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Saturday Night Card Game (Repeat after me: “The Shirley Sherrod tape was not misleading”)

Saturday Night Card Game (Repeat after me: “The Shirley Sherrod tape was not misleading”)

With Andrew Breitbart’s death this week, one of the most persistent falsehoods has resurfaced, the claim that the original tape released of Shirley Sherrod’s speech to an NAACP Chapter was misleading or defamatory in that it did not reveal that Sherrod’s discrimination against a white farmer was long ago, that she ended up helping him, and that she had since changed her view.

The AP, in its story about Breibart’s death, gave this description:

In 2010, though, Breitbart’s credibility had been burned after his website   posted video excerpts of a 40-minute NAACP speech by U.S. Dept. of   Agriculture employee Shirley Sherrod that appeared to show her making   racist comments. Breitbart drew heat when the speech was   published in full, showing that selectively edited video had taken the   remarks out of context–and Sherrod had been fired for it. (The White  House later apologized for dismissing Sherrod, a  longtime USDA  official, and Sherrod sued Breitbart for defamation, a suit that was ongoing when he died.)

Similarly Josh Gerstein at Politico, in discussing the ongoing defamation lawsuit, made similar claims:

While the clips and analysis posted at Breitbart’s seemed to indicate that Sherrod was racist, the full video of of Sherrod’s speech included her indicating she had learned a lesson from her earlier predispositions and had come to reject racial stereotyping.

Other times the narrative is invoked not casually, but as part of an effort to smear Bretibart as either racist or at least willing to use racism to his political advantage, as in this post by David Frum soon after Bretibart’s death:

Because President Obama was black, and because Breitbart believed in using every and any weapon at hand, Breitbart’s politics did inevitably become racially coded. Breitbart’s memory will always be linked to his defamation of Shirley Sherrod and his attempt to make a national scandal out of back payments to black farmers: the story he always called “Pigford” with self-conscious resonance.

Whether innocent or malicious, the narrative is wrong.

I originally analyzed the alleged falsehoods when the controversy first broke in July 2010, The Original Sherrod Clip Was Not “False”:

The original Sherrod clip certainly gave enough of a flavor that Sherrod was talking about something in the past, and had changed (watch the clip beginning at 1:50, where Sherrod mentions that she no longer views race as the real issue). The full speech gives an even more complete version of that supposed transformation, but that does not make the shorter version “false.”

Even Breitbart’s original descriptionof the tape — before the full tape was available, actually disclosed Sherrod’s transformation (emphasis mine):

In the first video, Sherrod describes how she racially discriminates against a white farmer. She describes how she is torn over how much she will choose to help him. And, she admits that she doesn’t do everything she can for him, because he is white. Eventually, her basic humanity informs that this white man is poor and needs help.But she decides that he should get help from “one of his own kind”. She refers him to a white lawyer.

To the extent the original clip and Breitbart’s description portrayed Sherrod as having engaged in a racist act in the past, such implication literally was true, as Sherrod admits. The actions people in the Obama administration took, and the conclusions the media drew from that literal truth may have been unfair and precipitous, but that does not make the clip defamatory.

In February 2011, after Sherrod had sued Breitbart and co-defendant Larry O’Connor, I analysed the tape in even greater detail, literally frame by frame, Dissecting Shirley Sherrod’s Complaint Against Andrew Breitbart.

Once again I demonstrated that in fact each of the elements of Sherrod’s story which legend has it was not on the “edited” tape in fact was on the tape.  Read the post for the full sequence, but here are some images which demonstrate that the full scope of Sherrod’s story was in the “edited” tape.

For example, the fact that Sherrod eventually helped the white farmer was on the tape:

So too that Sherrod later realized she was wrong to have those feelings:

There was a possible inaccuracy in the original tape in that it did not initially make clear that while Sherrod at the time of the speech worked for the federal government, at the time of her dealings with the white farmer she worked for state government.  A correction was added to the tape soon after its release.

The reaction to the tape did not take into account what actually was on the tape.  A spokesman for the NAACP denounced Sherrod and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack fired her.

When the complete video was released, everyone acted as if her redemption from her racist feelings was being revealed for the first time, and the NAACP rallied around her and Vilsack offered her her job back (which she refused).

This supposed revelation on the full version of the tape was a handy excuse, but the facts had been revealed in the original tape had anyone listened or watched carefully.

What really was going on was that the crowd reaction to Sherrod’s comments caught on the tape was very damaging to the NAACP and those who attacked the Tea Party movement as racist.  The crowd cheered when Sherrod recounted her long-ago hostility to the white farmer, and that crowd reaction was the real story. Focusing the debate on the editing of the tape was a convenient distraction.

