Breitbart News Network (known commonly as Breitbart News, Breitbart or Breitbart.com) is a politically conservative American news, opinion and propaganda website founded in 2007 by conservative commentator and entrepreneur Andrew Breitbart (1969–2012). It additionally has a daily radio programme on the Sirius XM Patriot channel called Breitbart News Daily.
Breitbart is headquartered in Los Angeles, California, with bureaus in Texas, London, and Jerusalem. Stephen Bannon serves as the publication's executive chairman, with Alexander Marlow serving as the editor-in-chief.
Breitbart is aligned with the alt-right, and Bannon declared the site "the platform for the alt-right" in 2016. The New York Times describes Breitbart News as a "curiosity of the fringe right wing", with "ideologically driven journalists", that's a source of controversy "over material that has been called misogynist, xenophobic and racist", and is now a "potent voice" for Donald Trump's presidential campaign.
Notable events in Breitbart's history have included the ACORN 2009 undercover videos controversy, the firing of Shirley Sherrod, the Anthony Weiner sexting scandals, the "Friends of Hamas" story, the Nancy Pelosi/Miley Cyrus ad campaign, the misidentification of Loretta Lynch, and Michelle Fields' allegations against Corey Lewandowski.
Andrew Breitbart launched breitbart.com as a news aggregator in 2005. The website featured direct links to wire storeys at the Associated Press, Reuters, Fox News, the New York Post, TMZ as well as a number of additional outlets. The website's initial growth was largely fueled by links from the Drudge Report. In 2007, Breitbart launched a video blog, Breitbart.tv.
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." 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.
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.
There is additionally Breitbart News Daily, a programme that's broadcast on Sirius XM radio.
After Andrew Breitbart's death
Breitbart, the website's founder, died in March 2012. The website hosted a number of memorials for Breitbart. Editors at the website said they intended to carry out Breitbart's legacy at the website.
Before his death, Andrew Breitbart had begun a redesign of the Breitbart website to transform from a links-aggregator into a more tabloid style website. The redesign was launched shortly after his death in March 2012.
An October 2012 article in BuzzFeed suggested there were internal tensions inside the website in the year after Breitbart's death as staffers battled for ownership of his legacy.
According to a 2014 Pew Research Center study, three percent of respondents get their news from Breitbart in a typical week, and 79 percent of its audience report having political values that are right-of-center.
Breitbart is a for-profit organization. According to Politico, investors include computer scientist and hedge fund CEO Robert Mercer. Breitbart editors said in 2015 that Breitbart is a “private company and we don’t comment on who our investors or backers are.”
2016 United States presidential race
In July 2015, Politico reported that Ted Cruz "likely has the Republican presidential field's deepest relationship with the Breitbart machine." In August 2015, an article in BuzzFeed reported that several anonymous Breitbart staffers claimed that Donald Trump had paid for favourable coverage on the site. The site's management strongly denied the charge. In March 2016, Lloyd Grove of The Daily Beast characterised the website as "Trump-friendly", writing that Breitbart "regularly savages the GOP establishment, the media elite, the Washington consultant class, and the Fox News Channel." Up to June 2016, Breitbart was the most cited news source on Trump’s presidential campaign website, DonaldJTrump.com.
On March 11, 2016, Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields filed a battery complaint against Donald Trump's campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, alleging that Lewandowski had grabbed her and bruised her while she was attempting to ask a question at an event. After claiming that Breitbart's management wasn't sufficiently supportive of Fields, Breitbart's editor-at-large Ben Shapiro and Fields resigned from Breitbart. A Breitbart article published on March 14 accused Shapiro of betraying Breitbart's readers; the article was subsequently removed from the Breitbart website. Breitbart editor-at-large Joel Pollak apologised for writing the article, saying he'd done so in an attempt "to make light of a significant company event." The website's spokesperson Kurt Bardella additionally resigned following the incident, objecting to the company's handling of the incident and its favourable coverage of Trump. By March 14 several top executives and journalists at Breitbart had resigned complaining that "...Breitbart's unabashed embrace of Mr. Trump, particularly at the seeming expense of its own reporter, struck them as a betrayal of its mission." Former employers accused Breitbart executive chairman Stephen Bannon of having "turned a website founded on anti-authoritarian grounds into a de facto propaganda outlet for Mr. Trump."
On August 17, Stephen Bannon stepped down from his role as executive chairman at Breitbart to join the Trump campaign as its new CEO. On August 25, Trump's opponent Hillary Clinton criticised him for hiring Bannon as his CEO in her rally in Reno, Nevada. She stated that the site "embraces ideas on the extremist fringe of the conservative right" by reading out the site's headlines and that Trump's decision to hire Bannon "represents a landmark achievement for the alt-right".
