Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Two stories - UPDATED

And I'm not sure which one bothers me more.

The strange tale of Shirley Sherrod

The Journolist

You can't trust liberal journalists. Nor, apparently, can you trust Andrew Breitbart in this case.

I'm sure there are some reasonable explanations for all this. I'd like to hear them.

UPDATE (7/21): Here's one explanation from Paul Mirengoff at Powerline. Does this make sense to you?

But the point Breitbart was making has nothing to do with the merits of Sherrod or her fitness to continue at the Agriculture Department. The portions of the tape of interest to Breitbart are those in which members of the NAACP laugh at and approve of Sherrod's initial impulse to provide inferior service to a white farmer. These NAACP members have been caught on tape condoning racism by a government official and demonstrating their own racism. Meanwhile, the NAACP condemns the Tea Party for what appears to be phantom racism.

That seems right and true. But I'm still troubled that the tape was truncated, which wrenched Sherrod's words out of context, if not the reaction of her audience.

The Anchoress has an excellent roundup and I think this observation is correct:

This whole sordid mess of a story–which is clearly not over–may tell us that it is past time for people of good will to stop tolerating politically-expedient charges of racism, regardless of whether they originate from genuinely from overzealous, malicious
bloggers
or from Congressmen who are confident that any charge they make will be deemed insta-credible, or from journalists who ignore real racism while trying to ignite the charge elsewhere, for the advancement of their own partisan agendas, or from the rightly marginalized, fringe-living, stupid people who every sensible person
condemns.

The NAACP’s maneuver last week was an attempt at cynical manipulation, a lazy card they thought they could play, because it’s always taken the pot, before. They ticked off Breitbart, who upped the ante, but appears to have done so recklessly.

Everyone’s credibility is now strained, and perhaps that is a good thing. Perhaps the left should finally leave behind the smug instinct to sniff, “racism, straight up” over sincere disagreements on policy. If they can manage that, then perhaps the right can stop feeling so defensive.

It's a good thought, but don't count on it.

SECOND UPDATE (7/21): Meanwhile, the story gets more interesting as we learn more about Shirley Sherrod's back story:

Ms. Sherrod's previous background, the circumstances surrounding her hiring, and the USDA's agenda may all play a part in explaining her sudden departure from the agency. These matters have not received much scrutiny to this point.

An announcement of Ms. Sherrod's July 2009 appointment to her USDA position at ruraldevelopment.org gives off quite a few clues:

RDLN Graduate and Board Vice Chair Shirley Sherrod was appointed Georgia Director for Rural Development by Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack on July 25. Only days earlier, she learned that New Communities, a group she founded with her husband and other families (see below) has won a thirteen million dollar settlement in the minority farmers law suit Pigford vs Vilsack.
Vilsack, in case you don't know, is Tom Vilsack, who is now the Secretary of Agriculture. There's a lot more at the link, including some fascinating stuff about the Pigford case, which apparently has been going on for nearly 30 years. Let's put it this way: Tom Vilsack probably didn't mind that Andrew Breitbart gave him a pretext for taking action against a particularly meddlesome priest.

18 comments:

W.B. Picklesworth said...

Sherrod also blasted the NAACP, blaming them for creating a racially charged national environment through their criticism of the Tea Party movement.

Breitbart is playing hardball and giving some pretty vile folks an opportunity to damage themselves. Perhaps I've misunderstood, but wasn't the NAACP crowd laughing at her tale of erstwhile bigotry? If she learned from her experience, then great, but that doesn't explain their laughter. Bigotry, even in the past, isn't exactly a laughing matter.

I should note that I haven't seen the whole video and at this stage am only reacting to comments, negative and positive, that I've read elsewhere.

W.B. Picklesworth said...

Oh, and I forgot to explain the quote. This whole episode shines light onto NAACP bigotry and highlights their hypocrisy. Is Breitbart out of line? Perhaps, but he's explicitly stated that if the Left is going to play hardball, he's going to play it too. And frankly they deserve to get hit.

Gino said...

ok, for starters, briebart is a biased source. we all know this, and is why neocons run to him for the 'news'.

yes, this is the way the left news has been behaving for generations. now they have a chance to see what it feels like.

its politics and a struggle for power. the truth is always the first to fall.


hopefully, maybe the rest of the folks will eventually look to see both sides of issues, and not be so trusting of just who reports the news they like.

my name is Amanda said...

