As the mainstream media trips over itself to analyze and re-analyze the Shirley Sherrod controversy, Andrew Breitbart is under fire for ostensibly unethical behavior. Andrew is more than capable of defending himself, but I wanted to offer a few quick thoughts on this imbroglio:
(1) This President often decries the 24-hour, hyper-reactionary media cycle, yet his administration responded with warp-speed to toss Sherrod overboard. Can it now safely be asserted that the Obama administration “acted stupidly”?
(2) The administration’s thoughtless abandonment of Sherrod indicates a hair-trigger climate of paranoia about all issues racial within the West Wing. It seems J. Christian Adams’ whistle-blowing has taken its toll, and Team Obama is nervous about the degree of scrutiny its racially-tinged political machinations have received. On the heels of the New Black Panther kerfuffle, another major race flap just wouldn’t do–thus, a low-level African American female was deemed expendable, and was unceremoniously dumped. The White House now claims they didn’t press for Sherrod’s dismissal, yet is apologizing to her. Hmm.
(3) MSM critics are pouncing on Breitbart & Co. for “smearing” Sherrod by exploiting out-of-context remarks. As others have noted, many of these same critics were remarkably mute as the ACORN videos were revealed, yet eagerly jumped into the fray to prematurely crucify James O’Keefe when he was arrested in Louisiana. These duplicitous observers were also conspicuously subdued as Andrew Breitbart beat back the “N-word” accusations invented by the Congressional Black Caucus. The story selection speaks for itself.
(4) Did Breitbart really excise or ignore the exculpatory portion of Sherrod’s remarks? The initial version of the video included Sherrod’s change-of-heart conclusion that she ought to engage in class warfare rather than race warfare. Her subsequent remarks (the ones that were supposedly edited out) simply built on that theme. Also, does anyone really believe that Andrew Breitbart would intentionally distort a video clip to make a one-day splash? Risk his growing reputation with a deliberate, easily refutable distortion? For those clamoring for more careful consideration of context and intent, perhaps they should contemplate those questions.
(5) There’s also a largely unspoken racial double standard at play here. I agree that many people–especially the White House–rushed to judgment in this case. While I’m certainly not here to argue Ms. Sherrod should have lost her job over the video, she did openly discuss her impulse to discriminate against a man because of the color of his skin. She described the agony of being “faced with having to help” a white man. She also told her NAACP audience that she decided to refer the white farmer to “one of his own kind.” It’s worth asking: Would a white federal employee ever get off the hook for making similar comments to an all-white audience?