I didn’t like what Andrew Breitbart did with his web site. I certainly never considered him to be a journalist.
He wasn’t fair, he wasn’t accurate, he wasn’t interested in finding the truth and telling it. No, Andrew Breitbart was interested in telling a story from his point of view, and if you were a liberal, he was coming after you.
Andrew Breitbart was relevant. I first heard about him from a conservative friend of mine who left the journalism world because he became convinced that news media were not telling the whole story. My friend saw the world through a conservative lens and saw media through that same lens. He hates the news media, especially the news media that is coastally centered, left-of-center in its point of view and, in his opinion, biased against conservatism.
You’ve heard this argument before. The news media is an arm of the left, it completely turned its back on truth and presents stories only from the point of view of the cultural elites, leaving everyone in the middle behind. That’s why Donald Trump won the Presidency.
But back to Breitbart and my friend. We had conversations about media at the time. I was back in grad school, working on my Ph.D. and was interested in what was happening with the media world and I wanted to get an opinion from someone who left journalism because of its point of view. Tim told me to go to Breitbart.
I hated it. It wasn’t journalism the way I’ve thought of journalism, his tactics were brash, he attacked the media with relish and twisted every media story into an example of left-wing bias.
I learned something from it. Breitbart tapped into an anger from the right that was growing in intensity. When it was Andrew Breitbart’s site, the site did a good job of taking any story and using it to attack the left.
It was never journalism. It was never fair. It didn’t have to be. Its job was to expose the left and claim that what was being reported on by our mainstream news outlets weren’t news either. We’ll get to that later.
But Breitbart wasn’t always what his site was. He was brash, arrogant and a jerk but he also took the time to reach out to gay groups who were disinvited to the Republican CPAC. Breitbart relished the argument, the fight and he did what he had to do to win it, at any cost. Breitbart died in 2012. Some celebrated, others mourned. A great piece about Andrew Breitbart’s legacy can be found here.
I don’t know what Andrew Breitbart would be thinking today, now that President elect Donald Trump has named Steve Bannon, the successor at Breitbart, to be his chief strategist. Bannon took Breitbart in a new direction, keeping the angry rhetoric of Andrew Breitbart but adding the racist, sexist views that now define the web site. Bannon recruited the no longer fringe element now known at the alt right. He gave it a larger voice, one that keeps growing under the Breitbart name. Bannon’s the one who encouraged the racism, the anti-semitism, the misogyny in order to grow Breitbart’s brand. And now, he’s Donald Trump’s chief strategist.
I’m sure Andrew Breitbart would have loved the discomfort this causes liberals, the anger and fear from liberals that a Trump Presidency is little more than a racist call to slap down the “Other”. He would have relished the comeuppance that Bannon’s selection actually is.
But Bannon represents truly vile things in American culture. This isn’t a joke. Racism is not a joke. Our history proves that time and time again. And the fact that a top adviser to the President promotes the White Nationalist movement in our country is not a joke.
Donald Trump can go on 60 Minutes and tell those attacking minorities to stop it all he wants, but when his next move is to hire someone who approves of hate speech, his words don’t match his actions.
And when Republican friends of mine try to tell me that the racial overtones of the Presidential race were purely made up and they voted for Trump for other reasons than racism, that’s all well and good. But they have no choice to accept the fact that their choice for President just hired a man who gave a voice to the alt right. When I hear the cry against Bannon is overblown by the left-wing biased media that Andrew Breitbart despised, I simply point to Steve Bannon, and the comment of Richard Spencer, the President of the white-nationalist National Policy Institute, who wrote on Twitter that Trump placed Bannon in exactly the right place,
“Bannon will answer directly to Trump and focus on the big picture, and not get lost in the weeds,” he wrote Sunday night.
“He’ll be freed up to chart Trump’s macro trajectory…. The question is: Which way is the arrow pointing? It’s pointing towards the #AltRight!”
It’s hard to expect the left to settle down after Trump’s election, and to believe this election wasn’t racially motivated when a top proponent of the alt right is now Donald Trump’s top adviser. And it becomes even more difficult for those who voted Trump to claim their new President isn’t being advised from a white nationalist point of view.
Steve Bannon is not Andrew Breitbart. Bannon is more dangerous than Breitbart was because of his ties and he has the President’s ear.