For a good chunk of my life, Breitbart News was the only place to get an alternative angle on many controversial topics, such as immigration, mass shootings, climate change, and the litany of Obama Administration scandals over the past seven years (e.g., Pigford, Fast and Furious, IRS).
Unfortunately, for months I have suspected that Breitbart’s editors have been supporting Donald Trump using their positions as media gatekeepers. In doing so they have become the very thing decried by the late Andrew Breitbart. Like the mainstream media does with leftist candidates, Breitbart News reports favorably on Trump not because they are corrupt, but simply because they like him. This is no less deplorable, though.
The resignations of Breitbart journalists Ben Shapiro and Michelle Fields are troubling to me because they seem to confirm my suspicion.
Fields filed a criminal complaint against Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, alleging he strong-armed her at a rally. Fields’ account of the incident is corroborated by an eyewitness, audio, and video from multiple angles (here and here–ironically, the video that “debunks” Fields story looks even more damning of Lewandowski). The fact that someone, most likely Lewandowski, committed a battery against Fields is all but obvious.
Despite the evidence, Breitbart News hesitated to defend their reporter. Although the site eventually posted an official position condemning the offense against Fields, the previous 10 days saw senior editors stifling internal discussion of the incident. John Pollak justified suppressing the story in order to deny Hillary Clinton any “straight up ‘War on Women’ material” that could supposedly hurt Trump.
In his interview with the Independent Journal, Ben Shapiro indicated that Breitbart News’ fawning over Trump was key in his resignation:
“Nothing could grieve me more than having to take this step. But I cannot stand with the company founded by my mentor, Andrew Breitbart, when it abandons a reported in order to protect a political candidate.”
What Shapiro should have said–and this is the real tragedy of the situation–is that Breitbart News has done more than simply throw Michelle Fields under the bus. She is only a symbol. Reason, evidence, and honest, good-faith reporting are the real casualties in Breitbart News’ zealous campaign to protect Trump.
Breitbart News is not the only outlet enamored with Trump. Many of other prominent conservative blogs and sites have that fever. If there were ever a selfish reason for me to hope that Trump fails to become president, it would be that his loss might allow a return of quality conservative journalism. But today I have little confidence in that happening.