This is a story about how Fox News screwed up a woman's career, how the USDA was just too cowardly and stupid to get all the information before they made their decision - and about how NAACP were wrong to trust a source like Breitbart to begin with. (Also, why doesn't she have her job back yet?)

This is story is NOT about how the NAACP is hypocritical. How ON EARTH could the story possibly be about that?!

This is why the Obama administration called Fox News a media organization rather than a news org - as Rachel Maddow pointed out tonight.

Tell me about again about how you can't trust Liberal news? WHO are the people who gave us the wrong information? Name them.

Mr. D said...

WBP,

I understand what Breitbart is doing. My concern is that he was using the Maureen Dowd treatment here. We complain about that sort of thing from the MSM and rightfully so. I think this hurts Breitbart's credibility.

Gino,

Yeah, that's probably right.

Amanda says,

Tell me about again about how you can't trust Liberal news? WHO are the people who gave us the wrong information? Name them.

Maureen Dowd. Just about everyone involved in the Journolist, for starters. And Rachel Maddow, too. Repeatedly. And just so you know what I'm talking about, Google the term "Dowdification" sometime.

Gino said...

actually amanda, Fox News reporters and commentary are all over this calling it an injustice.

and among them none i have seen, yet, have defended breitbart.

Dan S. said...

Speaking of jumping to conclusions: "This is a story about how Fox News screwed up a woman's career..."

Actually, Amanda, by the time the Fox News Channel first reported this story, Ms. Sherrod had already been fired by the USDA.

Night Writer said...

It will be interesting to see how Breitbart responds now that a more complete picture is out. Will he minimize and deflect - as we're so used to seeing from the MSM - or will he publicly delineate and admit his error, apologize to Sherrod and use his pulpit to offer a model of accountability and civility in public affairs and reporting?

Everyone is going to make mistakes at some (or several) points, especially when they see something that on the surface appears to confirm one's world-view and pre-suppositions of the other side. What really counts - both publicly and privately - is what comes next.

Mr. D said...

Everyone is going to make mistakes at some (or several) points, especially when they see something that on the surface appears to confirm one's world-view and pre-suppositions of the other side. What really counts - both publicly and privately - is what comes next.

Yep -- it will be very interesting to see how Breitbart plays this.

Night Writer said...

Mr D, I hope he doesn't "play" it but steps up and simply does the right thing because it's important to him, not because of who might be keeping score in the game of "gotcha".

Mr. D said...

Mr D, I hope he doesn't "play" it but steps up and simply does the right thing because it's important to him, not because of who might be keeping score in the game of "gotcha".

I do, too, but this thing is turning into Rashomon. I've read some more about the case and there's yet another angle involved. I'll try to update this post later on....

W.B. Picklesworth said...

This is (sic) story is NOT about how the NAACP is hypocritical. How ON EARTH could the story possibly be about that?!

How indeed? That wouldn't fit the narrative. The story is probably about how racist and mean white, conservative, heterosexual Judeo-Christians are. Or something like that. Oh yeah, and Fox is poopy-headed.

W.B. Picklesworth said...

Mr D,

With his handling of this video Breitbart has opened himself to the charge of Dowdification. And as I watched the longer video I was starting to really empathize with Sherrod. Her personal story is well worth hearing. And then she got around to calling opposition to Obama racist. And she characterized opposition to health care the same way. There's a disconnect here. I truly believe that she underwent a heartfelt change because of her experience with the white farmer. Nevertheless, she glibly smears political opponents as racists. She didn't seem angry; it just rolled off her tongue, easy as can be.

That is what this controversy is about: the easy use of the race card for political gain. It's just a weapon to be used to destroy enemies or "win" arguments. There needs to be a price paid for this abuse or it will continue to ruin our public life.

Gino said...

i'm a step ahead of all you.

i dont flinch from the 'racist' attack.
i call it the way i see it.
i'll let others call the names.
but i refuse to let my points take a back seat to spending energy defending against a scurilous charge.

my name is Amanda said...

"Actually, Amanda, by the time the Fox News Channel first reported this story, Ms. Sherrod had already been fired by the USDA."

