Thursday, May 5, 2011

Another Doctored Breitbart Video Costs Teacher His Job

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,, with a copy to Deborah Baldini, Associate Dean for Continuing Education,  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.


Anonymous said...

One of the very reasons that the Trade Unions are suffering a decline in membership is the very lack of support for every member in favor of a policy of the "greater good". The leadership is more concerned with collecting dues.


Karen Garcia said...

I was surprised and disappointed that the AFL-CIO appears to be throwing Giljum under the bus after a lifetime of service and on the eve of his retirement. Trumka (union president) appears to be very cozy with the Obama Administration, and even serves on the White House Council on Jobs and Competitveness with the CEO of GE. I have to agree with you, Richard. Unions are shadows of their former selves.

DreamsAmelia said...

How sad that being a master of lies is what some interpret as the only true job security...Breitbart keeping his own job by making a job of getting others to lose theirs.
These clowns get all the attention because the mainstream media doesn't want us to see how many honorable people are out there. They want us to ignore the unheralded and hopeful efforts, by millions of anonymous public servants everyday. All the more reason to continue to boycott Huff, and keep a close eye on MSNBC.

DreamsAmelia said...

Plus, how ironic that Paul Ryan is anti-union except for the cement union, in which his family owns a construction firm!
Typical Breitbart hypocrisy...

jhand said...

When I, at an advanced age, returned to college to pursue teaching credentials, I was appalled at the behavior of a few--I repeat, a few--of the senior faculty members. This group was lazy, uncaring, and uninvolved when it came to the needs and concerns of both students and younger, untenured faculty. My standing joke was that you didn't have to ask them in what year they received their PhD; all you had to do was look at the last year of the bibliographies on their syllabi. Unfortunately, these senior and indifferent profs had a great deal of clout both within their departments and on their faculty senate. I wonder if this isn't part of the problem of the U of Mo. St. Louis. There seems to be little evidence of an inquiry, nor is there evidence of any kind of support from the University faculty. In short, academic freedom is for me, but not for thee.
This in no way obviates the cowardice of the AFL-CIO in the matter. I've seen NEA do the same thing: ignore the plight of someone caught up in a "hard case" unless the PR payoff was worth the effort. But I certainly would not take the U of Mo. faculty members off the hook either. They should stand up for their colleague and they didn't (and they are probably union members, too).

Valerie Long Tweedie said...

Thanks for the links, Karen. All we can do is write our letters in support of Don Giljum who sounds like a wonderful teacher and professor from what little bit you wrote.

Outstanding teachers at the university level are certainly a threat to the status quo. They inspire their students to think about complex issues such as social justice and the power and importance of collective action on the part of ordinary citizens. Students then go on to get "crazy" ideas about joining together to work for positive change. Perhaps, that is why Dr. Giljum was targeted.

I am appalled that the University of Missouri-St. Louis is taking this position and even more appalled that the AFL-CIO is not defending a loyal member. Shame on Trunka. I had a good impression of him until this incident.

The fact that someone like Bart Breitbart is given a forum to spread such outrageous lies is especially disturbing. If he gets a following, like Rush Limbaugh, there will be clones using the same tactics. Our media is already compromised; shows like this make it a complete circus.

Marie Burns said...

There are several factors at work here. One is that universities callously use & abuse adjunct professors. They pay them next to nothing compared to what they pay tenured professors, the adjuncts often don't get benefits, & they have no guarantee of a job from semester to semester. Many of them are highly-credentialed, too. The adjuncts are profit machines for the universities; students pay the same per-credit or per-course rate, whether the instructor is an adjunct or has an endowed chair and earns 10 or 15 times what the adjunct does.

For the University of Missouri to also refuse to stand up for academic freedom is appalling. A contrasting exemplar of how a university should treat right-wing threats was seen when the University of Wisconsin-Madison refused to release to the Wisconsin Republican party most of the e-mails of a professor who had tacitly criticized the Wisconsin state legislature & governor. (He wrote a New York Times op-ed, at the Times' request, on the history of the Republican party in Wisconsin. History does not smile on the current crop of Republicans.)

The union's failure to stand up for Mr. Giljum is equally troubling.

But what I see here is a dangerous pattern of attack that Breitbart has launched. He seems to be concentrating on institutions that are beholden to right-wing legislatures for funding. This was true in the NPR scam, which gets funding from the U.S. Congress, and it was true in the U. Missouri scam. Breitbart seems to be very good at picking out the lily-livered. In the wake of the Shirley Sherrod fiasco, why these organizations allow Breitbart to punk them is beyond me. It's going to take someone with the guts of U.W Madison Chancellor Biddy Martin to stand up to Breitbart, perhaps to sue his nasty (rhymes with "crass") for fraud, character assassination, etc., before he stops his vile romp across what he thinks is LiberalLand (and obviously is not).