal propagandists all, yet it's doubtful Todd would ever call them that, however he did attach that "p" word to one Andrew Breitbart. During a segment, on Friday's Today show, headlined: "White House Distractions, Sherrod Story Lingers with Lawsuit Plans" Todd relayed that the former USDA official is "preparing to file a lawsuit against the conservative propagandist who started this whole mess." After Today co-anchor Ann Curry teased his report, Todd began his story by claiming the Sherrod "mess," was getting in the way of the President promoting his agenda:
CHUCK TODD: Well look the White House would love nothing more than the Shirley Sherrod story to fade into the background. But as the President prepares to head to Michigan today, to highlight the relative health of the American auto industry the Sherrod story still doesn't have an ending. She's yet to give the administration an answer about that new job offer that was made to her and more importantly she's preparing to file a lawsuit against the conservative propagandist who started this whole mess.
The following is Todd's full report as it was aired on the July 30 Today show:
Chris Matthews in the course of less than two hours Thursday appeared to radically change his opinion about Shirley Sherrod's pending lawsuit against Andrew Breitbart.
As NewsBusters previously reported, Matthews during the 5 p.m. installment of "Hardball" got into a heated argument with former Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean about the contents of the controversial video Breitbart posted at BigGovernment.com on July 19.
For some reason, rather than air that segment as part of the normal 7 p.m. rerun, MSNBC did a live broadcast bringing Politico's Ken Vogel in to discuss the matter with Matthews and original guest Salon's Joan Walsh.
What resulted was a completely different presentation than what aired just two hours prior with Matthews far more critical of Breitbart than he previously was and far more supportive of the merits of Sherrod's case.
Let's look at the videos to see the glaring difference in these segments (partial transcripts also follow with commentary):
CNN's Joe Johns surprisingly highlighted Charles Sherrod's racially-charged comments about stopping "the white man and his Uncle Toms from stealing our elections" during a segment on Thursday's Anderson Cooper 360. Johns also reported on the questions being raised by conservatives about how his wife Shirley Sherrod received her former position at the U.S. Department of Agriculture [audio clip available here].
Anchor Anderson Cooper, after devoting some time to faulting himself for not pressing Mrs. Sherrod after she labeled conservative Andrew Breitbart a "vicious" racist during a July 22 interview, introduced the correspondent's report: "There's also a new aspect to the Shirley Sherrod story...Questions about her and her husband, Charles...keep bubbling up on some conservative blogs. The questions center around why and how Shirley Sherrod got appointed to her old job at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in the first place, and whether her appointment was somehow connected to a settlement she received from the government in a race discrimination lawsuit."
On Thursday’s Anderson Cooper 360, anchor Anderson Cooper faulted himself for not pressing Shirley Sherrod when she appeared on the show back on July 22 and claimed that conservative Andrew Breitbart was a “vicious” racist who “would like to get us stuck back in the times of slavery.”
Cooper now says he should have challenged Sherrod to support such an inflammatory charge with facts: “I believe in admitting my mistakes....I didn't challenge her that night and I should have.”
The July 22 interview was one of numerous appearances Sherrod made on CNN after she was fired by the Department of Agriculture on July 19. Cooper asked Sherrod about her phone conversation that day with President Obama, and then about Breitbart. Here’s the transcript of that section of the interview; an extended video clip appears after the jump:
Chris Matthews and Howard Dean on Thursday got into a heated argument about what was included in the controversial video excerpts Andrew Breitbart published at his website last Monday involving former USDA official Shirley Sherrod.
In the opening segment of the 5PM installment of MSNBC's "Hardball," Matthews was discussing with the former Vermont Governor as well as Salon Editor-in-Chief Joan Walsh the announcement that Sherrod intends to sue Breitbart.
After playing both videos posted at BigGovernment.com back on July 19, Matthews noted, "That part in there about redemptive revelation was actually in the initial tape."
He then asked Dean, "Why do you think if this was a complete slime job, why do you think Breitbart kept that in there?"
The Governor's absolutely absurd answer started the fireworks (video follows with partial transcript and commentary):
Andrew Breitbart is going to be fine. He's done nothing wrong. I wonder if Ms. Sherrod, who is such a champion of transparency, will publicly disclose who is putting her up to this. And I also hope this champion of honesty will stop lying about Fox News. I'm also waiting for Ms. Sherrod to publicly apologize for accusing anyone opposed to nationalized healthcare of being racist. Last time I checked, that was more than half the country.
Bret Baier took on former Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean for accusing Chris Wallace of lying about Fox News's coverage of the Shirley Sherrod affair.
As NewsBusters previously reported, Dean pointed his pathetically biased and accusatory finger at FNC while a guest on "Fox News Sunday" only to have it marvelously slapped down by Wallace.
The following day in the friendly confines of MSNBC's "The Ed Show," the former Vermont governor said, "I happen to like Chris Wallace, but he was really not being exactly accurate when he talked about 'We didn`t say one word about this before the secretary of Agriculture fired her.' The fact of the matter is they were pushing this story very, very hard all day."
On Wednesday's "Special Report," Baier struck back and struck back hard using a time lapse video to prove Dean completely wrong (video follows with transcript and commentary, h/t our friend Johnny Dollar):
Appearing as a guest on Monday’s The Ed Show on MSNBC, former DNC chairman Howard Dean renewed his discredited claim that FNC had played clips of former USDA official Shirley Sherrod before her forced resignation, and suggested that Fox News Sunday anchor Chris Wallace had deceived him in denying that there was FNC coverage before her firing. Dean: "I happen to like Chris Wallace, but he was really not being exactly accurate when he talked about ‘we didn`t say one word about this before the Secretary of Agriculture fired her.’ The fact of the matter is they were pushing this story very, very hard all day. It may be true that they didn`t mention her name, but they sure did run the tape without mentioning her name."
Earlier in the show, host Ed Schultz had played the clip of Wallace correcting Dean’s assertions about FNC from the previous day’s Fox News Sunday. Wallace: "I know facts are inconvenient things, but let`s try to deal with the facts. The fact is that the Obama administration fired or forced Shirley Sherrod to quit before her name had ever been mentioned on Fox News Channel."
After Dean’s claims about FNC showing the Sherrod video, Schultz followed up by asking if Fox News is "racist in what they do," leading Dean to answer in the affirmative and to accuse Fox News of "inflaming racial hatred":