How can anyone defend Andrew Breitbart?

Conor Friedersdorf

After publishing videos of Vera that made him look like a sex trafficker and costing the man his job, did Breitbart explain how the mistake happened, apologize and correct the record? Did he alert his readers to the truth? Having expressed outrage at the media on countless occasions for trafficking in serious accusations that weren’t grounded in facts, did he behave better after realizing that he’d done exactly the same thing?

Nope. As far as I know, neither an apology nor a correction has ever appeared. The vast majority of his readership remains misinformed. The San Diego videos remain posted at Big Government, misleading as ever. I’ve attempted to get Breitbart and O’Keefe to address this. No luck. But Breitbart has a habit of having long, often profane arguments with his detractors on Twitter. A guy named Frank Vayan Walton raised the subject of Vera. And here is how Breitbart responded on December 27, 2010 (brackets are my added context):

Juan Vera called [his police officer] cousin LONG after videos were filmed – when James [O’Keefe] refused to hook up w him to help girls over border. Try again!

After examining phone records and conducting interviews with two police officers, the California Attorney General’s Office reported [PDF] this about O’Keefe and Giles’ visit with Vera: “Immediately after the couple left, Vera telephoned his cousin, Detective Alejandro Hernandez, at the National City Police Department.”
The report goes on:

He left a voicemail message for Detective Hernandez stating that some “crazy people” were in his office providing information.  Vera did not explain the substance of the conversation and did not make reference to prostitution or human smuggling on the message.  He asked his cousin to call him back. Later that day, Vera also reported the incident to fellow ACORN employee Cruz Acosta.  Acosta had been away from the office while the couple was present.  Vera explained to him what happened.  Vera also reported the incident, either the same day or shortly thereafter, to Mar Murrillon, an ACORN board member.  Vera told Murrillon that he had reported the incident to the police.  (Vera Interview.) Vera eventually spoke with Detective Hernandez on August 27, 2009.

So Breitbart is factually wrong. He is also still insinuating than an innocent man was willing to be complicit in the transnational smuggling of underage prostitutes. All this seems like a story to me! Something that would be of interest to folks on the press beat like Howard Kurtz or Jack Shafer or others. And shouldn’t all the press outlets that wrote about the ACORN tapes from San Diego note this development? I’d even say that conservative publications that value informing their readership more than having a good relationship with a powerful ideological ally like Breitbart should report on this story. But do such publications exist?

If Breitbart has evidence that the California AG’s report is wrong, he should come forward with it. If not, he should apologize for tarnishing Vera’s reputation and costing him his job. Absent one or the other, can anyone defend him?

5 comments on “How can anyone defend Andrew Breitbart?

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  1. When a cockroach woke up one morning from unsettling dreams, he found himself changed in his bed into a monstrous vermin named Andrew Breitbart

  2. @ miguel cervantes:
    The “precis in the report”? You mean the AG’s report? Why exactly would they need to concern themselves with Frances Fox Piven’s distaste for capitalism and for the possibility of long-term structural unemployment as a “new normal”? Does the existence of an anti-capitalist left mean that people like Vera are fair game for libel?

    I wonder why he hasn’t sued Breitbart.

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