An extensive study that professors and data scientists at Harvard and M.I.T. conducted has concluded that Breitbart News does not represent the “alt-right,” undercutting the legitimacy of left-wing activists, Democrats, reporters in the legacy media, Never Trumpers, and establishment Republican bobbing heads and mouthpieces who rushed after Charlottesville to reflexively smear, malign, and defame Breitbart News as an “alt-right” outlet associated with white supremacists and Nazis.
In a New York Times magazine cover story explaining how there is “no real precursor for Breitbart” of an outlet that has so quickly emerged to “dominate the political conversation in a pivotal election,” renowned essayist Wil S. Hylton spoke to Harvard law professor Yochai Benkler, who has studied the “rise and influence” of Breitbart News in addition to the news media ecosystem with colleagues at Harvard and M.I.T. with a “colossal database.” Their Media Cloud database has at least ten years worth of articles and websites that enables them to study how information and news travel.
According to Hylton, “the last thing Yochai Benkler noted before” Hylton “left his office at Harvard was that his team had performed a textual analysis of all the stories in their database, and they found a surprising result”:
“One thing that came out very clearly from our study is that Breitbart is not talking about these issues in the same way you would find on the extreme right,’’ he said. ‘‘They don’t use the same language you find on sites like VDARE and The Daily Stormer’’ — two sites connected to the white-nationalist alt-right movement. He paused for a moment, then added: ‘‘Breitbart is not the alt-right.’’