updated 7/22/2010 9:23:26 AM ET 2010-07-22T13:23:26

Guest: John Stanton

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RACHEL MADDOW, HOST (voice-over):  Quick!  Everybody backpedal, fast!
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ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY:  One of the great lessons you take away from this is—is to ask all of the questions first.
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MADDOW:  The network who made this happen disavowed, disavowed!
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  What was the big hurry for them to condemn her in the first place?  I don‘t get it.
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MADDOW:  The saga of Shirley Sherrod overtakes the rest of the news even as the country realizes belatedly that this really shouldn‘t surprise anyone.  They‘ve done this before again and again and again—as you‘ll soon see.
And Michael Steele has enemies in very conservative places—the latest bit of backstabbery against the chair of the Republican Party from Republican sources.
Plus, the place liberals probably shouldn‘t go for their aluminum siding.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  So, let‘s end this secular socialism right now.  And remember, for the best in siding, windows, and roofing, at the very best price, call me.
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MADDOW:  And Sharron Angle‘s new old pitch to be Nevada‘s next senator.
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SHARRON ANGLE ®, NEVADA SENATE CANDIDATE:  Government is not the solution to the problem.  Government is the problem.
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MADDOW:  Smiles, everyone, smiles.
A loaded-up part of the problem—THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.
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MADDOW:  Do you remember when we enacted the implementing “don‘t ask, don‘t tell” comic book?  A Web site called “Comics with Problems” posted online, Army comic book from 2001 about how to deal with gay people in the military.  We acted it out.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Ma‘am, I‘ve been talking to Chaplain Ayers (ph) over the past few weeks and I think that I may be homosexual.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Stop right there!
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MADDOW:  Stop right there.
“Comics with Problems,” the Web site that published that “don‘t ask, don‘t tell” bizarro comic also published another amazing comic from 1960 or 1961.  It was a comic that was commissioned by George Wallace.  George Wallace, the famous segregationist, who four times was the governor of the great state of Alabama.
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GEORGE WALLACE, FORMER ALABAMA GOVERNOR:  I say segregation now, segregation tomorrow, and segregation forever.
(CHEERING)
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MADDOW:  In 1960, George Wallace‘s campaign commissioned this comic book to get people to vote for George Wallace by showing how brave he was in standing up against civil rights.
You can see it here in these comic-imagined headlines: “Wallace Fights Back,” “I Won‘t Yield to Threat,” “Wallace Stands Up for South,” “Judge Won‘t Surrender.”
The comic book isn‘t actually an argument in favor of segregation.  It‘s more of a conspiratorial screed about how everybody is out to get Alabama, how Alabama—white Alabama—George Wallace, is just defending themselves.  It says, “Why did Washington go out of its way to try to hurt George Wallace?  They wanted to ruin him politically.  They know he‘s a strong segregationist and they‘ll throw a monkey wrench in their plans to take over the state.”
Look at this panel where Wallace pledges that he‘ll provide Alabama with more black top roads, pensions for old people, education, and, he says he‘ll head right back north, every freedom writer, sit-in, and every other troublemaker backed by the NAACP that meddles in our affairs.
That‘s the promise, to remove the threat—the outsider threat to remove white people and the white way of life.  The threat posed by the NAACP, by the people who want to take over.
Be afraid, white people.  There‘s a threat to take you over.  The black people are coming for you.  The NAACP is coming for you, they‘re coming for you, they‘re coming for you, they‘re coming for you.  And you better band together to not surrender, to fight back.
That‘s pretty raw in 1960 comic book form, right?
Well, here‘s what it looked like in 1990.  It‘s the same thing, this time in the form of a campaign ad on television.
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ANNOUNCER:  You needed that job and you were the best qualified.  But they had to give it to a minority because of a racial quota.  Is that really fair?  Harvey Gantt says it is.  He supports Ted Kennedy‘s racial quota law but makes the color of your skin more important than your qualifications.
You wrote on this issue next Tuesday.  For racial quotas: Harvey Gantt.  Against racial quotas: Jesse Helms.
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MADDOW:  The balled up white fist, the anger at what‘s being given to black people because it‘s being taken away from white people.  It‘s a zero-sum.  Black people are coming for you.  They‘re coming for your job.  They‘re coming to get you.  You better band together not surrender, to fight back against the black people who were coming for you.
After the political success in the South, the politicians like George Wallace, who, again, remember, was elected four times as Alabama governor, after the political success of politicians like Lester Maddox, who used as his political symbol when he ran for governor in Georgia the pick ax handle he brandished to defend his segregated restaurant from black people.
That and after the civil rights era, the political strategy of terrifying white people about the threat posed by black people—black people coming to get them, coming to take what‘s rightfully theirs.  That strategy got a new name, the Southern Strategy.
