Two weeks ago, I wrote that the late Andrew Breitbart would not have particularly savored the thought of Anthony Weiner being sent to federal prison. He cherished the vindication that story brought him in his war with mainstream media, but took no particular pleasure in Weiner’s self-destruction.
The Harvey Weinstein story is different. Andrew would have loved every moment, every new accusation, every attack on those who knew and who covered for him.
Breitbart News exists to cover stories like the Harvey Weinstein scandal. This site actually began by reporting on Hollywood. (“Big Hollywood” is the oldest of the “Bigs” that Andrew brought together under Breitbart.com in 2012.)
Andrew believed strongly that culture is upstream from politics. Rather than counting votes in caucus rooms on Capitol Hill, he went for the stories that showed how Hollywood and the media collaborated with Democrats.
The only bad thing about the Harvey Weinstein story is that Breitbart News did not break it. That achievement — amazingly — belongs to that storied liberal institution, the New York Times.
As jealous as we feel, the Hollywood trade publications have to feel even worse. Here was the biggest scandal in decades, virtually an open secret inside the industry, and all of them — Hollywood Reporter, Vanity Fair, TMZ and the rest — missed it, or suppressed it.
The Times stands accused of having spiked the story years earlier — as Ronan Farrow has accused NBC of spiking his own Weinstein exposé, which he eventually published in the New Yorker and which includes horrifying claims of assault and rape. Kudos to MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, who brought Farrow onto her show to her their parent network. Belatedly, the liberal media is beginning to hold itself accountable. Andrew would have been thrilled.
He would not have been thrilled, however, by President Donald Trump’s comment on Wednesday that NBC might deserve to have its broadcasting license taken away. Trump later elaborated: “Network news has become so partisan, distorted and fake that licenses must be challenged and, if appropriate, revoked. Not fair to public!” But the right response to biased and deceptive news is to seek out alternatives, of which there are — thankfully — many.
One of the many things that made Andrew Breitbart fascinating as both a media critic and a culture warrior is that he rarely ever called for bad journalists to be fired. The way he saw it, he would rather have a deeply compromised opponent still on the air than banished. Keeping them in their jobs made them more vulnerable in debates — and also showed just how corrupt their institutions were, how much they would tolerate for the sake of political gain.
Moreover, Andrew Breitbart did not believe in silencing people, no matter how odious their views, because he believed that people could be persuaded to change their minds, and deserved a chance to do so. He surrounded himself at Breitbart News with liberal apostates like himself — people who had once been on the left but whose felicitous exposure to different ideas had caused them to challenge their assumptions, and the world around them.
The Times and NBC may have circled the wagons around Harvey Weinstein, but at least some parts of those liberal bastions were still functioning with a sense of professionalism and integrity.
More voices, not fewer. That’s what makes America great.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.