Breitbart News Network

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Breitbart News Network
BB-logo-highres.jpg
The logo of Breitbart
Web address www.breitbart.com
Commercial? Yes
Type of site
Politics, conservative news and opinion
Registration Optional, but is required to comment
Available in English
Created by Andrew Breitbart
Editor Alexander Marlow[1]
Launched 2007; 9 years ago (2007) as Breitbart.tv
Alexa rank
Increase 928 (Global Dec 2015)[2]
219 (US Dec 2015)[2]
Current status Online

Breitbart News Network (known simply as Breitbart News, Breitbart or Breitbart.com) is a conservative[3] news and opinion website founded in 2007 by Andrew Breitbart (1969–2012). It identifies itself as on the political right.[3][4][5]

In August 2010, Breitbart told the Associated Press that he was "committed to the destruction of the old media guard." As part of that commitment, he founded Breitbart.com, a website designed to become "the Huffington Post of the right."[3] Breitbart has exclusively re-posted 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, bringing the formerly distinct "Big" websites under one umbrella website at Breitbart.org.[3][6]

The news network includes sections called Big Government, Big Journalism, Big Hollywood, National Security, Breitbart Tech, Breitbart Sports, and Breitbart TV. In February 2014, the executive chairman of Breitbart News, Stephen Bannon, announced the addition of approximately 12 staff members and the opening of Texas and London-based operations. The new offices were the beginning of an expansion plan that included the addition of a new regional site roughly every 90 days, with new locations to include Florida, California, Cairo, Egypt and Jerusalem.[7]

History[edit]

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. In 2007, Breitbart launched a video blog, Breitbart.tv.[8][9] Before his death, Andrew Breitbart had begun a redesign of the Breitbart website. The redesign was launched shortly after his death in March 2012. According to a 2014 Pew Research Center study, 3% of respondents get their news from Breitbart in a typical week, and 79% of its audience report having political values that are right-of-center.[10]

Breitbart is a for-profit entity. According to Politico, investors include computer scientist and hedge fund CEO Robert Mercer.[11] Breitbart editors have said Breitbart is a “private company and we don’t comment on who our investors or backers are.”[12]

Big Hollywood[edit]

In 2008 Breitbart launched the website "Big Hollywood," a group blog contributed to by some individuals working within Hollywood. The site was an outgrowth of Breitbart's "Big Hollywood" column in The Washington Times, which included issues faced by conservatives working in Hollywood.[13] 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 President Barack Obama's domestic policy.[14]

Big Government[edit]

Breitbart launched BigGovernment.com on September 10, 2009, with a $25,000 loan from his father.[15][16] He hired Mike Flynn, a former government affairs specialist at the Reason Foundation, as Editor-in-Chief of Big Government.[17] The site premiered with hidden camera video footage taken by Hannah Giles and James O'Keefe at Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) offices in various cities, attracting nationwide attention resulting in the ACORN 2009 undercover videos controversy.

Big Journalism[edit]

In January 2010, Breitbart launched Big Journalism. Upon the launch of 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."[15] Big Journalism was edited by Michael A. Walsh, a former journalism professor and Time magazine music critic.[15]

National Security[edit]

BigPeace.com, which later became the National Security component of Breitbart.com, debuted on July 4, 2010. National Security covers foreign policy, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, terrorism, Islamic extremism, espionage, border security, and energy issues.[18]

Breitbart London[edit]

Breitbart's London edition was launched in February 2014. It was headed at the time by executive editor James Delingpole, described as a "high traffic hire" by The Spectator's Steerpike column,[19] and managing editor Raheem Kassam.[20] Kassam later went on to take over as Editor. Other staff include Nick Hallett, Sarkis Zeronian, Oliver Lane, Donna Rachel Edmunds and Liam Deacon. 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.[21] Regular contributors include Nigel Farage and Gerald Warner. Previous and occasional columnists have included Mary Ellen Synon,[22] Jonathan Foreman[23] and Katie Hopkins.[24]

Breitbart Tech[edit]

On October 27, 2015, the website launched Breitbart Tech, a technology journalism subsection of the site that focuses on tech, gaming, esports, and internet culture.[25][26] The vertical is edited by Milo Yiannopoulos,[27]

Breitbart Jerusalem[edit]

On November 17, 2015, the website launched Breitbart Jerusalem. The vertical covers events in Israel and the wider Middle East. It is edited by Israel-based American reporter Aaron Klein.[28]

Reception and influence[edit]

Andrew Breitbart has been lauded for his role in the "evolution of pioneering websites" including The Huffington Post and The Drudge Report, and 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 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.[29][30]

Andrew Breitbart has been recognized for adopting an inclusive stance with regard to LGBT participation in the conservative movement. He has also been credited with helping to derail Barack Obama citizenship conspiracy theories.[29]

ACORN undercover videos[edit]

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 fleeing an abusive pimp and seeking tax and legal advice while James O'Keefe, another contributor, posed as her boyfriend. 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."[31]

