Thursday morning shortly after midnight, the conservative media provocateur Andrew Breitbart collapsed while walking his neighborhood in the Brentwood district of Los Angeles. He could not be revived at a hospital and died, exactly one month after his 43rd birthday. My condolences go out to his wife Susie (the daughter of the actor Orson Bean), his four kids and the many friends he had in public and private life.
As publisher of the Drudge Retort, I've followed Breitbart's career going back to the days when he was doing half the work on the Drudge Report and getting none of the credit. Matt Drudge liked the mystique of the I-work-alone myth, and stories would be written that mentioned he had a collaborator without naming the guy. It was Breitbart, who had befriended Drudge and operated a legal defense fund for him after Clinton White House aide Sidney Blumenthal sued Drudge for libel.
When Breitbart was still working at the Drudge Report in May 2001, I caught the site fabricating a source. In a story slamming the New York Times for being slow to cover Blumenthal settling his suit, the following paragraph appeared:
"What the NEW YORK TIMES is doing with its sin of omission is no doubt a form of libel of its own, corporate news slander of the highest degree," said Professor Emeritus Andrew Breitbart of the Cashmere Institute of Media Studies.
That institute was fake. Cashmere was a reference to the street he lived on at the time. Breitbart had quoted himself in an article he reported.
Four years later, when he helped launch Huffington Post, I sent the site an email congratulating him on the launch and asking if he brought Drudge's siren with him.
Breitbart replied back, "No, I left it at the Cashmere Institute for Media Studies."
After watching him rise up from anonymous Drudge lackey to infamous journalism mogul, I could never figure out why Breitbart sounded so angry all the time. He operated in a constant state of rage that seemed bigger than politics. He was still bearing a grudge, as a middle-aged man, against a high school principal he believed had turned other kids against him, he told the New York Observer in 2009. He once ruined a date with his wife at a Santa Monica restaurant by flipping off a procession of anti-war protesters, only to learn later that they were actually protesting the conscription of child soldiers in Africa.
Breitbart cultivated liberal enemies all day long on Twitter, like he was afraid they might lose interest and start hating somebody else.
Today, a link was shared with me that provided some insight into his personality -- a Usenet post he made in 1995 to the online discussion group alt.support.attn-deficit:
Two weeks ago, I was clinically diagnosed with ADHD; the psychologist stated that the diagnosis was a "no-brainer" after just one meeting, one in which I rambled semi-coherently and excitedly about my life. MY FAVORITE SUBJECT!!!!!!!! ...
I feel my condition is well worse than those I read about. I do not take much joy from this distinction, but true concentation is simply not an option, ever. ...
Ironically, I am not depressed by my myriad of symptoms of ADHD. I love myself -- maybe too much. I love TV, radio, the news, books, movies, coffee, etc. The problem is -- jobs, occupation maintanence, and conforming to the work standards of others is a bit hard with my dependencies that obviously conflict with workplace norms.
Breitbart never had to worry about workplace norms. His plate-spinner personality was perfectly suited to this media age. Last year, I posted on Twitter that "Andrew Breitbart's baked expression on the cover of his new book explains a lot." He retweeted it within minutes.
As much as I hated what he was doing to politics and journalism, I would have liked much more time to make that case in the years to come. At the GOP presidential debate in Jacksonville I covered last month, two seats were reserved on my row at the media center for Breitbart.Com. I walked over a few times to see if he'd turn up in one of them, but unfortunately nobody showed. He was a nemesis I wanted to meet.
Credit: The photo was taken by Gage Skidmore and is available under a Creative Commons license.
You're a person of class. If anyone ever doubted that, this tribute proves it.
Great tribute, Rogers. I know a lot of people hated him, but you did a good job at paying your last respects while still keeping it respectful.
The nicest piece I've read all day about Mr. Breitbart. I was not a fan, but I feel for his friends and family.
It was nice seeing your name on the article, Rogers. Word up!
There are the big government Socialist/Marxist/Communist radicals, and then there are those like Andrew Breitbart and Glenn Beck, and Sarah Palin, who are against big government and they are for the American Constitution of limited government and who rely more on tradition and their own ideas and labors when it comes to their personal lives, their mission, and their politics.
What sets Breitbart and Palin and others such as Allen West, Herman Cain as well as many others (including Ron Paul, as misguided as he is about defense and whoâs fault it is for the hate that exists in the Mideast) is that they are all in the fight and they have stood against liars and cheats and coercive radical revolutionaries and it really has taken all of their effort and focus to do so. They took the extra steps and went the extra mile because they understand what is going on and what is at stake. And Andrew was a true gladiator at that.
