As Joe Cunningham reported here, POLITICO has a story that, if true, is nothing short of astounding: that Breitbart.com conspired with a rabble-rousing leftist, made famous in James O’Keefe’s recent videos, to sabotage the campaigns of Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. In this post I take a more in-depth look at the allegations and the publicly available evidence to support them.
The upshot is that, in addition to Hadas Gold’s anonymous source, ample publicly available evidence ties in Breitbart.com to Democrat dirty trickster Aaron Black. Gold’s piece cites this evidence, but a close analysis of that evidence tends to strongly corroborate the inference that Breitbart.com’s Matt Boyle coordinated with the Dem operative Black. And since Steve Bannon was in charge of Breitbart.com at the time, and is now a top official in Donald Trump’s campaign . . . this means that the O’Keefe videos may be a problem, not just for Hillary’s campaign, but for Donald Trump’s as well.
Remember my recent post about James O’Keefe’s latest video showing how the DNC tried to provoke violence at Trump rallies? Remember the fellow named Aaron Black? He’s the leftist who bragged about being behind “spontaneous” protests that DNC officials hoped would result in Trump supporters attacking them. Here’s one of Black’s quotes:
None of this is supposed to come back to us, because we want it coming from people. We don’t want it coming from the party. So if we do a protest and it’s branded — “oh, the DNC protest” — right away the press is going to say: partisan.
Black also boasted in the O’Keefe video about being one of the people behind the shutdown of a Trump rally in Chicago which erupted in violence, apparently incited by Black and his fellow dark hat operatives, resulting in two police officers being injured.
So now you remember who Aaron Black is, right? Good.
The allegation of the POLITICO article is that this same Aaron Black coordinated with Breitbart.com — evidently Matthew Boyle in particular — to publicize the same sort of tactics, when they were used against Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz:
A liberal activist and organizer coordinated with reporters from the conservative news site Breitbart during the primaries to cover his disruptions of events for candidates such as Sen. Marco Rubio.
Aaron Black, an associate with Democracy Partners and a former Occupy Wall Street organizer, worked with the pro-Trump site Breitbart, tipping them off about his stunts, exchanging raw video and coordinating coverage, according to a source with direct knowledge of the situation.
Black has resurfaced recently as one of the people featured in undercover video from the Project Veritas group. In the video, he claims to work for the DNC. Though he does not appear on their payroll, his bio at Democracy Partners credits him with “working closely with the Democratic National Committee” during the 2012 election cycle. Black in the video says he helped organize violent protests in Chicago that led to Trump’s cancellation of a rally there in March.
According to the source, Black coordinated with Breitbart via email, phone and in person, including when he dressed up as a robot and trolled Marco Rubio’s events. The relationship was described as very friendly. An article subsequently published on Breitbart featured video footage of a physical confrontation between Black and Rubio’s New Hampshire campaign chairman.
“He worked directly with Breitbart’s political team on the ground in the primary states to sabotage Marco Rubio & Ted Cruz, and elect Trump as nominee of [the Republican] party,” the source told POLITICO. “[Black] was coordinating with [Breitbart’s] top staff to rabble rouse against Rubio at rallies.”
Now. Let’s do some analysis here. First, let’s confess our biases. I have learned as a blogger that when a story sounds too good to be true — when it confirms all your long-held suspicions, everything that you just KNEW was true all along, and thus causes you to run to the keyboard in a rage — that’s when you need to be at your most skeptical. And this story does confirm my biases. I hate to say this, because I knew and liked Andrew Breitbart — but I consider Breitbart.com to be a sewer: a hotbed of the sort of Trumpers who prize combat and winning over any sense of morality or ethics. They seem like perfect partners for the sort of scum we have learned Aaron Black to be. And when they have a common enemy — Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz — it stands to reason that they might want to work together. It’s perfect!!
And DING DING DING go the alarm bells. I’m not saying it’s too perfect to be true. It actually all sounds very plausible. But when I read this story, a voice in the back of my head told me to tone down the outrage until we know more.
Brandon Darby denies it:
They cite "a source." It isn't true. https://t.co/mARSYVzF7y
— Brandon Darby (@brandondarby) October 25, 2016
And he’s right: this is all according to a “source.” An anonymous “source.”
But here’s the thing. Even just based on the publicly available information, it’s clear that Breitbart.com’s Matthew Boyle had ties to Aaron Black. As the POLITICO piece notes, Black was interviewed by Boyle on Boyle’s radio show on April 16, 2016. The post announcing this interview touted Black’s “unique willingness to engage with a non-friendly audience.”
