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Memo to Congressional Leadership Reporters: Breitbart Scribe Forgives You, But Next Time, Please Try Harder to Get it Right

Breitbart.com‘s newbie Matthew Boyle (not to be confused with the Harvard Philosophy professor) has quite a message for political reporters, some twice his age, covering the leadership beat on Capitol Hill: Work harder, please.

 

Boyle, an early twentysomething scribe, has made it a personal mission to see that Speaker Boehner is ousted. He points to publications such as Roll Call and Politico for clearing his good name. But what he doesn’t acknowledge is getting some of his facts wrong. 1. Boyle initially reported that Republicans were going to demand a secret ballot. Except on the day of the vote, no one called for a secret ballot. So the “multi-step” plan reported by Boyle never transpired. Fine, sometimes plans change. The planned coup was legitimately a big scoop. 2. But then he reported that Boehner was likely to resign at an caucus meeting on the future of the GOP. On Twitter he wrote, “GOP caucusing from 5-7 pm tonight. Topic: Future of House GOP leadership. Hear Boehner may resign there.” Only it wasn’t an emergency meeting on the future of the GOP. It was a regularly planned meeting on mundane House rules changes. 3. Oh, and Boehner didn’t resign. (Boyle’s explanation is that a lawmaker told him Boehner was going to resign. At the very least, the story should have explained that the outgoing congressman has an ax to grind.) 4. What’s more, there is a subtle but important distinction between the coup effort being called off and members of Congress chickening out, as Boyle claimed. In the first instance, there was an agreement that was honored. In the second, there was an agreement that was broken. Boyle reported that lawmakers chickened out, betraying he didn’t know they had made agreement to go forward if 25 people signed on. 5. Finally, why would you ever speak down to fellow journalists, especially those far more seasoned than you, on your beat? Even if you had at least five decades on Capitol Hill to boast of, in all scenarios, it’s unseemly.

From a Roll Call story published Sunday by Johnathan Strong: “Breitbart.com covered the Landry effort extensively, and one Republican member who participated in the larger coup attempt said Breitbart’s coverage of the smaller push actually helped keep their effort hidden because it suggested to Boehner and his allies that talk of a coup wasn’t serious. Members of the larger coup plot deliberately excluded top aides from deliberations to enhance secrecy and to protect them from recrimination.”

When pressed on his declaration that other publications had somehow vindicated his own reporting, Boyle wrote on Twitter, “Politico & Roll Call have shown everything I reported was accurate…Vindicate? Who said I was seeking vindication. I’ve known I was right all along.”

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