The Huffington Post is coming under mounting pressure from some on the left to stop giving Andrew Breitbart a front-page platform, with some wondering whether the granting of prime real estate to Breitbart signals that HuffPo is trying to broaden its ideological appeal.
But according to a statement sent my way, HuffPo will stand by Breitbart and continue publishing him. HuffPo spokesperson Mario Ruiz emails:
From the beginning, The Huffington Post has welcomed voices from all sides of the political spectrum, including conservatives such as Newt Gingrich, Frank Luntz, Tom Coburn, Laura Ingraham, Bob Barr, George Pataki, David Frum, Byron York, Mary Matalin, and Ken Blackwell. The idea being that dialogue -- from a wide range of perspectives -- is preferable to silence. The fact that Andrew Breitbart’s first post on our site drew over 1,635 comments, conducted in a civil manner, seems to validate the premise and the decision to publish his blog post.
Color of Change has launched a petition calling on HuffPo to drop Breitbart, arguing that Breitbart is a “notorious liar and race baiter” who “poses as a journalist and then uses his position to gin up race-based fears, protect racists, and demonize Black political leaders and institutions.”
“The Huffington Post has given him a prime space on its platform to do so,” Color of Change concluded. HuffPo’s publication of Breitbart has also generated a fair amount of angry commentary on blogs and left-leaning listservs.
But HuffPo will stick by Breitbart. In fairness to HuffPo, Arianna Huffington has long insisted that the mission of the site has been to move beyond old ideological catetories of right and left, and the site does post commentary from prominent right wingers like Luntz and Gingrich, with little to no criticism from the left. It’s also true that Breitbart had a relationship with HuffPo early in the site’s development, and prominently banning him could prove awkward.
But for many liberals, Breitbart has been revealed by the Shirley Sherrod affair and other dust-ups to be a particularly toxic and dishonest figure that has no journalistic standards whatsoever. It’s hard to see what he adds in value, beyond ginning up a lot of comments and traffic and noise.
UPDATE: Post edited slightly from original.
UPDATE II: Color of Change responds:
We agree that civil, honest dialogue is important — which is exactly why the Huffington Post should not elevate someone like Breitbart, who consistently lies and undermines honest debate.
This isn’t about Breitbart being a conservative, or whether the Huffington Post allows him to post on their site; it’s about the decision of its editors to give him top billing, while he repeats falsehoods that have been debunked. This is about whether or not the Huffington Post considers itself a credible news outlet that chooses to adhere to any basic editorial standards when it decides what to elevate. The Huffington Post claims to have a policy about posts being subject to removal for being untruthful -- but they haven’t applied that to Breitbart.
Andrew Breitbart has repeatedly twisted the truth and used deceptively edited videos to take down black leaders and institutions on false premises — as was the case with Shirley Sherrod, the NAACP, and ACORN. And when caught, he doesn’t apologize — he attacks those who seek to hold him accountable. For black Americans, this man is dangerous — not on his own, but when treated as legitimate by organizations like the Huffington Post that some have come to trust.
This lack of judgement by the Huffington Post harms them as a reputable source of information. Their apparent decision to validate and elevate someone who has repeatedly sought to harm our community using lies is deeply disappointing.
Arianna Huffington has sought to create “HuffPo Global Black” and is now at the helm of AOL Black Voices -- if she is willing to frontpage Andrew Breitbart, how can she be trusted to oversee either of these properties?