10 Reasons Andrew Breitbart Should Apologize (Or Just Shut Up and Go Away)
Public apologies are often the source of captivating and prurient entertainment. There seems to be a genetic compulsion in the human DNA to observe our heroes, celebrities, and of course, adversaries, fall from grace and beg forgiveness. Monday was Rep. Anthony Weiner’s curtain call, but like any good melodrama, he was upstaged by an ambitious and vainglorious rival, Andrew Breitbart.
After commandeering the podium at Weiner’s press conference, Breitbart declared, “I’m here for some vindication.” He portrayed himself as a media-contrived victim of character assassination and challenged the reporters in the room to substantiate their alleged assaults on his reputation.
“The media says ‘Breitbart lies, Breitbart lies, Breitbart lies, Breitbart lies.’ Give me one example of a provable lie. One. One. Journalists? One. Put your reputation on the line here.”
For some reason, no one in the room responded. It’s almost as if the press were clueless stenographers, unfamiliar with Breitbart’s past, and were incapable of providing a substantive rebuttal.
This is actually fairly typical of the modern press corps. Another example occurred when the New York Times asked Breitbart about the Weiner affair on Saturday and he attempted to strike a non-partisan tone, saying, “I am as offended when John Ensign acts like an idiot, when Chris Lee acts like an idiot.” However, the Times failed to note that Breitbart’s Big Government blog did not publish a single story about the travails of either Ensign or Lee. Not one single story. How offended was he? Compare that to his obsession with Weiner, which produced 17 separate stories and consumed every single headline (except for the plug for his book), and that was four days after the story broke.
For those who are interested, including members of the press who were struck dumb yesterday, here is a brief compilation of Breitbart’s "reportorial" resume, replete with dishonesty and deliberate disinformation. Feel free to offer these in response to Breitbart’s future challenges. We will await his profuse and heartfelt apologies.
1) ACORN: Breibart’s Web site was the central agency for disseminating videos that were later shown to have been heavily edited in order to convey a fictional scenario smearing a social service organization that had for years been assisting low-income citizens with financial advice and voter registration. Every investigation of the affair exonerated ACORN and affirmed the videos' deception. Breitbart’s henchman, James O’Keefe, is being sued by former ACORN employee Juan Carlos Vera.
2) Shirley Sherrod: In this episode, Breitbart was responsible for slandering a USDA employee by calling her a racist. Lately he has been defending himself by saying that he had included the “redemptive arc” of her story revealing her innocence. But let’s not forget how he originally portrayed the situation:
“In her meandering speech to what appears to be an all-black audience, this federally appointed executive bureaucrat lays out in stark detail, that her federal duties are managed through the prism of race and class distinctions. [...] In the first video, Sherrod describes how she racially discriminates against a white farmer.”
That is a pretty clear accusation of discriminatory behavior on the part of a federal employee. It is also a lie. Sherrod did not discriminate against the farmer, as Breitbart later acknowledged, and the story she told was about an incident that occurred 20 years before she held a federal post. Nevertheless, Breitbart’s reaction at the time was another demonstration of his paranoid narcissism, as he whined, “As difficult as it probably was for her, it’s been difficult for me as well.” Poor guy. Sherrod is suing Breitbart.
3) Clinton Plotting a Tea Party Attack: Breitbart published a story with no evidence, about an alleged conspiracy that never came to pass:
“Big Government has learned that Clintonistas are plotting a ‘push/pull’ strategy. They plan to identify 7-8 national figures active in the tea party movement and engage in deep opposition research on them. If possible, they will identify one or two they can perhaps ‘turn’, either with money or threats, to create a mole in the movement. The others will be subjected to a full-on smear campaign.”
Also never coming to pass…a retraction. This story bubbled up through the media like much of Breitbart’s fiction, eventually getting coverage from Fox Nation.
4) Jason Mattera’s Punking of Grayson and Franken: Jason Mattera, who later became editor of Human Events, was employed to run a couple of “ambush” interviews that were posted on Breitbart’s Web site. One interview targeted Rep. Alan Grayson and castigated him for his support of a bill that funded a program to prevent child abuse. The other interview was directed at Sen. Al Franken, who was attacked for supporting student health and school safety. In both cases Mattera twisted the purpose of the legislation into something unrecognizable and patently false. Expect more of this, because as Breitbart says in his book, Righteous Indignation, “Ambush journalism is the most valuable kind of journalism."
5) University of Missouri Labor Class: In another phony video sting, Breitbart published a video of the proceedings of a class on the history of labor at the University of Missouri at Kansas City. As usual, the video was a deceitful mashup that misrepresented the professors and students as supporting violent labor activity. The twist here is that it was Breitbart’s one-time friend Glenn Beck who published an accounting of the video deception and vindicated the professors. As a bonus intrigue, the party who gave Breitbart the UM video is identified only as Insurgent Visuals. That, however, may be a ruse to disguise Breitbart’s long-time partner in crime, James O’Keefe.
