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Politico editor defends puffing up Breitbart

At best, it seems like comically awful timing. At worst, it seems symptomatic of an accountability-free Beltway media culture that rewards buzz-creation above all else.

Either way, Politico has given a coveted slot on its just-released "50 Politicos to Watch" package to none other than ... Andrew Breitbart. Politico's write-up glowingly described Breitbart's wit and "edge," with no mention of his rather widely-discussed Shirley Sherrod caper, which by any measure should have dealt his credibility a severe blow.

But Politico editor John Harris defended the decision in an email to me. He said the piece had been assigned and completed long before the Sherrod flap, though he conceded the timing was unfortunate.

"The Breitbart piece for the 50 Politicos feature was assigned and reported weeks ago," Harris wrote. "It was for a special glossy magazine version of our print edition and had a long lead time so was not assigned, reported or written in the context of the Sherrod furor."

Harris allowed that the timing "will be confusing to some readers" because they'll see it online without appreciating "the long lead time for a glossy edition."

"I don't blame anyone for asking, `how the hell can they not even mention Sherrod,'" Harris conceded, adding that the item would soon be updated.

All this aside, as David Kurtz notes today, the Politico piece describes Breitbart as Arianna Huffington's "consevative counterpart." This is symptomatic of a larger media refusal to see the Breitbart tale for what it is: Proof that ideologically-driven new media, for want of a better term, is not all created equal.

By Greg Sargent  |  July 23, 2010; 12:04 PM ET
Categories:  Political media  
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Next: Do "both sides" really do what Breitbart does?

Comments

FAIL.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | July 23, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Ethan, don't be so wordy! :)

Posted by: Greg Sargent | July 23, 2010 12:17 PM | Report abuse

"He said the piece had been assigned and completed long before the Sherrod flap, "

And after knowing the ACORN tapes were doctored and his protege just got arrested in Landreu's office, etc etc.

Breitbart is a serial liar and deceiver.

Politico and Huffington Post are both covering for that piece of garbage.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | July 23, 2010 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Greg, them not you. :)

Other than that, there's not much more to say. It is indicative of the slow agonizing painful death of fact-based political journalism.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | July 23, 2010 12:20 PM | Report abuse

Where to begin?

"Politico's write-up glowingly described Breitbart's wit and "edge,"

wit and edge = promoting false right wing memes and lack of ethics, morals, or scruples.

Can't wait to see the update...

Posted by: srw3 | July 23, 2010 12:29 PM | Report abuse

I am not sure which video you are watching but the 43+ minute video I watched, the members of the NAACP were in fact laughing, agreeing with her and clapping at times.

To be fair, I pulled the one where she was introduced all the way to the end of her racist speech/rant–a whole whopping 43 minutes where the first 20 was nothing but bashing the white man for the crap that was committed 60 years ago or more. This video is straight from the NAACP and the NAACP members were clapping, cheering and/or agreeing.

When I say “crap that was committed 60+ years ago” I do not do so in light of what took place, rather with respect to Sherrod using the podium to increase race hatred instead of informing them of what the USDA was about, what it could do for them and how it could progress their community.
I truly believe that had a white government employee spoke this way in front of an all way group, you know exactly what would have hit the fan.
Sherrod’s mentality and behavior was racist, there is no other way to view this. Did she correct it, she says she has. Does she still view the world in black and white? She says she does not, but by this very speech and the one where she is calling those who oppose health care “racist” she is still very much lined with the prism of black and white only.

If a man murderes another man, but feels bad and says he is sorry is he still a murderer or do we dismisses it because he said he is sorry and will never do it again? The principle here, is the same.


But for good measure, I will even through in another video where she is OBVIOUSLY still a RACIST BIGOT!


Roll tape:

“I haven’t seen such mean spirited people as I have seen lately over this issue of health care. Some of the racist we thought was burried resurfaced. Now We endured 8 years of the Bush’s” and “we didn’t do the stuff these Republicans are doing because you have a black President”.

Right, poor Shirley she does not have a racist bone in her body!

.http://il.youtube.com/watch?v=dceuV-bXtBs

Posted by: kmday | July 23, 2010 12:32 PM | Report abuse

digby had a good take on vandehei's flip out on msnbc earlier this week:

'Capehart pointed out that the NAACPs statement was much more nuanced than that and actually was asking that the Tea Party disavow the "racist element" in the group not that the whole group was racist. VandeHei replied that they should have known that it was dangerous to even imply such a thing and they should have known it would cause a firestorm. He said, "it's a terrible issue to be talking about."