In that interview, around 4:45 or so, Black touts the similarities between Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, talking about how “they’re not being bought and paid for by corporate interests.” He waxes on about the “synergy” between Trump’s and Sanders’s campaigns. Now, from the O’Keefe videos, we know that Black was trying to disrupt Trump events. He’s not a fan of Donald Trump. So why is he talking up Trump on a Breitbart.com radio show? The answer obviously lies in Hillary Clinton’s by now well-publicized (and obviously correct) calculation that Donald Trump would be the easiest candidate to beat. So, if you’re a Hillary operative, you talk up Trump . . . and you attack the other GOP candidates. And that’s what Black did on Boyle’s show.
Which is a nice segue to what is perhaps a more important question: how did Matthew Boyle and Aaron Black get so cozy?
Some answers lie in a February 9, 2016 post written by Boyle about an “anti-Rubio protester dressed like a robot” at a Rubio event. The gist of the post was that this innocent protester was just there at the rally, exercising his First Amendment rights, when the awful Rubio campaign guy came up and attacked Robot Guy, putting him in a headlock and being violent with him the way those awful Rubio types do, don’t you know.
Now, stay with me for just a moment. This is all about to make sense, I promise.
Boyle’s piece mocks the Rubio campaign guy’s defense that Robot Guy attacked him first:
“He was pushing me, almost pushed me over. I’m 76- years-old. And he went right against me and pushed me almost to the ground,” Hurst said.
When asked if it was the protester who started it, Hurst said: “Yes, of course.”
Video, which is making it way around the internet on YouTube, shows Hurst—who hasn’t been publicly identified before now—with his arms around the protester’s neck.
Wow. Matt Boyle was able to be the guy who identified the “attacker”! How did he get that information? The answer is related to the fact like Boyle was also able to exclusively identify Robot Guy . . . as Aaron Black:
Hurst, wearing a green jacket, grabbed the protester in a headlock and pulled him away from Sen. Rubio. “Why do you have your hands on me?” said the protester, whom Breitbart News can also reveal for the first time as progressive political activist Aaron Black, said to Hurst as Hurst manhandled him.
Well how about that!
“Yeah, it was because when you’re attacked like that—he just attacked me,” Hurst said when asked to explain why he engaged in a physical altercation with the robot-costumed Black. “We were right crowded together and he just almost knocked me down.”
In a separate exclusive interview with Breitbart News, Black said that the video proves Hurst’s account of events isn’t accurate.
Add it up. Boyle gets an exclusive interview with Black. Boyle is able to exclusively identify Black. How did that happen? Reasonable conclusion based on the facts: Boyle coordinated with Black.
And how did Boyle know the “attacker” in the green jacket was a Rubio campaign official? Reasonable conclusion based on the facts: Black knew who Hurst was, and targeted him from the get-go. And then, when it was all done, Black told Boyle who had “attacked” him.
[UPDATE: Matt Boyle disputes this in a post at Breitbart, saying that a Bush staffer identified Hurst and that Black was interviewed only after Boyle had interviewed Hurst.]
Black discusses a video which supposedly shows Hurst lying and Black (the leftist rabble rouser) telling the truth:
“All I know is I felt hands around my neck—or something that felt like hands,” Black told Breitbart News.
Black added that the video proves Hurst’s claim that he started it isn’t true.
“No. The video doesn’t lie. It’s all on the video,” Black said when asked to respond to Hurst’s comments to Breitbart News. “It was not provoked at all. I was just trying to express my opinion, and that’s why we have a First Amendment right? We should all be able to express our opinion. This doesn’t have to get physical like that. That’s insane.”
Now, watch the video — knowing what you know about Aaron Black. Black is the guy in the robot suit with the light gray head covering. Hurst, the Rubio campaign official, is in a green jacket, to the left of Black at the beginning of the video, getting shoved by Black. Black, remember, is a paid Democrat partisan, who attends rallies for the express purpose of trying to incite violence on the part of his political enemies. Black clearly knows who Hurst is, and is targeting the 76-year-old Hurst. If you watch closely, you can see Black trying to push Hurst off balance at the very beginning of the video — and Hurst (in the green jacket) almost losing his footing about four to five seconds in. You have to watch the beginning few seconds of the video several times to see this — but it’s there.
