Remembering Breitbart

Lots of folks ‘remembered’ Andrew Breitbart after he died unexpectedly the other day.

Age 43. Wife. Four children.

We’ll remember him, too, especially for that one day he managed to own the editorial page at the Wisconsin State Journal.

September 22, 2009. That was the day the WSJ editorial celebrated the defunding of the low-income community-organizing group ACORN. Democrats in Washington D.C. — panicked by an entirely made-up story about ACORN and a phony crime — joined Republicans voting to end any possible federal support for ACORN.

It was all the result of a dirty trick, a smear manufactured and deftly promoted by Breitbart.  Breitbart’s protegé, James O’Keefe, and a female accomplice visited ACORN offices to make secret videos. Later the videos would be re-edited into a sensational smear tape that seemed to depict ACORN staffers as willing to participate in a crime of prostitution and underage sex-trafficking.  It was all aired breathlessly over and over on FOX News.  Then it aired on all of cable. Then everywhere, including in the New York Times.

The State Journal took its swing at this phony story in an editorial “ACORN too risky for taxpayers.” It had a nice big picture of Tammy Baldwin, and began like this:

Almost everyone in Congress got a simple vote right last week.

Almost everyone, that is, except for U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin of Madison.

Unfortunately for the State Journal the editorial was 100% Wrong. The majority of Democrats in Congress had been duped. The majority of Republicans had been duped, although most probably hated ACORN to begin with. Even Russ Feingold voted with the majority to defund ACORN, which was the FOX News ransom for ending their video replays and outraged discussions. But somehow Baldwin did not panic like her colleagues, and she got it right.

Later, when multiple investigations showed that the raw video (and audio) had been massively edited to manufacture a complete and deliberate smear, it was too late. Private donations had dried up along with the federal funding, and ACORN was gone.

Almost certainly the reason the right-wing had so hated ACORN was that ACORN helped to register poor and minority people to vote. That was their fatal mistake, the one that drew Karl Rove’s demand for U.S. Attorneys to find “voter fraud” and prosecute it. Low income minorities do tend to favor Democrats and one obvious solution to this “problem” is voter suppression, which continues apace… why, even right here in Wisconsin.

The State Journal never mentioned their ACORN editorial again. They certainly never said, “Sorry, Tammy.”  But, to the best of our knowledge, no one apologized.  The New York Times had gotten it all wrong and never apologized. Obviously, Breitbart and O’Keefe never apologized; it was for them an unbelievably successful operation.  O’Keefe bargained immunity from prosecution in return for handing over all the raw tapes to investigators. Fox News? Well, let’s be serious.

So is there any particular wrap-up here? Any lesson? Not really.

We were just remembering Breitbart.

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