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Myth of Andrew Breitbart’s “deceptively edited” Shirley Sherrod tape resurfaces with Vilsack nomination

Myth of Andrew Breitbart’s “deceptively edited” Shirley Sherrod tape resurfaces with Vilsack nomination

Andrew Breitbart is not around to defend himself. But if he were, he’d rightfully say, Apologize for WHAT?

In 2015, I thought we had put to rest one of the most persistent and pernicious liberal media myths denigrating Andrew Breitbart.

The myth is that Breitbart, together with Larry O’Connor, deceptively edited a video in 2010 of then USDA employee Shirley Sherrod leading to her precipitous firing by then Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. The supposed deception was to show Sherrod admitting (before she was employed by USDA) to an NAACP group that she once discriminated against a white farmer, without showing the part of the speech where she admitted she was wrong to do that and ended up helping the man, and had learned from the experience to treat people fairly.

When a longer version of the speech was released showing that moment, Vilsack admitted the error of his ways, apologized for jumping to conclusions, and offered to rehire Sherrod (she refused, and ended up settling with the government).

This Sherrod incident became a major line of attack against “right wing” media in the early years of the Obama administration, and in particular, to demonize Andrew Breitbart and Breitbart News as racist and fraudulent.

But the narrative was all wrong. The key material aspects of the story — including the part where Sherrod said she regretted her decision and helped the man — were in fact in the edited clip.

There is no one who has examined the initial video released regarding Shirley Sherrod more than I have. Each of the material items supposedly left out of the initial video which allegedly rendered it misleading actually was in the video. You can see my frame-by-frame analysis here, for example.

Here were some of my posts on the subject of the Sherrod tape:

After a lawsuit by Sherrod against Breitbart’s estate and O’Connor settled, I thought the issue was put to rest, Shirley Sherrod case settled, now put to bed myth that Breitbart’s tape was misleading (emphasis added):

After several years, and a lengthy docket, the Sherrod case has settled. A Stipulation of Dismissal and Order of Dismissal were filed in the case a few days ago. (Copies at bottom of post).

The terms were not disclosed, and inquiries to attorneys on both sides have not been returned. (added) A joint statement was released last month, acknowledging that the blog post accompanying the video mistakenly originally indicated Sherrod was at USDA at the time. That error, having nothing to do with substance, was corrected immediately.

So the Sherrod saga is over — but the record needs to be clear, Andrew Breitbart and Larry O’Connor did nothing wrong. The short video was not misleading. If anyone screwed up, it was the Department of Agriculture.

The case is put to bed. Put the anti-Andrew Breitbart myth to bed as well.

But it wasn’t put to rest. In 2016, the NY Times repeated the false accusation of deception against Breitbart, NY Times repeats false claim Andrew Breitbart’s Shirley Sherrod tape was “misleading”:

The NY Times has a story on how Breitbart News has become a center of political attention this year, and how its traffic and influence is at an all time high.

That was the focus of the article, but there was one paragraph that jumped out at me (emphasis added):

Before Mr. Breitbart died, the site had gained notoriety by championing the Tea Party movement and publicizing an undercover video that led to the closing of Acorn, the community organizing group. It also posted misleading footage of Shirley Sherrod, a black Department of Agriculture official, who was fired for seeming to express resentment toward a white farmer; the White House later apologized.

…. Andrew Breitbart is not around to defend himself against the Sherrod tape smears.

But at least I can keep calling out lazy, ignorant and malicious reporters who either don’t fact check or fact check and lie.

But the claim has resurfaced again.

Joe Biden has indicated he intends on nominating Vilsack to be Secretary of Agriculture, again. There are plenty of good reasons not to have Vilsack in that role again, first and foremost that he did a terrible job at it during the Obama years.

Inevitably also, the Shirley Sherrod incident has come up, with some activists claiming the Sherrod firing should either disqualify Vilsack, or at least, it’s a sign that Biden does not truly care about blacks. And again, the myth of the “misleading” Breitbart tape is being resurrected as if it were a given.

Vox’s Dylan Matthews wrote of the Vilsack-Sherrod episode:

The USDA, while a crucial agency for the 35 million-plus Americans on food stamps and millions of farmers and farmworkers, doesn’t make headlines in the mainstream press that often. An exception came on July 19, 2010, when a misleadingly edited clip of Shirley Sherrod, the department’s Georgia state director of rural development, was posted by far-right provocateur Andrew Breitbart. The clip showed Sherrod, during a speech at a local NAACP event, recalling a time she helped a white farmer in 1986; Breitbart edited the clip to make it sound as though she initially refused to help him because he was white. Before the day was out, Sherrod was forced to resign. The White House told reporters it was “100% Vilsack’s call” to force her to quit.

