The best thing I have to say about the Huffington Post is this: they recently hired Radley Balko. That reflects either good judgment or very good luck. Balko's writing on criminal justice issues at Reason is indispensable for anyone interested in a vigorous critique of the excesses of the War on Drugs and the criminal justice system in general. Even though I'll be sorry to see Radley leave Reason, I think it's a good think that many more people will be exposed to his ideas. He's an excellent emissary for small-l libertarian thinking.
HuffPo does not always show such good judgment. And this time I'm not talking about their appalling taste in junk science. I'm talking about flip-flopping.
HuffPo recently announced that they had brought on Andrew Breitbart. Now, I'm generally not particularly impressed with Breitbart. But if HuffPo wants to encourage diversity of thought by bringing on a hard-line, vocal, and enthusiastic conservative, I don't have a problem with that.
Many people did. People decried HuffPo and said nasty things about Breitbart. HuffPo stood firm and said they value diversity of opinion.
At least for a day. Then they got their crystals all in a bunch and flip-flopped.
Today HuffPo announced they were pulling Breitbart from their front page, which is far more trafficked. Their excuse? That today the Daily Caller published an article showing that he said some nasty things about Van Jones.
But this morning, the Daily Caller published an interview with Breitbart in which he railed at Van Jones as a “commie punk” and a “cop killer-supporting, racist, demagogic freak.”
Here's the thing — I think that even people who like Breitbart would admit that such colorful language is not at all out of character for him. That's why some people like him — he throws elbows against people they don't like. That's his nature. HuffPo is acting like the river-swimming frog that complained to the scorpion. If they didn't know that Breitbart was like that, then they are both ignorant and sloppy. If they knew, but had a critical spine failure after a little blogosphere heat, then they're cowardly and rather pathetic.
It's embarrassing to realize that either (1) you don't know who the hell you decided to publish or (2) you didn't think through whether you had the nads to stand up to criticism of your hire. To be fair, Breitbart can hardly throw the first stone on that score. Anyone remember floridly nutty Dr. Kevin Pezzi,, whom Breitbart cheerfully front-paged and then later non-personed when everyone pointed out that he was a loon?
It's not a perfect comparison, though. Dr. Pezzi's nuttiness was somewhat obscure. One would actually have to Google him to discover it. By contrast, Breitbart is omnipresent in the media. Whether HuffPo didn't know that he talks like that, or knew but didn't weigh whether they were ready to stand by him, their volte-face is an embarrassment.
Update: Breitbart: "You think that's embarrassing yourself? Bullshit. THIS is embarrassing yourself."
Last 5 posts by Ken White
- Free Speech Triumphant Or Free Speech In Retreat? - June 21st, 2017
- The Power To Generate Crimes Rather Than Merely Investigate Them - June 19th, 2017
- Free Speech, The Goose, And The Gander - June 17th, 2017
- Free Speech Tropes In The LA Times - June 8th, 2017
- I write letters - June 1st, 2017