Breitbart.com editors Ben Shapiro and Joel Pollak said Wednesday on Sean Hannity’s radio show that they would release footage that proved President Barack Obama had “radical intellectual founders” — footage which was covered up by the mainstream media.
But before Breitbart.com released the footage, PBS Frontline published the full unedited video themselves, noting that they had previously included the footage in their election special The Choice 2008.
“There’s nothing new about the clip or Obama’s role in the controversy at Harvard Law School,” PBS said. “It’s been online at our site and on YouTube since .”
In the video, Obama is shown in 1990 introducing Harvard’s first tenured black law professor, Derrick Bell, a racial justice pioneer who broke with legal orthodoxy to develop the critical race theory. Bell was announcing that he would take an unpaid leave of absence until Harvard hired a black woman for its tenured faculty.
Obama described his experiences as a student of Bell’s, noting that as a professor he had engaged his students in conversation rather than giving them lectures. Obama said Bell’s accomplishments were not simply a result of “his good looks and easy charm, although he has both in ample measure.”
“He hasn’t done it simply because of the excellence of his scholarship, although his scholarship has opened up new vistas and new horizons, and changed the standards of what legal writing is about,” Obama said.
At the time, Obama was serving as the first black president of the Harvard Law Review.
Bell had controversially claimed that racism was an intractable problem, something which American society could never truly get rid of.
Although the American legal system could be perfectly race-neutral, it could never be entirely race-neutral in practice. Bell rejected liberal theories of law, which were based on impartiality, instead favoring what he called racial realism.
“But if you had to sum it up in one thing, Derrick Bell wrote a piece in 1993 — and this kind of reflects his general worldview, in which he posited, it was a science fiction novella, in which he posited that if aliens came to the United States and offered to relieve the US national debt, white people would in return sell them every black person in America,” Shapiro told Hannity, mischaracterizing one of Bell’s famous though experiments, “The Space Traders.”
The story, which examined the the worth of African Americans in the United States, was later adapted as an episode of the HBO film trilogy Cosmic Slop.
“This is the guy who was one of Obama’s radical intellectual founders,” Shapiro said.
UPDATE: Breitbart editors appear on Fox News
Shapiro and Pollak later appeared on the Fox News show Hannity. They claimed that although the footage had already been aired, it was broadcast in a purposefully biased way because it did not show Obama briefly hugging Bell and was narrated.
Hannity also showed a clip of Harvard professor Charles Ogletree allegedly admitting to covering up the footage.
“We hid this throughout the 2008 campaign,” he said during a speech, as the audience laughed. “I don’t care if they find it now.”
The footage was taken and owned by local news station WGBH, not Harvard University. Hannity did not provide any context for Ogletree’s remark.
[Ed. note: Updated for clarity.]