No, Breitbart didn’t run fabricated “Weinergate” evidence
posted at 11:22 am on June 3, 2011 by Ed Morrissey
In the immediate aftermath of the so-called Weinergate exposure, the Left went on an offensive, accusing Andrew Breitbart of fabricating evidence to frame Anthony Weiner (Big Journalism broke the story). Thanks to Weiner’s public-relations disaster this week, this charge has largely been forgotten, as it’s pretty clear that the picture in question did appear on Weiner’s Twitter feed, and is at least arguably of Weiner, since Weiner seems at great pains to avoid a categorical denial of it. Mediaite’s Tommy Christopher — not exactly a fan of Breitbart — spent the week tracking down allegations of malfeasance by Breitbart, and comes to a surprising conclusion:
There are reasonable criticisms to be made of Andrew Breitbart regarding the Weinergate story (I have made many), and I haven’t seen every statement he’s made on Twitter or TV, so I cannot vouch for their fairness, but when it comes to the publication of factual evidence, Breitbart has acted responsibly throughout.
In the instant-gratification landscape of the new media, so-called journalists bumble around posting information, with little regard for traditional journalistic processes, and the results have been disgraceful. One such result has been the unfair accusations against Andrew Breitbart, accusations which I am now able to refute. It has been exceedingly difficult to stand by silently while individuals on every side of the political spectrum have made a mockery of the truth, but the story is now ready to be told. Please excuse the long narrative, but it is all important to understand what really happened here. …
As our conversations were off the record, I have only divulged what Breitbart and I mutually agreed upon, but if he wants to share his end of the conversation, he can. For my part, I would testify in court that Andrew did not induce anyone to produce evidence against Anthony Weiner, fabricated or otherwise, and treated the documentation presented to him with circumspection.
I have long been a strong critic of Andrew Breitbart (in fact, ironically, the thing I’m 3rd most famous for is having him tell me “Put your dick back in your pants!” at CPAC). We settle our differences like men, face-to-face, now, and will continue to do so, but one bit of strong common ground that we share is that we are both devoted fathers. Throughout this story, Andrew has expressed his concern for protecting the identities of the underage girls whose tangential involvement has led to harassment. I have taken great pains to do the same.
But not everyone has behaved as responsibly, as Tommy later reports. The girls’ Twitter handles and names got published on the Daily Kos by one of the community diarists there, and Tommy contacted Markos Moulitsas to ask him to remove the identifications. Moulitsas refused:
When the girls’ parents became aware of this, they were very distressed, fearing for their children’s safety and privacy. I assured them that I would contact the blog’s proprietor, Markos Moulitsas (a father himself), and he would surely take it down, or redact their names.
The reality, though, was quite another story. When I contacted Moulitsas, he refused to call me, insisting upon email, which greatly hampered the amount of detail I could give him. The result was that he refused to redact their names, or make any changes, but the actual emails demonstrate a reprehensible lack of compassion or responsibility …
It disgusts me to see any person behave this way, particularly a fellow liberal. It is my hope that he rethinks this, or that enough of my fellow liberals (he’s not likely to be persuaded by conservatives) encourage him (perhaps via Twitter) to do the right thing, and protect these girls. Their parents are sick with worry over this, and the frustrating part is that I promised them, every step of the way, that I would protect them, that I would kill the story rather than risk harm to these girls.
Be sure to read all of Tommy’s report; he has the entire e-mail exchange between him and Moulitsas, and some of the other behind-the-scenes communications that have puzzled some followers of the story. Tommy also has an exclusive on statements from the families of the two underaged girls that got caught up in the story this weekend. The big takeaway, however, is that the reporting from Big Journalism was conducted responsibly, and that Breitbart and Dana Loesch did what reporters do — get data from sources and report on them, rather than manufacture a story, as they were accused of doing.