Andrew Breitbart says a video clip he publicized -- showing a now-former U.S. Agriculture Department employee telling a racially charged story about her past -- was a vehicle to target the NAACP for what he says is its hypocrisy on race.
The woman in the video, Shirley Sherrod, was speaking at a local NAACP banquet in Georgia earlier this year when she told a story about initially not giving a white farmer as much help as she could have two decades ago.
Breitbart, the force behind a network of conservative blogs, views this as a takedown -- like the campaign against the community organizing group ACORN, which also notably used video. In that case, the offices of two Democratic prosecutors -- one in New York City; the other in California -- say the footage was edited to portray events out of context.
In an interview Tuesday, Breitbart argued the only valid context is the way liberal groups use race in politics. He points to the disparagement of some Tea Party activists as racially insensitive or far worse and the dismissal of voter intimidation charges against the New Black Panther Party, stemming from an Election Day incident in 2008. He also called out the discussion among opinion writers and bloggers on the supposedly private Journolist, published by the site the Daily Caller, showing their hostility toward coverage of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright's views on race. He noted the suggestion by one or two participants that two critics of President Obama's relationship with Wright be labeled racist.
"If you want to talk about double standards," he said, referring to the New Black Panther Party case, "can you imagine if that were the KKK? ... Of course it would be covered if it were the other way around."
Breitbart and his conservative allies want to wrest the NAACP from its historic and hard-won privileged place in the national conversation on race. Someone like Sherrod would simply be collateral damage.
In his later interview Tuesday evening with CNN's John King, Breitbart said he wasn't responsible for her firing by the Department of Agriculture, despite her claims that he cut off her tale of brushing off a white farmer's concerns before the story's redemptive conclusion. Breitbart even argued the onus was on CNN to prove that a woman it interviewed -- who completely backed Sherrod's account -- was really the wife of the farmer involved.
But Breitbart also told CNN's King that he was in the process of receiving the tape of Sherrod's complete remarks -- an acknowledgment that he had not seen it.
Fox News commentator and conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer has said Sherrod deserves an apology and her job back. A top NAACP official also condemned both Breitbart and Fox News, saying the group had been "snookered" into supporting her firing -- prompting the network to note its news coverage had only given the incident treatment on its website before that occurred.
The battle for the narrative is on. [Copyright 2010 National Public Radio]