“I want to make it as clear as possible that neither I nor Arianna believe that Andrew Breitbart is a racist,” Sekoff said in his email to TheDC. “If we did believe that, we never would have allowed him to blog on HuffPost — let alone featured him on our front page. The decision about not featuring him on the front page in the future had nothing to do with race, but was based on the nature of his attack on Van Jones, as we’ve always made clear.”
For what it’s worth, Roy Sekoff wrote me this afternoon to say he was misquoted. Here’s his email in its entirety.
Lee — Don’t believe everything you read. I NEVER denied speaking to you. I NEVER denied telling you that I don’t believe Andrew is a racist. I’ve always said that I don’t in any way believe that he is. What I denied – and deny — was ever saying that I wouldn’t publicly defend Andrew because I was worried about how our readers would react. That was the quote that was presented to me by the Daily Caller (as you can see below), and that is what I said was "an untruth.” I resent being called a liar, especially when that charge is based on incorrect and incomplete information.
I’m not going to get into a back and forth accusationfest – I remember what I remember and I repeated it to others. I’m glad that Roy isn’t denying the whole conversation, but remain puzzled as to why he’s denying that he was worried about how Huffington Post readers would react. But let’s take him at his word for a moment and see how it plays out…
For months now, Andrew Breitbart has been attacked over and over on The Huffington Post as a racist, a race-baiter, a defender of racists and on and on and on. Now we know that both Roy and Arianna personally knew these charges weren’t true but didn’t say anything about it. So – why? Roy says he wasn’t worried about reader reaction. If that’s true, then wow – it makes their personal betrayal WORSE, not better. Roy is saying that he knew it wasn’t true, and that he wasn’t worried what the readers would say — and still he published what he knew were lies, and didn’t say a peep.
What held him back? What stopped Arianna? And when Color of Change launched this latest attack on Breitbart, complete with charges of racism, why didn’t they say anything then, either?
If it wasn’t concern about reader reaction, what possible excuse remains? Ideological bias? A complete and total lack of journalistic responsibility? No sense of fairness? I’m all ears – what’s the explanation?
[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here. Or by Twitter @AaronWorthing.]
Not much going on here, but an open thread to discuss whatever Obama is about to say.
Update: It’s over and it was less than inspiring. There is no attempt to explain why he could wait for the U.N. but not Congress. There is no attempt to explain why this is different than bombing Iran (which he said Bush couldn’t do, without Congess’ consent). And on one hand he tells us that we should be proud to have led the international community (except we didn’t), but don’t worry we won’t be leading it much longer.
And by the way, isn’t that worse if we aren’t leading it? I mean notice he didn’t say that the other nations will be taking over the actual, you know, fighting. Just the leading. So presumably over 90% of the bombs being dropped will be dropped by us, but at the command of a foreign power. How on Earth is that a good thing, or better that we are in control?
[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here. Or by Twitter @AaronWorthing.]
Yes, this is another post on Libya. As followers of this blog know, I first drew the conclusion that it was an illegal war here, and have since talked about it here, here and here. Let me be clear where I stand. I believe he was required to get Congressional approval first. And I believe Congress should have given it to him. But since they haven’t, and there is no attack or even imminent threat to the US or its troops, he can’t justify making war on Libya.
And it seems that the issue is not going away yet, and to their credit, ABC News Grilled Defense Secretary Robert Gates on the subject yesterday:
On “This Week,” ABC News’ Senior White House Correspondent Jake Tapper asked Gates, “Do you think Libya posed an actual or imminent threat to the United States?”
“No, no,” Gates said in a joint appearance with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. “It was not — it was not a vital national interest to the United States, but it was an interest and it was an interest for all of the reasons Secretary Clinton talked about. The engagement of the Arabs, the engagement of the Europeans, the general humanitarian question that was at stake,” he said.
Gates explained that there was more at stake, however. “There was another piece of this though, that certainly was a consideration. You’ve had revolutions on both the East and the West of Libya,” he said, emphasizing the potential wave of refugees from Libya could have destabilized Tunisia and Egypt.
“So you had a potentially significantly destabilizing event taking place in Libya that put at risk potentially the revolutions in both Tunisia and Egypt,” the Secretary said. “And that was another consideration I think we took into account.”
Now, first, I will put aside my annoyance at this administration recognizing that uncontrolled immigration is a problem—for other countries.
But look, all of those are reasonable arguments to make, to Congress. But none of that is even remotely covered under the War Powers Act or the President’s inherent powers as commander in chief.
