Andrew Breitbart has done his job. He’s offered to donate $100,000 to the United Negro College Fund to anyone who can provide proof that black Congressmen were called “nigger” during the days of the House debate on healthcare reform, thereby starting the narrative that charges of racism against members of the Tea Party folks are unfounded.
This is a typical right-wing attack on the media: raise doubt about one incident and thereby cause the mainstream media to adopt the position that all all racism charges against the right-wing are unfounded. If Breitbart can convince mainstream media that the right-wing has been wronged on one occasion, the media will sheepishly avoid the issue or write stories that always include the disclaimer that they are “alleged” charges or “never proven.”
But there are other charges of racism that are documented, including a voice message left (view clip below) on Congressman John Lewis’s (D-Ga.) voice mail. If someone was willing to do that, it’s not a stretch to believe that someone in the crowd that day hurled such epithets.
Breitbart has enlisted Washington Post ombudsman Andy Alexander in his campaign.
If there is video or audio evidence of the racial slurs against Lewis and Carson, it has yet to emerge. Breitbart insists they "made it up." If so, they’re good actors.
Roxana Tiron, a reporter for the Hill newspaper, said she was talking with a congressional staffer inside a House entrance to the Capitol when a "trembling" and "agitated" Carson said he and Lewis had just been called the N-word by protesters outside. "He literally grabbed me by the arm and . . . said ‘You need to come out with me,’ " imploring her to step back outside to listen to the taunts. Post reporter Paul Kane was nearby and witnessed Carson’s reaction. "It was real. It was raw. It was angry. It was emotional. And he wanted it documented," recalled Kane, who said U.S. Capitol Police prevented them from going outside. Carson later told the Associated Press the protesters had chanted the N-word "15 times." Breitbart told me the "phantom 15 words" is "beyond absurd."
Through spokesman Justin Ohlemiller, Carson stands by his assertion. The spokeswoman for Lewis, Brenda Jones, insists he and his chief of staff heard repeated uses of the N-word. They are declining interviews, she said, because they don’t want to "fan the flames of destructive language."
Breitbart’s $100,000 challenge may be publicity-seeking theater. But it’s part of widespread conservative claims that mainstream media, including The Post, swallowed a huge fabrication. The incidents are weeks old, but it’s worth assigning Post reporters to find the truth. After all, a civil rights legend is being called a liar. That aside, there’s serious money at stake.
Perhaps The Post will try to ferret out the truth about the charges at the rally. The proof Breitbart wants is a video. It is unusual but not impossible that no video existed. This was not a planned event at which there were many cameras. How many, I’m not sure, but the lack of videotape doesn’t not mean it didn’t happen.
What happens when a print reporter quotes someone, most likely without video and possibly without an audio tape? Is that quote then subject to video proof?
At the end of the day, the right may get its wish by raising doubt about just one incident of racism to disprove any charge of racism. It will be interesting to see how the MSM reacts to the right’s broadside. If past is prologue, look for a meek MSM to cower.
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