McClatchy News was responsible for the single worst story reporting the allegations of Reps. Andre Carson, John Lewis. Emanuel Cleaver, and James Clyburn that Tea Party protesters abused black congressmen with racial epithets while demonstrating against Obamacare on Capitol Hill on March 20. The story is “Tea party protesters scream ‘nigger’ at black congressmen.”
The congressmen’s story was a fabrication intended to defame the Tea Party movement and distract attention from the resistance to Obamacare. Not a single video corroborates it, despite Andrew Breitbart’s offer of a $100,000 reward to anyone producing such a video. And no independent journalist or other eyewitness ever stepped forward to vouch for the congressmen’s story. It didn’t happen.
Breitbart played the indispensable role in demonstrating that the story, reaching to the top ranks of the Democratic congressional leadership, was a falsehood calculated to defame the resistance to Obamacare as — what else? — racist. Breitbart performed the difficult task of proving the negative with something like metaphysical certainty. We posted Breitbart’s video analysis of the evidence here.
A funny thing happened when Breitbart called the congressmen to account for their story. These loquacious men did something completely out of character. They clammed up.
The false imputation of racism to silence and stigmatize opponents is a vile device. These gentlemen showed themselves practiced in the art. It is not conducive to civilized discourse; it is intended to stifle it.
So who better to instruct us on the proper rhetorical boundaries of our political discourse in the wake of the attempted assassination of Rep. Giffords? Why, Emanuel Cleaver, who appeared yesterday on Meet the Press, and James Clyburn, who appeared on Fox News Sunday. But of course.
Chad Pergram is a senior producer for Fox News in Washington. He even cited the congressmen’s “n word” story as fact in two posts yesterday, here and here. I wrote Pergram yesterday morning:
Chad: I write for the Power Line blog. I closely followed the story of the black congressmen who were allegedly abused with racial epithets by Obamacare protesters this past spring. I remember Fox News reporting it as a fact that day, but doubt crept in at least on the evening programs within a day or two.
In your story you repeat the allegation as a fact, yet it is demonstrably false. Andrew Breitbart compiled a video of the congressmen walking from their office through the crowd to the House, and you can observe that no untoward incident occurred. Andrew subsequently issued a $100,000 reward for any video displaying the incident….There were no takers because it didn’t happen.
I devoted 18 posts to the congressmen’s story. One installment with Breitbart’s video reconstruction of the congressmen’s walk is here.
I’m respectfully asking that you correct your story (http://politics.blogs.foxnews.com/2011/01/08/rep-carson-increases-security-light-giffords-attack).
Pergram writes back this morning: “Thank you for writing. However, I stand by my reporting.”
Good response! It is the perfect coda to Fox News Sunday hauling out Clyburn to instruct us in the boundaries of civil discourse in connection with the assault on Rep. Giffords.