Few people have more street cred with American liberals than Paul Krassner. He published the groundbreaking satirical magazine The Realist (1958–2001). People called him the father of the underground press. (He immediately demanded a paternity test.) He was a co-founder of the Youth International Party, or Yippies. He received the Feminist Party Media Workshop Award for journalism and the ACLU Uppie (Upton Sinclair) Award for freedom of speech. He was inducted into the Counterculture Hall of Fame at the Cannabis Cup in Amsterdam, and in December 2010 the writers organization PEN honored him with its Lifetime Achievement Award. “I want to say how happy this award makes me,” he concluded his acceptance speech, “and the only thing that makes me happier is that it’s not posthumous.” At the age of 79 he runs PaulKrassner.com and is working on his first novel.
Andrew Breitbart is 42, and his goal is “to take down the institutional left,” a job he attacks with gusto and much success. He describes himself as a Reagan conservative with libertarian sympathies. He has written for The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Times, was an editor of the Drudge Report and a researcher for Arianna Huffington and helped create the Huffington Post. He currently oversees a group of his own controversial online blog sites, Breitbart.tv, Breitbart .com, BigHollywood .Breitbart.com, Big Government.com, BigPeace .com and BigJournalism .com—“to hold the mainstream media’s feet to the fire”—and he plans to launch BigEducation.com, which will take on the academic establishment. He has been a commentator on Fox News and is the author of Righteous Indignation: Excuse Me While I Save the World! In February 2010 he was honored with the Reed Irvine Accuracy in Media Award at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C.
Krassner thought it might be fun if he rang up his longtime cultural adversary and invited him to sit down and discuss their differences and similarities. Breitbart wanted to meet at Applebee’s, says Krassner, but the actual location remains a secret. The result, we think you’ll agree, is one hell of an interesting dialogue.
KRASSNER: I was surprised to learn you consider my work to be one of your inspirations. You also claim that the mainstream media had a double standard and didn’t criticize me the way they do you and the conservative movement that you represent. That’s not true, though. I’ve been excoriated in papers from the Los Angeles Times to the Chicago Tribune to The Washington Post. My favorite headline was give this man a saliva test. You’ve also praised Abbie Hoffman and the Yippies and Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters as heavy influences. Both those men were close friends of mine and remain my touchstones, and yet you’re at the other end of the social and political spectrum. What I want to know is, how do they fit into the context of your personal mission?
BREITBART: Well, at the time you were doing what you were doing, trailblazing and causing mischief and mirth and effecting the type of political and social change you were attempting, there’s no doubt you were being challenged by others. What I’m talking about is the current order of the media in the 21st century and how history now looks on the Merry Pranksters, Abbie Hoffman, Ken Kesey and Hunter Thompson with great reverence. It’s as if they’ve been given their own wing of the journalism school. I don’t want to simplify history. I understand that, at the time, you went through hell, and the same could be said of Matt Drudge. From 1995 until about 2002 the same forces were trying to claim that Matt Drudge had no right to be doing what he was doing, which everybody now accepts as commonplace and accepted practice—AOL just purchased the Huffington Post for $315 million for replicating, on a left-of-center bent, what Matt Drudge does. So the trailblazers, while they’re trailblazing, can have slings and arrows hurled at them, and I’m not trying to diminish the peril you went through. I’m stating that right now, when I’m reporting truths on Wednesday and causing mirth on Thursday, the press has a problem with that. I’m saying no, you’re not going to define me; I’m going to define what I do, and you’re going to have to deal with it. I gained my inspiration from the knowledge that you guys went through the same process, and I’m using you as models.
KRASSNER: In your book you write, “Man, how I long for the days of Sam Kinison, Richard Pryor, Abbie Hoffman, Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, George Carlin and Lenny Bruce, and today the only people upholding their free-speech legacies are conservatives like Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh.” At first I thought you must be kidding. What about Louis C.K., Chris Rock, Sarah Silverman, Lewis Black, Margaret Cho, Marc Maron, Rick Overton, Harry Shearer, Kathy Griffin, Wanda Sykes, Richard Lewis, Bill Maher, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Larry David, Rachel Maddow, Paul Provenza? The place is overflowing with liberals upholding their free-speech legacies.
