Andrew Breitbart v. Gillian Reagan: Interview and Aftermath
Breitbart had a point that the photo of him used to illustrate Ms. Reagan's article (and taken from Fox News video) made him look "angry," but he did look that way and, much more importantly,
"truth" -- "sin" language is perfectly appropriate, not reasonably perceived as "offending" and not used only by Christians, and Breitbart's attack on it is "offending" to those who are not unduly sensitive secularists like Breitbart.
"Pimp and Pro" ACORN sting mastermind and publisher Andrew Breitbart's upset with a short article on Breitbart and the debut of his BigJournalism by Senior Editor, Media of Silicon Alley Insider Gillian Reagan is illuminating.
Breitbart graciously acceded to Ms. Reagan's request for an interview prompted by the debut of Breitbart's BigJournalism.
Perhaps both of them now wish that he had said no, but we have learned some things because he said yes: Breitbart is very sensitive and overreacts and Ms. Reagan's hearing probably is not perfect.
Breitbart wrote in his article with respect to Ms. Reagan's article, "Honest journalistic enterprise or partisan attack piece? You be the judge...."
Okay, I will.
Why was Breitbart upset?
Ms. Reagan had written: "Breitbart helped Arianna Huffington launch Huffington Post as 'primary developer.' 'My sites offer truth and hers offer leftist sin,' he said. 'I’m very happy to be in competition with HuffPost, TPM or Politico,' he said. 'I honestly don’t read those sites.'”
Breitbart insists that he said "spin," not "sin," and reads Politico.
Ms. Reagan posted this update: "In the original version of this post, we published a quote from Breitbart referring to Huffington's sites as 'leftist sin.' Breitbart disputes having said this. After reviewing our notes and the context, we believe the accurate quote is 'leftist SPIN.' We have corrected this. We also said that Breitbart said he does not read Politico. He says he did not say this and that he does read it. We apologize for these errors."
That should have been case closed, but Breitbart not only deemed Ms. Reagan's article a "hit piece," but also posted this complaint: "...let me point out that when I told her she’d misquoted me, she told me that she had taped the conversation without my knowledge or my consent!"
Ms. Reagan is based in New York, where one-party consent is lawful, while Breitbart is based in California, where recording without the consent of all parties in felonious.
Moreover, coming from "Pimp and Pro" ACORN sting mastermind Breitbart, an objection to a reporter having recorded him for a story (punctuated with an exclamation mark) is an amusing example of chutzpah. (Wikipedia: "Chutzpah... is the quality of audacity, for good or for bad.) See The Legality of the California "Pimp and Pro" ACORN Videos (November 17, 2009) (http://www.webcommentary.com/php/ShowArticle.php?id=gaynorm&date=091117).
I surely don't know whether Breitbart said "spin" or "sin" and Ms. Reagan concluded that she had misheard and issued a correction, but "sin" and "spin" sound similar, "leftist sin" would have been appropriate too and charging that a missing "p" made Ms. Reagan's article a "hit piece" is silly (although the article illustrator should have found another photo of Breitbart that would not frighten children).
Instead of simply accepting the update and declaring victory, Breitbart railed:
"I am a jocular, secular Jew and I usually find myself quite comfortable to speak freely in interviews with New York-based in-all-likelihood left-leaning journalists like Gillian Reagan. Yet I choose my words carefully. She laughed a lot of the time, so I thought she understood I wasn’t a speaking-in-tongues Pentecostal Christian (not that there’s anything wrong with that!) That’s why the central offense of Ms. Reagan’s article bothers me so: I don’t speak in 'truth' — 'sin' language.
"'“Truth’ and "sin"' represent a distinct Christian outlook and I am not a Christian. I recall saying my sites will tell 'truths the mainstream media refuse to cover.' I likely said Arianna’s site mostly offers 'leftie spin.' Putting the term 'truth’ which I believe I used in a completely different context to grant the manipulated 'truth-sin' construct is clearly a greater journalistic 'sin' than the one offered by your correction/clarification."
