Is Breitbart.com Destroying a Legacy In Order To “Make America Great”?
“The army of the emboldened and gleefully ill-informed is growing.” ~Andrew Breitbart
Raised in California in a secular, liberal family, Andrew Breitbart became a champion for conservatism and citizen journalism until his untimely death in March 2012. Andrew had his ‘epiphany’ in 1991 when he was watching the Clarence Thomas SCOTUS confirmation hearings and he told Townhall Magazine that “By the end of the hearings, I was screaming at my TV, ‘How can you do this to this man?’”
While Breitbart was a guest commentator on numerous cable shows and author of the best seller “Righteous Indignation: Excuse Me While I Change the World”, he was most known for his part in building the new media which grew out of The Drudge Report of which he had been editor, and of the liberal site, the Huffington Post which he had helped launch.
In 2005 Breitbart launched an aggregate news site under his name, Breitbart.com with the intent to counter the mainstream media which he described as bullies and a Democratic media alliance. He soon followed up with themed sites like Big Hollywood in 2008, Big Government in 2009, Big Peace and Big Journalism in 2010.
While Breitbart’s journalists were cutting edge and pushing the envelope with exposes on groups like ACORN in the 2009 undercover videos controversy, the Anthony Wiener sexting scandal and the resignation of Black USDA employee Shirley Sharrod, the main purpose of Breitbart’s sites were to expose corruption and bullying from government, big media, Hollywood liberals and big business. To Andrew Breitbart, his Big Hollywood site was most important because culture had been largely ignored by the political minded northeastern conservative elite. He explained,
“The three most important pillars of that culture are Hollywood and pop culture, along with education and the media. Those three are absolutely controlled by the left… The reason why a center-right nation like the United States could veer, over the last forty years, to the left, is because of the left’s fundamental understanding of the importance of the cultural role in our society and how pop culture and culture are upstream from politics.”
Breitbart never considered himself a political partisan and in a 2011 interview with Boise Weekly, he talked about the upcoming 2012 elections, saying that he was looking forward to watching the candidates “get pulverized. This is Survivor.”
So here we are today, in 2016. Breitbart seemed to have prophesied the rise of Donald Trump in an interview on FOX when he said, “…Of course, he’s not a conservative. He was for Nancy Pelosi, before he was against Nancy Pelosi…celebrity is everything in this country if these guys don’t learn how to play the media the way Barack Obama played the media last election cycle and the way that Donald Trump is playing the election cycle–we’re going to probably get a celebrity candidate.”
Breitbart supported and was a favorite among Tea Party groups, often speaking at rallies and at CPAC, but his main drive was working nonstop on his beloved Breitbart site, building what he and others described as the next generation of news and information. He had announced a project a month before his death at the CPAC conference claiming that he didn’t believe the media had done its job in investigating Obama’s past during the 2008 election. He promised that he would do during the 2012 election what the media had failed to do. During his speech he also said that “racial division and class warfare were central” to Obama’s 2008 “hope and change” slogans.
The revamped Breitbart site was planned before Breitbart’s death. The staff at Breitbart planned to carry out the work and get the new site launched on time and carry on Breitbart’s legacy. Andrew’s final column was released after his death on the newly designed Breitbart. Org which had brought all of the Big sites under one tent, and it was called “The Vetting, Part 1: Obama’s Love Song to Alinsky.”
In the few years since, Breitbart.com was keeping Andrew’s dream alive and the site added even more Big categories, but as far as this past year has gone, Breitbart News has seemingly been openly supporting Donald Trump as their celebrity candidate.
Known now by many around the net as “Trumpbart”, the comment sections on Breitbart are filth-ridden with hateful rhetoric reminiscent of far Leftist sites. Apparently Breitbart no longer cares about the filth that makes up their comments any more than they care about their Celebrity Candidate Donald Trump’s thuggish, boorish and nasty behavior. Many conservatives have stopped going to the site all together. The last time I ventured over there, I was called numerous body parts and told what to do with myself on multiple stories, all because I had the audacity to post an Andrew Breitbart quote and question their reverent hero.
Back when Andrew died, it was wondered among sites whether his legacy could go on without him. Breitbart News Network made Stephen Bannon the new CEO, editor and chairman of Brietbart.org.
It’s ironic that while many Trump followers have mocked Ted Cruz’s wife Heidi as some sort of mega globalist because she worked for Goldman Sachs, yet Bannon, is an ex Goldman Sachs’ investment banker in the Mergers & Acquisitions Department.
