Today, People for the American Way released an open letter to ABC regarding its invitation to Andrew Breitbart to participate in post-election coverage. In it, PFAW president Michael Keegan stated that providing any sort of platform for Breitbart legitimizes his deceitful practices:
Breitbart has proven time and again that he is willing to make up stories and smear the names of innocent people in order to draw attention to himself and advance his political causes. By associating with Breitbart, ABC News acknowledges the credibility of his dishonest tactics, and draws its own credibility as a news source into question.
We respect ABC News' commitment to balanced analysis, and expect that any unbiased news source will seek to provide equal platforms to each side of any debate. However, part of the responsibility of providing balanced news is ensuring that those participating in the debate are approaching the issues honestly and dealing in facts.
Andrew Breitbart, far from dealing in facts, has a long history of fabricating smears in order to advance his own agenda:
- He famously doctored a recording of Department of Agriculture employee Shirley Sherrod speaking about overcoming racism in order to accuse her of racism. His smear led to Sherrod's firing, but even more troubling, served to stoke existing racial resentment against the Obama Administration.
- His pushing of a tape that supposedly showed an ACORN employee helping a pimp and prostitute to establish a brothel helped to drive the smear campaign that eventually brought down the respected community organization. Independent investigations later found the tapes to be heavily edited and the storyline that Breitbart pushed to be far from the truth. Breitbart's smear of ACORN helped to propel the right-wing media's current fixation on the discredited fear of "voter fraud" resulting from minority voting.
- Breitbart is currently engaged in another fishy media campaign in Alaska, where he has accused a local CBS affiliate of concocting a plot against Senate candidate Joe Miller…but the only evidence he has been able to produce is a fuzzy audio clip that hardly substantiates his claim.
- Andrew Breitbart has every right to continue spewing his lies and conspiracy theories on the Internet, but his deceptive "analysis" has no place in an honest debate on an unbiased news program. Even including him in an online feature, as you have now said you will, lends a legitimate platform to his lies. And providing that platform makes ABC News complicit in Breitbart's deliberate, excuseless smears.
We urge you to reconsider your invitation to Andrew Breitbart before providing a platform to harmful smears and putting your own reputation as a news source at risk.