Accuracy in Media

Tina Brown, the editor of The Daily Beast and Newsweek, was interviewed on NPR’s Morning Edition this week and had nothing but unkind words for the late Andrew Breitbart.

NPR: The next article is about journalism more recently. It’s from The New York Times by the media writer David Carr. It’s called “The Provocateur.”

Brown: That’s right. Well, of course you know, during Hitler’s Germany, there were 50 foreign correspondents from America in Berlin, which is an incredible index of the golden era of journalism. What we have, of course, in the era of today with Andrew Breitbart, the blogger, the right-wing radical blogger who just recently dropped dead in the early 40’s, was of course the absolute opposite. It’s really the degradation, in a sense, of the journalistic ideals of a William Shirley. It was the absolute opposite. Breitbart didn’t report anything what—really, what Breitbart did was he was a provocateur, he was a death by a thousand tweets, he, you know, was quite happy to take the flying sound bite, any sound bite, and misapply it in its context and create an absolute mayhem for the person concerned, like he did for poor Shirley Sherrod, who was the obscure official in the agriculture department. He gave the impression by the cutting of her words in a tape that he released that she was giving racially-motivated financing decisions when actually she was doing the very opposite. So this was really using a kind of bastardization of journalism through the format of web and tweeting and, you know, just simply using the internet as a tool for activism.

While Breitbart should probably have done some rather minor things differently in how he handled the Shirley Sherrod video that he acquired, he was not guilty of the accusation by many in the media that he deliberately edited the video to make Sherrod appear to be racist, as Matthew Sheffield of Newsbusters pointed out in a March 2012 column.

But in the end, Breitbart blamed Glenn Beck for the way in which Beck edited the video clips, and presented the story. Breitbart felt that he got the blame for something he didn’t do, and it caused a rift between two of conservative media’s most powerful figures.

If exposing government corruption and mainstream media cover-ups is “bastardizing” journalism, then I would agree with Brown. But that isn’t what she meant.

Brown and her colleagues in the mainstream media are still chafing at how Breitbart managed to scoop them on big stories and gain national attention, while they were left stammering to explain how they could have missed these stories, or why they wanted no part of them. And their only defense is to attack Breitbart and mischaracterize his methodology in an effort to discredit him.

If that’s the best they can do then I know that Andrew is laughing at all of them from up on high.





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