The Catalonian newspaper El Nacional spoke with Media Matters president Angelo Carusone about Breitbart.com and its model of “infecting” political movements to advance its racist, anti-immigrant, anti-feminist, and anti-globalization political ideology. The report comes shortly after Breitbart announced it will launch operations in France and Germany ahead of their elections.
Breitbart -- a right-wing website that publishes misinformation, conspiracy theories, and anti-Semitic, racist, transphobic, misogynistic and xenophobic content -- has become a platform in the U.S. for the white nationalist movement branded by its supporters as the "alt-right." Breitbart also greatly aided Donald Trump’s campaign, effectively functioning as Trump’s propaganda machine. Breitbart’s former executive chairman Stephen Bannon took a leave of absence to serve as CEO for the Trump campaign, and post-election he has been chosen to serve as chief strategist and senior counselor to the president-elect.
Breitbart, which already has operations in London and Jerusalem, has now announced plans to expand to France and Germany ahead of those countries’ elections. Breitbart is looking to exploit the rise of xenophobic movements like that of Marine Le Pen in France by deploying their extremist ideology in the European media markets.
Carusone explained to El Nacional that Breitbart’s model “consists of infecting” an opposition movement that already exists in a country -- “like Nigel Farage’s anti-European xenophobic party” in the United Kingdom -- and aligning itself with that movement to advance its agenda. Breitbart identifies a political movement that is susceptible to or that will be energized by anti-immigrant, anti-feminist, anti-globalization, or racist sentiments and “generat[es] animosity” to fuel those movements. Carusone also explained that Breitbart doesn’t “have enough income to sustain their operations” and that they must have other sources of funding that aren’t publicly known -- meaning that it is unclear who is ultimately bankrolling the spread of their extremism.
Translated from El Nacional:
Could Breitbart take root in Spain? “Its model, in reality, consists of infecting a political movement” of opposition that is already established, explained Angelo Carusone, president of the progressive think tank Media Matters to El Nacional. “That movement existed in the United Kingdom: the UKIP (like Nigel Farage’s anti-European xenophobic party).
In France and Germany they already have somewhere to take cover: Marine Le Pen’s National Front(FN) and Frauke Petry’s Alternative for Germany (AfD).
The first step is to identify an opposition party in the country where they want to establish themselves that aligns with them and to seek out the sentiments that fuel them: those against immigrants, feminism, globalization, other races …, explains Carusone. Breitbart “generates animosity” against these groups “publishing content more or less in line with the party” they are drawing close to. The party officials “talk about them on TV, on radio or in newspapers, giving Breitbart added legitimacy among the community in which they want to grow and within their chosen party. They are specialists in building this dynamic,” he concluded.
Their business model is unclear. Legally they are a corporation, not an NGO or a foundation. They don’t promote donations, even if their initial push came from one: the at least ten million dollars that American billionaire Robert Mercer gifted them.
They have scarce advertising and there are a handful of companies that have decided to stop advertising on Breitbart: Kellogg (foods), Allstate (insurance), Warby Parker (glasses), Earthlink y Sofi (internet) and BMW. Others, like Nissan, have decided to stay, perhaps for fear that they will mount a boycott campaign as happened to Kellogg.
Breitbart doesn’t make its financial accounting public. It also avoids asking for or soliciting grants or credentials that would force them to make this information public. “They don’t even talk about these things. What seems clear to me is that they don’t have enough income to sustain their operations. They have to have other sources of funding,” suspects Carusone, for whom “all of that is not what most concerns them, in the sense that they are more interested in advancing their ideology and political agenda” than they are in business aspects.
"They lie, misinform, intimidate, harass and try to suppress or eliminate the activities of those who oppose them. I wouldn’t say that they are a medium for information, but rather the organizational nexus of a community. They look like an informational website, but they are an organization tool. That’s where their political power comes from,” explained Carusone.