Breitbart's Last In-Depth Interview: MSNBC Plot to Paint Obama Foes as 'Bigots'; Sharpton Hired to Help Mount Attack (Exclusive Audio)
Before he died, the conservative new-media maven was readying a defense from attacks he expected from MSNBC, Media Matters and the White House.
During an exclusive recorded interview with The Hollywood Reporter four weeks before his March 1 death, Andrew Breitbart alleged a plot between MSNBC and Media Matters for America — perhaps even in coordination with the White House – to paint detractors of PresidentObama as bigots.
The conservative firebrand suggested the strategy included pressuring advertisers (Rush Limbaugh's recent trouble keeping sponsors seems to fit the bill) and silencing conservatives (he cited Pat Buchanan, who has since been fired after 10 years as an MSNBC contributor). Essential to the strategy, Breitbart said, was hiring the Rev. Al Sharpton as a full-time host at MSNBC.
Sharpton premiered as host of PoliticsNation With Al Sharpton on MSNBC in August. He was hired, according to Breitbart, because accusations of racism against the Tea Party and other conservatives have more heft coming from him than they do from hosts Rachel Maddow, Ed Schultz and Lawrence O’Donnell.
Breitbart said that having Sharpton, as well as such other prominent, left-wing African-Americans as Cornel West and the Rev. Jesse Jackson, appear only sporadically on cable news shows wasn’t sufficient to smear Obama opponents. Sharpton’s task is to identify the allegedly coded language of the right – which Breitbart called “dog whistles” -- that Sharpton can translate into something racially insensitive.
“Every single day, he and his team get to do that, as opposed to dropping in and saying, ‘Hey did you hear that dog whistle?' ” said Breitbart.
“Maddow, Ed and the others are lily white -- glaringly lilly white for a group of people who are saying that the Tea Party is racist — so they had to put up a black person in this role to save face from their glaring whiteness as they accuse the Tea Party of being racist,” he said.
“Going into the 2012 election cycle, they needed to have professional race arsonists to hear dog whistles where no one else would hear them in order to put Republicans and conservatives, again, on the defensive over race and again create the driving narrative that the only rational reason that somebody could disagree with a progressive, liberal, leftist, community-organizing president is simply because he’s black. It’s absurd, but MSNBC understands the value," Breitbart said.
“It’s true propaganda in its most glaring form,” Breitbart said, “and there are organizations who then take that data and use it to intimidate advertisers and intimidate networks to get certain people off the air.”
On his belief that liberals try to silence the voices of certain conservatives, Breitbart said: “There’s no equivalent on the right. There’s nothing that can get a left-wing pundit kicked off the air the way that these left-wing organizations are doing right now, like they did with Pat Buchanan. They are the new totalitarians — but that’s what leftism is, that’s what community organizing is, and that is what you’re going to see is a fundamental tactic going into this election cycle."
Breitbart didn’t share his exact strategy for fighting back between now and the November general election, nor did he offer much in the way of proof of his assertions, though he used his own appearances on MSNBC as evidence that the network coordinates with Media Matters, and that they both are confidants of the Obama administration.
“I went on Martin Bashir’s show,” said Breitbart, “and it was a caricature, an exaggeration of what I had come to expect, which was a series of questions that came directly from Media Matters.”
Breitbart said MSNBC and Media Matters "want to go after me, they want to destroy me and my media possibilities as much as they want to destroy Rush Limbaugh, and that’s because Rush has his own venue and I have my own venue."
Breitbart called Media Matters a “political organization masked as a watchdog group” whose “dispatches are immediately turned into the questions that are used on air by MSNBC, which serves the same purpose of defending the Obama administration.”
Media Matters, he said, is “a radical left-wing 501c3 that gets millions of dollars from George Soros and other radical left-wing organizations, including the SEIU, the organizations that are the foot soldiers for the Obama administration. MSNBC is using them in order to craft narratives. It’s a rigged operation. If anybody paid attention to the lineage of the questions and the narrative it would shock you. It’s direct from the White House. It’s direct coordination from the DNC.”
A six-minute clip of the Breitbart interview is embedded at the top of this story.
MSNBC declined comment. A spokesperson for the cable news network said Sharpton was not available for comment.
In an interview, a rep for Media Matters acknowledges that the organization provides information to progressive pundits who appear on MSNBC and elsewhere. And since August 2009, it has been conducting the Progressive Talent Initiative, a series of four-day boot camps that trains pundits to make their liberal arguments on television. The PTI has trained 100 pundits who have made 800 TV appearances. Media Matters doesn't divulge names, but spokesman Ari Rabin-Havt confirms that contestants from American Idol and The Apprentice have been through the program.
Rabin-Havt, though, says Breitbart's assertions that Media Matters is in league with MSNBC to embarrass conservatives is an exaggeration.
"Whenever we know certain conservatives are booked, we send a memo saying, 'Hey, you should ask them this question.' But there's no conference call saying, 'This is how you should attack your guest.' That would be inappropriate," says Rabin-Havt.
As to coordinating with the Obama administration, he says: "There are times when our interests are aligned with the White House, but we never get marching orders from them. … Yes, we call the White House if we have a question, just like any reporter would."