One of the last things I talked about with Andrew Breitbart before he left this earth too soon last year was the persistent, poisonous scourge of identity politics and racial demagoguery. Those of you who followed his work knew about his passionate pursuit of the truth in the Pigford farmers’ settlement scandal. Last week, the Fishwrap of Record finally got around to acknowledging the racially-driven racket. Today, Lee Stranahan at Breitbart.com is leading Everybody Blog About Pigford Day:
Andrew knew that the Pigford scandal was something that was too big to just be covered by conservative media so when I suggested going on the road to do interviews with some key figures in the story, Breitbart took a leap of faith that a guy he’d just met who wrote for HuffPo and had done work for MoveOn would report the story honestly. Andrew had checked out the work I’d done on the John Edwards affair and could see I placed a higher value on truth than staying in lockstep with liberal messaging but still, it was a risk on his part and an example of his dedication to the truth.
A funny thing happened on the road, though; I stopped being a liberal.
Such is the transformative power of the farmers’ settlement story, which lays bare the moral bankruptcy of the left by showing their pretense of altruistic concern on race issues is really just a way to buy votes and line the pockets of lawyers and fraudsters. Knowing what I knew about Pigford, it was impossible to maintain any respect for President Barack Obama and his cohorts in corruption.
People talk about how tireless Andrew was on this story but very few actually saw what that meant firsthand –the late night strategy sessions, the constant batting back and forth of information and the amount of time Breitbart spent on the phone talking to the actual black farmers that were the source of the some of the most important leads on the story. Anyone who knew him well will tell you Andrew Breitbart really cared about these hard working men and their stories of betrayal at the hands of the USDA.
When we lost Andrew, very few of the posthumous accolades mentioned that he had absolutely nailed the Pigford story. The Breitbart News team knew we’d gotten it right but for a long time there was cold comfort in that.
The New York Times didn’t just validate the facts of the story, however. The front page placement of their Pigford exposé proved correct Andrew’s instinct that this was a major story, worthy of deep investigation.
As I said last week in tribute to Andrew, our social media/new media outlets are not just for correcting false narratives, but for exposing suppressed narratives. Every blog post, every Facebook comment, every tweet from a user whether he/she has 5 followers or 500,000 makes a difference.
Breitbart: May 1st is Everybody Blog About Pigford Day.
Unsurprisingly, this cash bonanza spawned a cottage industry of mountebanks and small-time frauds, including a few who toured the churches of the rural South recruiting “farmers” to stake their claims in lieu of reparations. And the number of claims exploded. Some claimants were as young as four years old; others had their forms filled out by lawyers just to “keep the line moving.” There were many reports of duplicative, even identical forms written in the same hand. In some towns, the number of claimants exceeded the number of farms there operated — by individuals of any race. The Times quotes several USDA employees whose job was to process — and ultimately rubber-stamp — these claims. “You couldn’t have designed it worse if you had tried,” one says of the process. “You knew it was wrong,” says another, “but what could you do? Who is going to listen to you?” “Basically, it was a rip-off of the American taxpayers,” says a third.
But as the Times reports in great depth, instead of closing the spigot, in 2010 the Obama administration did not just acquiesce to, it spearheaded the expansion of, the Pigford con on the taxpayer’s dime, and saw to it that not just black Americans, but any woman, Hispanic, or Native American who could so much as gesture at discrimination had access to a billion-dollar pool of easy money.
It did this over the objections of career lawyers in the Justice Department. It did this by dubiously tapping a Justice Department fund reserved for court-ordered, not politically dispensed, payouts. And it did this, in most cases, under evidentiary standards even looser than the ones governing the original settlement.
…At a minimum, a congressional investigation is needed, as is congressional intervention in the continued administration of the payouts. Representative Steve King (R., Iowa) has long called for such measures, and it is time his calls are heeded. It is shame, to the tune of billions in taxpayers’ dollars, that it has taken this long for the mainstream media and its readers to catch up to the reality of Pigford. But now that they have, perhaps they can be shamed into helping put an end to it.
Interview with key Pigford lawyer, Othello Cross:
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