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Calvin Freiburger

Did Conservatives Jump the Gun on the Sherrod Scandal?

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Posted on July 21 2010 3:00 pm
Hailing from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, Calvin Freiburger is a political science major at Hillsdale College. He also writes for the Hillsdale Forum and his personal website, Calvin Freiburger Online.

When Andrew Breitbart gave the NAACP a taste of its own medicine by releasing video of Agriculture Department official Shirley Sherrod expressing ambivalence toward a white farmer, the Left knew it looked bad, but thought they could at least hit back with an accusation that he took the remarks out of context. But as Breitbart explained to Sean Hannity last night, his central point remains unscathed:

BREITBART: I have not asked that she get fired. I’ve not asked for an investigation into her. The whole point was to show that the — for the NAACP to spend five days on national TV saying that the Tea Party is racist without any evidence when we can prove that the central argument didn’t happen and the mainstream media won’t play it — for them to talk about racism they should not be throwing stones in glass houses.

And what this video shows and what the NAACP affirms in their initial rebuke is not just that Shirley Sherrod, what she said was wrong, but that the audience was laughing and applauding as she described how she maltreated the white farmer.

HANNITY: Before she gets to the end of the story which is — which she’s claiming puts context. But there’s a —

(CROSSTALK)

BREITBART: Did the people in the audience know that there was going to be a point of redemption?

HANNITY: No.

BREITBART: The point is that the NAACP at a dinner honoring this person is cheering on a person describing — describing a white person as the other.


Indeed. Nowhere in the original video does the audience display visible or audible shock or distaste toward Sherrod’s actions; in fact, they laugh when she says the man didn’t realize that she was sizing up “just how much help I was going to give him.” The point was that the NAACP doesn’t really believe in the “standards” (read: demonization) they hold conservatives to, and it clearly holds true. Breitbart tells Hannity:

I’m agnostic on the issue [of Sherrod's firing] because I’m invested in getting the NAACP and the Democratic Party and the Congressional Black Caucus to stop constantly calling the Tea Party racist. That’s my job. I could care less about Shirley Sherrod, to be honest with you. This is not about Shirley Sherrod.

That’s not good enough for some in the media, like smear-merchant David Frum:

[Y]ou’ll never guess who emerged as the villains of the story in this second-day conservative react. Not Andrew Breitbart, the distributor of a falsified tape. No, the villains were President Obama and the NAACP for believing Breitbart’s falsehood [...]

There will be no apology or statement of regret for distributing a doctored tape to defame and destroy someone. There will be not even a flutter of interest among conservatives in discussing Breitbart’s role. By the morning of July 21, the Fox & Friends morning show could devote a segment to the Sherrod case without so much as a mention of Breitbart’s role. The central fact of the Sherrod story has been edited out of the conservative narrative, just as it was edited out of the tape itself.

Frum concedes that conservatives, including regular FrumForum targets Glenn Beck and Eric Erickson, have largely treated Sherrod fairly, but not only do they not deserve praise for their objectivity, they’re still the bad guys for sticking to their criticism of Obama and the NAACP. Never mind that, as LaborUnionReport notes on BigGovernment, NAACP President Ben Jealous “knew there was more to the story and still proceeded with the condemnation [of] her anyway.” The White House and the right-wing blogosphere are beginning to reach a consensus that Sherrod deserves her job back, meaning that to the extent that she has suffered, the Right is hardly at fault.

And while we’re on the subject of center-right personalities defaming innocent people, I have a question for Mr. Frum: have you owned up to the false, inflammatory quotes your website attributed to Sean Hannity earlier this month? How about the insinuations that Sarah Palin and Megyn Kelly are racists?

As for Breitbart himself, he says he was only originally given the two excerpts he first posted, but has since obtained and published the entire speech. The story should have been held longer until the full video could be obtained, or barring that (elsewhere Breitbart has said he wasn’t sure a copy of the entire speech existed at the time) Breitbart should have taken greater care in distinguishing the point about NAACP hypocrisy from the inherent significance of Sherrod’s remarks.

Still, that’s a far cry from “doctoring” evidence or “a unique capacity to ignore unwelcome fact.” Breitbart’s error doesn’t detract from what this incident has revealed about left-wing tactics and double-standards, and even if it did, self-serving hypocrites are the last people with any standing to call him on it.

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Hailing from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, Calvin Freiburger is a political science major at Hillsdale College.  He also writes for the Hillsdale Forum and his personal website, Calvin Freiburger Online.

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