In 1970, Republican political strategist Kevin Phillips explained to “The New York Times,” quote, “From now on, Republicans are never going to get more than 10 percent to 20 percent of the Negro vote, and they don‘t need more than that.  But Republicans would be shortsighted if they weakened enforcement of the Voting Rights Act.”  Meaning, if they blocked black people from registering the vote because he says, “The more Negroes who register as Democrats in the South, the sooner the Negrophobe whites will quit the Democrats and become Republicans.  That‘s where the votes are.”
That‘s where the votes are.  That‘s the way to get white votes, by counting on white people being afraid of black people.  Make clear where the black people are, politically, and count on what Kevin Phillips calls Negrophobia—locking up all of the white votes on the other side.
It‘s about making white people feel like they are victims of black people.  Black people are the racists.  White people need someone to stand up for them.  It‘s good politics.  It always has been in this country and it still is.
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RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  How do you get promote in a Barack Obama administration?  By hating white people or even saying you do or that they‘re not good or put down ‘em, whatever.  Make white people the new oppressed minority and they‘re going right along with it because they‘re shutting up.  They‘re moving to the back of the bus.  They‘re saying, “I can‘t use that drinking fountain.”  OK.  “I can‘t use that restroom.”  OK.
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MADDOW:  White people, the black people are coming for you.  They‘re coming to take your rights, to take away everything you have.  Black people are coming after you so white people need to band together.
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GLENN BECK, FOX NEWS:  This president, I think, has exposed himself as a guy over and over and over again, who has a deep-seeded hatred for white people or the white culture.  I‘m saying he has a problem.  He has a—this guy is, I believe, a racist.
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MADDOW:  FOX News Channel this year has run with a few different stories that they—that they really pushed all on their own.  They weren‘t mainstream news stories.  They weren‘t even news, really.  They were FOX News agenda items and they all followed a very, very similar narrative.
There was the Van Jones controversy.  He‘s a czar, an appointed czar, accountable to no one, usurping legitimate government power, coming to take real government power away.  When him being a renewable energy policy expert didn‘t seem scary enough about Van Jones, FOX News morphed him into an ex-con, a violent ex-con who‘ve been jailed for racially-motivated violence against white people.
Here‘s how Glenn Beck reported it on August 13th, 2009.  He said, quote, “Well, I don‘t know about you, but I‘m sure glad to know that Van Jones, the communist, the radical, the anarchist, the guy, you know, part of the Rodney King riots—I‘m sure glad that he has the ear of the president.”
And on August 11th, the same guy, quote, “Here is Van Jones.  This is a convicted felon—a guy who spent, I think, six months in prison after the Rodney King beating.  He was a black nationalist that came out, an anarchist and a communist.  He then found the green movement was the new red.  And now he‘s our green job czar.  Why is there so much money from the Green Movement, fund for public interest?”
Van Jones didn‘t spend six months in prison for the Rodney King riots.  He‘s not a convicted felon.  He never served time in prison.  He‘s never been convicted of anything.  But who cares?  The FOX campaign against him worked.
And white people, remember, they‘re coming for you, violent ex-cons who riot against white people, they‘re coming for you.
The other great FOX News crusade of the past year: More black people are coming for you.  ACORN—an almost all minority community-organizing group torn apart day after day after day on FOX News because FOX News said they were thugs, criminal thugs who are stealing taxpayer money and stealing elections.
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JON VOIGHT, ACTOR:  Now, who brought him in to office?  The press brought him in.  The press was a big factor and so was the—so was—they get a lot of help from ACORN, this corrupt organization, that there‘s now under indictment in many states throughout the country for voter fraud and registration fraud, and also, by the way, responsible for the stealing of the election of Norm Coleman in Minnesota.
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS:  We keep hearing about this group, ACORN.  And every single swing state now, there are allegations of voter fraud.  You had even said, you use the term “stealing the election.”  Are you concerned that that might be happening in this election?
SARAH PALIN ®, FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR:  I join many Americans in sharing that concern.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  This was ACORN—I saw them as a thug organization that was getting my tax dollars.
BECK:  So, Michelle, help me out here with SEIU having a real seat at the table.  These are the thugocracy kind of idea.  ACORN, can you draw the connections between Black Panthers and SEIU?  Or are these others kind of latching on because they see what direction the country is headed?
MICHELLE MALKIN, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST:  You know, there‘s both implicit and explicit coordination of this corruption, Glenn.
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MADDOW:  Be afraid, they‘re coming for you.
We have a great FOX News crusade of the past year was more black people coming for you.  That was the New Black Panther Party.  Basically, two whack job guys at a polling station during the election.  The Bush Justice Department investigated whether those two intimidated voters that day and found that they didn‘t.
So, for normal news outlets, this understandably wasn‘t a story.  On FOX, it‘s reason to play footage over and over and over again of a random wingnut black guy being very threatening—being very threatening to white people.