Also the National Review held a “symposium” on the subject, apparently soliciting different views on the legality of the war here. They are deliberately choosing a variety of voices and thus they are all over the map. I wouldn’t focus too much on the credentials of the persons saying it, so much as the quality of their argument when evaluating their stances. On the other hand, if you want to evaluate their potential impact, who they are matters, and one person who matters much more for who he is than what he says is Bruce Ackerman. Ackerman is considered one of the leading constitutional authorities on the left and has been called in by Democrats to discuss constitutional matters in the past—for instance, he advised them on Bush v. Gore.
As for the quality of his argument, it’s not so much he said anything wrong, it’s just that coming from him, I can’t take it seriously. Full disclosure, this is another one of my professors and I know the guy well enough that… I wouldn’t say he doesn’t care about the Constitution so much as that his concept of what the Constitution is, is unrecognizable to most people. He believes the Constitution can be amended without an amendment by this complicated and amorphous process he calls the “Constitutional moment.” Oh, and the Constitutional moments that he believes to have existed always just happen to favor liberal causes—such as claiming that by passing and retaining the New Deal, they amended the Constitution in some unspecified way. On the other hand, when Professor Michael McConnell skewered his ideas by pointing out that you could just as easily argue that the institution of Jim Crow was a “Constitutional moment” amending the Constitution by effectively repealing the 14th and 15th amendments (if not the 13th as well), Ackerman didn’t have a very good answer to that argument even as he rejected it. Oh, and my favorite part is that supposedly “we the people” were amending the Constitution in the 1930’s in relationship to the New Deal (and he never made it clear whether it just made the New Deal Constitutional, or mandatory), but even as we amended it, we had no idea we were amending it.
And let me pause, before going on and say, no, I am not misrepresenting his views. I have explained this to about ten people and they all thought, “that can’t be what he really thinks. That’s crazy!” Yes, it is crazy, and yes, it is what he thinks.
So I can’t take him very seriously in claiming that this violated the Constitution, because he believes in some wacky version of the Constitution that most us don’t believe exists. But there are many liberals who have taken him seriously in the past and might in the future.
By the way, also today we have another person to add to the list of people who claimed that the Constitution demanded that the President seek congressional approval before attacking another country (unless we have been attacked or an attack was imminent)… Hillary Clinton:
(Via Outside the Beltway.) To his credit, in the same interview with Gates, ABC’s Jake Tapper threw a small clip from that speech in Hillary’s face, and she really didn’t have a very good answer to that, but I really wanted you to watch the whole speech because in context it sounds even worse, than Tapper’s snippet. I mean she is mentioning that there is a 2001 War Powers Resolution against al Qaeda, which might have arguably been stretched to that situation. And Iran appeared to be supplying if not training or directing many of the insurgents killing our soldiers, which comes much closer to meeting the requirements of the War Powers Act. Really, seriously, she makes the case for attacking Iran much more compelling than attacking Libya.
You can also watch the full Tapper/Gates/Hilldog interview, here:
Hilldog’s part comes at about 13:00, give or take a lot.
Meanwhile all of this has resulted in Obama finally deciding he needed to address the nation. Of course he won’t back off his decision not to have an oval office address, so instead he will do this:
US President Barack Obama prepared Monday to give a prime-time address to the nation aimed at winning the support of a war-weary American public for the military intervention in Libya.
After inheriting wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning president finds himself embroiled in yet another conflict, this time one of his own choosing and one that many at home are not convinced by.
In his address at 7:30 pm (2330 GMT) from the National Defense University in Washington, Obama must win over a largely skeptical public preoccupied by domestic economic concerns and unclear what the Libya endgame is.
Obama, who has been criticized since military action began nine days ago for not getting his message across, will also give interviews on Tuesday with the anchors of three US television networks, the White House said.
Lawmakers, including many from Obama’s own Democratic Party, are angry Congress was not consulted before troops were deployed and have raised concerns the Libya mission is ill-defined and the exit strategy unclear.
(emphasis added.) We’ll see if he manages to convince people.
In today’s Daily Caller article, I talk about something I mentioned here last week – that in a phone conversation a few months ago, HuffPost editor Roy Sekoff had told me that neither he or Arianna Huffington thought Andrew Breitbart was a racist but that they didn’t come to his defense during the countless attacked he’s endured – including many on the Huffington Post — because it would put them in a bad position with their liberal friends.
Stranahan said he asked Sekoff about Breitbart before he started working for the conservative publisher since in the left-wing circles Breitbart is viewed as “Satan.”