BREITBART: I would say that they exist within a protected class for the most part. As long as they adhere to liberal orthodoxy, they’re protected and can say anything against anyone at any time. It’s the conservatives who are challenged by the reigning order of political correctness. There’s nothing transformative or dangerous about a liberal in Hollywood or a Sarah Silverman or a Chris Rock being offensive, because they know they’re granted a “get out of jail free” card, whereas Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter exist outside that comfortable order. So I’m rooting for those people over the ones like Jon Stewart, who are in a protected class.
KRASSNER: By the way, I was once on a TV panel with Ann Coulter, and during a commercial break I suggested to her that the labels “conservative” and “liberal” had become obsolete. I asked her what she thought might be appropriate substitute labels. “Americans and cowards,” she said.
BREITBART: I love Ann Coulter to the core of my being. Nobody humors me more. If there’s anyone I want to have a dinner with and who can have me on the floor laughing—and her laugh is infectious, and to anybody who knows her, she is just a star. Anyone on the left who would spend five minutes with her would be laughing, and in puddles of their own urine laughing, even when she’s making fun of them. Leftists have an inability to have a sense of humor about their sanctimony.
KRASSNER: But humor is totally subjective. You’ve said that Bill Ayers probably wrote Barack Obama’s memoir Dreams From My Father, but to me that’s an obvious joke. Ayers has said, “I wrote that book, and if you could help me prove it, I’ll split the royalties with you.” On the other hand, those billionaire Koch brothers, the notorious oil merchants who oppose reducing air pollution, when they claimed that smog prevents skin cancer, I thought that was a joke. But they had actually hired a think tank that somehow managed to come up with that conclusion.
BREITBART: I believe Bill Ayers is a moral relativist, and I think he’s protecting his intense and long-standing relationship with Barack Obama. The history of Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn with the Obamas—they helped usher Barack Obama into his political origins, which started in their house, in essence. Of course the media are going to downplay his relationship with Ayers, an unrepentant radical domestic terrorist. Of course they’re going to protect Obama. They protected him from Reverend Jeremiah Wright, who was his spiritual mentor for 20 years, and from his relationship with Father Michael Pfleger. The most controversial thing they could glean from my book on the left was that I believe, based on his writing on Dreams From My Father, that Jack Cashill makes an incredibly compelling argument that Ayers performed the mundane task of ghostwriting a politician’s memoirs. It’s what everyone does. Every politician has a ghostwriter, and I believe to the core of my being that Ayers was the logical writer of Dreams From My Father. If you don’t think it’s compelling, then don’t think it. It’s just what I happen to think. I don’t think it’s even a controversial point. One is allowed to draw conclusions based on well-argued writing.
KRASSNER: In your capacity as Tea Party protector, you must be aware of the blatant disconnect between its plea for small government and its desire for social issues to be controlled by the government.
BREITBART: I don’t know what you’re talking about.
KRASSNER: I’ll give you a few examples related to my own experience. One would be abortion rights. During the 1960s, when abortion was still illegal, if a woman was a victim of botched back-alley surgery and went to a hospital, they were required to call the police, who would not allow a doctor to give her a painkiller before interrogating her. I ran a free underground abortion-referral service and was subpoenaed by district attorneys in two cities, but I refused to testify. Two, marijuana decriminalization. My position is that as long as any government can arbitrarily decide which drugs are legal and which are illegal, then anyone behind bars for a nonviolent drug offense is a political prisoner. I started smoking pot in 1965, and I still do, only now it’s medical. And three, gay rights, from “don’t ask, don’t tell” to same-sex marriage, which is not the slightest threat to heterosexual marriage. I mean, take Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich, John Edwards, David Vitter—please! In 1979 I covered the trial of Dan White for The San Francisco Bay Guardian. He had killed progressive mayor George Moscone and openly gay supervisor Harvey Milk.
BREITBART: Dan White was a Democrat, and Harvey Milk was a libertarian.
KRASSNER: I’ll put those labels aside, though. When White was sentenced to only seven years for a double political assassination, I got caught in the middle of a postverdict riot at city hall. I was beaten by two cops shouting homophobic epithets—it made no difference to them that I was straight—and as a result I now have to walk with a cane. Anyway, how do you react to the conservative movement’s inconsistency about less government in their lives?