Quickly, though, it became clear that the video had been taken wildly out of context; the white farmer in question went on CNN to defend Sherrod. By Wednesday, Vilsack admitted he had been taken in by a scurrilous right-wing hit job and offered Sherrod a new position at the USDA, telling reporters, “This is a good woman, she’s been put through hell and I could have and should have done a better job.”

Civil rights leaders critical of Vilsack see the incident as illustrative of the department’s inaction on racial discrimination. In a conference call with Biden, NAACP president Derrick Johnson made the point in terms of the upcoming Georgia Senate elections, telling the president-elect, “former Secretary Vilsack could have a disastrous impact on voters in Georgia. Shirley Sherrod is a civil rights legend, a hero.”

[Note: The link in the Vox piece about the “misleadingly edited clip” goes to Media Matters, hardly a reliable source.]

The Des Moines Register casually threw in the claim:

Vilsack also has been criticized for his role in the 2010 ouster of the USDA’s Georgia state director of rural development, Shirley Sherrod, who is Black, after a misleadingly edited video released by conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart gave the impression she had withheld help from a white farmer. Vilsack later offered to rehire Sherrod, but she declined.

And so on and so on throughout the mainstream media, including Reuters and WaPo.

MSNBC’s Joy Reid, in introducing an interview with Sherrod regarding Biden’s nomination of Vilsack, repeated the claim:

[Click Image To Watch Video]

Andrew Breitbart is not around to defend himself.

But if he were, he’d rightfully say, Apologize for WHAT?

https://twitter.com/AndrewBreitbart/status/175107970999386112

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Comments

Something bad is going on over at Breitbart.
All of the sudden, I am banned over there, after thousands of likes… And I don’t recall saying anything rotten at all.
And look at the scope of their news.
It has lost all of it’s edge.

And in the same 24 hour period, I am banned at Zero Hedge. They just changed their platform.
They might be mad at me for kicking dirt on their subscription rates… But that doesn’t make sense.
I am also thousands of likes over there, and have been one of Tylers biggest defenders.
I note their coverage also seems subdued.

The video clip was not misleadingly edited. If I recall correctly, Breitbart’s whole point was not what Sherrod said, but the audience’s reaction. When she said that she’d refused to help the farmer because of his race, the audience laughed in approval. There was no shock, no condemnation, not even a wince on anyone’s face. The fact that even she herself later realized that she’d been wrong only strengthens the case. She realized it, but they did not. They approved of what she did, before they head of her regret. Omitting that part would have weakened Breitbart’s case, so of course he did not omit it.

Also bear in mind that while she admitted she’d been wrong, it was not because she’d come to understand that all people should be treated equally. Instead the higher understanding she’d come to was that as a good Marxist she should have seen the farmer through the lens of class rather than race. She should have recognized him as a fellow member of the proletariat, and therefore helped him out of class solidarity. Of course if he’d been of the wrong class then she’d have been right (in her mind) not to help him, and would not have regretted it.

The video clip was not misleadingly edited. If I recall correctly, Breitbart’s whole point was not what Sherrod said, but the audience’s reaction. When she said that she’d refused to help the farmer because of his race, the audience laughed in approval. There was no shock, no condemnation, not even a wince on anyone’s face. The fact that even she herself later realized that she’d been wrong only strengthens the case. She realized it, but they did not. They approved of what she did, before they head of her regret. Omitting that part would have weakened Breitbart’s case, so of course he did not omit it.

Also bear in mind that while she admitted she’d been wrong, it was not because she’d come to understand that all people should be treated equally. Instead the higher understanding she’d come to was that as a good Marxist she should have seen the farmer through the lens of class rather than race. She should have recognized him as a fellow member of the proletariat, and therefore helped him out of class solidarity. Of course if he’d been of the wrong class then she’d have been right (in her mind) not to help him, and would not have regretted it.

    As I recall, Breitbart as well as other conservative news sources routinely release the entire, unedited, front to back video of anything they do, while most of the rest of the Leftist media release only the Frankenstein chop-job they put on the air and never anything else. That’s why it’s not only a good idea, but practically a necessity to do a full recording of any interview with the regular media for most of us. 60 Minutes really started the lies-by-video routine, and it’s only been growing.