Steve Bannon has had an eclectic career spanning decades since being a naval officer in the Military. After leaving the Navy, he attended and graduated from Harvard Business School with an MBA and went on to work at GS during the 80s, before launching Bannon & Co., a boutique investment bank specializing in media. Bannon negotiated the sale of Castle Rock Entertainment to Ted Turner and as payment; Bannon & Co. received a stake in five television shows, including the hit show Seinfeld. The company was sold in 1998 and Bannon became a successful executive producer in Hollywood. In 2004, Bannon made a documentary called In the Face of Evil which was about Ronald Reagan. Through the making and screening of the film, Bannon met Andrew Breitbart.
In a detailed article from Bloomberg in October 2015, Bannon describes his disgust with the establishment in Washington and how he has focused for years on exposing Bill and Hillary Clinton from Bill’s sexual exploits to how foreign governments helped pad the Clinton coffers. Bannon planned to influence politics through what the article calls the “old-style attack journalism of Breitbart.com“, using the Government Accountability Institute (GAI) which he is the founding chairman of, and unnamed investors to fund studies and expose crony capitalism and government corruption, including the Clintons and their cash making schemes.
Through an unlikely alliance with mainstream media outlets which Breitbart detested, they’ve built up “rigorous, fact-based indictments against major politicians, then partners with mainstream media outlets conservatives typically despise to disseminate those findings to the broadest audience. This includes the bestselling investigative book, written by GAI’s president, Peter Schweizer, Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich.”
About his working with Breitbart Bannon says, “One of the things I admired about him was that the dirtiest word for him was ‘punditry’….Our vision—Andrew’s vision—was always to build a global, center-right, populist, anti-establishment news site.”
For months people have wondered how Breitbart’s site could become so pro Trump even to the point where it has become hostile to their own journalists. The final section in the Bloomberg article may give a clue. It seems that Bannon has not let go of the idea of bringing down the Clintons:
“It’s impossible to predict how Bannon’s plots and intrigues will ultimately affect the presidential race. It’s not even clear on whose behalf he’s acting—his own or someone else’s? Are Seinfeld royalties enough to take on Clinton and Bush? Or do others have a stake?
…Even without knowing the identity of his backers, Bannon’s designs are clear enough. While he’d blanch at the comparison, he’s pursuing something like the old Marxist dialectical concept of “heightening the contradictions,” only rather than foment revolution among the proletariat, he’s trying to disillusion Clinton’s and Bush’s natural base of support…
To succeed, Bannon will need to activate the anger and disgust with cronyism that’s as powerful among supporters of Sanders as it is among fans of Trump.”
While Bannon is using the mainstream media to feed it, the ramifications are potentially yuge, especially for the Breitbart site.
The number of Breitbart News employees who have resigned in recent days, mostly stemming from the controversy between Trump’s campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and Breitbart journalist Michelle Fields, is now six.
Fields and former spokesman Kurt Bardella announced their resignations after Breitbart took Trump’s side over Fields when she accused Lewandowski of grabbing her arm when she asked Trump a question after a press conference in Florida.
Fields told Buzzfeed, “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.”
Associate Editor Jarrett Stepman is one of the latest to resign, and former Editor Ben Shapiro published a scathing statement after he resigned, saying in part,
“Andrew’s life mission has been betrayed… 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.”
National Security correspondent Jordan Schachtel also handed his resignation on Monday, saying that “The company no longer resembles the ideals that inspired me to start writing for them three years ago.” Schachtel also blamed biased support of Donald Trump as one of the main reasons for resigning, explaining, “Breitbart News is no longer a journalistic enterprise, but instead, in my opinion, something resembling an unaffiliated media Super PAC for the Trump campaign. I signed my contract to work as a journalist, not as a member of the Donald J. Trump for President Media network...”
While most sites have their own personal choices for their favorite candidates, Breitbart’s management has gone above and beyond supporting their celebrity over their own journalists, former readers and even Andrew’s legacy. PolitiChicks Editor in Chief Ann-Marie Murrell, who was a friend of Andrew’s, gave a statement saying,
“Regarding what’s happening at Breitbart, they should have kept their political preferences separate from their website. I could have used my website, PolitiChicks, to promote my favorite political candidate but I purposely chose not to. I have too much respect for my PolitiChicks writers and our readers to do that. Unfortunately the powers that be at Breitbart seem to have chosen a different route and we’re seeing the backlash from that now.”
Andrew Breitbart was passionate about exposing corruption within the mainstream media and liberal politicians, relying on citizen journalism to uncover scandals, cover-ups, and bullies. He despised the idea of a celebrity candidate and he actively worked to promote true conservatism. By using a democratic media alliance and promoting a bully, Bannon and others have turned Andrew Breitbart’s site into everything he despised–and the result is that he has almost destroyed Breitbart’s legacy.