BREITBART: I don’t know what evidence you’re offering that the Tea Party is focusing on any of those issues. The Tea Party is a bizarre amalgam of independents, conservatives and libertarians who have surgically excised the social issues from the table, and the people in those crowds have diverse opinions on all the things you mentioned. I happen to be pro-marijuana, certainly marijuana decriminalization, but I’m not asserting myself and my social views in this current environment. If you can’t see and if the media don’t want to see that the Tea Party is about financial restraint and has nothing to do with social issues—nothing, nothing, nothing—to the consternation of the social conservatives. I’ve had rifts and schisms with social conservatives over my stances on these issues. They can call me a libertarian if they want. I don’t care what labels they call me. But the Tea Party is abused by the mainstream media, which misinform the public of what their rights are. Their rights are specific to the expansion of government and the inability to rein in budgets. And by spending money on things that don’t work, we’re putting our children in economic peril, period. It has nothing to do with marijuana, it has nothing to do with abortion, it has nothing to do with gay marriage. There are gay people in the Tea Party. There are people of all different social stripes within the Tea Party who have a singular focus on restraining government debt and applying constitutional principles.
KRASSNER: When Who’s Who in America invited me to fill out a form for inclusion in the book, where it asked for my political affiliation I wrote “Independent Dupe,” and that’s how it has me listed. It’s interesting to see how in America the free-enterprise system has become intertwined with democracy, and in the process socialism has become a dirty word.
BREITBART: It is a dirty word.
KRASSNER: It’s revealing that Norman Thomas ran for president six times as the Socialist Party candidate, and though he was defeated in each election, over the past several decades every one of his platform planks has been adopted by both Republican and Democratic administrations. The laws they passed just weren’t labeled socialist. Now, I have no economic ideology, but I realize there is something wrong with capitalism. I realized it as I read the business section all those years before the recession was officially declared. I noticed day after day these news items about hundreds of employees being let go by different corporations, and yet their shareholders were pleased because the value of their stocks went up. There’s something wrong with that. In the insurance industry especially, greed became a preexisting condition.
BREITBART: Well, I think I lean more toward being an independent conservative, in that I see problems with the Republican Party, with its lack of consistency in its point of view and its unwillingness to fight for conservative principles. I controversially support people like Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, Allen West and Rick Perry, people who are either sort of in the Tea Party sphere or in the more independent sphere of the conservative movement, who feel less represented by the Republican Party. I’ve come to appreciate the emancipation of that independence. If anybody came to me with a scandal that involved blatant wrongdoing by a Republican, I would be blissful to report it. But when the mainstream media are so naturally left of center, people can go to ABC, CBS and NBC with those types of stories and they will get maximum coverage. So people end up coming to me only when they have stories that perhaps hurt liberals or Democrats, because they know that if they go to ABC, CBS or NBC the door will be closed on them. I wouldn’t recommend that a person who knows of a scandal involving a Republican come to me, because they can simply go to The New York Times and it will be exposed. But somebody should test me, because I would be happy to report on corruption within the Republican Party. I would like to think that my team, the people I relate to ideologically, hold themselves to a higher standard.
KRASSNER: Do you mean that if somebody sent you photos of Rick Perry that were like the Anthony Weiner photos, you would publish them?
BREITBART: No doubt. Would I have the same level of enthusiasm? No, because I expected nothing from Anthony Weiner, and I respect Governor Perry. But he has further to fall. It would be more disappointing and more worthy of exposure, because he’s supposed to represent a higher standard.
KRASSNER: I want to get to the topic of religion. As an atheist and an absurdist, the most absurd thing I could do is to develop an ongoing relationship with a deity I don’t believe exists. So as a stand-up comic, before a performance I would say, “Please, God, help me do a good show,” and then I would hear the voice of God bellow, “Shut up, you superstitious fool.” Actually, I stopped being a militant atheist in the 1960s when I realized that Martin Luther King Jr. was a Christian whose actions I admired, whereas George Lincoln Rockwell, the head of the American Nazi Party, was an agnostic whose actions I disdained. So I no longer care what anybody believes instead of what they do, whether they’re kind or cruel to others. I call myself a secular humanist, and you call yourself a secular Jew. I’m curious as to how that informs your views on controversies from circumcision to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. For example, as a baby I was circumcised against my will, and now, when San Francisco considers outlawing circumcision, I’m torn between——
BREITBART: Torn between?
KRASSNER: Yeah, that’s a poor verb. I’m trapped between——
BREITBART: Ripped apart.
