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..