Almost immediately after news broke about the sudden death of conservative provocateur Andrew Breitbart, I started receiving messages that he’d been “assassinated,” that this was all a part of some massive plot involving a cover-up of videos from President Obama’s college years. Normally, I wouldn’t pay any attention to this brand of absurd conspiracy, but I have a special connection to the story. As many of you know, I was the last person Breitbart publicly tweeted; less than an hour after he wrote me, he collapsed and died of a heart attack.
And in the ensuing hours and days, my correspondence with him became the subject of national news. Breitbart’s final words to me were also the final words of his obituary in The New York Times. There were even a handful of articles about the significance of his final tweet, whether it depicted him as humble or defiant, whether I should be considered as a random “nobody” or an interview-worthy social media personality. I’ll leave that up to other people, but suffice it to say, most rational human beings would also be slightly disturbed by the notion that the guy they were just talking to was assassinated, particularly if their name and picture were published in dozens of articles as the last guy to publicly communicate with that person. Assassinated? Really?
But when I first heard this theory– that Breitbart had been targeted because he claimed to possess a video of President Obama during his college years, I thought of the one and only video I’d ever seen of Obama as a college student. It was footage of Obama speaking at a protest in support of one of his professors at Harvard Law School, and it was aired on national television, on PBS’s Frontline, in the fall of 2008, prior to the election. And it was completely innocuous, to be sure: The first-ever African-American editor of the Harvard Law Review supporting the first-ever African-American tenured Harvard Law professor, speaking out in favor of a more diverse faculty in front of a large audience of white folks cheering him on. If anything, it was impressive.
Recently, at the annual CPAC convention, Breitbart spoke about obtaining a video that would expose President Obama’s radicalism during his college years, and he vowed that this year, conservatives would finally “vet the President.” This sent his devotees into a frenzy of speculation: Maybe Breitbart had tape of Obama partying it up, doing drugs, having sex, making out with Bill Ayers. This was the bombshell they were craving, finally! But Breitbart died only a few hours before he was set to roll the video out.
In the interim, his team scrambled, never once refuting these insipid conspiracy theories and instead playing up the significance of the video Breitbart had been touting.
Today, the website BuzzFeed beat Team Breitbart to the punch and revealed the damning video, and pathetically, it was the same video that had already aired on PBS in 2008, a video that has been available for view on PBS’s website for nearly four years– Obama as a law school student praising his law school professor. Even though it had already aired on national television four years ago, Breitbart’s websites touted the video as an “exclusive,” and even though BuzzFeed uploaded the video before they did, they accused BuzzFeed of “selectively editing” it, which is awesomely ironic considering this is the same group of people who brought us the egregiously edited videos of Shirley Sherrod and ACORN. No matter, though; they would clear this all up on Sean Hannity’s show; they’d show the “full video.”
Tonight, they appeared on Hannity and revealed their findings: After Obama, the law school student, finished his remarks praising his law school professor, he hugged him. That had been clipped from the original footage, so you see, this is all a massive conspiracy. The tenured Harvard Law professor, Derrick Bell, wrote about critical race theory, which means that Obama is a racist who hugged a man who wrote about critical race theory.
In all seriousness, this sham of a story presages the end of Team Breitbart, and it demonstrates the calculated dishonesty of Sean Hannity and company. While Sean Hannity, Michelle Malkin, Team Breitbart, and their allies regurgitate publicly-known old videos in an attempt to divide this country on a 21-year-old discussion about equality at Harvard Law School and suggest they’re merely “vetting the President,” while some suggest that Breitbart was assassinated because he merely latched onto a clip from a PBS documentary, and while his team attempts to convince the public that republishing a video that had aired four years ago on national television is somehow a bombshell exclusive, the rest of us will be hoping that you follow Andrew’s example and start watching PBS; apparently, it’s where liberals hide their super-secret, self-incriminating videos.