A conservative blogger posts 2 minutes, 38 seconds of video clips of a black federal agriculture official saying she didn’t do everything she could to help a white farmer. The blogger labels it ‘racism’. Calls grow for the Obama administration to remove her. No one at the Agriculture Department or the White House checks further. The official is forced to resign.
Monday ends, but not the story.
A complete, 43-minute version of the video surfaces the next day and casts a much different light on Shirley Sherrod’s comments: They were part of an NAACP speech about how she overcame her racial prejudice to help the farmer, not about prejudice that stopped her from helping him.
Now, the administration is criticized for wronging her by rushing to judgment.
By Wednesday afternoon, Sherrod is sitting at a studio in CNN’s Atlanta headquarters, watching on live television as White House press secretary Robert Gibbs apologizes to her.
She accepts and says, “Being afraid of the machine that the right has put out there, that’s what’s driving this.”
Watching the whole episode unfold, I’m reminded of how much the conservative media has managed to manipulate the masses, much like Nazi Germany did in the 1930’s. The incident is right out of the Joseph Goebbels’ handbook.
For those of you who don’t know who he is, Joseph Goebbels (pictured below) rose to power in 1933 along with Adolph Hitler and the Nazi Party and was appointed its Propaganda Minister. One of his first acts was the burning of books rejected by the Nazis.
He exerted totalitarian control over the media, arts and information in Germany. In his position, he perfected the “Big Lie” technique of propaganda, which is based on the principle that a lie, if audacious enough and repeated enough times, will be believed by the masses.
Goebbels used modern propaganda techniques (such as radio broadcasts and mass gatherings) to psychologically prepare the German people for aggressive war and the annihilation of civilian populations. Among other propaganda devices, he accused many of Germany’s ethnic and national minorities (Polish, Jews, and the French) of trying to destroy Germany, claiming that Germany’s belligerent actions were taken in self-defence.
In the case of the Sherrod story, Faux News and Conservative bloggers took her speech out of context, picking and choosing what parts to exploit to their advantage. By hitting the right notes, they succeeded in confusing the matter with the general public, putting the White House in PR mode.
All the Obama administration had to do was investigate the matter further, and the matter would have been ignored. Instead, the story becomes a headache for the administration. It also would have helped if the media would do their job and report the story properly.
No doubt, Goebbels would have been proud of the way conservative media handled it!