“I think the Breitbart and the likes are off the chart in terms of shaping data to meet the preconceptions.”
By Oliver Darcy / Business Insider / March 7, 2017
Former CIA Director Michael Hayden on Monday criticized the pro-Donald Trump bloc of conservative media for advancing what he deemed to be an “illegitimate” world view.
“There are some outlets that have incredibly powerful lenses by which they view the facts they collect,” Hayden told Business Insider in a sit-down interview. “I think the Breitbart and the likes are off the chart in terms of shaping data to meet the preconceptions.”
Hayden’s comments came after it was reported a conservative radio host’s comments aggregated by Breitbart inspired Trump to accuse former President Barack Obama of bugging phones at Trump Tower, a claim reportedly rejected as false by the FBI.
“You have a Breitbart news story essentially launching the Starfleet of the federal government about one of the most horrible political scandals in American history, if true,” Hayden said, adding that it was “very troubling” the president seeming to value Breitbart reports over data compiled by intelligence agencies.
“Breitbart doesn’t do any creative journalism, it just moves the parts around,” Hayden continued. “And I haven’t done this personally, but I’ve heard others say, when you dig into the Breitbart sources, the articles don’t really say that.”
Hayden concluded: “It’s kind of scary — a post-fact world. How does intelligence survive in a post-fact world?”
The former four-star Air Force general said too that “there’s an amazing consistency” on a number of subjects between the information disseminated by Russian outlets and conservative sources like the Drudge Report, radio and television host Sean Hannity, and Breitbart.
“There are powerful parallels between the Russian narrative and things being said,” Hayden said, adding that the president also uses similar talking points.
Hayden stopped short, however, of making a “moral judgment” on whether such outlets are intentionally misleading the public.
“They have a world view and they are playing with it,” he said. “I think it’s an illegitimate worldview and I think it’s a non-fact based world view. It’s a world view in which pre-existing visions seem to be being used to distort the fact pattern that exists.”