The Corner

Politics & Policy

Breitbart’s Disgrace

When news cycles are crowded with outrage — some of it justified, much of it hysterical — it’s easy to lose track of the significant stories. There was one last week that conservatives can’t let slide down the memory hole. Breitbart’s editor-in-chief, Alex Marlow, admitted in an interview with CNN’s Oliver Darcy that its full-court-press in favor of Roy Moore was motivated by a desire to protect Donald Trump and that Marlow actually thought Leigh Corfman’s claims against Moore “had a lot of credibility.” Corfman, you might recall, claimed that Moore assaulted her when she was only 14 years old.

So, why did Breitbart double down in support for Moore? It was protecting Donald Trump:

Marlow said one of the factors in Breitbart’s coverage of the allegations against Moore is that, he believes, the news media was trying to use them to set a bar on sexual misconduct “that President Trump cannot match.”

“I think they want to create a standard where President Trump either from past or future accusations, will not be able to match whatever standard is now in place for who can be a United States senator,” he said. “Based off not any sort of conviction or any sort of admission of guilt, but based off of purely allegations.”

“I think that’s the playbook here,” he added. “And I think it’s part of the reason why it was so important for Breitbart to continue our coverage of the way we covered it … and for Steve in particular to hold the line the way he did for — I think part of it is because it’s not just about Judge Moore, it is not even just about establishment, anti-establishment. It’s about what’s coming next for President Trump.”

I’m sorry, but this is vile. It’s one thing to test the claims of a person who publicly accuses a Senate candidate of sexual misconduct. That’s fair, and that’s something journalists should do when considering any claim of wrongdoing. It’s another thing entirely to withhold from readers the judgment that an accuser “had a lot of credibility” as part of an effort to protect an entirely different politician from the possibility of future claims.

In other words, Breitbart facilitated the continued persecution of a credible childhood assault victim for purely political purposes. It subordinated fact-finding to its political agenda. It acted not as a journalist enterprise but as a partisan opposition research firm with a quasi-journalistic platform. It exploited the good name of its founder and the trust of its audience to try to drag a probable child abuser across an electoral finish line.

It’s clear that Breitbart subscribes to the belief that to make their nationalist omelet they have to break a few abuse-victim eggs. Marlow, however, seems unrepentant. He claims that “Bannon and Breitbart are the most feared names in politics . . . And you can see it by the meltdown that so many people are having. The joy, the elation, the perception that Breitbart lost.”

This is wrong. Feared? Not at all. Bannon and Breitbart are two of the most disrespected names in politics. As for the joy? There is always satisfaction in seeing at least a measure of justice done. An unfit politician lost. A disreputable publication has been further discredited.

Conservatives need to remember what happened in Alabama. Content from Breitbart cannot be trusted. Until it’s under new management, its agenda will trump its commitment to decency or the truth.

David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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