KRASSNER: Yeah, that’ll do it. I’m ripped apart between freedom of religion and genital mutilation as a form of child abuse. As for the Middle East, I said to God, “You’re supposed to be all-knowing, and so you knew in advance that designating Palestine as the promised land for Jews would have devastating consequences.” And I heard the voice of God boom out, “I never promised land to the Jewish people; I only said, ‘I’ll see what I can do.’ ” But getting back to what being a secular Jew means to you——
BREITBART: Well, first of all, from first-hand experience, I love my perfectly crafted bell end. [laughs] I think penile sculpture as religion is above my pay grade. I wouldn’t equate it with clitorectomies and the depravities you see in Islamic culture and what they do to women for punitive purposes. Given the fact that I have a circumcised penis, it’s too damn sensitive, quite frankly.
KRASSNER: I thought it takes away from sensitivity.
BREITBART: Well, if it does, I’m still too sensitive. I may need a shot or an extra cut. Here’s how I look at it. I used to be an atheist, and I became an agnostic, and now I exist in a place where I say I bat third on the Judeo-Christian softball team. I’ve had too many things happen in my life that, as my father-in-law, Orson Bean, says, there’s no such thing as coincidences. I’m starting to doubt my doubts. But I would still say I’m an agnostic who, when watching the debate between Dinesh D’Souza and Christopher Hitchens, I’m usually laughing and slapping my knee with Hitchens but rooting for D’Souza. I’m desirous of moving toward the Judeo-Christian side. In the past I took solace in my agnosticism. One reason is that, during my agnostic years—I call them my nihilistic years—during which I lived in a world of moral relativism and not believing in objective truths, I didn’t sleep well at night. I was living in a world of moral chaos. The more I started to listen to people like Dennis Prager and rational people who were religious—not fly-by-nights like Tammy Faye Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart and Benny Hinn. When you get past the hucksters and get to people like David Mamet, who now speaks of Judeo-Christianity, and Dennis Prager, it makes a hell of a lot more sense than the nihilism I embraced. I now find myself fighting alongside many Christians and Jews who believe Judeo-Christianity is the backbone of American culture. Until somebody gives me a better replacement than Judeo-Christianity, I’m not going to be part of the team that’s trying to tear down that pillar and replace it with nihilism and cultural and moral relativism.
KRASSNER: I know you feel strongly about people succumbing to political correctness. As a performer I’m a living paradox. Irreverence is my only sacred cow, yet I try not to let victims become the target of my humor. There was one specific routine I stopped using in 1970. It called for a “rape-in” of legislators’ wives—most legislators then were men—in order to impregnate them so they would then convince their husbands to decriminalize abortion. My feminist friends objected. I resisted at first because it was such a well-intentioned joke, but I reconsidered. Even in a joke, why should women be assaulted because men make the laws? Legislators’ wives were the victims in that joke, but the legislators themselves and their laws should have been the target. For me to stop doing that bit of comedy wasn’t censorship, it was conscious evolution. It wasn’t political correctness, it was simple respect. However, in 1982 the Radical Humor Festival at New York University sponsored an evening of radical comedy. The next day my performance was analyzed by an unofficial women’s caucus. Robin Tyler, who said, “I am not a lesbian comic; I am a comic who is a lesbian,” served as the spokesperson for their conclusions. What had caused a stir was my reference to the use of turkey basters by single mothers-to-be who were attempting to impregnate themselves by artificial insemination. Tyler explained to me, “You have to understand some women still have a hang-up about penetration.” But freedom of absurdity transcends gender difference. “Yeah,” I said, “but you have to understand some men still feel threatened by turkey basters.”
