Anderson Cooper needs to stick to oil spills and hurricanes because when it comes to political commentary he's as lame as the Fox journalists. There's only one story to be told when it comes to the Shirley Sherrod fiasco: Andrew Breitbart lied. That's all. Andrew. Breitbart. lied.
But this is what journalism is today. There is no one with enough of a moral compass to just come out and say that in the media. This is why, by the way, Robert Gibbs and the Obama Administration won't say it either. I'll get to that toward the end of this post, but first let's have a look at Anderson Cooper's Invented America.
COOPER: But we begin with a political storm that nearly destroyed Shirley Sherrod. President Obama spoke with her on the phone today. And we will speak to her in a moment about that conversation.
But first the blogger who slammed Shirley Sherrod, we're "Keeping Them Honest." He is the only actor in this dismal drama that has not apologized to Ms. Sherrod. And, in fact, he says he is the victim and that the Obama administration and mainstream media are out to destroy him.
He told Politico today -- quote -- "I am public enemy number one or two to the Democratic Party, the progressive movement and the Obama administration based upon the successes my journalism has had."
Now, calling what Mr. Breitbart does journalism is hard for those of us who actually check and try to be fair. I'm certainly not perfect, and have made mistakes, and have apologized for them. But journalism shouldn't be about left and right. It should be about the truth.
Up to this point, I'm right there with him. Yes, journalism shouldn't be about left and right. It should be about truth. And facts. And full telling of the truth and facts. If Anderson Cooper had stopped here, I'd be applauding. Andrew Breitbart wouldn't know the truth if it reared up and breathed hot fire in his face.
But this is not what journalists do. We don't live in an age where they actually call it what it is and move on to the next story. No, instead they have to create that false "balance", or equivalence that just doesn't exist.
The single reason that Robert Gibbs and other Obama administration officials, including the President himself, will not call out Fox News and Breitbart is because of stupid assertions like the ones Cooper is about to make. If Gibbs had pointed out that the entire story was the product of a lie manufactured by Andrew Breitbart for attention and giggles, the narrative would have shifted to "Mean President Obama Whines and Picks on Andrew Breitbart".
The administration would have been painted as "petty", "blaming", "ducking the issue". It would have just obfuscated the truth of the matter, which is simple, and which I will repeat a few more times: Andrew Breitbart lied.
What Mr. Breitbart does and what others on the left and the right do may very well be what journalism has become, but it isn't certainly not what it should be. Mr. Breitbart also Politico -- quote -- "The desire here is to make it about me and not the Democratic establishment and the NAACP vs. the Tea Party."
That's been Mr. Breitbart's excuse since it was revealed that his video was not what he said it was. He claims this was never about Shirley Sherrod. In fact, he said to Sean Hannity -- quote -- "I could care less about Shirley Sherrod, to be honest with you."
That is the one thing he has said that is indisputable. He does not care about Shirley Sherrod, doesn't care about making false allegations against her or ruining her career. Andrew Breitbart has his ideology. He believes he is right. And in his mind that justifies any action he takes.
I'm still good with it through this point, even. Cooper has clearly named the villain in the plot and called it non-journalism, which it is. He could have even said Andrew Breitbart just lied, but we all know that would be too good to be true. His next segment is where he falls off the edge of the planet into Outer Journo space:
And that's how ideologues think on the left and on the right. Post a video clip that's misleading? No problem if it helps you make your argument, if it helps boost visitors to your Web site. Make false claims about a person? Why not, if it gets you more Web traffic?
That is where we are today. Andrew Breitbart is conservative. But, as I said, there are liberals online and on TV who do the exact same things. They cherry-pick the facts that prove their arguments, not the facts that reveal the truth.
Oh, really? If you know of any liberal blogger who has intentionally edited a video clip to mislead and cause entire organizations serving poor folks to crumble, post a comment with a link, please. Anderson Cooper's equivalence sounds oh, so lofty until you sit down and ask yourself where exactly are these misleading video clips posted from the left that destroy people?
Where are they? Where is the left saying that an entire organization on the right loaded up voter registrations with bogus Republicans? I've only seen proven allegations with a criminal record to back them up.
Where ARE those lefty videos? Please, show them to me.
Of course, you can't. Because there are none. Huffington Post, which is probably the closest thing to Breitbart's sites, has nothing like that video. This site doesn't. Daily Kos? FireDogLake? I don't see any there. So please, tell me where are these videos?
Of course, Anderson doesn't stop with that. He invokes one of the 'reasonable right' (and I use the term guardedly) to back his assertions.
David Frum, a conservative, said on this program last night the problem is not liberalism or conservatism. It's factionalism, seeing the world through your own limited political lens and never admitting when you have made a mistake, never admitting the other side may be right some of the time, never doing anything that damages your faction.
Funny, I've been known to hammer on those to the left of me about hammering on our own, because they are all too willing sometimes to flog OUR side at the expense of the bigger picture, in my opinion. Whether I hammer or not, there's always someone in the liberal blogosphere willing to take OUR side to task without regard to what the rotten Right might be up to. So again, I'd really like to see the evidence of that. Show us. Quit saying it and show me the goods.
It's a game for people like Mr. Breitbart and others. They don't go out into the field and meet the people they're supposedly reporting on. They don't go out and challenge their assumptions. They stay behind a desk and see the world as black or white, left or right. And it's a lot more complex than that.
Actually, Anderson, here's a news flash for you. I've met Andrew Breitbart and he doesn't sit behind a desk all day. He sits in a bottle a lot, though. Why not call him what he is? A bully, an idealogue, a liar and a likely lush.
This isn't a question of "both sides do it." What Breitbart did, by his own admission, was use a government employee as a weapon to stir racial tension. The fact that it worked at first is another issue entirely. He lied to get a reaction. Andrew Breitbart lied. Repeat after me: Andrew Breitbart lied.
Where I come from, that's dishonest antagonism. Not journalism.