Usually when you are a pundit who is caught lying and falsifying information, you can’t get hired again (at least, not by any place other than Fox News). So needless to say, there is a lot of anger around the news that ABC News has decided to hire Andrew Breitbart, the man who purposefully edited tapes in order to force Obama administration official Shirley Sherrod out of her job by claiming she was a racist, to do election day coverage for them.
And a great deal of that anger is coming from the journalists at ABC itself, who apparently were not informed this would be occurring.
Via the Plum Line:
It looks like lefty bloggers aren’t the only ones irked by ABC News’s decision to tap Andrew Breitbart for election-night analysis: People in ABC’s newsroom were also caught completely off guard by the news, a newsroom source tells me.
“This blindsided a good portion of the team here,” the source emails. “And not in a good way.”
The news kicked off a round of criticism from liberal bloggers who pointed out that Breitbart is an unabashed right-wing activist with a known history of trafficking in distortions and falsehoods, most recently the heavily edited and subsequently debunked video supposedly showing racially-charged comments by Shirley Sherrod.
So why would a news agency hire someone that is already a known and proven liar to do their election coverage? ABC says having a liar on isn’t a big deal, because other people will call him out if he does make things up.
Asked about Breitbart’s history of unethical behavior and misinformation, ABC News’ David Ford told Media Matters: “He will be one of many voices on our air, including Bill Adair of Politifact. If Andrew Breitbart says something that is incorrect, we have other voices to call him on it.”
See, I know that’s what I always look for in my political analysis — someone who is known to lie but should most likely get called out on it by other people that will also be providing analysis, most likely.
Remember when we used to be able to simply trust the things that were on the news were, if not total facts, at least not a game of seeing how many lies can get through and whether people will catch them before they spread?
ABC News, responding to the controversy, has put out this somewhat clarifying statement as to Breitbart’s true role for the evening:
Since conservative commentator Andrew Breitbart announced on his website that he was going to be a participant in ABC’s Town Hall meeting at Arizona State University, there has been considerable consternation and misinformation regarding my decision to ask him to participate in an election night Town Hall event for ABC News Digital. I want to explain what Mr. Breitbart’s role has always been as one of our guests at our digital town hall event:
Mr. Breitbart is not an ABC News analyst.
He is not an ABC News consultant.
He is not, in any way, affiliated with ABC News.
He is not being paid by ABC News.
He has not been asked to analyze the results of the election for ABC News.
Mr. Breitbart will not be a part of the ABC News broadcast coverage, anchored by Diane Sawyer and George Stephanopoulos. For the broadcast coverage, David Muir and Facebook’s Randi Zuckerberg will contribute reaction and response gathered from the students and faculty of Arizona State University at an ABC News/Facebook town hall.
He has been invited as one of several guests, from a variety of different political persuasions, to engage with a live, studio audience that will be closely following the election results and participating in an online-only discussion and debate to be moderated by David Muir and Facebook’s Randi Zuckerberg on ABCNews.com and Facebook. We will have other guests, as well as a live studio audience and a large audience on ABCNews.com and Facebook, who can question the guests and the audience’s opinions.
He may not be being paid, but he is still being treated as if he were a political opinion journalist, not someone who should, frankly, be toxic after having been caught doctoring tapes and who should be in mid-lawsuit. As Media Matters put it, what a wonderful example of “falling upwards.”
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