v. Beck on the Sherrod Facts
by Gene Lyons
No sooner had last week's thrilling
episode about the smearing of USDA official Shirley Sherrod appeared
in this space than the indignant letters and e-mails began. Evidently,
Glenn Beck has his acolytes well-trained.
"Damnable liar" and "fraud" were two of the nicer epithets.
Supposedly, I'd “knowingly smeared "the Fox News weeper" to advance
Subjected to a similar barrage, a normally unflappable editor curtly
informed me that
"if you would double-check your facts, it might save us a whole lot of
Ah, but I had, you see. And therein lies an instructive little tale.
First, here's the offending passage from last week's column: "The
assault on Sherrod...was so mean-spirited, crass
and dishonest, not to mention so astonishingly stupid, that even Fox
News provocateurs like Bill O’Reilly and
Glenn Beck - after initially falling for the hoax - were pretty much
forced to apologize. I expect O'Reilly actually meant it."
I gave O’Reilly the benefit of the doubt out of personal experience.
The man can be a blowhard, and frequently
goes off half-cocked. Having appeared
as a guest on his program, however, I know that he also has the
to book dissenters from his world-view, and lets them finish sentences.
That’s more than you can say about Beck,
Limbaugh and talk-radio cult leaders generally.
What got Beck’s fans stirred up, however, was that his "apology" took
the form of an elaborate falsehood.
Because, in reality, the self-proclaimed "rodeo cowboy" (has anybody
ever seen him in an arena?) had fallen for
Andrew Breitbart's deceptively edited video of Shirley Sherrod’s speech
hook, line and sinker.
I wish gene would do more TV.
I haven't seen him do TV since maybe the Clinton era.
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