In yet another installment of the Breitbart sagas, a bit of controversy has erupted over the veracity of two videos posted on BigGovernment's site under the careful editorial eye of Dana Loesch, et al. They claim that two university professors are indoctrinating young, impressionable college students with commie union thug tactics. And of course, they have the video to prove it, or so they say.
Here is the first of two videos posted by Breitbart on YouTube and then posted to BigGovernment.com with this headline: "Thuggery 101: Union Official, Professor Teach College Course in Violent Union Tactics". (The original video was pulled from YouTube but I was able to capture it from another site and repost it here)
Neither video credits any outside party, both are posted on YouTube under the name Breitbart, and posted to BigGovernment.com by "Publius", the ubiquitous-yet-anonymous right-wing crusader who always seems to unearth videos with very interesting edits, which often omit footage or rearrange the actual video to give an appearance that the speaker is saying the opposite of what was actually said.
I have obtained the unedited versions of the video they used to make their claims of "thuggery" being taught at the university level and posted them below. As you will see from the transcripts and actual clips, some very creative editing took place.
Beginning with the first cut [:44 to 1:33] which appears to depict Giljum calling for union violence where warranted. Here is the edited version in transcript form:
GILJUM: And I think if you look at labor's history over the years, you'll find that we've had a very violent history with violent protests and certain instances strategically played out for certain purposes that industrial sabotage doesn't have its place. I think it certainly does, but as far as -- you know, and I can't really honestly that I've never wished, that I've never been in a position where I've never wished harm on somebody -- inflicting pain and suffering on some people --
[video breaks to UMKC counterpart at 1:25 and unidentified voice says "We're all human"]
[cut to Judy Ancel]
ANCEL: Violence is a tactic. And it's to be -- it's to be used when it's appropriate, the appropriate tactic.
Here's the unedited version of Giljum:
Transcript of unedited video. Parts in bold are missing from Breitbart's posted video:
I tend to agree with you, because if you look at labor's history over the years, you'll find that we have a very violent history, with violent protests reaction to suppression. Okay? But as time has changed, the tactics have changed or the need for those have changed. Okay.
Now, that's not to say that in certain instances, uh, strategically played out for certain purposes that industrial sabotage doesn't have its place. I think it certainly does. But as far as -- you know, I can't really honestly say that I've never wished -- have never been in a position where I have wished real harm on somebody or um...uh...inflicted any pain and suffering on some people that
[cut away] STUDENT, off camera: We're all human
GILJUM: You know, didn't ask for it but it certainly has its place. It certainly makes you feel a helluva lot better sometimes but beyond that, I'm not sure that as a tactic today violence or reaction to the violence we had back then would be called for here. I think it would do more harm than good.
Ancel is not even a part of the discussion during this full unedited clip with the single exception of the visual cutaway to her during the student voiceover. Here is her unedited video:
Here is the full unedited transcript version of Ancel's remark with sections in bold which were omitted from the Breitbart version:
ANCEL: The one guy in the film, one of the guys who had been one of the young, um, SNCC types, said
-- he represented the kind of thinking that went into this student on the coordinating committee and then later probably -- well, coinciding with the Black Panthers. You know, he said violence is a tactic and it's to be used when it's appropriate, when it's an appropriate tactic. Whether -- they never come back to him to ask him what he thought of the window-smashing in that march or whether or not that was done by them or others or provocateurs. We don't know that.
If those unedited remarks are read as they stand, even without surrounding context, it's clear the Breitbart video was edited to make it appear that Giljum and Ancel said the exact opposite of what they actually did say.
Shorter Breitbart version: Giljum and Ancel are calling for violent responses as appropriate tactics.
True version: Giljum believes violent responses would do more harm than good in today's society, and Ancel is not commenting on the tactic, but on someone else's tactics in a historical context.
Classic Breitbarting in this first video. The rest of it has students quoting or appearing to say things which seem to be threats against capitalism, banks and our current system. Because it is against university privacy policies to show students, I will not be posting video to prove or disprove what they said. However, you are certainly free to draw your own conclusion from the blatant video edits shown here as to whether they are in or out of context.
Judy Ancel has posted a statement, reproduced here, where she offers some context along with vigorous objections to Breitbart's rearrangement of the video feed of the teleconference.
Breitbart is a master of taking quotes out of context, deletion of what doesn’t serve his purpose, and remixing to achieve totally different meaning. For example he has me saying:
o Breitbart’s version: “Violence is a tactic and it’s to be used when it’s the appropriate tactic.”
o The real version: After students had watched a film on the 1968 Memphis Sanitation Workers’ Strike and the assassination of Martin Luther King, they were discussing nonviolence. I said, “One guy in the film. . . said ‘violence is a tactic, and it’s to be used when it’s the appropriate tactic.’ . . . “ The class proceeded to discuss and debate this.
Thus Mr. Breitbart’s editing has literally put words in my mouth that were not mine, and they never were mine.
