It is important that I start by saying I don’t personally know Andrew Breitbart or Glenn Beck. I met Breitbart once, for about 60 seconds, at CPAC 2010. I also interviewed him by phone on May 21st, with my co-host Daria DiGiovanni, on Conservative Republican Forum. I have never met or spoken to Glenn Beck. I admire what both of these men have accomplished.
Glenn Beck versus Andrew Breitbart
*Updated (see below).
On the evening of May 24th I became aware of a feud between Andrew Breitbart and Glenn Beck, two conservative media heavyweights, that apparently has been brewing for the better part of a year. The dispute goes back to the story of Shirley Sherrod, the USDA employee, who was forced to resign in July of 2009 after a video of her speaking at a local NAACP chapter meeting was shown on Breitbart’s BigGovernment website.
In the video Mrs. Sherrod- who is black- talks about an experience she had with a white farmer who came to her for help saving his farm. She tells the audience among other things that, “I was struggling with the fact that so many black people have lost their farmland and here I was faced with having to help a white person save their land — so I didn’t give him the full force of what I could do. I did enough.”
This video became public at a time when the NAACP and much of the liberal media were attempting to portray the Tea Party movement as racist. Not surprisingly conservative media outlets: including FoxNews and others ran with the story. This led to Mrs. Sherrod, the USDA’s Georgia Director of Rural Development, being forced to resign by Secretary Tom Vilsack to avoid embarrassing the Department and the Obama Administration.
Unfortunately the video on BigGoverment’s website was not the full video of the event. It was however “the entirety of the speech [Breitbart] had in his possession”, according to blogger Ed Morrissey at HotAir.com. Mrs. Sherrod goes on to explain the error of her initial impression, this fact was later confirmed by the farmer himself and his wife. In fact the wife calls Sherrod a “friend” who “helped us save our farm”.
Andrew Breitbart has said that the point of the video was not Mrs. Sherrod’s statement, but rather the way that the audience laughed and seemed to approve of her not giving the white farmer “the full force of what” she could do. Again, the NAACP was accusing the Tea Party of racism and Breitbart had a tape of people at a NAACP chapter meeting embracing her story of black on white racism.
The dispute between Beck and Breitbart stems from some of the claims Beck made about how he covered the story, including: “We didn’t rush to condemn her”, “We defended her and said her side of the story demanded to be heard- because– context matters.”
It is true that on his Fox News Channel show Beck did not condemn Shirley Sherrod. But what was not revealed to his TV audience, and was largely ignored in the media, was that earlier that morning on his nationally syndicated radio program (before all the exculpatory information became known and put her comments in context) Beck did attack Sherrod in 3 segments, totaling about 9 minutes.
Click below to hear the segments from 7/20/2010:
Glenn Beck Radio Audio Segment 4
Glenn Beck Radio Audio Segment 11
Glenn Beck Radio Audio Segment 12
If Beck had simply said he didn’t have all the facts when his radio show aired and had framed his future coverage of the story that way, there would have been no problem. But instead he told this cable audience, “I have a story I want to share with you that I haven’t shared yet. Do you know why I didn’t do the Shirley Sherrod story? Did anyone think that story was uncommon for the people that we have in the White House? That there might be some prejudice that is happening? No. I stood in my office with my entire team, and I said, “Something’s wrong, don’t do this story.” That’s what saved me: the Sword of the Spirit.”
Clearly, this is not the case. He attacked Mrs. Sherrod on his radio show based on the information he had in his possession at that time. He also ignored the context of the article that accompanied the audio he was using to attack her. Then when the full story became clear Mr. Beck didn’t simply admit it, he made himself the victim and started to blame others.
Click below to see Glenn later the same day on his Fox News show:
Beck- Context Matters Part 1
Beck- Context Matters Part 2
Beck- Context Matters Part 3
Beck- Context Matters Part 4
On his Twitter feed Breitbart says he’s “been trying since July 2010 to get him [Beck] to set [the] record straight”. He says he “sucked it up for most of a year & went to Beck’s office last month. Talked to [a] top exec. Expected results. Got none”.
Breitbart goes on to ask “Beck fans” 5 questions:
- “Is it cool your guru goes behind my back to hire away my editors, take bloggers/contributors & while bad mouthing me?”
- “Why’d he take so much Big content w/out attribution during even our high times? Is partial attribution the ‘truth’ standard?”
- “When he was throwing me under [the] Sherrod bus, why’d he double down & lie to O’Reilly’s face that he didn’t do [the] story?”
- “Why has he avoided a year of me trying to settle this privately through Kerry, LibertyChick & others?”
- “Why’d you go after O’Keefe & me (though I had nothing to do w/NPR)? @mmfa [Media Matters for America] sure liked that d*ck move!”
I have been to GlennBeck.com and TheBlaze.com to see if Mr. Beck has addressed Mr. Breitbart’s charges. I could find no evidence that he has. On his cable show Beck tells his viewers a few things that have always made me respect him: “Don’t take my word for anything I say on this show”, “do your own research”, “truth has no agenda” and “QUESTION WITH BOLDNESS”.
I don’t have a dog in this hunt. Both Andrew Breitbart and Glenn Beck are titans of conservative media that have inspired many of us to write, broadcast, investigate and question. If I had never heard of the two of them I might not be writing for this publication and likely would not be hosting my own radio show.
Andrew Breitbart vs. Glenn Beck, to me, is the equivalent of the old Japanese monster movie ‘King Kong vs. Godzilla’ (I’m not sure who is who). It is a colossal battle and just as the result of those two monsters fighting led to the destruction of Tokyo, a battle between Breitbart and Beck could lead to damage to the conservative movement and media. The only winners in this dispute are left-wing media organizations like Media Matters for America, the DailyKos, MSNBC and the New York Times.
And yet it seems the difficult question that must be asked, because “the truth has no agenda”, is: “Is Glenn Beck a hypocrite?” Has he failed to live by the standards he espouses to his audience? His listeners, viewers and all the people that buy his books and have traveled vast distances to attend his rallies, not to mention all the people that follow his 9 principles and 12 values (912) deserve to know the truth of what really happened.
Andrew Breitbart has made his side of the story extraordinarily clear and very public. He has brought the issue of Glenn Beck’s ethics and integrity to the court of public opinion, because he says Beck refused to deal with it privately for almost a year. To put it simply Beck’s principles and values have been challenged, this time by a conservative peer not some left-winger. Shouldn’t Glenn address this? His silence is deafening.
Updated 12:30pm 5/26/11:
It appears that Glenn Beck’s producers did go on to defend Mrs. Sherrod in the 4th hour of the show which is available only to SUBSCRIBERS OF HIS INSIDER EXTREME service. They play audio of a CNN interview with Mrs. Sherrod, where she defends herself and tries to explain why she did not fight when the USDA and White House demanded her resignation. You can judge for yourself the veracity of her claims and how much the Beck producers actually defend Sherrod.
LiveLeak.com audio of 4th Hour (Insider Extreme) of Glenn Beck Radio Show
Steven Rosenblum is the host of ‘Conservative Republican Forum’ & ‘CRF Weekdays’ on BlogTalkRadio and the USA Talk Radio Network. He was also the 2010 GOP nominee for Florida State House-District 89.