By Gustav Wynn
Crossposted at http://www.opednews.com/articles/Caught-Breitbart-Admits-E-by-Gustav-Wynn-110523-941.html
Partisan propaganda operative Andrew Breitbart is promoting a video filmed on a college campus purporting to “catch” students in hypocrisy because they are willing to sign a petition to “ban” Conservative talk hosts Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly yet still say they support free speech or the First Amendment when asked.
shows students being approached and told “we have a petition going around to ban people like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh from the radio”. The students are shown signing on as they denounce the right wing hosts on camera. But the young videographers from “ExposingLeftists.com” fail to understand the concept of Freedom of Speech, compiling their video without adherence to basic journalistic standards:
1. The term “ban” is not defined, leaving signers with no understanding of what the petition will be used for. Is this a voluntary ‘ban’ at the local radio station, or is this seeking to pass formal legislation that would ban the hosts through some government authority?
The videographers did not think this through. Most passersby would normally assume it was an appeal to a station to voluntarily stop syndicating biased hosts because so many people protested. One portion shows the petitioner saying “we are trying to get these people off the air”, portraying the petition as a grassroots effort to exercise free speech and populist outrage.
2. The video does not tally how many students agreed and declined, the video shows only students who agreed, signing hastily rushing to get somewhere. In this sense, it backfired by showing how many people walking the streets have a visceral disgust for the right wink talkers. But it failed in terms of representing the “truth”, or actual number and diversity of respondents during shooting.
3. One clip shows the fake petitioner mentioning one host’s “anti-Cesar Chavez” comments, and another tells a woman Glenn Beck is “kind of hateful”, showing they were even editorializing to get people to hate the right wing hosts, if they did not already. As people are signing, they are repeatedly asked “you believe in free speech, right?” – clearly in a rush, the respondents naturally think the petitioner is referring to a citizens’ right to ask stations to voluntarily remove Glenn Beck.
Nowhere do the video pranksters mention government agencies, publicly funded schools or elected politicians doing the banning.
4. The graphic superimposed at the end poses the question “How can these students “support” the freedom of speech while simultaneously wanting to ban conservatives from radio and TV?”
This shows these Breitbart protégés do not understand the constitutional protection of free speech only relates to government intervention. Otherwise, content can be voluntarily “banned” by parents, by private schools, by employers, by sponsors, by stations, by syndicators or whoever the hell feels like it.
If my mother doesn’t let me listen to radio propaganda, that is an acceptable, legal, voluntary “ban”. If my boss at the office prohibits it, or my privately funded college bans it, it’s neither illegal nor wrong. In fact, many parents, educators and clergy consider radio propaganda noise pollution, harmful to the critical and creative thinking
skills students need most today.
Even worse, the videographers go on to (clumsily) say: “The freedom of speech is vital to maintaining a healthy, prosperous republic. To take that right away from any American is not only wrong, it is dangerous”.
Yes, they actually argue that “freedom of speech” should not be taken away from “any American”, meaning schoolteachers cannot tell students to quiet down in class, parents cannot tell their children to hang up the phone, bosses can no longer stop their workers from making personal calls. This means Sean Hannity is at fault because he is not giving me a half hour segment on his show every day.
As we well know, freedom of speech in America is tempered by laws that prevent false advertising, fraud, deception, harassment, littering and much more. These videographers suggest students walking around on campus have no right to sign a petition to express dislike of propaganda – fomenting undue hatred against them by fraudulently calling them “dangerous”.
Worse and Worser
The only text accompanying the video on Breitbart’s site reads in full (including original spelling errors):
“The good news is they continue to profess their love of free speech and the first amendment as their signing the petition that would silence people they don’t agree with!
Please don’t confuse this petition with the Soros-funded group Media Matters for America. That group has their own speech-stifling campaign going. It’s totally different than this one.
Also, to be fair, this video contains several edits. We know that there are some cracker-jack websites on the left and the “right” who hold the TRUTH up as their highest standard. Surely they will discover that some of the students who were approached DIDN’T sign the petition. And, you know, that will change EVERYTHING.
Again, to “silence” another is not defined here as government or non-government censorship, so we cannot tell whether this falls under a constitutional freedom of speech protection or simple personal preference.
To properly “gotcha” these students, the fabrication should have invented a reference to a governmental body banning Limbaugh and Hannity, such as a Congressional resolution, a state or community college radio station or some other taxpayer-funded institution. Otherwise the students are simply telling a guy with a clipboard how they feel about Beck, Limbaugh and the others.
Lastly, we see the tacit admission that the video was deceptively edited, accompanied by acknowledgment that some students were approached but did not sign the petition. The authors, learning from gonzo activist James O’Keefe, feel no compunction to inform readers as to the proportion who felt otherwise – for all we know, we could be seeing a handful of respondents cherrypicked from of hundreds who refused.
Just below this admission, Breitbart includes hysterical reader comments saying that college students should be defunded by the government, calling for exactly that which the two young videographers incorrectly thought was “wrong” and “dangerous” – government activity meant to chill free speech. You may laugh here.
In all, a superb example of Breitbart grooming an army of young videographers to show us the side of the story they like and edit out the rest. If you have to put in a disclaimer admitting how showing the “TRUTH” detracts from your argument, maybe you should rethink the whole thing.
On the other hand, Breitbart may have seen how irresponsible these two young fellows were and plowed ahead, knowing the backlash against their hypocrisy, ignorance and spelling errors would bring traffic to his site.
Breitbart also makes a lot of hay playing the straw man who the mean old left is trying to “ban”, for example protesting his appearance on ABC TV on election night 2010. This ban was legal and voluntary, handed down by a network executive who was exercising his free speech.
Breitbart must have recognized the wide public disapproval which resulted when his Shirley Sherrod edit-job was discovered. Breitbart now seems to be purposely trying to confuse people into thinking this is unfair censorship, muddying the lines between government suppression and simple dislike.
What is truly “dangerous” however is a video meant to portray these college students as somehow doing something “wrong”. This non-issue implies Americans are taking away Limbaugh and Hannity’s rights and plays into the hatemongering seen in the vitriol, curses and threats in the comments on Breitbart’s blog.
If you disagree, please leave a comment below.
Author’s Website: http://openews.com/amerigus