It was disappointing to hear Bill Maher refer to Andrew Breitbart as a "journalist" last night. He isn't one, and calling him that is an insult to every journalist everywhere. Journalism requires the kind of integrity Breitbart utterly lacks:
Andrew Breitbart is a known news fabricator. Any material originating through his websites should be considered suspect at best, and subjected to thorough fact-checking before it can be reported on by anyone in any case.
Legitimate bloggers should avoid linking to his websites. Bloggers and other new media content creators who work for Breitbart, or who post to his sites, should be considered fruit of a poisonous tree.
Breitbart himself should be considered unfit for news. If it is absolutely necessary to report on him, Breitbart should be identified primarily as “known fabricator” — not a ‘journalist,’ ‘entertainer,’ ‘website mogul,’ or any other such title.
What Breitbart and his cohort of right-wing "new media" voices do is propaganda. They make nontroversy into outrage, or make crap up when they lack nontroversy. It is media pollution. It is poisonous to democracy.
Maher has diminished himself in elevating Breitbart, who returned the favor by telling his host "you're not libertarian, you're socialist." The fabricator's entire web empire is characterized by this sort of Overton Window-yanking insanity. You cannot find a single mention of Iraq or Afghanistan contracting scandals on his sites, for example, but you can find the latest ginned-up outrage over White House Christmas ornaments or an NEA conference call in between the Victoria Jackson posts.
If Breitbart published such ravings behind a tabloid cover of Batboy or Elvis sightings or world's fattest couple to wed, we would be able to laugh. Instead, Breitbart presents fiction as truth, which isn't funny or thrilling. There is no laughing at how Breitbart, Hannah Giles, and James O'Keefe III smeared ACORN, taking down the largest and most-successful anti-poverty organization in America at the height of a recession even though no one at any ACORN office did anything illegal. Major media swallowed the hoaxers' narrative whole although the hoax videos themselves disprove it.
Those ACORN workers might have been anyone; when Breitbart escaped serious repercussions from the media, he went on to slime Shirley Sherrod. Maher's friendly treatment only encourages him to commit further acts of character assassination from which no one is safe.