Yesterday, The Huffington Post yanked conservative firebrand Andrew Breitbart from the front page of its publication, citing his "false ad hominem" attacks made in a Daily Caller interview as the final straw.
Although his time as a highly-visible contributor seemed to be going about as well as could be expected with the sites large base of liberal commenters, his venom spewed in the Daily Caller about Color of Change's co-founder Van Jones as a "commie punk," was enough to push the website into pulling Breitbart off the homepage.
Here is The Huffington Post's statement:
The Huffington Post is committed to fostering a lively and often provocative debate about the issues of the day and encourages a wide range of voices from all perspectives to participate. Andrew Brietbart’s false ad hominem attack on Van Jones in The Daily Caller violates the tenets of debate and civil discourse we have strived for since the day we launched. As a result, we will no longer feature his posts on the front page.
He is welcome to continue publishing his work on HuffPost provided it adheres to our editorial guidelines, as the two posts he published on HuffPost did -- guidelines that include a strict prohibition on ad hominem attacks. Our decision today recognizes that placing posts on the front page is an editorial call that elevates some posts over others, and is an indication of how seriously we take these judgment calls.
After the announcement, the activist group who'd been griping about Breitbart, Color of Change, quickly applauded the move and said that Breitbart shouldn't have "ever been given the opportunity to present himself as a legitimate journalist or opinion-maker." It's tough to see how Breitbart has been hurt In the ensuing backlash; he's returned to the center of debate again, and like James O'Keefe, he thrives on the indecision and missteps of liberal waffling.
What's less clear is how The Huffington Post is going to enforce it's ban on ad hominem going forward. Just one example of this sort of blog post was Aaron Sorkin's blistering takedown of Sarah Palin after she regrettably shot a caribou on her reality TV show, in which he calls her "deranged," "Cruella," "phony pioneer girl" and mentioned that "I get happy every time one of you faux-macho shitheads accidentally shoots another one of you in the face."
Now plenty of people are unearthing other examples of posts that would seem to violate their "strict prohibition":
- Huffpocrisy Watch - The Daily Caller's resident blogger Mickey Kaus noted that if that "ad hominem" rule "is applied honestly, I suspect a whole lot of people are now banned from HuffPo’s front page. … The first name there right now, for example, is HuffPo writer Jason Linkins. You think Linkins is never ad hominem? On his twitter feed too."
- Now Breitbart Will Never Shut Up - Blogs Alex Pareene at Salon: "Andrew has now gotten exactly what he wanted. He doesn't need to publish his idiocies at the Huffington Post. But getting banned from the Huffington Post proves his thesis about the repressive, anti-free speech liberal media. And he'll never shut up about it.
- HuffPo Wimped Out - Figured Slate's David Weigel. "Is the Huffington Post's standard that contributors can be to some modified limited hang-out if they use ad hominems in other forums? Boy, good thing Breitbart doesn't have an army of contributors who can comb HuffPo authors' published and spoken work to see if they've done that."