BREITBART: First of all, there’s a difference between political correctness and human kindness. I have a specific definition of what political correctness is, and you sort of touched on it by the reference to a lesbian comedian having to differentiate her cultural identity: “I’m a comic who happens to be a lesbian.” That’s the problem: Cultural Marxism is political correctness, and political correctness is the translation of Marxist economic theories from the battle between the haves and the have-nots into the battle of the oppressor versus the oppressed. And so, given the oppressor-oppressed model, the oppressed get to maintain a permanent place of judgment against the oppressors, and blacks get to judge whites and say, “You’re not allowed to say that,” but whites aren’t allowed to say to blacks, “Chris Rock, you’re not allowed to make that joke at the expense of white people, because you’re the oppressor. It’s okay for us to make fun of you.” This double standard has created a huge quandary in our country—that somehow there’s a type of affirmative action whereby one group is allowed to castigate, excoriate, demean and defile the other as some form of cultural reparations. All it does in my mind is exacerbate the underlying social rifts, and I reject it wholly. I love Chris Rock, I love Sarah Silverman, but I also think Sam Kinison and Andrew Dice Clay should be afforded the same rule book. I remember watching back in the late 1980s when political correctness started to take over the comedy world, and the Sam Kinisons and Andrew Dice Clays were marginalized and excoriated for their routines, and today Sarah Silverman and Chris Rock get away with much harsher cultural criticism. I want to exist in a world where comedy functions as an exhaust system so that all members of our society can go into that comedy room, into the Improv, and let it all hang out. When Tracy Morgan is forced to go to a reeducation camp because he’s offended gay sensibilities, I don’t think it does anyone in the gay community any favors that they show they don’t have the ability to laugh at themselves. I love Caucasian jokes, I love Jew jokes. All I can say is, I like equal opportunity offenders. It is not political correctness to be outraged when somebody goes after Trig Palin because he’s mentally challenged. That’s just pure crudeness and beyond inappropriate. I guess it’s sort of like the Supreme Court definition of obscenity—you know offense when you see it, and there is a difference between political correctness and saying something that’s just beyond the realm of propriety.
KRASSNER: Wouldn’t you apply that standard to Rush Limbaugh when he made fun of Michael J. Fox?
BREITBART: No, I wouldn’t. Rush was making a political point.
KRASSNER: Which was?
BREITBART: From what I recall, and I think it was proved to be true, he chose not to take the medicines that calm his symptoms of Parkinson’s so that when he did his ad, he was shaking more than he ordinarily would in order to rev up the volume of the issue, to pour oil on the fire over the issue of stem cells—to create the perception that if you are for stem cell research, you’re for stopping this shaking. That was my perception of it. Accusing Hollywood and liberals of using emotionalism to push an intellectual argument is incredibly fair game.
KRASSNER: I understand that the epiphany that caused you to make a political right turn occurred while you were watching the hearings about Clarence Thomas’s nomination to the Supreme Court. You were genuinely convinced that the treatment of him was racist. I thought he was lying when he testified under oath that he had never discussed the subject of abortion, because in response to a question by Senator Hank Brown, Anita Hill testified that she had disagreed with Thomas in a discussion about Roe v. Wade. But then-senator Joe Biden quickly interrupted her, saying, “That is not the subject of these hearings.”
BREITBART: I was upset because it was clear the left and the Democrat media complex—that’s my description for the natural alliance of the Democratic Party, liberal interest groups and the mainstream media—chose to put on a show trial by accusing Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment and then had absolutely nothing to back it up. The pretense of this show trial was clearly abortion rights, but they were willing to embarrass him as much as possible, and the mainstream media allowed this to go on without challenge. He’s sitting there and they’re asking him whether or not he’s rented pornography starring Long Dong Silver, and the point is? The point is, I guess, to make this conservative look like he’s a hypocrite because he enjoys sex. But if the whole point of Roe v. Wade is a right to privacy, these people invaded his privacy and publicly embarrassed him by flaunting what they found out about his private life. I found it to be utterly hypocritical. To watch cads and manslaughter and human sexual harassment machinery like Ted Kennedy sitting in judgment of him was beyond the pale. And one year later, to watch the same crowd that had i believe anita bumper stickers, that had said the threshold for sexual harassment is so low that if you mention you see a pubic hair on a Coke can it’s sexual harassment—for those same people, the same Democratic Party, the same Democrat media complex to anoint Bill Clinton as their standard-bearer, I couldn’t take the hypocrisy. I was writhing in pain. It didn’t mean I immediately went to the supermarket and signed up to become a Republican. I just started to challenge the media narrative that was being handed to me, because I saw how disingenuous that complex was.
KRASSNER: As a Supreme Court Justice, Thomas has declared that the Constitution gives states a right to establish an official religion, that prisoners have no constitutional right to be protected from beatings by guards, that a school official is allowed to strip-search a 13-year-old girl to look for two extra-strength ibuprofen pills, that a key part of the Voting Rights Act giving blacks political power in the South should be struck down, that an American citizen could be held as an enemy combatant with no charges and no hearing. He announced a decision that threw out a verdict in favor of a black man who had been convicted of murder and nearly executed because prosecutors hid evidence that could have proved his innocence.
