Breitbart lied about Shirley Sherrod. Now he's lying about the NAACP.

How you look at things.
July 23 2010 7:38 AM

Amen Canard

Breitbart lied about Shirley Sherrod. Now he's lying about the NAACP.

(Continued from Page 1)

You know, the first time I was faced with having to help a white farmer save his farm, he—he took a long time talking, but he was trying to show me he was superior to me. [Audience: Alright. Murmurs.] I know what he was doing. [Audience: Alright.] But he had come to me for help. [Audience: Amen.] What he didn't know, while he was taking all that time trying to show me he was superior to me, was I was trying to decide just how much help I was going to give him. [Laughter.]

The audience seems sympathetic to Sherrod's resentment of the farmer's arrogance, as she perceived it. How should we interpret the laughter? Is it laughter at her power to withhold help from a white man? Or is it laughter at her power to withhold help from a guy with an attitude? The evidence so far suggests the latter: The audience has embraced an appeal for "poor people," shunned an appeal for "black people only," and given Sherrod her only Amen when she noted that despite the farmer's attitude, "he had come to me for help." But let's keep listening.

I was struggling with the fact that so many black people have lost their farmland, and here I was faced with having to help a white person save their land. [Audience: Mm-hm.] So, I didn't give him the full force of what I could do. [Sherrod smiles and pauses. There's a single staccato noise somewhere in the room. No words, no laughter.] I did enough so that when he—I assumed the Department of Agriculture had sent him to me, either that or the Georgia Department of Agriculture. And he needed to go back and report that I did try to help him. [Pause. Silence.]

This time, Sherrod has mentioned only the farmer's race, not his attitude. She delivers the crucial line—"So, I didn't give him the full force of what I could do"—with a smile and a wry tone that invites any racist to laugh or blurt out approval. But she gets nothing. I had to listen to this clip more than a dozen times before I realized that the "applause" Breitbart describes could only be the staccato noise. To interpret this as applause, you would have to believe that a single person, representing an otherwise silent audience, suddenly decided to change the congregation's language of affirmation from call-and-response to clapping—and just as suddenly, after a single stroke, decided to stop.

Advertisement

As Sherrod renounces her old attitude, the audience comes alive:

Well, working with him made me see [Audience: Mm-hm] that it's really about those who have versus those who don't [Audience: That's right, that's right], you know. And they could be black, and they could be white; they could be Hispanic. And it made me realize then that I needed to work to help poor people—those who don't have access [Audience: Mm-hm] the way others have [Audience: Mm-hm].

So, let's review the Breitbart gang's allegations:

When … she expresses a discriminatory attitude towards white people, the audience responds with applause.False.
The NAACP … is cheering on a person describing a white person as the other. False.
The NAACP audience seemed to have approved of her actions when she talked about not helping the white farmer.False.
They weren't cheering redemption; they were cheering discrimination. False.
As Ms. Sherrod recounted the first part of her parable, how she declined to do everything she could for the farmer because of his race, the audience responded in approval.False.

First Breitbart and his acolytes falsely accused Sherrod of discriminating against whites as a federal employee, despite having no evidence for this charge in the original video excerpt. Strike one.

Then they misrepresented Sherrod's story as an embrace of racism, when in fact she was repudiating racism. They later pleaded ignorance of this fact because they didn't have the full video. Strike two.

Now, with the full video in hand and posted on their Web site, they're lying about the reaction of the NAACP audience.

The excuses are all used up, Mr. Breitbart.

Video: Andrew Breitbart's Freakouts Caught on Tape

Latest Twitter Updates
    Follow William Saletan on Twitter.

    Become a fan of Slate on Facebook. Follow us on  Twitter. William Saletan's latest short takes on the news, via Twitter:

    TODAY IN SLATE

    History

    Slate Plus Early Read: The Self-Made Man

    The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.

    Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada. Now, Journalists Can’t Even Say Her Name.

    Mitt Romney May Be Weighing a 2016 Run. That Would Be a Big Mistake.

    Amazing Photos From Hong Kong’s Umbrella Revolution

    Transparent Is the Fall’s Only Great New Show

    The XX Factor

    Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada

    Now, journalists can't even say her name.

    Doublex

    Lena Dunham, the Book

    More shtick than honesty in Not That Kind of Girl.

    What a Juicy New Book About Diane Sawyer and Katie Couric Fails to Tell Us About the TV News Business

    Does Your Child Have Sluggish Cognitive Tempo? Or Is That Just a Disorder Made Up to Scare You?

      News & Politics
    History
    Sept. 29 2014 11:45 PM The Self-Made Man The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.
      Business
    Moneybox
    Sept. 29 2014 7:01 PM We May Never Know If Larry Ellison Flew a Fighter Jet Under the Golden Gate Bridge
      Life
    Dear Prudence
    Sept. 30 2014 6:00 AM Drive-By Bounty Prudie advises a woman whose boyfriend demands she flash truckers on the highway.
      Double X
    Doublex
    Sept. 29 2014 11:43 PM Lena Dunham, the Book More shtick than honesty in Not That Kind of Girl.
      Slate Plus
    Slate Fare
    Sept. 29 2014 8:45 AM Slate Isn’t Too Liberal, but … What readers said about the magazine’s bias and balance.
      Arts
    Brow Beat
    Sept. 29 2014 9:06 PM Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice Looks Like a Comic Masterpiece
      Technology
    Future Tense
    Sept. 29 2014 11:56 PM Innovation Starvation, the Next Generation Humankind has lots of great ideas for the future. We need people to carry them out.
      Health & Science
    Medical Examiner
    Sept. 29 2014 11:32 PM The Daydream Disorder Is sluggish cognitive tempo a disease or disease mongering?
      Sports
    Sports Nut
    Sept. 28 2014 8:30 PM NFL Players Die Young. Or Maybe They Live Long Lives. Why it’s so hard to pin down the effects of football on players’ lives.