The logo of Breitbart.
Type of site
|Politics, conservative news and opinion|
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|Created by||Andrew Breitbart|
|1,639 (Global December 2014[update])|
Breitbart News Network (known simply as Breitbart or Breitbart.com) is a conservative news and opinion website founded in 2007 by Andrew Breitbart. In August 2010, Breitbart told the Associated Press (AP), "I'm committed to the destruction of the old media guard". As part of that commitment he founded the site, Breitbart.com, "a website dedicated to breaking news, commentary and analysis." Breitbart has been involved in breaking the Anthony Weiner sexting scandal, the resignation of Shirley Sherrod and the ACORN 2009 undercover videos controversy. Following Breitbart's death in 2012, the site was redesigned.
The news network includes the activist conservative websites Big Government, Big Hollywood and Big Journalism. In February 2014, the executive chairman of Breitbart News, Stephen K. Bannon, announced the addition of approximately 12 more staff members with the opening of their Texas and London based operations. Bannon said "the offices were the beginning of an expansion that would add a new regional site roughly every 90 days." Other expansion sites include Florida and California in the US, Cairo, Egypt and Jerusalem.
Andrew Breitbart launched breitbart.tv as a news website in 2007. The website featured wire stories from the Associated Press, Reuters, Agence France-Presse, Fox News, PR Newswire, and U.S. Newswire, as well as direct links to a number of major international newspapers. The website's initial growth was largely fueled by links from the Drudge Report. Its Blog & "Network" links tended to run to the right within the U.S. political spectrum (e.g., National Review and Townhall.com). The site also had a search engine powered by Lingospot and a finance channel powered by FinancialContent. In 2007, Breitbart launched a video blog, Breitbart.tv.
In 2008 Breitbart launched the website "Big Hollywood," a "group blog" driven by some who work within Los Angeles. The site was an outgrowth of Breitbart's Washington Times "Big Hollywood" column, which included issues conservatives faced working in Hollywood. In 2009, the site used audio from a secretly recorded conference call to accuse the National Endowment of the Arts of encouraging artists to create work in support of Barack Obama's domestic policy agenda.
Breitbart launched BigGovernment.com on September 10, 2009. He hired Mike Flynn, a former government affairs specialist at Reason Foundation, as Editor-in-Chief of Big Government. The site premiered with hidden camera video footage taken by Hannah Giles and James O'Keefe at Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now offices in various cities, attracting nationwide attention resulting in the ACORN 2009 undercover videos controversy.
In January 2010, Breitbart launched Big Journalism. He told Mediaite: "Our goal at Big Journalism is to hold the mainstream media's feet to the fire. There are a lot of stories that they simply don't cover, either because it doesn't fit their world view, or because they're literally innocent of any knowledge that the story even exists, or because they are a dying organization, short-staffed, and thus can't cover stuff like they did before." Big Journalism was edited by Michael A. Walsh, a former journalism professor and Time magazine music critic. The site has a fictional contributor named "Retracto, the Correction Alpaca" who posts items requesting corrections from the traditional media.
BigPeace.com debuted July 4, 2010. The site covers topics such as international issues and foreign policy, the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, terrorism, Islamic extremism, espionage, border security, and energy issues.
Before his death, Andrew Breitbart had begun a redesign of the website. The redesign was launched shortly after his death in March 2012.
Breitbart Sports launched on January 1, 2013.
Breitbart's London edition was launched on 16 February 2014 headed by executive editor James Delingpole, described as a "high traffic hire" by The Spectator's Steerpike column, and managing editor Raheem Kassam. Other staff include André Walker, as political correspondent, with reporters Nick Hallett and Alex Wickham. Breitbart London announced that it would have a staff of 10 along with hundreds of contributors covering Israel and the Middle East from the London office. Contributors include Milo Yiannopoulos, Mary Ellen Synon, Jonathan Foreman and Katie Hopkins.
