One frequent accusation thrown at me by some liberals is that my opinions are dishonest or untrustworthy because I work and am friends with notorious conservative publisher and roller blader Andrew Breitbart. The criticism usually comes in the following form…
The argument is so simplistic: I think what I think because someone gave me money. Of course, these people weren’t making these same arguments when I was getting money from liberal groups MoveOn or Brave New Films or Talking Points Memo. Taking money from them didn’t cloud my judgment or impair my thinking, apparently. Nope. Only money that has passed through the hands of someone conservative has the magic power to make me change my ideas.
Of course, this is a stupid line of attack. It’s a variant of the ‘you’re a secret Republican!’ argument. But it’s not just bad rhetoric. It’s actually completely backwards. I’m not seeing the liberal hypocrisy in sharper focus now because I work with Andrew Breitbart. Instead, I work with Andrew Breitbart because I was already seeing the hypocrisy in stark relief.
The turning point for me was the Jon Stewart’s Rally To Restore Sanity last year. I thought that event had significant message that got lost – both liberals and conservatives need to chill. Stewart said in his closing speech…
Not being able to distinguish between real racists and Tea Party-ers, or real bigots and Juan Williams or Rick Sanchez, is an insult, not only to those people, but to the racists themselves who have put in the exhausting effort it takes to hate..
And I thought, “Right on.” Sane, balanced point from Jon Stewart and delivered to his mostly liberal audience. He’s influential and I had high hope for about 4 hours.
Then, the crushing liberal backlash against Stewart began. It seemed that lots of liberals loved the idea of ‘sanity’ as long as they could still call conservatives crazy and stupid. Olbermann, Bill Maher, Mother Jones and on and on – they all attacked Stewart and threw around the phrase ‘false equivalence’ as much as possible.
So I thought about writing a HuffPost piece about this idea that the left was missing the entire point of what Stewart was trying to say. I wanted to interview someone, so I tried to think of the most reviled person in the world by left and Andrew Breitbart sprung.to mind. I only know a little about him. I remembered he was involved the Shirley Sherrod thing and that ACORN thing but my knowledge of these events was pretty shallow. I knew he was called a racist, a homophobe and every other name under the sun. But I also remembered something I’d seen months earlier.
It was an appearance on Good Morning, America with Andrew Breitbart and Eric Boehlert. I’d watched it because I knew Eric Boehlert, who’d written about me and the John Edwards story in his book Bloggers on the Bus. So when I watched, I was a lot more inclined to agree with Boehlert than Breitbart.
There’s a part in that segment where Breitbart discusses the story about racial epithets being yelled at members of the Congressional Black Caucus by members of the Tea Party; a story that was widely reported in the left wing blogosphere. It was so widely reported, I just assumed it was true but here was this Breitbart guy saying he had video tapes that proved the incident didn’t happened as described. Okay, that was interesting – maybe I had the story wrong and this Breitbart guy seemed eager to prove it,
And then – on live television– Eric Boehlert & George Stephanopoulos totally blew off Breitbart’s offer to show them the video tapes.
That stuck with me for months. The story was either true or not and here was someone eager to get to the truth and the liberal host and other liberal guest weren’t a bit interested. And it seemed so dishonest. I knew if they thought the video proved their case, it’d be shown all day and night. It didn’t make me proud to be on the same side ideologically as Boehlert and Stephanopoulos.
So, back in November I noticed that Patterico – who I knew slightly online – wrote occasionally for one of Breitbart’s sites. I asked him for a contact for an interview Patterico set it up and I called Andrew a few days later. Breitbart and I talked for a couple of hours. He told me about Pigford and we started officially working together a month or so later.
But it didn’t take more than a couple of days from when I first started talking to Breitbart and then doing hours of research on my own, I realized the truth about the Shirley Sherrod story and the ACORN story were very different than I’d that I’d been led to believe by the liberal media who I’d trusted. In fact, the misinformation about these two stories is so rampant and has been drilled into people’s head so many times that it resembles brainwashing.
Some of this research was tricky because, frankly, the left has done a much better job of presenting a written narrative. It’s not true but it’s organized and sure has the optics of truth. If you sort of squint your eyes at a Media Matters story on Breitbart, it LOOKS like something factual…the same way that Jack Nicholson’s insane typing resembled a book in The Shining.
A couple of weeks back, I encouraged Andrew Breitbart to reach out a little to the other side and write something for The Huffington Post. He wrote a piece about the just breaking NPR scandal and he brought up those video tapes again that show that stories about the Tea Party’s racism were fake as the recent ‘poor people can only carry $20’. story. Over 1,600 and once again, he was ignored by people who care about maintaining a falsehood or worse, who never even bothered to click the links he included. All. Four. Of. Them.
There you have it – I didn’t sell out and change my views. By the time I’d reached out to interview Andrew, I was already disappointed by the arrogant and too often false supposition by liberals that they are the sole arbiter of facts. I was tired of seeing lies and bullying pass for argument. I wanted to do something to restore sanity.
And guess what? I still do.