Firing of Shirley Sherrod Demostrates Why Right Wing Smears Should Not Be Taken Seriously

Hopefully the premature firing of Shirley Sherrod has been a learning experience for all involved–especially anyone who pays attention to right wing smear campaigns. Media Maters has prepared a time line of the whole affair. To summarize quickly, Sherrod became a target of Andrew Breitbart. Breitbart, like Fox and other conservative attack dogs, uses material taken out of context to attack his targets. He prepared a 2 minute 38 seconds video clip which gives the impression that Sherrod, a black employee of the Department of Agriculture, was refusing to help a white farmer because of his race. The right wing noise machine quickly used this to claim there was racial discrimination in the department.

The full video provides a totally different story as described by AP:

A complete, 43-minute version of the video surfaces the next day, Tuesday, and casts a much different light on Shirley Sherrod’s comments: They were part of an NAACP speech about how she overcame her racial prejudice to help the farmer, not about prejudice that stopped her from helping him.

You would think that by now people would realize that you cannot pay any attention to such right wing smear campaigns. Unfortunately the Obama administration, which certainly should have known better, paid attention to the initial attack and Sherrod was fired. Subsequently the full story came out with both Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack and President Obama offering apologies. Sherrod was also offered another job.

The publicity surrounding this might have created a tipping point where more people recognize the dishonesty of the right wing noise machine in mind. This will hopefully lead to fewer people taking them seriously when they launch their next smear campaign, along with realizing that taking quotes out of context to suggest an entirely different meaning is a common strategy employed on the right.

Glee Makes Fun of Dumb Cheerleaders and Sarah Palin, Upsetting Conservatives

The above scene from Glee contains one of the best lines from network television this week. The video was obtained from Crooks and Liars where I found, not surprisingly, that conservatives are very upset over the way it mocks Sarah Palin. Susie Madrak pointed out this post by Patrick Goldstein of The Los Angeles Times:

I’m not the world’s biggest “Glee” fan, but from what I’d heard from my 11-year-old’s school chums, the musical show is a fun, lighthearted look at a fictional high school glee club in Lima, Ohio. Or, as the San Francisco Chronicle put it, the show is a “quirky, sweet, humorous, non-partisan funfest.”

But now the pundits in the conservative blogosphere, always quick to pull the trigger whenever they see Hollywood trying to hypnotize America using its all-powerful left-wing propaganda machine, have raised the alarm about “Glee,” citing a disrespectful slam at Sarah Palin in the show’s Tuesday night return to the airwaves. As the Newsbusters website described it, Jane Lynch, who plays a conniving high school cheerleading coach, told two of her cheerleaders: “You may be two of the stupidest teens I’ve ever encountered. And that’s saying something. I once taught a cheerleading seminar to a young Sarah Palin.”

“Glee” was already in hot water with the right wing, since the show’s creator, Ryan Murphy, had in previous episodes made fun of abstinence education and, as Newsbusters puts it, “tried to normalize teen homosexuality.” Apparently on the right, treating gay kids as regular folks, instead of as scary deviants, is cause for alarm.

Not to be outdone, over at Andrew Breitbart’s Big Hollywood website, John Nolte has also weighed in with his usual light touch, claiming that the Palin gag was part of a concerted liberal effort to mesmerize your children with lefty propaganda. Here’s his not-quite-so-entirely levelheaded take:

“Glee” is millions of dollars of sound and fury aimed squarely at your children. And as we can now see, the creators are all about getting between you and your kids with their political and social agendas. They know Palin is a growing political force and nothing’s off the table when it comes to marginalizing her — even at the expense of their own show’s entertainment value — even at the expense of audience share.

Poor Ryan Murphy. I guess it would’ve been oh-so-much simpler if he’d just had Jane Lynch tell the silly cheerleaders that they were the dumbest teens she’d ever seen. And that was saying something, since she’d once taught cheerleading to … Megan Fox. It would’ve gotten a nice knowing laugh without prompting any hysterical shrieks of angst from the right-wing blogosphere, which is so paranoid about Hollywood’s oppressive Marxist-Obamaism that it seems bent on getting worked up every time anyone in show business shows any signs of liberal bias.

