Wednesday, March 07, 2012


A few hours ago, at, Joel Pollack accused BuzzFeed of posting a "selectively edited" video of then-Harvard law student Barack Obama addressing a protest in 1991 intended to increase the number of tenured minority and female professors at the school.

Now, has posted its own version.

Um, apart from the quality, and the scene-setting at the beginning of the Breitbart version, what the hell is the difference between these two videos?*

I assumed the Breitbartniks were going to focus on something Obama said in front of a camera that, ripped from context, they could get away with describing as intemperate. Truthfully, I wondered if perhaps Team Obama helped get Video #1 to BuzzFeed in the hope that it would be posted and a benign version of the story would be out before the Breitbarters got down to business.

But it looks as if the benign video is the smoking-gun video. Now, maybe this will change in a few hours, but a tweet from Breitbarter Ben Howe suggests otherwise:

Breitbart never said these videos were going to change the entire election. He said it'll kick off the vetting that didn't happen in '08.

Oh, OK. So we still have to wait for the other other shoe to drop!

I think the Breitbarters are just hoping that an old, unremarkable story -- Obama's support for Professor Derrick Bell -- can now be injected into the conversation because there's video. (Oooh, pictures! I don't have to read words! I can just watch this endlessly on Fox!)

The Breitbarters, in posting the video, describe the late Professor Bell as "a radical academic tied to Jeremiah Wright." (Anybody got evidence of that? I'm Googling around and I can't find any.) I see him described at Pajamas Media as a defender of Louis Farrakhan, and that does seem to be true -- see the end of this obituary and this 1998 New York Times book review.

So that's all there is to this, I think: a degrees-of-separation game, with the linchpin being a deceased man most Americans have never heard of, and about whom Obama spoke most passionately twenty years ago. Hey, Dead Andy, that's all you got?


Oh, hell, here it goes: Derrick Bell wrote an essay in the form of a racial parable and it was turned into a short film by HBO -- and Breitbart's got the video! Seriously? This is what was in the vaults when Breitbart died? I half-wonder if even he was smart enough to know that this would be a big fat nothing to everyone but the crazy base, though it would be catnip for the crazy base. And maybe that was enough. Eyeballs! Unique visitors! That's all this was ever about, maybe -- not bringing down Obama but seeming to try bringing him down, as boob-bait for the bubbas.


OH, AND: PBS has the whole video (lots more footage, though no more speechmaking from Obama), and included the current clip in a Frontline episode in 2008. It's been online (at the PBS site and YouTube) ever since.


HUG-GATE UPDATE: I watched some of Sean Hannity's show on this tonight. Hannity and the Breitbartniks were claiming that the Obama video was suppressed in 2008 -- but, as noted above, PBS aired it in mid-October 2008. Hannity and the 'barters said that yes, it's being aired now, by BuzzFeed and others ... BUT NOT WITH THE HUG! The hug being Obama's post-speech hug of Professor Derrick Bell. But PBS included the hug in the Frontline episode. You can see it in the YouTube version, at approximately 31:15. The show has been up at YouTube since October 15, 2008, and has been viewed more than a million times. And, um, why is the hug supposed to be so damning?

*UPDATE, MARCH 12: I've subbed in a YouTube copy of Breitbart's version of the video, because the one I had kept automatically playing an ad when I loaded my own page. It was posted by a right-wing paranoiac (or perhaps I repeat myself) under the title "The Video That Got Breitbart &^%$#%." I can't believe how pathetic these people are, and I can't believe they still run my country.

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