When you run something like four dozen stories on one of your FOX News shows as they did, just on this story—four dozen times covering it, each time showing the exact same footage of the exact same threatening random black guy, it‘s a pretty effective way of getting the message across that random black guys are really threatening.
They‘re coming for you, white people, they‘re coming for you.  Black people are coming for you to take what‘s yours.  And so it goes.
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HANNITY:  And this is a FOX News alert: an Obama administration official resigned just a short time ago after a she was caught on tape appearing to tell an audience that she had used her position to racially discriminate against white farmers.
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MADDOW:  No.  No, she didn‘t.  She didn‘t use her position as an Obama administration official to discriminate against white people, she really didn‘t.  But it fits the narrative, doesn‘t it?  Beautifully.
What are the four major FOX News-only stories of the Obama era have in common?  The four major stories pressed and pushed relentlessly on FOX over and above the facts as their own made-up-the—make-up-the-news-cycle-you-wish-you-had narrative that they want to pin on the Obama administration.
What is the same about these four ginned up FOX News initiated would-be scandals?  Van Jones, ACORN, the New Black Panther Party, and Shirley Sherrod.  What‘s the same about these four stories?
This isn‘t about racism.  This isn‘t a story about picking on black people.  This is a story about political outcomes, about the tried and true political strategy of not targeting black people, but targeting white people.
Targeting white people—white voters or white would-be voters to feel afraid of black people, to feel afraid of African-American people as if they‘re not fellow Americans but rather a threat to what white people have.  They‘re coming for you.  It‘s a zero-sum game.  If they get anything, that means you lose something.
The message is a political one, clear as a 1960 campaign-funded segregationist comic book.  Stand up, white people, stand up against the black threat.
The “Shirley Sherrod is a racist against a white people” story is not true.  Everyone knows that by now.  But it also is not new.  It‘s political strategy to stoke fear and racial resentment among white voters—like Kevin Phillips said in 1970, that‘s where the votes are.
This is a political strategy, advanced not by a news organization, but by political activists who use a cable channel as a political outlet.  And they are pros at this.  There‘s no reason to expect them to stop doing stuff like this—unless it stops working some day.  Unless some day, it stops working.
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MADDOW:  They promoted a completely baseless story on Monday and Tuesday and then spent Wednesday shrinking away from the scene of the crime.  The FOX News Channel goes with the “who me?” defense which might work, except that FOX News Channel is a TV channel.  So, what they do happens in public and it can be checked.  That‘s coming up—as is Pulitzer Prize-winning “Washington Post” columnist, Eugene Robinson.
Please stick around.
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MADDOW:  The shameful and momentarily effective contrivance that is the story of Shirley Sherrod and the Obama administration should not surprise anyone.  For generations, the conservative movement has targeted the white voters on the overwhelming majority of the voting populace with political tactics disguised as stories to scare them—to scare them that voting rights and property rights and educational rights and everything that Americans are supposed to be guaranteed, that those things are a zero-sum game.
The stories all go that the elevation of African-Americans into equal participation into the electoral process, into politics, business, schools, and the rest of American life will necessarily take those things away from white people.  So, white people need to defend themselves against it.  It‘s a calculated strategy and it works over and over and over again—at least it has until right this second.  I wonder if that‘s ever going to change.
Joining us now is Eugene Robinson, MSNBC political analyst and Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and associate editor for “The Washington Post.”
Hi, Gene.  It‘s nice to see you.
EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Hi, Rachel.  Good to be here.  I thank you so much for reminding me of the word I haven‘t heard in many years, Negrophobia.
MADDOW:  Negrophobia.
ROBINSON:  I know.
MADDOW:  It‘s actually perfect, though, because—I mean, it‘s really is about targeting white people to be afraid.  It is picking on black people but it‘s picking on black people for a presumed white audience to make white people afraid that black people are coming to take what‘s theirs.  I mean, I feel like this tactic is as old as the sun.  Do you see it that way?
ROBINSON:  Absolutely.  It is.  And you certainly see it being played out.  The black people are just foil in this tactic.  It really is aimed at white people.
And there‘s been an evolution of it now, though, because it‘s not just black people who fully participate in American life, it‘s black people who achieve a certain status and power.  And that once they achieve that status and power, they inevitably are going to use it to take revenge against whites somehow.  And it‘s perfectly set up for that sort of thing.  There‘s the African-American president, there are a lot of African-Americans who have advanced in every walk of American life.
And the nation is moving forward every year toward the time where there will not be a racial or ethnic majority in this country, just a bunch of minorities.  That freaks people out.  And so, hence, you know, the evolution of this tactic.  But, you know, in a larger sense, it‘s the same old story.
MADDOW:  And you saw it—it‘s popped up in ways that sometimes seem surprising.  I remember being completely befuddled when during the fight over health reform, some people on the right started to say that health reform was actually a stalking horse for reparations for slavery.  Remember that line from talk radio?
