Cillizza: That’s entertainment! On the day Andrew Breitbart died, Chris Cillizza swung into action.
In our view, he revealed a deeply unfortunate truth—a truth about Cillizza himself.
Like many pundits who wrote about Breitbart, Cillizza cited three of his greatest hits.
He copped to the fact that Breitbart’s tape of Shirley Sherrod had been “heavily edited.” That’s a long-standing euphemism for what actually happened in this instance—although Cillizza seemed to acknowledge, in a roundabout way, that Breitbart’s “heavy editing” turned the truth on its head.
Concerning Breitbart’s first greatest hit, Cillizza was even less forthcoming. This is the way he described the earlier ACORN affair:
CILLIZZA (3/1/12): His first big break came in 2009 when he posted an undercover video of a man—the now famous/infamous James O’Keefe—posing as a pimp and seeking legal advice for his “business” from ACORN, a community organization that has long been the scourge of conservatives.Democrats said it was unfairly edited! In this case, Cillizza wasn’t even willing to state the truth is a circuitous fashion. Cillizza cited the famous pimp costume, refused to report it was fake. (Did he keep his text "technically accurate?" Go ahead! You be the judge!)
The incident caused considerable embarrassment to ACORN and propelled Breitbart and O’Keefe into the national spotlight. Democrats decried the video as unfairly edited to paint ACORN in a negative light. Republicans seized on it as evidence of the corruption within the organization.
In discussing Breitbart’s death, many pundits refused to tell the truth about this case of deceptive editing.
Chris Cillizza couldn’t quite admit that both these greatest hits involved deceptive editing. (Deceptive editing. That’s different from “heavy” editing.) But Cillizza’s most remarkable point was expressed when he described Breitbart’s legacy.
What did Breitbart understand? The highlighted passage is sad:
CILLIZZA: The legacy that Breitbart leaves on the political world is a mixed one. He was, without question a pioneering force in the rapidly-growing field aggregation of political news—both during his time at Drudge and HuffPo.In this passage, Cillizza did manage to use the word “scurrilous,” after hiding the extent to which the word obtained. But in our view, that highlighted passage is deeply revealing.
(One former Huffington Post employee related a story about a 2007 conference call Breitbart did—at Huffington's behest—with the staff to school them on the best methods for aggregation. “He really talked our ears off on the call and wouldn’t stop talking about this ‘monkey boy’ that he had made popular after finding a small article on it in the Indian papers and putting it on Drudge,” said the employee.)
And, Breitbart also understood before many others that the world of politics—and the way in which it was covered—was rapidly transforming itself into a form of entertainment for the public. The fusion of celebrity and politician—best epitomized by former Alaska governor Sarah Palin—was something that Breitbart (and Drudge) grasped longed before much of the mainstream media.
At the same time, Breitbart’s methods walked a fine line between envelope pushing and downright scurrilous at times. The Sherrod incident raised questions about whether Breitbart was a journalist with a conservative bent or simply someone willing to do whatever it took to bring down Democrats.
According to Cillizza, “the world of politics—and the way in which it is covered” has been “rapidly transforming itself into a form of entertainment for the public.” We agree with that, of course. But we have spent the last dozen years complaining about that fact.
Cillizza shows no sign of having a negative view about this transformation. Indeed, he congratulates Breitbart for understanding this fact before almost anyone else did.
Breitbart understood this even before the media did! Cillizza seems impressed by this fact.
This comes right after Cillizza tells the tale about Breitbart’s “monkey boy.”
Breitbart was either very incompetent or he was very dishonest. Cillizza largely fudges this fact. But the sheer stupidity Breitbart promoted has been a very deep curse on the culture.
Cillizza doesn’t seem to understand this. We’ve written about this willful blindness for the past dozen years.