He was restless and relentless because he, as well as Palin and our other Breitbarts, though not always in agreement on everything do understand that we are in a non-kinetic civil war, and what appears to be the late stages of a socialist revolution and the destruction of America from within which has been in the works while the ideas behind it are nothing new and have been refuted. See also my post Save Capitalism, Save America over atmy blog A FREE MARKET AMERICAN freemarketcircle.blogspot.com and also Right vs. Left, the Bottom Line here freemarketcircle.blogspot.com
The task at hand is to show this, and to share it wide and far. And it is really a fight, because there are those who do not wish the truth to be known. So one must really stand up to them, their manipulations, interests and power. And remember Saul Alinsky taught them how to gain power to achieve their utopian fundamentally unAmerican extremist agenda. Breitbart has demonstrated to and shown many how to fight back. What Andrew learned, and what he demonstrated through his actions, is that it takes a radical to beat a radical. As I said before, over at my blog in my post âLeft vs. Right, the Bottom Line â, it takes a radical to know one and to expose one and defeat one.
God rest his soul and bless his family. He will be sorely missed.
And to Andrew, if you can read this up there, I never got to meet you and that is too bad because I live in your neck of the woods out here in Los Angeles. I just want to say, from the bottom of my heart, thank you so much for your service to your country. In your honor, here at Free Market American/Free Market Circle, and everyone in the American Conservative/Tea party movement, we are all patriotic radicals in the cause of our American constitution and republic now.
Condolences to a family, standard simpering comments on civility, outrage at the use of an unfortunate situation to promote some imagined benefit of lies and discord. I'm looking at you, #4.
It's almost a full day now, and promotion to the right hand of Saint Ronnie is in full swing.
The greatest awfulness of it all is likely to be the inability of legal process to continue to grind up the facts and produce a legitimate karma for all of them. How long before the aggrieved defendants are running to the courts claiming since there's now no chance of evidence or significant testimony from a a prime perpetrator and co-conspirator? O'Keefe must be ecstatic.
You'd think someday they'd get a clue about hubris or schadenfreude. On the other hand, there are lots of remains in La Brea, proof that change (not to mention learning) is hard.
Yer a good man, Rogers.
Must admit "provocateur" is a much better description of the man the "best journo EVAH' tripe the RW press is pushing at the moment and yet it's also so much classier than calling him a "RW propagandist" as Spud and other lefties are doing when we're not actually devolving into far coarser terminology.
The story of Angry Andy and the people protesting the kid soldiers was a perfect snap shot of the man. Angry, passionate, unconventional, confrontational and, of course, completely misguided.
The story of his life, really.
Angry Andy, angry no more.
No worries though, much of the damage he has done and many of the lies he propagated live on, as do the nu-media platforms for derp dispersal he created. So he's still got all that going on for him. Still hope the Sherrod case against his estate progresses and ultimately finds restitution for her. And yes, as S-A points out above, O'Queef and his band of merry psychopaths are prolly breathing an undeserved sigh of relief at this point.
This all noted watching blogworld explode into bitter armed camps over the death of Mr Breibart has been an extraordinary experience to behold. Have not seen this level of animosity and outright derangement since he death of Teddy Kennedy. Considering Breitbart's own words at that time, this somehow seems appropriate.
Once again RIP, angry, misguided man.
/Quick note to #4. First, way to shamelessly plug yer derp-site in a fucking RIP thread, shit-stain. Second, if you think there are Marxists and Communists in the WH you need to shake yer wee head a few times and try to put the three little metal balls back in their holes cos you are obviously more politically naive than a newborn. K, Chucklefuck? Just trying to help. No need to thank me. It's wot Spud does.
This is a well written piece. Thanks for putting it out there.
this tribute blessed me especially after reading the nasty comments by the bloggers on this site. By acknowledging an opposing warrior in the fight you have lifted yourself also
You know me Rogers so I hope you know where I am coming from. The left will say I am giving him too much credit and that he was crazy right wing missile and the right will say I am only crediting him for his PR and marketing prowess and am saying he had no substance. But I come at this from a different perspective. I was a journalist who at one time would give up his mother's life for a page one story - above the fold of course. For the last 20 years, I've been a PR guy who's worked for both the good guys and the bad guys and often in the background.
While I disagree with Breitbart on virtually all his political stances, I've got to tell you from a PR and marketing standpoint he really outwitted and outfoxed his media foes most of the time- and I don't say that meaning you personally Rogers - I mean the media overall. From a PR and marketing perspective, I thought he was a genius. No, really.