ROBINSON:  I remember that.  Where did they come from?  These things are so random that it takes a few days just to even register and say, wait a minute, how in the world do you get from here to there?  The things have nothing to do with each other.
I got to admit that my favorite—and we‘re being kind of detached and ironic here because I do take this stuff seriously.  But, in fact, I write about it in a column for tomorrow.  It‘s clearly a tactic, it‘s—it is a political tactic that isn‘t a random kind of thing.  It‘s not just news organizations; these are political pros who know how to do this sort of thing.
But the—but the thing about the New Black Panther Party, you know, this is a couple of guys.  You know, the whole organization‘s membership might climb in to the dozens, maybe, on a good day.  And if you watch FOX News, you would think that there were cabals and hordes really of New Black Panthers.
You know, these guys are such whack jobs that the original Black Panthers are issuing statements disavowing connections with them.  So, clearly, you know, they‘re not good people.  But there are only like a handful of them, yet, they‘ve been made into this huge national threat.  It‘s all part of the same—part of the same game.
MADDOW:  And that‘s the thing.  I said, it only makes sense if you recognize the continuing narrative and how it has functioned so well politically over time.  I mean, with the new Black Panther thing, it‘s not just that it‘s like three random guys wearing sandwich boards and braiding their beards, which absolutely is—
(LAUGHTER)
MADDOW:  -- is that the horrible incident with them happened two years ago.  I mean, it happened during the election.  But all of a sudden, there was a need for a new scary black thing in order to make people afraid about voting issues.  With ACORN gone, what are we going to—what tape are we going to run?
(LAUGHTER)
ROBINSON:  We only have three seconds of tape.
(CROSSTALK)
MADDOW:  If you play it for longer, it might give some dangerous context.  So, you can‘t allow that.
It is—anyway, so let me ask you specifically about what happened today.  Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack—
ROBINSON:  Yes.
MADDOW:  -- accepted full responsibility, apologized to Shirley Sherrod, offered her a job at USDA.  Obviously, that goes some distance to making up for this huge mistake.  But what else does the administration have to do to recover from this?
ROBINSON:  Well, first of all, you know, I think they have to
recognize that they—that they handled this really poorly.  I mean, they
you know, they forced the woman to pull her car over wherever she‘s driving—trying to drive home, and resign on the spot rather than be criticized on “Glenn Beck” on Monday evening.  Before anybody knew what she had said, even took the time to get her side of the story, which clearly was totally exculpatory, it never happened, just the diametrical opposite what Breitbart had claimed.

So, I think the White House has to learn that lesson that you don‘t have the sort of knee-jerk reaction anytime someone whispers black racism, you don‘t have to freak out and do something immediately, at least get the facts.  Appearances matter, but appearances stem from facts.
The other thing I think the White House ought to do is recognize that here‘s a time—you know, we‘re talking about this tonight because the curtain has kind of been pulled back.  I mean, this was so transparent, the way that Andrew Breitbart edited that clip to make it seem as if she were saying something diametrically opposed to what she actually said.  And when the truth came out, you could just see—see it as the tactic that it is.
And I think there‘s—there have to be ways to capitalize on that and to push back on that.  I think the way you deal with bullies is, you know, you don‘t run away from them.  You confront them and you push back.  So, maybe that‘s a lesson the White House can draw from this, too.  Push back.
MADDOW:  Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and associate editor for “The Washington Post,” and guy who is both as amused and horrified by all of this as I am, I think, in equal measure—I really appreciate it, Gene.  Thank you.
ROBINSON:  Thanks so much, Rachel.  Great to be here.
MADDOW:  So, what the conservative media did to Shirley Sherrod was like if they had been covering Hansel and Gretel as a news story, only—they only watched the part where they leave the trail of breadcrumbs and then they declared Hansel and Gretel to be anti-social litterers.
It‘s grim.  It‘s just grim.  Hello, Grimm.
That‘s next.  More to come.
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ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY:  I think, without a doubt, Ms. Sherrod is owed an apology.  I would do so certainly on behalf of this administration.
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MADDOW:  White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs earlier today offering Shirley Sherrod the apologies of the entire Obama administration.  That apology from Mr. Gibbs followed a few hours later by another apology, this one from Shirley Sherrod‘s former boss, the person who asked for and accepted her resignation—our nation‘s agriculture secretary, Tom Vilsack.
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TOM VILSACK, SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE:  Just a few minutes ago, I had the opportunity and the privilege to speak with Shirley Sherrod over the phone.  I started out by extending to her my personal and profound apologies for the pain and discomfort that has been caused to her and to her family over the course of the last several days.
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MADDOW:  In addition to that apology, Secretary Vilsack also offered Shirley Sherrod a new job in the Agriculture Department.  Ms. Sherrod is reportedly now considering whether to accept that offer.