In 2008 Breitbart launched the website "Big Hollywood," a group blog by individuals working in 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. 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.
Breitbart launched BigGovernment.com on September 10, 2009, with a $25,000 loan from his father. He hired Mike Flynn, a former government affairs specialist at the 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 (ACORN) offices in various cities, attracting nationwide attention resulting in the ACORN 2009 undercover videos controversy. According to law enforcement and media analysts, the videos were heavily edited to create a negative impression of ACORN.
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 storeys 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 storey even exists, or because they're 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.
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.
On October 27, 2015, the website launched Breitbart Tech, a technology journalism subsection of the site that focuses on technology, gaming, esports, and internet culture. It is edited by Milo Yiannopoulos. In July 2016 Yiannopoulos was banned from Twitter after racist abuse was directed towards Ghostbusters actress Leslie Jones following Yiannopoulos's insulting tweets about her. Twitter blocked Yiannopoulos for inciting or participating in targeted abuse. Although Yiannopoulos's Twitter account has been deleted, Breitbart News has after republished the full tweet exchange, and has published articles criticising Twitter.
On January 1, 2013, the website launched Breitbart Sports, a sports journalism subsection edited by John Pudner. In launching the section, the website cited the, "central nature of sports in and to American culture."
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, and managing editor Raheem Kassam. Kassam later went on to take over as Editor. 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. Regular contributors include Nigel Farage and Gerald Warner. Previous and occasional columnists have included Mary Ellen Synon, Jonathan Foreman and Katie Hopkins.
On November 17, 2015, the website launched Breitbart Jerusalem, which covers events in Israel and the wider Middle East. It is edited by Israel-based American reporter Aaron Klein.
Breitbart's Texas edition was launched in February 2014, the same time as its London edition. The edition's editor and managing director is Brandon Darby.
On April 6, 2014, Breitbart launched its California edition. It was edited by Joel B. Pollak. The section included contributors such as then House Republican WHIP Kevin McCarthy, comedian Greg Gutfeld, and actor Orson Bean.
ACORN undercover videos
Breitbart.com played a central role in the 2009 ACORN video controversy, which resulted in the reorganisation 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."
Andrew Breitbart paid Giles and O'Keefe $32,000 and $65,000, respectively, to film, edit and blog about the videos. Giles paid $100,000 and O'Keefe paid $50,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by former ACORN employee Juan Carlos Vera regarding the videos.
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 New York Times public editor, wrote, "The videos were heavily edited. The sequence of a few 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 don't seem out of context." Notwithstanding 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 released an edited 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. In it, Sherrod said her reluctance to help a white man was wrong, and she'd ended up assisting him. The NAACP then reversed their rebuke of Sherrod, and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack apologised and offered Sherrod a new government position. Breitbart said that the point of the piece wasn't to target Sherrod, but said the NAACP audience's reception of a few parts of the speech demonstrated the same racism the NAACP's President had accused the Tea Party movement of harboring. In 2011, Sherrod sued Andrew Breitbart and his business partner Larry O'Connor for defamation. In July 2015, it was reported that Sherrod and Andrew Breitbart's estate had reached a tentative settlement.
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'd sent a 21-year-old female college student the link to the photograph, but later admitted to inappropriate online relationships. On June 6, Breitbart reported additional photos Weiner had sent, including one that was sexually explicit. Two days later, 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.
"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) might have been paid to speak at an event sponsored by a group called "Friends of Hamas." Breitbart.com said that the storey was based on exclusive information from U.S. Senate sources. The storey was later repeated by RedState, National Review, Washington Times, and PJ Media.
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 storey had originated from a sarcastic comment he'd 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 storey with the headline "Secret Hagel Donor?: White House Spox Ducks Question on 'Friends of Hamas'."
Breitbart.com maintained that the report was accurate, posting articles defending the website and criticising Weigel and Friedman. Writers for The Washington Post, New York Magazine and The Daily Beast criticised Breitbart.com for the "Friends of Hamas" story.
Nancy Pelosi/Miley Cyrus ad campaign
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.
According to Breitbart, the inspiration for the ad campaign was 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.
Misidentification of Loretta Lynch
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 defence team throughout the Whitewater scandal. In fact, the Whitewater solicitor was a different Loretta Lynch. 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. Andrew Rosenthal of The New York Times editorial page editor criticised this, writing: "The appended correction didn’t really do justice to the scope of the misidentification."
The American Journalism Review said "that Breitbart had let the mistaken fact stand in the headline and the article itself," and had published a second storey containing the incorrect information on November 9. By November 10, the initial storey had been deleted from Breitbart.com. PolitiFact rated the claim "Pants on Fire" and noted that the false claim had "already spread to additional conspiracy, opinion and conservative news websites", as an example of how fast false information can spread on the Internet.