BREITBART: I don’t know the answers to these things. If you had given me this detailed information, I could have come back with my detailed response. This is like the Sarah Palin “gotcha” question on Paul Revere. I’m not able to answer this because you are coming to me armed with data, and I don’t have the ability to see whether there is a rational argument to defend it or not.
KRASSNER: Well, it’s all a matter of record. Recently a campaign-finance watchdog, Protect Our Elections, asked the FBI to investigate Clarence Thomas and his wife, Virginia, seeking his disbarment. It alleges that he falsified his financial disclosure forms, that he engaged in judicial corruption by receiving $100,000 from Citizens United during his nomination and then in 2010 ruled in favor of Citizens United without disclosing that fact or disqualifying himself, and that he engaged in judicial insider trading to enrich his wife by providing her with information about that decision prior to its issuance, which she then used to launch a new company to take advantage of that decision.
BREITBART: Do you believe in innocent until proven guilty?
KRASSNER: Do I believe in that? Yes. [chuckles] Okay, you know that Eliot Spitzer was nailed for spritzing around with a call girl in the same Washington, D.C. hotel room where he had just written an opinion piece for The Washington Post about the subprime loan disaster. He wrote, “Not only did the Bush administration do nothing to protect consumers, it embarked on an aggressive and unprecedented campaign to prevent states from protecting their residents from the very problems to which the federal government was turning a blind eye…. When history tells the story of the subprime lending crisis and recounts its devastating effects on the lives of so many innocent homeowners, the Bush administration will not be judged favorably.” In fact, the reason Spitzer had flown to Washington was to launch a campaign to attack the Bush cabal and the arrogant corporations that empower them. There was speculation that this was the real motivation for Spitzer’s arrest. And then blogger Joy Reid wrote a few months ago that Clarence Thomas “has never been held to account by the Justice Department, Congress or the media for 20 years of false financial-disclosure forms related to his wife’s six-figure salary from a Tea Party organization dedicated to undoing health care reform, an issue Thomas will almost certainly be called upon to rule on…. But what’s interesting about the media’s latest obsession [Anthony Weiner] is Breitbart’s timing. This is a guy who understands news cycles and how to manipulate them, hence his veritable role as CNN’s assignment editor, replacing Matt Drudge. Did the timing of the [Anthony Weiner] ‘scandal pic’ release have something to do with Breitbart’s obsession with protecting Clarence Thomas?”
BREITBART: Who is alleging that I timed Congressman Weiner’s publicly tweeting his junk? He is the one who instigated it by his behavior on Friday night, May 27. It’s such an illogical question that it speaks to a fevered conspiratorial mind-set that I think dominates the left. Nobody, including Weiner, contests that he tweeted that thing on Friday night. How could I have preordained or have had preknowledge that that would occur? It goes beyond being illogical; it’s wishful thinking.
KRASSNER: But you have to admit it was great timing.
BREITBART: Did it time with Congressman Weiner attacking Clarence Thomas? Yes, it did. That would be called a coincidence, and there’s no logical or metaphysical way to make the argument that I was able to convince him to mis-tweet a picture of his erect penis to a woman in Seattle with whom he’d had online communications.
KRASSNER: Since you pressured Anthony Weiner into publicly apologizing to you for pretending you’d hacked his Twitter site, I would think that, conversely, you owe an apology to Shirley Sherrod. You publicized, out of context, a two-and-a-half-minute clip of her talk before the NAACP in which she told about the time 24 years ago when she didn���t help a farmer as much as she could have because he was white, which resulted in a scared administration hurriedly forcing her to resign as the Georgia director of rural development. But you insist that she wasn’t your target, that the NAACP was, for applauding what she’d said. Well, I’ve watched the entire 43-minute speech, and they did not applaud.
BREITBART: They nodded and they murmured.
KRASSNER: They nodded and they murmured?