So let’s put to bed the claim that the original Sherrod tape was misleading, defamatory or reflective of racial codes or racism on the part of Breitbart.

Andrew Breitbart is not around to defend himself anymore, and we owe it to him to push back, hard.


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“The crowd cheered when Sherrod recounted her long-ago hostility to the white farmer, and that crowd reaction was the real story. Focusing the debate on the editing of the tape was a convenient distraction.”

Which is all they had, all they have, and all they will have here.

Racism is alive and going strong, as evinced by Eric Holder’s support for continuing racial discrimination under law.

I watched the Sherrod video on Breitbart the morning it came out.

I was stunned to listen to the “usual suspects” in the media claim he had edited the tape to omit the part where she had a “change of heart.”

I had to wonder— Did they not watch the tape or did the media purposely lie? I know Chris Mathews said he watched the tape and Breitbart did not leave out the “change of heart.”

Wonder how many think it was “lazy” reporting (following the Media Matters narrative) or how many think the media knew the truth and were purposely lying?

    angela in reply to hillery. | March 3, 2012 at 8:22 pm

    I also watched the video right after it came out. I was infuriated watching and reading the coverage of Breitbart’s death as nearly everyone mentioned the Sherrod case and said Breitbart edited the footage to show Sherrod was a racist when she wasn’t.

    Anyone who watched the video all the way through KNEW Sherrod wasn’t the issue but the reaction of the crowd before she got to the part where she regretted her actions. I guess 99% of the ADD-suffering media didn’t make it all the way to the end or even watch it at all but just believed whatever some lefty site told them. What a surprise.

LukeHandCool | March 3, 2012 at 6:16 pm

“What really was going on was that the crowd reaction to the Sherrod’s comments caught on the tape was very damaging to the NAACP and those who attacked the Tea Party movement as racist. The crowd cheered when Sherrod recounted her long-ago hostility to the white farmer, and that crowd reaction was the real story.”


When I watched it the very first time it was completely obvious to me that this was the whole story … the audience’s reaction!

The audience, when it voiced support for her treatment of the white farmer, had no idea how the story was going to end.

The people in the audience were showing their racist attitudes.

That’s the whole story!

You know, as the story was unfolding I remember thinking that Breitbart must have a heart made of steel.

Doug Wright | March 3, 2012 at 6:27 pm

The Media Matters guy, Eric somebody, gave away the ploy the Socialists use all the time. Eric said that the “four videos” most likely didn’t prove anything and that he’d always take the word of his iconic figure that the “N” word was said to those Black Congress-persons. With that kind of rationale provided by the Socialists and totally accepted by the MSM, their deck is stacked and we can never expect them to admit their errors.

So, OK, point out their errors and their lies but never expect them to back down because that’s what they expect we’ll do. History has been on their side in that one regard, only, but Breitbart was making them try to defend themselves. It’s up to all of us to press back and take the fight to them

Sorry if this is old news, but if you click the link, they have a avatar you can use now.

    I saw this yesterday and am now using it on Twitter. If you buy the posters, bumper stickers, etc., they have announced all profits will go to Breitbart’s family.

OT: “Daylight: The Story of Obama and Israel” is up over at israel matzav.

Has there ever been federally instituted racial or gender discrimination? There was slavery and other forms of discrimination in America; but, they were not limited by race or gender, nor was it universal.

It seems that progressive involuntary exploitation and selective but expansive denigration of individual dignity was not normalized until the 20th century and specifically following the civil and human rights movements.

In any case, we should be careful to not follow the “Tutsi slaughter Hutu slaughter Tutsi” historical cycle. We should pursue positive progress and not the ambiguous — and often negative — progress that has been observed throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. We should not replace one extreme, real and perceived, with another more progressive extreme.

Keep restating this but don’t expect to convince many Liberals who still don’t even know it was Tina Fey and not Sarah Palin who said ‘I can see Russia from my backyard’. The gleefully proud ignorance of Liberals is unchangeable.

The biggest lie about the full video of Sherrod’s speech is that she redeems herself in the end. It does no such thing. In fact, the full video does exactly the opposite. The full video reveals Shirley Sherrod to be a raging, full blown, racist. The full video is much more damaging to Sherrod than the initial version Andrew posted, where he clearly described her as finding her humanity in ultimately helping the white farmer. If anything, Andrew was much too generous to Sherrod in that initial post.

