The Cut & Paste World of Andrew Breitbart

Posted on July 26, 2010


Update 1 March 2012:  

Recently deceased.


Not so much.

Cut and paste is easy.  Anyone can do it.  A little cut and paste and you make remake Queen Latifah into the Queen of England.

And I’m sure Liz wouldn’t mind a day off.  (Go shopping.  Take in a show.)

But cut and paste isn’t real, and you have to be careful when people starting treating it as real.  For instance, what happened to Shirley Sherrod.

She encountered a little of Andrew Breitbart’s cut and paste reality recently, people treated it as real, and it cost Shirley her job.

Who’s Shirley Sherrod?  She’s an African American woman, and a lifelong rural assistance worker.  A long time back her father was shot in the back by a White man and a White grand jury refused to bring a murder charge.  Later, Shirley Sherrod stood before a White judge as he explained to her that it had to be proven that when civil rights workers were murdered by White racists, the White racists had intended—by the murders—to violate their victims’ civil rights.  However …

“I tell you what,” Roger Spooner said. “I was never treated no better than Shirley.”

Who is Roger Spooner?   He is a White farmer who, twenty-four years ago, went to a non-profit African-American farm aid organization for help.   He found himself in front of Shirley Sherrod.

Shirley Sherrod was a woman severely wronged by White racism.  What did she do twenty-four years ago when this White farmer came to her for help?  She struggled with her conscience for a moment, she thought about not helping him, then she decided poor was poor, colour was irrelevant, and she went to work and helped save Mr. Spooner’s farm.

Mr. Spooner himself admits she did so, and he still thanks her for it.

That’s how racist Shirley Sherrod’s experiences with racism had made her.  That is, not racist at all.  She refused to be the evil that had been done to her.

Yet somehow when Andrew Breitbart got hold of the story, it came out different.  He released a video which seemed to prove his point of view.

What? Tea Party Racist?

So who is Andrew Breitbart?  He’s a conservative blogger who has taken exception lately to how the NAACP has accused certain elements of the Tea Party movement of being racist.  We’re not racist, says Andrew Brietbart.  And furthermore, he says, here is a video of a woman talking in front of a NAACP crowd, and—Andrew claims—she’s racist and the crowd is, too.

But the video had been edited, and the outcome of the editing, was that Shirley Sherrod appeared to be saying precisely the opposite of what she was actually saying.

And what the NAACP crowd was responding to was precisely the opposite of what Andrew Brietbart claimed they were responding to.

The video was cut and paste reality.  And because of the video, Shirley Sherrod lost her job.  And the NAACP was unfairly maligned.

Eventually–actually rather quickly–the truth came out.  Roger Spooner came forward with the real story.  The video was proven to be nothing more than a right-wing propaganda ploy.  And the President of the United States himself felt compelled to phone Shirley up to apologize.

And well he should.

But what about this Andrew Breitbart, then?

Actually, this is not the first time he has dealt in edited realities.  He was also responsible, not so long ago, for the release and distribution of a severely-and-misleadingly-edited video attacking a community aid organization called ACORN.

The video caused a lot of trouble for that organization until even the law enforcement organizations which had gotten involved wiped their hands of the issue.  The ACORN video had been edited by someone with an ideological axe to grind, and, as quickly became obvious, proved nothing.

Fancy that.

So where does the ACORN and the Shirley Sherrod affairs leave Andrew Breitbart’s reputation as a source of news?

I don’t know, really.

If I was a shoe salesman, I wouldn’t trust him to give me his shoe size.

However, that’s just me, and his rep might remain pretty solid in some circles.

If for instance as a news source you don’t mind relying on highly-edited, ideologically remade reality with no basis in the truth.

Fox News seems to like him.

Posted in: politics