Andrew Breitbart's $100,000 Plot to Destroy the Left

Inside the conservative impresario's latest obsession

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Conservative media mogul Andrew Breitbart has always wanted to take down the "liberal media establishment." Now he sees his grand opportunity. On Tuesday, Breitbart offered to pay $100,000 for the full archives of Journolist, the off-the-record e-mail listserv whose members include liberal journalists, think tankers and academics:

I therefore offer the sum of $100,000 to the person who provides the full “JournoList” archive. We will protect that person’s privacy and identity forever. No one will ever know who became $100,000 richer – and did the right thing, morally and ethically — by shining the light of truth on this seamy underworld of the media.

$100,000 is not a lot to spend on the Holy Grail of media bias when there is a country to save.

Breitbart believes the archives will help him expose the mainstream media for what it truly is--in his view, an organized left-wing operation. Here's the reaction from the left and right to Breitbart's bounty:

  • Cool It Breitbart, writes Doug Mataconis at Outside the Beltway: "Characterizing an email list shared among professional collegues as 'collusions' against the American people is, to say the very least, just a little but over the top, but, then again, that’s pretty much the definition of Andrew Breitbart."
  • This Is Beyond the Pale, writes Charles Johnson at Little Green Footballs: "Andrew Breitbart is offering money to anyone who will steal the contents of a private mailing list and send it to him, so that he can make it public, without the consent of anyone on the list. I have reservations about journalists belonging to a mailing list devoted to promoting liberal views (and I’d have the same reservations about a Journolist dedicated to promoting conservative views) , but something like this is utterly beyond the pale."
  • No It Isn't, counters Ann Althouse: " I've listed reasons why I think it would be doing a good thing to make the archive public, and now there is an additional motivation — $100,000. Now, virtue is mixed with venality. But virtue is mixed with venality when it comes to keeping the archive private. The motivations for not disclosing are not pure. People are protecting their careers, hoping for favors from powerful and well-placed co-Journolisters. Breitbart has added economic incentive to the other side of the balance, and he fortifies his offer of payment with an ethical argument."
  • Technically, It's Unlikely Breitbart Will Uncover the Full Archives, writes Felix Salmon at Reuters: "I think that most Journolist members had discussions forwarded to their inboxes — it was the only practicable way of keeping on top of conversations. But the only conversations they would have received were the ones which took place after they joined. Journolist didn’t spring fully formed out of Ezra Klein’s contact list with 400 members: it grew organically over time. And once you were a member, you had access to the complete archives. But those archives have now been taken down, as Weiner notes. So in order to give the full archive to Breitbart, one of two things I think would have to be the case. Either you would have to be in the small group of founding members, who have received all of the emails since inception. Or else, while Journolist was still up, you would have to have somehow mirrored or copied the entire archives onto your own hard drive."
  • For $100K I'd Do It! writes Choire Sicha at The Awl: "I would absolutely cough up a complete archive of JournoList just as fast as I could upload it. (Or at least as fast as a very binding contract could be drawn up between my lawyer and Breitbart.) Why, that's probably almost half of JournoList member Eric Alterman's annual salary! Fortunately for the liberal cabal down in Washington, I'm not a member."
  • I'll Give Someone $20 for Journolist Emails about The Weekly Standard, writes a self-involved John McCormack at The Weekly Standard: "Just in case any former JournoListers don't want to give up the entire archive, feel free to accept my slightly more modest offer to provide emails about THE WEEKLY STANDARD. Email wws [at] Your identity will be protected. I promise to be more trustworthy than you."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.