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Breitbart News Was a Racist Fever Swamp Long Before Steve Bannon Arrived

Andrew Breitbart at the Americans for Prosperity Defending the American Dream Conference.
Photo Credit: Mark Taylor / Flickr Creative Commons

Breitbart News is currently imploding. The site’s decision to prioritize its support for Donald Trump over its responsibilities to its own reporters has triggered what seems to be a staff overthrow and intensity exodus, with 4 writers out the doorway and others reportedly present their resumes. Breitbart government is now inextricable in a infamous back-and-forth with no finish in sight.

The purged are invoking the journalistic “legacy” of the site’s creator, the late regressive blogger Andrew Breitbart, as a pivotal reason to flee. “Andrew built his life and his career on one mission: fight the bullies. But Andrew’s life goal has been betrayed,” wrote editor-at-large Ben Shapiro in his matter of resignation. “Indeed, Breitbart News, under the chairmanship of Steve Bannon, has put a seductiveness by the heart of Andrew’s legacy.”

Under Andrew Breitbart’s leadership, this story goes, the website did good things, but those who hereditary his sovereignty have busted it.


As a member of Media Matters’ investigate staff, we have been reading the several elements of Breitbart’s network given his “news” site Big Government went live in 2009. we have watched the launch of several sub-sites under the “Big” powerful under Andrew Breitbart’s stewardship and the relaunch as the Breitbart News Network shortly after his death in 2012. we can contend with some management that the thought of a “golden age” of Breitbart broadcasting is fiction.

By all accounts, Breitbart was a amatory father, husband, and friend, and a loving coach to a era of immature journalists. That said, his news site was always a hotbed of ridiculous smears and lies pushed by writers with little seductiveness in the truth.

Following the regressive writer’s death, The Atlantic’s Conor Friedersdorf wrote of Breitbart’s work:

It would have been good if the Big sites directed for aloft peculiarity journalism. Said libertarian press censor Jack Shafer in his necrology of Breitbart, “I favourite the thought of Andrew Breitbart better than we favourite any of his work at Big Government, Big Hollywood, Big Journalism, Big Peace, Breitbart or Breitbart.tv.” And no wonder. What are the best 10 pieces published in the story of those sites? You’ll find some-more peculiarity work in a singular issue of City Journal than the sum sum of all Breitbart wrote or consecrated and published in his whole career.

Breitbart’s media empire began with his news assembly site Breitbart.com and his video assembly site Breitbart.tv. Big Hollywood, his organisation blog focused on culture, launched in Jan 2009. But it was Big Government, his domestic news site, that first done him a inhabitant domestic figure when it debuted in Sep 2009.

The Big Government site launched with a major exclusive: regressive romantic and videographer James O’Keefe’s “nationwide ACORN child harlotry investigation,” a series of videos documenting presumably illegal function by staffers for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), a community-based classification that advocated and supposing services for the poor. The story drewfirestorm coverage from the media as new videos trickled out one by one on Breitbart’s website, triggering congressional movement to anathema sovereign appropriation for the classification and eventually heading to its collapse.

It was also based on a lie.

A series of investigations by state and internal authorities found inapt function but no steal on the partial of the ACORN staffers. They also found that O’Keefe’s videos, prominently trumpeted on Breitbart’s website, had been “severely edited” by O’Keefe and a associate activist, who had taken the statements of the employees out of context in sequence to “meet their agenda.”

Breitbart’s sites spent much of the rest of 2009 edition identical smears of progressives that did not tarry the many minimal scrutiny. Was the White House making a domestic matter with Mao Zedong ornaments on the Christmas tree? (No.) Community organizers were praying to Barack Obama! (No.) The White House got kinship members to kick up a Tea Party protester! (Definitely not.) Meanwhile, the organisation at Big Hollywood was spending poignant time with birther nonsense as good as some-more walking comparisons of Obama to Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin, Vladimir Lenin, Mao, Pol Pot, and Fidel Castro.

The site’s low indicate may have been Jim Hoft’s disgusting anti-gay smears of Ken Jennings, the Department of Education central obliged for preventing bullying in schools. Hoft, the dumbest man on the Internet, wrote a series of posts targeting Jennings for his Gateway Pundit website, regularly sketch on the work of hate group MassResistance. Hoft’s attacks on Jennings were customarily cross-posted on Big Government.

