Posted Monday, Dec. 12, 2011, at 10:39 AM
Consider the case of Breitbart v. Beck. It's a long-running argument, dating back to when Beck criticized Breitbart and his Big Government website over the Shirley Sherrod story. (If you can't remember that far, the USDA official was taped telling NAACP members about a moment when she nearly denied a man help because he was white.) And it got new life on Saturday, when Beck appeared on Fox Business to talk to the libertarian host Andrew Napolitano. Beck, who's told listeners to look hard at voting for Michele Bachmann, argued that the Tea Party would betray its principles if it backed Newt Gingrich.
"If you have a big government progressive, or a big government progressive in Obama," he mused, "ask yourself this, Tea Party: is it about Obama’s race? Because that’s what it appears to be to me. If you’re against him but you’re for this guy, it must be about race. I mean, what else is it? It’s the policies that matter.”
On Sunday, Breitbart called into a radio show hosted by Steve Bannon. (The director of the Sarah Palin doc "The Undefeated" now lives in a D.C. house rented by Breitbart et al, to organize and lead new journalism projects.) At Bannon's prompt, Breitbart told and re-told the history of Beck's exploitation of conservatives. "Beck is a coward and won't defend himself when he makes a mistakes," said Breitbart, "the self-appointed historian of the conservative movement, an autodidact who's read a lot of books over the last few years." The mistake he would never admit: "He lied to his audience on television, saying that he didn't do the Sherrod stories on his radio show." Doing so, he "jumped the gun, and in essence jumped the shark."
After that, Breitbart (who'd been "warned about Glenn Beck by my intellectual betters") needed to point out that Beck ripped off him, his writers, and millions of other people. "He took bloggers' content to put them on his infamous chalkboard," said Breitbart. He accused him of keeping the rip-off going at his new site, the Blaze. "He wants to create the New York Times overnight. How do you do that? You take Breitbart's content and don't credit it." And you know who else he was ripping off? Conservative listeners, whom he scared into panics about FEMA camps and manufactured crises.
"He's creating a hysteria that there's going to be food shortages because of a crisis that's coming," said Breitbart. "He's profiting off this. This guy is a huckster."
The impetus for all of that -- Beck's suggestion, as Breitbart and Bannon saw it, that the Tea Party might be racist. Unforgiveable.