Politico’s Hadas Gold and the Fox News Channel’s Megyn Kelly severely misrepresented a series of events during the Republican primaries in an attempt to attack the Breitbart News Network, Breitbart News can reveal.
In a headline out on Monday evening, Gold presented Breitbart News’s cutting edge journalism as somehow “coordination” of activities with a source.
“Breitbart coordinated with liberal activist and organizer who disrupted GOP primary campaign events,” the headline read.
The article contained a description of how Aaron Black—a progressive organizer who dressed up as Robot Rubio during the GOP primaries—did interviews with Breitbart News about his activities. It is not a surprise or news now that he did this at the time. Breitbart News featured these interviews live on the website and on this network’s SiriusXM Patriot channel 125 radio program at the time. Gold wrote:
A liberal activist and organizer coordinated with reporters from the conservative news site Breitbart during the primaries to cover his disruptions of events for candidates such as Sen. Marco Rubio. Aaron Black, an associate with Democracy Partners and a former Occupy Wall Street organizer, worked with the pro-Trump site Breitbart, tipping it off about his stunts, exchanging raw video and coordinating coverage, according to a source with direct knowledge of the situation.
The idea that Black “coordinated” Breitbart News coverage is a blatant misrepresentation of what happened. Black did on occasion—as he and any other effective organizer in politics does with everyone in media—tell Breitbart News about planned events he had coming up and different newsworthy actions he planned to take. Sometimes, when editors and reporters here deemed them newsworthy, Breitbart News would cover them. Other times not. For the reporters and editors at Politico who don’t understand, that is what is called journalism.
If anything, Black is a solid source with actionable intelligence on newsworthy events about many different goings-on in the political arena—and we’re proud he has trusted us enough to work with us on a number of stories, including his work as Robot Rubio exposing the globalist Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL). Rubio, of course, would go on after this to lose the Republican presidential primaries badly to current GOP nominee Donald J. Trump as voters rejected his vision for the country by the millions.
[Update: Democracy Partners challenged Politico’s characterization of this interaction, as well. Gold has updated her story with a statement from the group:
In an email Democracy Partners denied that Black worked directly with the Breitbart team.
“Some Democracy Partners staff worked with groups that gave voice to the majority of Americans left out of the extreme conservative agenda of the Republican Party Presidential Primaries,” the group said in a statement.
Black, Democracy Partners said, “disseminated information about the whereabouts of demonstrations and rapid response events to media outlets.”
“The coalition demonstrated against all 17 of the Republican candidates,” the statement continued. “We engaged the media from across the political spectrum. When we organized events aimed at a Trump opponent, Breitbart was more than happy to spread the word. When we organized events against Mr. Trump, Breitbart amplified the Trump Foundation-funded con artist James O’Keefe, who attacked our firm and coalition.”]
But that’s beside the point of this story, in which specifically Politico accuses Breitbart News—and Black—inaccurately of “coordination.” At no time did Breitbart News reporters or editors, including myself, tell or suggest to Black what to do—he was going to do what he was going to do—we just covered the news. And we did so ahead of the rest of the media in many cases on what turned out to be some of the more newsworthy stories of the Republican presidential primaries and beyond.
Those facts didn’t stop Politico from falsely smearing Black and Breitbart News in their story, though, with the suggestion that this news network was somehow behind what he did. That’s an insult to the journalists at Breitbart News — which was clearly at the cutting edge during the primaries, — and it’s an insult to Black’s activism, which was clearly effective for his cause.
“According to the source, Black coordinated with Breitbart via email, phone and in person, including when he dressed up as a robot and trolled Marco Rubio’s events,” Gold wrote. “The relationship was described as very friendly. An article subsequently published on Breitbart featured video footage of a physical confrontation between Black and Rubio’s New Hampshire campaign chairman.”
In that section, there are a few half-truths in Gold’s article. First off, Breitbart News did cover the incident of Robot Rubio—Aaron Black—getting physically confronted by Rubio staffer Cliff Hurst. Hurst, Rubio’s state director in New Hampshire, manhandled Black—who was wearing a robot costume to poke fun at Rubio’s horrendous debate performance in an exchange with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie—in the video.
What Gold doesn’t say, however, is who actually pushed the story to Breitbart News. Black did not have a hand in pushing this particular story. Breitbart News can reveal here for the first time that it was a paid staffer—whose identity this network will protect, because Breitbart News believes in journalism—for former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s campaign that first flagged the incident for Breitbart News and sent the video to Breitbart News.
“Here is the video,” the Jeb Bush staffer said in an email to Breitbart News, with a link to the YouTube clip of Hurst bashing Black.