So the message is don't make trouble by pointing out the truth. The wingnuts will get upset and then all hell will break loose.'


http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2010/07/teachable-moment-vandehei-says-right.html

Posted by: blahgblogwordpresscom | July 23, 2010 12:32 PM | Report abuse

km,

you obviously weren't paying attention if you watched the tape. they did *not* applaud when she reported her initial reaction.

you seem ready to believe obvious untruths. do you also believe obama is not a citizen?

Posted by: blahgblogwordpresscom | July 23, 2010 12:37 PM | Report abuse

"Right, poor Shirley she does not have a racist bone in her body! "

no km, but it seems you might....

Posted by: SDJeff | July 23, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Once you understand that Politico is the TMZ of political journalism, everything becomes clear.

Posted by: pwkennedy | July 23, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

HaHaHa. Stangled by the whipsawing news cycle they helped to bring about. Gotta move faster, VandeHarris, you're already behind the curve.

Posted by: Mimikatz | July 23, 2010 12:54 PM | Report abuse

@KD: Some people never learn. that link is a 28 second clip out of what is clearly a much longer speech. Why not include the context? Might it ruin your storyline, EVEN IF IT IS A MORE ACCURATE DEPICTION OF WHAT SHE SAID?

I hear Breitard and Big Government is hiring videographers. You have shown you are perfect for the job.

Posted by: srw3 | July 23, 2010 12:57 PM | Report abuse

"All this aside, as David Kurtz notes today, the Politico piece describes Breitbart as Arianna Huffington's "consevative counterpart."

Matt Lauer did that this morning on Today with Katrina Vanden Heuvel: "well, this goes on on both sides."

In all seriousness, because I've been racking my brain - but is there really a left-wing counterpart to Breitbart? Someone who does this sort of "investigative" reporting? Has there been a case where someone on the left has destroyed a private citizen's career in such a blatantly dishonest way? Can anybody think of anything remotely similar?

Posted by: schrodingerscat | July 23, 2010 1:00 PM | Report abuse

"All this aside, as David Kurtz notes today, the Politico piece describes Breitbart as Arianna Huffington's "consevative counterpart."

Make that "Arianna is Politico's bed partner where Breitbart is concerned." Fixed.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | July 23, 2010 1:04 PM | Report abuse

@kd: But for good measure, I will even through in another video where she is OBVIOUSLY still a RACIST BIGOT!

Its obvious it was her prejudice and discriminatory behavior that led her to help the white couple save the their farm and why the couple came forward to denounce the descriptions of Sherrod as racist. That 80 year old white couple must be part of the vast left wing conspiracy to destroy America by starting a race war...It all makes sense now...(need I say, /snark)

You really do belong at big government. You have the same zest for finding the "truth".

Posted by: srw3 | July 23, 2010 1:08 PM | Report abuse

So Mr Sargent, are you telling us that there is a double standard here?

When you say:
===========
Proof that ideologically-driven new media, for want of a better term, is not all created equal.
====================

Are you ignoring the joun o list revelations? It seems to me that you are.

so what we have here is pretty straightforward. 400 angry leftist "journalists" on a list serve, VS Mr Breitbart.

it looks to me like Breittbart won this round.

Posted by: skipsailing28 | July 23, 2010 1:12 PM | Report abuse

It's almost like beating up the Obama Administration for the past three days played into his hands. Almost like it completely distracted everyone from the real problem actors in all of this.

Oh, well. Let's all just hope the next innocent person that Breitbart/Fox News goes after happens to have unimpeachable witnesses in 2 elderly white southern people willing to go on national TV and not only contradict the lie that Breitbart is telling, but also to hail them as heroes.

Posted by: theorajones1 | July 23, 2010 1:12 PM | Report abuse

"Matt Lauer did that this morning on Today with Katrina Vanden Heuvel: "well, this goes on on both sides." but is there really a left-wing counterpart to Breitbart? Someone who does this sort of "investigative" reporting?"

@schrodingerscat No. If there was, there would be a conservative version of Media Matters.

Posted by: AdamantiumBeta | July 23, 2010 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Schrodingers -- great catch on Lauer. I just went back and grabbed the transcript. Post coming in a minute.

Posted by: Greg Sargent | July 23, 2010 1:17 PM | Report abuse

skippy: why don't you go ask Tucker why he is keeping secret the fact that he employed a member of JList? Ask him why he's embarassed about that.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | July 23, 2010 1:17 PM | Report abuse

"All this aside, as David Kurtz notes today, the Politico piece describes Breitbart as Arianna Huffington's "consevative counterpart." This is symptomatic of a larger media refusal to see the Breitbart tale for what it is: Proof that ideologically-driven new media, for want of a better term, is not all created equal."

