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Media Matters Caught Context-Editing a Tape — Hey, Where Have We Heard That Before?

By Doug Powers  •  August 7, 2010 10:13 AM

**Written by Doug Powers

Media Matters was all about getting the “full context” of Andrew Breitbart’s Shirley Sherrod video from day one. From that controversy, everybody walked away with a good refresher course in the importance of “full context” in the name of honest debate — everybody except Media Matters.

From Media-Ite by way of Sister Toldjah:

Let’s end the week with some Shirley Sherrod-ing – editing a clip to make it sound like a person is saying something that is actually the complete opposite of what they’re saying.

In this case, the offender is Media Matters, which tries to prove that Glenn Beck’s radio co-hosts were saying Keith Olbermann was responsible for the deadly Manchester workplace shooting.
Here was Media Matters’ (sic’ed) headline: “Beck sidekicks Gray and Burguiere: Keith Olberman and media responsible for Manchester shooting.”

The sidekicks are Pat Gray and Stu Burguiere, who co-hosted with Beck out today. And why did Media Matters write this? Well, because that is what Gray and Burguiere said – at first. Gray: “Obviously Keith Olbermann is responsible for those eight people dead.”

And Burguiere: “A guy like that who’s a little bit unstable anyway can’t help but react to the constant pressure of Keith Olbermann on the air on MSNBC and all of MSNBC talking about all the racism there is out there.”

But the problem is, the co-hosts were being sarcastic, to make a point. A minute later they get serious, and Stu says “Keith Olbermann was not responsible for any shooting,” but that part is conveniently out of the Media Matters audio. Because Media Matters cut the audio right before they make it clear.

Media Matters issued a correction and altered the title when their attempted Sherrodding of Beck’s people was discovered:

CORRECTION: The original headline on this clip did not make clear that Beck’s co-hosts were being satirical when they linked MSNBC host Keith Olbermann to the Manchester shooting. The original clip also did not include their subsequent statements that Olbermann was not responsible for the shooting. Media Matters regrets the error.

Even without the “full context” of the recording it was painfully obvious that Burguiere and Gray were being sarcastic, but this is where Media Matters often gets tripped up.

If you’ve read the things I write for any length of time, you know that sarcasm takes up a good portion of my tool kit. Satire is like a knock-knock joke — there can be a point to it but there’s never anybody actually at the door. However, if I were to try to tell Media Matters a “knock-knock” joke, instead of saying “who’s there” and then maybe getting a laugh (heaven forbid), they’d get up, open the door, see nobody there, and then write an article entitled “Mean Right Wing Prankster Strikes Again.”

Either that or Media Matters purposefully ignored the obvious and were fully aware they were trying to score cheap out-of-context political points — but that can’t be, because it would mean they engaged in the same behavior they claim to abhor.

However, it isn’t a stretch to assume that if a Media Matters writer published a piece entitled “Glenn Beck co-hosts use satire to point out ridiculousness of blaming media for lone deranged killers,” George Soros would put a stop on his or her paycheck. It would also directly contradict other Media Matters pieces, such as “Beck’s incendiary angst is dangerously close to having a body count.”

Here’s the full Burguiere/Gray segment:

**Written by Doug Powers

Twitter @ThePowersThatBe

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