Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Breitbart Texas runs off the rails

And not in the way we would have thought.  After the pimping Texas Sparkle gave them... well, "nobody" (except Christopher Hooks at the Texas Observer) could have seen this coming.

It’s been a little under a month—how is Breitbart Texas doing so far in bringing its investigative reporting background to clean out the partisan snake-pit of Texas media?

For the most part, Breitbart Texas’ output has been a mishmash of rote news aggregation, announcements that seem like transliterations of press releases in support of favored candidates, and an eclectic assortment of dispatches from the Breitbart contributor network, who receive $100 per post, according to the Daily Caller.

One such contributor, who goes by the twitter handle @OutOfTheBoxMom, wrote an article that consists of a list of participants and contributors to the South by Southwest Education conference. Another wrote an 88-word piece headlined “HOUSTON: SON SETS MOM’S APARTMENT ON FIRE FOR REFUSING TO BUY MARIJUANA.” It has more than a hundred comments. The source of the article—presumably a Houston Chronicle article from the same day—is not mentioned or linked to.

Then there’s the fact that Breitbart routinely runs articles written by Michael Q. Sullivan, like this lengthy jeremiad against House Speaker Joe Straus, without properly identifying Sullivan or his organizations.

That relay is pretty farcical, so it's hard to imagine how it all blew up in their faces.

But that all pales in comparison to the rift that’s recently developed in Breitbart Texas caused by the recent firing of Lee Stranahan, a Breitbart veteran who had quit the organization last fall, before rejoining Breitbart Texas as it launched last month. Stranahan, one of the $100-a-piece contributors, was working under “bureau chief” Brandon Darby, who made his name by running with anarchist and far-left groups and  passing information on them to the FBI. Stranahan’s beat: the “institutional left” and “corruption.”

Stranahan, according to the Daily Caller, was a comparative old-timer at Breitbart, who felt ill at ease with the direction the site has taken in recent years. He was among those who miss the leadership Andrew Breitbart provided for the organization and the movement in general. Stranahan quit the website last fall in part because of qualms about the site’s direction—but he signed up again with the launch of Breitbart Texas. He needed the money.

That all fell apart last week, when a simmering rift between Stranahan and Darby spiraled out of control. Stranahan alleges Darby killed a number of stories that reflected unfavorably on individuals Darby had ties with. One of them had to do with an attorney named Dan Backer, who Stranahan says was funneling money from tea party groups to “establishment” Republicans like Mitch McConnell. When Darby wouldn’t publish that story, Stranahan began tweeting details from the killed piece. That’s when Darby took the remarkable step of attacking his own reporter’s ethics, tweeting that Stranahan had once solicited money for a documentary he was making from Dan Backer.

“Person asks group for $. Group says no. Person then attacks the group without mentioning they tried to get $ before attacking,” wrote Darby in a since-deleted tweet.

Annnnd there's more.

The whole thing might have faded away after that, except for the fact that someone began forwarding emails from the fight to the Daily Caller’s Betsy Rothstein, a Washington, D.C.-based gadfly who trades in media gossip. The exchanges display a remarkable level of dysfunction within the organization, and some embarrassing anecdotes. Stranahan accuses Darby of being a “coward” and “pigheaded” and even alleges that Darby once cooked up a plan, as part of a long-running inter-office rivalry, to accuse one senior conservative journalist of having a attraction to the late Andrew Breitbart’s under-age son:
“Also; please confirm that a bit over a year ago, you told me in no uncertain terms that you had a plan to file false police charges against Jeffery Scott Shapiro, with the knowingly false claim that he had a sexual interest in Sampson Breitbart.”
The whole thing is unbelievably sordid and embarrassing, for all parties. To make matters even worse, Stranahan, who took stories that got killed by Darby and published them on his own website, recently had to append a major correction to one of his stories when a big part of his case against Backer’s PAC—the fact that the group had donated money to a Democratic congressman from North Carolina—turned out to be a financial reporting error.

And at the link, Stranahan has some comments attempting to rebut Wilder, while "Stranaham" rebuts him.  It's like watching the Harlem Globetrotters and the Washington Generals play roller derby.

The parts I didn't excerpt included David Dewhurst's laudatory kudos of BBTX on launch, just a month ago.  What a coincidence that they are both flaming out at the same time.

That was schadenfreude so rich and creamy that I had to take extra insulin after reading it.


Gadfly said...

$100 a pop for five minutes of work? Can I invent a fake wingnut persona and sign up?

PDiddie said...

I'm way ahead of ya.

Gadfly said...

What's your wingnut handle, so I know to thumbs-up on everything I see?

PDiddie said...


Gadfly said...

That would be a gay lover, right? :) Santorum, maybe?

PDiddie said...

As far as I know... Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum are as heterosexual as men come. #oops