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Discussion » Questions » Politics » Who Owns Breitbart and What Are Its Aims?

Who Owns Breitbart and What Are Its Aims?

I'd not heard Breitbart (sounds German) until a guest on today's BBC Radio 3's Private Passions briefly mentioned being viciously attacked by this "outfit" he called it, after he had given a lecture by invitation on the International Law aspects of climate-change, to the UK's Supreme Court.

Our Supreme Court is the UK's top appeals court. It is not the same as the US one although misleadingly copying the name, and until recently was The Law Lords, judges also sitting in an advisory capacity in the House of Lords, but separated fairly recently for clearer separation between Parliament and Judiciary. Cases that reach that high, beyond Appeal Court level, may well test the Statute Law as well as the facts of the individual case. Further of course, these lawyers may have to advise Parliament on international law: the UK is a signatory to and active in, an enormous number and range of treaties, organisations and agreements. 

The guest was the British barrister Philippe Sands, a leading expert on human-rights and international-law, who has made a special study of war-crimes cases, especially the Nuremburg Trials of the remaining top Nazis. He explained these were the first such trials, and that one of the prosecuting lawyers there coined the term "genocide". He has a deeply personal interest. Sands' own existence was by the fortune of his own mother and grandmother having been rescued from Poland to Paris (hence the French name) in 1938 by an English Christian evangelist. His grandfather had already escaped the Nazis, who killed all 79 members of the rest of their extended Jewish family.   

Why anyone should want to attack a man of such probity, personal experience and professional knowledge for giving a technical lecture on the international law pertaining to a serious international scientific problem, to an audience of fellow leading lawyers, I have no idea. Sands offered no explanation.

So I looked up "Breitbart" once I'd established the spelling, which at first made me wonder it's a neo-Nazi outfit in Germany. Well, it's not in Germany as far as I could see.

Its UK web-site reveals it as a "news and opinion" journal with 4 offices: in Jerusalem (ironically), Texas and California, and London.  The web-site then ran a long series of shock-horror headlines and their by-lines, with the general tone of leaving the reader to try to disentangle news (i.e. facts) from opinion. My protection software blocked a link with a title about an ex-Breitbart reporter doing... what? Perhaps its contents were either very violent or obscene.

So does anyone know who runs this rather shabby, shady-looking on-line journal, and its aims, if it has any?

Posted - January 15, 2017


  • Here you go
      January 15, 2017 2:39 PM MST

  • 3637
    Thank you Glis. Mr Sands mentioned Bannon in the programme, come to think of it, but didn't elaborate. He didn't seem particularly perturbed by Breitbart criticising him, but it looks as if frankly, it's not worth anyone getting perturbed about it because that would only encourage it!

    It's certainly created a comet's-tail of Wikipedia entries revealed by the link you give.

    Organisations like that tend to give themselves away as pretty obviously someone's propaganda machine. Most national newspapers have some political slant and it's usually easy to sift fact from view. The bias in the news itself is not usually by lies as such - that won't work for long - but by reporting facts selectively, and leaving the fulminating to the Editorial and essay columns.

    There was though, an interesting and rather disturbing programme on the radio a few days ago about an aspect of social media the founders had perhaps not intended. It seems many in the US now, and to a lesser but growing extent in the UK and elsewhere, now "rely" on Twitter, Facebook etc to obtain their news. They do not however stop to think and question sources, nor to roam past their immediate "friend" circles or social-interest groups. Consequently they don't analyse and think, but absorb only what those circles agree on, leading to learning little but bolstering ignorance by sharing it. (If 100 agree it must be right, so they think, without realising that no, not necessarily. It means only that they agree with 100 others.) 

    This also aligns with another discussion I'd heard not long ago, on a very common trait of people to cling so hard to a belief as "fact" that they cannot grasp it is simply an opinion, and when shown the evidence that they are mistaken they become defensive, digging in and holding onto that belief even more tenaciously. You see it most markedly in hard-line politics and religious cultism, but even outside those too. Aggressively too sometimes, even in plain fantasy, as I found on EP when asking some why they thought they were wolves in human form, or felt a Ouija board is "dangerous".

    No-one likes to be proven wrong if their cherished belief is some sort of social or intellectual prop rather than within genuine debate about an objective uncertainty.

    In the end I fear a drift from genuine news media of known authorship and open to questioning and holding to account if necessary, to treating closed-view social-media circles and opinion-providers like Breitbart as de facto "true" merely because they are on the Internet, as dangerous not only to objective debate about serious matters, but ultimately to democracy.  
      January 15, 2017 5:08 PM MST

  • lol...  Yeah those otherkin nuts.   I've come across a few of them before.

    The thing about people getting news from SM?    True,  it's completely true over here.  Across the political board too.
      January 15, 2017 5:12 PM MST

  • LOL hey we did NOT copy your use of the word supreme court.. lol maybe you copied us :P
      January 15, 2017 3:40 PM MST

  • 3637
    Daydream... You and I are BOTH in the UK, and I'm not sure who you aimed that at! :-)

    The US invented its own Supreme Court long ago. The UK never had a "Supreme Court" until its Government copied the name as a new title for the Law Lords.

    (Edited by me to correct a text error.)  This post was edited by Durdle at January 15, 2017 5:44 PM MST
      January 15, 2017 4:18 PM MST

  • 3637
    Co-incidentally there was a report about Breitbart's style on the radio last week.

    The BBC's Germany correspondent had followed a Breitbart story that a 1000-strong crowd of Islamists had set Germany's oldest church on fire.

    It turned out a crowd of about 1000 in the particular town were celebrating New Year when a stray firework set some netting alight, on scaffolding around a church (not the country's oldest, either). The fire was entirely accidental, and was extinguished very rapidly with no serious damage done. And the Muslims? Among the crowd were a few families of possibly Mediterranean or North African origin.  

    How or why Breitbart's German office had managed such bare-faced deceit only it knows. 
      February 7, 2017 4:15 PM MST