The Corner

Once More Into the Breitbart Breach

My views on the Sherrod affair are pretty well aired out by now. I think Andrew Breitbart made a mistake releasing the video the way he did. I had a long talk with him the other day, and he makes a strong case for himself. But rather than debate all that again, let me instead just go on record coming to the man’s defense more generally. The rush to discredit Andrew has been shot through with so much bad faith and BS it’s hard to know where to start. I particularly like the effort by the Huffington Post to discredit . . . the creator of the Huffington Post.*

It seems like countless people on the left, starting with Shirley Sherrod herself, think either that it’s true that Andrew’s a racist or that it’s just fine to call him one. Neither is the case. Andrew is no racist, not even close.

But one of his prime motivations is to fight back against false charges of racism. That makes him terribly inconvenient to the racial Left, particularly those who’ve made a cottage industry out of unfairly accusing conservatives of racism (by the way, where are all the MSM retractions for the N-word fraud, so widely accepted by the media establishment?).

Nor is Andrew dishonest. He didn’t edit that Sherrod video.

What Andrew did do (in my opinion) is rush the Sherrod video out too quickly. That’s not dishonesty; that’s just another cautionary tale about the perils of the too-fast news cycle, the Internet, and the pitfalls of political enthusiasm. Andrew’s mistakes are so much less exciting than his critics want them to be. In fact, they are no different than the sorts of errors made by liberal journalists and activists every day. The stakes are higher because of Andrew’s successes and the desire of his enemies to preempt any future successes.

I don’t want to defend the release of the Sherrod video because, as I’ve said from the beginning, I think it was ill-advised and unfair to her. (Yes, even though she is a piece of work.) But I’m happy to defend Andrew, the man. He’s a shockingly nice guy who, thanks to his hard work and fearlessness, has had a huge impact. It seems that for many, it’s that impact that offends.

Oddly, of all people, Jon Stewart has been more fair to Andrew than almost anybody on the left has. My only objection is that the upshot of Stewart’s swipe is that it should be obvious that Breitbart will be less than honest. Being dedicated to dismantling the liberal establishment doesn’t imply underhandedness in and of itself any more than being dedicated to dismantling the establishment Right does. For example, Saul Alinsky was dishonest, Michael Harrington was honest.

And since we’re on the subject of defending Andrew, let me disassociate myself with this reprehensible effort. I have no idea what Jeffrey Lord was drinking or smoking, but Breitbart doesn’t need friends like this. I’m not sure anyone does.

* Oh, one last point on the Huffington Post. This was the same outfit that reported after Hurricane Katrina that blacks — and only blacks — were eating the flesh of the dead. Now that was racist and untrue, yet no one argued that the Huffington Post should be hounded from society.

Jonah Goldberg, a senior editor of National Review and the author of Suicide of the West, holds the Asness Chair in Applied Liberty at the American Enterprise Institute.

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