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'Smear-merchant' cut his teeth with an NEA attack

July 21, 2010 |  5:01 pm

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Andrew Breitbart, whose right-wing Big Government blog has come under withering attack for falsely smearing fired Agriculture Department official Shirley Sherrod as a racist, cut his politicized blogging teeth last year with a bogus attack on the National Endowment for the Arts.

In September, NEA communications director Yosi Sergant was forced to resign the position following since-discredited reports on Breitbart's Big Hollywood blog claiming Sergant was using the NEA as a White House propaganda tool. The misleading NEA claim was made using a fragmentary, unauthorized telephone recording.

Sherrod's recent speech to the NAACP was presented by Breitbart in an edited form that falsified the content of her statements. Breitbart also earlier released edited video tapes that incorrectly showed a San Diego worker at ACORN, a community organizing group, had cooperated with conservative political activists posing as a pimp and a prostitute to secure underage girls. Subsequently picked up and promoted by Fox News, the NEA, ACORN and NAACP stories each created a conservative-media firestorm.

In December the Big Government blog claimed the White House Christmas tree was adorned with the likeness of Chinese Communist dictator Mao Zedong. The decoration turned out to be an ornament that included a famous painting by Pop artist Andy Warhol.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Wednesday afternoon that an apology has been made to Sherrod, the former USDA employee, noting that she was fired before her videotaped comments were fully reviewed.

--Christopher Knight

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