David Frum: “The central fact of the Sherrod story has been edited out of the conservative narrative”

Lots of great stuff has been posted by various commentators in response to Andrew Breitbart’s shameless, defamatory hit-piece on former low-ranking USDA official (and, as per TOTALLY NOT RACIST Tea Party Express spokesdouche Mark Williams, Colored Person) Shirley Sherrod.

But apostate neocon and former Bush 43 speechwriter David Frum of all people makes one of the sharpest points in a no-holds-barred attack on “the cynical machinations of conservative media”:

On the phone on the evening of July 20, a friend asked me: “Can Breitbart possibly survive?” I could only laugh incredulously. I answered: “Of course he’ll survive, and undamaged. The incident won’t matter at all.”

There will be no apology or statement of regret for distributing a doctored tape to defame and destroy someone. There will be not even a flutter of interest among conservatives in discussing Breitbart’s role. By the morning of July 21, the Fox & Friends morning show could devote a segment to the Sherrod case without so much as a mention of Breitbart’s role. The central fact of the Sherrod story has been edited out of the conservative narrative, just as it was edited out of the tape itself.

When people talk of the “closing of the conservative mind” this is what they mean: not that conservatives are more narrow-minded than other people — everybody can be narrow minded — but that conservatives have a unique capacity to ignore unwelcome fact.

When Dan Rather succumbed to the forged Bush war record hoax in 2004, CBS forced him into retirement. Breitbart is the conservative Dan Rather, but there will be no discredit, no resignation for him.

By not being held to accountability nor ever facing subsequent consequences (Joshua Green of The Atlantic wonders how Breitbart’s advertisers will respond to his disingenuous race-baiting, while Turley and Greenwald mull Sherrod’s legal options) there is no incentive for bottom-feeding rhetorical organ grinders like Breitbart and his racist (yes, racist) right-wing ilk to reconsider outright libel, cruel slander and brazen defamation as legitimate tactics.

Especially not when the corporate media, government and advocacy organizations all keep dancing to Outer Wingnuttia’s dissonant tune with simian reliability and grace.

Update: Gibbs apologizes to Sherrod on behalf of the White House (h/t Ta-Nehisi)

Update 2: Fox News anchor Shep Smith provides a succinct lesson in basic journalistic ethics (h/t The Joshua Blog)

Update 3: Cosign with Conason (also, fuck you, Clark Hoyt):

Real justice, as I suspect Sherrod would agree, also requires due process for Andrew Breitbart, the Internet impresario who framed her on his Big Government website. In these circumstances, that means a fair, thorough and tough examination of the media fraud that launched his operation last year: the ACORN tapes, whose misuse by Breitbart closely parallels his behavior in the Sherrod affair.

Recalling Breitbart from his days as eager lackey to Matt Drudge, Iwarned from the beginning that nothing he produced would resemble journalism. More than once since then, I’ve  mentioned theaccumulating evidence of deception by O’Keefe and Breitbart in creating and then publicizing the ACORN tale. It was a “scandal” that became a national story only after wildly biased coverage on Fox News Channel, followed by sloppy, scared reporting in mainstream outlets, notably the New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, and the national TV networks (some of whom flagellated themselves for failing to publicize this canard sooner!).

Investigations by  former Massachusetts Attorney General Scott HarshbargerBrooklyn District Attorney Charles J. Hynes,  California Attorney General Jerry Brown, and the  nonpartisan Congressional Research Service, among others, have served to exonerate ACORN of the most outrageous charges of criminality  (while still criticizing ACORN employees and leadership). More important, from the perspective of journalistic ethics, those investigations revealed that the videotapes released and promoted by Breitbart’s website were selectively and deceptively edited to serve as propaganda, not news.

As they say, read the whole damn thing.

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