Published August 03, 2011
Arianna Huffington’s liberal-leaning Huffington Post was forced to write a retraction Tuesday after alleging that conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart doctored a video clip from a White House press briefing in order to make it look like CBS anchor Norah O’Donnell was unhappy about the recent debt compromise during an exchange with White House press secretary Jay Carney.
In the clip, which Breitbart and other conservative media used to describe what they saw as O’Donnell’s liberal bias, the CBS anchor appears to claim about the debt compromise: “You gave them everything they wanted and we got nothing.”
The Huffington Post took their information from The New Republic’s Jonathan Chait, who claimed that the clip did not include a portion of the video where O’Donnell led into the quote by saying that Democrats were upset about the debt, not the reporter herself.
A careful examination of the clip reveals that it was not doctored at all by Breitbart, but that the beginning of O’Donnell’s quote was shrouded by ambient noise.
Breitbart took to Twitter in his own defense, tweeting:
“Dear @AriannaHuff, Nothing 'edited' in O'Donnell video. It is malicious lie intended to push false 'doctoring' meme. Want a war, dahling?”
The story was ultimately removed from the website and an editor’s note was posted saying that, “a viewing of the clip in question clearly shows that he did not. We regret the error, have removed the story, and apologize to Mr. Breitbart.”
Some staffers at the website, who were unable to reveal their names for fear of retribution, told FOX411 that they weren’t surprised at the error.
“The goal of the site is aggregation, not news generation. We’re chasing traffic and there isn’t always time to make sure that everything is accurate,” one staffer admitted. "We're really just a factory for links."
AOL bought the Huffington Post back in February for $315 million and placed Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington in charge of the combined group’s content. The new leadership resulted in the laying off of a network of seasoned journalists and the destruction of many of AOL’s content sites, including the influential Politics Daily news site.
Politics Daily was to be “absorbed” into HuffPo Politics, but the merger instead resulted in the laying off of the site’s political reporters, some of whom would have been in the White House briefing with O’Donnell and Carney.
“If the site still had actual reporters in Washington, they would have known that the tape wasn’t doctored, but right now HuffPo is relying on other people’s reporting,” one former AOL political writer said. “Arianna doesn’t believe in real reporting.”
Breitbart celebrated his victory over the liberal website with a follow-up Tweet:
“Mr. Breitbart ACCEPTS @HuffPost apology/retraction for falsely claiming I 'doctored' video.”