It's almost a certainty that Andrew Breitbart or his proxies will claim that they didn't have the entire video at their disposal, that they were only given the edited version. Lest you believe that, let me point you to evidence which says otherwise. First, they have promised to provide much more from the 30 hours of video in their possession, which is the length of this course. Second, there is this declaration from the BigGovernment website in response to an editorial on the topic:
“Breitbart’s way?” I guess Shelly just discovered the webernetz and is unaware that Breitbart doesn’t actually edit or produce videos; he serves as a publisher and aggregate, period. In super-layman’s terms that even reporters at the Kansas City Star can understand, this means that other people make the videos and then bring them to Andrew Breitbart who then decides if he wants to publish them on one of his websites. Shelly’s suggestion that he does edit these videos is a lie.
The thought never occurs to Purely Partisan Shelly that the professors in the videos actually said the things they are saying.
If I'm reading that correctly, people bring video to the Breitbart editors (either Breitbart himself or his designated proxies in the form of Dana Loesch et al), who then decide whether to publish them. While denying any editorial responsibility on Breitbart's part, this author then proceeds to say that yes, the professors actually said the things on the video.
Well, no argument at the most superficial level. They did say those words. The problem is, they also said more, and even with the few words Breitbart chose to use, they were rearranged in a way that distorted what they said and the context in which they said it. Loesch, anticipating the possibility they might be held to account for their distortions, has launched a pre-emptive strike:
She takes exception to the portion of the post in which I refer to the Shirley Sherrod video as “doctored.”
“Since when is a video excerpt identical to the full video ‘doctored?‘“Loesch asks. Point taken. I should have referred to the Sherrod video as “deceptively edited.”
Loesch also complains: “Your suggestion that Breitbart himself edited this is false and defamatory and I seek an immediate correction. This series, as with the ACORN tapes and Sherrod video, was presented to him and he acted as an aggregate.”
So, to be clear, Loesch et al are disclaiming any responsibility for featuring video which is clearly edited to convey a message which is exactly opposite of that which the speaker intended. If they intend to do this, then it should also be clearly understood that there is absolutely no pretense of journalism taking place on those sites and anything posted there should not be taken seriously or given any weight whatsoever, now or ever.
Further, as to Loesch's question about a video excerpt which is identical to the full video, that excuse won't fly in this case, because excerpts were not just clipped. They were rearranged. I have italicized the cut in the first clip which would make no sense grammatically until you see where the actual words fit into the full version. So my question for Dana Loesch is this: Since when is an outfit claiming to be journalists exempt from the responsibility for posting and promoting doctored videos?
Since the Breitbart folks claim to have the full 30 hours of video, why haven't they published this one in its original unaltered form as I have here to make crystal-clear what the speaker's intent was?
Ancel: We'll see. Okay, there was another comment there?
Giljum: Well, the only comment I wanted to make was picking up on the issue of violence and people lashing out, because um, certainly I can't say that I've never done that.
Ancel: oh, Don!
Giljum: -- but it's something that I've learned over time to temper very well and avoid it, and actually look upon it as being counterproductive because I think what it does -- it does -- it legitimatizes in my view the presses um, their actions or their impressions, okay? Of the worker, and of the poor, and of the, you know, whatever the issue might be.
It gives credence to their argument that these people need to be controlled. And, you don't want to do that, okay? [unintelligible] There's no need, there's no excuse -- they don't need an excuse -- to lash out at workers or anything else, but...when you do something like that it does give some legitimacy to their action then and you just want to strip all that away.
Not really the words of a guy calling for thuggery and violence is it? In fact, it seems to me that he is advising students NOT to use violent means to resist power, because it actually gives power to the standard stereotypes and paints resistors with a bold, black mark.
As it happens, Don Giljum was due to retire on May 1st from his responsibilities with the union and his employer. Because Breitbart has smeared his reputation and distorted his words, he was pressured to resign his union positions now, which he has done. Granted, it's only a 3-day difference, but there is a material difference between resigning and retiring, not only in the eyes of the public but in the eyes of his peers.
United Association for Labor Education member Steven Ashby:
UALE member Steven Ashby of the University of Illinois said, “It’s no coincidence this attack comes in the wake of the biggest workers’ upsurge in 30 years, in Wisconsin.”
The goal of labor education programs, Ashby said, “is to educate and assist workers to build stronger unions. The right wing would like all labor studies programs wiped out because they want all unions wiped out.”
Brietbart is more than happy to help them with that, but by now, the rest of us should know better.
Update: Insurgent Visuals, the purveyor of these videos, is now doubling down and defending themselves while failing to note that the actual unedited clips do not sequentially play as they characterize them. In other words, they'll cop to editing but only in sequence, when in fact, they overlaid two distinctly different clips with remarks made at two distinctly different times on each other.
Further, they ask why it is that the university hasn't released the full video to the public without mentioning the privacy issues with regard to students' comments and identities. If, as they claim, the video is available to download via the university system, and that is how they obtained it, and if they have copies of the full video, why haven't they released the full versions to support their accusations?
Update 2: Media Matters has now picked this up too.
Update 3: Big Government has now issued their first correction, where they 'inadvertently forgot' to say they left out the entire middle (with the real meaning) of Giljum's quote.
Also, Media Matters points out that for all Breitbart's bluster over free speech, he shows himself as the hypocrite we know he is. He is suppressing free speech in because in his world, only Tea Partiers have the right to it. The rest of us can live under their totalitarian regime for all he cares.