The Mirror

HIGH DRAMA! Breitbart Texas bureau chief says ciao to Twitter

Betsy Rothstein Gossip blogger
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“It takes a special kind of creep to keep trying to tweet at people who they know have blocked them.”

These were the near final words on Twitter last night around 11:30 p.m. from Breitbart News Texas Bureau Chief Brandon Darby before he took the leap an hour later and shut down his account. For about an hour before that, he called me “trashy” and “a liar” and kept saying the conversation was over but inevitably kept coming back for more.

He ultimately blocked me on the social medium for posing questions about this story that he was dodging last night. Darby’s Breitbart News colleague, editor Mike Flynn, also recently dismissed the facts of my story, in which a tea party group organizer in Texas claimed that the news site charged the group upwards of 7K to cover a March event.

When I questioned Flynn about the story last week, he wrote on Twitter, “More the case that I left high school years ago and don’t fall for made up stories. … R U still bitter you didn’t edit the high school year book? …After yrs of schooling and toil, you have learned that live-streaming video might not be free. Well done!”

Breitbart News refused to comment, ignoring all requests for comment. But since then, employees like Darby and Flynn have been trickling out to call me a liar without offering any proof or official comment on the matter despite the fact that a direct witness claims that Breitbart News both charged for coverage and received the funds. In each case, when I asked if Darby and Flynn were speaking for the entire Breitbart site, they suddenly abandoned the conversation.

And in Darby’s case, left Twitter altogether.

This is sort of touching. Darby grew sentimental about his decision to flee Twitter, saying that the late Andrew Breitbart had convinced him to go on Twitter in the first place.

The Mirror can’t assume responsibility for tipping him over the edge with basic questions. Lee Stranahan, an ex-Breitbart News contributor who Darby fired in early March, had a hand in the push as he accused him last night of everything from misogyny to fearing Breitbart News Executive Chairman Steve Bannon “screaming” at him and being under a tremendous amount of pressure.

“There are few who know Brandon as well as I do,” Stranahan announced dramatically on Twitter last night. “The pressure he’s under is enormous. His Twitter meltdown is sad, really. Brandon’s like Zelig. he becomes a lot like the people who surround him. He was a better person influenced by Andrew, worse by Bannon.”

Stranahan said Bannon “told Darby to get off Twitter about six weeks ago” and released a fake headline that he said would not likely appear on Breitbart News. It reads: “Brandon Darby: Twitter was more fun before I had to answer questions.”

Stranahan eventually began tweeting Bible verses. “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. … I am trying Lord.”

Over the weekend, Darby was feeling the pain of the medium as some conservative journos like RedState‘s Ben Howe and others came down hard on him for not specifically crediting ex-Breitbart journo Dana Loesch, now at TheBlaze, for an interview he posts in his story. He provides a hyperlink to “The Dana Show” but why go vague? What, they forgot her name? In a weekend story on the Bundy Ranch, Darby referred to a  “host” and “a radio reporter” without mentioning Loesch. Howe asked on Twitter, “Hey @brandondarby, great recap. Who is this ‘host’ you refer to?” Pretty sure Loesch is memorable, especially since she left the site in a cloud of stress after filing a 75K lawsuit against the site in 2012 for not releasing her from a contract and steering other sites away from hiring her. The case settled in July of last year.

photo-93This appears to be a common refrain for journalists who go to work for Breitbart News. You can go to work there, but you might not get out when you want, or, for that matter, cleanly and without bizarre legal strings attached. As The Mirror reported recently, now ex-Breitbartian Larry O’Connor just got out after months of trying, though exact details of the contractual agreement were not obtained.

Kind of like the Black Flag Roach Motel ads — “Roaches check in, but they don’t check out.” And by no means am I suggesting that the intelligent reporters who work there are “roaches” — but perhaps they’re treated as such.

A weekend Twitterati observer could sense that Darby was wearing thin of the whole online onslaught, but no one could have predicted that he was gearing up to bolt just two days later.

Memo to Darby: First off, it takes a special kind of presumably daily writing bureau chief to go off Twitter in 2014, but more power to you if you can achieve it. It also takes, to borrow your words, “a special kind of creep” to keep covering for a site that allegedly charges a tea party group thousands for glowing coverage. And just FYI… you were on the conversation chain. Wasn’t dying to converse with you. But I was seeking answers to questions no one at your site, including you, seems willing to answer.

No word yet on whether Darby will someday resurface on Twitter, although The Mirror did reach out to him on email. If we could all have a moment of silence for the Texas bureau chief tonight at midnight, just maybe he’ll rejoin.