One of the amazing things that‘s happened over the last 24 hours as this political bomb continues to explode is that the people who lit the fuse in the first place have been trying to pretend like they had nothing to do with it, trying to pretend that they are shocked—just shocked that there‘s been this big explosion.
Last night on this show, we talked about the incredible lengths that FOX News Channel, in particular, went to, to hype the supposed scandal after it was broken by a conservative Web site that has fed lots of stuff to FOX in the past.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE FOX NEWS ANCHOR:  Breaking news tonight about an Agriculture Department official being caught on tape making racially-charged comments to an NAACP audience. 
BILL O‘REILLY, HOST, “THE O‘REILLY FACTOR”:  Well, that is simply unacceptable.  Ms. Sherrod must resign immediately.  The federal government cannot have skin color deciding any assistance. 
SEAN HANNITY, HOST, “HANNITY”:  And this is a Fox News alert.  An Obama administration official resigned just a short time ago after she was caught on tape appearing to tell an audience that she had used her position to racially discriminate against white farmers. 
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW:  None of which is true, except for the resignation part.  Fox News Channel jumped on this story instantly and without apparently having any of the facts straight about what actually happened. 
It‘s almost like the whole thing was coordinated.  Just a few hours after the original article and videos were posted on that right-wing Web site, a nearly identical version of the story, literally just about verbatim, appeared on the Fox News Web site under the totally misinformed headline, “Caught on Tape: Obama Official Discriminates Against White Farmer.”
She didn‘t discriminate against a white farmer.  She wasn‘t an Obama official when the story took place.  And she wasn‘t caught on tape doing anything.  But you did spell everything right, you, guys, so good job. 
Fox News pushed this story with everything it had, just like the fake ACORN scandal last year and the fake Van Jones controversy right around the same time.  Fox News cooked this story up and sold it albeit completely out of context as we all soon found out. 
After having done that, after having lit that fuse, here‘s the Fox News take on the matter now that the real story has come out and the bomb has gone off.  This is amazing. 
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE FOX NEWS ANCHOR:  Well, the fallout now is a headache for the White House because they may have - well, I don‘t know - they may have acted without knowing the whole story. 
STEVE DOOCY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR:  It kind of looks like it. 
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW:  Do not adjust your TV machine.  Fox News - that‘s Fox News, not actors portraying Fox News in a laughably ridiculous way - actually Fox News condemning others for acting without knowing the whole story. 
Here‘s the coverage from Fox News yesterday as the story was still unfolding.  The voice you‘re going to hear chiming in during this during this clip is Fox News anchor Steve Doocy, the blond you saw sitting on the left just a moment ago.  This was yesterday. 
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  This is outrageous.  I mean, it‘s outrageous. 
And perhaps everybody needs a refresher course of what racism looks like. 
I mean, that is -
DOOCY:  Exhibit A. 
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Exhibit A - to do it so publicly as though she‘s proud of her actions.  
DOOCY:  Right. 
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW:  Right.  Exhibit A.  Right.  This is racism, exhibit A.  That according to Fox News anchor Steve Doocy yesterday.  Steve Doocy today?  
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DOOCY:  What was the big hurry for them to condemn her in the first place?  I don‘t get it. 
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW:  (UNINTELLIGIBLE) rush to condemn.  They are so quick to judge.  How about former bush press secretary turned Fox News host, Dana Perino.  She offered this lecture today to those who got it so wrong.  
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DANA PERINO, CO-HOST, “FOX AND FRIENDS”:  Her comments about race cost Shirley Sherrod her job.  But did the White House jump the gun without having all the facts? 
Do you think that they would have done a little bit more of a
cautious look -
UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Sure. 
PERINO:  Asked her to pull over and decide.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW:  Yes.  You can‘t just fire first and ask questions later.  OK. 
Same Fox News show, same show one day earlier.  
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PERINO:  Now, this emerges and pretty much confirming what many of us thought about people who burrowed their way into the Obama administration on radical outlooks, a radical agenda and, in this case, a racist sentiment expressed clearly by her. 
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW:  These people shouldn‘t jump to conclusions.  What has become clear over the past 48 hours is that Shirley Sherrod was taken completely out of context.  Her speech was edited to make it look like the opposite of what it was. 
And today, Fox News had a major bone to pick with anybody guilty of doing that, of just taking part of her speech out of context and making a judgment about her based on just a little snippet. 
UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  She said that I assumed things that they - that the white family came off arrogant and condescending to her and she reacted in a certain way. 
Well, if you take that when she was describing the way she did act at one point and then left it right there, you would have a different impression of what Shirley Sherrod was like in doing. 
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW:  Right.   I know.   You know, dude, you should totally see what they did on that same exact talk show yesterday.  Really. 
