Media continues to edit and misrepresent Hoffa remarks


[Speech transcript below]

As we see time and again, the inaccurate story that Fox News and conservative blogs kick off, other outlets eventually pick up more or less whole cloth. And so it is that the comments in which Teamsters President James (or Jim, but not Jimmy) Hoffa urged listeners to vote have been edited to sound like a call to violence. Media Matters reminds us of the immediate context of the quotes that have been repeatedly taken out of context:

President Obama this is your army. We are ready to march. And president Obama we want one thing: Jobs. Jobs. Jobs. Jobs. Jobs. Jobs. Jobs. Jobs. That’s what we’re going to tell him. He’s going to be—and when he sees what we’re doing here he will be inspired. But he needs help and you know what? Everybody here’s got to vote. If we go back and keep the eye on the prize, let’s take these sons of a bitches out and give America back to America where we belong! Thank you very much!

But the extremely and misleadingly shortened version Fox used is the one that’s making the rounds, in a host of publications that aren’t necessarily trying to do Fox’s partisan work for it, but may just be too damn lazy to get the story right, or too addicted to controversy to want to do so. Falling into the latter category is Politico, which in a story that notes that the “Teamsters slammed conservative […] media for supposedly editing Hoffa’s Labor Day remarks to suggest that Hoffa was inciting violence against members of Tea Party organiations (sic),” totally edits Hoffa’s Labor Day remarks to suggest that he was inciting violence.

In fact, the longest segment of Hoffa’s original speech quoted in the article is seven words: “take these son-of-a-bitches out.” When that’s the context you’re offered, Hoffa’s subsequent statements about standing by his words sound a little different than when you get the part about how “Everybody here’s got to vote” that immediately preceded the part Politico does deign to quote.

Another piece of context that’s missing from this whole manufactured controversy, as publications from Politico to the Washington Post run stories with the edited quote and Michele Bachmann uses Hoffa as the boogeyman in a fundraising email, is just how common “take them out” is as electoral language. In fact, Bachmann herself used exactly those words in 2010:

“I am the No. 1 target for one more extremist group to defeat this November,” she said. “We need to have your help for candidates like me. We need you to take out some of these bad guys.”

How many stories screaming about how Michele Bachmann asked the tea party for help, saying “We need you to take out some of these bad guys,” do you remember in any of these publications then?

James Hoffa speech

“Everybody here has got a vote. If we go back, we keep the eye on the prize, lets take these sons-of-bitches out and give America back to America where we belong.”

 Here is a transcript of Teamsters President James Hoffa’s speech at the Labor Day Rally in Detroit.  As a commenter at Balloon Juice noted, ”it’s a great speech for the Democrats to learn how to talk to people”:

Are there any Teamsters in the house? This is Motown, but today, this is union town. We are union, we are workers. That is the message that we send today, and that is the message that we send to America.

There is a war on workers. You see it everywhere: It is in the unemployment, it is in the Tea Party, it is in the people that fight what we believe in. And we see the war in Wisconsin where they try to take collective bargaining from our public employees. We took two senate seats back, we are taking Wisconsin back.

That’s number one. Number two, in Ohio, we are fighting a battle there with regard to taking away collective bargaining. We will beat SB5. We’ve got a million signatures. We are going to win in Ohio — that is our number two. And in Michigan, they are thinking about right to work. It ain’t going to happen in Michigan. No way.

We have to keep an eye on the battle we face — a war on workers. And you see it everywhere there is the Tea Party. And you know there is only one way to beat and win that war.

The one thing about working people is we like a good fight. And you know what, they’ve got a war, they’ve got a war with us and there is only going to be one winner. It is going to be the workers of Michigan and America – we are going to win that war. All the way.

But it starts with your involvement, it starts with next November. We’ve got a bunch of people there that don’t’ want the president to succeed, and they are called the Tea Party – the people who don’t want him to do anything right and he is working hard for us.

President Obama is frustrated by what’s going on. Well, guess what, we’ve got the vote. And the answer to what we say is, we remember in November. We will beat the Tea Party and give this country back to workers and America. We can do it together.”

We’ve also got to talk about jobs. I get so tired about people who …(inaudible) these big corporations that send our jobs to Mexico, they send our jobs to China, and they’ve got the audacity to say ‘where are the jobs?’

Well I’ve got news for you. It’s time to bring those jobs back to America and bring America back to work. That’s what we’ve got to do.

We are going to hear from President Obama in a few minutes, and I am so glad that he has come to Michigan because this is where he sees the real America. He looks out on this army of people and you know what I say? President Obama, this is your army. We are ready to march. President Obama, we want one thing: Jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs…(The crowd joins the chant.)

That’s what we are going to tell America…..When he sees what we are doing here, he will be inspired, but he needs help. And you know what? Everybody here has got a vote. If we go back, we keep the eye on the prize, lets take these sons-of-bitches out and give America back to America where we belong.”