Andrew Breitbart, RIP
I first met Andrew in the lobby of New York's W Hotel in November of 2005, during the launch of PJ Media (then in its brief OSM phase, soon to return to its Pajamas for the next six years). I complemented him on how much I enjoyed Hollywood Interrupted, the book he co-wrote on how Hollywood's elites have mentally gone off a cliff -- and he seemed oddly surprised that somebody actually enjoyed the book. (Hey, there's a reason why I made its title one of my blog categories.) Later during the week of the launch, as I wrote on my blog back then, Nina and I and the founders of PJM had dinner with Andrew at Smith & Wolinksy's around the corner; it was fun to watch the photons just bouncing off of Andrew, who was still transitioning from being Matt Drudge's behind-the-scenes guy to becoming as well-known as Drudge himself. "Breitbart knows the X's and O’s of Internet news much the same way that Bill Walsh knows the West Coast Offense. You can almost see the sparks flying as he talks. And we were all happy to listen and absorb his advice," I wrote back then.
I guess around 2008 Andrew discovered Twitter and used it to play offense, as Ace writes today:
"Right now, my twitter feed is already calling me a big fat homosexual.
"Hello Children at home. No, your dad's not gay. That's just how the left rolls."
"Because they've held over our heads, with contempt, the false narrative of their innate tolerance. The least intolerant people you'll ever meet, I know it, I live it every day, and I retweet it [I republish their hateful remarks so they have a wider audience] to remind them I know exactly who they are."
This guy collects some of the hateful dance-on-your-grave tweets from the left. [Update: Many more here -- Ed]
I was just making the point on Twitter that even in death, especially in death, the left makes Andrew Breitbart's case for him. They never seemed to understand that while the right is his audience, the left itself is his most potent ally -- they prove everything he says with each hateful remark, each "ur a fag why don't you get AIDS and die" tweet.
The left makes all of his arguments for him. All Breitbart had to do was add two letters: "RT" [re-tweet].
But then that's the message of Andrew in a nutshell -- and why the left hates him so, even in death. I'll summarize it in a moment, but first, let's go back to 1996, just before Matt Drudge appeared on the national scene. As David Gelernter wrote at the time:
Today’s elite loathes the public. Nothing personal, just a fundamental difference in world view, but the hatred is unmistakable. Occasionally it escapes in scorching geysers. Michael Lewis reports in the New Republic on the ‘96 Dole presidential campaign: ‘The crowd flips the finger at the busloads of journalists and chant rude things at them as they enter each arena. The journalists, for their part, wear buttons that say "Yeah, I’m the Media. Screw You." [Emphasis mine -- Ed] The crowd hates the reporters, the reporters hate the crowd – an even matchup, except that the reporters wield power and the crowed (in effect) wields none.
Andrew, Matt and Glenn and Roger, and the rest of new media helped to smash that world. Andrew Breitbart's entire mission, both on Twitter and on his Big sites, was to say to the MSM, you don't get the final word anymore. It's now a conversation. We'll consider what you report, and how you report it, and determine for ourselves how factually accurate it is. How well it matches up with our worldview. How well it matches up with modern "liberalism's" mission statement that promises tolerance, diversity and multiculturalism -- and if you can't respect your neighbor, simply because he disagrees with you on the size and role of government, you've failed that mission statement. And when you've failed those objectives, we'll call you out. That's a very different media world than the Olympian redoubt that Walter Cronkite inhabited.
Tragically, one of the most potent voices for calling out the MSM has been silenced. But as Peter Ingemi, "DaTechGuy," tweets, "I am Andrew Breitbart right now, and if you are a blogger on the right so are all of you."
Keep calling them out.
Update: James Lileks on "The Toll." And Andrew posthumously helps David Frum exits conservatism, stage left. And Ed Morrissey (who was with me when I shot the above clip at Western CPAC -- Andrew mentioned "The two Eds" before the video rolled) has a moving tribute and helps answers the obvious question -- how:
When a man as young as Andrew passes, everyone wonders how it could have happened. According to Andrew’s father-in-law Orson Bean, he collapsed while taking a stroll near his home, and couldn’t be revived:
Breitbart was walking near his home in Brentwood, Calif just after midnight Thursday when he collapsed according to his father-in-law Orson Bean. Someone saw Breitbart fall and called 911. Emergency crews tried to revive him and rushed him to the emergency room at UCLA Medical Center, Bean said.
He is survived by his wife Susannah Bean Breitbart, 41, and four children.
Terribly sad. Again, keep Susannah and the children in your prayers today.
Update: Glenn Reynolds has a round-up of Andrew's death and notes this:
Matt Taibbi at Rolling Stone: “Good! Fuck him. I couldn’t be happier that he’s dead.”
Remember this stuff the next time one of these people tries to play the “Have you no decency?” card. As I said, even in death Andrew is exposing them.
William Kristol links to video of Jonah Goldberg's tribute to Breitbart on Fox News; Jonah happened to be scheduled to appear on Fox today when he was told the news. Jonah dubs Andrew "The most fearless guy I knew." Amen.
More: Michelle Malkin adds, "If he were here, he’d be retweeting all the insane tweets from the Left rejoicing over his death. Even in death, he succeeds in exposing the hate-filled intolerance of the tolerance poseurs."
Still more: James Taranto adds, "An heir to Saul Alinsky is dead at 43," and he's right. "One key to understanding Breitbart's effectiveness is Alinsky's fourth rule: 'Make the enemy live up to their own book of rules.' He demonstrated tolerance for bigotry at NPR and the NAACP, for violent partisan rhetoric at Common Cause, and for exploitation of the poor at Acorn. And he exposed Weiner, the sanctimonious male feminist, as a concupiscent con artist."
Which led of course to one of Andrew's finest moments, and the Greatest Press Conference In History:
Stacy McCain adds, "R.I.P., Andrew Breitbart: Innovative Genius of New Media Dies at Age 43."