When BigGovernment.com’s Andrew Breitbart flies to Phoenix tonight to join ABC’s election night coverage, even he doesn’t know what he’ll find there. After bashing ABC, Media Matters, HuffPost, Daily Kos, TPM and MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann in a post Sunday night, he knows ABC could give him the ax. He says he senses deep divisions within the network’s newsroom, with some behind the scenes siding with him.
But Phoenix – who cares? “Put me up in a five-star hotel, I’ll survive,” Breitbart told FishbowlDC in a midnight interview Sunday night.
The well-known conservative firebrand sounds incensed, but there’s something else in his voice, which is that he seems wildly energized by the tornado of controversy corkscrewing around him…
> Update: Breitbart phoned to say that he said ‘They put me up in a 5-star hotel, I’ll survive,” not “Put me up in a 5-star hotel, I’ll survive.” The headline has been changed to reflect what Breitbart said he said. “I am not asking for them to set me in up in a hotel. They put me up.” He stressed, “I’m not a prima donna.”
The situation erupted late last week when ABC invited Breitbart to join its election night coverage. Over the weekend, ABC News White House Correspondent Jake Tapper took heat for it on Twitter, prompting him to sarcastically reply to one critic, “Yes, you’re right, this past year is rampant with evidence that ABC News management is in the palm of my hand.” He was referencing ABC’s ultimate pick of Christiane Amanpour to host “This Week.” Tapper advised critics: Write ABC, not me.
By late last Friday the blogosphere had blown up. Breitbart said Media Matters’s coverage led to Olbermann declaring ABC as “Worst Persons” Friday night for inviting him to be part of its coverage. On Saturday, even ABC’s GMA Host George Stephanopoulos weighed in. He wrote on Twitter, “Breitbart NOT on ABC network broadcast.” He linked to a story on ABC’s website delineating what Brietbart is and is not to the network.
Breitbart said an ABC producer told him that his involvement Tuesday would be both digital and broadcast. On Sunday night, he posted e-mails from the producer on BigGovernment.com but didn’t name him, saying he wanted to protect him. He facetiously told FBDC what he intended to do in Phoenix: “I have every intention to perform a vanguard interpretive dance. I gave ABC News 30 plus hours to walk back (on what they said). [They] asked me to come be involved in this and [they] asked me to do so enthusiastically.”
But beyond ABC, Breitbart’s deep-seated contention is with anyone he considers to be left-wing media. Those at Media Matters rank high on his contempt list, such as senior fellow Eric Boehlert. He also seethes at John Podesta, president of the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank. He blames all media on the left for Olbermann’s “Worst” declaration.
In the late-night phone call with FishbowlDC, Breitbart went into a rant. He unleashed on the left, saying, “unsourced, cowardly, chicken sh*t Podesta-Bohlert bullsh*t.” He went on: “These creepy Caucasians. Every one of these Caucasian freaks have Daddy issues. Underline freaks. Italicize eunuchs.”
After taking a breath, Breitbart sounded not angry, but jubilant. He said this media uproar couldn’t be happening at a better time. “You tell me this isn’t playing like a script,” he said. “George Stephanopoulos’s tweet was his way of demonstrating his authority within the two camps. To not would create general internal dissent.”
Back in 1994, Breitbart insists, when Stephanopoulos worked in Clinton’s White House, he tried to block an interview with an author. He “called up and threatened access away from the network. He has used the network that now employs him as an objective anchor and you wonder why people are pissed off at the mainstream media. You tell me the American people don’t have a right to be concerned.”
He said this election is “as much a referendum on mainstream media as it is on elected officials.” In his Sunday night post on ABC, he wrote, “I can state without absolute certainty that the verbal pitch to me to participate was punctuated by the opportunity to appear as part of ABC News’ broadcast television for the night. I was also aware that the majority of my participation – seven long hours – would be online.”
By this point Breitbart sounded all wound and wired. But even he knew it was time to try to rest. After all, Phoenix awaits.