If someone approaches you saying Andrew Breitbart should be banned, be careful, it might be his minions luring you into signing a fake petition so he can publicly disparage you in a web video.
Following the example of James O'Keefe, a number of hyper-partisan activists have had videos promoted by Andrew Breitbart's websites, painting average folks on the street as "dangerous" hypocrites, or un-American "fascists" due to their willingness to speak out against conservative radio hosts and websites. Plainly, the subjects are lied to and coaxed to sign a petition many do not seem to grasp -- because the filmmakers themselves do not seem to understand how to present their own premise.
Last week, in Fraud! Breitbart Admits Editing "Truth" From Hoax Petition Video
, we commented on a video produced by ExposingLeftists.com showing average college students expressing a desire to ban Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity to a petitioner posing as a fervent left-wing activist. After their edit job, signers were characterized as "dangerous" people. Our oped faulted the video crew for not delineating any difference between a government and non-government ban and editing out those who refused to sign.
After all, a few "man-on-the-street" interviews does not tell us anything about nationwide "liberalism". How many refused to sign in total? Do they represent ALL leftists? The authors decided yes, they represent ALL liberals after they admitted editing out some who did not sign. Fudged results obtained while lying might be cause for concern, but the biggest problem was that there's nothing whatsoever wrong with signing a petition for a non-governmental "ban", it is itself a form of protected free speech.
Here in this almost identical video
, we see young videographers who can't seem to spell "camera" in their own credits lying to average people on the street by saying they want to ban talk radio hosts. If folks initially claim to be for free speech for all, they are badgered to sign by the interviewer right on camera.
This time, they did include footage of people refusing to sign, but they still did not give statistical totals. As you view this video, you don't know if the people they convinced to sign were in the majority or not. So the video itself is propaganda, using "gotcha" tactics to con average people, airing them signing so their characters can be maligned. In one example, a guy said he doesn't even follow politics - he ends up in a video lumped in with others called
hypocritical, "fascist" and "not American".
Another problem with this video is that it's still unclear whether the signers understood it was a "government" ban. On one hand, the article did include this text written on the hoax petition sheet as follows:
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"The undersigned hereby adamantly demand that the United States government shut down right wing hate sites. The hate speech propagated by sites like the Drudge Report, Hot Air, Instapundit, Big Government, and others must not be allowed to corrupt our political discourse any longer. These sites are dangerous not only to truth and freedom but also to our society as a whole. BAN THEM NOW!"
While this acknowledges the confusion caused by the earlier video promoted on Breitbart's site, viewers still do not get any sense the signers absorbed this was a call to lawmakers to strike down free speech protections.
Indeed, the questions asked out loud by the petitioner were different from the written - he does not mention government legislation or a government ban, even in one case when he speaks about Obama's newly appointed media watchdog. It was wholly incumbent on the signer reading the printed text to get this, as the guy is talking to them rapid-fire, coaxing them to agree and sign. There was no attempt to verify that even one signer understood this was a petition for a government ban, to see if anyone had read and understood this important difference.
This leaves it in doubt as to whether or not the signers understood at all what they were signing and if they had any "bad" intent at all - again. In fact, it seems some had the opposite point of view until they were persuaded to be outraged at "the lies". At about the 1:55 mark, the petitioner says "the first amendment is something we're going against" and the respondent abruptly goes silent and looks at him like he is an imbecile, saying "right, right". Sure, pal.
This also suggests people signing may have done so just to be polite, humor the signer or be done with them. Perhaps they knew already that the government by law can not ban broadcasters and they figured these were just silly kids having fun with a video "camara".
We know James O'Keefe was mocked and told outrageous stories by some he tried to sting - similarly, nothing these people do or say should be held against them if they are lied to or coaxed to sign. Because this amounts to media entrapment, we hope these signers used made up names like "Haywood Jablowme". Why? One Breitbart reader suggested the videographers publish the names on right wing sites to expose them to public scorn - or worse.
