Wow, the Shirley Sherrod thing. With the exception of Sherrod herself, and the farmers she had helped, and who went on television to defend her character, it was pretty much a race to see who could possibly be the biggest jackass. It’s a tough call, but I’m going to go with Andrew Breitbart being the biggest ass of them all. Yes, both the NAACP and the Obama Adminstration reacted before knowing the facts based on an edited video clip from a highly questionable, partisan hack, and therefore deserve a paddlin’. At least they have both apologized and in the case of the administration, offered Sherrod a new job. But let’s not forget the problem began when Breitbart posted a video of questionable provenance; he didn’t edit it, nor was he apparently aware of the larger context of the “racist” discussion at hand.
Let’s also not forget that when Breitbart was called on posted the slanted, edited video which got Sherrod fired, his response was to say that none of this was really about Sherrod, which I suppose the newly-unemployed Sherrod might have been surprised to hear. When the wife of the farmer whom Sherrod had helped defended the woman, Breitbart’s response was to question how anyone knew she was really the farmer’s wife at all. Because if Andrew Breitbart knows anything, it’s that you can’t trust everything you read on those so-called news sites. Well, of course, the reason why we know she’s the farmer’s wife is that actual journalists went out and did some research, rather than, say, just sucking in an edited video that one otherwise knows almost nothing about and then posting it as an example of institutional racism.
This has been a teachable moment for all of us, and the lesson learned here is: Andrew Breitbart is a lazy journalist and a self-justifying whiner, and on political matters (at the very least) one should trust him and his judgment about as far as you’d trust a hyena not to chew on the innards of a staked goat. Another lesson: You don’t really want Andrew Breitbart on your side, since in his effort here to show the hypocrisy of the NAACP in condemning racist elements of the Tea Party, he’s aided and abetted in the character assassination of a hard-working black woman who helps rural Americans keep their farms. Yes, Andrew Breitbart. This is exactly what the Tea Party folks needed at this juncture. Well done, you. Well done, indeed.
The good news here is that the next time Andrew Breitbart pulls something like this, he’ll likely be ignored. Because here’s the thing about journalism, sloppy or otherwise: You get to burn people once. And after that they really do consider the source.