So Rep. Shuler Did Not Hear the Phantom 'N-Word' After All

On Tuesday, AP reporter Jesse Washington ran a story on the Phantom ‘N-Word,’ accusing Andrew Breitbart and this site of misleading viewers by running a video of the March 20 protest at Capitol Hill that did not show anyone screaming a racial epithet at the Congressional Black Caucus, as had been widely reported. And, Washington included a new eye-witness to the supposed hate-speech, Rep. Heath Shuler (D, N.C.):

A fourth Democrat, Rep. Heath Shuler of North Carolina, who is white, backed up his colleagues, telling the Hendersonville (N.C.) Times-News that he heard the slurs.

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Yesterday, James Taranto at the Wall Street Journal actually did some reporting and called Rep. Shuler’s office. He got a different story:

But when we phoned Shuler’s office this afternoon, press secretary Julie Fishman told us the local reporter misunderstood. According to Fishman, Shuler’s comments to the Times-News referred to the general tenor of the protests, not to the black congressmen’s specific allegations. Fishman said that Shuler was not walking with Cleaver and did not hear the “N-word.”

On Tuesday, the inclusion of the testimony of a white congressman into the narrative (a tactic bordering on racist in its own insidious way) sent left-wing websites crackling with condemnation of anyone challenging the veracity of the CBC members. In a display of curious journalistic standards, Joan Walsh, Editor-in-Chief of Salon conveyed to her readers her incredible breadth of curiosity and heroic journalistic skepticism:

Lewis’s word on the confrontation is good enough for me.

Way to speak truth to power there, Joan. She summed up her column thusly:

AP also reports that Rep. Heath Shuler – a Blue Dog Democrat from North Carolina, no raving lefty – says he heard the slurs too. That’s four congressmen vs. Breitbart and his tea-party bullies. Which story do you believe?

Which indeed. Maybe the story that doesn’t keep getting shot down with real reporting.

I guess we’re back to where we were:

  • Three members of the CBC walk through the crowd of protesters on the way to vote on health care.
  • One says he was spat upon, until video proves he wasn’t.
  • Another gathers reporters around him to convey what seem to be scripted talking points over and over until the reporters run with the narrative.
  • And John Lewis’ incredible legacy continues to be allowed to be tarnished by Steny Hoyer and Nancy Pelosi for their own cynical and perverse political reasons.

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Meanwhile, the story that the left thought they had written on March 20th is turning out very different than they intended.

Stay tuned.

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