With not one signer reflecting they had read the text and the interviewer failing to mention a government ban throughout the video, it's likely these people simply believed this was a free speech petition to show grassroots support against right wing propaganda - again. But even had they read the text, it would lead only to more questions. Who in the government was this being addressed to? And under what statute?
The text vaguely says only "the United States government" meaning it could be mailed to anyone from the President to the local mailman. This lack of clarity show the videographers still do not understand that government cannot simply deny freedom of speech to broadcasters. For the government to actually take action against a Rush Limbaugh, there would have to be an FCC or FEC complaint or a possible violation of codified federal, state, local or civil law, such as inciting violence, election or campaign finance abuses, anti-propaganda statutes, slander, libel or divulging classified material.
Even lying or distortion is not a violation of law or grounds for removal, as decided by legal precedent. The Supreme Court very recently reaffirmed that even hatespeech such as "God Hates Fags" and "Thank God 120 People Died in The Joplin Tornado" is protected by the first amendment. So it's a mystery where this petition could possibly go - other than the local radio station, sponsors or the bosses of the hosts. The government has not been the arbiter or enforcer of political speech, balance, equal time, sourcing or truthfulness since the Fairness Doctrine was struck down in 1987.
In fact, elected officials and candidates themselves use (and abuse) media such as Fox News or MSNBC to promote the most extreme of partisan views, and the public knows this well. So what's the point? The article maligns "the left", adding "most" leftists act like fascists towards those they oppose, all based on the views of a "handful" of "DC Libs". Another line reads: "The left is particularly un-American in this fascist desire to shut down the Rush Limbaughs and Andrew Breitbarts".
Not only is this left unproven, the author egregiously misquotes one young woman, as follows:
"She went on to say that freedom of speech is "not something this country needs any more.""
In fact, this quote comes as the woman was responding to the petitioner talking about conservative hosts
who are fueling the hate in the Tea Party, not "freedom of speech" which she said was "good" but needed "a modicum of control". Ironically, Breitbart's author affirms this idea himself, saying "we are all familiar with the principle that you can't yell "fire" in a crowded theater". See this distortion around the 3:10 mark
. Even more ironic is the way Hannity has called for taking away the free speech of the rapper Common or dictate whether Columbia University can host Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
I'd like to help these young videographers prove liberal hypocrisy because they are still not getting across any point other than disparaging half a dozen people on the street, trying to get their viewers to hate and fear ALL liberals. In future videos, the guy asking the questions needs to ask the respondents the question exactly as it will appear in the sensational headline on Breitbart's site. Otherwise it is simply distortion.
For example, "Should the US government ban Sean Hannity?" or "Should Conservative media hosts be censored while liberals are not?". If this is how you will accuse them in your article, this is how the question should be asked - verbally and in writing so there can be no doubt the subject is in fact being hypocritical or is being selective in freedom of speech.
If you are going to accuse people of wrongdoing, misconduct or "thought crimes" on your website using their likeness and audio responses, this needs to be backed up or it could backfire. Juan Vera is an example, now suing
James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles for omitting extremely important truths from their infamous "deceptively edited" ACORN videos.
If you can't find someone willing to sign on to those questions in that way, you can't write it up as such later. If you stop to listen to the respondents, they actually were articulating the idea that Limbaugh, Hannity and Beck deserve free speech like anyone else, but are abusing their responsibility with distortion, deceitful editing and out-of-context trickery - just what you yourself are doing, hence the problem.
Broadcasting used to come with a duty to self-police balance, but the whole country today has descended into polarization and legal propaganda, led by Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, the #1 and #2 radio broadcasters in the USA for decades. Here we see young Breitbart operatives who enjoy the new America where media is no longer used to inform and solve problems, rather to misinform and pit Americans against one another.
So watch out -- Breitbart Youth doesn't engage in honest conversations explaining why neoconservatism is so great, they instead try to put you into web videos so they can label you as "un-American".
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(OpEdNews Contributing Editor since October 2006) Inner city schoolteacher from New York, mostly covering media manipulation. I put election/finance reform ahead of all issues but also advocate for fiscal conservatism, ethics in journalism and (more...)
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