      Milhouse in reply to georgfelis. | December 21, 2020 at 2:28 am

      In this case Breitbart didn’t do any editing. They got the clip already edited, so they released the whole thing. They had no access to the full video, but when the NAACP released it it didn’t show anything different than what was on the Breitbart clip.

Oops, messed up a close italic.

Breitbart edited the clip to make it sound as though she initially refused to help him because he was white.

Say what?! She did initially refuse to help him because he was white. Who denies that? The whole point of her speech was that she had done so, and had later realized her mistake (though for the wrong reason).

Was that Andy’s last tweet? Wasn’t that the morning he died???

Jonathan Cohen | December 20, 2020 at 1:22 am

I remember reading the original Breitbart clip and it was clear to me that she used it to say that she had misjudged the situation and that she regretted originally not helping him because he was white. A lot of people did not read it that way but there was enough in the clip to get the meaning without hearing the rest of the clip.

In rehashing the story, emphasis should be placed on her plain meaning which is that ALL LIVES MATTER. We have reached the point of woke insanity that the slogan black lives matter means that ONLY BLACK LIVES MATTER. It is a point of emphasis by BLM and its allies that they consider all lives matter to be racist, a kind of rainbow fascism that is infecting all discussions of race, particularly on college campuses and in most of the mainstream media.

Joy Reid apparently wants to have it both ways. Either Breitbart had it wrong because all lives matter, or Breitbart is bad because they believe that all lives matter and that is racist.

This is today’s version of damned if you do and damned if you don’t in the nonstop babble about white supremacy. It’s like if you prioritize communities of color to receive the Covid 19 vaccine, you are practicing white supremacy by using black people for medical experiments. If you don’t prioritize black people to receive the vaccine, it is white supremacy because blacks have suffered disproportionately from the pandemic.

When you are hit with this kind of logical nonsense, the time has come to simply ignore all such claims as nonsense because their purpose is to diminish the moral standing of white people and has nothing to do with formulating humane public health policy. In the long run, such racial posturing helps nobody.

    Illogical, yes. Bigoted, yes. They want to abort the baby and have her, too. Fortunately, their Pro-Choice quasi-religion (“ethics”) enables them to avoid reconciliation.

Breitbart: We are in possession of a video from in which Shirley Sherrod, USDA Georgia Director of Rural Development, speaks at the NAACP Freedom Fund dinner in Georgia. In her meandering speech to what appears to be an all-black audience, this federally appointed executive bureaucrat lays out in stark detail, that her federal duties are managed through the prism of race and class distinctions.

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.

Sherrod’s racist tale is received by the NAACP audience with nodding approval and murmurs of recognition and agreement. Hardly the behavior of the group now holding itself up as the supreme judge of another groups’ racial tolerance.

    Milhouse in reply to Zachriel. | December 20, 2020 at 2:54 pm

    Yes, exactly. That is what the edited clip showed. Nothing misleading about it at all. Glad to see that once in a while you acknowledge the truth.

      Milhouse: Yes, exactly.

      Except that it wasn’t true “her federal duties are managed through the prism of race and class distinctions.” She didn’t even work for the federal government at the time. And when she saw that no one was going to help the man, she befriended the man and was instrumental in helping save his farm.

        Milhouse in reply to Zachriel. | December 20, 2020 at 6:05 pm

        Whether this incident happened when she was working for the federal government is an irrelevant detail. If Breitbart got that wrong, so be it. It doesn’t change anything significant. The facts were as he described them. She told an NAACP audience about how she had behaved in a racist manner and they approved. Had a white person told a similar story at a TEA Party movement event, the reaction would have been quite different.

        And by her own account her “realization” was not that she should treat people equally, but merely that instead of treating them according to their race she should do so according to their class. Exactly as Breitbart characterized it.

          Milhouse: Whether this incident happened when she was working for the federal government is an irrelevant detail.

          Huh? It’s the very point. She was forced to resign from her federal position because of the claim that “her federal duties are managed through the prism of race and class distinctions.”

None of these folks have ever bothered to read the whole paragraph from which President Trump’s Charlottesville remark “some fine people” were taken. That’s another lie that will never go away.

These media parrots and jackals should be unrelentingly, unmercifully pressed at every turn to denounce these lies.

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