Say ‘Conservative blogger’ in the UK and you probably think of an Iain Dale or a Tim Montgomerie, or any number of avowed Tory supporters who have adapted to the changed media and political landscape and found their little niche within it.
In the States, where I am at the moment, it conjures up an altogether more teeth-gnashing image and an often gruesome reality.
The morning papers are full of the story of a conservative blogged named Andrew Breitbart, whose posting of selectively edited and thereby misleading video clips of a speech by a Department of Agriculture official led to her being sacked.
Her ‘crime’, allegedly, was racism. She is black. The racism was against whites. Only it wasn’t. Not at all. Just edited to make it look like it was, and then cue a media shitstorm, largely fuelled by other conservative bloggers and of course ‘fair and balanced’ Fox News.
The woman is called Shirley Sherrod. The speech was last year. It was a long speech. The clips were not only taken out of context, but distorted. Once they were out there, the frenzy was immediate. Instead of asking for the facts, the government went with the frenzy. The Department sacked her. The White House defended the decision.
Now the truth has emerged. The white farmer to whom she had allegedly been racist, came out to say she had actually helped him. There would appear not to be a racist bone in her body. This despite her own father being murdered by whites who have never been indicted.
Indeed, the main point of her speech was thst poverty, not race, was at the root of many of our problems.
But the facts were not allowed to get in the way of a right-wing shit storm which became so virulent so quickly that the White House made a bad call.
There has now been a justice of sorts. The Department and the White House, and one of the Fox News presenters who thrashed it for all it was worth, have apologised. She has been offered a new job. She is thinking about it. She said the apology took a long time to come and the whole thing should never have happened. And she is right.
Are Sky covering the story back home by any chance? Only asking.
Obama’s campaign was brilliant at using the speed and reach of internet. This suggests sometimes insufficient regard is paid to the way that speed can be used to potentially malign effect, particularly by conservative bloggers..
There is a real fear of this irrational and nutty conservatism in the US. It sounds like Shirley Sherrod was a sacrifice to that fear.
I think that in the US this mad conservatism must be stood up to.
In the UK we have something a bit similar but not as vivid in the form of the Daily Mail and other tabloid newspapers.
I would love to see the next leader of the Labour party clearly state that he/she would not do any ‘deal’ or attempt to curry favour with the Murdoch press or any other press baron.
Looking at the election results even with such a huge total support from Murdoch the Conservatives failed to win the general election.
So, the support of Murdoch is not required to win elections and in fact I think clearly stating that you are not seeking his support would get more votes than he could bring.
It is time for people to stop being bullied by the monstrous right wing in the US or by the less vivid but equally nasty right wing in the UK.
The Shirley Sherrod story has been all over the interwebs here in the UK also. FYI
Patrick, I would be the first to cheer if the new Labour leader openly ruled out deals with Murdoch. It’s always amazed me that we blindly accept the fact that one corporation controls such a vast chunk of our media. We all know it’s undemocratic and unhealthy. No individual or corporation should ever be in that position, be it Rupert Murdoch or Coco the clown.
It’s not surprising that pragmatic politicians cosy up to the likes of Murdoch and are too afraid to challenge his influence. His empire can destroy people. It’s time the people stood up to it and demand that our legislators take action.
I haven’t seen it on Sky news. The Sky journalists are too busy filling their underwear over the Nick Griffin story. (How the hell did he get an invite to the palace?……and why did it take so long to stop him attending?) Did Phillip invite him, or was it Harry?
Nothing surprises me about the Shirley Sherrod story, only that it hasn’t spread over here yet. It takes the use of tehnology to new and alarming heights. What I find disconcerting, is that it took so long to prove she was innocent, and for the government to apologise for sacking her. If the White House can’t sniff out a rat, then who can?
It is a warning to us in Britain, just how dangerous and malicious misreporting can be. It has the ability to gain momentum and turn into a witch-hunt, ruining an innocent persons life; so vigilance is paramount, especially when you consider that Sky use commentators from Fox news sometimes. I only hope Sky take heed of this story, and restrict the use of their sister channels reporters. We don’t need their methods and ideology over here.
Has Campbell ever written about his hypocritical relationship with Murdoch? I’ve never seen anything.
To put the story into shrimp paste, it shows the power of a good rebuttal against a vile negative attack – if you can get it heard.
It’s just very unfortunate for the Obama administration that it jumped the wrong way.
Poor factchecking. Disappointing.
And I am sorry because the affair throws into the shade Obama’s astonishingly good speech during the Wright black racism accusations in 2008 – a speech that probably saved his campaign for the White House.
The U.S. Conservatives make our Tories seem like Stalin in comparison. They are also more powerful and more dangerous. The more relaxed media framework means that much political coverage is often ‘commentary as reporting’.
The reaction of the White House I believe is symptomatic of a far wider problem; that of the ‘blame and accountability’ culture whereby in every situation somebody can be attributed ‘blame’ and ‘accountability’.
This is fine when both things can actually be attributed in a fair and reasonable manner. But far too often in the absence of a suitable scape-goat the media will demand that ‘something must be done!’. This demand then becomes a story in itself and in many cases becomes THE story.
We are in danger of being led by the 24 news cycle and it’s insatiable appetite for ever more salacious news. After all, if they get it wrong who cares?! They can just report that as well!
A bad call from Obama’s administration but hopefully it will lead to them taking a tougher line on any story that at first glance appears scandalous. ESPECIALLY if it originates from Fox!
You in the States for promo? Keep us posted if you’re to appear on ‘The Daily Show’ or ‘Letterman’. Cheers!
Why is the Sheffield Forgemesters/Tory donor story not getting more coverage – its a beauty, but is being tactfully neglected in our supine media right now. You need to chase this one up Alastair.
Why did the White House sack her? It doesn’t refelct well on them, does it? But I saw the video and Sherrod spoke about sending the farmer to a white lawyer – because he would be dealt with by one of ‘his own kind’. Can you imagine if a white person had said that about a black person? Also, this is on the back of the ‘Journolist’ revelations where a group of ‘liberal’ journalists opted to smear Republican opponents of Obama by calling them racist. The shenanigans over there make our media and politics look quite sane by comparison. I like Andrew Breitbart by the way – a far saner voice than Fox.
Like you have tweeteds it does look like the Sheffield Forgemasters/Tory donorgate story is being closed down by the media. I cannot see any mention that Andy Cook (the millionaire donor in question) is brother to the Chief Executive of the British Banking Association. Is that why he thought the finance could be raised without state intervention ? Also the Guardian says William Cook Castings are not a competitor of Sheffield Forgemasters, however the Independent more correctly quotes Andy Cook’s claim that his company is not a competitor. This is (at best) a moot point – they are both members of the Casting Metals Federation, both in Sheffield, and serve markets like Oil and Gas. Oh and Andy Cook would like to take over Forgemasters or at least wrest control from the current Chief Exec of Forgemasters. Sounds pretty competitive to me !
When I was ‘home’ in the States over Easter this year, I witnessed these kinds of stories daily. The visit coincided with the health debates and the final affirmative vote. Senators and Congresspeople who supported the bill faced literal threats to their lives, some were stalked and others had bricks thrown through the windows at their homes. I came away with a picture of the USA as in an extreme state of incivility. And people wonder why I emigrated to the UK…
Any mention of the new airport to be built in St Helena on the news?
Agree with Allybob – why is BBC not following this? Nick Robinson are you listening?