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  There‘s an official from Barack Obama‘s United States Department of Agriculture making a speech to the NAACP that sure sounded racist.  Listen.  
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHIRLEY SHERROD, FORMER UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
OFFICIAL:  I was struggling with the fact that so many black people had lost their farm land.  And here, I was faced with having to help a white person save their land.  So I didn‘t give him the full force of what I could do. 
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She admits there that because a farmer was white, she doesn‘t extend the full helping hand to him.  She‘s touting this in this anecdote as if this is, you know, a feather in her cap somehow for her to be congratulated.  I mean, it‘s really a shocking admission.  
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW:  Same show.  It‘s really been a striking transformation in the Fox News that hyped this story yesterday and the fox news that was quick to lay blame today. 
Here‘s how Fox described the story yesterday, “USDA official admits racism on tape.”  Here‘s another one, “Racism caught on tape.”  That‘s how it was described by Fox News yesterday. 
Today, look what it is, “Rush to judgment?  Jumping the gun.  A modern-day witch hunt?  Did they act too fast?”  Fox News trying to put the blame on others now, trying to disavow any responsibility for what they did to Shirley Sherrod, just like what they did to ACORN, to Van Jones and all the rest, telling half the story, distorting the outcome completely beyond all recognition, but making sure the story meets their political objectives. 
If we all had to count on Fox News to cover the story of the tortoise and the hare, we‘d all think that the tortoise lost because they wouldn‘t cover the actual outcome of the race.  They‘d just unload on that slow tortoise.  But seriously, that‘s who they would cover it. 
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KENT JONES, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  With the race 2/3 finished between the tortoise and the hare, Fox News can project, it‘s over, America.  The hare has won in a laugher. 
Is anyone surprised here?  Did the so-called tortoise think slow and steady could win a race?  While Americans paid good money to watch what was hyped as a competitive race, this tortoise decided it was perfectly OK to waste our time with slow and steady.  
Why has no one held this tortoise accountable for this outrageous behavior?  Who is really pulling the strings here?  Is he taking for the short money?  Or is he just too lazy and full of himself to train for this race? 
Now, as for the hare, he can take a long well-deserved nap and jog to the finish line.  This one is over.  But as for you, tortoise, it‘s time for you to hide your head in shame.  
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW:  Then, the next day, Fox News would castigate everybody else who counted the tortoise out.  Castigate them for jumping to conclusions.  Be a little more cautious next time.  Get the story straight. 
The wonder is not that they do this.  The wonder of all of this is that anybody falls for it over and over and over and over and over again.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL STEELE, CHAIRMAN, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE:  I‘m not going anywhere.  I‘m here. 
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
Every time something happens, you know, people say, “Oh, you should step down.  You should step down.  Well, the reality is, that‘s not happening.  So stop the noise on that. 
(END VIDEO CLIP) 
MADDOW:  Well, of course, that‘s Michael Steele speaking earlier this month about his plans to definitely not resign as chairman of the Republican Party despite the umpteenth rounds of calls for his resignation. 
As of today, you can make it umpteenth plus one.  Today, the treasurer of the RNC has accused Michael Steele of hiding more than $7 million in debt in order to make the Republican Party appear to be in better financial shape than it actually is. 
This story was first reported by the conservative establishment newspaper of choice, “The Washington times,” which underlined the seriousness of the allegations against Mr. Steele by pointedly knowing that simply misreporting the numbers to the FEC can lead to millions of dollars in fines and criminal charges can be levied if the actions are suspected to be intentional.” 
Now, the fact that this story was broken and so aggressively reported by this particular conservative newspaper is not a coincidence.  Key conservatives are not just “Washington Times” readers.  They‘re also “Washington Times” sources. 
In other words, if you want to know just how badly the Republican establishment wants Michael Steele to go away, take a look at “The Washington Times” where you will find that reporting dirt on Michael Steele has become a beat all its own. 
Back in April of last year, just months after being elected chairman of the RNC, “The Washington Times” published an exclusive on efforts of the RNC to limit how much control Mr. Steele would have over the party‘s cash. 
They followed up that reporting with another exclusive about a week later, noting that Mr. Steele had, in fact, been forced to sign a secret pact agreeing to restraints on how he spends the party‘s money. 
Later that month, “The Washington Times” reported, again, exclusively, on a new controversy over Mr. Steele‘s tendency to hire long-time friends and associates and pay them substantially more than what their predecessors made. 
Then, late last year, two former RNC chairmen went to “The Washington Times,” exclusively, with their criticism of Michael Steele‘s habit for personally taking money for speaking engagements. 
In January of this year, “The Washington Times” reported that Michael Steele was driving away big Republican Party donors.  Quote, “A number of major contributors, some of them declined to state their claims on the record, said Mr. Steele had not made personal calls to them as other chairmen have.” 
