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    The Original Sherrod Clip Was Not “False”

    The Original Sherrod Clip Was Not “False”

    The left-wing blogs and media are hoping beyond hope that Shirley Sherrod sues Andrew Breitbart.

    One common theme, echoed by Sam Stein at HuffPo, and various people he quotes, is that the original clip released by Breitbart was “false.”

    To portray the clip as “false” is wrong. The clip itself was what it was. No one is claiming that the words were changed or edited within the time span shown on the clip.

    The original Sherrod clip was no worse, and in many way much more fair, than the clips and words taken out of context that we see every day at Democratic media machines.

    I previously posted about how Gawker and Think Progress ran headlines that Bill O’Reilly had said that a black guest looked like a drug dealer? Those headlines and the articles were literally true, but wildly out of context meant to portray O’Reilly as racist. Breitbart’s conduct did not rise anywhere near that.

    The original Sherrod clip certainly gave enough of a flavor that Sherrod was talking about something in the past, and had changed (watch the clip beginning at 1:50, where Sherrod mentions that she no longer views race as the real issue). The full speech gives an even more complete version of that supposed transformation, but that does not make the shorter version “false.”

    Even Breitbart’s original description of the tape — before the full tape was available, actually disclosed Sherrod’s transformation (emphasis mine):

    In the first video, Sherrod describes how she racially discriminates against a white farmer. She describes how she is torn over how much she will choose to help him. And, she admits that she doesn’t do everything she can for him, because he is white. Eventually, her basic humanity informs that this white man is poor and needs help. But she decides that he should get help from “one of his own kind”. She refers him to a white lawyer.

    To the extent the original clip and Breitbart’s description portrayed Sherrod as having engaged in a racist act in the past, such implication literally was true, as Sherrod admits. The actions people in the Obama administration took, and the conclusions the media drew from that literal truth may have been unfair and precipitous, but that does not make the clip defamatory.

    I think Sherrod’s chances of winning a suit are much, much weaker than portrayed by Stein and the people he quotes.

    Any such suit would be political in nature, done for some ulterior motive.

    Which, as I have pointed out, may not be the worst of outcomes for Breitbart, because a lot of people will be in the hot seat.

    Related Posts:
    Shirley Sherrod May Make Andrew Breitbart’s Day
    Context! For We, But Not For Thee
    Shocked – Think Progress Misleading Anti-Tea Party Video

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    @RegisteringSucks…I always thought the original story was not so much about Sherrod but about how the crowd reacted to her story before they knew the ending. The story was in response to the NAACP talking about racists in the Tea Party and this video was a means to tell the NAACP to clean their own house first. Again cleaning the crowd, not necessairly Sherrod.

    The true story is that Andrew Breitbart showed a clip he claimed showed NAACP members applauding discrimination, which is outrageously false and the opposite of what really happened.

    As soon as the whole video was available this was obvious to all careful, honest viewers who troubled to find out what it was about.

    Breitbart's subsequent response–continuing to fail to grasp the social reality displayed–serves as an excellent example of the working of racial paranoia, and is similar in some respects to these cases where people are seen as racist for using words like "niggardly" or phrases like "800-pound gorilla."

    William A. Jacobson: "To the extent the original clip and Breitbart's description portrayed Sherrod as having engaged in a racist act in the past, such implication literally was true, as Sherrod admits."

    This too is outrageously false, and is another example of racial paranoia.

    Let's imagine you are Jewish and you survived the holocaust/Shoah, but your father didn't. You decide to get a job helping fellow holocaust survivors with a Jewish organization. There is no reason to expect that one day, in through your door comes somebody who is not a Jewish survivor of the holocaust, but is in fact a German of the age where the "what did you do during the war" seriously matters, and he starts talking long-windedly and from the way he is talking you can tell he's got ideas about the inferiority of Jews.

    And about the "didn't give him the full force of what I could do"–in any kind of customer service or bureaucratic job that involves helping people–hardly anybody anywhere ever gives "the full force of what [they can] do" in any given interaction. And it's utterly impossible to do that with every client. If your job has a normal workload and you try to do this, you will have to seriously skimp with other clients. The construal of Sherrod as having admitted to engaging in a racist act in this video is delusional.

    Breitbart has seriously beclowned himself, as have those who have ignorantly allowed themselves to be pulled into this ugly community of interpretation.

    Yes the frustration about the substantially spurious accusations about Tea Party racism is part of the necessary context, but it’s an open-and-shut case that Breitbart screwed up, and after the full video came out he REALLY screwed up by propagating the ridiculous bullshit about the nonexistent NAACP applause for alleged discrimination.

    If the video had been released on its own, that would have been one thing. But Breitbart included text at the beginning telling you what you were going to see. This text was radically false, and even though I believe this was an innocent mistake it was nevertheless defamatory.

    Will Saletan has usefully annotated the relevant portions of the video of the speech. Everybody who wants to comment on this story and cares about honesty should read this and then watch the video again.

    Though I think he’s probably wrong about Breitbart lying – I think Breitbart honestly can’t see what’s in front of his nose.

    I don’t know the legal implications here but from an ethical point of view Breitbart is seriously in the wrong, as are his supporters on this matter.

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