6) Beck’s Back Alley Snitch: Speaking of Glenn Beck, in happier times when the two weren’t feuding, Breibart was the source for numerous Beck offensives. He provided Beck with scandalous material on Van Jones who, at the time, was a White House adviser on environmental initiatives. Beck lauded Breitbart, saying...
"You know where the great journalists of our time are? Andrew Breitbart. [...] You were the only one, besides watchdogs, that were really aggressively working behind the scenes with us on Van Jones."
The same thing occurred with Yosi Sergant, communications director for the National Endowment for the Arts. Breitbart went after him and provided the data to Beck, who said...
"This is again another Breitbart story, where the NEA communications director reached out and said, hey, listen, we have to be very careful with our language here."
In both cases the information provided by Breitbart was vague and/or untrue, but both Jones and Sergant were jettisoned -- just as Sherrod was -- by a nervous White House for violations that were either false or greatly exaggerated.
7) Democrats Plotted to Blame Tea Party for Slaughter: Breitbart’s site featured an article making the sensationalist claim that Democrats devised a plan to blame the Tea Party for the tragic shooting in Tucson, AZ. The allegation consisted of a single, unidentified source who merely offered his own opinion that the massacre could be pinned on Tea Partiers. There was no allegation of a conspiracy or even of any discussions of such a plan by anyone connected to the Democratic Party. But that didn’t stop Breitbart from posting the story with an irresponsibly provocative headline.
8) The Abbie Boudreau Affair: In one of the most bizarre adventures by the James O’Keefe gang, they set out to lure CNN reporter Abbie Boudreau into a floating love nest to embarrass her in some manner that was never really explained. While Breitbart did not act as the agent for this prank, he did provide a platform for O’Keefe to publish his defense after having been outed by an accomplice. O’Keefe managed to take a situation in which he appeared to be a revolting pervert and make it worse by saying about Boudreau…
“She would have had to consent before being filmed and she was not going to be faux ‘seduced’ unless she wanted to be.”
Considering the fact that he never sought the consent of his previous video victims, why should we accept his assertion that he was going to start seeking consent now? Even more troubling is his implication that his intended victim “wanted” it. O’Keefe is resorting to the disgusting defense that rapists offer about their victims. And Breitbart permitted this to be published on his site.
9) GEICO Gecko – Tea Party Crasher? Breitbart’s Big Government blog posted a mind-numbingly stupid article that accused Ricky Gervais, the actor/comedian and voice of the GEICO gecko, of disparaging the Tea Party in a profanity-laced voice-mail. The only problem is that Gervais had nothing to do with it. It was an actor (D.C. Douglas) who worked for GEICO a couple of years prior. But it wasn’t enough to smear Gervais with insinuations, Breitbart also posted a picture of the gecko atop a table adorned with a poster of President Obama sporting a Hitler mustache. What that had to do with the story is anyone’s guess. It just appeared to be a gratuitous slap at the president while falsely slandering Gervais.
10) Racism: Breitbart is obsessed with the theme of racism. He is convinced the charge is thrown around cavalierly, and mostly to insult Tea Partiers and himself. He embarked on a campaign to prove that congressman and civil rights hero John Lewis was lying when he said he had been the victim of racial epithets when attending a congressional rally.
Breitbart regards the Shirley Sherrod incident as an example of the racism demonstrated by the NAACP. But when discussing allegations of his own prejudice, Breitbart said this to radio host Adam Carolla:
“Can I prove that I’m not a racist toward Hispanics? Did you ever see Moscow on the Hudson? Remember Maria Conchita Alonso in that? The things I did to myself as a teenager prove that I’m not a racist.”
So Breitbart’s proof that he is not a racist is that he used to masturbate to pictures of a Latino actress. Breitbart’s repulsive pride in his perverse view of racial open-mindedness tells us much about him. And he is certainly in no position to assess the veracity of people like John Lewis.
This should be a good starting point for the press in case they ever get the chance again to respond to Breitbart’s call for evidence of his dishonesty and low character. Here’s hoping the press is listening and that no one presumes to use the Weiner affair to rehabilitate Breitbart’s reputation. Just because Breitbart lucked into being correct (the way a broken clock is right at least once a day) doesn’t mean that his long-established pattern of deception should be dismissed. Just because Charles Manson didn’t kill Marilyn Monroe doesn’t mean that he’s innocent of every other crime attributed to him.
Breitbart deserves no accolades over this, and he still owes the many people he deliberately harmed an apology. Weiner, at least, was man enough to own up to his mistakes, eventually.