BREITBART: Yes. Look, if you heard somebody give that speech to a white audience, talking about how they’d stuck it to a black farmer, and the audience was going along with it and audibly applauding—and by applauding I mean affirming the narrative. When she was talking about how “I took him to one of his own” and “I didn’t give him the full force of what I could do,” they were like, “Uh-huh,” just like it was church. They were nodding in agreement. The whole point of this was, the week before, Ben Jealous of the NAACP was going on ABC, CBS and NBC to defame and defile the Tea Party, claiming it was racist based on the false narrative that the N-word had been hurled at congressmen André Carson and John Lewis. And I had proof, not just through the $100,000 reward that went unmet. Nobody came to me with any evidence that it had been said once, in a group of 400 people. There was no audio or video that showed it had happened even once, let alone 15 times. I was also able to produce four videos from the exact moment the incident allegedly occurred, and they prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the incident didn’t happen, that it was made up. Yet Ben Jealous of the NAACP resurrected that falsehood as a means to propagandize against the Tea Party, to politically destroy it, to try to make it appear to be racist when it is not racist. So the Thursday before the Monday when the two videos and the 1,400-word article came out, I said, “Ben Jealous, you can go to hell. You’re trying to split this country on the schism of race. How dare you?” I said, “I have evidence that shows your group acting in a racist manner.” And I stand by that. If the NAACP gets to go on ABC, CBS and NBC and falsely claim that the Tea Party is racist but doesn’t have any audio or video evidence and is able to propagate a provable falsehood, I said, “Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones.” So when you have a video of an NAACP-sanctioned event at which Shirley Sherrod is getting nods and then murmurs of approval, it is far greater evidence of the NAACP acting racist than anything the left and the NAACP have been able to collect of the Tea Party behaving racist. And my point stands—those who live in glass houses should not throw stones.
KRASSNER: But getting back to Sherrod’s speech, after making her point that it wasn’t about black and white, it was about haves and have-nots, that she had overcome her own racial prejudice stemming from the fact that when she was 17 her father had been killed by a white man, later in the video she says, “What we have to do is get that out of our heads. There is no difference between us. The only difference is that the folks with money want to stay in power, and…whatever it is, they’ll do what they need to do to keep that power.” And that’s when they did applaud.
BREITBART: But they had reacted in a positive fashion that caused the NAACP to acknowledge it and say it was going to investigate the audience’s behavior at the point in the actual speech that I had pointed out. On day one, Sherrod blamed the NAACP. She said it had gotten into a battle with the Tea Party, and the NAACP said it was going to investigate the audience for its behavior. I had hit the target perfectly and shut up the NAACP. It could no longer go on ABC, CBS or NBC, because it had been exposed. But when Sherrod said to the administration, “But I helped the white farmer,” they still stood by the firing. If that is such an important crux, that she was allegedly fired because she discriminated against a white farmer, why is it that they stood by the firing even after she said she’d helped the white farmer? The two-and-a-half-minute video includes the redemptive part of the narrative. Who is my number one defender on that, not once but twice? Chris Matthews on MSNBC, a guy who does not agree with me on anything, said to Joan Walsh and Howard Dean, “I’ve looked at the video. Breitbart included the part where she talks about ‘It’s not about black versus white, it’s about rich versus poor.’ ” In addition, my 1,400-word piece, which everybody ignored, mentions the NAACP 17 times and Sherrod four times. It says, “Eventually her basic humanity informs her to help the white farmer.” The redemptive part that you just talked about is included in the video. Chris Matthews defends me on that critical point.
KRASSNER: Just to balance Chris Matthews, ironically Glenn Beck discredited you on Fox News and said you needed to apologize. You responded, and this is the quote: “Next thing I know, I’m under complete attack without the support of Glenn Beck, who I thought was somebody I could count on. He threw me under the bus.” And it wasn’t the Merry Pranksters’ bus. Maybe Beck should apologize to you.
BREITBART: I agree with that. I was able to find out why Beck threw me under the bus. He had used so much of my content to build up his name, and why was he throwing me under the bus? Well, it’s pretty interesting, because the president’s team fired Sherrod too quickly, without due process, because they were fearful it was going to be on the Glenn Beck show. So when Beck went on TV to talk about it for the first time, he took the stance “I didn’t touch this because I knew there was something wrong with the video. I saw the video in my office, and I knew something critical was missing, so I didn’t go with it.” Well, wondering why he would state that given what Chris Matthews had to say on the issue, we found out later that he didn’t do it on the TV show, but he did do it earlier in the morning on his radio show, before more information started to come out that granted greater context. He was the one who cut the two-and-a-half-minute video into 15-second clips that isolated and eviscerated Sherrod and removed the NAACP angle entirely. So he screwed the pooch on his radio show, then found out that she had been fired based on the administration’s fear that it would be on the Glenn Beck show, so he went on his TV show and pretended he had not touched it on his radio show. He was doing damage control for Glenn Beck’s brand, period.
