BMGers, do you remember how Andrew Breitbart selectively edited video of Shirley Sherrod, and fooled the media and skittish Democrats into believing she was racist, when her whole life was devoted to helping Americans overcome the history of racism? You would think people would be extremely careful about repeating stories from Breitbart after that.
Andrew Breitbart, if you don’t know, was a guy who swore he wanted to destroy the “institutional left.” He’s dead now, but his partisan practices of manipulating the media (and therefore government decisions) without a care to context or truth lives on in Breitbart.com. There is a rightwing noise machine that will constantly publish malarkey, in the hopes that someone with more credibility will pick up the topic because it is “out there.” Like Benghazi.
Today’s Globe makes me wonder if Breitbart.com has managed to manipulate the media once again. Joan Vennochi repeats the old story that rightwingers pushed in 1999, accusations from an Arkansan named Juanita Broaddrick after Ken Starr gave her immunity against perjury. Unfortunately, Ms. Vennochi did not take into account some context: Ms. Broaddrick had two friends/employees whose father was murdered in 1971. In 1980, Gov. Clinton lost an election, and approved over a 100 commutations from the state parole board. In one of these cases, Clinton commuted this particular murderer’s death penalty to jail time, which was served out until 1993. The victim’s families were angered, as were other people in that particular county. This allegation about Clinton got shopped around by the Republican Sheffield Nelson (who Clinton beat in 1990) but the LA Times decided not to print it. You can read more about this on pages 60-64 of The Hunting of the President by Joe Conason and Gene Lyons.
After living through the 1990’s media and their elevation of so many crazy charges (Whitewater) and then their failure to vet George W. Bush’s readiness to be President, it bothers me to see rightwing noise get repeated without context or critical thought. The rightwing does this because it is a good strategy for them politically. They did it to the Clintons, and they do to the Obamas. If a Democrat gets anywhere near the White House, the noise machine gets fired up, and hopes the mainstream media will follow.
The right will argue it’s all about ideology. Liberals like Clinton get a break that conservatives do not. According to Breitbart.com, race also factors in. There is more sympathy for a white southerner like Clinton than a black comic like Cosby.
Maybe we expect more from a sitcom fantasy figure like Cosby’s Dr. Huxtable than we do from real-life politicians.
Or maybe, while Bill is off the hook, Hillary isn’t. The next two years will certainly tell us whether his long-ago activities are the shadow campaign issue for his wife.
What is that last bit about? Is Joan Vennochi, a columnist for a paper with a nationwide reputation, going to start reprinting uncritically every innuendo the rightwing noise machine broadcasts about Hillary?
Because it’s “out there?”