It’s been amply established that Breitbart News is one of the most morally bankrupt corners of the Internet. If there was any doubt that Steve Bannon and friends had no moral compass whatsoever, it was erased earlier this month when Breitbart editor-in-chief Alex Marlow admitted that he and his colleagues went all in for Roy Moore in the race for Jeff Sessions’ old Senate seat in order to protect Donald Trump.
Incredibly, Marlow claimed that there was really no other option but to support the former Alabama chief justice even in the face of allegations that he molested women and pursued girls young enough to be his daughters. Why? He didn’t want to give Democrats a window to push out Trump. But believe it or not, Marlow sunk lower than that a few days later. How do you get lower than throwing your weight behind a credibly accused child molester in order to protect a suspected sexual harasser? Quite easily, as it turns out–by admitting you did so even though you believed one of the accusers sounded credible.
Last Wednesday, Marlow spoke with CNN’s Oliver Darcy about Breitbart’s coverage of the special Senate election. Marlow reiterated that Breitbart’s main concern was protecting Trump. Later, he made an even more breathtaking disclosure. He admitted that one of the original accusers, Leigh Corfman, “had a lot of credibility.” However, he suspected The Washington Post’s blockbuster story about the allegations may have been politically motivated.
I had to read this twice in order to believe it. The number-three man at Breitbart–behind only Bannon and CEO Larry Solov–openly admitted that he thought at least one of Moore’s accusers was credible. And yet, he was actually concerned about whether this story was a hit piece????!!!
This story largely passed under the radar last week, in part because of the debate over the tax reform bill. But it didn’t go completely unnoticed. Some of the few sane elements in conservative media were up in arms. Among them was David French of National Review, who rightly blasted Marlow for his “vile” line.
“Vile” is being kind to it. This admission had the effect of placing giant asterisks on virtually every story Breitbart wrote about these allegations, as well as every instance on which Breitbart staffers spoke about them on “Breitbart News Daily.” From Breitbart’s attempted pre-emptive strike just before The Post’s story went live, to John Nolte’s bizarre claim that Moore’s behavior didn’t breach any “social mores,” and on, and on, and on.
After all, as French points out, Marlow just admitted that he and his cronies “facilitated the continued persecution of a credible childhood assault victim for purely political purposes.” In the process, Breitbart turned itself into “a partisan opposition research firm with a quasi-journalistic platform” as part of a ham-handed effort to “drag a probable child abuser across an electoral finish line.” And it did so in a manner that, at the very least, meets the real-world definition of reckless disregard for truth.
Rod Dreher of The American Conservative was no less unsparing. He saw Marlow’s statement as a tacit admission that “extremism in the defense of Trump is no vice” and that “truth, fairness, and ordinary human decency don’t matter” to him or to Breitbart.
French and Dreher weren’t the only conservatives who were rightly outraged by this breach of basic decency. So was Jeff Blehar of National Review Online and Decision Desk HQ.
Missed this stunning admission of dishonesty from Breitbart's editor: they believed Roy Moore was a child molester all along, yet sought to tear down his accusers+boost Moore b/c abandoning him would make it harder for them to defend Trump: https://t.co/kWsLRRaSRG
— Jeff B. (@EsotericCD) December 22, 2017
As was Jonah Goldberg.
If you read it all closely, he's basically admitting that Breitbart doesn't do journalism. It's kind of amazing. Can't walk back admissions like this. https://t.co/gfOQZ1viNL
— Jonah Goldberg (@JonahNRO) December 22, 2017
As was John Podhoertz.
I feel like it's necessary to say this: Alex Marlow is young and should find another line of work. If you're literally confessing to unethical behavior in an interview, you're letting the world know you're on the wrong path and need to right yourself.
— John Podhoretz (@jpodhoretz) December 22, 2017
Sadly, according to The Atlantic’s Conor Friedersdorf, they’re a distinct minority. Friedersdorf found it “sobering” that Marlow openly admitted to breaching every standard of journalistic ethics and decency that is known–and it barely registered on the right.
Frankly, this is exponentially worse than numerous mainstream media outlets punting on efforts to blow the whistle on Harvey Weinstein. At least they could theoretically claim they didn’t have enough at the time to go with it. But it’s another thing altogether to have reason to believe an accuser is telling the truth, and yet engage in victim-blaming and victim-shaming of the worst type. It’s so damned obscene that I’m literally at a loss for words to describe it.
Well, I take that back. Marlow has admitted that, morally speaking, there is little difference between Breitbart and Project Veritas. Remember, James O’Keefe was so determined to help Moore win that he sent one of his minions to plant a story in The Post that he knew was bogus, in hopes of exposing The Post as a librul agitprop machine. How is that any different from smearing a victim as a tool in a partisan witch hunt when you have an honest reason to believe she’s telling the truth?
French believes Marlow’s startling disclosure is proof that “content from Breitbart cannot be trusted” under its current leadership. Likewise, Dreher believes this is yet more proof that “you can’t believe a thing that Breitbart says.”
With all due respect, that’s not enough. There is something fundamentally wrong when a news site’s bias runs so deep that it is wiling to throw basic standards of decency out the window. When that happens, it’s only fair to ask whether that site should be allowed to exist. And that would be true regardless of that site’s political slant.
We already know that Breitbart is on record as having no qualms about giving succor to some of the worst people in the world. That alone would demand that Breitbart be driven out of existence. And now the operating head of its newsroom openly admits that he allowed Corfman and the other accusers to be pilloried even though he believed she was credible. That alone would demand that Breitbart be driven out of existence.
Both together? The only further thing we need to hear from Breitbart on this matter is an unreserved apology to Corfman–while they announce that they are closing up shop for good.
(featured image: photo art courtesy Emil Lendof, The Daily Beast)