On the Fourth of July, Andrew Breitbart launched a new Web site, Big Peace, adding another vertical to his media empire. Its introductory post explains the timing. “It took nine months because this site has to be done right, and with Hoover Institution Research Fellow and bestselling author Peter Schweizer, we found the perfect editor,” Mr. Breitbart writes. “Because I am not a foreign policy or military expert, I needed to create a core editorial unit that represented the highest-end understanding of policy while at the same time bringing, at a time of war, a “boots-on-the-ground” perspective.”
What I find most interesting about Mr. Breitbart’s post is his invocation of journalistic standards. Here’s another key excerpt:
As the site’s resident skeptic of main stream media accountability, I have noticed that the amount of reporters and media outlets covering national security and the war has dwindled and skepticism over American military commitment has waned now that there isn’t a Bush or a Republican in charge. The war beat is getting short shrift. Big Peace was created to fill this void and to provide biased coverage.
The site is pro-freedom, pro-liberty, and pro-American but will not be an outlet for false information or propaganda. The unique mix of Schweizer, Gaffney, and Blackfive and our collective reputations will provide a check and balance.
Note that Mr. Breitbart doesn’t say he is launching a site to motivate the conservative base, or that he’ll publish propaganda so long as it serves conservative ends, or that the audience should treat the content on Big Peace as entertainment more than journalism — on the contrary, he is promising that Big Peace “will not be an outlet for false information or propaganda.”
He should be held to those standards.
And if it turns out that the site doesn’t live up to them, it should be noted that he has misled his conservative audience.
Should that happen, it wouldn’t be the first time. On Big Government, another site published by Mr. Breitbart, there remains a blog post wherein ACORN worker Juan Carlos Vera is shown on hidden video. Mr. Vera appears to be offering to assist James O’Keefe and Hanna Giles to smuggle underage girls across the Mexican border so that they can work in a brothel. That is the impression that the audience of Big Government is given to this day, because Andrew Breitbart is convinced that ACORN was irredeemably corrupt — in all likelihood he is is right about that — and the moral code he is practicing in this instance is “the end justifies the means.”
What indefensible means does Mr. Breitbart employ? Well it turns out that Mr. Vera, confronted with undercover filmmakers claiming to be a pimp and a prostitute engaged in sex-trafficking, pretended to be willing to help them out only so he could gather information, which he quickly turned over to police, expressing concern about the possibility of human trafficking. In all likelihood, Mr. Breitbart didn’t know this when he published the video from ACORN’s San Diego office.
But he has long since become aware of Mr. Vera’s innocence. It is documented at length in this report published by the California Attorney General’s Office. If you read the narrative beginning on page 13 of that report, and compare it to the uncorrected blog post that still appears on Mr. Breitbart’s site — despite the fact that he and Mike Flynn, Big Government’s editor, have both been notified about the significant discrepancies — you’ll see how much you can trust the journalistic integrity of Mr. Breitbart and his sites.
Their unwillingness to correct the record on this matter, whatever their reasoning, is causing an innocent person, Juan Carlos Vera, to be unjustly portrayed online in a horrific manner that does not correspond to reality.
It is also interesting to read the lofty language that Mr. Breitbart uses to describe his newest site, and to compare it to the actual content on offer.