Awhile back, particularly during the Clinton administration, the media would flagellate itself every so often for rushing, lemming-like, to cover some story or other that was being touted on the Drudge Report, and then, after a period of reflection, deciding that it shouldn’t be. There was usually a Howard Kurtz column to demarcate such an episode. But the recidivism rate was high. Invariably, the media would chase the next Drudge rumor, and the whole cycle would repeat.
That doesn’t seem to happen anymore, at least not with Drudge. But it does happen, and more powerfully than ever, with Andrew Breitbart, who has inherited Barnum’s instinct for what will cause a circus and the certainty that suckers are still being born every minute. One difference is that Drudge usually focused on sex scandals and tawdry personal humiliations, which, in the end, is hardly worth getting worked up about. Yes, yes, shame on reporters for taking the bait. But c’mon.***
But what’s galling to me–gut-wrenching, really, like watching old news footage of blacks being beaten and clubbed at lunch counters–is that Breitbart obviously understood the powerful effect his tape would have, posted it anyway, and then assumed the role of ringmaster, expertly conducting the media circus, fanning the flames. It’s hardly the first time. But the moral ugliness of what’s just happened is glaring, and it’s hard for me to see how the media can justify continuing to treat Breitbart as simply a roguish provocateur. He’s something much darker.
Josh is missing a piece- FOX news. Fox is a pivotal piece that was missing in the Clinton era, and moves all these crazy conspiracies and smears without so much as a thought. Watch Megyn Kelly yesterday:
And there are all sorts of “reasonable conservatives” out there willing to push whatever lie comes across their desk. Ed Morrisey:
The NAACP is about to learn one of the most basic of all lessons in life — those who live in glass houses should avoid provoking a stone-throwing war. After the civil-rights organization threatened to issue a condemnation of Tea Party activism by equating it with racism (a position from which they ultimately retreated), Andrew Breitbart announced that he would publish at least one video of the NAACP itself cheering racism. Breitbart delivers on that promise today at Big Government, showing USDA official Shirley Sherrod explain to an appreciative NAACP audience in July 2009 how she deliberately withheld information from a white farmer in Georgia trying to save his land and his business…
Nothing is going to change, though, because our media is just too afraid of being called liberal, and then when they are attacked, seem to relish being the victim. As DougJ pithily noted: “Why not just hire a hooker to dress up as Sarah Palin and beat you with a riding crop?”
I guarantee this will happen again in a few weeks. Already, the wingnuts are trying to claim this was not about Shirley Sherrod, but about the “NAACP crowd.” It’s absurd, but all signs point to the fact that they will get away with it.
Lee Atwater, eat your heart out.