Breitbart v. - To intentionally make something appear to be its opposite for political ends. The pundit breitbarted Shirley Sherrod.
It's not everyday that someone gets a new word named after him. But that is exactly what is about to happen to rightwing blogger Andrew Breitbart.
Breitbart is the guy who last week intentionally published excerpts of the talk made by Agriculture Department employee Shirley Sherrod that made her speech about racial reconciliation look as if she was herself a racist. Of course when you saw the entire speech it was clear that just the opposite was true.
This is nothing new for Breitbart -- or his blog BigGovernment.com -- who was also the source of the doctored videos that helped destroy ACORN. But this particular intentional distortion stands out because it was so crystal clear. Breitbart's video convinced the entire mainstream media and the Department of Agriculture, the White House and the NAACP of Sherrod's guilt. Of course, within a matter of 24 hours, when the entire speech was published, it became clear to everyone that Breitbart had convinced the world that Sherrod was guilty of saying exactly the opposite of what she actually said.
Now it is Breitbart whose name has become synonymous with political sleaze. And it is likely that within a few years, his name will appear in the dictionary as a verb -- "to breitbart your enemy" -- to claim for political purposes, that he has done the exact opposite of what he actually did.
When a new word is named for a person, it's called an eponym. If Breitbart is in fact memorialized in the pages of Merriam-Webster with an eponym, he will join the list of other scoundrels whose acts are were so outrageous -- or at least notorious -- that they were accorded words of their own. Here are a few:
- In the late eighteen century a Virginian planter named Charles Lynch launched a vigilante group that was aimed at playing the roles of jury and executioner for remaining American Tories. In fact, he egotistically referred to his actions as "lynch law" and "lynching." The name stuck.
And just think of the legacy of Andrew Breitbart. The entire country -- and now much of the world -- knows that he personally embodies the worst tradition of the false campaign smear. He has taken the art to new highs of brazenness. He surely deserves to have his name affixed forever to any attempt to intentionally claim for political purposes that someone did just the opposite of what they actually did. What an honor to join the ranks of people like Draco, Guillotine and Shrapnel. "To breitbart" -- I know it will make him so proud.
Robert Creamer is a long-time political organizer and strategist, and author of the recent book: Stand Up Straight: How Progressives Can Win, available on Amazon.com.