Conservative publisher Andrew Breitbart told NewsBusters Friday his less than two week stint as a Huffington Post front page contributor was abruptly terminated as part of an ongoing scheme by liberal media members to depict the Tea Party as racist.
After caving to pressure from the far-left to have Breitbart dumped, HuffPo spokesman Mario Ruiz issued the following statement Thursday:
The Huffington Post is committed to fostering a lively and often provocative debate about the issues of the day and encourages a wide range of voices from all perspectives to participate. Andrew Brietbart’s [sic] false ad hominem attack on Van Jones in The Daily Caller violates the tenets of debate and civil discourse we have strived for since the day we launched. As a result, we will no longer feature his posts on the front page.
He is welcome to continue publishing his work on HuffPost provided it adheres to our editorial guidelines, as the two posts he published on HuffPost did -- guidelines that include a strict prohibition on ad hominem attacks. Our decision today recognizes that placing posts on the front page is an editorial call that elevates some posts over others, and is an indication of how seriously we take these judgment calls.
According to Breitbart, the idea for him writing for HuffPo’s front page came directly from the website’s founder, Arianna Huffington herself.
While he was at her house a month or so ago, Huffington floated the idea of her conservative friend writing some more prominent pieces for her site. After thinking about it for a few weeks, Breitbart agreed and published “NPR Is Collateral Damage in Battle to Brand Tea Party” on March 11.
Not surprisingly, the Left pitched a fit. Color of Change, the organization founded by President Obama’s former green czar Van Jones, quickly published a petition to get Breitbart removed from HuffPo’s front page:
Notorious liar and race-baiter Andrew Breitbart poses as a journalist and then uses his position to gin up race-based fears, protect racists, and demonize Black political leaders and institutions. And the Huffington Post has given him a prime space on its platform to do so.
Please join us in demanding that Arianna Huffington and the Huffington Post stop elevating and legitimizing Andrew Breitbart and please ask your friends and family to do the same.
This was not the first time CoC pressured a media outlet to dissociate itself from Breitbart. When it was announced last October that Breitbart was going to be participating in ABC News’s online Election Day coverage, CoC issued the following:
Andrew Breitbart is a liar and race-baiter with a long history of pushing false stories to achieve his political ends. He was most recently exposed as a fraud after promoting selectively-edited video in an attempt to paint the USDA's Shirley Sherrod as a racist, smear the NAACP, and accuse the Obama administration of reverse racism.
For some reason, ABC News invited Breitbart to participate in their Election Day programming. It's a slap in the face to Shirley Sherrod, to Black America, and to everyone who believes in the value of telling the truth. Please join us in calling on ABC to drop Breitbart from their Election Day programming, now.
Much like the Huffington Post, ABC News sadly caved to this pressure, and Breitbart was unceremoniously booted on Election Eve.
Jones may not be working for the White House any more, but he still wields a lot of power.
As pressure mounted for HuffPo to similarly dump Breitbart, he was approached by the Daily Caller’s Steven Nelson to discuss the issue. The Caller published its interview with Breitbart Thursday:
“Van Jones is a commie punk,” Breitbart told TheDC. “He was exposed to a great extent because of the hard journalism that was done at my website, that exposed him as a guy who was an unvetted liability to the Obama administration. He was forced to step down because of my journalistic work.”
Breitbart said that he wasn’t surprised by the campaign. “This is what the left does, they don’t believe in free speech. They want to shut up Fox News, they want to shut up people that disagree with them, they want to shut up the Tea Party,” Breitbart said. “The number one reason why they want to bring up race is because I am the one who exposed the lie that the ‘N’ word was hurled at [Democratic] Congressmen [Andrew] Carson [of Indiana] and [John] Lewis” of Georgia at a Tea Party rally in front of the Capitol.
Within hours of this being published, Breitbart was canned from HuffPo’s front page.
“Arianna is a function of the Hollywood left,” Breitbart told me Friday morning. “This policy was crafted to silence a mainstream media critic.”
He continued, “There are people in the mainstream media with far more controversial positions than me, but the Left can’t tolerate someone trying to expose how they’re forcing their views on the public via academia, Hollywood, and the various news outlets.”
Breitbart likened himself to Upton Sinclair saying, “I’m pointing out the rancid meat in the media industry and they hate me for it.”
Ironically, this episode has acted to prove Breitbart’s point. As Salon’s Alex Pareene wrote Thursday:
Andrew has now gotten exactly what he wanted. He doesn't need to publish his idiocies at the Huffington Post. But getting banned from the Huffington Post proves his thesis about the repressive, anti-free speech liberal media.
Pareene also noted the absurdity of HuffPo claiming its decision was about ad hominem attacks:
A strict prohibition on ad hominem attacks! ("Against Arianna's friends," is the bit of that sentence that spokesman Marco Ruiz left out.) (Also there is apparently no prohibition on constant, practically obsessive race-baiting, but whatever.)
