Editor’s Note: This popular post was first published on April 21 here.
You have to hand it to Andrew Breitbart; he doesn’t avoid “enemy” territory. The political activist/web entrepreneur/ showman is on tour hawking his new book, Righteous Indignation. Yesterday, the book tour took him to Martin Bashir’s program on MSNBC. But instead of having an opportunity to discuss his book, Breitbart walked into an ambush where the TV host tried to pin false charges of racism on the author.
For those of you who are not familiar with Bashir, he made his name in 2003 with a “news” special called Living with Michael Jackson. After spending eight months as part of Jackson’s entourage, Bashir conducted a series of interviews with the pop singer. The final edit of the interview was widely seen as an example of yellow journalism, deliberately skewed to make the entertainer look like a bad parent and child molester.
It was obvious that Bashir exploited the friendship he developed with the singer to further his own career. Following the broadcast, The New York Times called Bashir’s journalism style “callous self-interest masked as sympathy.”
Jackson and his personal cameraman who also taped the sessions released their own version of the interview, which showed Bashir complimenting Jackson for the “spiritual” quality of the Neverland Ranch, contradicting the journalist’s previous statements that it was a “dangerous place” for children. Bashir is also seen describing Jackson as a wonderful father and says that Jackson’s relationship with his children “almost makes him weep.“
According to Dieter Wiesner, Jackson’s manager at the time, the Bashir interview sent the singer down the path that led to his death.
Mr Wiesner told the Sun: “It broke him. It killed him. He took a long time to die, but it started that night. Previously the drugs were a crutch, but after that they became a necessity.”
Even before he asked Breitbart one question, it was clear that Bashir had no intention of asking about the book. He exhibited typical progressive media strategy, start ripping your conservative guest during the introduction when the target cannot answer:
He calls himself a reluctant cultural warrior, but Andrew Breitbart has always seemed ready to rush to the front lines. And depending on your view, he’s also been described as a conservative propagandist and a Tea Party loyalist. His new book is called “Righteous Indignation: Excuse Me While I Save the World.” Not a very modest title.
In the book, you will find scarcely a word about one of his most infamous episodes involving Shirley Sherrod, the former USDA official fired after a video of her was posted on a Breitbart Web site. Sherrod is now suing Breitbart for accusing her of racism after showing, quote, “a deceptively edited clip.” And I’m delighted to say that Andrew Breitbart joins us now.
After the interview, Bashir could not have been delighted. He failed in his attempted to brand Breitbart as a racist, the way he succeeded in using his special to brand Michael Jackson as a monster. Unfortunately for him, Andrew Breitbart is not Michael Jackson.
Bashir tried to prove that Breitbart gave a false impression of Shirley Sherrod as a racist by cherry-picking her comments in his original report. Ironically his lame attempt consisted of trying to cherry-pick the words that Breitbart wrote in his original report, specifically ignoring a paragraph in the article.
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.
Not being able to use the truth against Breitbart, Bashir tries another tactic, guilt by association.
BASHIR: Let me ask you a question.
This week, Marilyn Davenport, a Republican official in Orange County, sent an e-mail to a number of colleagues featuring President Obama dressed and in a family of apes [image below].
BREITBART: Are you asking me about this?
What do I have to do with that?
BASHIR: I want to ask you, what do you think of that image?
BREITBART: It`s deplorable. It`s — it`s deplorable. It`s reprehensible. And you`re trying to create…
BREITBART: — you`re trying to insinuate that I`m a racist here, which is what MSNBC does to conservatives every single day. This entire context of this conversation is what the NAACP and what the Democratic Party has been doing to the Tea Party
At the end of the interview Breitbart points out Bashir’s methodology,
“Every single point that you offered is straight out of George Soros’ funded and John Podesta’s led Media Matters. You are playing the role of being duped [by] John Podesta and Eric Boehlert and Media Matters. Every time I appear on MSNBC, or a lot of times, there is Eric Boehlert from Media Matters to be right there. Those are talking points straight out of Media Matters,”
This incident is important because it goes way beyond one author and one biased interview. What Martin Bashir demonstrated yesterday was the typical progressive interviewing style. Andrew Breitbart may have been asked about a racist cartoon he had nothing to do with, but that is no different than right-wing commentators being asked out of the blue if they thought Obama was born in the US. Breitbart’s words may have been twisted and taken out of context, but it is no different than Chris Matthews blasting Michele Backmann even though it was the MSNBC host that substituted the word fore-bearers with forefathers.
This time the media bias was very obvious because Bashir is not subtle and believes that everyone is as trusting as Michael Jackson. Andrew Breitbart is no Michael Jackson; he is skilled at advocating against the malpractice of the mainstream media. Most of the time however, the bias shown by the progressive media is much more subtle and the victim not as adept at fighting falsehoods as Breitbart.
You can watch the full interview below: