You are hereSalon: Politico editors baffled by strange new world of Andrew Breitbart's shamelessness
Salon: Politico editors baffled by strange new world of Andrew Breitbart's shamelessness
Jim VandeHei's takeaway from the Sherrod affair: Don't trust partisans!
July 23, 2010- One thing that's becoming increasingly apparent about Politico editor Jim VandeHei is that he has no idea how to navigate the current media landscape. He understands that there is a Breitbart on the right and a Huffington on the left, and both of them are Bad because they are not Balanced like Politico.
That is the thesis of the Thinker he wrote today with his Politico co-founder, John "the considerably less annoying one" Harris. It is called "The Age of Rage," and it is about how no one will learn any lessons from the recent Breitbart/Sherrod affair. I share their pessimism, actually. But I don't think they're blaming the right parties.
The VandeHerris conclusion is that no one will learn any lessons because of the vile Internet partisan media that plays so rough.
Responsible people in power and in the mainstream media are only beginning to grapple with this new environment — in which facts hardly matter except as they can be used as weapon or shield in a nonstop ideological war. Do you dive into the next fact-lite partisan outrage — or do you stay out and risk looking slow, stupid or irrelevant? No one is close to figuring it out.
Actually, VandeHarris, lots of people figured this one out! It was really easy! This is how it worked:
Andrew Breitbart has repeatedly demonstrated that he has no concern for the concept of truth, and he has a documented history of posting misleadingly edited videos. The Shirley Sherrod video he posted was obviously stripped of context. But anyone who watched the edited clip Breitbart himself posted should've known his interpretation of it was a lie. In the edited clip, Sherrod mentioned that Chapter 12 bankruptcy for family farms had just been enacted. One simple Google search reveals that the events she is recounting took place around 1986, many, many years before she worked for the USDA. So there is two seconds of research that call Breitbart's post into question.
Even right-wing bloggers who watched the clip noticed how abruptly the clip ended, just as Sherrod seemed to be getting to the point of her story.
Real-life reporters are supposed to be baffled as to how to respond to this fact-lite outrage? Shouldn't they have just found the full video, or interviewed Sherrod, like the Atlanta Journal-Constitution did? If you have to write about the latest Breitbart outrage RIGHT THIS SECOND, you write, "Bomb-throwing propagandist with history of disregard for factual accuracy posts race-baiting video intended to score political points against NAACP and black people in general." It was a really easy story! And the next Andrew Breitbart outrage will be the same story! It is not "partisan" or "biased" to call Andrew Breitbart a liar, because he lies.