Then came yet another “Washington Times” exclusive about how Republican Party officials were poised to demand that Mr. Steele call off his national book tour, followed by “The Washington Times” also exclusive reporting on preparations being underway for the post-Michael Steele RNC which included news that the state party chairman was quitting his job in preparation for a possible challenge to Mr. Steele. 
And that is just a sampling of the reporting on the head of the Republican Party from Washington‘s very own daily conservative newspaper.  
It‘s actually hard to think of a non-gaffe-related Michael Steele scandal that wasn‘t broken or super-aggressively reported on by “The Washington Times.”  The only exception, perhaps, would be the reporting on Michael Steele‘s desire for a private jet and the RNC‘s bankrolling of bondage-themed nightclub outings. 
That story, of course, was first broken by a conservative Web site called “The daily Caller” which is essentially the online answer for “The Washington Times.” 
Joining us now is John Stanton, reporter for “Roll Call” newspaper.  Mr. Stanton thank you, again, for joining us.  Nice to see you. 
JOHN STANTON, REPORTER, “ROLL CALL” NEWSPAPER:  It‘s good to see you. 
MADDOW:  So obviously, I couldn‘t help but notice how many Michael Steele scandals have been unearthed by this one conservative paper.  Should that fact - the fact that so much of this reporting is coming from “The Washington Times” be seen as a sign that there is a specific group of conservatives who are really out to get him? 
STANTON:  To a certain degree, yes, if you can draw that conclusion.  “The Times” has long had very good relationships with members of the conservative, you know, movement, particularly within the Republican Party. 
They‘re sort of well-known for having a lot of sources within the RNC, members and the states and stuff like that.  And so, this is not just, you know, a few members of, say, Congress or the Senate that are upset with Mr. Steele.  This is sort of a broader problem. 
MADDOW:  Among the sources that turn out over and over again in these “Washington Times” stories against him, the name Randy Poulin comes up a lot - RNC treasurer.  He‘s the one making these latest allegations about Michael Steele trying to hide RNC debt. 
Is he a wannabe replacement for Michael Steele?  Does he have credibility issues on his own? 
STANTON:  I‘m not sure if he wants to replace Michael Steele.  I do know that he has a - he‘s long been sort of rumored to be the source of some of these stories that “The Washington Times” and others have written. 
He‘s made no sort of secret of his unhappiness with Chairman Steele and his tenure.  There are some questions that have been inevitably raised by some of Steele‘s supporters saying that he was involved in some potentially sort of questionable money issues with the Arizona Republican Party. 
So, you know, they‘re sort of trying to throw a little mud back,
I think.  But he definitely - his motive - I think it‘s pretty clear that
he‘s not happy with Chairman Steele so -
MADDOW:  John, the main question I have about this, the reason I want to talk to you about it is I feel like there‘s this beltway common wisdom that it‘s not feasible to get rid of Michael Steele, that it would be way too disruptive.  They can‘t really get rid of him. 
But if that‘s the case, why is it that there keep being these leap stories against him?  I mean, conservatives probably ascribe to that common wisdom, too.  Or did they know something that the rest of us don‘t, that Michael Steele could be gotten rid of? 
STANTON:  Well, it really - I mean, it could, in theory, be, I guess.  But in reality, for Republicans, it would be a terrible situation.  It would take probably weeks to get rid of him, assuming that he wouldn‘t just sort of just go quietly, which he‘s made very clear he won‘t. 
And to do that would take the focus off of the Obama administration and off Democrats right up to - close to the election, and so most Republicans are sort of resigned to him being around. 
That being said, this is Washington, and leaking is the, you know, favorite sport of members of the dysfunctional relationship.  And so, you know, they decide that they want to take it out on him some way because they‘re frustrated or upset or whatever.
And they decide to start, you know, throwing these kinds of tidbits to the press.  And what you get is sort of a circular fire squad, almost, where they just end up hurting each other. 
MADDOW:  John Stanton of “Roll Call,” thanks very much for your reporting and your time, John.  It‘s good to see you. 
STANTON:  Good to see you. 
MADDOW:  Coming up on “COUNTDOWN,” Keith‘s amazing special comments on the right-wing smear job against Shirley Sherrod and the left-wing reaction as well. 
But first, on this show, something very important from Oklahoma about aluminum siding.  It‘s very important.  Hold on.  It‘s coming up in just a second.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK)
MADDOW:  The intensity of right-wing rage these days against the socialists, the czars, the Bolsheviks in the bathroom, ACORN - that rage can only be suppressed by some folks for so long before it bursts forth in the most unexpected, maybe even inappropriate places.  How else do you explain this ad, this amazing ad for a home improvement company in Oklahoma City? 
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Hello, Oklahoma.  Let‘s talk siding, windows, and roofing from Oklahoma‘s number one siding, window and roofing company, Terrell‘s.  Energy-saving windows that tilt in for easy cleaning and make your home new again with maintenance-free siding and beautiful new roofing. 
