By now, it has become clear that in the months before his death, Breitbart had constructed a journalistic Doomsday Machine and programmed it for an apocalyptic episode of self-destruction. Perhaps it was convenient that Breitbart’s heart exploded when it did; as a martyr, he did not have to witness the implosion of his media empire or bear the responsibility he deserved for its rapid demise.
In the year after Breitbart’s death, his heirs and associates produced a string of grotesque episodes that have embarrassed even their own impossible-to-shame allies on the right, including:
Spreading the lie that Chuck Hagel took money from a non-existent group called “Friends of Hamas.” What began as a New York Daily News reporter’s burlesque joke-hypothetical question to a Senate staffer was recycled by breitbart.com editor-at-large Ben Shapiro [see below] and reported as fact from “Senate sources.” From Breitbart, the reporter’s joke traveled onto the Senate floor and nearly sank Hagel’s confirmation as Obama’s new Defense Secretary. Even after the story was completely debunked and disavowed even by fellow right-wingers, breitbart.com remains the only media outlet in the world that continues to stick by its debunked story;
In mid-March, Breitbart published a straight news story claiming that Paul Krugman had filed for bankruptcy. The story was sourced from an online news parody site, The Daily Currant;
Also in March, Breitbart’s most famous protege, video smear-artist and convicted criminal James O’Keefe, wasforced to pay a six-figure settlement to one of the victims of his heavily-edited ACORN videos, which was deceptively re-edited to give the impression that ACORN employees were willing to participate in sex trafficking. ACORN was once a powerful community activist organization working in mostly poor minority communities. O’Keefe’s video, which was heavily promoted by Breitbart, helped destroy ACORN and ruin the careers of many of its employees. Other lawsuits against Breitbart associates continue, including one filed by Shirley Sherrod, an African-American employee of the Department of Agriculture who was fired after Breitbart pushed a heavily-edited video manipulated to make Sherrod appear as if she was anti-white. O’Keefe’s work has been underwritten by everyone from billionaire libertarian Peter Thiel to the billionaire Koch brothers and the billionaireFoster Friess;
At the most recent CPAC conference in 2013, breitbart.com’s sponsored panel bashing Muslims was considered too hateful and extremist by CPAC’s organizers and banned from the official CPAC agenda — despite the fact that Breitbart News Network is a major sponsor of CPAC.
Breitbart News Editor at Large Ben Shapiro has some groundbreaking insight on why Republicans lost the election last year:
Breitbart News Editor-At-Large Ben Shapiro is out with an innovative and pioneering game plan for Republicans: attack Democrats. Shapiro spoke to Pat Robertson today on the 700 Club where he maintained that Republicans lost the last election because they didn’t try to demonize President Obama, who “painted Mitt Romney as the worst guy since Stalin.”
That’s right, according to Shapiro, Republicans were simply too afraid to criticize Obama during the campaign.
And here’s the money quote (and I advise you to make sure there is no food or liquid in your mouth, because it could very well end up on your computer screen and/or keyboard):
He said that unlike conservatives, liberals “don’t have facts or evidence to back their positions.”
You heard the man. Conservatives like him have as many facts as the day is long to back up charges that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel took money from a group called “Friends of Hamas,” or that Paul Krugman filed for bankruptcy, as his site so defty scooped “the liberal media” on.
And here’s another money quote:
You can’t argue policy with people who are uncivil. Civility is like the Geneva Conventions - once you step out of uniform, it no longer applies. Republicans need to do as President Obama suggested: they need to “punch back twice as hard.” When they are called racist, the proper response is not, “Oh well, I have black friends.” That’s a silly response. The actual response should be, “No, you are racist for boiling racism down to anything with which you disagree. What that does is it demeans racism. It makes racism into something that means nothing. And that’s something Republicans need to do on a more regular basis.
So then Shapiro’s forefather, the late Andrew Breitbart, demeaned racism when he accused Shirley Sherrod of that by posting a video of her seemingly admitting to discriminating against a white farmer when the full video showed her explaining the opposite…yes? Or Shapiro himself is a racist because he has demeaned racism by calling Sherrod’s husband, Charles, a racist in the post-edited-video-fiasco spin because of the Sherrod’s involvement in a class action lawsuit against the USDA (Pigford)? (Tommy Christopher debunked that notion here).
Hat tip - Right Wing Watch
LGF reader Gus posted this about the Pigford v. Glickman case back in 2011.
Only days after “Friends of Hamas” went the way of ACORN and Shirley Sherrod (no correction, no retraction, and definitely no apology from breitbart.com), Ben Shapiro was invited to appear on Megyn Kelly’s America Live on Fox “News” to discuss Bob Woodward’s comments on the sequester…as if he had some sort of gravitas:
A couple more appearances like this (I bet the next one will be on Sean Hannity’s “Great American Panel”) and the whole “Friends of Hamas” affair will be scrubbed from the memory of the American Right.
