On Thursday, Mother Jones broke the massive scoop that Breitbart News participates in both journalism and conservative activism, reporting that reporters from this publication attended a conservative coalition meeting dubbed Groundswell. This stunning revelation was supported by the late Andrew Breitbart, who noted in his book, Righteous Indignation, that the goal of his site was “to knock down the false edifice that is mainstream media, that is built upon the false proposition of ‘objective’ journalism and the grotesque anti-American proposition of political correctness.”
Mother Jones breathlessly reports:
During these hush-hush sessions and through a Google group, the members of Groundswell–including aides to congressional Republicans–cook up battle plans for their ongoing fights against the Obama administration, congressional Democrats, progressive outfits, and the Republican establishment and “clueless” GOP congressional leaders. They devise strategies for killing immigration reform, hyping the Benghazi controversy, and countering the impression that the GOP exploits racism. And the Groundswell gang is mounting a behind-the-scenes organized effort to eradicate the outsize influence of GOP über-strategist/pundit Karl Rove within Republican and conservative ranks.
One of the influential conservatives guiding the group is Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, a columnist for the Daily Caller and a tea party consultant and lobbyist. Other Groundswell members include John Bolton, the former UN ambassador; Frank Gaffney, the president of the Center for Security Policy; Ken Blackwell and Jerry Boykin of the Family Research Council; Tom Fitton, the president of Judicial Watch; Gayle Trotter, a fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum; Catherine Engelbrecht and Anita MonCrief of True the Vote; Allen West, the former GOP House member; Sue Myrick, also a former House GOPer; Diana Banister of the influential Shirley and Banister PR firm; and Max Pappas, a top aide to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) (R-Texas).
Among the conveners listed in an invitation to a May 8 meeting of Groundswell were Stephen Bannon, executive chairman of Breitbart News Network; Dan Bongino, a former Secret Service agent who resoundingly lost a Maryland Senate race last year (and is now running for a House seat); Leonard Leo, executive vice president of the Federalist Society; Sandy Rios, a Fox News contributor; Lori Roman, a former executive director of the American Legislative Exchange Council; and Austin Ruse, the head of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute. Conservative journalists and commentators participating in Groundswell have included Breitbart News reporters Matthew Boyle and Mike Flynn, Washington Examiner executive editor Mark Tapscott, and National Review contributor Michael James Barton.
Dylan Byers of Politico, the outlet to which New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner reportedly promised employment to his sexting mistress, tut-tutted:
Boyle, who has spoken of his craft in militaristic terms, has a particularly close relationship to Groundswell. In one of several emails to Groundswell members, written in March, Boyle wrote: “I’m saying we can get pieces out fast on Breitbart. Whenever you have an idea, email or call me with a pitch and I’ll do my best to get the story out there. Keep us on offense, them on defense. Even if the idea isn’t perfect, I can help massage it to get there.”
It’s difficult to defend this as journalism; it’s something more akin to communications or press strategy. Nevertheless, Flynn, Boyle’s colleague, told Corn that “neither Boyle nor I have spent 1 minute on any messaging. We haven’t spent any time creating talking points.”
Politico reportedly attended an off-the-record session with President Obama last month in the wake of Obama’s Department of Justice targeting reporters. Politico portrays itself as an objective journalistic outlet.