After standing by Andrew Breitbart yesterday, the Huffington Post has made the decision to yank him from their highly-trafficked front page, in the wake of some vicious comments Breitbart has since made about former White House adviser Van Jones, a HuffPo spokesman confirms to me.
HuffPo had come under increasing criticism for giving Breitbart a major platform from groups like Color of Change, which argued that he has a history of racially-charged and factually-challenged political activism that has no place on a reputable news and opinion site. While Breitbart will still be allowed to post at HuffPo, the decision to yank him from the front page and downgrade his visibility effectively gives the critics what they’d asked for.
Last night, HuffPo was still sticking by Breitbart, arguing that the site was committed to airing a range of voices and maintaining that Breitbart’s posts on HuffPo had remained civil. But this morning, the Daily Caller published an interview with Breitbart in which he railed at Van Jones as a “commie punk” and a “cop killer-supporting, racist, demagogic freak.” This put HuffPo in a particularly awkward spot, and now HuffPo has had enough.
HuffPo spokesman Mario Ruiz emails me:
The Huffington Post is committed to fostering a lively and often provocative debate about the issues of the day and encourages a wide range of voices from all perspectives to participate. Andrew Brietbart’s false ad hominem attack on Van Jones in The Daily Caller violates the tenets of debate and civil discourse we have strived for since the day we launched. As a result, we will no longer feature his posts on the front page.
He is welcome to continue publishing his work on HuffPost provided it adheres to our editorial guidelines, as the two posts he published on HuffPost did -- guidelines that include a strict prohibition on ad hominem attacks. Our decision today recognizes that placing posts on the front page is an editorial call that elevates some posts over others, and is an indication of how seriously we take these judgment calls.
The statement also seems to put Breitbart on notice that if he acts out in any future posts on HuffPo, he will be banned completely. It’s also worth noting that in popping off to the Daily Caller, Breitbart put HuffPo in a difficult position even though the site had continued to feature him in the face of sharp criticsim, and despite the fact that Breitbart and Arianna Huffington are friendly with one another.
UPDATE: I was accidentally sent an early version of the statement; I’ve edited the above to fix.
UPDATE II: Color of Change hails the decision in a statement:
“ColorOfChange.org applauds The Huffington Post’s decision to no longer give Andrew Breitbart a prominent platform for his so-called ‘journalism’. Breitbart, whose entire career is built upon ‘reporting’ lies and falsehoods disguised as news, should have never been given the opportunity to present himself as a legitimate journalist or opinion-maker. Their decision is an important reversal. Over the course of one day, over 43,000 of our members called on The Huffington Post to end to their promotion of Breitbart. The Huffington Post has done the right thing by refusing to elevate someone who fear mongers, race-baits and lies – none of which have a place in America’s public discourse.”