On January 14, former Rep. Chris Lee sent a shirtless photo of himself to woman who had posted a personal ad on Craigslist. Nearly four weeks later, Gawker posted
the picture along with reporting on the context in which it was posted and confirmation from the woman who received it that it was in fact legitimate. Less than four hours later, Lee resigned
On Friday, a link to a photo of a man in tighty whities appeared on Rep. Anthony Weiner's public Twitter stream. The link was addressed to a female college student in Seattle who was one of Weiner's 45,000+ followers. It appears as though the tweet was not genuine. Weiner says the account was hacked, and the addressee says she has never met Weiner, but even before either of them had a chance to respond, Andrew Breitbart's website posted a screenshot of the tweet and the page to which it linked.
Obviously, Breitbartworld's post invited comparisons between Weiner and Lee, but the real contrast here is between Breitbart's site and Gawker. While Gawker took almost a month researching and reporting its story, Breitbart's gang went on attack immediately, without conducting a single bit of investigation. Strikingly, Breitbart's website was the only site that got "lucky" enough to capture the screenshot before it was deleted, suggesting the possibility that if someone hacked Weiner's Twitterfeed they were at the very least in close contact with Breitbart's operation, if not involved directly in it. At best, Breitbart's site shot first and asked questions later; at worst, it helped fabricate an attack on Weiner.
Either way, the difference between what Breitbartland did and what Gawker did could not be more clear. One was a political attack, the other was a piece of reporting. One deserved to be ignored, not just by the political media, but by everybody who consumes it; the other was a real story with real political implications. If you doubt that, just look at what happened in NY-26.