I'm not sure why you keep defending Huffington Post, Greg. That site is NOT a paragon of sound journalism. They're just as bad as Politico, or perhaps even worse since the site targets "the masses," and not mostly D.C. folks or people people obsessed with politics.

They've had their share of over-hyped stories based on more conjecture and opinion than sourcing; stories that aren't fully put into perspective; stories that are explicitly contradicted by facts. For example, they've run a few pieces intimating that the government is trying to "cover up" how much oil was leaking into the Gulf. But, in at least one of those articles, the author actually quoted government officials as saying that they were still conducting tests and would make the information available when they had it; yet, the author STILL suggested that there was some vast government conspiracy to keep "the people" in the dark. It was an egregious piece, but they displayed prominently, because it was getting them the "clicks." Sadly, that's just one example of many.

Huffington, and her site, may be the darling of many progressives, but she approaches "journalism" just like Politico, or even Drudge Report, and others of that ilk -- sensationalism and controversy (sometimes even manufacturing it themselves) are given precedent.

Posted by: associate20 | July 23, 2010 1:27 PM | Report abuse

If you read the New Yorker profile of Breitbart, after he spent 10 years with Drudge he saw what Arioanna Huffington had done with setting up HuffPost and he says to himself, "I can do that." Or words to that effect. That seems to be how he sees himself, however inaccurately, and maybe that's why the comparison is frequently made. or maybe the writers for Lauer et al. just read the New Yorker piece and took that. Although I have to say Breitbart didn't come off as a particualrly attrative person in that piece. But there are some people who like that sort of boorish behavior or at least seem to envy those who get away with it.

Posted by: Mimikatz | July 23, 2010 1:31 PM | Report abuse

If you're reading the Politico, it's no one's fault but your own.

Posted by: CalD | July 23, 2010 1:31 PM | Report abuse

"I hear Breitard and Big Government is hiring videographers. You have shown you are perfect for the job."

Requirements include but not limited to:

Photoshop

Splicing of images and film

Hatred of anyone not White

Disdain of Liberals

Other skills but not required:

Believe Obama was born in Kenya

Earth is 7000 years old

Palin is some sort of super-genius.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | July 23, 2010 1:34 PM | Report abuse

how to tell when a liberal has nothing: I get called skippy. I'm 59 sue, do you think you're the first witless one to call me that? Am I supposed to be cut to the quick? Or should I stand back and behold your rapier like wit?

I'll tell ya what I won't do: take you seriously sue.

It is no secret honey. In a vain attempt at deflecting anger away from themselves, this little irrelevancy was revealed yesterday.

In response I'll ask a question: so what?

Are you saying that Spencer Ackerman's explicit threat to me was OK because someone who now works at the Daily Caller USED to belong to journ o list?

If that's the best you've got I'll gladly stand by my earlier assessment: this round to breitbart.

But do keep talking honey. Why not let mr Breitbart deliver the TKO next week?

Posted by: skipsailing28 | July 23, 2010 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Journalism is doomed as a calling if responsible journalists can't see that conservatives and liberals use different means when it comes to their journalism as well as embrace different ends.

Posted by: TedFrier | July 23, 2010 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Gosh, skippy, I seem to have touched a nerve. So sorry for your pain.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | July 23, 2010 1:43 PM | Report abuse

"At worst, it seems symptomatic of an accountability-free Beltway media culture that rewards buzz-creation above all else."

Oh, it's definately this one. And not for the reason of timing. Harris' ridiculous excuse of the peice being already finished only exposes yet another way in which hack job political outfits like Politico aren't real journalism.

If they were real news, they would have held the story and updated it.

And if you think they are upset about the timing, you're kidding yourself. They are THRILLED with this timing, since it will likely mean more clicks. I wouldn't be suprised if they actually pushed this story out early to try and create some "buzz" of their own.

Posted by: TheBBQChickenMadness | July 23, 2010 1:45 PM | Report abuse

PS: Greg, you've been great on this story.

Posted by: TheBBQChickenMadness | July 23, 2010 1:48 PM | Report abuse

OK, so riddle me this...1) WHAT MAKES Politico different from Fox?? Humm...waiting....waiting...waiting... didn't think so - they are the same!!!

