Ruh roh. Looks like some people are getting a look behind the curtain:
The controversy illustrates the influence of right-wing Web sites like the one run by Andrew Breitbart, the blogger who initially posted the misleading and highly edited video, which he later said had been sent to him already edited. (Similarly, Mr. Breitbart used edited videos to go after Acorn, the community organizing group.) Politically charged stories often take root online before being shared with a much wider audience on Fox. The television coverage, in turn, puts pressure on other news media outlets to follow up.***
Fox News began its pursuit of Ms. Sherrod in prime time on Monday night on three successive opinion shows that reached at least three million people. Leading off, Mr. O’Reilly asked on his top-rated program, “Is there racism in the Department of Agriculture?” He discussed the tape, plugged Mr. Breitbart’s Web site and demanded that Ms. Sherrod resign immediately.
By the time Mr. O’Reilly’s remarks, which were taped in the afternoon, were broadcast, Ms. Sherrod had indeed resigned, a development that Fox’s next host, Mr. Hannity, treated as breaking news at the beginning of his show. He played a short part of what he called the “shocking” video from Mr. Breitbart, and later discussed the development with a panel of guests, mentioning the N.A.A.C.P.’s recent accusations of racism within the conservative Tea Party movement.
“It is interesting they just lectured the Tea Party movement last week,” Mr. Hannity said, telegraphing a talking point that would come up repeatedly on other shows.
Now if they can just recognize that this is how every ginned up nontroversy from ACORN to the NBPP story is promoted, we will have made some real progress.