On Friday’s broadcast of NBC’s “Today,” an interview given by Breitbart News editor-in-chief Alex Marlow to NBC News correspondent Stephanie Gosk aired featuring a number of different topics about Breitbart News.
Included among those topics were criticisms that Breitbart News is a “hate site,” the site’s relationship with White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, and the site’s mission.
Transcript as follows:
GOSK: You know, Breitbart is one of President Trump’s favorite news sources, once run by his top adviser, Steve Bannon. They see themselves as provocateurs, poking a finger in the eye of the mainstream media. But critics call them racists, anti-Semites and white supremacists. We sat down with Alex Marlow, the 31-year-old editor-in-chief, who pushes back against critics and the labels, defending the news site he’s worked at since it started in 2007.
MARLOW: We’re not a hate site.
GOSK: Do you think you’ve been unfairly demonized?
MARLOW: Oh, absolutely. Without a doubt.
GOSK: Breitbart has seen a meteoric rise, from a fringe start-up once run by White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, the right-wing news site explode exploded during the course of the presidential campaign with 240 million views a month.
There was a former employee of yours, who called Breitbart “Trumpbart.”
GOSK: Was that a fair criticism during the election?
MARLOW: Absolutely unfair criticism.
GOSK: He insists they will criticize the president if he breaks his promises.
MARLOW: If he makes good on those promises, he is going to get a lot of favorable coverage. When we feel like the president is not honoring the pledges he made to the public, he’s going to get critical coverage.
GOSK: Do you talk to the president?
MARLOW: I’ve spoken to the president on air, I believe, four times — twice when he was a candidate, twice before he was a candidate. And I have not spoken to him other than … since he’s been elected.
GOSK: How about Steve Bannon? Does he reach out?
MARLOW: Every so often. Not as often as I would have expected. I think Steve is a very busy man these days.
GOSK: Still, the White House and Breitbart seem to be in lockstep on most issues. President Trump’s unsubstantiated tweets that President Obama wiretapped him during the campaign, echoed an idea laid out in a Breitbart article published the day before.
Was the wiretap tweet because of a Breitbart article?
MARLOW: That I don’t know. I’ve heard things, probably similar things to you. And I heard that a Breitbart article played a big factor in it.
GOSK: The article never goes as far as Trump does, directly accusing his predecessor. But it argues that steps taken to investigate the Trump campaign’s links with Russia are purely political.
MARLOW: We’ve learned very little about any sort of nefarious connection between Trump and Russia. But what we have learned is there’s these incredible amount of leaks flooding out of Washington, specifically to undermine the president of the United States. And the media is gleefully reporting all of them.
GOSK: Who should the American public believe? Mainstream media? The federal government? Breitbart?
MARLOW: Oh, I would say believe Breitbart. I think Breitbart is —
GOSK: But why? Why should we believe Breitbart over what the federal government tells us about possible connections with Russia trying to tamper with the election?
MARLOW: Well, possible connections and actual connections are different.
GOSK: Yes, but when you have the federal government come out and say, we are investigating Russia, potentially tampering with the election, why as an American citizen should you not step back and go, “I should be worried about that”?
MARLOW: I’m not saying you shouldn’t be worried about it. But there’s been ample reporting, ample investigation. The entire world has been focused on this story. And I’m just asking for one piece of hard evidence.
GOSK: Marlow describes his staff as a mix of both reporters and activists — the site often blurring lines between news and opinion.
What is your mission?
MARLOW: First of all, is to be a great news site, covering hard-hitting, fast-pace, accurate, always accurate, information. Now, where we differ is that we’re admittedly right of center. We’re a populist, nationalist, grassroots conservative website.
GOSK: What is Breitbart’s position on immigration?
MARLOW: We don’t have a party line position on it. But I’ll tell you a few things that are pretty consistent. We believe that border security and national security is a serious issue. And we think that there is an American value system that’s worth being preserved.
GOSK: Do you think that American value system is in jeopardy because of immigration?
MARLOW: It depends. It’s in jeopardy because of immigration if people who are coming into the country do not understand the American values and don’t want to assimilate into American society.
GOSK: Its brand of conservatism has come under intense fire, frequently called, among other things, racist, because of headlines like this one from two years ago.
“Hoist It High and Proud: The Confederate Flag Proclaims a Glorious Heritage”
Would Breitbart print that headline today?
MARLOW: I don’t know the answer to that. It’s a good question. But, probably yes. And to be honest with you, I disagree with the article. I don’t disagree with us running it because it makes arguments that the — that flag doesn’t just symbolize racism to certain people. It symbolizes southern pride, southern heritage and states’ rights. Now, my personal view is I think we’ve moved on from that symbol. But, that doesn’t mean we can’t have a debate and discussion about it.
GOSK: Regardless of who it may offend.
Do you compromise civility in the defense of free speech?
MARLOW: In some cases that’s acceptable because of the fact that it’s proving a point about freedom of speech in that we used to raise a society that was supposed to be resilient emotionally. And now, everyone is looking for their safe space. And I think that’s a dangerous thing.
GOSK: One thing he doesn’t think is dangerous — President Trump calling the, quote, “fake news media,” the enemy of the American people.
That kind of extreme language, is that not damaging to our democracy?
MARLOW: I don’t think it is because I think in a lot of ways, as Steve Bannon put it, the press is the opposition party. That’s 100 percent the worldview that I have.
GOSK: Breitbart made its first significant break with the White House recently over the new health care bill. One of its concerns that tax cut for the wealthy. But, it’s worth pointing out, they lay the blame squarely at the feet of House Speaker Paul Ryan, not President Trump.
GUTHRIE: Alright, Stephanie, interesting interview. Thank you so much. Appreciate it.
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