Kind of like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind if you think about it.
Newsweek Editor Tina Brown Savages Andrew Breitbart On NPR
by Noah Rothman
Tina Brown, Newsweek and The Daily Beast editor, attacked the late Andrew Breitbart in an interview on NPR on Tuesday, calling him a ‘right-wing radical blogger who just recently dropped dead,’ and a ‘provocateur.’ She also referred to his work as a ‘bastardization of journalism’…
During Hitler’s German, there were 50 foreign correspondents in Berlin, which is an incredible index of the golden era of journalism. What we have, of course, in the era of today with Andrew Breitbart – the blogger, the right-wing radical blogger who just recently dropped dead in the early 40s – was, of course, the absolute opposite. It’s really the degradation, in a sense, of the journalistic ideals of a William Shirer. It was the absolute opposite. Breitbart didn’t report anything. What Breitbart did, really, was he was a provocateur. He was a death by 1,000 tweets. He was, you know, quite happy to take the flying sound bite – any sound bite – and misapply it in its context and create an absolute mayhem for the person concerned like he did for poor Shirley Sherrod who was the obscure official in the Agriculture Department. He gave the impression by the cutting of her words in a tape that he released that she was giving racially motivated financing decisions when she was doing the opposite. So this was really a, kind of, bastardization through the format of Web and tweeting and simply using the Internet as a tool for activism.
A few weeks ago, I was standing outside a posh bar on the Lower East Side of Manhattan with my friends of almost two decades. I made an offhanded comment about the ratio of blonde-haired-blue-eyed chicks to brown girls like me. It seemed like a zillion to one.
My pals, who are white, didn’t get why I was bringing this up. “No one cares about race except you,” one said.
I tried to explain my frustration with having to always choose between an all-black experience or being the “only one,” whether at work, in grad school or even out for a night in New York. I waited for a nod of sympathy; instead, my best friend threw her hands up and said: “How can we all be racist? Look at who is president!”
I didn’t have a response.
Right now the nation has embarked on a massive conversation about race surrounding the tragic death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Florida. On Friday, President Obama weighed in. “I think all of us have to do some soul searching to figure out: How does something like this happen?” he said.
It’s an important conversation to have — but I fear it won’t lead anywhere. After all, we’ve seen plenty of these debates in recent years, invariably prompted by some tragedy or controversy. Think Troy Davis. Or Shirley Sherrod. Or Jeremiah Wright. Or Henry Louis Gates Jr. Or even Rodney King. We have big debates over racial prejudice and disparities in this country, and then nothing happens.
I thought things would be different by now. The Trayvon Martin story flared up exactly four years after Obama’s famous campaign speech on race in Philadelphia, a speech that made so many of us believe that Obama would launch a serious, enduring dialogue. But the election of the first black president hasn’t made it easier to talk about race in America. It’s made it harder.
Obama’s measured words on Friday only highlighted how removed the president seems from the candidate who gave that stirring speech on race four years ago. Obama was asked directly about “allegations of lingering racism in our society,” but he shied away. He rightly used caution in talking about a case that the Justice Department is investigating, and he offered a moving sentiment for Martin’s parents, saying, “If I had a son, he would look like Trayvon.” But he hasn’t grappled with this tragedy, or with racial disparities and divisions, along with us, guiding us in a way that only he can — as the commander in chief, as a lawyer, as a community leader and as a black man.
The Obama presidency is “post-racial” only in the sense that it gives us an excuse not to grapple with race anymore.
In the mid-1960s, SNCC, one of the most important civil rights groups of its era, began to split at the seams. Since its inception, the group had committed itself to the eradication of white supremacy strictly through the twin pillars of nonviolence and integration. SNCC members, like their fellow activists throughout the South, endured threats, beatings, bombings, and shootings, all of which they greeted with Bible verses and song. The tactic ultimately succeeded by cutting through centuries of hate and accessing a basic sense of human decency.
Andrew Breitbart, 1969-2012
But nonviolence exacted a price and, in 1966, its success was not assured. That was the year Stokely Carmichael assumed leadership of the organization. Carmichael had spent much of the early 60s subjecting his body to beatings, tear-gassings, and water-hoses. Committed to integration and nonviolence, he had driven down dark and lonely Southern roads accompanied only by the knowledge that people of his ilk were being vanished there with some unsettling regularity. When Carmichael came to power he, and much of SNCC’s membership, had changed their politics. They expelled whites from the group and rejected nonviolence. Eventually there was a quasi-merger with the Black Panther Party and a full-throated embrace of revolutionary violence.
