The Breitbart Burn Notice

SUMMARY

Andrew BreitbartAndrew Breitbart (pictured) is a known news fabricator. Any material originating through his websites should be considered suspect at best, and subjected to thorough fact-checking before it can be reported on by anyone in any case.

Legitimate bloggers should avoid linking to his websites. Bloggers and other new media content creators who work for Breitbart, or who post to his sites, should be considered fruit of a poisonous tree.

Breitbart himself should be considered unfit for news. If it is absolutely necessary to report on him, Breitbart should be identified primarily as “known fabricator” — not a ‘journalist,’ ‘entertainer,’ ‘website mogul,’ or any other such title.

HISTORY OF FABRICATION

Breitbart emerged in 2009 with the introduction of prank videos made by James O’Keefe and Hannah Giles in ACORN offices around the country. Said videos were selectively edited to create an appearance of improper conduct by ACORN staff. Breitbart participated in deception efforts, telling the Washington Times that O’Keefe had been dressed in a pimp costume when he visited ACORN offices. In fact, O’Keefe had never been dressed as a pimp in any ACORN office. Confronted at the 2010 CPAC Convention, Breitbart danced around the issue, calling O’Keefe’s costume “minutiae” despite how the entire narrative of the scandal revolved around it. Breitbart later confronted Max Blumenthal in what would prove to be a pattern of behavior under examination: Breitbart responds to exposure by attacking the motives of those who expose him.

This would be born out in his next big scandal. In 2010, Breitbart released a video of US Department of Agriculture employee Shirley Sherrod speaking about an encounter with a white farmer. The video had been closely edited to portray Sherrod as a racist. Sherrod was forced to resign her position. Within days, however, the full video emerged and it was clear to everyone that Brietbart’s video was a fabrication. Once again, Breitbart’s response was to attack the White House, the NAACP, and Shirley Sherrod. He continues to protect the source of the video while claiming the president and the White House are orchestrating a campaign against him.

Just before the midterm elections of 2010, Breitbart claimed with Sarah Palin that CBS affiliate KTVA had conspired to damage Tea Party Senate candidate Joe Miller. In fact, captured audio of a KTVA staff meeting at Breitbart’s website had been significantly edited to change the context. Station personnel had actually been gaming “what-if” scenarios for a Joe Miller rally.

This section may be expanded.

NEGATIVE ACTIONS

After controversy erupted over a decision to involve Breitbart in their 2010 midterm election coverage, Executive producer of ABC News Digital Andrew Morse dismissed him from the broadcast with the following email:

Dear Mr. Breitbart,

We have spent the past several days trying to make clear to you your limited role as a participant in our digital town hall to be streamed on ABCNews.com and Facebook.   The post on your blog last Friday created a widespread impression that you would be analyzing the election on ABC News.   We made it as clear as possible as quickly as possible that you had been invited along with numerous others to participate in our digital town hall.  Instead of clarifying your role, you posted a blog on Sunday evening in which you continued to claim a bigger role in our coverage.  As we are still unable to agree on your role, we feel it best for you not to participate.

To date, Sherrod and one ACORN employee have filed lawsuits over the videos. The Republican National Committee has canceled a fundraiser at which Breitbart was supposed to appear. (The event has since been rescheduled.) Baltimore Sun columnist Dan Rodricks wrote:

Had any producer at a local TV station, network or cable newsroom cobbled together a video like the one Mr. Breitbart posted of Ms. Sherrod, that producer would be among the nation’s unemployed today.

Nicole Sandler has signed.

GottaLaff has signed.

Ben Cohen has signed.

silvermaneman has signed.

Karoli has signed.

lsoderman has signed.

David Horton has signed.

Bob Kincaid has signed.

Michelle Oliver has signed.

Gary Blackmon has signed.

This section will be expanded.

About Matt Osborne

Veteran blogging the culture wars from Alabama. Video journalist, mash-up artist, aspiring novelist, and metalhead. Expect bunnies, geekery, dark humor, and snarky empirical analysis to annoy idealists of all stripes. You can follow me on Twitter, but be ready 'cause it might get loud.
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