Untangling Sherrod: Timeline Shows Glenn Beck’s Lies Altered Course of Sherrod / Breitbart Story

Glenn Beck has been very deceptive about his participation in the Shirley Sherrod story, telling a number of deliberate lies about his own reporting on the story. And somewhat surprisingly, his strategy seems to have worked.

Back in July, 2010 an article TV Newser reported…

Fox News host Glenn Beck has received quite a bit of praise for his restraint regarding the Shirley Sherrod videos. When many other conservative commentators were condemning her, Beck was defending her, arguing that the brief video clip that cost her her job was taken out of context. As a result Beck was praised this morning by theNew York Times editorial page:

Here’s what Beck himself has said..

Shirley Sherrod, is the next example. We didn’t rush to condemn her. This is another seemingly "redistribution of wealth" woman — who I would bet that I vehemently disagree with on probably everything. But she asked for the rest of the tape to be heard, the farmers in the story backed her up. It was a turning point story. We defended her and said her side of the story demanded to be heard — because context matters…

This is patently false. Becks’ statements have helped muddy the actual story, leaving not just a false impression of Beck’s own involvement. Beck cuts out the context that Mrs. Sherrod’s remarks were placed in – namely, to show the NAACP audience’s reaction to Sherrod’s initial admission to not helping the white farmer. By dropping this essential detail, Beck helped promote the idea that Breitbart had launched an out-of-context personal attack on Sherrod.

Here’s an actual timeline showing how things really went down. On July 19, 2010 Breitbart published the initial blog post, which was focused primarily on a running dispute on racism and the Tea Party that Breitbart was engaged in with the NAACP. In fact, Breitbart mentions the NAACP by name 17 times in the piece while only using Sherrod’s name 4 times.

Beck’s July 19th TV show didn’t mention the story because the show wasn’t news driven, but instead focused largely on Beck’s upcoming 8/28 event.

The first time Beck mentioned Sherrod was on three segments of his radio show on July 20th. By this time, Sherrod had been forced to resign by the White House.

July 20, 2010 – Morning : Radio Show

Here are ‘the missing tapes’ that Glenn Beck doesn’t want you to hear.

Most of Beck’s impact comes from his TV platform, so his radio show comments flew under the radar.  On the radio, Beck sliced and diced Breitbart’s two and a half minute video clip down to shorter sound bites.  Beck focusing solely on Sherrod and dropping the NAACP angle that Breitbart had focused on. Beck’s radio show also edited out the section (that Breitbart had included) where Sherrod discusses it not ‘being all about race, but about rich and poor’.


At no point during Beck’s radio show does he do anything that could possibly be construed as defending Shirley Sherrod. Nor does he say anything about waiting to hear her side or waiting to see if more of the video will be released. In fact, at the end of the show Beck taunts Sherrod and says she will be the focus of his TV show that night.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the Fox News building.

In the last hour of Beck’s radio show, news breaks on CNN – apparently unknown to Beck.

(The following times are from Media Matter’s flawed but occasionally useful timeline.)

11:20 a.m.: On CNN Newsroom, farmer’s wife calls Sherrod a "friend" who "helped us save our farm."

July 20, 2010 – Between Radio & TV Shows

Then Beck’s radio show finishes…and more of the story breaks in rapid succession.

  • 1:03 p.m.: Video producer confirmed that "the full speech is exactly as Sherrod described … she goes on to explain learning the error of her initial impression.
  • 1:36 p.m.: HotAir’s Morrissey reports that edited video was "the entirety of the speech [Breitbart] had in his possession.
  • 3:58 p.m.: Breitbart confirms in a TPMMuckracker interview that he never had the full video of Sherrod’s remarks.
  • 4 p.m.: Rick Sanchez devotes an entire hour of his show to the accusations against Sherrod

This all obviously changed the story from the way it was initially reported. And Andrew Breitbart was showing no signs that he was trying to hide anything. He said in that TPM interview…

Breitbart said he’ll post the full video, if he can get permission from the video production company who filmed it for a local NAACP chapter. He also maintained that he didn’t edit the clip and that it was sent to him already edited.

July 20, 2010 – Evening : Beck TV Show

And suddenly, Beck’s editorial focus and tone about Sherrod changes radically. What you see below is a blatant bait and switch that makes no mention of his clip-job radio show attack on Shirley Sherrod. Rather than use his show to get his viewers up to speed on the developments, he switches into full Beck egomaniac mode and desperately tries to make himself out as the real victim. 

In part 2, he says…

“They are trying to make me into the bully.

I mean, she seems like a nice woman.”



But you’ll also note that at no point does Beck mention the wider context of Breitbart’s post. Instead, Beck makes the story all about his own victimhood. Beck lied to cover his tracks and spun out the narrative out in a dishonest direction that benefited no one but Beck himself.

And of course Beck  has never had Breitbart on either his radio or TV show since this incident.

Later in the week…

Beck describes himself as ‘a prince of peace’.

In fact, watch at 2:40 – Beck tells O’Reilly a complete whopper where he claims that he ‘sat in his office’ and realized ‘something isn’t right with this’’ – then go listen to his radio show from the 19th. Beck is trying to take credit for getting the story right from the beginning, when he was clearly going after Sherrod on the radio.

At 4:20 or so, he also claims his initial reaction was to support her.

In this video by a Beck hater, Beck goes all in with his lie about deciding not to go after Sherrod and seems to imply that God told him not to go after Sherrod. Apparently, God doesn’t listen to Beck’s radio show, either.

The truth has no agenda. Glenn Beck does.


  1. As a longtime follower of Glen Beck, I am disturbed by his lack of humility concerning the Sherrod incident.
    As a conservative, I am certain that our idea’s are what will turn around this country. We do not need embellishment or innuendo. A strong argument, backed by historical truth’s should suffice.

  2. I still listen to beck, and I still go to breitbart. I wish this feud hadn’t gotten so personal, as both are so pivotal to the libertarian movement. All beck had to do was tell the truth.

    But like you said, beck has an agenda. At one point, I thought it was the truth.

  3. I am as Conservative as they come and I can’t tolerate Beck’s stuff.

    I don’t trust Mormons generally, but a Mormon pushing Mormonism (Mitt Romney, Mormon events, etc.) I trust even less.

    Will be fine with Beck fading away into obscurity.



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