BuzzFeed News reported that Breitbart.com may be accepting “financial backing” from GOP presidential hopeful Donald Trump in exchange for “fawning headlines,” according to sources inside the conservative outlet.
Trump has received mixed reviews following the first GOP primary debate -- though declared one of the winners of the night, mainstream and conservative media alike have condemned his subsequent attacks on Fox News host and debate moderator Megyn Kelly.
Within the conservative media war over Trump, Breitbart.com has consistently taken his side, devoting numerous front page headlines to hyping Trump's excuses that his attacks on Kelly were justified and taken out of context. The outlet has long been giving Trump credit for sparking the debate over illegal immigration after he deemed Mexican immigrants “rapists” and criminals, while the GOP candidate has seemingly gleaned several of his talking points from Breitbart.com, such as the myth of 34 million undocumented immigrants and his notorious birther claims.
Now, four sources at Breitbart.com have reportedly “complained since at least last year that the company's top management was allowing Trump to turn Breitbart into his own fan website,” according to an August 9 article by BuzzFeed News, calling their employer's fawning over Trump “despicable” and “embarrassing” :
Inside the most pro-Trump news outlet on the right, some employees say the billionaire candidate has provided financial backing in exchange for fawning headlines -- a charge management strongly denies.
According to four sources with knowledge of the situation, editors and writers at the outlet have privately complained since at least last year that the company's top management was allowing Trump to turn Breitbart into his own fan website -- using it to hype his political prospects and attack his enemies. One current editor called the water-carrying “despicable” and “embarrassing,” and said he was told by an executive last year that the company had a financial arrangement with Trump. A second Breitbart staffer said he had heard a similar description of the site's relationship with the billionaire but didn't know the details; and a third source at the company said he knew of several instances when managers had overruled editors at Trump's behest. Additionally, a conservative communications operative who works closely with Breitbart described conversations in which “multiple writers and editors” said Trump was paying for the ability to shape coverage, and added that one staffer claimed to have seen documentation of the “pay for play.”
Breitbart.com's senior staff denied the charges, telling Buzzfeed, “We have no financial relationship with Donald Trump as an investor, advertiser or in any other capacity at this time -- nor have we ever. The insinuation that we do -- or did -- is a lie.”