The Republican National Committee has postponed a fundraiser with right-wing media tycoon Andrew Breitbat, citing “a scheduling change.” While it’s not entirely clear why the event was delayed, Breitbart has been under heavy fire recently — even from conservatives — for his misleading and racially-tinged campaign to smear former USDA official Shirley Sherrod.
News of the fundraiser’s cancellation came on the same day that Breitbart held a “minority-based Tea Party event” in Philadelphia, which promised to show the inclusiveness of the tea party movement. Since the NAACP condemned “racist elements” within the tea party movement last month, Breitbart and other leaders have been desperately trying to show the supposed diversity of the movement.
Breitbart’s Saturday rally, held outside Independence Hall, failed in this pursuit. Reflecting polling which shows that 89 percent of tea party supporters are white, numerous media outlets reported that the event attracted only a “handful” of minorities. While there were 10 non-white speakers among the 18 total, the crowd was much less diverse, TPM reports:
Among those who did make it, for most of the time the numbers of non-white faces could be counted on two hands, and maybe a foot. [...]
David Webb, an African American top official with Tea Party Federation and the man who shamed Mark Williams and the Tea Party Express for being racist a couple weeks ago, emceed the event and told the tea party crowd that it didn’t matter if only a few minorities joined the cause.
“I didn’t realize that any movement everywhere had a minimum daily requirement of black people to be legitimate,” he said.
Perhaps the event failed to attract many people of color because it failed to attract many people. Organizers boasted that the event’s website had been visited 2 million times, and it was “clear from the large numbers of volunteers and the 1,500 bottles the organizers put on ice that they expected a big crowd to turn out.” In the end, about only 300 people bothered showing up. Organizers blamed traffic.
The highlight of the event was a paranoid screed from Breitbart, in which he warned of a “media cabal,” and accused liberals of being the true racists. Breitbart explained to reporters that their employers were “in cahoots with black politicians and the Democratic Party.” Breitbart also refused to discuss the one thing on everyone’s mind — the Sherrod video. It was Breitbart’s first speech since the controversy, but he “didn’t directly address Sherrod once during Saturday’s three hour rally,” ducking numerous questions from several reporters. Sherrod has said she will sue Breitbart over the incident.
The irony of Breitbart — who continues to insist that his video proves Sherrod is a racist — leading a rally to promote the tea party’s racial sensitivity was not lost on other organizers, it appears. “Many tea-party leaders appeared uncomfortable in the aftermath of Breitbart’s dustup with the NAACP and Sherrod,” the Philadelphia Inquirer reported. Jeffrey Weingarten, the event’s principle organizer, was careful to note that Breitbart “had been invited to speak many months ago, ‘well before any of the recent radical pronouncements of either side.’” “In fact,” Weingarten contined, “I’ll tell you we view radical statements from anyone as extremist and not as partisan, and they should be roundly condemned by all people.”
An RNC spokesman told the Washington Times that the “big donor” fundraiser with Breitbart was not canceled, as CNN had originally reported, but merely rescheduled for after Labor Day, from its original August date. “I don’t know Andrew Breitbart’s schedule for after Labor Day, but he certainly will be invited,” RNC Communications Director Doug Heye said.