Few would dispute the notion that Andrew Breitbart, 41, has become a major force on the right. Formerly the editor of The Drudge Report, and a primary developer for The Huffington Post, Breitbart has come into his own in recent years as the conservative online publisher for various websites, including Breitbart.com, Breitbart.tv, Big Hollywood, Big Government, Big Journalism, and (the latest) Big Peace.
In recent years, Breitbart has proven an effective, if controversial, conservative online activist. When accusations arose last year that Tea Party members in Washington, D.C., had hurled racial epithets, such as the N-word, at black members of Congress, Breitbart offered to donate $100,000 to the United Negro College Fund to anyone who could provide evidence the allegations were legitimate.
Most recently, Breitbart became embroiled in controversy when he posted an edited video
of a speech by Shirley Sherrod, a regional official with the Department of Agriculture, that misrepresented her comments regarding race.
USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack forced Sherrod, who is African-American, to resign when the video clip suggested she didn't do as much as she could have done to assist a struggling white farmer in Georgia. Turned out, the video showed only part of Sherrod's March speech before a local chapter of the NAACP. She had said that the encounter with the farmer took place in 1986 (before she worked for the government), that it was a learning experience for her, and that she came to realize that economic inequity -- not race -- was the important issue.
I recently chatted with Breitbart about the controversial Sherrod video, as well as his take on the now-defunct JournoList, a listserv where hundreds of liberal journalists and academics would share information.
Q: Ann Coulter was on Fox recently, saying you were "set up," meaning that someone intentionally provided you with a selectively edited copy of Shirley Sherrod's speech. Were you taken advantage of?
I don't believe that I was set up. [The person who provided the video clip of Sherrod's NAACP speech] contacted me back in early April and sent me a DVD, but it didn't transfer properly. . . . I never followed up on it, but I had it in the back of my mind that [Sherrod's comments at the NAACP] occurred. So I contacted him [the video source] after two or three days of the mainstream media's colluding with the NAACP [which passed a resolution condemning racist elements within the Tea Party], giving wall-to-wall coverage, negatively branding the Tea Party as racist
. I got the tape in two excerpts that were sent to me, because I couldn't wait to get this story. I knew from past experience that I had a news cycle to get this out.
Q: You say you couldn't wait to get this story out. Was it your past experience challenging the allegations that someone at a D.C. Tea Party rally used a racial epithet that informed your decision?
I couldn't get any mainstream media to cover that story [Breitbart's offer of $100,000], even though they played up the 'N word' allegation. And so, given that we were in day seven of this successful propaganda campaign asking the question, 'Is the Tea Party racist?' -- and because the standard they set was that someone in an audience expressing a racist thought -- like at the Tea Party it was often based merely on an infiltrator holding a [offensive or racist] sign -- the [Sherrod] video was evidence. You had people in the audience abiding by her discriminating against a white farmer -- clapping and agreeing. That is a [liberal organizer [Saul] Alinsky standard -- hold the opposition to the standard that they set.
Q: How does the Shirley Sherrod story relate to the JournoList story where liberal journalist Spencer Ackerman suggested deflecting attention from the Reverend Wright story, which was hurting Obama, by wrongly accusing a prominent conservative of being a racist?
That collusion to slander by Ackerman -- and the sin of omission of the other 400 people on the list -- to abide by that calculated evil -- shows that we have a tremendous problem in journalism today -- and then they come and ask me about my tactics. I'm trying to end JournoList collusion that goes well beyond the [listserve's founder] Washington Post's Ezra Klein's 400 friends and collaborators, and that includes Politico and Bloomberg. Where are they firing people? Where are the questions about this monumental act of journalistic fraud? Where are the mass firings?
Q: Do you feel like you made a mistake by rushing to get the Shirley Sherrod video out too soon, though?
It had to be done at the exact moment in time that the press would notice it. . . . I grant her that she had her redemptive transformation. I said that her humanity caused her to help the farmer, and that it's not just about race
. Notice how the press conspicuously ignores that. It's in the video and it's in the text [of Breitbart's original post on the topic]. Who is doing the selective editing here? This is about destroying me. This is about the NAACP, but they've made it about me versus her. This is about exposing the Democratic Party and the progressive strategy of framing opposition to the Democratic Party agenda as racist.
Q: So you don't regret how the Shirley Sherrod video story played out?
The only regret I have is that the NAACP had the video and didn't look at it. And the White House went after Shirley and could have looked at the video -- and read my piece -- and said that she had a transformation . . . But the NAACP and the White House are the ones who rushed to judgment. The reason the press refuses to explore the possibilities behind why the USDA and the White House moved so swiftly to 'can' Shirley -- Congressman Steve King points to the Pigford settlement
[of a discrimination suit against the Department of Agriculture], and Shirley Sherrod's involvement in it. There are major allegations of monumental fraud there. The last thing the administration wants is an investigation into Pigford.
Q: Fox News has been criticized for airing the video and for pushing this story. Do you believe that Fox jumped the gun by running with this story before seeing the full video and putting her words in context?
The excerpt that started this, to this day, is newsworthy. It served the purpose of showing there was a double standard between the NAACP accusing the Tea Party. It is the White House -- I reiterate -- it is the White House and [Agriculture Secretary] Tom Vilsack and the NAACP who did not do their due diligence. [That] or they are worried about the political implications of drawing attention to somebody involved in a very controversial matter. . . .
Q: Anything else folks should know about this or about Andrew Breitbart?
Believe it or not, one of my primary motives on this planet is to stop this racism, and to stop the Democratic Party's use of race that divides us intentionally. Google me and Clarence Thomas. I went from left to right because I watched this tactic happen to him and I aligned myself with black conservatives. Free thinkers recognize the Democratic Party will do or say anything to instill fear into black Democratic voters. . . . Shirley Sherrod in that video said those who disagree with Obamacare are coming from a racist point of view. That is a troubling racist sentiment.
Go ask black Tea Party candidate Cedra Crenshaw
-- who was thrown off the ballot in Illinois on a technicality long before this story broke. We mounted an effort to get her back on the ballot that raised tens of thousands [of dollars]. She says we were the ones that successfully got her back on the ballot. Why doesn't the media give Cedra a call and talk about my passion about making the Tea Party as inclusive as humanly possible? Why doesn't the media ask 'Uni-Tea,' a minority-based Tea Party event that I'm speaking to on July 31, and that I committed to long before this story broke why I do what I do -- and why I am so passionate about it? But the JournoListers aren't about getting to the truth -- they are out to destroy their political enemy in the name of objective journalism.