House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy has asked for a column he penned for Breitbart California to be removed from the site in the wake of a sexist ad controversy. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was depicted in a poster for the news site's launch on her hands and knees in a bizarre, punk-inspired "street art" homage to Miley Cyrus. Democrats, including Pelosi, have blasted the ads as “foul, offensive and disrespectful to all women.”
McCarthy topped the bill of Breitbart California’s conservative contributors from the state, the jewel in the crown of a list that includes Fox News host Greg Gutfield and Rep. Tom McClintock. But it appears that McCarthy, the third-ranking House Republican, is standing in solidarity with Pelosi at the expense of the outlaw conservative credibility attached to Breitbart. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, a frequent contributor to Breitbart News, promoted the news site last week, and wrote, “Breitbart California will only help our party evolve, not die” and called on California Republicans to “[e]volve, adapt or die.”
Speaking to the Los Angeles Times about the images, McCarthy spokesman Matt Sparks said, “We didn’t condone them. We thought it was the right thing to do to ask for the column to be removed.” Another spokesman, Mike Long, told ABC News, “The images are inappropriate. We requested that Whip McCarthy’s piece be taken down.”
Breitbart’s defense largely revolves around the argument that Democrats do the same thing to Republican women all the time. After the ad controversy swelled into frothing Internet outrage on Monday, Breitbart News compared the Pelosi ad to a 2013 Saturday Night Live skit in which Michelle Bachmann was depicted by none other than Miley Cyrus (her again), writhing around with Taran Killam’s perma-tan, tank top-wearing John Boehner in a political parody of the video for her song, "We Can't Stop."
“Cyrus herself raunchily depicted Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) in a Saturday Night Live skit touching her crotch while writhing on the ground, shaking her backside in tight shorts, and sticking out her tongue and licking people with a gay, hypersexual John Boehner,” Breitbart writes, which makes us wonder which is more offensive to them: Cyrus as Bachmann, or a gay Boehner.
Over the pond at Breitbart London, the site's first international outpost, staff were defending their West Coast counterparts. Breitbart London's executive editor James Delingpole made his point over the outcry and tweeted “The vile sexism which explains why I am resigning my position @breitbartnews,” before confirming it was a joke.
No, of course I'm not resigning from @breitbartnews over its Breitbart California pix. How likely would that be, FFS?— James Delingpole (@JamesDelingpole) April 8, 2014
“For the record, I LOVE Breitbart California’s style,” Delingpole tweeted.
Conservative media remained suspiciously quiet over the ads, and the ones that did speak out condemned Breitbart. Writing at The Daily Caller, Matt Lewis found it odd that the usually conservative "pearl-clutching" has been transferred to liberals, a group of people usually not afraid "to let their freak flags fly." Sexualizing female politicians is all part of the game, you see. "You have to make allowances for shtick,” Lewis writes.
But should we really be surprised by the ads, and the silence from Breitbart that followed? After all, this comes from a website that lists plastic surgery as one of the top five reasons to move to California, as long as you remember to just ignore the ugly poor. “Virtually everyone here of middle income and above is beautiful,” writes Ben Shapiro, Breitbart News' senior editor-at-large.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.