“The guy in the green jacket that puts the kid in a head lock (assault) is this guy. Cliff Hurst. He is [Rubio’s] state chairman,” the Jeb Bush staffer added with a link to a WMUR story detailing how Hurst used to work for fellow failed GOP presidential candidate Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker before defecting to the Rubio campaign after Walker dropped out of the race.
The paid Jeb Bush staffer provided Breitbart News with Hurst’s cell phone number, and Breitbart News proceeded to interview Hurst about the incident. Only after interviewing Hurst and reviewing the video of the incident, Breitbart News went on to contact and interview Black. Black agreed to do the interview, and the story went viral getting nearly a thousand comments on Breitbart News.
Politico also clearly thought the story was newsworthy, though, as it posted video of Black as Robot Rubio on its website and on its Vine account. Politico’s was less detailed, however, than Breitbart News’s—and didn’t include an interview with Black or with Hurst about the incident, as Breitbart News did. Gold’s piece makes no mention of the fact that Politico also covered the news—and it’s unclear if she believes Politico’s piece was “coordination” with Black as well.
Breitbart News’s quote in the article—from editor-in-chief Alex Marlow—makes it clear that no such “coordination” was happening.
Marlow told Gold:
Aaron Black reached out to Breitbart and then we covered this and multiple other stories on our website and on our radio show on Sirius XM Patriot Channel 125. Breitbart News Network is proud to work with sources from across the political spectrum to cover important and breaking news stories so that we may bring the most informative reporting to our readers. This type of reporting proves why Breitbart continues to have amazing growth with over 200 million monthly page views and 36 million monthly unique visitors. In addition, this month we launched an online store and radio show with Major League Superstar Curt Schilling.
But Gold wasn’t interested in accuracy. She had a preconceived narrative that she was interested in pushing before she even reached out about the matter. And it appears that narrative she preconceived came from an anonymous source. As they do best, Politico quotes an anonymous source to make an unsubstantiated allegation against Breitbart News’s coverage of Robot Rubio—which took off as a meme online after that New Hampshire incident, spilling over into South Carolina where Rubio lost embarrassingly to Trump again.
“[Black] worked directly with Breitbart’s political team on the ground in the primary states to sabotage Marco Rubio & Ted Cruz, and elect Trump as nominee of [the Republican] party,” the anonymous source who was not otherwise identified told Gold. “[Black] was coordinating with [Breitbart’s] top staff to rabble rouse against Rubio at rallies.”
Again, this anonymous quote is laced with half-truths. After the first story did so well in New Hampshire, Black informed Breitbart News that he was planning to continue the effort down in South Carolina—where the primaries went next for the First in the South contest. There were several events that Black trolled Rubio at as a “Robot Rubio” there, but Breitbart News—upon an exhaustive review on Monday—does not seem to have actually covered any of them on this website, despite his efforts to get us to do so. They didn’t rise to the level of newsworthiness. Instead, Breitbart News was focused on other newsworthy developments during the South Carolina primary, including how Rubio was missing campaign events, how U.S. immigration officers were offering a historic rejection of his candidacy, how a prominent South Carolina blogger said that Rubio’s campaign manager pushed the story of an affair between him and Gov. Nikki Haley years ago, and how his campaign basically dissembled there.
That fully debunks the Politico story. But the insanity doesn’t stop there. Right after Politico went up with its story—while she was live on the air Monday night—Megyn Kelly interrupted a live panel discussion to rush the unverified and now debunked story on air.
“As we are on the air right now, Politico’s Hadas Gold breaks this story saying that the same group—Democracy Partners… that group according to Politico coordinated also with, get this, I’m gonna blow your mind now,” Kelly said, before revealing:
Breitbart. Breitbart, which is a conservative, they think it’s alt-right—whatever—to hurt Marco Rubio. Let me—I’m just reading this now—coordinated during the primaries to cover disruptions of events for candidates such as Marco Rubio. So you’ve got the groups on the left who dislike Rubio and the groups on the far-right who dislike Rubio. They didn’t make Rubio go into robot-mode when Chris Christie came after him, but the point is these are dirty, dirty tricks and these Democracy Partners should not have been coordinating with Hillary Clinton—she was not allowed to do that.
This isn’t the first time Kelly has rushed inaccurate and unsubstantiated stories onto her air. In fact, as part of her long-documented quest to dismantle Trump’s presidential campaign, early in the primaries just after he launched the campaign Kelly rushed a hit piece from the Daily Beast on air that claimed inaccurately that Trump raped his ex-wife Ivana Trump. Ivana Trump and Donald Trump discredited the Daily Beast’s inaccurate smear within a day—and the next night Kelly backed off the story.
It remains to be seen if both Gold—and Kelly—among the others in media who have reprinted this inaccurate narrative will retract or apologize for their inaccuracies.