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Slate's David Weigel Gets it Right on Breitbart/Huffington Post
Last week, David Weigel wrote the following on his blog at Slate.com:
I'm disappointed and annoyed to see the Huffington Post buckling under a pressure campaign and taking Andrew Breitbart's blog posts off the front page. It's their site; they can do what they want. But this response to the Color of Change's effort to boot Breitbart? It's pure wimpery. ....
He didn't write or say any of that at HuffPo, a site he helped develop in 2005. Is the Huffington Post's standard that contributors can be to some modified limited hang-out if they use ad hominems in other forums? Boy, good thing Breitbart doesn't have an army of contributors who can comb HuffPo authors' published and spoken work to see if they've done that. [emphasis mine]
Apparently, Weigel is one of the few liberals who can look past the seething anger Breitbart's name apparently inspires on the left. Banning Breitbart from the front page of the site was a mistake for Arianna. Sure, the decision has kept the frothing, fringe liberals at bay, but it may also have done irreparable harm to the site's remaining credibility, a commodity already in short supply for those not frothing on the aforementioned fringe left. A week later, and a Google search for "Huffpocracy" returns over 5,800 results. 566 of those articles were added to Google's index since Weigel's piece was written.
The biggest problem for the Huffington Post is that Breitbart doesn't need the site to get his message out. Granted, the Post has a very sizable audience, but Breitbart's own cadre of websites, combined with the support from other Conservative sites is enough to counterbalance the disparity. So, if he wasn't writing for the audience, then he must have had other reasons. First, I think he sought to prove the Post, while ideologically liberal, was willing to post opposing viewpoints. Second, I think he sought to speak to an audience that would never visit his own sites.
With regards to the latter, in his opening paragraph, Breitbart stated, "I wanted to give a little perspective to those Huffington Post readers -- whatever your political stripe -- who share my passion for free speech, honest debate, and fairness in the media." He concluded, "the tactics of empty name-calling are causing an anti-liberal backlash." It's clear that his message was largely intended for liberals, and his advice was sound. I'm actually glad they're ignoring him.
With regards to the former point, the banishment of Breitbart to the Huffington Post's digital back alley has only confirmed the institutional bias of the organization and it's new owner, AOL. Publishing Breitbart was a fantastic opportunity for the left to demonstrate its "tolerance." As is typical of the left, they failed miserably. For the left, intellectual freedom is like the Model T; "any customer can have a car painted any colour that he wants so long as it is black."
Finally, Weigel's most salient point is his last, emphasized above. The Huffington Post has essentially guaranteed a continual stream of articles listing every ad hominem attack made by any contributor who is featured on the front page. This will continue until the site acknowledges the true reason for moving Breitbart's posts, the site removes all offending authors from the front page, or the site rescinds Breitbart's technological exile. The first will never happen, nor will the second. With regards to the third option, I'll believe it when I see it; the frothing left is a force to be reckoned with.