Thursday, July 22, 2010

Andrew Breitbart is a dick. That's the only thing I want you to take from this post.

I don't really know what to say about this whole Shirley Sherrod nonsense. There are so many underlying issues with the whole story that one could probably write a book about it. So where does one begin?

Do I lament the continued success story of right-wing smear campaigns to gain credibility in our media? Do I snarkily point out the strange insistence of people to give a white guy known for putting out maliciously edited videos in the past the benefit of the doubt over a black woman speaking in front of the NAACP? Do I point out the tiresome pattern of weakness with the current administration when it comes to race issues (Latoya over at Racialious has already pointed out that the same week Sherrod was fired asked to step down looked at funny fired because of her comments on race, Joe Biden was out in the media sticking up for the Tea Party after the NAACP condemned their more racist elements). Or perhaps I should take a different angle on the White House, and point out that this situation is an example that proves what we’ve kind of guessed and feared already – they are scared shitless of the right wing media machine and will do anything to keep the flying monkeys at bay. Or perhaps I could talk about the problematic trend in the media to cover only what is already part of their conventional wisdom, such as the fact that a black lady hating on white farmers is a much more gripping story then say, racist signs from white Tea Party participants, or the continued feeding of the poor oppressed white people (AKA “real racism is calling people racist”) meme. Or maybe just do some navel-gazing and talk about how it’s making me pretty feel stabby, and everything I jotted down about it yesterday didn't seem fit to post on the blog (unhinged rants full of profanity and threats to stab people in the face usually aren't).

Anything I put out would be pretty meta at this point. So let’s just pick the first option and run with that.

So, I suppose I should be pleased with this outcome. Unlike the ACORN scandal, this was resolved in record time as far as news cycles go. And I'd be lying if I said it wasn't fun to watch Breitbart flail around desperately. Flailing people are hilarious. And Breitbart’s a total dick. Based on his reaction, I'm thinking he wasn't quite expecting the full video to be posted so soon. Which isn't a surprise, given his successful track record at leveraging out these scandals and playing on the public's forgetfulness. With ACORN, he owned the videos, and could refuse to release the unedited version; there was little anyone could do about it until the lawsuit subpoenaed their release. Which meant they weren't released until long after the scandal had passed and left a trail of devastation behind it, so people had stopped caring. But his god complex brought him down on this one, he didn't own this video, and the NAACP was able to release it within 24 hours of the edited videos hitting the news.

So Breitbart had to go on damage control, which has ranged from the ranting conspiracy theorist angle (insisting that the farmer's wife, who (along with her husband) came out in support of Sherrod was a "plant") to the absolute shameless tactic of expressing "sympathy" that the NAACP and Obama Administration has "made this about her" (after continually accusing her of being a racist and advocating for her resignation on and his Twitter feed). And the domino effect begins, because once dear leader has begun the backpedal, the conservative media that was all too willing to jump on that bandwagon had to follow suit, which is going to make this year's NRO cruise pretty awkward. They also have to find a way to condemn the fake story without stepping on Breitbart's toes, because Breitbart can get pretty emo and upset when he feels threatened (he yells angry things and it makes people sad). And now no one really knows what to do. So all in all, this is a fuck-up of fail whale proportions for the Breitbart empire and the right wing media that sucks at his teat.

Yet I can't find solace in this show, because this happy and joyous event didn't end up being the leading story of the day. That Breitbart's been caught red-handed in his latest race-baiting attempt is unimportant. That this is pretty much identical to what went down with ACORN and suggests a pattern with Breitbart and his minions deliberately duping the media and public at the expense of innocent people is unimportant. You know what is important? How Obama and the NAACP totally screwed over Shirley Sherrod. And it's also important to advise anyone getting uppity out there that the malicious hackery of Andrew Breitbart (if it is even mentioned) is totally understandable and defensible in light of the mean old NAACP picking on the poor oppressed Tea Partiers last week. Let that be a lesson to you, NAACP. Reasonable conservatives and media types, in a comically transparent attempt to wipe that giant yolk off their collective face, have decided that in order to reclaim justice for everyone they must ignore all other aspects of the story and instead hold the NAACP and the Obama administration's feet to the fire.

And the irony explodes and kills us all.

Not only did both the administration and the NAACP have the quickest reaction and apologize to Sherrod, it was the NAACP that had to release the full video. Now to be fair, this was something that these very concerned conservative news outlets didn’t have time to do, what with all the hand-wringing and fainting and all. But now that they see the error of their ways, we can relax, because the reasonable conservative media that initially pushed and hyped this story for such reasonable reasons, and would reasonably still be doing so if they hadn't been busted, has reasonably decided to disavow all responsibility, and instead reasonably point fingers elsewhere. That is the responsible thing to do, after all. And of course the rest of the media, you know, the liberal media, who are totally just as reasonable, has swallowed that lure whole and are choking gleefully on it, because the conventional wisdom is that Obama sucks, dammit, not that the right wing media are a bunch of hacks that shouldn't be given the time of day on serious media outlets. And everyone breathes a collective sigh of relief, because “Right-wingers rule and Obama drools” is much closer to the conventional wisdom the media invents and reports to us. If you shake up that narrative, everyone in the media becomes whiny and confused because to go against that narrative means that they might be wrong about things and that doesn't make sense since they are invited to all the cocktail parties.

And that's why I can't find much schadenfreude in this whole situation, even though it has the potential to be ripe with it. All I'm taking away from this is that even when the conservative media machine is at their absolute, tacky, lame-sway-backed-horse sucky worst, they are still incredibly successful at getting their narrative to dominate the media cycle. There was so much opportunity here. Because of its quick turnaround, we could have used this to call out the right-wing media for the race baiting, lying, pitchfork-carrying mob that they are (or maybe, you know, revisit the ACORN smear story, which cost not one, but thousands of jobs). And we could also point out that the media’s love of shiny things combined with their apparent lack to do things like, you know, check their sources or other such journalistic nonsense is serving the public poorly. And for fuck's sake, can we just get it out in the open that Breitbart is a complete asshole? I'll start. Andrew Breitbart is a race-baiting, ankle-biting, cowardly asshole of the first degree who should spend the rest of his days being punched repeatedly in the face. Rhetorically, of course.

Instead what we will take from this is that the Obama administration are suckers and the real racists are the NAACP because first they were applauding this woman, which was totally racist, then they were condemning this woman, which was totally racist. And the people move on to the next fake-outrage-scandal to scream over, like how building a mosque in New York is disrespectful or how they caught a liberal college professor posting on Journolist about crying when he watched Obama’s inauguration which proves…. Wait, what? Some dude cried? That’s a story? Is Obama supposed to… apologize to this guy too for making him cry? Fuck. I don’t even know what the hell these idiots are talking about anymore.

God, I can’t wait for all this stupid to manifest into the inevitable 24-hour, full-time, impeach-Obama-a-rama media frenzy coming next year if the Republicans take over the House this November. I'm stocking up on whiskey.

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