Monday, July 26, 2010

Right Wing Lies

"A lie can go around the world while the truth is getting its pants on."

-Edward R. Murrow

This piece is not entirely about Shirley Sherrod; she's only part of the story; the latest victim of the right wing smear machine. She is not the first. She won't be the last. Somewhere, I am certain, old Joe McCarthy is smiling. Sixty years ago there was only one McCarthy. Today he is everywhere. He won.

By now
you will all have read all about the speech she made recently before a gathering of the NAACP, a small portion of which was seized by a Conservative blogger and quoted light years out of context. The story she told the audience of her personal evolution and her triumph over her own racism was turned on its head in order to make it appear that she is an anti-white bigot. The offender was a blogger named Andrew Breitbart. FOX Noise immediately ran with the story with the self-righteous demand that she resign her position as the USDA's Director of rural affairs for the state of Georgia. Within hours, she was literally forced to the side of the road by the Obama administration and ordered to tender her resignation. The NAACP initially denounced her, later claiming that they had been "snookered". Egg-covered faces all around.

Yesterday on CBS's Face The Nation, Bob Scheifer talked about old and new journalism, proudly identifying himself as an "old journalist". The difference between now and then, he said, was that in the good old days reporters and commentators went to some length to insure that a story they were putting it out for public consumption was in fact true. There are actually people who are expressing shock at the depths that certain "new journalists" sank in order to soil the reputation of a woman who by all accounts is a decent and conscientious public servant. Anyone who was surprised by this latest turn of events hasn't been paying attention. While the left has been guilty of this sort of thing in the past, as far as the nutty right wing is concerned, the spreading of untruths is now simply a matter of policy. It's the old Josef Goebbels trick: Keep repeating the lie and eventually an ill-informed, unenlightened public will swallow it whole. Seig heil.

I'm trying to put myself in Shirley Sherrod's shoes. This is somewhat difficult due to the happy fact that I grew up as an upper middle class white kid in the suburbs north of New York City. When we went on vacation we didn't go by car - we went in a private plane that was owned by my dad! I am at a loss to explain to you how I became as left-of-center as I am. I'm sure that my youthful obsession with people like John Lennon and Dick Gregory had something to do with it. They were both accused by J.Edgar Hoover of corrupting the impressionable minds of the youth of this grand and glorious land of ours. Blame it on those guys.

I didn't grow up (as Shirley Sherrod did) as a poor black kid in the deep south. I wasn't surrounded on all fronts (as Shirley Sherrod was) by the vile sort of prejudice - hammered into her soul day after day - that told her she was not worthy to drink out of certain water fountains, or go to certain schools, or eat in certain restaurants, or use certain rest rooms. When my father died he was at home in a comfortable bed, surrounded by family and friends. Shirley Sherrod's father was murdered - shot in the back by a Klansman who was never even brought to trial. Had I been raised under the same circumstances as Shirley Sherrod, I would not today be a Progressive - I would be a fucking bomb-throwing revolutionary, are you kidding me? You might, too, if you would dare to know yourselves better. The very fact that Shirley Sherrod was able to overcome her own racism is a testament to the woman's character. Let's all raise a glass in her honor. Cheers!

This brings me to the subject of the character of the right wing media. FOX Noise picked up this "story" and beat it to death. Apparently not one of the geniuses within that organization had the brains to examine a tape of the speech in its entirety. It didn't matter at all to these jackasses that the "Shirley as racist" story might be bogus on its face. The fact is, like Peter Pan, they wanted it to be true - they needed it to be true - and so they merely wished it to be so. We're talkin' Never Never Land here, folks. You see, they rarely have the truth on their side. All they have for ammunition is the BIG LIE. In this one respect comparing them to the Nazis is not beyond the pale. They are following the Goebbels playbook note by nasty note.

Is it a coincidence that in the weeks leading up to the invasion of Iraq eight-and-a-half years ago, over seventy percent of the people who believed that Saddam Hussein was somehow culpable in the attacks of September 11, 2001 were habitual viewers of FOX Noise? Rupert Murdoch's organization has but a single purpose: keeping America stupid. Who would have dreamed that he would be this successful? Most Americans are unable to locate the continent of Africa on a map, or name a single Supreme Court Justice. FOX has a hand in this; I just know it!

The fact that so many people are getting their information from an outlet that is nothing more than a propaganda arm of the plutocracy is disturbing enough. What is even more unsettling are the methods they use to instill fear in their clueless viewership. Were you aware that Barack Obama is a radical Socialist who hates white people? The fact that our half-white president is barely a Progressive and that he was raised by his white mother and grandparents is irrelevant: They report. You believe. It's all so "fair and balanced" that it's hardly worth arguing the point any longer.