Among the SNCC members to reject that path, were Shirley and Charles Sherrod. Shirley Sherrod had every reason to follow Carmichael. Her cousin Bobby Hall had been lynched. Her father had been killed in cold blood over a land dispute with a white neighbor. Neither killer was punished. Instead, white supremacists regularly visited Sherrod’s home intent on terrorizing her widowed mother in silence. But when SNCC split, Sherrod, and her husband, rejected violence and nationalism, despite having every reason to embrace revanche.
Presented for review and discussion without comment.
United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
Filed October 21, 2011.
…Although Defendants-Appellants Andrew Breitbart and Larry O’Connor concede that this Court lacks jurisdiction to review the District Court’s interlocutory order denying their Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, they nonetheless contend that the collateral-order doctrine allows them to appeal anyway simplybecause they asserted the very same grounds for dismissal in a ‘special’ Anti-SLAPP motion to dismiss. On this basis, Defendants informed the District Court that it had lost jurisdiction over all aspects of his case and refused to participate inongoing discovery proceedings. Because Defendants are wrong on each of thesescores, Plaintiff-Appellee Shirley Sherrod moves to dismiss this appeal for lack of jurisdiction so that this case—and discovery—can properly resume below…
…The point here is straightforward. When Plaintiff filed her Complaint on February 11, 2011, she had no threshold obligation to demonstrate that her claims were ‘likely to succeed on the merits’ before discovery began. D.C. Code § 16-5502(b). Rather, she only had to allege ‘a short and plain statement of [her] claim[s],’ which she did. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). Nor did she face the prospect of paying Defendants’ ‘costs of litigation, including reasonable attorney fees,’ if the District Court concluded that her claims lacked merit. See D.C. Code § 16-5504(a). The Anti-SLAPP Act changed that, and in doing so, it substantively altered the consequences of Plaintiff’s decision to file her Complaint. Because the Act does not clearly state that it should have this retroactive effect, it does not apply to this case. Accordingly, the District Court properly denied Defendants’ Anti-SLAPP motion to dismiss on retroactivity grounds—just as it properly rejected the ‘opinion’ defense identically asserted in both threhold motions to dismiss. The District Court’s Anti-SLAPP order thus should be affirmed.
For the foregoing reasons, this appeal should be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction or, in the alternative, the District Court’s order should be affirmed.
Breitbart’s claim is interesting, to say the least, and I’m glad it was shot down. You can’t slander someone, or cause someone to be slandered because of your own carelessness (which is what I think happened here), and then claim that what you said is in the arena of “protected speech.”
At least that’s the way it would be if I ruled the world.
U.S. District Judge Richard Leon issued a series of orders this morning denying motions to dismiss or relocate former U.S. Department of Agriculture official Shirley Sherrod’s defamation lawsuit against conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart.
Leon denied Breitbart’s initial motion to dismiss as well as a special motion to dismiss under Washington’s new statute barring strategic lawsuits against public participation, or SLAPPs. Leon did not publish a written opinion along with his orders
Breitbart and O’Connor are among the first parties in Washington to invoke D.C.’s new anti-SLAPP law, which went into effect March 31 and offers an early remedy, in the form of a special motion to dismiss that stays discovery pending resolution, for defendants who believe they are being sued over protected speech.
In their request for dismissal of Shirley Sherrod’s suit, Breitbart and co-defendant argue for the right of journalists to get things completely backwards, to state the opposite, to be 100 percent wrong — in other words they argue that it’s ok for Journalists to lie. A strange defense from strange characters.
In a joint motion for dismissal (PDF) filed yesterday in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Breitbart and co-defendant Larry O’Connor, who works with Breitbart, claim that in lodging accusations of racism against Sherrod based on her comments in the clip, they were engaging in protected speech under the First Amendment.
The two maintain that the clip “captured the gist of the speech” and that they were within their rights to interpret her statements contrary to what Sherrod has said was the larger meaning of her speech.
“But from the truthful facts laid out in the excerpt, Breitbart drew a contrary conclusion about the meaning of what was said, as Americans with different beliefs and formative experiences often do when the topic is the endlessly arguable subject of race relations,” the defendants argued in their motion to dismiss.
Sherrod originally sued Breitbart, O’Connor and a third unnamed defendant in District of Columbia Superior Court in February. The defendants moved the case into U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in early March on the grounds that it belonged in federal court because of diversity jurisdiction and the fact that requested damages were in excess of $75,000, but noted in their motion that they were not admitting Washington was the proper venue for the case.
Penn follows up on the USDA racism scandal, the topic of his most recent Larry King appearance.