What the full video does do, however, is explain WHY Shirley Sherrod is a racist. At the beginning of her speech, which if memory serves is well over an hour, Shirley tells the story of her childhood growing up black in a poor family in the South. She talks about her beloved father, a proud black man, and how strong he was and how hard he worked to provide a good life for his family. She tells the story of how he was murdered in cold blood by a white man. It’s a harrowing, heartbreaking story. She tells it vididly and with such sincerity that I want to cry just remembering that part of the video.

So when you’re done watching the whole speech, there is no doubt that Shirley Sherrod hates whites people. She’s a racist. But you understand why.

As Andrew Breitbart knew, the Narrative is all that matters. By the time I had watched the whole video conservative bloggers were falling over themselves apologizing to Shirley Sherrod. Ed Morrissey’s apology was the first I saw and was particularly pathetic. The Narrative was set. One thing conservative bloggers are really good at is accepting the Narrative and running with it. Rush being the latest example.

I find it humorous that the media largely relies on the Ryan Braun defense of Sherrod.

[…] Quick – Hand Me A New Subject! Posted on March 4, 2012 8:38 am by Bill Quick Instapundit » PROFESSOR JACOBSON: Repeat after me: “The Shirley Sherrod tape was not misleading.” […]

[…] MORE Rate this: Share this:FacebookTwitterDiggLinkedInRedditStumbleUponEmailPrintLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. […]

David Frum has shown that he’s accepted the liberal narrative. He writes that because Obama is black, opposition to him is necessarily coded racism.

This seems to be the general progressive view. Obama should not be subjected to the usual criticism any president may incur because he’s black. Certainly I would oppose criticism that was racist, and I’ve seen a little bit of that, but it didn’t take any particular prescience to predict that dissent on January 20, 2012, would go from “the highest form of patriotism” TO “racism.”

[…] Repeat after me: The Shirley Sherrod tape was not misleading. […]

I’d like to draw attention to another part of the tape that I think hasn’t received enough scrutiny — the part from 33:08 through 35:05

there’s another point I want to make, though. You know, coming out of slavery black folks used to help each other. That’s how they built the schools that we have. You know, that’s how they bought the land that we have — that we have about lost all of it. You know that our people had over 15 million acres, and, as black people, [we] have less than 2 million acres of farm land left. And we will sell it for nothing — for nothing.

You know, I was helping a family here recently: 515 acres of land, never had a drop of debt on it since the grandfather bought it years ago and he — he died in 1974. And two cousins up in the North, guess what they decided? They tried to force a sale of every acre of it. And they wanted that. One of their aunts spent all of her life on the land. She was 93 years old when she died. And she died after those “For Sale” signs went up out there on that farm — auction sign went up on the farm. She was in the hospital. The next month she was dead. That was January — she was dead by October.

But we kept working at it. And we found some honest lawyers — they were white. I wish I could say that about all lawyers, especially black lawyers, but they will nickel and dime you to death. I don’t have — sorry — I don’t have too good an opinion of most lawyers. But anyway that land has been saved, you know.

But they were trying to force a sale of all of it. They’ll eventually get 62 acres of the 515. And guess what? They have a white man already lined up to buy it. And it’s the land on the creek, which is what he wanted.

Just to be clear about what happened here, this case involves two black landowners who inherited a tract of land from their grandfather who died over 30 years ago and wanted to turn their inheritance into cash. The only reason Sherrod gives in the story for getting involved in the situation in the first place was in trying to keep a 93 year old woman from having to move off the land.

Even if Sherrod was taking a humanitarian stance to try and help the 93 year old aunt, once the aunt passed away, Sherrod had no legitimate interest in obstructing the land sale. At that point, it became a simple case of the rightful landowners, who were black, trying to sell their inherited farmland to a buyer, who happened to be white.

So why did Sherrod “keep working on it”? Why did she spend government money hiring lawyers to fight the land sale?

Well, that’s the entire point she wants to make. She thinks that blacks are selling too much land to whites, so she intervened, used government power — abused her office — to fight a consensual land sale for no other reason than because she didn’t like the color of the buyer’s skin. She is very proud of having “saved” the land from being sold to white people.

And watch her closely and listen to her at the very end, when she tells the audience that “they have a white man already lined up to buy it.” She rolls her eyes so hard that her head moves, and you can hear the venom dripping off her tongue. Her only regret is that she couldn’t have done more to keep black landowners from selling land to white people.

There is no redemption here. No apology. No lesson learned. This is her personal agenda and she is proud of it. Her only regret that she failed in her efforts to stop white people from buying land from black people.

Unlike the more famous excerpt, this happened “recently” in her own words, not long ago.

She deserved to be fired. Hell, she deserved to be prosecuted. Breitbart was absolutely right in his characterization of Sherrod, and no one should be apologizing for him.