And so much of their assault on America's intellect has to do with race, have you ever noticed that? Their latest crusade is against something called the "New Black Panther Party". This is a "group" that is comprised of two nitwits from Philadelphia who recently made minor news when they stood out in front of a predominantly African American polling place, holding batons and trying to look intimidating. Although no one was actually intimidated from voting, the talking heads at FOX have spent the last week taking the Department of Justice to task for their failure to bring criminal charges against these two - in spite of the inconvenient truth that no crime was actually committed. Damn the facts, full speed ahead.

Why do they stoop so low? What the hell is wrong with these people? For many years I have heard horrible, really vicious rumors about the sex life of a certain right wing commentator. I have never printed them on this site because to do so would not only be mean, it would be unconscionable. I have no proof of this person's sexual transgressions and to make an issue out of unsubstantiated allegations would be the height of irresponsibility. And besides, to do so would only be sinking to the level of the extremists. We don't need to go there; we have the truth on our side. Take that, Andrew Breitbart!

It don't mean a thin
If it ain't got that spin
Do-wop! Do-wop! Do-wop!

This situation is not going to end anytime soon, I'm sorry to tell you. FOX Noise is not going anywhere, and an outright ban on half-witted extremists from the internet would be positively un-American. What to do? Combat - not the physical, bloodletting kind - I refer here to a battle of ideas. The fact that we have the truth on our side means that we are able to fight these knuckleheads with both hands tied behind our backs. In the war of words the truth will ultimately prevail. This has been proven in history more times than can be counted. It may take years - even decades - but the truth always wins in the end. As the old adage says, the truth will set you free. Think about it.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


by Amy and Mark Goodman


At 11:00 AM, Anonymous boltok said...

You must be joking. If you can't see the degree to which left lies about and plays on race, your blind. Even if your view regarding fox was accurate, what percent of the media do they represent? Was Sherrods behavior racist? What would your view be if she was a he and white and the farmer was black. You would supply and entirely different logic. This is the second blog in a row that is so far off, it doesn't warrant the time necessary to critique it properly.

At 11:02 AM, Anonymous HMS said...

Tom, we'd like to invite you to become one of our Authors in Alexandria.

You may mirror your existing posts from here or elsewhere or produce original posts there, on anything you wish, as you desire. For your contributions and participation we will blogroll you with no reciprocation required. See our Guidelines for Authors for full details.

Come contribute your perspectives and opinions to the ongoing conversations there or, even better, start new ones of your own. Contact us through the site for full invitations and instructions.

At 11:14 AM, Blogger Bill_in_DE said...

David Frum, conservative blogger and Bush speechwriter said it best: "Republicans originally thought that Fox worked for us, and now we are discovering we work for Fox"

Fox is like the Golem that turned on its creator. My biggest disappointment in the Shirley Sherrod case is that the Obama administration and the NAACP, running scared from these idiots, panicked and condemned her as fast as the rightwing propaganda machine did.

Hopefully, they’ve finally learned from this, and will be prepared in advance to automatically doubt any story presented on Faux Noise as ‘fact’.

Instead of being able to tout the successful passing of the Dodd – Frank bill, finally getting some relief to the unemployed AND being able to jump on Fixed News with both feet for sliming a good woman for their own cynical ends, they participated in the farce.

This could have been a golden opportunity to once and for all demonstrate to all sane reasonable people that Fox News does not deserve to be referred to as a news organization, but nothing more than a tool of the extreme right.
Maybe next time. Because there will be a next time.

At 11:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Tom the reporting on this issue from NPR was scandalous. the attempts to try to explain why it was not were just as scandalous.

they reported the lie many times with a comment after saying "it was found to be misleading and taken out of context. by doing that they repeated the lie for two days , repeating the lie every time. I wrote to them on the ombudsman page about how bias they were. how they should report the truthful rendition then mention the lie and it's inaccuracies.
One poster there who claims not to be from NPR wrote that because they did not know the facts they reported the lie.

As if that is journalism.

that is a link to the discussion.
look at the lovely wording in this example

"Commie, the lie was reported before the truth was known, so of course the reporting started with that. That's just fact, not bias."

Fact is a funny word these days.

PS look up a scandal in Springfield Oregon with city workers passing around racist e mails.
it would be a scandal if it were reported on.

PS I see you moved on from the BBC;)
Happylaze fluffytale says Hi

At 4:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Fox lies,about which you write, remind me of a quote by Adlai Stevenson: "I have been thinking that I would make a proposition to my Republican friends that if they will stop telling lies about Democrats, we will stop telling the truth about them."

