On the eve of the U.S. midterm elections, Andrew Breitbart and ABC News are involved in a war of words over his role in the network’s election night coverage.
Breitbart, the conservative web publisher, wrote in a post on his website that he expects to be featured on air as well as online on Tuesday. (Breitbart agreed to be part of a seven-hour “digital town hall” being put on by the network and Facebook.)
But according to ABC, Breitbart's role is online-only. "Mr. Breitbart exaggerated the role he would play on his blog," ABC News spokesman Jeffrey Schneider told Yahoo. “We immediately made it clear that was never the role he was supposed to play. He had been invited to be part of our digital town hall, and that is still the role."
Late last week, liberal pundits — critical of Breitbart’s posting of an out-of-context video of Dept. of Agriculture official Shirley Sherrod that resulted in her firing — lashed out at ABC for agreeing to give the provocateur an on-air platform.
The liberal lashing forced ABC to issue a fairly terse statement: “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.”
According to the ABC News press release announcing its election night coverage, Dana Loesch, editor-in-chief of Breitbart’s Big Journalism site, will provide live “analysis and historical context” alongside ABC News contributors George Will, Cokie Roberts, Donna Brazile, Matthew Dowd and National Journal editorial director Ron Brownstein from ABC News’ New York studio.
A related post on Big Journalism said Breitbart “will be bringing analysis live from Arizona.”
Later, Breitbart posted an e-mail from an ABC producer that Breitbart claims proves invited him to participate both online and on-air, though it’s up for debate whether or not the e-mail really does that. The producer, perhaps smartly, leaves it pretty vague:
This program will broadcast on the ABC Television Network, abcnews.com, ABC News Now, and ABC News Radio.
The show will be live on the web and ABC News Now as well as on the network from 4:00pm till 11:00pm MST.