Andrew Breitbart, the publisher and commentator behind Breitbart.com and BigHollywood, launched his new site BigJournalism yesterday. In an interview with Business Insider, Breitbart says the site is “going to war with biased old-media -- and even new media types,” and that he’s “trying to fill a huge market void for original reporting and fact based journalism" for the "silent minority around the world." He calls his new site a place “where the spirit of free inquiry lives on.”
Michael Walsh, the site’s editor in chief, writes in a follow up welcome post, “We believe the search for the truth is not some figment of Derrida’s imagination. We believe that the truth, while elusive, is knowable, or at the very least worth trying to know.” Another contributor, Patterico writes, “Let’s chuck the institution overboard — and start seeking the truth, together. Let’s start right now.” It all sounds pretty good in theory.
Judge for yourself whether the first two days of posts at BigJournalism seem either unbiased, truth-seeking, or “fact based.” In a quick review by StinkyJournalism, they did not.
Maybe the problem is that Breitbart and his bloggers don’t seem to understand the difference between skepticism and bias. Assertions seem to suggest the site is seeking the “truth.” StinkyJournalism agrees that skepticism is an excellent way to discern and weigh truthfulness. Yet, rather than approaching stories skeptically--that is with an open mind and the requirement of clear evidence--the site seems to be operating from a position of pre-conceived notions.
“It is apparent that the mainstream media has no interest in covering stories that shed an unfavorable side of Islam,” writes Alicia Colon without substantiating her statement with facts or numbers.
Mark Klugmann writes, “The truth about Honduras – such as why the so-called ‘coup’ was not a coup at all – was left by the MSM on the cutting-room floor, edited out of the news reporting because it did not fit into the storyboard.” But he does not give compelling evidence for why the event should not be called a “coup,” also failing to mention contrary evidence that the United Nations general assembly has deemed it a coup.
Breitbart’s confusion about skepticism is evident in his own introductory post. “I’m skeptical and biased – and I think it’s what makes me good at what I do. No journalism symposium can convince me otherwise.” This contradicts itself. True skepticism can’t be biased, according to a pretty standard definition of the term bias: a preference towards a particular perspective or ideology that interferes with the ability to be unprejudiced. Skeptics must strive to be unprejudiced, otherwise they undermine their own dedication to supporting only things that withstand rigorous testing and subjection to logical inquiry.
Moreover, it makes little sense that Breitbart would purport to be going to war against “biased” old-media, when he thinks his own bias is acceptable, and even desirable.
The site’s call for skepticism, fighting bias, and truth hunting so-far, is beyond the scope in which StinkyJournalism defines them.