Breitbart News: Once Pro-Israel, Now Friendly to Anti-Semites


Christina Papageorgiou

Skylar Kleinman ’18 thinks the current iteration of Breitbart News has dangerously co-opted an initially Jewish-run platform.

Breitbart News is both one of the most reviled and influential news sites today. Most people know it as the go-to news source for the alt-right. Most people don’t know that Breitbart started out much more innocuously than what it is today.

Andrew Breitbart was a conservative, Jewish journalist who founded the eponymous Breitbart News in 2007. He was also a friend and collaborator to Arianna Huffington, helping her found the Huffington Post in 2005. This may sound strange, considering the conflicting “conservative vs liberal politics” of the two websites. However, as Breitbart contributor Jeremy D. Boreing noted, “[Andrew Breitbart] wasn’t actually very political–that is, he had almost no interest at all in policy… What he hated were bullies.”

Breitbart News actually started off as a pro-freedom and pro-Israel platform. In the past, Breitbart even had journalistic integrity, with Andrew Breitbart receiving the Reed Irvine Accuracy in Media Award in 2010. Everything changed in 2012, when Andrew Breitbart died of heart failure at the age of forty three. His death precipitated a power struggle with Steve Bannon, a former board member of Breitbart, winning out.

Bannon identifies as conservative but has been frequently perceived to be a white nationalist, an allegation he denies. Bannon aligned Breitbart News with the alt-right and white supremacists – a move that would seem counterintuitive to most, especially considering the first purpose of the website. Neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and the alt-right at large, of course, have a profound hatred of Jewish people. Being pro-Israel is not the same as being pro-Jew, and the far-right often takes advantage of this misconception to appeal to more people, especially other conservatives.

One strategy of the far-right in general is to appear pro-Israel in order to challenge any claims that they are anti-Semitic. As the vastly Christian alt-right stresses “Judeo-Christian ideals,” they see aligning themselves with Jews as preferable to aligning themselves with their other major target, Muslims. Muslims are seen as too “Other,” too at odds with white Christian American values, and too big of a threat to Western civilization. Anti-Muslim sentiment is also not restricted to conservatives, and it has only grown in popularity in recent years. This is while anti-Jewish sentiment is almost universally condemned in a post-Holocaust world. Genocide is not something with popular support. Jews are also more familiar and more intertwined with the religious history of people of European descent. After all, the Old Testament is the Torah.

A huge target audience and base of support for conservatives is Evangelical Christians. Some Evangelicals believe that supporting Israel means that they are following a Biblical injunction to protect it as well as that Israel will play a role in hastening the second coming of Christ.

While American neo-Nazis would rather that Jews not exist at all, they also think that an easy way to at least get Jews out of America is to reaffirm Israel as the Jewish homeland.

Steve Bannon has even called himself the “Riefenstahl of the GOP.”

Breitbart News often claims that they are not anti-Semitic. Though it was built on the values of a pro-Israel, Jewish conservative and has a significant number of Jewish contributors, this claim is still disingenuous. Steve Bannon has even called himself the “Riefenstahl of the GOP.” The comparison to Leni Riefenstahl, a German director who made propaganda films for the Nazis, is especially indicative of the flagrant insensitivity towards the Jewish community. When known white nationalist Tim Gionet (“Baked Alaska” on Twitter) was hired by Breitbart, his employers told him to delete his anti-Semitic tweets, clearly demonstrating how the news site is comfortable working with anti-Semites if that anti-Semitism can be hidden.

The attraction between the alt-right and Breitbart in itself is indicative of how problematic Breitbart News has become. Breitbart had an anti-Semitic headline calling a political commentator a “renegade Jew.” Milo Yiannopoulos, who is associated with the alt-right and neo-Nazism, is a former senior editor of Breitbart. Many readers of Breitbart News are virulently and openly anti-Semitic. Even though they are pro-Israel and say they are not anti-Semitic, associating themselves with white supremacists, by virtue, is anti-Semitic.

It is disrespectful of Breitbart News’ current leadership to co-opt an initially Jewish-run platform and then align it with the alt-right and white supremacists. Breitbart is a complete distortion of and is diametrically opposed to Andrew Breitbart’s original vision.