Sean Hannity, Derrick Bell, and Obama’s “Radical” Harvard Speech in 1990

Breitbart, Buzzfeed, and Obama’s “Radical” Harvard Speech in 1990

Breitbart, Buzzfeed, and Obama’s “Radical” Harvard Speech in 1990

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March 8 2012 2:38 PM

Breitbart, Buzzfeed, and Obama’s “Radical” Harvard Speech in 1990

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(US President Barack Obama speaks on the economy and fuel consumption following a tour of the Daimler Trucks North America Manufacturing plant in Mount Holly, North Carolina, March 7, 2012. Video showing Obama speaking as a student at Harvard has been the center at a debate about what some call the president's deep roots in radical politics.)

Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

Before Andrew Breitbart died, he talked a big game about having a video that proved President Obama was not only a political radical—he’d been one since college.

When political-video maven Andrew Kaczynski posted a story about the video on Buzzfeed.com—in which then-Harvard student Barack Obama speaks in support of Professor Derrick Bell, who protested the University’s failure to tenure female law professors of color—Breitbart editors leveled accusations of selective editing. Fox News later ran a clip of the “unedited version.”

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Is there real controversy here? The footage from 1990, owned by PBS, had already aired in a Frontline episode during the 2008 election. And the full clip only featured “radical” evidence of Obama hugging a professor he supported for trying to increase the diversity of Harvard’s faculty. 

Accusations of selective editing from Conservatives may be overwrought. Buzzfeed’s story posted the entirety of what was available from the future president’s speech. Those trying to find skeletons in the president’s closet may have to keep looking.

Ben Johnson is the producer of Marketplace Tech from American Public Media.