Let’s all now do a massive “AWWW!”: the Republican National Committee has cancelled a Beverly Hill fundariser that was going to feature blogger/conservative activist Andrew Breitbart in light of the continuing controversy over his role in the sliming of Shirley Sherrod.
The announcement that Breitbart was going to be featured at the fundraiser had raised eyebrows and in some circles sparked political consternation since it seemed to be a de facto party endorsement of Breitbart. But apparently the feedback the RNC got was not exactly supportive.
This cancellation comes against the backdrop of three emerging contexts (1)a self-examination by the “old” media and parts of the “new media” (those parts not totally motivated by ideology) to ponder more solid judgment calls in an era with mega-quick news cycles, (3) Sherrod saying she intends to sue Breitbart, who in one breath recently said he would like to sit down and talk with her — as he continued his attack on the NAACP and (2) increasing uneasiness among some thoughtful Buckley-Goldwater descendent conservatives over the tone and tactics used by some in the 21st century conservative movement, which is heavily influenced by the talk radio political culture (which relies more on hot buttons than thinking caps).
But don’t cry for Andrew Breitbart: notoriety drives hits, garners audience share, and sells print publications. He will be in huge demand on cable news shows, talk shows, his speaking fees will go through the roof for some conservative groups and you can bet there will be a nice book deal in his future. He’ll likely be pitchforked into the headlines again with future “scoops” — but it’ll be interesting to watch how many mainstream and new media publications pause first before breathlessly reporting on what he has posted or linking to it without a (wise) journalistic qualifier.
The old saying is “consider the souce” and to some who are nursing their burns Breitbart is no longer an entirely trustworthy source…
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.