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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Let's All Agree on One Thing -- Andrew Breitbart is Useless

BreitbartAndrew Breitbart calls himself a journalist. He shouldn't. He's worked as a reporter for E! Entertainment's TV magazine and has served as an editor of the Drudge Report (Yeah, I'm not really sure what being "editor" of a news aggregator actually means either), but that was then, this is now. Let's go way out on a limb and say that those two jobs qualify as "journalism"; Breitbart still is no journalist. I was a cook a long time ago, but you don't see me walking around demanding everyone address me as "Chef." Breitbart quit the journalism business to set up shop as a propagandist.

I just typed out, "My opinion of Andrew Breitbart couldn't get lower," but then I deleted it. It's not exactly true. He could murder a child and I'm pretty sure I'd wind up liking him less, but that's really the only sort of thing that could drag my opinion of him any lower. If you take anything he "reports" seriously, then you're an idiot.

Which makes Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack an idiot. By now, you've probably heard of the story of USDA Georgia Director of Rural Development Shirley Sherrod, fired from that department for about two minutes from a 45 minute speech to the local NAACP. On video, Sherrod tells a story from 24 years ago, when a white farmer came to her for help. She thought he was kind of being a dick about it, talking down to her, so she decided she would not give him "the full force of what I could do."

"Racist!" cried Breitbart.

The weird thing about it is that even edited down as it is, you can still see where this story's going. "That's when it was revealed to me that it's about poor versus those who have," she says at the end of the clip. "It's not so much about [white and black]... because I took him as one of his own." We already see that it's about fighting racism within ourselves, which of course was exactly the moral of the story. When the entire tape came out, it was clear that Sherrod did help this guy, that she wasn't working for the feds at the time, and that Andrew Breitbart was a major source of misinformation pollution in our national discourse. In fact, Sherrod and the man she was accused of harming are actually friends now and as her friend, Roger Spooner and his wife ran to CNN to defend her.

Oh, and Shirley Sherrod was out of a job. AG Secretary Vilsack demanded her resignation and got it -- a move the White House is reviewing.

I propose a new rule; throw Breitbart in the same box with Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck. You know, the one labeled "Sources not to be trusted unless independently verified by centuries of empirical research." In fact, Breitbart's reporting here was so shaky that not even serial race-baiter and liar Glenn Beck would run with it. I don't care who you are or what you do, do not ever take action on Breitbart reporting. Ever. He is a one-man BS factory, while his two sites are more of a group effort in the manufacture and distribution of BS. In the world of journalism, he should be the target of mockery and ridicule -- either a blatant liar or a bumbling fool too incompetent to actually verify his sources.

Andrew Breitbart seems to take personal offense at the things said about the tea party -- as if they were being said of him. When accusations of racism within the movement sprung up, Breitbart had to prove the accusers were racist themselves. Not that this would actually prove that there weren't racist teabaggers, but let's not look for evidence of reason in an obsessive's mind. For Andy, one instance of racism apparently cancels out another. It's an idiot's math.

Kate Conway at Media Matters has a helpful hint for media and government in a post titled "Never trust Andrew Breitbart." Can you guess what that hint is? That's right, never trust Andrew Breitbart. The post is too long for me to do justice here, so suffice it to say that Andy has a record of lying, mudslinging, exaggerating, propagandizing, smearing, and general media villainy as long as your arm. So Conway is right; never trust Andrew Breitbart. Am I putting enough emphasis on "never?" Let's try "never!" then.

Media: do not let this man anywhere near your news cycle, he'll just stain it with horsecrap. And government: hire Shirley Sherrod back and don't ever, ever, ever believe a word from Breitbart's websites again.


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