He laid a lot of traps for the media and they stepped in almost all of them. He had a vision and a mission statement and everything he did he pushed through that funnel. And it had nothing to do with politics, right and wrong, policy or moral highground. Most people can't see the strategic public relations and marketing value in the promotion of an idea or content they disagree with. I would encourage anyone who is wondering 'what the hell is he talking about' to read the entire Slate profile piece they did on him.
When I saw him about a year or so ago on Bill Maher, I was really impressed. This guy was not interested in winning an argument he was just trying to market himself and his websites, so he wasn't tied to the rules that people who are trying to win arguments shackle themselves to.
I came to that conclusion when I saw him on Maher but it really hit home when Slate did the profile on him. These two sections stand out.
"When anyone dismisses Breitbart as a loon, he comes back at them with moral fury. When they threaten to pin him down in an argument, he wriggles free with a joke.
Or he simply changes the subject. Breitbart doesn't pretend to care about policy. "Have you ever seen me on TV? I always change the subject to the media context. It's my monkey trick. It's what I do."
Or perhaps even more telling:
"The willingness to be ridiculous is something Breitbart has on his critics. When Media Matters finds a discrepancy in one of Breitbart's stories, it calls him out for breach of journalistic ethics. "He's a pathological liar," Boehlert says. "These people are almost incapable of telling the truth." When Breitbart finds an error, he trots out Retracto, the Correction Alpaca."
As someone who quibbles with clients about the wording in a brochure or testimonial and am often unable to get them to look at the big picture - 'if you got exactly what you want, what would that look like and now if we agree that;'s what you want let's work backwards from there' - I admire those who adopt a strategic plan and implement it with blinders on and purpose. And I don't have to agree with them to be able to do that.
He laid a lot of traps for the media and they stepped in almost all of them.
Not just media.
Ask Tony Wiener about Breitbart's traps.
Obviously he wasn't lured into anything but Breitbart had a cyber stalker online watching Tony's every tweet and the accounts of those he was tweeting. When he got the pics Andy was very canny in how he played them. Clothed chubby pic first then sit back and let Tony think he has a chance of disavowing the scandal and then when he does try BAM out comes the full Monty shot. Wiener goes down in flames.
Meh, Spud would call Angry Andy "weasel clever but not people smart".
Not-so-Breitbart, in fact.
He's cheapened the political discourse and contributed to the situation we have now with two sides perpetually selling competing narratives designed to appeal to bias and confirm a world view ensuring perpetual gridlock and deep divisiveness in the electorate. Difference being that Andrew Breitbart's use of selective editing and cherry picking data is deliberately intellectually dishonest. Vigorous and passionate debate is necessary in order for a healthy democracy to progress but using deliberately dishonest debate and disingenuous cherry-picked "facts" in order to score points for one party or another only muddies the water and ultimately is counter-productive.
If a PR win is predicated on a public policy loss then it's no victory worth bragging about.
Why this outsized respect for the dead? The world belongs to the living.
He was a POS who told lies to hurt good people trying to do good things.
The shame was he was rewarded for it. He was not a worthy adversary.
Let's not lower the bar that low. This man was a scoundrel. His karma caught up with him.
I read that Slate interview where Breitbart revealed the gimmicks he used to keep his antagonists from laying a glove on him during TV appearances. He was definitely a talented self-marketer, but I wonder whether he would've been as successful at that without Fox News and right-wing talk radio passing along his stories without scrutiny.
Every one of his famous scoops -- the ACORN pimp sting, Shirley Sherrod speech and Anthony's wiener -- originated with dubious sources. It doesn't appear that Breitbart ever knew the actual source on the edited Sherrod video.
It drove me nuts to see Breitbart act like a journalist while showing so little concern for the accuracy of his work or the consequences to the people he unfairly maligned. I think he poisoned the discourse with his rabid attack-dog posture.
But I don't think tap dancing on his grave is the proper rebuke. It's just more poison.
Retracto the Correction Alpaca has a certain Cadenhead-like ring to it.
It may be time for Hortense the Well-Sourced Homunculus.
R.I.P. Andrew, god bless you and your family.
Isn't that Hortense the Well-Sourced Homunculus?
Dunno... she looks relaxed to me.
Breitbart initally emailed me the day I signed up for Big Hollywood, the first day it opened.
In response to one of comments, he told me to check my email.....
His email was 'What up PWZ? Welcome to the site.'
After that we corresponded pretty regularly, it was suprising how much he knew about the inner wrokings and background of the Retort and the charachters on it.
Eventually he told me how and why.