Friday, July 23, 2010

Is Sherrod The Final Nail In The Rightwing "Journalism" Coffin? Guess Again.

The tale of Shirley Sherrod and her smearing by rightwing hit man Andrew Breitbart is an amazing one.  In good ol' white resentment and race baiting style, a decades old speech by black US Department of Agriculture official Sherrod is edited to make her appear racist towards whites.  This is posted on Breitbart's site (you'll have to find that on your own, I refuse to link to it) and the fun begins.  Various other rightwing "media" echoes the "story" as the cowardly mainstream media does too.  Even the Obama administration gets into the fun, pushing hard for Sherrod to resign over it (which she did, being a loyal Obamaite) because she was "going to be on Glenn Beck tonight."  Even the NAACP denounced her.

It looked more and more like Breitbart had bagged another Obama administration scalp, with Sherrod joining Van Jones and ACORN on the spear.  The far right was celebrating and partying hearty.

Then something happened that the rightwing smear machine didn't count on:  the full video of the Sherrod speech popped up and guess what?  She wasn't bragging about getting whitey at all, she was talking about overcoming prejudices and doing the right thing!  UH OH!!

The NAACP backed off their denouncement of her fast enough to leave skidmarks on the road, saying they were "snookered" by the edited Breitbart tape.  USDA Secretary Vilsack and President Obama were on the phone to Sherrod, apologizing for pressuring her to resign and offering her another job at the USDA to make up for what they did.

In a perfect world, this would mean the end for Andrew Breitbart and people like him in the media.  Sherrod is threatening to sue and this would have killed whatever credibility Breitbart had.  He'd be left ranting to a few rightwing fringe visitors to his website and totally ignored by everyone else, if he could still afford the domain name fee.

However, as they say, what will really happen is that Breitbart will come through this unscarred and undamaged among his "base."  A few of his fellow rightwing media pals have made an effort to sorta kinda say what Andy B did was wrong and The Big B should they move to pull a secondary smear based on Sherrod and her family acting on their claims in a USDA discrimination lawsuit settlement.

But thousands of farmers missed the original Pigford deadline, due to shoddy work by their own lawyers and inadequate promotion, among other reasons. In response to a decades-long movement to re-open the Pigford class, Congress passed another $100 million in the 2008 farm bill to help settle new claims; earlier this year, the Obama administration announced an additional grant -- called Pigford II -- of $1.25 billion.

But the money hasn't been doled out, because Congress hasn't given the okay yet. It missed a March 31 deadline. Then a May 31 deadline. Currently, the money for the new Pigford settlement resides in the war supplemental -- which Majority Leader Harry Reid announced last Friday would be up for a vote some time this week.

Harry Reid's spokesman, Jim Manley, said it "remains unclear" whether the bill could pass with the settlement attached. The money was also included in the unemployment insurance extension; but the Pigford settlement, and other funds, had to be stripped in order to break a filibuster.

Conservatives immediately jumped on the Sherrod video -- issued by Breitbart in the wake of Reid's promise to bring the war supplemental (including the Pigford settlement money) to a vote -- to condemn the Pigford case.

Rep. Steve King (R-IA), for example, tweeted immediately on Tuesday morning, after the Sherrod case hit the news, that many Pigford claims amount to fraud:

Shirley Sharrod fired by Vilsack 4 racism in her USDA position. America needs to know that, not all, but billion$ of Pigford Farms is fraud.
The Washington Times mused that Sherrod resigned because she was afraid the attention would expose "sanctioned conflicts of interest" arising from her own settlement -- though there was zero evidence to that effect. In fact, Vilsack has since acknowledged that her experience as part of the Pigford class makes her uniquely positioned to understand the historical challenges faced by the USDA. Fox News piled on, saying the settlement "thickens the plot."
If that wasn't bad enough, now the rightwing echo chamber's usual suspects are trotting out their "blame the victim" routine and trying to claim Sherrod is a "Marxist."

Beck: Sherrod "obviously has some sort of Marxist or redistributionist qualities to her." On the July 21 edition of his radio show, Beck stated that Sherrod "obviously has some sort of Marxist or redistribution qualities to her." He further said that Sherrod is "class warfare just not race warfare." On his Fox News show, Beck said Sherrod should have been made a "czar" because "she fits in" with the "Maoists" in the Obama administration.

Mattera: "Sherrod shouldn't be given her job back. The broad is a Marxist. I have no sympathy for her." In a July 21 post on Twitter, Human Events editor Jason Mattera wrote: "Sherrod shouldn't be given her job back. The broad is a Marxist. I have no sympathy for her."

Limbaugh: Sherrod supports "Obamunism," "the haves versus the have-nots and the need for redistribution." On the July 21 broadcast of his radio show, Limbaugh said that Sherrod supports "Obamunism," "the haves versus the have-nots and the need for redistribution."

Crowley suggested Sherrod may be among "radicals, racists, socialists" in Obama administration. On the July 20 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, Fox News' Monica Crowley suggested that Sherrod may be among the "radicals, racists, socialists" that have been "stocked" in the Obama administration.

Hoft: Sherrod is "a communist, radical, socialist, terror-sympathizer." In a July 21 post on his Gateway Pundit website, Jim Hoft suggested that Sherrod is "a communist, radical, socialist, terror-sympathizer." Hoft further wrote: "White farmer-hater Shirley Sherrod is linked to Bill Ayers." He then highlighted a "must-read story" at the Illinois-Review and The Washington Examiner which he said "reveals that Ms. Sherrod's husband is a former honcho in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee back in the 1960's."
What shall we make of all of this?  First, Breitbart will have to wait a little while for his Sherrod smear to cool down before he's back on Fox Noise and the Tea Party speech circuit.  The right's wingnutosphere will try to smear Sherrod some more then move on to their next target.  The MSM will buckle under and report their next lie as a "real" news story.  The Democrats will continue to act like battered wives and won't say much, if anything.

Total damage to rightwing "journalism"?   Not a thing.

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