Slate’s David Weigel noticed another hypocrisy:
He didn't write or say any of that at HuffPo, a site he helped develop in 2005. Is the Huffington Post's standard that contributors can be to some modified limited hang-out if they use ad hominems in other forums? Boy, good thing Breitbart doesn't have an army of contributors who can comb HuffPo authors' published and spoken work to see if they've done that.
Indeed, for what HuffPo apparently found offensive was published at the Daily Caller. Are all HuffPo contributors from this point forward going to be held to this standard?
But even that doesn’t address all of the hypocrisy, for ad hominem attacks are at the very heart of the Huffington Post, and have been since its founding.
Mickey Kaus made this point at the Daily Caller Thursday:
If this rule is applied honestly, I suspect a whole lot of people are now banned from HuffPo’s front page. … The first name there right now, for example, is HuffPo writer Jason Linkins. You think Linkins is never ad hominem?
As Pareene alluded to, this is about ad hominem attacks on people Huffington agrees with. Such attacks are welcomed when they’re about conservatives especially if their last name is Bush, Cheney, or Palin.
Ironically, as Breitbart told the Daily Caller Friday, ad hominems are perfectly acceptable at the Huffington Post if they're directed at him:
“Their front page bloggers have made more ad hominem attacks at the Huffington Post against me, I thought I was being a big person going into a venue, accepting the premise that this was ad nausea de ad hominem,” Breitbart said in a phone interview on Friday morning.
Breitbart contends that HuffPo has let its left-wing bloggers make ad hominem attacks against him on its website, including Color of Change executive director James Rucker.
Yet Arianna can’t put up with negative comments about the former Grassroots Director of her campaign for California governor a few years back, even if they’re published somewhere else.
“Arianna has now given safe harbor to Color of Change to take out those that expose Jones,” Breitbart said.
But her personal hypocrisy is even worse. Breitbart considers himself a close personal friend of Arianna’s. He has a good relationship with her mother as well as her daughters.
“They give me hugs and kisses whenever I see them.”
Yet now she’s de facto claiming he’s a racist – one that she’s let into her home and be around her family for many years.
But this kind of hypocrisy is nothing new for Huffington. As former HuffPo contributor Lee Stranahan noted Thursday in his “Why I’m Quitting Blogging at the Huffington Post”:
One very loathsome aspect of this story is something that Huffington Post editor Roy Sekoff told me in a long phone call about Andrew Breitbart several months ago. Roy knows and worked with Andrew and when the issue of Andrew Breitbart being a racist came up, Roy told me “No, of course Andrew isn’t a racist.”
Roy went on to say that while both he and Arianna Huffington knew that the charges of racism being hurled at Andrew weren’t true based on their years of personal dealings with him that they were in a ‘bad position’ to say anything about it.
Politics is a contact sport, but not defending someone you know personally and know the truth about is pretty poor conduct. To stand by and watch their reputation ruined and do nothing when all you have to do is say ‘I know him and that’s not true” is shameful.
Asked about this, Breitbart responded, "Arianna can't lead the charge in undermining the false, manufactured 'race baiting' ad hominem against me housed countless times on AOL's Huffington Post pages. It's a business decision. I get it."
Some business decision.
Arianna knows her friend isn’t a racist, but isn’t willing to say that in public for fear that it will go counter to the Left’s desire to depict all conservatives as such, especially the Tea Party. And this to Breitbart is the key.
“It’s about making everybody in the Tea Party racist because they’re afraid the movement will increase the number of black conservatives.”
In Breitbart’s view, the Democrat Party can’t lose even ten percent of the black vote or it will have a lot of difficulty winning national elections.
Contrary to the media meme, the Tea Party has welcomed blacks whose views don’t necessarily fit with today’s liberalism. This is why for almost two years press references to this movement always castigate it as being racist. The hope is this will prevent blacks from taking the Tea Party seriously.
To support his premise, Breitbart told me that he has four videos of the infamous event at the Capitol last year when Tea Party members allegedly shouted racial epithets at black Congressmen before the vote on ObamaCare.
These videos in his view completely refute this assertion, but he hasn’t gotten one mainstream media outlet to air them.
Any wonder why?
For his part, Breitbart spent much of the day Wednesday trying to reach Huffington to discuss the situation with her. He was told she was traveling, and has still not heard from his friend about Thursday’s decision to boot him from the front page.
But there’s another side to this matter, for it demonstrates once again the kind of “conservative” that is welcomed by the mainstream media – and it’s not someone like Breitbart.
“I’m relentless in exposing the media’s war on American culture," he said as our telephone interview came to a close, "and will not play the nauseating marital tag team of David Frum and Danielle Crittenden’s capitulating role for these totalitarian-minded marms.”