At some point yesterday morning, as journalists were scrambling to research and report their hot takes on Ted Cruz’s then-pending presidential announcement, Breitbart News rocked the political journalism world with an EXCLUSIVE scoop.
Here’s the headline, which is equal parts confusing and creepy:
EXCLUSIVE PHOTOS – POTENTIAL FIRST FAMILY GETS READY FOR BED BEFORE SEN. CRUZ’S PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN ANNOUNCEMENT
And here’s the lede, which for all we know could have been adapted from the Korean Central News Agency:
Inside the Carter Glass Mansion on the campus of Liberty University here, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) was gracious enough to allow Breitbart News to capture some photos of him and his family—wife Heidi and daughters Caroline and Catherine—as the potential first family got ready for bed ahead of the senator’s big speech on Monday morning.
It’s a common thing for a politician to try and use a journalist – they’ll strategically leak information to reporters to make themselves look good and/or their rivals look bad. It’s a rare thing, though, to see a journalist so perfectly comfortable with the glaringly obvious fact that he is being used. The hook for this story is literally “Politician Loves Family.” The reporter thanks Ted Cruz for the photos in the lede of the story. This was a potential president telling a journalist “here, take these photos of me with my loving family, and spread word of them as far as you can,” and Breitbart News was ready to report out that hot scoop with all the enthusiasm it could muster.
And when I say “report out,” I really mean it. Breitbart News added some critical details to the story that flesh out what’s really going on here. Remember how the lede referred to Cruz and his domestic unit as “the potential first family”? Well, Breitbart News wasn’t going to let that bit of technical jargon just dangle there unexplained:
If Cruz wins the GOP nomination and then the general election in 2016, Heidi will become the First Lady and Caroline and Catherine will become the First Daughters.
KABOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM. That’s explanatory journalism right there.
The Pulitzer candidate responsible for this EXCLUSIVE is Matthew Boyle, formerly of the execrable Daily Caller, where he made for a name for himself with classic stories like “Food Stamps Can Be Used To Purchase Food,” “I Can’t Read A Simple Court Filing,” and “Here’s Some Castro Regime Propaganda.” From the Daily Caller he jumped to Breitbart News, where he’s done more good journalism things, like offering to do a little pinch-hit PR work disguised as reporting for a secretive cabal of conservative activists: “Whenever you have an idea, email or call me with a pitch and I'll do my best to get the story out there. Keep us on offense, them on defense. Even if the idea isn't perfect, I can help massage it to get there.”
What this Cruz EXCLUSIVE shows is Boyle’s development as a journalist: he’s now comfortable enough to just go ahead and write explicit, unquestioned propaganda. No more sneaking around on email! He’s a man liberated.
Anyway, get used to this kind of nonsense. The Republican primary is going to fracture the conservative media as right-wing print and broadcast outlets choose sides in the intra-party fight, and it’s going to result in some grossly hagiographic coverage of the candidates, akin to what we saw from Washington Post blogger and unpaid Mitt Romney surrogate Jennifer Rubin during the 2012 election. Cruz’s conservatism is defined by its opposition to Obama and will tolerate no deviations from his high standards for purity, and that makes him a good fit for the aggressive and incoherent Breitbart ethos, which treats ideological differences between conservatives and liberals as an actual war.
The conservative media fissures have already begun. Last week, conservatives turned on Breitbart News after Boyle reported that a campaign aide hired by Scott Walker has voiced “support for amnesty for illegal aliens, wide-open-borders immigration policies, and public advocacy for the Senate ‘Gang of Eight’ amnesty bill.” Walker subsequently dumped his new hire, and caught criticism himself for waffling in the face of some very weak criticism.
In the end, though, it’s a good thing that conservatives are finally coming around to what most other people have known for quite some time: Breitbart News is awful.