I guess this means that Fox News isn't guilty at all for rampantly spreading misinformation and disapproval without getting all of their sources, as part of their ongoing battle against organizations that fight for equal rights of oppressed people in this country! Forgive my faux pas, and sarcasm aside, they were certainly perpetuating the tarnishment of this woman's name, which I don't think exactly helps one's career.

The bigger bird, of course, would be the NAACP, not Shirley Sherrod.

Mr. D - What is the false information has been spread by Maddow? I don't pay any attention to Maureen Dowd, so I can't speak to her honesty.

Honestly, I'm having a lot of trouble with the idea that Liberal misinfo spreaders are out there to blame for this when this whole story comes from a Tea Party Apologist and Fox News. The first people who had anything bearing actual news and truth were CNN. (The MSM, but are accused of being liberal all the time.)

Gino - They only started doing that after it was revealed how overtly wrong they were. Check out the Fox and Friends segment that aired yeterday morning for a good idea of that wrongness.

WBP - Sarcasm is great and proving how right you are in disagreements, don't think?

You directed your "serious" comments to Mr. D, but I want to respond to them anyway.

"That is what this controversy is about: the easy use of the race card for political gain. It's just a weapon to be used to destroy enemies or "win" arguments. There needs to be a price paid for this abuse or it will continue to ruin our public life."

What you're saying is right. But your application is wrong. Why is it so hard for Conservatives to call out people in their party who feel that they've been given permission to behave in a racist manner? If you genuinely cared about people using the race card for personal gain, there would be more nuance and fairness in your assessment of groups like the NAACP. Or me! Instead of listening to anything I have to say, you brush it all off as "knee-jerk racist name calling" and hating "mean white, conservative, heterosexual Judeo-Christians." (Yes, I certainly HATE those mean, white Judeo-Christian boys! I mean, I will probably marry one, but that won't change what a horrible racist I think he is!)

There is a difference between calling out people for using the race card, and only bothering to stand up and defend white people.

Re: Mr. D's updates to the post -

I listened to the full tape, and I didn't hear anything that qualified as cheering Sherrod's lack of interest in helping white farmers. To believe that defense is like believing that Hollywood cheaters are victims of sex addiction. They're just covering their tracks.

The Anchoress is wrong. It was right for the NAACP to call out racist actions/people within the Tea Party movement. The NAACP is a political action group that exists to help people. They're not an evil, manipulative braintrust. This part is especially incorrect:

"Perhaps the left should finally leave behind the smug instinct to sniff, “racism, straight up” over sincere disagreements on policy. If they can manage that, then perhaps the right can stop feeling so defensive."

Calling out racism is not about feeling smug. People on the right say that because they are attempting to derail the concerns of people on the left (and it's weak - why not just create an actual argument?). It's actually intrinsically important to people that they help make the world into a better place. The problem is that we finally acknowledge "racism" to be a bad thing, but we've only gotten as far as the word! Racism is not a huge, obvious thing (all the time). There are racist tinges to many policies and actions carried out by regular people, everyday.

W.B. Picklesworth said...

Amanda,

I brush you off sarcastically because you breezily accuse people of racism on a regular basis. Clearly you think you are qualified to pronounce judgment. A lot of liberals feel the same way. But I think that it is a vile kind of bullying and a terrible injustice to innocent people. It is a plague on our public discourse and needs to end.

Mr. D said...

Amanda,

I guess all I'd say is this. Look at your long comment and think about this statement:

"Calling out racism is not about feeling smug. People on the right say that because they are attempting to derail the concerns of people on the left."

You regularly get quite pissed off when you sense that someone is ascribing motives to you that you don't believe you have. And I don't blame you for that. It works both ways, though. Until such time as those on the left understand that the concerns of people on the right matter as much as the concerns of people on the left, and even take the time to understand what those concerns are, we're not going to be able to advance much past name calling. Which is Picklesworth's point.

Swiftee said...

Sherrod has been hoisted on the Democrat "raaaacist!!" petard.

If moonbats hadn't made specious character assination a political currency in the first place, Peebo's minions wouldn't have felt the panic and reacted so unthoughtfully.

Sorry to see Sherrod's career tanked, but if it gives pause to just one frothing leftist about to shout "racist!", or "hate speech!", it will have been worth the sacrifice.

After all, it's her career, not mine ;-)