(As you may recall, the righties were up in arms for weeks when Tom Hanks seemed to imply, while doing interviews promoting HBO’s “The Pacific” series, that there was some link between our war against Japan during World War II and the modern-day war on terrorism.)

But guess what? I’m betting that Murphy is a liberal and he liked the idea of a Sarah Palin joke. The same goes, in reverse, if you listen to right-wing-dominated talk radio, where you can hear Rush Limbaugh, pretty much any day of the week, making jokes about his favorite liberal whipping boys. Ditto for Fox News. The conservatives rule talk radio and cable TV, the liberals rule Hollywood and that’s the way it goes.

What I did find intriguing is that in all the attacks on “Glee,” none of the conservative bloggers got around to mentioning that, despite their constant drumbeat of charges that regular Americans don’t like Hollywood leftist entertainment, “Glee” is a huge hit, with its Tuesday night show drawing 13.7 million viewers, a huge leap forward from the average viewership of its first 13 episodes. And even more intriguing, the conservative bloggers somehow forgot to mention that this leftist propaganda show is, ahem, airing on Fox TV, which is owned, ahem, by arch conservative Rupert Murdoch.

Does that make Rupert a traitor to the cause? Or is he one of those conservatives who actually believes in creative freedom, where show-runners can offer their own special slant on the world as long as they attract enough eyeballs to have a hit show? Does that make Rupert a turncoat? Or is he just the kind of guy who, when it comes to entertainment, believes in different strokes for different folks?

As Madrak  points out, “the creative, talented kids have always sniped at the dumb cheerleaders.” And intelligent people have mocked Sarah Palin ever since she became known nationally, and will continue to mock such a dumb former half-term governor.

Yet one more thing is true. Conservatives will always complain about how they are the victims.

Acorn Cleared By Brooklyn Prosecutors; Tape Found To Be Edited

ACORN was cleared of criminal wrongdoing by Brooklyn prosecutors and the supposedly incriminating tape was found to have been edited. New York Daily News reports:

Brooklyn prosecutors on Monday cleared ACORN of criminal wrongdoing after a four-month probe that began when undercover conservative activists filmed workers giving what appeared to be illegal advice on how to hide money.

While the video by James O’Keefe and Hannah Giles seemed to show three ACORN workers advising a prostitute how to hide ill-gotten gains, the unedited version was not as clear, according to a law enforcement source.

“They edited the tape to meet their agenda,” said the source.

O’Keefe and Giles – who visited ACORN offices in several cities, including its Brooklyn headquarters – stirred controversy when they posted the videos on their Web site.

They were hailed as heroes by the likes of Rush Limbaugh and their footage led several government agencies to temporarily cut funding for ACORN as the prosecutors opened an investigation.

“On Sept. 15, 2009, my office began an investigation into possible criminality on the part of three ACORN employees,” Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes said in a one-paragraph statement issued Monday afternoon.

“That investigation is now concluded and no criminality has been found.”

Update: Many of the attacks on Acorn from the right wing were based upon false information spread by Andrew Breitbart. Media Matters reports that Breitbart has walked back his claims of criminality on the part of ACORN.

Even though the evidence against ACORN has been shown to have been fabricated my bet is that this will not change the attitude of most on the right. They enjoy  living  in their fantasy world and have far too many defenses built up to protect them from facing reality.

The American right wing has become an authoritarian movement which operates by fabricating false evidence to demonize their opponents.  They will hold to their fantasies about ACORN just as many on the right still think that Saddam was involved with the 9/11 attack, there was WMD in Iraq at the time of the war, that the claims of the Swift Boat Liars about John Kerry were anything other than politically motivated lies, and that Barack Obama is a Muslim born outside of the United States.

Tea Party Nation Only Welcomes Friendly Press

The Tea Party Nation has issued a press release stating they only have room for five news organizations at their upcoming convention. They certainly are determined to ensure favorable coverage with all five being on the far right:

Fox News

The Wall Street Journal

World Net Daily

This also demonstrates the degree to which The Wall Street Journal has fallen. Not long ago the editorial page was as far right and dishonest as the others on this list while the news department was excellent. The news department still has not fallen to the levels of the others on the list, but its quality has fallen since Rupert Murdoch bought the paper. The Wall Street Journal, as well as Fox, have not commented yet on this honor.