Breitbart had a point that the photo of him used to illustrate Ms. Reagan's article (and taken from Fox News video) made him look "angry," but he did look that way and, much more importantly, "truth" -- "sin" language is perfectly appropriate, not reasonably perceived as "offending" and not used only by Christians, and Breitbart's attack on it is "offending" to those who are not unduly sensitive secularists like Breitbart.
Further, in the Kerry tradition, Breitbart publicly used the word "sin" both after and before he suggested that he doesn't.
"The aggrieved Caucasian male obviously does not need his self-esteem repaired. A nonapology apology from Judge Sotomayor - 'I'm sorry if I offended anyone' - simply allows the Democrats to change the subject. Instead, the price for Judge Sotomayor's sin should be that Americans finally get their long-awaited national discussion on race - in the form of a confirmation hearing that puts this culturally and politically acceptable 'reverse racism' on trial."
Apparently Breitbart was so upset by Ms. Reagan's article that he could no longer live by the "rule" he had chosen to respect a few days earlier. (After issuing a correction for apparently wrongly reporting that ACORN CEO Bertha Lewis had visited the White House last September, Breitbart wrote: "This week I issued my first correction, even though I wasn’t proved wrong. I just couldn’t prove I was right. I can live with that rule"
Additionally, an irate (hardly "jovial") Breitbart posted claims against Ms. Reagan that he admittedly could not prove.
"...She never told me she was taping. And when I confronted her on the falsehoods she jumped to the 'I taped it card.' Without missing a beat I told her, 'Good, I want to hear it,' or words to that effect, and that 'I want others to hear it, too.'
"I can’t prove it, but in the thirty seconds she fumbled to answer and came up empty, I felt I had successfully called her bluff. I believe strongly that she lied when confronted thinking I wouldn’t ask for the tape to be made public. Her voice showed serious concern in the 30-seconds. But, again, I can’t prove it."
I didn't hear that conversation, but it seems to me that disclosing the taping (albeit belatedly) was not what a person trying to cover up the truth would do.
Michael J. Gaynor has been practicing law in New York since 1973. A former partner at Fulton, Duncombe & Rowe and Gaynor & Bass, he is a solo practitioner admitted to practice in New York state and federal courts and an Association of the Bar of the City of New York member.
Gaynor graduated magna cum laude, with Honors in Social Science, from Hofstra University's New College, and received his J.D. degree from St. John's Law School, where he won the American Jurisprudence Award in Evidence and served as an editor of the Law Review and the St. Thomas More Institute for Legal Research. He wrote on the Pentagon Papers case for the Review and obscenity law for The Catholic Lawyer and edited the Law Review's commentary on significant developments in New York law.
The day after graduating, Gaynor joined the Fulton firm, where he focused on litigation and corporate law. In 1997 Gaynor and Emily Bass formed Gaynor & Bass and then conducted a general legal practice, emphasizing litigation, and represented corporations, individuals and a New York City labor union. Notably, Gaynor & Bass prevailed in the Second Circuit in a seminal copyright infringement case, Tasini v. New York Times, against newspaper and magazine publishers and Lexis-Nexis. The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed, 7 to 2, holding that the copyrights of freelance writers had been infringed when their work was put online without permission or compensation.
Gaynor currently contributes regularly to www.MichNews.com, www.RenewAmerica.com, www.WebCommentary.com, www.PostChronicle.com and www.therealitycheck.org and has contributed to many other websites. He has written extensively on political and religious issues, notably the Terry Schiavo case, the Duke "no rape" case, ACORN and canon law, and appeared as a guest on television and radio. He was acknowledged in Until Proven Innocent, by Stuart Taylor and KC Johnson, and Culture of Corruption, by Michelle Malkin. He appeared on "Your World With Cavuto" to promote an eBay boycott that he initiated and "The World Over With Raymond Arroyo" (EWTN) to discuss the legal implications of the Schiavo case. On October 22, 2008, Gaynor was the first to report that The New York Times had killed an Obama/ACORN expose on which a Times reporter had been working with ACORN whistleblower Anita MonCrief.