Breitbart still hasn’t filed media lawsuit

Breitbart still hasn’t filed media lawsuit
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More than a month after stating that it was preparing a lawsuit against a “major media company” over claims that it is a white nationalist website, Breitbart has yet to file a suit.

The right-wing news organization has not said anything publicly about plans for a suit, and emails to the company’s spokesperson asking about it have not been returned.

Breitbart issued a statement exclusively to The Hill on Nov. 15 that said it would be bringing the lawsuit.

“Breitbart News Network, a pro-America, conservative website, is preparing a multi-million dollar lawsuit against a major media company for its baseless and defamatory claim that Breitbart News is a ‘white nationalist website,’” the statement read.


It did not name the media company that was being targeted.

“Breitbart News cannot allow such vicious racial lies to go unchallenged, especially by cynical, politically-motivated competitors seeking to diminish its 42 million monthly readers and its number one in the world political Facebook page. Breitbart News rejects racism in all its varied and ugly forms. Always has, always will,” the statement said.

Since then, there’s been no news of a suit.

The fact that a potential defendant was not named in the initial statement triggered a significant debate in media circles, and speculation that Breitbart never intended to file a real suit. Many saw the statement as an effort to intimidate the media.

The Hill also came under criticism for publishing a story about Breitbart’s threat without pointing to a specific target.

The Washington Post's Erik Wemple criticized The Hill’s decision to post the story about Breitbart, arguing it served to assist Breitbart's “naked act of press intimidation” by not insisting that a defendant be named.

The Columbia Journalism Review's Jonathan Peter had a different perspective, arguing the threat itself was worth highlighting, though he also argued The Hill should should have written about the seriousness of Breitbart’s vagueness.

“In this environment, then, should the press report on legal threats against news organizations that seem capable of chilling the public discourse? Yes, the threat itself, when made by a prominent person or organization, is newsworthy,” Peters argued in a Nov. 23 piece.

Breitbart News’s former executive chairman is Steve Bannon, who began working for President-elect Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpDC board rejects Trump Hotel effort to dismiss complaint seeking removal of liquor license on basis of Trump's 'character' DC board rejects Trump Hotel effort to dismiss complaint seeking removal of liquor license on basis of Trump's 'character' Mexico's immigration chief resigns amid US pressure over migrants MORE’s campaign over the summer and is set to take a position in the White House as a senior adviser to the president.

During the campaign, Breitbart took a decidedly pro-Trump bent. It has been associated with the “alt-right” movement credited with propelling Trump’s candidacy. "Alt-right" is described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a set of far-right ideologies, groups and individuals who believe that “white identity” is under attack by multicultural forces.