Reception and influence
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Andrew Breitbart has been lauded for his role in the "evolution of pioneering websites" including Huffington Post and The Drudge Report, and then more recently his "Big" sites. Journalists such as Nick Gillespie and Conor Friedersdorf have credited Breitbart with bringing new voices to debates about politics and culture. Breitbart told Reason magazine in 2004 that after feeling ignored by existing outlets, "We decided to go out and create our media." Described as "a series of do-it-yourself demonstration projects" and "conversation pits", the Breitbart.com websites have been both criticized and praised for their role in various political issues.
Andrew Breitbart has been recognized for adopting an inclusive stance with regard to LGBT participation in the conservative movement. He is also credited with helping to derail birther conspiracy theorists.
ACORN undercover videos
Breitbart.com played a central role in the 2009 ACORN video controversy, which resulted in the reorganization of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN)), as well as its loss of private and government funding. Breitbart contributor Hannah Giles posed as a prostitute seeking tax and legal advice while James O'Keefe, another contributor, posed as her pimp. They clandestinely videotaped meetings with ACORN staff who "gave advice on house-buying and how to account on tax forms for the woman's income." Subsequent criminal investigations by the Brooklyn District Attorney's office and the California Attorney General found the videos were heavily edited in an attempt to make ACORN's responses "appear more sinister", and contributed to the group's demise. Clark Hoyt, the The New York Times public editor, wrote, "The videos were heavily edited. The sequence of some conversations was changed. Some workers seemed concerned for Giles, one advising her to get legal help. In two cities, Acorn workers called the police. But the most damning words match the transcripts and the audio, and do not seem out of context", but notes a former Massachusetts Attorney General hired to investigate the matter found no pattern of illegal conduct by the ACORN employees and said the news media should have been far more skeptical, demanding the raw video from which the edited versions were produced.
In July 2010 Breitbart was accused of smearing USDA official Shirley Sherrod with a viral video titled "Proof NAACP Awards Racism". The video showed Sherrod speaking at a NAACP fundraising dinner in March 2010 admitting to a racial reluctance to help a white farmer get government aid. The NAACP later posted the longer 43-minute video of the speech. In it, Sherrod said her reluctance to help a white man was wrong, and she had ended up assisting him. The NAACP then reversed their rebuke of Sherrod, and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack apologized and offered Sherrod a new government position. Breibart said that the point of the piece was not to target Sherrod, but said the NAACP audience's reception of some parts of the speech demonstrated the same racism the NAACP's President had accused the Tea Party movement of harboring. In 2011, Sherrod sued Breitbart for defamation.
On May 28, 2011, Breitbart's BigJournalism website reported on a sexually explicit photo linked on New York Representative Anthony Weiner's Twitter feed. Weiner initially denied that he had sent a 21-year-old female college student the link to the photograph, but after questions developed, he admitted to inappropriate online relationships. On June 6, 2011, Breitbart reported other photos Weiner had sent, including one that was sexually explicit. On June 8, 2011, the sexually graphic photo was leaked after Breitbart participated in a radio interview with hosts Opie and Anthony. Breitbart stated that the photo was published without his permission. Weiner subsequently resigned from his congressional seat on June 21, 2011.
"Friends of Hamas" story
On February 7, 2013, Ben Shapiro published an article on Breitbart.com reporting allegations that former Senator and nominee for United States Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel (R-Nebraska) may have been paid to speak at an event sponsored by a group called "Friends of Hamas". Breitbart.com said that the story was based on "exclusive" information by "Senate sources". The story was later repeated by other conservative opinion websites such as RedState, National Review, Washington Times, PJ Media and commented on by US Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky.
