Busted

ABC invited Andrew Breitbart to be part of their election night coverage. Then, after — or possibly because of — outcry from the left (they really, really don’t like him), ABC retracted the invitation. They claimed that it was because Breitbart had been misrepresenting his role:

We have spent the past several days trying to make clear to you your limited role as a participant in our digital town hall to be streamed on ABCNews.com and Facebook. The post on your blog last Friday created a widespread impression that you would be analyzing the election on ABC News. We made it as clear as possible as quickly as possible that you had been invited along with numerous others to participate in our digital town hall. Instead of clarifying your role, you posted a blog on Sunday evening in which you continued to claim a bigger role in our coverage. As we are still unable to agree on your role, we feel it best for you not to participate.

But Breitbart released the correspondence, showing that he had been told that the town hall (which was never referred to as a “digital town hall”) would air on the network:

ABC News is conducting a live event from Phoenix, Arizona for our election night special on Tuesday, November 2nd 2010. I am looking for political figures and newsmakers to appear in our Town Hall style panel. . .

The Town Hall is hosted by ABC correspondent David Muir and Randi Zuckerberg from Facebook, as well an ASU student leader. The audience will consist of 150 students equipped with laptops and Ipads who will participate in online political conversations. . .

This program will broadcast on the ABC Television Network, abcnews.com, ABC News Now, and ABC News Radio.

The show will be live on the web and ABC News Now as well as on the network from 4:00pm till 11:00pm MST.

We would love for you to be a part of our program, and please let us know what we can do to accommodate your needs.

(Emphasis mine.) Additionally, Breitbart’s participation was confirmed by an ABC News producer to Media Matters (who weren’t happy about it one bit):

Media Matters has confirmed that noted propagandist Andrew Breitbart will provide analysis for ABC News during their election night coverage.

After Breitbart’s BigJournalism.com website reported that Breitbart would “be bringing analysis live from Arizona” for ABC, Media Matters confirmed his participation in a town hall meeting anchored by ABC’s David Muir and Facebook’s Randi Zuckerberg that will be featured in the network’s coverage.

Asked about Breitbart’s history of unethical behavior and misinformation, ABC News’ David Ford told Media Matters: “He will be one of many voices on our air, including Bill Adair of Politifact. If Andrew Breitbart says something that is incorrect, we have other voices to call him on it.”

(Emphasis mine.)

Clearly, Breitbart was not misrepresenting his role to anyone. He and others were told that he would be on the air. Either ABC was confused about their own plans or they changed them. Either way, they shouldn’t be saying that “Mr. Breitbart exaggerated the role he would play.” Clearly, that isn’t true.

If ABC News can’t even report its own affairs honestly, how can we trust them for the rest of the news?

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