Columnist's Departure For Breitbart Is News To Washington Times

Blog ››› ››› JOE STRUPP

This week, Media Matters accidently broke the news to The Washington Times that longtime conservative columnist Frank Gaffney no longer plans to write for the paper.

To rewind a bit: earlier this week, Breitbart News announced that Gaffney, the president of the Center for Security Policy (CSP) and a former Reagan official, would be bringing his column to the conservative website after having published "some 1,300 weekly columns over the past twenty-five years at the Washington Times."

According to Breitbart News, Gaffney's weekly column was "terminated within days of the release of a letter" he had signed alongside "influential national security practitioners." The letter in question was sent to the American Conservative Union (ACU) in support of Gaffney's charge that conservative activists Grover Norquist and Suhail Kahn are closely aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood. 

In comments to Media Matters, Gaffney said that his departure resulted from the Times seeking to cut his column from weekly to monthly, which he hinted was linked to the release of the letter.  

"One thing happened and then the next thing happened and I leave it to others to judge if it was a punitive action or whether it was just coincidental," Gaffney told Media Matters Thursday. "I am going to be writing for the Breitbart News Network. The arrangement that [was] announced for my writing [monthly] for The Washington Times is really not satisfactory to me."

He said that he would not be writing for the Times, stating, "I want to write a weekly column and I'm happy that whatever the reason for this decision I'm going to have a considerably larger audience at Breitbart than I had at The Washington Times. I've got an arrangement with Breitbart and I will be taking the fullest advantage of that, I wish the Times well."

When initially contacted by Media Matters about Gaffney on Wednesday, Times editorial page editor David Keene praised his "well-researched" work and said that while he was unaware Gaffney was planning to write for Breitbart, the paper would still welcome his writing as long as it was "exclusive." When Media Matters spoke with Keene again today after talking to Gaffney, the news that Gaffney planned to leave the paper apparently came as a surprise. 

"We're sorry to lose him but wish him well," Keene told Media Matters. "I guess he's notifying us through you and we appreciate your willingness to serve as his intermediary on this."

The uproar began February 18 when Gaffney's CSP released the newest salvo in its years-long campaign to attack Grover Norquist and ACU board member Suhail Khan for their supposed association with the Muslim Brotherhood. The group sent a letter to ACU board member Cleta Mitchell signed by "influential national security practitioners" including former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey and former CIA Director James Woolsey.  

The letter criticized the ACU's ties to Norquist and Khan and included a 45-page report detailing claims against them, which listed 87 alleged "facts" about Norquist and Khan it claimed were signs of their "assault on the right."

In addition to serving as the Times editorial page editor, David Keene also serves on the ACU board. 

Gaffney said he was told soon after the letter was released that his Times column would be cut to monthly status: "Several days after that I was advised that it wasn't going to be a bi-weekly column it was going to be monthly ... You can arrive at your own judgment as to whether there was a cause and effect."

In comments to Media Matters before it became clear Gaffney planned to leave the Times entirelyKeene denied that the letter had anything to do with reducing the frequency of Gaffney's column, explaining that the initial decision occurred "before the letter came out. At first I was going to cut him back to twice a month, but when Cliff [May] agreed to write weekly we had to cut him back to once a month. Bottom line: this had nothing to do with his letter regardless of what anybody says and I am still expecting him to write for us."

Keene and Gaffney have had past disputes. Talking Points Memo reported in 2011 that Keene, a former CPAC chairman, banned Gaffney from speaking at CPAC for two years.

Keene issued a statement at the time that Gaffney had "become personally and tiresomely obsessed with his weird belief that anyone who doesn't agree with him on everything all the time or treat him with the respect and deference he believes is his due, must be either ignorant of the dangers we face or, in extreme case, dupes of the nation's enemies."

Breitbart News has yet to respond to a request for comment.

The Washington Times,
Frank Gaffney, David Keene
We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.