Saturday, July 16, 2011

Thug On the Run: Breitbart @ NetRoots Nation

Politico recently reported on Andrew Breitbart's attempt to crash the Netroots Nation gathering in Minneapolis. Fresh from his grandstanding at Rep. Anthony Weiner's resignation, Breitbart apparently arrived with camera crew in tow, believing his arrival carried with it some sort of messianic level of importance that had best be documented. Unfortunately for him, he was barred from the conference hall, so most of those in attendance never realized he was there. The few who had the dubious pleasure of encountering him in the lobby immediately surrounded him, questioning his lack of credentials--documenting this showdown with their own cameras. Mr. Breitbart, who normally delights in being the center of attention, turned tail and quickly retreated--a thug on the run.
For those unfamiliar with Mr. Breitbart, and I suspect the ranks are legion, here are a few career highlights, courtesy of Wikipedia.
A devotee of muckracking journalist Matt Drudge, Breitbart has written several books on the usual right wing targets (the media, Hollywood) and frequently appeared on Fox News (surprise!). In the hours following Ted Kennedy's death, Breitbart demonstrated class and empathy when he apparently referred to the late Senator as "a special pile of human excrement" and "a prick".
Breitbart played a supporting role in the 2009 ACORN video sting, but his greatest claim to fame, or infamy, was his character assassination of USDA employee Shirley Sherrod in 2010. Taking two short video excerpts entirely out of context (from a forty minute speech), he cost Sherrod her job and her good name. After an initial feeding frenzy, the truth won out, but the damage had been done. Bad news will always capture the headlines, while follow-up corrections are lucky to make page 38. Breitbart never issued an apology, though it's comforting to know Ms. Sherrod filed a dfamation suit against him in 2011.
There are already too many polarizing voices in out nation's political discourse; we don't need Andrew Breitbart causing additional wounds and creating deeper divisions. Show some decency, Mr. Breitbart, and keep quiet.

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