Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) may have brought the scandal over digital dalliances upon himself, but the media’s coverage of the story from the moments after he sent that errant tweet has been orchestrated almost entirely by one person: conservative blog entrepreneur Andrew Breitbart.
Breitbart, the other famous guy at the center of this scandal, has made the scandal a national fixation.
Breitbart has targeted liberal politicians and institutions and is a bombastic critic of the mainstream media, but in this case, he set the tempo for the press. The pictures shooting around the world were first posted on his sites. Even the network TV interview with one of Weiner’s tweet-hearts was brokered by Breitbart. And Weiner singled him out for attack during a defensive interview last week with CNN.
On Monday, before Weiner’s tearful confession, Breitbart stole the spotlight, once again, hopping up behind the lawmaker’s lectern at a midtown Manhattan hotel, where he proceeded to lecture both Weiner and the press corps.
“The media says Breitbart lies, Breitbart lies, Breitbart lies, Breitbart lies. Give me one example of a provable lie. One,” he said.
Breitbart was happy to embarrass a fierce liberal fighter, and he got a lead to Megan Broussard, a single mother from Texas, who said she had swapped racy photos with Weiner.
Upon arriving in New York City on Monday afternoon and learning Weiner had scheduled a press conference, Breitbart acted like a journalist, hoofing it to the hotel to report. Upon getting there though, he took command of that lectern, answering questions from reporters and warning Weiner there were worse pictures to come.
Among Breitbart’s targets yesterday was Joan Walsh of the liberal Salon magazine. She has criticized his sites Big Government and Big Journalism for promoting highly disputed stories — such as the Shirley Sherrod video, in which the version Breitbart posted of a black federal official speaking about her own racism toward a white farmer was cut off before the redemptive end to her story.
Walsh says he was right about Weiner but that hasn’t altered her skepticism toward Breitbart.
Breitbart’s criticism aside, he wanted the credibility of the mainstream media, so he advised Broussard to share her photos with ABC and told ABC News Producer Chris Vlasto how to reach her. Chris Cuomo was the correspondent on the story, which the network raced to report.
ABC says it paid Broussard between $10,00 and $15,000 for the rights to her pictures. Breitbart said he paid her nothing.
When NPR asked Breitbart again what he was — journalist or activist – he said it depends on the day. He doesn’t like the term activist. He prefers provocateur.
I prefer to call him asswipe.