Right Wing Fails At Manufacturing Culture War Over Art

Culture Monster at The Los Angeles Times writes that the right wing’s attempts at a fake culture war over the arts have not been successful:

When it comes to art, the right-wing anti-Obama crowd hasn’t had a very good year. Repeated efforts to gin up outrage in a manufactured culture war have either fallen flat or proved downright embarrassing. (You can see some of them here, here and here.)

The latest fiasco is the Great Christmas Ornament Scandal.

On Tuesday, Andrew Breitbart’s Big Government blog got its knickers in a twist over one of the Obama White House’s myriad Christmas trees. (Big Government is a sibling to Breitbart’s Big Hollywood blog, which cranked up a paranoid fantasy about the National Endowment for the Arts a few months back.) The blaring “EXCLUSIVE” led with a blurry photo of a decoupage Christmas ornament adorned with the face of Chinese Communist dictator, Mao Zedong.

“Of course, Mao has his place in the White House,” Big Government wailed about the GCOS, taking the Obama-as-socialist meme out for a yuletide spin.

Except, it wasn’t exactly Mao. It was Andy Warhol’s “Mao.”

The image is one of a very large series of silkscreen paintings and prints the late Pop artist made of Mao. Warhol’s parody transformed the leader of the world’s most populous nation into a vapid superstar — the most famous of the famous. The portrait photo from Mao’s Little Red Book is tarted up with lipstick, eye-shadow and other Marilyn Monroe-style flourishes.

Trolls As A Campaign Tactic

Once again the right wing has found a way to cry that they are victims as Breitbart also applies a common right wing tactic of accusing liberals of doing things which the right has actually done. His paranoid rants include:

Much of Mr. Obama’s vaunted online strategy involved utilizing “Internet trolls” to invade enemy lines under false names and trying to derail discussion. In the real world, that’s called “vandalism.” But in a political movement that embraces “graffiti” as avant-garde art , that’s business as usual. It relishes the ability to destroy other people’s property in pursuit of electoral victory.

Trolls are a fact of life on blogs. I receive multiple comments from right wing hardly means that this is a strategy of any campaign (other than John McCain’s.) Anyone concerned that this will destroy their “property” simply has to use the blog’s moderation functions. Most blogs of any size on either the left or right have found it necessary to do so.

While most trolls are acting on their own, using blog comments was actually a strategy of the McCain campaign which Jonathan Martin wrote about last May:

John McCain’s campaign is using their campaign website to encourage supporters to post supportive comments on political blogs, including the most well-known liberal site in the blogosphere.   And to make things easier, they’re including talking points with which sympathizers can use to get out the McCain message.

“Select from the numerous web, blog and news sites listed here, go there, and make your opinions supporting John McCain known,” instructs the page.

McCain supporters are asked to send the details of their comment to the campaign, which in turn will verify it and then reward the supporter with “points” (assumedly to accumulate for McCain swag).

Wired wrote about it in June:

It seems that his campaign team is trying to extend that approach online. The McCain campaign in late May launched a new blogger outreach section on its website that encourages supporters to lobby for their candidate across 94 blogs that range in political bent from far left to far right.

The campaign arms the blog-raiders with one of McCain’s speeches on the need to transcend partisan politics to deal with the problems that the nation faces…

David All, a Republican Web 2.0 consultant, and co-founder of Slatecard, an online political action committee, defended the strategy. He calls it “smart” and “unique.”

“He’s got the most comprehensive blogger outreach strategy, and this is just an evolution of that,” he argues.

In recent years every campaign has had supporters who troll other blogs–and they generally do it without pay or official connections to the campaign. In 2008 this was seen predominantly from Ron Paul supporters with Hillary Clinton’s supporters coming in a distant second. Howard Dean had his share of supporters trolling other blogs in 2004 to the point where the campaign found this to be an embarrassment and urged supporters to cut it out. Sarah Palin has her share of rabid internet supporters, but, true to their candidate, they tend to be the least intelligent and many have difficulty even stringing together coherent troll comments. While Obama made extensive use of the internet to organize supporters, his campaign generally seemed to have far less interest in the blogosphere outside of their own campaign blog than most other recent campaigns.