An investigation by Slate reporter David Weigel failed to confirm the existence of the purported group. On February 19, New York Daily News reporter Dan Friedman said that the story had originated from a sarcastic comment he made to a Congressional staffer, "Friends of Hamas" was one of several groups which he considered to be so over-the-top as to be implausible and obviously fictitious. He said he made the sarcastic comment in an effort to find out what Hagel did that was purported as anti-Israel: "Hagel was in hot water for alleged hostility to Israel. So, I asked my source, had Hagel given a speech to, say, the 'Junior League of Hezbollah, in France'? And: What about 'Friends of Hamas'?". Friedman followed with an email to the staffer asking if Hagel had received a $25,000 fee from Friends of Hamas for his speaking engagement. No reply to the email was received, and the next day, Breitbart ran a story with the headline "SECRET HAGEL DONOR?: WHITE HOUSE SPOX DUCKS QUESTION ON ‘FRIENDS OF HAMAS’".
Breitbart.com insisted that the report was accurate, and posted articles defending the website. One such article attacked New York Daily News reporter Dan Friedman, referring to him in a headline as 'hack' and falsely-cited "Senate sources" as the source for the February 7 article. Other media including Washington Post, New York Magazine and The Daily Beast strongly criticized Breitbart.com for its inaccuracy and low journalistic standards.
Reporting satire from The Daily Currant as news
In March 2013, Breitbart.com reporter Larry O'Connor mistakingly posted that Nobel laureate economist Paul Krugman had declared personal bankruptcy. O'Connor based his information on a post that appeared on Boston.com as posted by its content providing partner, "Prudent Investor", who obtained the satirical content from The Daily Currant. In response to his mistake, O'Conner tweeted that he “trusted Boston.com as the source for that Krugman piece, but they were duped by Daily Currant, therefore, so was I!” Breitbart.com's reporting was criticized by Krugman himself and numerous news outlets from The Atlantic to Politico. Breitbart removed the story a short time later.
Nancy Pelosi / Miley Cyrus ad campaign
In April 2014, Breitbart.com created an ad campaign to launch Breitbart California which included posters bearing an image of House minority leader Nancy Pelosi's head superimposed onto singer Miley Cyrus's body who was seen twerking on California governor Jerry Brown, spoofing the 2013 VMAs. DNC Chairwoman and Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz denounced the images as "disgusting" and "foul, offensive and disrespectful to all women." In response, House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy requested that his column be removed from the site.
Breitbart explained the inspiration for the ad campaign: a 2013 Saturday Night Live skit in which Cyrus appeared as a highly sexualized version of Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann alongside a feminine, homosexual version of Republican Congressman and Speaker of the House John Boehner. Breitbart criticized female Democrats, Wasserman Schultz and Pelosi in particular, for failing to come to the defense of conservative women like Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin for offensive comments from liberals. They mentioned specifically Bill Maher's referring to Palin as a "cunt", Kathy Griffin's joking that Senator John McCain picked Sarah Palin as his running mate in exchange for sexual favors, Tracy Morgan's referring to Palin as "good masturbation material", among others.
Misidentification of Loretta Lynch
On November 8, 2014, Breitbart.com posted an article headlined "Obama's attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch represented Clintons during Whitewater." The article, by Warner Todd Huston, erroneously reported that Loretta Lynch, President Barack Obama's nominee for attorney general, had been part of Bill Clinton's defense team during the Whitewater scandal. In fact, the two Lynches are different people. After this mistake was pointed out by several news outlets, Breitbart did note that the two Lynches were different people, but "buried its correction at the end of the article without bothering to fix the mistake in the story itself." This generated further criticism; The New York Times editorial page editor Andrew Rosenthal noted, "The appended correction didn’t really do justice to the scope of the misidentification." Other media watchdogs noted "that Breitbart had let the mistaken fact stand in the headline and the article itself", and even published a second story containing the incorrect information on November 9. By November 10, the initial story had been deleted from Breitbart.com. PolitiFact rated the claim "Pants on Fire" and noted that the false claim had "already spread to other conspiracy, opinion and conservative news websites," as an example of how fast false information can spread on the Internet.
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