Lloyd Grove at the Daily Beast clutches pearls for the victims of mean tweets from Breitbart News fans–the first of whom the site has never mentioned in any negative way. “Seventeen million readers revel in Breitbart News’s Trump-supporting slipstream of angry populism, featuring an anti-immigration, anti-Muslim message,” Grove opens. “Is it stoking up dangerous hatred?”
From the Daily Beast:
Conservative essayist Bethany S. Mandel, who has been awash in a deluge of social media abuse since she began denouncing Donald Trump, finally purchased a handgun over the weekend.
She has especially tangled with Breitbart News, the rabble-rousing, Trump-friendly Web site—named for its late founder, culture warrior Andrew Breitbart—that regularly savages the GOP establishment, the media elite, the Washington consultant class, and the Fox News Channel, which it likes to portray as the willing enabler of all these sinister forces.
It is entirely predictable that, among other news outlets—including The Drudge Report,The New York Times and The Washington Post—the Twitter feeds of Mandel’s Trump-fan assailants often include links to stories on Breitbart News, and even to audio clips from Breitbart News Daily, the SiriusXM satellite radio program hosted by Breitbart executive chairman Stephen K. Bannon and Breitbart News editor in chief Alex Marlow.
Nick-named “Trumpbart” by detractors, the outlet claims 17 million readers, and is widely seen as a credulous purveyor of Trump’s angry populist, anti-immigration, anti-Muslim message, and as an enthusiastic booster of the reality show billionaire’s candidacy.
Mandel has disregarded the recent warning of a Trump fan with the Twitter handle @johnny-nimble.
“Never fuck with Breitbart. Ever,” @johnny-nimble cautioned.
This pseudonymous tweeter had earlier answered Mandel’s observation—“I never received so many anti-Semitic tweets since Trump’s rise. Not even when I tweeted about Israel during wars”—with the vow: “Ain’t seen nothing yet.”
Both Bannon and Marlow disown such malevolence.
“It has nothing to do with Breitbart—we don’t direct people on social media,” Marlow tells The Daily Beast. “I think this is more about what it’s like in the Twitterverse. It’s toxic the way we talk to one another in that place.”
Bannon, meanwhile, calls the notion that his news site is stoking the ugliness “absurd.”
But, he adds, “If a guy comes after our audience—starts calling working-class people vulgarians and brownshirts and Nazis and post-literate—we’re going to leave a mark. We’re not shy about it at all. We’ve got some lads that like to mix it up.”
Florida Republican political consultant Rick Wilson, an ardent supporter of Rubio—whom Breitbart’s writers continually portray as a liar who favors amnesty for illegals—has become a favorite Breitbart target since Trump’s rise in public opinion polls.
During a confrontational CNN appearance opposite Breitbart’s Marlow in August, Wilson derided the news site as Trump’s “Pravda” and referred to Trump fans as “low-information supporters.”
The next day, Bannon used his radio show to essentially declare war on the Rubio backer. He referred to Wilson as “a Republican paid consultant [who] viciously attacked the grass roots.”
The bald, bespectacled Wilson, who has written for The Daily Beast, quickly became a Breitbart whipping boy in a series of articles that variously described him as “Republican establishment cheerleader” and “Gollum-in-glasses” (Breitbart columnist John Nolte’s epithet is a reference to the slimy, power-mad character in Lord of the Rings.).
“It was a planned deployment,” Wilson says. “After I criticized Breitbart and criticized Trump, they decided they were going to weaponize themselves and go after me.”
Around the same time, Wilson says, strange and alarming incidents began befalling him and members of his family.
Internal emails obtained by The Daily Beast indicate that Bannon and Breitbart’s Boyle worked to obtain a comprehensive list of Wilson’s political clients (with the intention of making them feel uncomfortable about hiring him, Wilson believes).
Trump campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks didn’t respond to a detailed email requesting comment, though Trump acolyte Roger Stone, a longtime operative famous for his hardball tactics, speculates that whatever trouble Wilson has experienced “is probably the handiwork of overzealous and misguided supporters of Trump. The idea that Trump himself or his people would do this is absurd. They have bigger fish to fry. When you go on social media and say controversial things, you’re going to have consequences. If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen.”
In an interview, Bannon claimed zero knowledge of the misery allegedly being visited upon Wilson and his family, but Breitbart’s publicist, Kurt Bardella, wrote in a follow-up email: “Bannon wanted to make sure you knew and had in the story that the direction on Rick Wilson came from him specifically.”
Bannon revels in what he likes to call a Fight Club ethos. A Breitbart insider, who spoke on condition of anonymity, says that “they’re the kind of people who, if you accidentally brushed against their shopping cart in the supermarket, their response is to burn down your house.”
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