Mitt Romney is just like Andrew Breitbart.
By deceptively and misleadingly editing Barack Obama's words to make it appear that he said something he did not, Romney has done to President Obama what Breitbart did to Shirley Sherrod.
In July 2010, Shirley Sherrod was an official with the U.S. Department of Agriculture when Andrew Breitbart posted a video in which she appeared to describe how she discriminated against a white farmer in Georgia. When viewed in full, the video made clear that Sherrod had actually helped the white farmer, and was a story of racial reconciliation rather than black-on-white racial discrimination. The truth was very different from the deceptively edited video Breitbart used.
In July 2012, Mitt Romney's campaign put out a video of Barack Obama in which he appeared to be saying:
If you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be ‘cause I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something. If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.In reality, President Obama said something quite different:
Let me tell you something. There are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there. If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that.Romney's video made it appear that Obama was saying that people didn't deserve credit for building their own businesses. If you look at the bold sections in each of the above quotes, you'll see that Romney cut the sentences out that make clear what Obama was actually saying, namely that business owners hadn't built the "roads and bridges" and, more broadly, "this unbelievable American system" that "allowed you to thrive." The truth was very different from the deceptively edited video Romney used.
Greg Sargent at the Washington Post has an excellent analysis of the Romney ad. You can also see this post at DailyKos by hungrycoyote, which includes discussion of another Romney ad from last November that similarly lied in the way it edited Obama's words.
Obama has himself hit back at the ad:
Governor Romney was at it again, knowingly twisting my words around to suggest I don’t value small business,” he said. “In politics, we all tolerate a certain amount of spin. I understand those are the games that get played in political campaigns. Although when folks just omit entire sentences of what you said, they start slicing and dicing, you may have gone a little over the edge there.”It's important for people in the media to call a spade a spade. When the story about Breitbart and Shirley Sherrod broke, Eugene Robinson described what Breitbart did exactly right on MSNBC (the remark comes at 4:40 into the video):
That’s lying…and we ought to call it for what it is.The same goes for what Romney did. What Romney did was lying, and we ought to call it for what it is. I certainly don't claim to be the first person, even on this site, to be saying that.
But I want to emphasize something else here about Romney's lies. The way to bring this home is to say that what Mitt Romney did to Barack Obama is exactly what Andrew Breitbart did to Shirley Sherrod.
We must say that Mitt Romney is just like Andrew Breitbart.