Right-wing provocateur Andrew Breitbart just can't kick his nasty habit of doctoring videos to get good people fired. This time, he spliced together some footage of a professor of labor studies to make it appear that the teacher was advocating union violence. And even though the Univerity of Missouri acknowledged the video was a sham, they're getting rid of the professor anyway, out of fear.
Don Giljum co-taught a course called "Labor in Society and Politics" at the St. Louis campus with Judy Ancel, director of UMKC’s Institute for Labor Studies. Spliced footage of their lectures originally appeared on Andrew Breitbart’s conservative Big Government website and showed the instructors talking about industrial sabotage. Giljum is also a former union business manager. The videos, which also appeared on YouTube, were later yanked because they were posted without the permission of the school.
Breitbart is a master of smearing people and organizations he doesn't like through the creative editing of videos. He did it with voter registration advocacy group ACORN and again with Department of Agriculture employee Shirley Sherrod. Now he's turned his ugliness against teachers and unions.
According to the Labor Notes blog, "In one Breitbart-distorted section, Ancel explains how neoliberal governments use crises to 'shift power dramatically.' This lecture was actually in an entirely different course. But Breitbart inserts the sentence into a lecture on union contract campaigns, so it looks as if Ancel advocates unions causing a crisis."
Another section of the Breitbart video has Giljum saying, 'Labor can’t deny its violent past in response to the repression that was perpetrated on it. It’s hard to say that was not appropriate at that time; it might have been. I don't believe those tactics are going to work today and I think they would do more harm than good." Breitbart spliced out the words in italics to make his false point.
Chillingly, while acknowledging the video was a fake, neither Giljum's union nor the university is jumping to his defense. The school has already informed him he won't be rehired next semester. (He was an adjunct professor without tenure). Herb Johnson, Missouri AFL-CIO secretary-treasurer, told Labor Notes he prefers not to “fan the flames” by mounting a too-vigorous defense of Giljum. (The Missouri Legislature is apparently crafting an anti-union "right to work" bill). But as if to make up for its wimpiness, his Board passed a resolution denying that unions condone or endorse violence. And to placate those real and imagined critics, the attorney for the Missouri AFL-CIO, Ron Gladney, called Giljum’s international union and asked officials there to pressure him to resign from his local and international positions. They did, and Giljum handed in his resignation -- just days before he was scheduled to retire anyway.
This is all so reminiscent of Breitbart's success in getting powerful people to panic and act before investigating. In the Department of Agriculture's haste to get rid of Shirely Sherrod, they fired her while she was driving to work, lest she show up and embarrass the Obama Administration. Their apology and chagrin were too little, too late. In Giljum's case, it's even worse. His superiors knew Breitbart's video was a hoax, but they buckled anyway. So Breitbart got his way. His terrorism did the trick.
Letters of support for Giljum may be sent to University of Missouri-St. Louis Chancellor Thomas F. George, firstname.lastname@example.org, with a copy to Deborah Baldini, Associate Dean for Continuing Education, BaldiniD@msx.umsl.edu. Ancel asks that letters should ask for Giljum's rehiring in future semesters and "question his forced resignation with no investigation, no due process, and violation of his academic freedom."
Meanwhile, Breitbart continues with impunity on his crusade of hate, lies and videotape. And he is not even that good at it - his doctored video actually shows Giljum miraculously changing shirts mid-paragraph! But the mainstream media loves outrageousness, and even MSNBC invited him on last week to plug his new book.
James Rucker of ColorofChange, which successfully got the Huffington Post to drop Breitbart from prominent display on its site, has complained to MSNBC about Breitbart's appearance on the Dylan Ratigan show last week. Rucker said:
"At ColorOfChange, we had been contemplating a campaign to demand that MSNBC stop treating Breibart as a credible commentator. Breitbart's appearance on Ratigan's show seemed to be another case of a mainstream news organization lending Breitbart legitimacy -- and thousands of ColorOfChange members have taken action in the past to stop this from happening at ABC and Huffington Post. But in this case, when we reached out to Ratigan and MSNBC, they responded quickly and indicated they would not treat Breitbart as legitimate in the future.
We'll be keeping our eyes open to see how MSNBC deals with Breitbart moving forward. But while I still believe it was a mistake for MSNBC to host Breitbart in the first place, Ratigan and his producers deserve credit for being receptive to our concerns, agreeing with our assessment of Breitbart, and committing to treat him as the liar and race-baiter that he is."
MSNBC, while considered the liberal-leaning opposite of Fox, has a penchant for inviting crazy right-wingers on ita shows because they are sitting ducks and require little to no legwork or research to "expose" them. Lawrence O'Donnell recently hosted Birther Queen Orly Taitz and allowed her to spew her nonsense before self-righteously kicking her off the show. When will these pundits learn that provocateurs crave negative as well as positive attention? Giving them a platform in order to humiliate them only perpetuates their martyr complex and ensures their continued survival.