Breitbart News’ Adelle Nazarian confronted Anti-Defamation League (ADL) president Jonathan Greenblatt at a conference on antisemitism in New York on Thursday and asked him to defend his claim that Breitbart is the “premier website of the Alt Right.”
Greenblatt said he was referring to the words of Breitbart News Executive Chairman Stephen K. Bannon, who had used the word “platform.” However, after questioning from Nazarian, Greenblatt backed away from the word “premier.”
Bannon was appointed Sunday by President-elect Donald J. Trump to serve as Chief Strategist and Special Counselor in the White House. The ADL’s strident statement opposing Bannon’s nomination fueled widespread attacks on Bannon and Breitbart News.
The exchange between Nazarian and Greenblatt on Thursday followed the Anti-Defamation League’s decision to back away from allegations that Bannon is an antisemite. On Thursday morning, Breitbart News reported that the ADL had indicated: “We are not aware of any anti-Semitic statements from Bannon.”
A partial transcript of Nazarian’s conversation with Greenblatt follows:
BREITBART: So I know that you have backed away from allegations that Steve Bannon is [an] antisemite; on the website you issued a statement. … The ADL has also claimed that Breitbart News is the premier alt-right site. And that Steve Bannon is “the chief curator of the alt-right.”
NAZARIAN: That’s also not true, though.
GREENBLATT: What do you mean?
NAZARIAN: It’s not true that — Breitbart News is not the premier platform for the alt-right.
GREENBLATT: So —
NAZARIAN: Could you correct that statement?
GREENBLATT: Ok, so, I’m just going to read to you.
GREENBLATT: It says , “This summer” — this is an article from the National Review, even though you know it. “This summer, Bannon cheerfully informed Mother Jones that Breitbart had become “the platform for the alt-right.” That’s what he said. “the platform for the alt-right.” So I’m just going to read, not my words, his words: “the platform for the alt-right.” That’s what it — that’s what he said. So just to understand, just to clarify so I can answer your question, is that wrong? Did he not say that or did he say that?
NAZARIAN: So, his statement is different than the ADL stating that it is the “premier” site for the alt-right.
GREENBLATT: OK, so let’s just read it. He was happy to — had become “the platform for the alt-right.” So, just to make sure I’m clarifying. I just want to know. You probably know him a lot better than I do because you work for Breitbart.
NAZARIAN: I do.
GREENBLATT: Just like I know what we said better. Maybe.
NAZARIAN: I do. I know him very well. He’s not [an] antisemite. That’s for sure.
GREENBLATT: Ok. So hold on one more sec. Which is fair, right? [Checking Twitter for article] … Here we go. So, we said that he “presided over the premier website of the Alt Right … We call on” — So, that’s that only thing I actually said about him. Did I actually say he was an antisemite in there?
NAZARIAN: Yes. I can pull up that statement.
GREENBLATT: You should. Because, if you want to talk about what I said, I’m happy to talk about that.
NAZARIAN: Absolutely, absolutely. Ok. Let me pull this up. [Checking Twitter] … “It is a sad day when a man who presided over the premier website of the Alt Right, a loose-knit group of white nationalists and unabashed anti-Semites and racists – is slated to be a senior staff member in the ‘people’s house.'” So, basically, you call him to — so, basically, you’re saying that he represents antisemitism and…
GREENBLATT: Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. I said he “presided the premier website of the Alt Right.”
GREENBLATT: So am I wrong about what the alt-right is, do you think? Is the alt-right not about white nationalism? Now, I’m just going to ask because I want to make sure I get this right with you.
NAZARIAN: Sure. Breitbart News is not the premier site for the alt-right though. That’s what I’m asking for you to clarify, to correct.
GREENBLATT: I guess what I would just do, is just go back to Steve Bannon’s words, where he said that “Breitbart had become the platform for the alt-right.” So this says “premier website.” This says, “the platform.” So, I guess we can dispute whether “premier” website means the same thing or something different than “the platform.” I think it essentially means the same thing.
NAZARIAN: May I look up the definition of premier?
GREENBLATT: Sure. It probably means leading, I would think, or number one, or something.
NAZARIAN: It says here … [crosstalk]
GREENBLATT: But I get it. Premier means, like, “leading.” So, he said it was “the platform.” We said he made it “the premier website.” So, respectfully, if you’d like, I could say — where is that quote? Just read back what Steve Bannon said. So, in his own words, “it’s a sad day when a man who presided over the premier” — I’m sorry — “the platform.” I mean, if you want me to say it that way, I can. But all I’m going to do is quote from him. Not from myself.