Andrew Breitbart paid Giles and O'Keefe $32,000 and $65,000, respectively, to film, edit and blog about the videos.[32][33] Giles paid $100,000 and O'Keefe paid $50,000[33] to settle a lawsuit brought by former ACORN employee Juan Carlos Vera regarding the videos.[34][35]

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",[31][36][37] and contributed to the group's demise.[38][39] 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.[40]

Shirley Sherrod[edit]

In July 2010, Breitbart released a video titled "Proof NAACP Awards Racism" which featured USDA official Shirley Sherrod speaking at a NAACP fundraising dinner in March 2010. In the video released by Breitbart, Sherrod admits to a racial reluctance to help a white farmer obtain government aid. As a result of the video, the NAACP condemned Sherrod's remarks, and U.S. government officials called on Sherrod to resign, which she did.

The NAACP later posted the longer 43-minute video of the speech.[41][42] 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,[41] and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack apologized and offered Sherrod a new government position.[43] Breitbart 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.[44] In 2011, Sherrod sued Andrew Breitbart and his business partner Larry O'Connor for defamation.[45] In July 2015, it was reported that Sherrod and Andrew Breitbart's estate had reached a tentative settlement.[46]

Anthony Weiner[edit]

On May 28, 2011, Breitbart's BigJournalism website reported on a sexually explicit photo linked on New York Representative Anthony Weiner's Twitter feed.[47] 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.[48] Weiner subsequently resigned from his congressional seat on June 21, 2011.

"Friends of Hamas" story[edit]

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."[49] Breitbart.com said that the story was based on exclusive information from U.S. Senate sources. The story was later repeated by RedState,[50] National Review,[51] Washington Times,[52] PJ Media.[53]

An investigation by Slate reporter David Weigel failed to confirm the existence of the purported group.[54] On February 19, New York Daily News reporter Dan Friedman said that the story had originated from a sarcastic comment he had made to a congressional staffer. "Friends of Hamas" was one of several groups which Friedman 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 had done was considered to be anti-Israel. Friedman followed with an email to the congressional 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'."[55][56]

Breitbart.com maintained that the report was accurate, posting articles defending the website and criticizing Weigel and Friedman.[57][58] Writers for The Washington Post,[59] New York Magazine[60] and The Daily Beast[4] criticized Breitbart.com for the Friends of Hamas story.

Nancy Pelosi/Miley Cyrus ad campaign[edit]

In April 2014, Breitbart.com created an advertising 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 disrespectful to women. In response, House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy requested that his column be removed from the site.[61][62][63][64][65][66]

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.[67] 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, and Tracy Morgan referring to Palin as "good masturbation material," among others.[67]

Misidentification of Loretta Lynch[edit]

On November 8, 2014, Breitbart.com posted an article by Warner Todd Huston, which 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 Talking Points Memo and Media Matters for America, Breitbart noted that the two Lynches were different people by correcting and appending the original article.[68] This generated criticism from Andrew Rosenthal, The New York Times editorial page editor, who wrote: "The appended correction didn’t really do justice to the scope of the misidentification."[69] The American Journalism Review noted "that Breitbart had let the mistaken fact stand in the headline and the article itself," and had published a second story containing the incorrect information on November 9. By November 10, the initial story had been deleted from Breitbart.com.[68][70]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.[71]

References[edit]

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  4. ^ a b Freedlander, David (February 20, 2013), Chuck Hagel, Friend of Hamas? How the Right-Wing Press Got It Way Wrong, The Daily Beast 
  5. ^ Green, Joshua (October 8, 2015), This Man Is the Most Dangerous Political Operative in America. Steve Bannon runs the new vast right-wing conspiracy—and he wants to take down both Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush., Bloomberg Businessweek, retrieved October 26, 2015 
  6. ^ Boyle, Matthew (March 5, 2012). "Breitbart legacy lives on in relaunched websites, final column". The Daily Caller. Retrieved 8 October 2015. ...newly redesigned website that includes all of his 'Big' sites under a single umbrella. 
  7. ^ Kaufman, Leslie (February 16, 2014). "Breitbart News Network Plans Global Expansion". Media. New York Times. Retrieved January 10, 2015. 
  8. ^ Owen, Rob. The next wave: Ex-WTAE anchor Scott Baker changes channel to run Web news site, Post-Gazette
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  10. ^ Where News Audiences Fit on the Political Spectrum: Consumers of Breitbart, Pew Research Center, October 21, 2014, retrieved October 26, 2015, Just 3% of respondents get news from Breitbart in a typical week, and its audience is decidedly conservative: 79% have political values that are right-of-center ...." (31% are "mostly conservative" and 48% are "consistently conservative") 
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  22. ^ M. E. Synon. "Cameron Breaks Pledge, Will Provide Albanians an Open Door to Britain". Breitbart.com. Retrieved 28 July 2015. 
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External links[edit]