Great observations by sevenwheel.
Every newscast I hear about Andrew Breitbart’s death that mentions the Sherrod incident refers to it as one of Breitbart’s missteps.
Not what the actual evidence suggests.

Date: Wed, 21 Jul 2010 19:24:02 -0500.

The Sherrod video certainly has many teachable moments. But what does it teach us? Is it that Breitbart is to blame for posting a brief excerpt that clouds context? Or is it that the NAACP got “snookered” and Obama and USDA jumped the gun?
Each party appears to seek Sherrod’s exoneration for different reasons.
I wonder how many folks have watched the “full” clip. Seems to me the most disturbing portions aren’t being discussed. Take a look see. Remember, this is a government official speaking on the record. If pressed for time, jump to 23:59 for the reinstatement of the broad brush.

The (almost) complete speech as posted by NAACP:

17:15 (on the white farmer she helped, that claims to be friends with her).
He talked a loonng time..trying to show he was superior to me. I knew what he was doing, but he came to me for help.”
(Is this how the farmer fondly remembers the meeting).

18:35 “It IS about white and black”.

21:03 point of edit..not sure how much time elapsed before the laughing trailed off.

22min or so (discussion of history of indentured servitude, how white and black slaves got along, intermarrying and the history of rich people using laws of division to prevent poor people from banding together as one to fight for change.)

22:40 “The people with money..the elite decided..hey..we need to do something here to divide them. So that’s when they made black servants, servants for life. That’s when they put laws in place, forbidding them to marry each other. That’s when they created the racism that we know of today. They did it to keep us divided. And started working so well, they said gosh..looks like we come upon something here that could last for generations. And here we are..over 400 years later..and it’s still working.
23:25 What we have to do is get that out of our heads. There is no difference…between us. The only difference is that folks with money, want to stay in power. And whether it’s health care, or whatever it is, they’ll do what they need to do to keep that power.” (applause).
23:52 It’s always about money, y’all.
23:59 “I haven’t seen…such mean spirited people (Hmm), as I’ve seen lately (Hmm!) over this issue of health care. (All right)
Some of the racism we thought was buried…didn’t it surface.
Now we endured 8 years of the Bushes. And we didn’t do the stuff Republicans are doing because you have a black president.” (applause).

29:14 (on signing checks for grants and loans).
80 million and not one dime to black business.

29:56 One of the programs we have with some of the most money in it, you know, is for business and industry. And I sit up there and I’m signing off on 6 million, 3 million, 2 million.. But who is it going to? (long pause..crowd mumbles) Not one so far. And when I got a report on where we are with it, we are approaching 80 million dollars since October 1st. But not one dime to a black business. Not one.

30:49 “There’s a program, the 1890s scholars program. And they’re connected with every 1890 land grant institution. And let me tell you what that is. That’s the black land grant institutions, and there’s about 17 in Tuskeegee. can actually get a scholarship, and fort battle state is the main grant, in Georgia..the 1890. The 1862 is the white land grant. That’s the University of Georgia. You can get a scholarship. And every summer, you work in one of those agencies while you are in school. And when you get out, it’s an automatic job.”
31:38 Agencies like natural resources and conservation services. That’s in RCS. Farm service agency. That’s the old farmer’s home administration. Rural development. Uh..those are the major 3.

31:54 “But there so many other, there are other, so many other many..just in rural development nationwide there are over 6,000 employees. But you go up there to Washington, to the department of agriculture, it’s on both sides of the street!”

32:08 “In rural development, there are 129 employees. Guess how many of them are people of color. Anybody want take a guess? That’s in Georgia. I’ve got 129 in my agency. How many (audience:2) It’s more than 2. (12.) A little more than 12. There are less than 20 of us. We have 6 area offices in the state and sub area offices..
32:38 And when I look at who’s coming up in the agencies, in the agency. There’s not many of us.”

36:19 (on value of helping others).
“You could be helping the second black president”.

39:43 (on direct loan program).
“That program is so successful, we’re about to run out of money”.

[…] Professor Jacobson recounts the evidence supporting Breitbart’s claim that he never altered the Sherrod video. […]

[…] With Andrew Breitbart’s death this week, one of the most persistent falsehoods has resurfaced, th…original tape released of Shirley Sherrod’s speech to an NAACP Chapter was misleading or defamatory in that it did not reveal that Sherrod’s discrimination against a white farmer was long ago, that she ended up helping him, and that she had since changed her view. […]

[…] Breitbart.  The film made Sarah Palin look like a head case.  Two years ago, Beitbart was falsely accused of manipulating Shirley Sherrod tapes and called a racist.  As the Shirley Sherrod affair was unfolding I thought […]