KRASSNER: I’ve said that “truth is perceived through the filter of an agenda,” and you’ve said that “truth has no agenda.” I’d like to apply our slogans to the ACORN scandal that you produced, which, because it was believed, resulted in Congress defunding the agency. But a Congressional Research Service report commissioned by the House Judiciary Committee says that ACORN didn’t violate any federal regulations in the past five years, that there were no instances of individuals who had been improperly registered to vote by ACORN employees, that the undercover video makers who allegedly caught ACORN employees breaking the law may themselves have violated state law in their filming operation. The Brooklyn district attorney, Charles Hynes, announced that his office had found no criminal wrongdoing by ACORN. Another law enforcement source said that James O’Keefe and Hannah Giles had edited the tape to meet their agenda. Former Massachusetts attorney general Scott Harshbarger’s report states, “The videos that have been released appear to have been edited, in some cases substantially, including the insertion of a substitute voice-over for significant portions of Mr. O’Keefe’s and Ms. Giles’s comments, which makes it difficult to determine the questions to which ACORN employees are responding. A comparison of publicly available transcripts to the released videos confirms that large portions of the original video have been omitted from the released versions.” And California’s then attorney general, Jerry Brown, said, “The evidence illustrates that things are not always as partisan zealots portray them through highly selective editing of reality. Sometimes a fuller truth is found on the cutting-room floor.” O’Keefe admitted he was out to make a point and to damage ACORN. In the sensational San Diego video that featured Giles discussing prostitution by underage girls 13 to 15, human trafficking from Mexico and cheating on taxes in the U.S., the ACORN worker acted as if he would help them. But when they left, he immediately called the police with the misinformation he had solicited from this couple of propagandists. And so the question is, did you ever share the fact that he called the police with your readers?
BREITBART: There’s so much propaganda in that collection of data that I don’t even know where to begin, but I’ll start at the beginning. When Hannah and James came to me with their edited video—which is what all news services do; they take raw footage and create a narrative that allows the story to be told so one doesn’t have to watch hours and hours of footage—I said, “Even though ABC, CBS and NBC truncate time and selectively edit video and we just trust implicitly that they’re telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth and not manipulating the narrative, you’re going to be held to a higher standard, not just by the public but by the mainstream media, which is going to challenge you by virtue of your avowed conservative politics.” So when they came to me with those videos, I said, “If I’m going to help you get this story out, I’m going to ask that we simultaneously release the full transcripts and the full audio so nobody will be able to claim that words were put into these people’s mouths and that the context of your edited videos makes it perfectly clear that you did not manipulate the situation.” For you to cite Scott Harshbarger as a resource when John Podesta and Andy Stern of SEIU were the ones who hired Harshbarger to allegedly investigate ACORN’s behavior on the case.… I said immediately, “You’re going to tell me that John Podesta’s going to investigate ACORN? They’re going to investigate James, Hannah and me and come up with an ‘independent investigation’ to place us on the defensive.” And that’s precisely what they did by looking at the selectively edited videos. And to come up with sound bites such as “selectively edited” doesn’t mean anything, because we provided the full content for everyone to see from day one. Congress voted to defund ACORN because those who looked at the full tapes and the full transcripts saw there was no explanation other than absolute insanity that so many people in so many offices would offer service with a smile when a pimp and a prostitute walked through the door stating that they wanted to create an underage-sex-slave operation. Political hacks like Scott Harshbarger and Jerry Brown are apparatchiks whose careers are dependent on organizations like ACORN. I would think that your skepticism of government and government officials would cause you to go, “Wait a second. Let’s look at the full tapes.” I have said to Harshbarger, Brown, Podesta, Stern and Media Matters, “Let’s sit down once and for all and watch, in front of an auditorium of people, for all the world to see—we’ll film it—the full, unedited videos. And at the very end, you’re going to tell me that the selective editing changed anything?” It’s laughable garbage, and I am willing to put my name and my reputation on all of those ACORN videos.
KRASSNER: Okay, Andrew, thanks very much for this.
BREITBART: I thought it would be funnier.