Boy, was I ready to kick in my TV when this aired. I -- and many of my fellow liberals -- furiously sent off angry emails and tweets to Dylan Ratigan for this fawning piece that ignored what a festering pustule on humanity that Breitbart truly is. James Rucker of Color of Change also found it reprehensible and led a campaign to make sure Dylan Ratigan understood how irresponsible it was to not provide context to let the average viewer know exactly how much credibility should be lent to Breitbart.
As you may know, ColorOfChange members led the charge to ensure that Breitbart's credibility and image weren't sanitized by ABC News or the Huffington Post. After we saw Breitbart on Ratigan's show, with Ratigan seemingly praising Breitbart as "smart" and a "sharp shooter who gets results," we were deeply concerned.
When I spoke with Ratigan, he explained what he was trying to do. He quickly agreed that Breitbart was a race-baiter, dishonest, and undeserving of credibility -- without question. And he frankly hadn't thought about the legitimizing effect that having Breitbart on his show -- without clearly labeling him as the race-baiter and deceiver he is -- would have.
Ratigan's core issue is exposing the corruptive nature of corporate dollars in politics (which I, and many ColorOfChange members would agree is a critical and important endeavor). Ratigan's goal in interviewing Breitbart was to ask him why he chose targets like Sherrod or the NAACP, while Breitbart and the Tea Party activists he defends seems to agree that banks and corporations with undue influence over government are actually the ones destroying our country. It's an important criticism of Breitbart. Ratigan's goal was to keep the conversation there, and he believed that if he focused on Breitbart's penchant for race-baiting and deception, it would simply trigger Breitbart, and he'd end up in the same conversation others have where Breitbart goes on a rampage and the conversation goes nowhere.
Moving forward, Ratigan said that if he deals with Breitbart at all in the future, it will be with the explicit disclaimer that Breibart is someone who deceives and race-baits. Ratigan recognizes and respects the argument that there's a problem with giving Breitbart a mainstream platform, and he's committed to making sure that his show is not used to lend Breitbart the appearance of legitimacy and credibility.
Breitbart, not surprisingly, is completely unapologetic. Can't expect a racist to give up that white robe so quickly. However, I give Ratigan and his producers credit for being receptive to this at all...too often, these kinds of issues are raised by liberals and dismissed out of hand. I'd rather that MSNBC acknowledge that people like Breitbart (and network regular Pat Buchanan, come to that) really have no right to expect a national platform for their racism and hate. I doubt very much that Ratigan or the suits at MSNBC have any idea the message it sends to people of color. But I'll take this incremental step gladly and keep pushing for more.
Kudos to James Rucker and Color of Change.