At 5:21 PM, Blogger Darlene said...

I want to point out two further items regarding the Shirley Sherrod story. The speech was given 24 years ago and was given by Shirley to tell how she became tolerant of white people after a lifetime of abuse by them. Her father was murdered by a Klansman, for Lord's sake. Who of us would forgive the blacks if the situation was reversed? (Take that, boltok)

This shows how deep the right wing digs to find something to distort and use against the left. It would be pathetic if it weren't so damaging.

The second point is that this story would never have come to light if it had not been for the white farmer (who Shirley Sherrod helped save his farm) telling the news media about it. Fox and Braitbart would have pulled it off without a hitch because NO ONE checked the facts.

As you said, Tom, egg on the faces all around.

At 10:27 PM, Blogger P M Prescott said...

The White House needs to use this. The next time Fox Noise starts screaming for someone to be fired all they have to say is that Fox Noise lacks all credibility and ignore them.

At 10:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know nothing about her, but it seems that all she was guilty of was being honest and open about her struggle, which is blood in the water to the political sharks. I agree with Gergen of CNN, though, she is really a Mandela figure when you look at it closely. Good that we have CNN’s careful, thoughtful, spot on analysis to balance Fox.

At 4:43 PM, Blogger SJ said...

Great perspective TD,
You know, if we had an FCC that actually was worth a damn, and not a glorified PTA board on the look out for cuss words and dick jokes on TV, there would be something, some recourse for Fox "News" and the Breibarts of the world and their propaganda.

Let's face it, Dan Rather was on to a story about how George W. Bush was a privleged brat who avoided the silver spoon detail assigned him in lieu of serving in an actual combat zone. He offered up some shitty evidence that didn't stand up and it cost him his job

I don't see anybody losing anything at Fox.

Meanwhile, we all know GWB was a goldbricker who got an Air National Guard post because of his father's influence, and that simple truth just gets lost in the nonsense about Rather.

At 9:30 PM, Blogger Leslie Parsley said...

So, boltok without a blog. Why did you come here if "it doesn't warrant the time necessary to critique it properly?" Actually, you'd be doing us a huge favor, if you didn't comment. You remember Benjamin Franklin - he was one of the Founding Fathers. He said something to the effect that it's better to keep your mouth shut and show no ignorance than to open it and leave no doubt.

Tom, this ranks right up there with the column by Frank Rich in the NY Times:

I can't add to your comments about Fox. You said it. I think it is despicable and the fact that that ugly old owner claims they don't and shouldn't support a particular political party makes it just that much worse. I think they should have to register as a lobby for the GOP.

At 10:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tom, wish you could write for a newspaper so I could wipe my ass with it.

Harry from Mass

At 10:56 PM, Blogger Leslie Parsley said...

Lordy, these Republicans sure have class - not.

At 11:07 PM, Blogger Bill_in_DE said...

Is Harry from Mass saying he's tired of using his bare hand?

At 7:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

They'll be a lot of truth spilled on the first Tuesday of this November, Tom.

Looking forward to your "spin" on that.

doo-wop, doo-wop, doo-wop!

At 10:30 AM, Anonymous boltok said...

Charles Sherrod

At 11:37 AM, Anonymous boltok said...

A good audio clip with Michael Savage and Andrew Breitbart:

At 1:57 PM, Blogger Chris said...

These are all good reasons Fox should not have a front row seat at the White House Press conferences....NPR does much more responsible reporting because it does research before it opens it's mouth!!
I can see from the negative comments here, that people are feeling a bit desperate, Tom! You usually have a more intelligent, informed, and positive crowd on your site!

At 3:53 PM, Anonymous Will Shirley said...

@Boltok- spell checkers don't catch grammar so you have to go back and re-read your post before posting if you don't want to read like a high school dropout. Hint: the contraction of "you are" isn't "your" it's "you're". See? pretty easy. A LOT of right wingnuts don't know how to choose the correct word.

If Shirley were a white man and the farmer in question were black, and "he" at first didn't want to help because of racial feelings, but then "he" got his shit together and ended up helping the farmer and becoming good friends... what would be my view? Pretty much the same. It's great that bigotry can be overcome so that we can work together.
Was Shirley racist? Heck yeah, and she admits it, but then unlike a lot of Tea Baggers she got past it.

