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ABC drops Breitbart from Election Night team after coverage confusion

Conservative commentator Andrew Breitbart was dropped from ABC News online coverage of Election Night after he made it seem like he'd be appearing on the company's TV network.

By Dave Cookstaff writer / November 2, 2010

Conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart speaks during a Republican National Committee (RNC) get-out-the vote rally in Anaheim, Calif., on Oct. 16. ABC dropped Breitbart from its Election Night coverage after conflicting messages about his role.

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The decision Tuesday by ABC News to drop conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart from its election coverage underscores two facts.

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First, as media outlets offer election results on an increasing number of platforms, the possibility increases that viewers will confuse participation on one platform with a role on a different platform run by the same company.

Second, it is always trouble for a media company when how it is covering the news becomes the story.

On Tuesday, Mr. Breitbart told Politico that the ABC News decision to drop him from its election coverage was the result of “left wing pressure.” He specifically cited the role of Media Matters, a self-styled progressive group that monitors conservative media. “This is about cowardice and caving into what was an overwhelming onslaught by Media Matters, The Huffington Post, TalkingPointsMemo and Daily Kos,” Breitbart told Politico.

Earlier in the day Andrew Morse, head of ABC’s digital division, sent a letter to Breitbart saying it would be “best” if he did not take part in election coverage.

The dispute centered on whether Breitbart would appear only on a digital town hall on Facebook and ABCNews.com, or also appear on the ABC television network. Posts on his blog, Bigjournalism.com, were subject to differing interpretations about Breitbart’s role in ABC election coverage. A post on Sunday said he would be “bringing analysis live from Arizona.”

In a letter to Breitbart posted on the ABC News blog, Mr. Morse said, “We have spent the past several days trying to make clear to you your limited role as a participant in our digital town hall to be streamed on ABCNews.com and Facebook. The post on your blog last Friday created a widespread impression that you would be analyzing the election on ABC News. We made it as clear as possible as quickly as possible that you had been invited along with numerous others to participate in our digital town hall. Instead of clarifying your role, you posted a blog on Sunday evening in which you continued to claim a bigger role in our coverage. As we are still unable to agree on your role, we feel it best for you not to participate."

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