Yes.  I‘m an Oklahoma conservative Christian businessman who stands for liberty and freedom.  So let‘s end this secular socialism right now.  And remember, for the very best in siding, windows and roofing at the very best price, call me.  Be safe and God bless. 
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW:  End this secular socialism right now.  And you can get your aluminum siding right here.  Siding right here, secular socialism over there.  Termites are notorious for their love of big government.  Big, wooden government.  Aluminum siding. 
(COMMERCIAL BREAK)
MADDOW:  The big surprise of the election year this year so far is that Republican candidates for Senate in this year‘s elections are turning out to be super fun to cover. 
There‘s Mark Kirk in Illinois who‘s been caught exaggerating his own military record, not once, not twice, not three times, but at least 10 different times.  There‘s Mike Lee in Utah who wants to change the Constitution so people won‘t be able to vote for who is their senator anymore, seriously. 
There‘s Rand Paul who thinks if Woolworths wants to have a segregated lunch counter in the south, that is their private business.  And of course, there‘s Sharron Angle who is against fluoride and water, who wants to abolish social security and Medicare, who says conservatives should be expected to use guns to pursue their political aims if the elections don‘t go their way this year. 
Sharron Angle is amazing and the most amazing thing about covering Sharron Angle‘s Senate campaign is watching the professional, the political pros, come in and try to put a sort of shine of reasonableness on the real Sharron Angle. 
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHARRON ANGLE ®, NEVADA SENATORIAL CANDIDATE:  You and I have an opportunity right now to change the direction of our country.  Government is not the solution to the problem.  Government is the problem.  We, the people, are the solution. 
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW:  Government is the problem like Reagan said and I want you to send me to Washington to run the problem.  Put me in charge of the problem.  Say it with a smile.  Smile, everyone, smile.  It‘s less scary that way, theoretically. 
(COMMERCIAL BREAK)
ANDREW BREITBART, “BIGGOVERNMENT.COM”:  It was something that I felt was somewhat newsworthy but really didn‘t pursue.  But when I saw that the NAACP last week was going to reassert the falsehood, the provable falsehood that the N-word was hurled by tea party people as part of the resolution to condemn the tea party. 
This is about politics and this is about tarring the American people in the tea party movement with a false charge of racism. 
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW:  That was the man behind the Shirley Sherrod race-baiting fake scandal explaining why he chose now for his latest effort to contrive a political stunt. 
Why now?  The third week in July, 2010, to post a clip from a months old speech before a NAACP audience which, taken in context, is actually an inspiring story about one woman‘s personal growth on issues of race and which shown completely without context - well, at this point, you know how it all played out. 
An electronic hit job on a completely innocent person.  The conservative Web site responsible for this mess had the footage of Ms.  Sherrod for months.  But they say there was no reason for the right wing to unleash it into divisive, political battle until the NAACP joined the right wing in battle. 
Last week the NAACP passed a resolution asking the tea party movement to repudiate overtly racist groups that have associated themselves with the tea party movement as well as the occasionally racist signs and stuff that have happened at tea party events. 
By his own admission, the purveyor of the Shirley Sherrod tape when this whole scandal spun out of thin air was using the tape and Shirley Sherrod as a direct reply of the NAACP‘s condemnation of overtly racist elements of the tea party. 
So I‘ll see your resolution and I‘ll raise you a 24-year-old story that, taken out of context, will make it seem like black people are the real racists. 
Well, into that hot headwind has charged the brand-new House of Representatives‘ tea party caucus, a chance for members of Congress to pledge their fealty in public to the tea party movement.  Earlier today, the convener of the caucus, Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, posted on her Web site the names of the tea party caucus‘ 29 members. 
Whoa - 29, for a while.  A few hours later, a new list was posted listing the names of the caucus‘ 25 members.  Congressmen Akin, Bartlett, Bilirakis, Burgess, Mica, Miller and Wilson had been on the list, but their names disappeared and three other ones were added. 
According to one congressman‘s office, some of the confusion maybe because Ms. Bachmann may not have explained the whole public list part of the signing up deal.  It is one thing to pledge your fealty to the tea party.  It is another to get your name in the paper for doing so. 
We contacted Congressman “you lie” Joe Wilson‘s office when he was removed from the tea party caucus list.  His office said, yes, yes, a thousand times.  Yes, Congressman Wilson is a member and should be in the tea party team roster. 
But it was not until two incarnations of the list later that Mr.  Wilson found himself back on it.  So now, until it changes again, this is the membership, the broad deep membership of the tea party caucus in the House of Representatives introduced to the world in the week that the tea party movement and its champions in the media picked a fight with the NAACP. 
That does it for us tonight.  We will see you again tomorrow night.  “COUNTDOWN WITH KEITH OLBERMANN” starts now.
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