WaPo's E.J. Dionne attempts to rally the troops in the progressive mainstream media apparently believing that the best defense is a good offense.
The smearing of Shirley Sherrod ought to be a turning point in American politics. This is not, as the now trivialized phrase has it, a "teachable moment." It is a time for action.
Action for Dionne is writing another predictable and lame attack on the conservative forces of darkness. But just to be clear, Mrs. Sherrod was not "smeared." A clip of her speech to the NAACP was posted on Andrew Breitbart's web site and the clip showed her admitting that her own racial attitudes figured into how much help she would give a white farmer who was in financial trouble. She was not smeared, she was taken out of context. Something that is done by the media every day when it selectively pulls the juiciest or most controversial quote from a speech or statement and runs from there. However, in Mrs. Sherrod's case, her wonderful liberal bosses were so concerned with racial politics and their own jobs they threw her under the bus. They were the ones who smeared her by, in effect, calling her an intolerable black racist, publicly firing her and then patting themselves on the back for doing so.
The mainstream media and the Obama administration alike must stop cowering before a right wing that has persistently forced its own propaganda to be accepted as news by persuading traditional journalists that "fairness" requires treating extremist rants as "one side of the story."
Right. The mainstream media and the Obama administration must stop cowering and start forcing its own propaganda to be accepted as news. Life was so much easier for the liberals in the mainstream press before the inception of FOX News.
And there can be no more shilly-shallying about the fact that racial backlash politics is becoming an important component of the campaign against President Obama, and against progressives in this year's election.
This is Dionne's way of taking a page of his fellow liberal Spencer Ackerman's playbook. Pick a conservative, "Fred Barnes or Karl Rove, who cares and call them racist." Thanks to Ackerman and his fellow "Journolists," what is becoming an important component of the campaign against progressives is their disgusting willingness to smear their opponents as racist for partisan political advantage. A word to the wise: When you whip your opponents with the race lash, expect a back-lash.
The administration's response to the doctored video pushed by right-wing hit man Andrew Breitbart was shameful.
It wasn't "doctored." It was selectively quoted from. Again, something the left and the mainstream media, does all the time. Breitbart, it should be remembered, is not a journalist. He's a conservative activist. He is a spin meister, who tries to help his side and hurt the opposition. Journalists and even pundits, should attempt to live up to a higher standard of fairness. Dionne is failing to do so here and below.
The obsession with "protecting" the president turned out to be the least protective approach of all.
The first reaction of the Obama team was not to question, let alone challenge, the video. Instead, it assumed that whatever narrative Fox News might create mattered more than anything else, including the possible innocence of a human being outside the president's inner circle. She could be sacrificed without a thought.
Finally, E.J. gets something right. "Whatever the narrative FOX News might create..." for it hadn't created any narrative - or even aired the story - before the President's men trashed and then canned Sherrod. Few bosses in America would have been dumb and rash enough to fire an employee based on such a charge without talking to the employee first and investigating the matter further.
Obama complained on ABC's "Good Morning America" that Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack "jumped the gun, partly because we now live in this media culture where something goes up on YouTube or a blog and everybody scrambles." But it's his own apparatus that turned "this media culture" into a false god.
So Obama throws Vilsack under the bus and blames "the media culture." Dionne makes no mention of the role White House staffers played in this fiasco. On the day of the firing, Obama advisor Jim Messina reportedly bragged about the speed with which the White House fired Sherrod. But never mind because...
... the Obama team was reacting to a reality: the bludgeoning of mainstream journalism into looking timorously over its right shoulder and believing that "balance" demands taking seriously whatever sludge the far right is pumping into the political waters.
Oh, that's an unfortunate metaphor. It might remind people how hapless and slowly the Obama team reacted to the BP disaster in the gulf. Where's Dionne's liberal editor when you need him.
This goes way back. Al Gore never actually said he "invented the Internet," but you could be forgiven for not knowing this because the mainstream media kept reporting he had.
Yes, you'll be forgiven for not knowing what Al Gore never said. Dumb mainstream media.
(Skipping down... Dionne criticizes his newspaper's ombudsman for taking it to task for not reporting on the New Black Panthers voter intimidation story and the Justice Department controversial handling of the case.)
Never mind that this is a story about a tiny group of crackpots who stopped no one from voting.
How does Dionne know this? Because a spokesman for the Obama Justice Department say so. Dionne goes on to trash DOJ whistleblower J. Christian Adams for his claim that the department was "motivated by a lawless hostility toward equal enforcement of the law." And why shouldn't he be believed? Because he is a "Republican activist" who was a Florida poll watcher in 2004 for the Bush campaign. Not only that but, wrote Dionne, he was "involved in a controversy over whether a black couple could cast a ballot."
You got that. Here's Dionne doing exactly what he claims to be so offended by when it is done by a conservative activist like Breitbart. He suggests Adams has bad racial motives. Any questioning of a black couple's right to vote is tantamount to racism. Never mind, that the couple in question wasn't registered to vote where they showed up to vote and that they were offered a provisional ballot, as required by law, and they refused to take it.
Having trashed and dismissed Adams for essentially being a right-wing Republican racist. He acts as if Adams is the lone DOJ lawyer who questioned the dropping of the Black Panther case. He is not. Adams quit his job rather than be silenced. Other DOJ lawyers were ordered not to talk about the case, told to refuse to comply with subpoenas issued by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, and/or transferred.
Bartle Bull, a long-time Democrat, a former political adviser to Robert F. Kennedy who travelled south in the 1960s to protect the voting rights of black voters in the 1960s was a poll watcher in Philadelphia on that faithful day in 2008. He saw and heard what the two New Black Panther Party thugs were doing at the polls that day.
"I find it deeply offensive," Bull said. "I know people who died over these issues, like Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. If we can't defend their legacy, it's shameful to us and this administration."
He says the Obama administration's actions amount to protecting the New Black Panthers.
"If Americans can't vote honestly, and the government doesn't protect their right to vote, we don't live in a democracy. Last year Obama complained when the government in Afghanistan did not run the election properly. What about Pennsylvania?"
Bull has already testified before the Civil Rights Commission, and the commissioners also want to hear from Christopher Coates, the former chief of the Justice Department's voting section who has since been transferred to the U.S. attorney's office in South Carolina. But the commission claims the Justice Department is blocking Coates from testifying about why the case was dropped.
Bull said that in 2008, one of the Black Panthers turned to him and said "now you will know what it means to be ruled by the black man, cracker."
The result of the Justice Department action, or lack of it, he said, is that "these guys now think it's safe for them to bully voters and citizens. And that's why the Department of Justice must stand up."
What does Dionne have to say about Bull's comments? Nothing. Why? I suspect because he can't spin them to be the ravings of a right-wing racist. Instead, Dionne pretends they were never made.
The reason the New Black Panther case made the news is because it's newsworthy. So is the firing of Shirley Sherrod. Andrew Breitbart didn't fire her. But he cleverly and cynically set a trap for the NAACP and the Obama Administration to fall into and that's just what the numbskulls did.
Poor Dionne, suddenly he and his friends in the "mainstream" (read: liberal) media can't control the narrative of every story that comes down the pike. They don't get to decide what gets covered and what doesn't; what's a story and what isn't.
His idea of action is to write a column accusing conservatives of bad faith, bad politics and race baiting. Spencer "Call them racist" Ackerman was more succinct. No shilly-shallier, he.