And Kurtz?? He represent a whole new level of racism/fear/hatred/gullibility that now manifests it's way into our dialogue.. He made his own bed with the hate he professes - now all we need to do is completely ignore his diatribe and the ugly world he exists in and move along...

Posted by: rbaldwin2 | July 23, 2010 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Is this more of that "introspective soul searching" we were hoping to see in the press?

Posted by: dkp01 | July 23, 2010 1:58 PM | Report abuse

If this degenerates into "both sides do it" it's the White House's fault for not hitting back the way they should have, by pointing out that for anyone to accept anything put forward by Breitbart or Fox News at face value is a mistake. I've got a piece up over at my place about how this so easily could be turned into a WIN rather than an embarrassment by the White House. Why oh why can no one on the side of the angels learn how this game is played?

Anyway, if you want to see my bit, it's at http://3weirdsisters.wordpress.com.

Posted by: JennOfArk | July 23, 2010 2:03 PM | Report abuse

All, my final macro take on Shirley Sherrod, including that ridiculous Matt Lauer thing:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/2010/07/do_both_sides_really_do_what_b.html

Posted by: Greg Sargent | July 23, 2010 2:04 PM | Report abuse

I'd be more concerned about this if Politico actually had a reputation worth defending.

Posted by: tpsteele | July 23, 2010 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Breitbart's involvement with the ACORN smear should have already destroyed his credibility. Who cares? Credibility counts for nothing in today's media culture.

All the people who were wrong about Iraq are either still in government or regular columnists and frequent guests on TV shows. Those who were right are still outliers. They are only heard from on a few Internet sites.

It is far less important to be right than to be accepted by the establishment.

Posted by: HeathcliffMaw | July 23, 2010 2:52 PM | Report abuse

kmday, Ms. Sherrod said “I haven’t seen such mean spirited people as I have seen lately over this issue of health care. Some of the racism we thought was buried resurfaced...”

So, are you saying that blacks did not have to endure racism in the south throughout the first part of last century?

I grew up mostly in the south and I can tell you, racism did exist. And it is coming out again, especially with those angry wackos that go to Tea Party rallies (whether part of the groups or not). Just look at some of the signs. One guy even tried to call Obama the N word on a sign, but he couldn't spell it -- he used -gar instead of -ger at the end. Then one of the other TP'ers covered the sign with some innocuous wording. Another sign showed Obama as an African witch doctor with a bone in his nose. Are you telling me that's not racism?

Just because someone recognizes racism and calls it out for what it is, as Shirley did briefly in that speech, does not mean that that someone is herself a racist. If you call someone heartless and shallow, should I then assume that you are heartless and shallow?

My God, how did you learn such a weird way of thinking?

Posted by: MadamDeb | July 23, 2010 5:23 PM | Report abuse

So re-writes are never done at the last minute? This is insane. What'S also insane is the commentary from some of the people HERE. I don't recall black people enslaving white people. I was almost certain that white men are the ones who have an edge when it comes to the power construct. Are you now trying to re-write history? Since when have the words of any black woman posed a threat to the white male power elite? Please. The Ku Klux Klan KILLED this woman's father! The fact that she can hold it together psychologically and emotionally at all is amazing. HAVE ANY OF THE WHITE PEOPLE HERE EVER HAD TO LIVE WITH THAT TYPE OF FEAR GROWIING UP? You are damn right the black people were clapping and agreeing. They know the PAIN AND FEAR. You all are so fortunate that black people are compassionate and human enough to ONLY do that, considering the history of this country. Or is your inherent fear along with Breitbart's what's being exhibited here? You oppress people and benefit from the history of slavery and oppression and then live in contant fear of retaliation. So much so that a few cheers and agreement from an audience, who more than likely in this society, has been subjected to all forms of discrimination, oppression, terrorism, police brutality and racism all of their lives, sends you into a panic? Well you know what? BE AFRAID! IT'S ABOUT TIME YOU STARTED TASTING A DROP OF YOUR OWN MEDICINE! Maybe then all of you will begin to think twice before you attempt to engage in that type of behavior again.

Posted by: ree7 | July 23, 2010 10:07 PM | Report abuse

What? And they can't amend their online edition with an update (or even a replacement) because...?

"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds."

Posted by: jvill | July 24, 2010 3:54 AM | Report abuse

One thing to note about Politico's piece was that Breitbart is that he was in the "scene-makers" section- rather than in the more substantive sections. The fact that Politico thinks he's fun to have a drink with doesn't mean they are de facto endorsing his non-existent ethics.

Posted by: Owen_Truesdell | July 26, 2010 1:26 PM | Report abuse

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