In a recent segment, CNN used a short clip featuring the sister of Sylville Smith, a man who was shot dead by a Milwaukee police officer on Saturday. In CNN’s version of the clip, Sherelle Smith can be heard telling a crowd of onlookers, “Don’t bring the violence here, and the ignorance here.” Later, in a portion of her speech that CNN didn’t air, Smith suggested that if the crowd wanted to riot, they should “take that shit to the suburbs, burn that shit down.”
Breitbart dot com is on the case. “CNN CUTS SYLVILLE SMITH SISTER’S CALL TO MOVE RIOTS TO SUBURBS” reads the headline of a post arguing that CNN deceived its viewers by labeling Smith’s speech as a call for peace and omitting her remarks about the suburbs. “It’s like they don’t realize there’s a whole Internet out there with videos of people’s full remarks,” read a Breitbart tweet about the story. The right-wing trolls that make up the site’s audience rallied around the story, and CNN later issued a correction.
Breitbart regularly strikes this kind of liberal media watchdog pose, and though CNN’s edit is not exactly a crime against journalism, it’s not unfair for a critic to call them out on it. But misleading video editing is a funny critique for Breitbart in particular to take up, considering the incident that launched the site into infamy: its own misleading editing and publication of a video of a then-USDA official named Shirley Sherrod addressing a gathering of NAACP members.
A Bloomberg profile of Breitbart boss Steve Bannon, which has been making the rounds today after Bannon’s appointment to head of the Trump campaign, does a good job of summarizing the Sherrod fracas:
In 2010, Breitbart News hit a wall. The site published video, furnished by a conservative activist, of a speech to the NAACP by a Department of Agriculture official named Shirley Sherrod, in which she appeared to advocate anti-white racism. Within hours, she was fired, as the story blanketed cable news. It soon became clear that the Breitbart News video was misleadingly edited—that Sherrod’s point was the opposite of what was portrayed Fox News, which aggressively promoted the video, banned Andrew Breitbart as an on-air guest. Bannon, who was raising capital for the site’s relaunch, suddenly encountered “nuclear winter.”
It’s no wonder Breitbart staffers were able to recognize CNN’s editing sleight-of-hand: they know how it’s done firsthand.