On Twitter, I asked Darby, whom I like and consider to be a good guy, what was wrong about the POLITICO piece. As of this writing, his only response was to tweet: “Getting info from a source or openly and publicly interviewing someone isn’t ‘coordinating’ disruptions.” OK, but I don’t think Boyle sent Black to do the disruptions — but the article alleges that Black engaged in actions like “tipping [Breitbart] off about his stunts, exchanging raw video and coordinating coverage.” It’s a milder charge, but still a serious one. Now consider that Breitbart.com editor Alex Marlow does not exactly deny any of this in his statement to POLITICO:
“Aaron Black reached out to Breitbart and then we covered this and multiple other stories on our website and on our radio show on Sirius XM Patriot Channel 125,” Breitbart editor-in-chief Alex Marlow told POLITICO in a statement. “Breitbart New Network is proud to work with sources from across the political spectrum to cover important and breaking news stories so that we may bring the most informative reporting to our readers. This type of reporting proves why Breitbart continues to have amazing growth with over 200 million monthly page views and 36 million monthly unique visitors. In addition, this month we launched an online store and radio show with Major League Superstar Curt Schilling.”
Not exactly a denial. And an update to the POLITICO story indicates that “Democracy Partners denied that Black worked directly with the Breitbart team.” I guess it depends on what the meaning of “directly” . . . is. But Democracy Partners all but acknowledges that they told Breitbart (and others) about their appearances in advance, and Breitbart.com giddily covered the protests when directed at a Trump opponent:
Black, Democracy Partners said, “disseminated information about the whereabouts of demonstrations and rapid response events to media outlets.”
“The coalition demonstrated against all 17 of the Republican candidates,” the statement continued. “We engaged the media from across the political spectrum. When we organized events aimed at a Trump opponent, Breitbart was more than happy to spread the word.”
Of course they were. I don’t think the allegation is that Breitbart or Boyle sent Black to these demonstrations. It’s that they not only strongly touted the antics of a leftist dirty tricks operative, but coordinated with that operative and developed a close relationship with him, for the purpose of helping destroy Republican candidates that Breitbart and the Democrats both wanted destroyed.
Now: here’s the part that may actually get some traction in Big Media: guess who was in charge of Breitbart.com when Boyle published his piece? That’s right: one Steve Bannon, now CEO of the Donald Trump presidential campaign.
So, in a way, when James O’Keefe alleged that this Democrat campaign of phony protests and inciting violence was tied to a presidential candidate, he may have been understating things.
Because there seem to be ties between these DNC operatives and Hillary Clinton, to be sure. But, with Steve Bannon now in a high-level position in Trump’s campaign, there may be ties between these DNC operatives and a high-level Trump campaign official as well.
I want to conduct a little hypothetical thought experiment with you. Imagine that you watch these O’Keefe videos and see Black, Koval, Creamer et al. bragging about their contrived and scripted protests and their efforts to goad Trumpers into violence. Then you learn that CNN had actually worked with these folks, and been tipped off when Black & Co. went to do a phony protest. CNN filmed it, a CNN correspondent mocked the elderly guy who was defending himself, and then CNN had the dirty trickster on an interview show.
And then the President of CNN became the CEO of Hillary’s campaign.
You’d be calling for a boycott of CNN. You’d be calling for the heads of Hillary’s campaign CEO and Hillary herself. You know you would.
How is this any different?
So, again: skepticism is the watchword of the day. But if even half the stuff in the POLITICO article turns out to be true — and there is plenty to suggest that it is — then there should be hell to pay.
UPDATE 6:19 a.m. PACIFIC: I went to sleep listening to an interview that Breitbart’s Lee Strahanan did with Dustin Stockton, another Breitbart reporter who used Aaron Black as a “source.” The interview just corroborated my conclusions in this post. First, Breitbart is denying that they told Black what to do, and for the record, I’m willing to take that at face value and never alleged otherwise. But Stockton confirmed that he, Matt Boyle, and (according to him) several other Breitbart reporters regularly used Aaron Black as a source, for all kinds of stories. Stockton claimed that this occurred for Black’s protests at Trump rallies as well as at other GOP candidates’ rallies.
Crucially, however, nowhere did Stockton or Stranahan deny what I took to be the key specific allegations of Gold’s piece: that Black engaged in actions like “tipping [Breitbart] off about his stunts, exchanging raw video and coordinating coverage.” In fact, they admitted that Black tipped them off about his upcoming protests, and it seems reasonable to conclude that they coordinated coverage, in the sense of making sure that they were in the right place at the right time. As an example, it does not appear to be an accident that Breitbart was there when Black was shoving a Rubio campaign official, and inducing the official to engage in a physical altercation. They did not address whether they exchanged raw video as alleged by Gold’s source.
Stranahan and Stockton seemed to treat all this as a simple matter of using a source, and cackled (Stranahan literally described his own laugh in the interview as a “cackle”) at those criticizing Breitbart.com, saying they were “hating the player.”
You know, because when Breitbart was busy spinning the actions of a Democrat operative as an innocent victim of a Rubio campaign official . . . they got a lot of clicks! Don’t hate the player! If you have a problem with any of this, you’re just jealous.