Breitbart Was Morally Bankrupt Long Before It Became Trumpbart (TWEETS)

Andrew Breitbart at the 2012 Conservative Political Action Conference (image courtesy Gage Skidmore, available under a Creative Commons BY-SA license)
Andrew Breitbart at the 2012 Conservative Political Action Conference (image courtesy Gage Skidmore, available under a Creative Commons BY-SA license)

Most people who left Breitbart News after Steve Bannon took the reins in 2012 will tell you that Breitbart’s founder and namesake, Andrew Breitbart, would have never approved of what it became under Bannon. That’s particularly true of those who left during the 2016 presidential campaign, which saw Breitbart become so rabidly loyal to Donald Trump that it acquired the nickname “Trumpbart.”

This line continued to play out after Bannon was shoved out of Breitbart on Tuesday. For instance, Ben Shapiro, one of many Breitbart writers to storm out in disgust after Bannon hung Michelle Fields out to dry, claimed that Breitbart now had a chance to return to its namesake’s original vision.

Along similar lines, Dana Loesch, who left Breitbart shortly after Andrew Breitbart’s death, told longtime Bannon critic Bethany Mandel that Breitbart was originally conceived as “an amazing, ground-breaking media entity that focused on battling bias in media, Hollywood, and academia.” To hear Loesch talk, Bannon turned Breitbart into a tool to “propel him to a position of greater influence.”

This has more or less become the standard line among Breitbart’s foes on the right. Echoing this, National Review’s Jim Geraghty wrote in his post-mortem about Bannon’s ouster that Andrew Breitbart may have been “a rebel through and through,” he had no stomach for knuckledragging bigots.

With all due respect, this narrative no longer holds water. How’s that, you ask? Well, let’s rewind. If you’ll remember, just a few days before Christmas, Breitbart editor-in-chief Alex Marlow admitted that he and his colleagues went all in for Roy Moore even though believed that one of Roy Moore’s accusers, Leigh Corfman, sounded credible.

In other words, the operating head of Breitbart’s newsroom admitted that Breitbart had engaged in a ham-handed campaign of victim shaming when it had reason to believe that one of the accusers might be telling the truth. And yet, what was the response from the powers that be at Breitbart? Radio silence.

But wait a minute. Breitbart’s CEO and part-owner, Larry Solov, has been at Breitbart since the very beginning. He co-founded the site with Andrew Breitbart in 2005, and the two had been friends since childhood. The site’s major financier, Republican heiress and megadonor Rebekah Mercer, met Andrew Breitbart in 2011 through Bannon. In return for investing $10 million in the then-fledgling media outlet, Rebekah and her father, Robert Mercer, persuaded Andrew Breitbart to give Bannon a seat on the board. With Solov and the Mercers’ support, Bannon became chairman after Andrew Breitbart’s death in 2012–and the rest, as they say, is history.

It’s safe to assume that Solov and Mercer have some idea of what Andrew Breitbart wanted to do with his site before his death. And yet, they couldn’t be bothered to speak up when Marlow admitted he’d thrown Moore’s accusers under the bus in order to protect Donald Trump–not even in the face of howls of condemnation from all sides.

Contrast that with what happened when word got out that Bannon had been quoted as suggesting that Donald Trump Jr. had engaged in “treasonous” behavior by meeting with Russians in Trump Tower, and suggested that Trump didn’t have the gravitas to be president. By Thursday, the notoriously private Mercer had issued a strongly-worded statement reaffirming support for Trump and cutting all political ties with Bannon. By Friday, according to multiple sources, she was angling to push Bannon out as Breitbart’s chairman. By Tuesday, Bannon was preparing for his radio show when he was told to resign.

Unless I’m very wrong, it appears that those who were closest to Andrew Breitbart before Bannon took over the site consider speaking ill of Trump is a firing offense. However, they have no problem with engaging in politically-motivated victim shaming even when you have reason to believe an accuser is telling the truth. If that doesn’t prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Breitbart’s moral compass was fundamentally warped before Bannon was running the show, what does?

Those who believe Andrew Breitbart would turn in his grave at what Bannon did to his creation need to face up to a sobering fact. The people who theoretically knew what he would have wanted had a chance to show that they and Breitbart were above Bannon’s gangsterism when Marlow admitted to an outrageous breach of journalistic standards and basic decency. And yet, they blew it eight ways to Sunday. In the absence of something we haven’t heard or seen, they did so because they threw away their scruples long before Bannon even arrived.

One would hope that if Shapiro, Loesch, Mandel, and other right-wingers who believe Bannon subverted Andrew Breitbart realize this, they will also realize that Breitbart needs to die. We on the left came to the same conclusion about Gawker. Remember, no one was willing to buy Gawker out of bankruptcy after it lost a suit by Hulk Hogan, even as its sister sites were taken in by Univision. But considering that this was a site that had no qualms about aiding and abetting extortion and spent some two years libeling James Franco, who can blame them?

What Breitbart did to Moore’s accusers is at least as bad, if not worse, than either of these outrages from Gawker. That by itself was enough to prove beyond any doubt that Breitbart is morally bankrupt. The fact that Bannon was pushed out for daring to speak ill of Trump after no one appears to have been disciplined for victim-shaming Moore’s accusers in such an outrageous manner not only underlines how morally bankrupt Breitbart is, but proves that the moral rot was there long before Bannon arrived.

(featured image courtesy Gage Skidmore, available under a Creative Commons BY-SA license)

Darrell is a 30-something graduate of the University of North Carolina who considers himself a journalist of the old school. An attempt to turn him into a member of the religious right in college only succeeded in turning him into the religious right's worst nightmare--a charismatic Christian who is an unapologetic liberal. His desire to stand up for those who have been scared into silence only increased when he survived an abusive three-year marriage. You may know him on Daily Kos as Christian Dem in NC. Follow him on Twitter @DarrellLucus or connect with him on Facebook. Click here to buy Darrell a Mello Yello.