Seven months after the right-wing rabble-rouser Andrew Breitbart died of heart failure at the age of 43, his namesake website, Breitbart.com, is reportedly suffering from “an unusual degree of disorganization and rampant infighting.”
According to BuzzFeed’s McKay Coppins, who conducted interviews with both current and former staffers from the site, Breitbart.com is plagued by a crisis of confidence and conflict of leadership, threatening the conservative website from ever reaching its goal of becoming the “Huffington Post of the right.”
Coppins reports that the website had been gearing up for a re-launch at the time of Breitbart’s death, but that some of its business partners -- which include CEO Larry Solov, executive chairman Steven K. Bannon and editor-in-chief Joel Pollak -- have since begun jostling for control. Writes Coppins: “Without Breitbart's larger-than-life persona holding it together, fault lines quickly began to form on staff.”
One staffer tells Coppins: “I don't even call it Breitbart.com anymore. I call it Wannabe Breitbart.com. I said at the time, when Andrew died, they gotta shut this thing down or else it's going to fall apart.”
Breitbart.com and BuzzFeed have developed a public rivalry of sorts, with the former being highly critical of the latter, attacking it as a “left-wing rag.” BuzzFeed, in turn, habitually discloses such criticisms when it writes about Breitbart, and Coppins’s latest post is no exception. In what Poynter’s Craig Silverman described Monday as a “remarkable parenthetical disclosure,” Coppins’s story manages to fit an entire rundown of Breitbart’s criticisms in a single paragraph, explaining that a search of Breitbart.com called up 396 posts attacking BuzzFeed.
First launched in 2005, Breitbart.com comprises a network of “Big” blogs that includes Big Hollywood, Big Government, Big Journalism and Big Peace. Despite the reported turmoil at the website since Breitbart’s death, the site logged record traffic last month with 2.9 million unique visitors, according to comScore. That puts it in the neighborhood of conservative heavy hitters such as the Daily Caller, Weekly Standard and the National Review (but it’s still just a fraction of the traffic attracted by the Huffington Post, as Coppins reports).
The website’s traffic, however, is aided by links from the Drudge Report, which has a notably loyal following. Andrew Breitbart got his start working for Drudge’s founder, Matt Drudge, in the 1990s, and rose to prominence as Drudges right-hand man, as well as one of the creators of the Huffington Post. He later made waves as the consummate button-pusher of the left, breaking such stories as the Andrew Weiner sexting scandal and bringing national attention to the under-cover videos controversy at the liberal community group Acorn.
As the Atlantic Wire’s Elspeth Reeve wrote back in March, the prank-happy Breitbart filled a unique niche in the engine of conservative punditry. He was a kind of “punk rock Republican,” as Reeve put it, whose shoes are proving difficult to fill.
Read Coppins’s entire story here.