Andrew Breitbart was an influential conservative writer who had his hand in some exposing major scandals. These reports resulted in various liberal figures and organizations being shown acting improperly, with one major example being Anthony Weiner and the sexting controversy. He also was an active early member as well.
Breitbart launched a conservative news website in 2007 bearing his name, which was once respected for its reporting on big stories. Whatever journalistic integrity that once existed at Breitbart, however, is quickly diminishing.
In the last year, the website has quickly developed a reputation as being an Internet mouthpiece for Republican presidential candidate and businessman Donald Trump. This was further highlighted when one of their own reporters appeared to be attacked by the Trump campaign manager.
I wasn’t called upon to ask a question during the televised press conference, but afterwards Trump wandered around, stopping at every reporter to take their questions. When he approached me, I asked him about his view on an aspect of affirmative action.
Trump acknowledged the question, but before he could answer I was jolted backwards. Someone had grabbed me tightly by the arm and yanked me down. I almost fell to the ground, but was able to maintain my balance. Nonetheless, I was shaken.
The Washington Post’s Ben Terris immediately remarked that it was Trump’s campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, who aggressively tried to pull me to the ground. I quickly turned around and saw Lewandowski and Trump exiting the building together. No apology. No explanation for why he did this.
After this incident, Breitbart seemed to work against its own reporter and attempt to undermine her in an attempt to back Trump. The website ran stories and attempted to pass off narratives that Fields was wrong, Ben Terris misidentified campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, and anything else they could do to protect their candidate of choice. It even got to a point where Breitbart started telling their own to stop defending Fields publicly.
“I saw what I saw,” said Terris in a brief chat with this blog. During the whole incident, says Terris, he had his “eyes trained on Corey Lewandowski,” because Terris was there to profile the campaign team with a focus on Lewandowski. Terris took strong issue with Pollak’s assertion that mistaken identity is the “likeliest explanation” based in part on Lewandowski’s denials. “Because he denied it?” asked Terris. “This is Breitbart.”
This is Breitbart, what was once the continuation of Andrew Breitbart’s legacy and is now merely a Trump publication.
Now an Internet publication can support who they wish, and Breitbart certainly wouldn’t be the first one to make an endorsement. The problem lies in the conflict with who Andrew Breitbart was, and the fact the website is willing to openly take down their own to protect a politician.
“Today I informed the management at Breitbart News of my immediate resignation,” Fields said in a statement sent to BuzzFeed News. “I do not believe Breitbart News has adequately stood by me during the events of the past week and because of that I believe it is now best for us to part ways.”
But she wasn’t alone. Editor-at-large Ben Shapiro stood with Fields and also left:
“Andrew’s life mission has been betrayed,” Shapiro wrote. “Indeed, Breitbart News, under the chairmanship of Steve Bannon, has put a stake through the heart of Andrew’s legacy. In my opinion, Steve Bannon is a bully, and has sold out Andrew’s mission in order to back another bully, Donald Trump; he has shaped the company into Trump’s personal Pravda, to the extent that he abandoned and undercut his own reporter, Breitbart News’ Michelle Fields, in order to protect Trump’s bully campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, who allegedly assaulted Michelle.”
Breitbart News has fallen. What was once an investigative website for the right has become an open shilling operation for a political candidate that is willing to take down its own reporters. The treatment of Fields is disgraceful and as a result, the website has lost her and Shapiro, and possibly even more to come. Buzzfeed reports “three sources say multiple staffers are searching for a way out of the company — with several actively circulating résumés, according to two sources — and more resignations could follow in the coming days and weeks” and “According to one company source with knowledge of the situation, some editors have discussed telling Breitbart News CEO Larry Solov they will quit unless Bannon is ousted.”
Are we witnessing the fall of Breitbart? It’s a shame we are, considering the name it bears. But considering what the website has become, maybe it’s a good thing.