*ABC has come under fire for its decision to include blogger Andrew Breitbart, the man who edited a speech by former USDA employee Shirley Sherrod to make her appear racist, in the network’s Election Night coverage.
After announcing on his own website Big Journalism that he would be “bringing analysis live from Arizona,” ABC was met with harsh criticism for allowing Breitbart contribute.
Several hours later, ABC spokesman David Ford confirmed to the website Media Matters that Breitbart “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.”
In a separate written statement sent to Media Matters, Ford further stated:
“We are hosting a Town Hall meeting at Arizona State University – where ABC’s David Muir and Facebook’s Randi Zuckerberg will be anchoring for ABC. There will be several invited guest there to join in the discussion. Confirmed guests include stand-up comedian D.L. Hughley, commentator Andrew Brietbart, Bill Adair of the Pulitzer Prize winning Politifact.com, as well as the heads of the Arizona Democratic and Republican parties among others.
“Brietbart has been on our air numerous times in the past – he will be one of many voices contributing to the dialogue on Election Night.”
This afternoon, following heavy criticism — including from within ABC’s own newsroom — ABC released a statement from Andrew Morse, executive producer for ABC News Digital. According to Morse, “Breitbart will not be a part of the ABC News broadcast coverage” after all, and will instead be “participating in an online-only discussion and debate to be moderated by David Muir and Facebook’s Randi Zuckerberg on ABCNews.com and Facebook”:
Since conservative commentator Andrew Breitbart announced on his website that he was going to be a participant in ABC’s Town Hall meeting at Arizona State University, there has been considerable consternation and misinformation regarding my decision to ask him to participate in an election night Town Hall event for ABC News Digital. I want to explain what Mr. Breitbart’s role has always been as one of our guests at our digital town hall event:
Mr. Breitbart is not an ABC News analyst.
He is not an ABC News consultant.
He is not, in any way, affiliated with ABC News.
He is not being paid by ABC News.
He has not been asked to analyze the results of the election for ABC News.
Mr. Breitbart will not be a part of the ABC News broadcast coverage, anchored by Diane Sawyer and George Stephanopoulos. For the broadcast coverage, David Muir and Facebook’s Randi Zuckerberg will contribute reaction and response gathered from the students and faculty of Arizona State University at an ABC News/Facebook town hall.
He has been invited as one of several guests, from a variety of different political persuasions, to engage with a live, studio audience that will be closely following the election results and participating in an online-only discussion and debate to be moderated by David Muir and Facebook’s Randi Zuckerberg on ABCNews.com and Facebook. We will have other guests, as well as a live studio audience and a large audience on ABCNews.com and Facebook, who can question the guests and the audience’s opinions.