Buzzfeed accuses Breitbart of selling favorable coverage to Trump

Relying on unnamed sources, Buzzfeed goes nuclear against Breitbart, accusing the site of taking Trump money in return for favorable coverage.  There is no more serious accusation that can be made against a publication than selling favorable coverage, so reliance on unnamed sources is a bit like claiming child sex abuse and then refusing to reveal the evidence.

“News reporter” McKay Coppins writes:

As Donald Trump faces a growing backlash from conservative media over his recent attacks on a Fox News host, one prominent right-wing outlet remains firmly in his corner: Breitbart News, which has set itself apart by plastering its homepage with fawning headlines about the candidate, and all-caps assaults on his critics.

But not everyone within the website’s editorial ranks is on board with Breitbart’s boosterism, and many inside the company believe Trump has provided undisclosed financial backing to the outlet in exchange for glowing coverage, as I report in my forthcoming book about the GOP and 2016, The Wilderness.

So this is a book plug, complete with a link to Amazon, so Breitbart and Trump haters can enrich the author. Hmmm. And this in an article ccusing others of pecuniary motives for their editorial opinions….

The evidence for this sensational charge?

 

According to four sources with knowledge of the situation, editors and writers at the outlet have privately complained since at least last year that the company’s top management was allowing Trump to turn Breitbart into his own fan website — using it to hype his political prospects and attack his enemies. One current editor called the water-carrying “despicable” and “embarrassing,” and said he was told by an executive last year that the company had a financial arrangement with Trump. A second Breitbart staffer said he had heard a similar description of the site’s relationship with the billionaire but didn’t know the details; and a third source at the company said he knew of several instances when managers had overruled editors at Trump’s behest. Additionally, a conservative communications operative who works closely with Breitbart described conversations in which “multiple writers and editors” said Trump was paying for the ability to shape coverage, and added that one staffer claimed to have seen documentation of the “pay for play.”

All four sources spoke on condition of anonymity so as not to jeopardize their jobs; and none knew exactly how Trump’s alleged arrangement with the privately held company worked.

All of the anonymous sources quoted are relying on hearsay.  But someone is willing to go on the record:

Breitbart executive chair Steve Bannon responded to questions with a statement denying that the company has ever had a “financial relationship” with the candidate.

“We have no financial relationship with Donald Trump as an investor, advertiser or in any other capacity at this time — nor have we ever,” Bannon said. “The insinuation that we do — or did — is a lie. Mr. Trump is a savvy and successful businessman but not the type of investor I partner with in emerging growth companies.” (Bannon’s full statement can be found at the bottom of this article.)

As for other harder evidence:

Trump’s personal financial disclosure form does not indicate an ownership stake in Breitbart, suggesting that any financial support he may have given to the site did not grant him equity in the company.

Calling the provocative charges “think gruel” would be an insult to porridge.  All of the on-the-record evidence contradicts the charges that are voiced by anonymous sources relying on hearsay.  I am not a fan of libel suits, but it seems to me Breitbart may have a case here.  That is, assuming there is nothing to the charges.  Of course, a lawsuit would open all of their financial affairs to discovery, which may in fact be the motive for the charges.  I have no knowledge of Breitbart’s finances, but I can imagine that some financial backers might prefer anonymity, given the viciousness of the left’s attacks on people who donate to causes they disapprove of.  Ask the founder of Mozilla, Brendan Eich, about it.

Relying on unnamed sources, Buzzfeed goes nuclear against Breitbart, accusing the site of taking Trump money in return for favorable coverage.  There is no more serious accusation that can be made against a publication than selling favorable coverage, so reliance on unnamed sources is a bit like claiming child sex abuse and then refusing to reveal the evidence.

“News reporter” McKay Coppins writes:

As Donald Trump faces a growing backlash from conservative media over his recent attacks on a Fox News host, one prominent right-wing outlet remains firmly in his corner: Breitbart News, which has set itself apart by plastering its homepage with fawning headlines about the candidate, and all-caps assaults on his critics.

But not everyone within the website’s editorial ranks is on board with Breitbart’s boosterism, and many inside the company believe Trump has provided undisclosed financial backing to the outlet in exchange for glowing coverage, as I report in my forthcoming book about the GOP and 2016, The Wilderness.

So this is a book plug, complete with a link to Amazon, so Breitbart and Trump haters can enrich the author. Hmmm. And this in an article ccusing others of pecuniary motives for their editorial opinions….

The evidence for this sensational charge?

 

According to four sources with knowledge of the situation, editors and writers at the outlet have privately complained since at least last year that the company’s top management was allowing Trump to turn Breitbart into his own fan website — using it to hype his political prospects and attack his enemies. One current editor called the water-carrying “despicable” and “embarrassing,” and said he was told by an executive last year that the company had a financial arrangement with Trump. A second Breitbart staffer said he had heard a similar description of the site’s relationship with the billionaire but didn’t know the details; and a third source at the company said he knew of several instances when managers had overruled editors at Trump’s behest. Additionally, a conservative communications operative who works closely with Breitbart described conversations in which “multiple writers and editors” said Trump was paying for the ability to shape coverage, and added that one staffer claimed to have seen documentation of the “pay for play.”

All four sources spoke on condition of anonymity so as not to jeopardize their jobs; and none knew exactly how Trump’s alleged arrangement with the privately held company worked.

All of the anonymous sources quoted are relying on hearsay.  But someone is willing to go on the record:

Breitbart executive chair Steve Bannon responded to questions with a statement denying that the company has ever had a “financial relationship” with the candidate.

“We have no financial relationship with Donald Trump as an investor, advertiser or in any other capacity at this time — nor have we ever,” Bannon said. “The insinuation that we do — or did — is a lie. Mr. Trump is a savvy and successful businessman but not the type of investor I partner with in emerging growth companies.” (Bannon’s full statement can be found at the bottom of this article.)

As for other harder evidence:

Trump’s personal financial disclosure form does not indicate an ownership stake in Breitbart, suggesting that any financial support he may have given to the site did not grant him equity in the company.

Calling the provocative charges “think gruel” would be an insult to porridge.  All of the on-the-record evidence contradicts the charges that are voiced by anonymous sources relying on hearsay.  I am not a fan of libel suits, but it seems to me Breitbart may have a case here.  That is, assuming there is nothing to the charges.  Of course, a lawsuit would open all of their financial affairs to discovery, which may in fact be the motive for the charges.  I have no knowledge of Breitbart’s finances, but I can imagine that some financial backers might prefer anonymity, given the viciousness of the left’s attacks on people who donate to causes they disapprove of.  Ask the founder of Mozilla, Brendan Eich, about it.