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Friday, March 2, 2012

Remembering Andrew Breitbart

“I want to remind you that success in life is based on hard slogging. There will be periods when discouragement is great and upsetting, and the antidote for this is calmness and fortitude and a modest yet firm belief in your competence. Be sure that your priorities are in order so that you can proceed in a logical manner, and be ever mindful that nothing will take the place of persistence.” — Walter Annenberg

Yesterday the conservative movement lost a great fighter by the untimely death of Andrew Breitbart. Andrew Breitbart died at the age of 43 from a massive heart attack while walking near his home in Beverly Hills.

Breitbart was, as many youth are, a liberal all through college. It was during the confirmation hearings for Clearance Thomas that he began to see the total hypocrisy of the left and the liberal bias in the media. He claimed that at the beginning he was rooting against the confirmation of Thomas, but as the hearings progressed he began to anger at the beating Thomas was taking from the Democrats and the media. What infuriated him the most was the absence of any defense of Thomas by the NAACP and other black leaders? In an interview with Sean Hannity last year Breitbart said he became incensed at the way the media and Democrats were piling on this good and honorable man.

Breitbart eventually began to realize that he was a conservative and that he wanted to do something with his like that would be important. He stated that one day while driving along in his car he was praying to God for guidance in his life and begging God to show him the purpose he should dedicate his life to. It was within two weeks of this event he met Matt Drudge and went to work for him developing his web site.

Working with Drudge gave Breitbart the skills and passion for using the internet as a counter to the left-wing main stream media. Soon after his tenure with Drudge he went to work for the Huffington Post, a job that allowed him to hone his skills and bring him into conflict with the Post’s left leaning journalism.

It was now time for Andrew to develop his own web site and he started sites like, Breitbart TV, Big Journalism, Big Government, and Big Hollywood.” It was through these sites he began recruiting people of like mind who would assist him in getting the conservative message out to the public.

His friends saw him as a fearless truth-teller and provocateur. (The word “fearless” will have to be retired from overuse when all of his obituaries have been written.) His enemies, and they are legion even in death, saw him as the most vile creature who ever slithered upon the earth.

Within hours of the news, Twitter lit up with repugnant and ghoulish statements from left-wingers celebrating the premature death of a man with four small children. I won’t repeat them because the printable ones aren’t representative, and the representative ones aren’t printable.

Jonah Goldberg, a personal and professional friend of Breitbart writes in National Review Online:

“Andrew relished such attacks, truly, because they proved to him that he was having great effect in his work and that his opponents had run out of serious arguments.

This is not to say that Andrew was beyond criticism. He made mistakes. He took full swings at some pitches he should have just let go. He overstated some things that needed to be said, and said some things that didn’t need to be said at all. He was a human run-on sentence who showed deference to no punctuation mark save the exclamation point, a conservative Tasmanian Devil from the Bugs Bunny cartoons we both grew up on, whirling and whizzing through anything in his path. Giving him a dose of Ritalin to treat his hyperactivity would be like throwing a glass of water on a five-alarm fire.

But the hatred his enemies had for him overshot his faults like a dart thrown past the board and over the moon. Others will talk of his accomplishments: working for the Drudge Report in its infancy, creating websites and businesses, pioneering new forms of media, and exploiting the inherent weaknesses and pieties of the old media. And many who knew him will talk of his personal kindness: how the only times he slowed down were when he needed to lend an ear, do a favor, or talk about how much he loved his family.

Those things matter more than the politics, but they are not what made him a public figure. If being kind and loving your family made you famous, countless plumbers, carpenters, and accountants would be famous too.

No, what made him a public figure is what drove him to leap into battle day after day. Andrew had profound contempt for those on the left who claimed a birthright to a monopoly on virtue and tolerance.

He rejected in the marrow of his bones the idea that conservatives needed to apologize for being conservative or that liberals had any special authority to pronounce on the political decency and honesty of others.

Indeed, when liberals called him (or his heroes) racist, Andrew paid them the compliment of taking them seriously. He truly felt that to call someone a racist was as profound an insult as could be leveled. To do so without evidence or logic was a sin.

He believed, rightly, that much of establishment liberalism hurls such charges as a way to bully opponents into silence, and he would not be bullied. That was why, for instance, he offered a reward of $100,000 (payable to the United Negro College Fund) to anybody who could prove tea partiers hurled racial epithets over and over at black congressmen walking past them to vote on ObamaCare, as several alleged. No one got paid because the charge — recycled over and over by the media — was a lie.

The Internet was a boon to Andrew because it exposed liberalism’s undeserved monopoly on the “narrative” — one of his favorite words.

60 Minutes won awards for hidden cameras, but when he used the same technique to embarrass liberals, such tactics were suddenly proclaimed ethically beyond the pale. The joke was on the scolds because they had to cover the stories anyway. And the stories got results. Congress defunded ACORN. Heads rolled at NPR. Andrew understood that news and arguments change politics if you can get the news and arguments to the people — and if you don’t let those who don’t like what you say define you.

Whatever his faults, that was my friend’s great and remarkable strength: He never let the bastards get him down. That took away his enemies’ greatest power, and they hated him all the more for it.”

Jonah Goldberg is right on target. Breitbart was showing the way to deal with the left-wing media, especially the bloggers. He was not afraid to take them on and expose their bias and lies. He also provided inspiration to other conservative journalists and bloggers.

He was on the forefront of reporting several controversies, notably the salacious tweets former Rep. Anthony Weiner had sent to young women before his resignation.

Breitbart became embroiled in a controversy of his own, though, for his reporting on a web video of Agriculture Department employee Shirley Sherrod. The edited video appeared to show Sherrod making a racist comment, but the full tape later put the remark in context and made clear that Sherrod was actually talking about bridging racial differences. Sherrod was fired after the edited video surfaced, and later filed suit against Breitbart.

Breitbart, though, went on to report on one of the biggest congressional scandals of 2011 — the tweets sent by Weiner to young women he met online. The former New York congressman, who is married, adamantly denied the reports at first, before admitting to them in a tearful press conference and resigning.

One of Breitbart's most memorable moments came when he commandeered the podium before Weiner's final New York conference, holding court with reporters and demanding an apology from Weiner — while Weiner waited to attend his own press conference.

Goldberg recalled how one of Breitbart's favorite pastimes was to retweet the nasty things other people said about him. "He considered it a badge of honor," Goldberg said.

According to Joel Pollak, the editor of Breitbart TV, Breitbart was a big baseball fan and fanatical Dodger fan. Pollack claimed that Breitbart wanted to be a scout for the Dodgers and give them advice on the talent they should be looking. This passion for talent gave Breitbart the ability recognize talented and passionate players for his endeavors. Pollack claimed, in an interview on Fox and Friends, that Breitbart was quick to recognize talent and bring them on board. This is how he built his organization.

As Bill Whittle, of PJ Media, claims, Breitbart will be sorely missed. Yes, there is a growing cadre of conservative journalists and bloggers and they are having an impact of the leftwing media. It is a “to the death” fight for the soul of this Republic and we have lost our General Patton.

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