UPDATED: Breitbart says ABC invited him to appear on broadcast television
Blog ››› ››› JEREMY SCHULMAN
Andrew Breitbart has released what he says is an email contradicting ABC News' assertion that the network never planned to include him in its televised Election Night coverage.
On Friday, Breitbart's Big Journalism website reported that Breitbart would be "featured" on ABC's "election night coverage." According to Big Journalism, Breitbart would be "bringing analysis live from Arizona."
Several hours later, ABC spokesman David Ford confirmed to Media Matters that Breitbart "will be one of many voices on our air."
After receiving heavy criticism, ABC released a statement Saturday purporting to "explain what Mr. Breitbart's role has always been as one of our guests at our digital town hall event" [emphasis added]. According to the ABC statement, "Breitbart will not be a part of the ABC News broadcast coverage" and will instead "engage with a live, studio audience that will be closely following the election results and participating in an online-only discussion and debate."
But on Sunday night, Breitbart insisted that wasn't the original deal. Breitbart wrote, "I can state with 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."
Similarly, Breitbart told The Daily Caller that "they originally pitched to me that I was going to do a hybrid of both online and broadcast."
Breitbart also posted what he described as an "email from ABC confirming their invitation for me to participate in their online and network broadcast election night coverage." It reads, in part:
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.
It is, of course, possible that Breitbart is misrepresenting his communications with ABC. He does have a clear history of making false allegations.
But at this point, ABC owes its viewers an explanation. If Breitbart is lying, ABC needs to say so now.
UPDATE: And ABC News has now responded, telling The Washington Post's Greg Sargent that Breitbart is wrong about the meaning of the email Breitbart posted:
In a statement sent my way, ABC spokesman Jeffrey Schneider hit back. "Any confusion about Breitbart's role is of his own making," he said. "A simple reading of the email he posted makes it quite clear that he had only ever been invited to be a guest on our online town hall."
Sargent adds that "[o]ne of the emails Breitbart posted does suggest that the town hall he was invited to participate in is supposed to be broadcast on the air." Sargent says that ABC subsequently sent him the following statement:
To be clear, the digital town hall may be excerpted during the broadcast. But the only people you'll be hearing from live on the air will be David Muir, the anchor, and Randi Zuckerberg of Facebook, who will share with viewers some of the insights of that digital town hall. That has been our plan from the start.