The difference between Dan Rather and Andrew Breibart is more complex than the simplistic reduction Frum suggests.
When people talk of the "closing of the conservative mind" this is what they mean: not that conservatives are more narrow-minded than other people — everybody can be narrow minded — but that conservatives have a unique capacity to ignore unwelcome fact.
When Dan Rather succumbed to the forged Bush war record hoax in 2004, CBS forced him into retirement.
Breitbart is the conservative Dan Rather, but there will be no discredit, no resignation for him. Instead, conservatives are consumed with a new snippets-out-of-context uproar, the latest round of JournoList quotations. Here at last is proof of the cynical machinations of the hated liberal media! As to the cynical machinations of conservative media — well, as the saying goes, the fish never notices the water through which it swims.
Dan Rather, one of the last old-school journalists, "succumbed" to the pressure of a form of news reporting in the 21st century which has become fast, furious and focused on trash journalism. He was trained to rigorously examine the sources of putative damaging disclosures about public figures; in this case his need to prove himself in a media increasingly staffed with hungry young wolves proved to be his downfall. Although made the scapegoat by his superiors at CBS when the documents pertaining to Bush were alleged to be forgeries, Rather has not gone quietly into that good night.
Andrew Breibart is a toxic fabricator, a con man, and a dumpster-diver. He's a self-styled JackAss reporter; he's a balding, schlumpy and braying male version of Ann Coulter; a wannabe Christopher Hitchens without the creds. Yet his presence amongst the Limbaughs and O'Reillys serves a purpose; he makes them look like serious newsman in comparison with his own disgraceful method of gotcha! reporting.
This time, according to Frum, he has surpassed himself. Breibart sliced and diced a video recording of an USDA black employee so it made it seem that she was an unrepentant anti-white folks racist. The material was manipulated; in reality she was recounting an individual experience of a paradigm shift and how she went on to help the farming families she had prejudged.
Frum is visibly disturbed and outraged by Breitbart's willful deception and malvolence.
There will be no apology or statement of regret for distributing a doctored tape to defame and destroy someone. There will be not even a flutter of interest among conservatives in discussing Breitbart’s role. By the morning of July 21, the Fox & Friends morning show could devote a segment to the Sherrod case without so much as a mention of Breitbart’s role. The central fact of the Sherrod story has been edited out of the conservative narrative, just as it was edited out of the tape itself.
As I said, Frum's voice is a lone rational voice among rightwing media hate-mongers.