Yes, Andrew Breitbart was combative, but he clung to his principles — even when those principles made no sense
Every few months or so Andrew Breitbart would call me up or email me and rail against hypocrisy in the sell-out liberal media to get me to write about it.
A recent time had to do with whether or not he’d been disinvited from a conference about global warming in Aspen, and how the liberal (i.e. anti-warming) organizers pulled a fast one one on him after he’d already left for the airport to attend.
I gently suggested that he might not want to make it a cause celebre, since the event came on the heels of his Shirley Sherrod debacle, in which he ended up widely hated by much of the country (not to put too fine a point on it).
But being Andrew, he persisted, and even got a post from me out of it, because he did have a point: How Andrew Breitbart Makes James Cameron Look Like an Ass
He turned around a year later and started another national barroom brawl, this one over Anthony Weiner. This time he was right. (Who can fathom the stupidity of politicians?) Weiner resigned, Andrew declared victory, and then went on to rail against the next target.
Andrew was an unusual guy. He wasn’t a journalist and he wasn’t a pol. He wasn’t a sell-out to the right or anybody else.
But he was angry all the time, and I could never figure that out. He clung to his principles, even when those principles made no sense to me. To him, the media game was eternally rigged by the liberals, which was why he was so close to Matt Drudge. And he lived to expose that.
I’d never met someone so eager to jump into combat with random, anonymous people on Twitter, every single day.
Also read: Matt Drudge Gives It Up to Andrew Breitbart
Totally typical Andrew. He did that all day long. And he was the constant target of overwhelming, venomous hatred on the Internet – something that would have worn down the average person, but that seemed to be the fuel that got him and his 72,000 Twitter followers going.
Hollywood was Andrew’s particular bugaboo. He grew up here and lived in the heart of liberal West Los Angeles. So he could hardly avoid noticing his status as a libertarian minority amid the liberally-rigged (according to him) entertainment machine.
That too just started his engine. He insisted there was a silent mass of conservatives in Hollywood, just waiting for someone to validate them.
To support that silent mass, he started the Big Hollywood vertical on his site, which in my estimation never really penetrated the core entertainment industry, but nonetheless attracted its own large, angry following.
One of my favorite Andrew stories was how he helped Arianna Huffington launch The Huffington Post. News of the launch drew the immediate and venomous dismissal by Nikki Finke (read this hilarious bit if you’ve missed it: The Internet Remembers: Nikki Finke's DOA Verdict on HuffPo).
Breitbart got her post linked to on Drudge – which went viral and helped Huffington get attention.
“The blogosphere didn’t want Arianna to succeed,” he called to tell me. "When Nikki Finke misfired, and this came out the morning the site came out — meaning she wrote it before she saw the site — it granted Arianna sympathy at the exact moment she needed it."
That’s equal-opportunity exposing of hypocrisy for you.
I don’t know what made Andrew congenitally unable to avoid getting in a tussle about every slight that came his way. Happily married, with a gaggle of four kids, Andrew would still start an Internet brawl as often as humanly possible.
I liked Andrew personally. It was pretty hard not to – he was funny, and irreverent, hard-working; he loved his wife and his kids, who were invariably making a racket in the background of most conversations.
Today I’m saddened that his life would be cut off so young — he was 43 when he died.
But despite constantly throwing flames out at the established world, he could never understand why some threw flames back at him. He was a man who could not see how the world looked at him.
Often I’d suppress an impulse to look out for his welfare by asking why he went looking for trouble all the time. And today I worry if his family is covered by the health care system he surely disdained.
Rest in peace, Andrew Breitbart.