2.5 Cheers for Andrew Breitbart's Daily Caller Op-Ed
In it, he clearly delineates the difference between "the news" as establishment media outlets want it dispensed and the "market for information" that technology has created. Its only shortcoming is that he gives Arianna Huffington a pass for "coming to the table as an honest broker." I'll point out glaring examples that will disprove that notion later.
First, though, behold the beauty of Breitbart's treatment of the issue of "objectivity" and his clear statement relating to the two types of information choices we have:
The launch of the Daily Caller is a necessary step toward creating ideological parity in the all-too-clearly biased mainstream media. It is a good thing that you, Tucker, are admitting that you come to the table with certain ideological baggage, and my new site Big Journalism will be there to watch your back when the well-funded, organized left’s knives come out to try to discredit and attempt to destroy you. Believe me, they will.
In my mind, you are coming to the table as an honest broker, like me and Arianna Huffington.
.... The mainstream media is dying as we are rising, and yet their only explanation for their fate is that Craigslist has stolen their classified advertising.
.... The consumer of news and information now has a clear and distinct choice between two approaches in delivering this valuable commodity:
On one side you have the New York-based intelligentsia, driving the narratives of our times with the guidance of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Anyone who knows this crowd knows them to be neither “objective” or “bias-neutral,” yet that line is propagated on television news and in print media and we are supposed to accept it. They have built walls between themselves and their customers, disdainfully and grudgingly accepting their criticisms only when forced to acknowledge their egregious errors (are you still out there, Mr. Rather?).
On the other side you have writers, researchers and pundits from every corner of our land, proudly disclosing their true core principles for all to see. They present the stories that move them and respond in real time to the interactive feedback of their consumers. They lose credibility (and audience) not for their opinions, but for journalistic errors and, more importantly, how they handle those errors. The fact is this: they are actually held to a higher journalistic standard because of the frank and honest disclosure of their point of view. When they mess up, they make their own side look bad. This ends up being a much tougher code of ethics than something dreamed up by a J-School panel of advisors.
When you look at the two sides it becomes pretty clear that it isn’t really a choice at all, is it? One side represents an outdated mode of operation borne of necessity due to the limited technology of a by-gone age, perpetuated by a self-congratulatory graduate-school culture that rewards and protects its own while simultaneously denying the legitimacy of the opposition. The other side is based on freedom, liberty and market forces, using reason, logic and a reliance upon the reader’s own wisdom and common sense to form his or her own conclusions after receiving all of the unfiltered information available. Which would any normal person instinctively choose?
But Breitbart's complimentary treatment of Ms. Huffington calls for a rebuttal -- actually, three of them.
First, if Ms. Huffington's site were really devoted to the truth, HuffPo Political Reporter Sam Stein's August 2008 contention that "McCain Camp Didn’t Search Palin’s Hometown Paper Archives" would have been pulled.
Stein originally wrote the following, and added an update a short time later (bold is mine):
.... a Democrat tasked with opposition research contacted the Huffington Post with this piece of information: as of this weekend, the McCain campaign had not gone through old newspaper articles from the Valley Frontiersman, Palin's hometown newspaper.
How does he know? The paper's (massive) archives are not online.
.... UPDATE: Some readers have noted that the Frontiersman website includes a small archive of stories about Palin. However, as our original source informed us, and a second Democratic researcher with access to the same records confirms, there have been hundreds of stories on Palin by the Frontiersman dating back over 15 years, only a handful of which are posted online.
To this day, some of Stein's claims are not accurate, and his core premise is not proven. When he wrote his report, a search on "Palin" at the Frontiersman, as seen at my September 2, 2008 Pajamas Media column, returned 944 items dating back to 1998. Unless Mr. Stein's hands are significantly different from other humans, that's a lot more than a "handful."
I contend but can't prove that Stein had no idea that 944 items were visible when he wrote his report, even though it's more than likely that he had access to this thing called the Internet at the time.
Based on the time stamp at Stein's piece, it appears that his post was last updated on October 1, 2008, 31 days after its original appearance. Apparently between September 8 and and October 1, he posted two updates (without indicating himself when he did it). The "LATE LATE UPDATE" addresses the Frontiersman archive issue -- sort of:
LATE LATE UPDATE: As a few commenters have noted, an incomplete archive of Frontiersman stories mentioning Palin is available on the web here. This database includes more than the "handful" of articles we mentioned above, and while we regret not posting a link to it earlier, it is far from comprehensive. Palin was elected to the Wasilla city council in 1992, and was mayor from 1996-2002. Yet the Frontiersman's web archive includes zero stories mentioning Palin from 1992-1997, just one article from 1998, three articles from 1999, six articles from 2000, and 13 from 2001. By 2002, the number of stories available online jumps to 51. The facts of our original story remain the same: despite presenting the selection of Sarah Palin "as one made after a careful, meticulous vetting process," the McCain campaign did not go through "old newspaper articles from the Valley Frontiersman," because "the paper's (massive) archives are not online." But it would have been more precise to say "not fully online." Moreover, as we reported, a reliable Democratic source claims to have been told he was the first to access the complete archives; neither the Frontiersman staff nor the McCain campaign have challenged this point.
That excuse-making exercise simply doesn't cut it:
- Mr. Stein never established that McCain campaign did or didn't go through the online archive.
- Mr. Stein never established the scope of the reportage about Palin that is not online, and how it compares to what is.
- Unless he contacted the McCain campaign directly when he wrote his "Late Late Update," his assertion that the "McCain campaign hasn't challenged this point" is a pathetically passive attempt at "proof" that proves nothing.
- Thus, Stein still has NOT proven that the "McCain Camp Didn’t Search Palin’s Hometown Paper Archives." Yet the unsupported headline remains. Propaganda mission accomplished, it would appear.
Separately and more importantly, as Rich Noyes of NewsBusters noted on October 15 of last year, Huffington Post was part of the herd that posted "quotes allegedly from Rush Limbaugh declaring that slavery 'had its merits' and that the assassin of Martin Luther King, Jr. deserved the Medal of Honor." Ultimately, the author could not substantiate the quotes and HuffPo removed them.
There's only one problem: The item in question had been up, lies and all, for over three years, since July of 2006. The rest of Jack Huberman's hateful screed, complete with other quotes that may also not stand up to scrutiny, remains.
Finally, there's an October 29 item from Jeff Poor at NewsBusters. Jeff observed that in an interview with Keith Olbermann, Huffington "suggested (that Glenn) Beck's alleged fear-mongering warrants an exemption from the First Amendment, otherwise known as the 'shouting fire in a crowded theater' precedent."
Sorry, Andrew Breitbart: The Stein and Limbaugh sagas, along with Ms. Huffington's apparent interest in censoring Glenn Beck, are not reflective of how an "honest broker of information" does business. 2-1/2 cheers it is.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.