The leftwing U.K. Guardian — one of the most popular publications in the world — had a reporter read nothing but Breitbart.com for two days. In his must-read article explaining what he learned from the experience, the Guardian’s Adam Gabbatt writes that despite what he calls “shouty doomsday headlines,” the true “genius” of Breitbart is the “packaging” of narratives in fact-based articles.
But compared to the caps-lock screaming, the actual articles are quite benign. They could have been published on a liberal news site. Look at this one from Wednesday, reporting on the response of Clinton’s campaign manager, Robby Mook, to Bannon being hired by the Trump campaign.
“Mook: ‘Only Fitting For a Bully Like Trump To Hire a Bully To Run His Campaign’,” it reads.
Mook did say that. It’s true. The article itself is opinion-free. It could appear on the Guardian. It merely quotes Mook directly. A later article on the same subject quoted Mook more extensively, then included a response from Breitbart at the bottom. That’s essentially what any news site would have done.
That’s not to say Breitbart is objective. It just pushes its rightwing message with a surprising subtlety.
An extensive profile of Bannon by Bloomberg Politics reveals some of that thinking. “Facts get shares, opinions get shrugs,” Bannon says. And that’s mostly how it works.
If Breitbart’s success is from publishing articles that it knows will upset its readers, the key is to publish the stories that present the perfect combination of facts to fuel rightwing anger. For example, a story about homeland security secretary Jeh Johnson, who visited Louisiana following the recent floods, saying Obama could not also attend because he has a “very busy schedule”. It is true – he did say that. But the article is illustrated with a picture of a smiling Obama on a golf course, and the text notes the president is “on vacation”.
Apart from Clinton’s troubling health, I learned that there was a “new gun control idea”. The idea, according to the Breitbart headline, is to “take away guns from senior citizens”.
The story is actually presented straight. After an examination of the quotes, however, which came from an academic at Johns Hopkins University, the article didn’t match the bluster of the headline.
Read the rest here.