Breitbart’s attempts to attack members of the administration culminated in his Jul 2010 effort to infer that Shirley Sherrod, an African-American central at the Department of Agriculture, was a extremist who refused to yield assist to a white farmer. Sherrod was fast fired as worried outlets began pulling Breitbart’s story. But the explain imploded after full video emerged showing that Breitbart had taken Sherrod out of context, and the rancher in doubt came to Sherrod’s defense, job her a “friend” who “helped us save the farm.”

Sherrod subsequently sued Breitbart; she settled with his estate in Oct 2015.

As Breitbart sought to urge his smear, he done what must go down as one of the strangest editorial decisions of his career. Big Government published two posts aggressive Sherrod that were authored by one Dr. Kevin Pezzi, who claimed that Breitbart had sought him out himself. Our review of Pezzi quickly revealed the following:

Pezzi, who says that “Breitbart asked me to write for BigGovernment.com,” has a rare self-described history. Pezzi claims to be obliged for “over 850 inventions” and schemes such as a “magic bullet” for cancer, a “robotic chef,” and passionate inventions like “penile increase techniques” and “ways to tie the vagina” (because “men like women with parsimonious vaginas”). Pezzi has started mixed websites, from term paper helpers to a passionate help site that answers “your questions about passionate attraction, pleasure, performance, and libido” (Pezzi is competent to do so given “No alloy in the universe knows some-more about passionate pleasure than we do”).

Pezzi’s posts were subsequently removed from Breitbart’s website, given while they represented “one of the many consummate and well-researched examinations” of Sherrod, “we have been done wakeful of other papers from this author which do not simulate the beliefs and values of this site.”

Breitbart followed up his built allegation of Sherrod as a extremist by accusing civil rights favourite Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) of fibbing that Tea Party activists protesting health caring remodel had hurled secular epithets at him.

Breitbart’s defenders bring his 2011 report that the married Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) had been promulgation sexually pithy element to other women as one of his websites’ major victories. Breitbart published a series of Weiner’s pithy social media posts, and his work triggered Weiner’s resignation. But the story wasn’t accurately Watergate.

The rest of 2011 was fundamentally standard for the impetus for Breitbart’s websites. There was the time they accused President Obama of having “marched with” the New Black Panther Party in 2007 (thousands participated in the march, which commemorated the 1965 impetus from Selma, and Obama actually spent the eventuality with polite rights idol Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth). There was the time Big Government reported that an Occupy romantic had been murdered inside a criticism stay in Savannah (that did not happen). There were all the opposite times Big Journalism featured a Nazi-era anti-Semitic cartoon. And there was the time that, two days after Breitbart himself pounded birtherism, a blogger for Big Journalism promoted Jerome Corsi’s book Where’s the Birth Certificate under the headline “What If The Birthers Are Right?” (days later, Obama released his long-form birth certificate).

In Mar 2012, following Breitbart’s comfortless death, the site released Breitbart’s final column, which was designed to kick off his relaunched news empire’s bid to “vet” Obama the way the media had purportedly unsuccessful to do.

Breitbart’s post revealed that in 1998, then-state Sen. Obama attended a Chicago play about romantic Saul Alinsky and then took partial in a row contention afterwards.

In the months that followed, Breitbart’s heirs denounced a series of likewise trashy efforts to “vet” Obama. Among the big stories was one about a “smoking gun” video showing then-Harvard Law tyro Barack Obama hugging the late Harvard highbrow Derrick Bell at a 1991 criticism ancillary Bell’s pull to have a lady of tone offering reign at the school.

As Bell was, according to the website, a dangerous radical, this was ostensible to be a big deal. In fact, Bell was a reputable academic; even if he had been a dangerous radical, the video of him and Obama hugging would infer nothing, and the video had been accessible online for years and the eventuality had been regularly reported on.

Another presumably big story covered a 1991 pamphlet published by Obama’s former literary group that erroneously describes him as being “born in Kenya.” This presumably fit “a settlement in which Obama — or the people representing and ancillary him — manipulate his open persona.” Hours later, the literary group suggested that it had been a fact-checking blunder on its part.

The years to come would bring embarrassments like the “Friends of Hamas” smear and the time the website tried to attack the wrong Loretta Lynch. The extreme support for Trump has been a new and degrading growth for the site.

But there was no journalistic bequest for Breitbart’s heirs to squander. Big Journalism was always bad journalism.


Matt Gertz is a Senior Fellow at Media Matters for America.

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