By Philip Rucker
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, July 23, 2010; 3:19 PM
LAS VEGAS -- Progressive leaders have seized on the Shirley Sherrod episode as a rallying cry for liberal activists gathered here for the annual Netroots Nation convention, pointing to the spectacle as an example of the influence of conservative media.
The hasty firing of Sherrod, an Agriculture Department official, over a selectively edited Internet video in which she made comments that appeared racist, has drawn attention from some of the keynote speakers at this gathering of 2,100 liberal bloggers and activists.
"They must have a war room at the White House," Ed Schultz, a liberal radio host and MSNBC anchor, said at Thursday night's opening session. "I think they've got a sissy room, too."
"We've got a White House that reacted to a blog story that was reported, promoted and sold on Fox News," Schultz added. "They're not a news organization. They're a propaganda organization. They're about one thing: . . . destroy the progressive movement, win at all costs, trash people, don't worry about the consequences, and just hammer it home. It don't gotta be the truth. We've just got to make sure we say it over and over and over again."
Van Jones, the former White House green jobs czar who resigned last year amid a scandal stoked by Fox News host Glenn Beck and other conservatives, condemned conservative media.
"Anybody with a laptop, anybody with a Flip camera, anybody with a mouse can absolutely upend this country, can absolutely recklessly destroy trust, fan fears and do horrible things," Jones said in a keynote address Friday morning.
"We're in a world where we've taken away our immune system, the old filters, the old gatekeepers . . . so the information system has taken a huge leap forward but the wisdom system has not," Jones added. "People are now engineering viruses and pumping them into the body politic."
Jones said Sherrod is "like Rosa Parks . . . and she got slimed."
Jon Vogel, executive director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, was asked in a panel on Friday about the Sherrod incident and said the progressive movement needs to fight harder against the conservative media.
"We've got to fight back against what they're doing, and that's incumbent upon everybody here," Vogel said.