Former Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd told National Public Radio (NPR) on Thursday morning that Breitbart was to blame for inciting last week’s terror attacks at two mosques in New Zealand, in which 50 people were murdered.
Rudd was interviewed by Rachel Martin and Steve Inskeep on NPR’s Morning Edition, who said that the massacre “throws a harsh light” on Australia, “the country from which the accused gunman came.”
Asked how he felt when he heard that the terrorist was Australian, Rudd said:
“Shock. Horror. Shame. I think any person who’s been a former head of government or current head of government would that if one of their own nationals was responsible for an action like this.”
Inskeep followed up: “I understand the shock, but was there also some level on which it was believable that there would be such an element in Australia?
Well, both here in United States, and Australia and other Western countries, you see the rise of the alt-right, and you see it is bubbling out all over the place, whether it’s in Breitbart or in some of the other alt-right, far-right, racist outlets [sic] around the world, and these things feed off each other. Within Australia, of course, you have far right-wing political forces. These folks also fanned this sort of sentiment within Australia.
Inskeep, who interviewed Breitbart News senior-editor-at-large Joel B. Pollak after the 2016 election and knows Rudd’s accusation to be false, did not correct his guest.
In that interview, Pollak specifically pushed back against claims that the website was racist.
In 2017, a Harvard study by data scientist confirmed that Breitbart News is not, in fact, an “alt-right” website. As the New York Times noted in a cover story in August 2017, quoting Harvard professor Yochai Benkler:
“One thing that came out very clearly from our study is that Breitbart is not talking about these issues in the same way you would find on the extreme right,’’ he said. ‘‘They don’t use the same language you find on sites like VDARE and The Daily Stormer’’ — two sites connected to the white-nationalist alt-right movement. He paused for a moment, then added: ‘‘Breitbart is not the alt-right.’’
The Times author, Will D. Hylton, remarked:
In fact, the [Breitbart] masthead is more varied and international than most of the news organizations where I’ve worked, and [editor-in-chief] Alex [Marlow] has a pretty good record of promoting women and minorities, at least by the industry’s abysmal standards — including the lead defense correspondent, the national security editor and the copy chief, all of whom are women of color.
Breitbart News was founded by the late Andrew Breitbart and CEO Larry Solov, both Jewish. Its staff of editors and reports is racially, ethnically, and religiously diverse, and the site has been particularly supportive of the emergence of minority conservative voices. Breitbart News also has a Jerusalem bureau devoted to regional coverage.
Breitbart News reached out to Steve Inskeep for comment but received no response.