“Roy was as clear as can be. ‘Of course, no, of course he’s not racist’ he said ‘I know that,’” Stranahan said in a phone interview. “He said, ‘we know that.’ There was no case of Roy going, well, ‘I don’t, of course, think he is racist, but Arianna does.’ Arianna knows he’s not racist because he’s not racist. Anyone who knows him personally knows he’s not.”
Sekoff denies that conversation, and told TheDC he never said any of that to Stranahan. “If you publish that, you will be publishing an untruth,” Sekoff said in an email to TheDC. “I never said that to Lee – or anyone else. Period.” (Emphasis added)
Roy Sekoff is lying. Period.
The truth leaves tracks. Roy and I had that conversation and I mentioned it to a few other people privately at the time. One of them was liberal Mediaite reporter (and Breitbart critic) Tommy Christopher. Here’s a statement I got from Tommy when I heard that Roy was flat-out denying that the conversation took place.
Lee Stranahan and I have had many off-the-record conversations regarding Lee’s involvement with Andrew Breitbart, many of them centered on that relationship’s effect on Lee’s status with the online left. During one such conversation several months ago, in December or January, I remember Lee telling me basically what he told The Daily Caller about Roy Sekoff and Arianna Huffington, that they knew that Breitbart was no racist. It stands out to me because his mention of Sekoff reminded me of how he and Huffington treated Mayhill Fowler, which we also discussed.
That shows I’ve been telling the same story for months; long before Breitbart wrote a thing for HuffPost. Why would I make up that story and tell people about it?
But more importantly – if I’m lying about Roy telling me that he doesn’t believe Breitbart is a racist, then why would Roy issue a statement saying that Breitbart isn’t a racist?
Sekoff and HuffPo spokesman Mario Ruiz would neither confirm nor deny to TheDC that Huffington removed language from last week’s statement defending Breitbart against charges of racism. But, through Ruiz, Sekoff told TheDC he does not think Breitbart is a racist.
“Roy absolutely does not think Andrew Breitbart is a racist, as he made clear to me during discussions this week about whether to continue front paging Breitbart,” Ruiz said in an email to TheDC. (Emphasis added)
Careful, Mario – Roy might deny saying that any day now.
And Why I Think He’s Lying
One positive thing you can say about Roy’s character; it’s obvious he’s a very bad liar. These are rookie mistakes. In fact, I think the think the thing that should be most alarming to the shareholders of AOL is just how unprofessional this whole episode has been.
Why would Roy Sekoff lie in such a confusing way? Why say the conservation with me never happened where he said Breitbart wasn’t a racist – and then release a statement saying that Breitbart isn’t a racist? And why is that statement released through a spokesman? Why not just say it himself?
Thinking about all this, I end up with one likely scenario; Roy doesn’t want Arianna to know that he told me what she thinks. He’s falling on the sword to protect Arianna.
You’ll note that nowhere have we seen HER opinion of Breitbart and the accusations made about him. That’s because those accusations of racism and race-baiting come from her friends; people like Van Jones.
Does Arianna think Breitbart is racist? She won’t go on record and don’t just take my word that Roy told me she doesn’t but look at her actions. She knows him personally. They not only worked together but he knows her children and so on. They worked together after she did her suddenly switch to the left She met with Breitbart a couple of months ago. He blogged at HuffPost a week ago. She knows. Of course she knows.
So why not go on the record and simply say, “I know Breitbart and I don’t agree with him on policy but he’s not a racist”?
Because she CAN’T. She’s not allowed to do that because she knows the left would eat her alive. They don’t just need conservatives to be wrong; they need them to be discredited completely. They need them to be crazy and racist and evil because those are three groups of people you just don’t listen to, period. Crazy, racist and evil are three immediate disqualifiers from public discourse.
So what we’re seeing is full Arianna protection mode – and why’s that? Because of personal loyalty and AOL. Arianna isn’t the top dog any more. She answers to people now and that’s a new role for her. And so far, it’s a massive fail – she’s lost readers and credibility.
PS Fight Back
One last point – if this bothers you, fight back. Since working with Breitbart, I’ve gotten to see front row how the liberal media and liberal groups work to distort the truth and smear conservatives. I still believe in many liberal policy positions but I hate this kind of tactics. It’s weak.
But – those tactics are effective. So I have urged Andrew to do something that I’m told is unusual; fight petition with petition. A company like AOL gets nervous when they get a few thousand emails on a subject. This isn’t a boycott or any crazy chain letter – it’s a proven way to get the attention of the press and of companies If you oppose the sort of bullying tactics that Color of Change used against Breitbart, please take 7 seconds and fill out the form. And urge others to sign, too.