Back in July when the Shirley Sherrod video rush-to-judgment exploded I predicted we’d be seeing a lot less of Andrew Breitbart. It was Breitbart whose website brought the edited Sherrod tape to light. I was wrong!
Here’s what I wrote in July.
Undoubtedly this is the end of Andrew Breitbart as an on-camera interview and source. Thank God for small favors. He’ll still have influence behind the scenes, but that’s just not the same and he knows it.
Now ABC News has invited Breitbart to be part of their election coverage.
Surprised? Yeah, I was too.
The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent said the emotion was even stronger at ABC News.
People in ABC’s newsroom were also caught completely off guard by the news, a newsroom source tells me.
“This blindsided a good portion of the team here,” the source emails. “And not in a good way.”
That was followed by an ABC press release clarifying not all was as it seemed. Breitbart had been invited, but not to appear on TV, just online. I’m not sure in this day-and-age that distinction means as much as it once did.
Mr. Breitbart’s role has always been as one of our guests at our digital town hall event:
Mr. Breitbart is not an ABC News analyst.
He is not an ABC News consultant.
He is not, in any way, affiliated with ABC News.
He is not being paid by ABC News.
Mr. Breitbart will not be a part of the ABC News broadcast coverage, anchored by Diane Sawyer and George Stephanopoulos. For the broadcast coverage, David Muir and Facebook’s Randi Zuckerberg will contribute reaction and response gathered from the students and faculty of Arizona State University at an ABC News/Facebook town hall.
If you thought that would be the end of the story think again! Last night Breitbart published some emails from ABC which certainly gives the impression he would be on-the-air.
This program will broadcast on the ABC Television Network, abcnews.com, ABC News Now, and ABC News Radio.
Breitbart says his diminished role is courtesy of a “calculated “astroturf“ intimidation campaign by the well-funded and frightened-for-their-political-lives institutional left to quash dissenting voices.” Maybe so. There is no shortage of Breitbart haters on the left.
Though this story might not have ‘legs’ it will have an impact on coverage and commentators going forward. My July prediction might not have been wrong, it was just issued too soon.
(update) On Tuesday Breitbart was uninvited! Here’s the email from ABC.
Dear Mr. Breitbart,
We have spent the past several days trying to make clear to you your limited role as a participant in our digital town hall to be streamed on ABCNews.com and Facebook. The post on your blog last Friday created a widespread impression that you would be analyzing the election on ABC News. We made it as clear as possible as quickly as possible that you had been invited along with numerous others to participate in our digital town hall. Instead of clarifying your role, you posted a blog on Sunday evening in which you continued to claim a bigger role in our coverage. As we are still unable to agree on your role, we feel it best for you not to participate.