Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Still Clueless After All These Years

While it's good to know that the Obama administration has rethought its stupid and impetuous actions in the Shirley Sherrod case, it's also painful to contemplate the levels of political cowardice and incompetence summed up in this Guardian article:

The White House has been forced to make an embarrassing U-turn after it appeared to have acted rashly in approving the sacking of a senior black official who was being targeted by a controversial rightwing blogger.

The Obama administration had initially supported the decision of Tom Vilsack, the agriculture secretary, to force the resignation of Shirley Sherrod after a misleadingly edited version of a speech she gave in March caused outrage on the internet. The edited clips, put out by Andrew Breitbart of the conservative site, who has worked with the leading rightwing blogger Matt Drudge, gave the impression that Sherrod, the department's head of rural development in the southern state of Georgia, had boasted about having discriminated against a white farmer 24 years ago.

But when the full footage of the speech was released hours later, it became clear that she was recounting the story as a parable for why every poor person deserved to be helped equally, whatever their race.

In the wake of the full tape becoming available, the White House said the case should be looked at again. Vilsack, who initially had said his department had a "zero tolerance for discrimination", also made a startling volte face, promising a "thorough review to ensure to the American people we are providing services in a fair and equitable manner".

But by then the damage had been done, with the White House and a key department having apparently acted in haste to force out of office a senior black woman at the whim of rightwing pundits.

Jeebus, but the truth hurts sometimes. The Obama people are supposedly packed with internet savvy; is there nobody in the administration who, you know, monitors the blogosphere or keeps up with the important media-crit sites at least? I mean, anybody who's read Media Matters for even the last six months would know better than to take an Andrew Breitbart story at face value. To act like this because of Andrew Breitbart is beyond shameful:
Sherrod said she was ordered to resign by Vilsack's deputy, Cheryl Cook, while she was on a long drive, and was even ordered to pull over on the side of the road and send in her resignation by Blackberry. "The administration were not interested in hearing the truth. No one wanted to hear the truth," she told CNN.
And I guess nobody at the NAACP keeps up with Media Matters, either:
The saga also embarrassed the NAACP, which was also over-hasty in judging Sherrod, telling Fox News that it repudiated "racists in our ranks". After seeing the full video, it said it had been "snookered" into misinterpreting her views.
Ye gods. After what Breitbart did to ACORN through video trickery, you'd think that any story associated with him would be treated with extreme skepticism by anyone to the left of Tom Tancredo—let alone by people working for the oldest black political organization and the first black POTUS. Yet here we are.

People! Do yourselves a favor: go here, bookmark it, add it to your RSS feeds, subscribe to the email list, whatever. It won't solve all your problems, but it should at least help you avoid being marks for cheap scammers like Breitbart. Tear yourselves away from Politico and Drudge if you have to, and for God's sake get a clue about the media apparatus arrayed against you—before it's too late.

One good thing about living with my parents is that I can watch Rachel and Keith, who have been pounding the Obama administration for all it's worth with regards to their cluelessness, gullibility and utter cowardice on this story.
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