I've watched from a distance as the flap over Shirley Sherrod has come and gone over the past week. First, Andrew Breitbart posted a video clip that showed her confessing racist feelings. The audience in the video seemed to chuckle at the sentiment rather than act repulsed or disappointed.
The USDA immediately believed the worst about Sherrod and forced her to resign before they even had a conversation with her to understand her side of the story.
Shortly, the larger picture came out. Sherrod was confessing that she had been a racist but was trying to tell a story of how she moved past those feelings. The clip had been unfair to her. As the news was breaking, my wife was scanning the blogs as we were driving. She started rattling off the list of people who retracted their denouncements of Sherrod. Glenn Beck, Rich Lowry, Shannon Coffin, Jonah Goldberg... basically all the big conservative bloggers immediately set the record straight.
It was really encouraging. Someone made the point, in defense of Breitbart, that it is possible to act rashly without acting maliciously. Breitbart claimed to have received only the small clip that he played and that he hadn't checked the larger context before he posted.
This morning, I was reading through some older posts and I came across a link to a video created by Think Progress. My jaw dropped to the floor. They were splicing together clips from Tea Party activists making racist comments. This may be one of the most dishonest political clips I've ever seen.
The editors at Think Progress chose to use a video clip statement from a man being actively expelled from a Tea Party event as representative of the content of the event. Breathtakingly dishonest. It is like using ellipses to turn a negative movie review into a positive one.
Here is the Big Government post that criticizes the Think Progress clip.
Will Chris Matthews and Keith Olberman now denounce Think Progress as they did Andrew Breitbart? Will those on the left who were fooled by the video come out and apologize as so many on the right have done? This is a test of character. Let's see how it goes.