What's your point? The Left spins news and so does the Right. The situation is a lot more complex than a simple label attached to everyone you disagree with. For instance I am a social liberal and a fiscal conservative, highly patriotic and even protectionist in some ways. I am a devout Pagan who honors the Goddess and I have been for almost 60 years. I have voted occasionally for the Democrats, rarely for a Republican and quite often for the Green Party. I don't believe in Big Government and lots of laws, but I think we ought to pay taxes for free health care for all like the Europeans manage to do. I do NOT believe we are legally at war, although we are fighting in three countries. I think Bush and his entire administration are war criminals and should be prosecuted at the Hague. I read the Constitution's 2nd amendment to forbid a standing army but to allow for a national guard at the state level to be called up from trained civilians. It does not mean you may have an arsenal of automatic weapons, land mines and cluster bombs in your garage.
Corporations and similar groups are NOT PEOPLE and must not be allowed to donate to political causes because we have noted that when corporations take over the government the world goes to war and millions die.
There is no "free market" and never has been. There are honest merchants and dealers and the rest are liars and thieves, and citizens should not be unprotected from the like. The Constitution clearly declares there shall be no abrogation of right of habeas corpus. Bush canceled it illegally and Obama continues the crime. This should be an impeachable offense. Now, I suppose since i disagree with you I am in your eyes a "Lefty" or "Liberal" even though i feel like I am very conservative when it comes to Constitutional law.

At 7:55 AM, Anonymous boltok said...

Chris and Bill_in_De: The most important aspect of the 1st Amendment, for it to be effective, is the protection of ALL speech. I think less of people from a political perspective when they don't acknowledge this important aspect. You should be pleased that you can listen to news stories that you do not agree with. As an example, I'd never complain about Ed Schultz or Olbermann even though I think they are fools.

BTW: Didn't Helen Thomas spend a lot of time in the front row at the White House???

BTW#2: What is the ratio of liberal to conservative in the broader media?

Bill: I don't care about spelling or grammar when I blurt comments. I trust that the readers of this blog are advanced and can attain the meaning from my posts without much effort.

Ezra Klein's JornoList supported calling Rove and others racists without basis because it was politically expedient to do so. Will there be a blog on this site about that?

My point: Think about how the media or Tom would craft a story/blog about a white man of western European descent (throw in that he is also a republican from the South and was given this job by George W. Bush), who in the course of federally appointed duties, played the process to put a black southern farmer out of business. Then later, the white southern Bush appointed republican said, "I'm so sorry." Also consider, that even though this white, male, southern Bush appointed Republican has grown above racial bias, his wife was still a bigot.

Think about how this news story and blog would have been written differently? I doubt it would be a story of redemption.

At 8:04 AM, Anonymous boltok said...

Sorry Bill, shriley I meant Will.

At 8:08 AM, Blogger Tom Degan said...


I am forced to reprint here something I wrote on this site less than three weeks ago regarding the recent passing of the late senator Robert Byrd:

"I must pause here to pay gentle tribute to Senator Robert Byrd who died early Tuesday morning at the age of ninety-two. He served in the Senate longer than any other person in history, having been elected in 1958 - the year I was born! Byrd's beginnings were auspicious to say the least. A former member of the KKK, he was an avowed and shameless segregationist. But the man evolved - and not for reasons of political expediency either. West Virginia doesn't have a high population of African Americans. So what happened to him? What caused him to change? It was a simple case of seeing the light. He grew - as a man and as a statesman. In 1982, when the senate was locked in a bitter debate whether or not to pass a bill that would make Dr. King's birthday a national holiday, he explained to reporters that, because of his unfortunate past, he had to be the first in line to support that bill. God bless him."

That, my friend, is a story of redemption.

With all respect,

Tom Degan

At 9:42 AM, Anonymous boltok said...

With regard to Byrd or anyone who changes for the better, I do think that is the appropriate view. But is it applied consistently.

Are republicans, conservatives, tea partiers, etc. afforded the same level of understanding? Even if they were never bigots?


Are liberal/dem/progressive etc. bigots ever called out?

Just curious.

At 11:25 AM, Blogger charles moore said...

Your grammar sucks, then you said "Sorry Bill, shriley I meant Will." In addition to addressing the wrong person, I am not sure what you meant by using the word "shriley".

You are certainly welcome to disagree, but get your shit together before posting it.

At 12:27 PM, Anonymous boltok said...

I think I will continue to post without the use of proper grammar and without the use of expletives. Thank you very much.

At 1:04 PM, Anonymous boltok said...

Another interesting piece on the Sherrods:

At 6:16 PM, Blogger charles moore said...

Well Boltok for someone who thought this blog was off, and I quote: "This is the second blog in a row that is so far off, it doesn't warrant the time necessary to critique it properly.", you certainly are spending a lot of time and words on it.

At 7:13 PM, Anonymous boltok said...

I changed my mind.


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