BigBeyond: Andrew Breitbart Dead At 43

The pugnacious proprietor of the conservative collection of “Big” blogs (BigGovernment, BigJournalism, etc.), Andrew Breitbart, passed away last night while walking near his home in Los Angeles. At 43 years old this can be described as nothing less than shocking and a tragic blow to his family, including four young children.

I never met Breitbart but, in some distant respect, I knew him via his work and my study of his consuming mission to assault and/or reform the American media. We have that in common. However, it is a shallow connection as we probably would disagree on every matter of media and politics that might arise. Breitbart wrote in his autobiography, “Righteous Indignation” (See my review here), that…

“The biggest point I wanted to make was one I’m still making: Hollywood is more important than Washington. It can’t be overstated how important this message is: the pop culture matters.”

That was a view that he carried into almost every aspect of his work. He was a fierce practitioner of publicity stunts and relished opportunities to perform a sort of media jiu jitsu wherein the force of the press was deviously turned against itself. Who can forget the hijacking of the press conference that was called by former congressman Anthony Weiner by Breitbart, who commandeered the podium prior to Weiner’s arrival? Breitbart took questions from the assembled reporters as if it were his own press conference.

I originally created this image to portray Breitbart negatively, but today let it stand for what the character ultimately represented: Courage.

There is no cause of death being reported at this time, however, Breitbart was known to have heart problems. If true, there is a lesson here in that Breitbart was also well known for his hard-drinking lifestyle, which is not recommended for people with bad hearts. Our health is a treasure that we should all take care to preserve because our lives belong to more than just ourselves. Ask Breitbart’s widow, Susie. If you drink excessively, or smoke tobacco, or subsist on junk food, this would be a good time to reassess your priorities. You owe it to every person that loves you.

On days like this the animus of adversaries is subordinate to the reflection on a broader fate that all of us share. Breitbart’s passing is a deeply personal and somber event for those who cared about him, and their grief is deserving of respect. There will always be another day to lock horns in the battles we wage over the issues we mortals regard as significant, but significance, as it turns out, can be relative. For now I send my condolences and best wishes to his family, and hope that they can soon manage to find more gratitude for the time they had together than grief in their loss.

[Update] Michelle Malkin (among others) is making a fuss about some random “lefty” Tweets that are less than civil about the news of Breitbart’s passing. It is unfortunate (and disgusting) that she is exploiting this family’s tragedy for her political agenda. I don’t want to get into a debate with her, but when 99% of the left has been respectful, including Shirley Sherrod, David Shuster, Josh Marshall (TPM), Eric Boehlert (MMfA), and more, Malkin’s grousing is just plain sick. And besides, she might want to look back and see how Breitbart dealt with the death of another public figure, Ted Kennedy:

And he later Tweeted “Why do you grant a BULLY special status upon his death?” Breitbart is fortunate that his critics have more grace than he did. And Malkin, and the other rightist tools trying to turn this into a partisan brawl, should STFU. At least for a day or two.


11 thoughts on “BigBeyond: Andrew Breitbart Dead At 43

  1. Much as I disliked him I am sorry — not least because I wanted to see Shirley Sherrod’s lawsuit against him come to fruition.

    • Breitbart’s death would not necessarily mean that the suit could not go forward. It was his BigJournalism blog that posted the video and that enterprise is still operating. It was not a personal suit. I hope she does go forward.

      She issued a statement this morning offering her condolences to his family.

      • Yeah, it probably *will* go forward. But it won’t have the same power without him there to testify.

  2. How DARE you? Breitbart did NOT display “courage.” He was the ultimate bully, DELIBERATELY going out of his way to take video footage and editing it to back up whatever lie he was trying to display. That’s NOT a display of “courage”–that’s out-and-out cowardice, and NOT the type that the Cowardly Lion (whether in Baum’s original Oz stories or the MGM musical version) displayed. Bullies, at heart, are cowards, taking out their anger and hostility on people weaker than they are, and when called on it, their apologies are half-hearted at best (more often than not, the apologies reek of “well, it’s not my fault so-and-so is such a weakling”). And Breitbart was a bully, whose bullying was enabled by people too willing to believe his lies. If anything, Breitbart was Major Frank Burns–he was as weaselly and conniving and toadying but also as cowardly (Burns was a “brave man” when he was ordering around the enlisted men but he ALWAYS needed back-up when dealing with someone of nearly equal strength or authority). The only difference: Burns was fictitious; Breitbart was only too real.

    I hope his afterlife is spent with him having to watch all the humiliating moments of his life on a non-stop loop along with all the cutting-room-floor bits of his videos–the bits that people weren’t shown when he was making his false accusations. (Alternatively, maybe his afterlife will be spent in a room filled with all those people that so scared Breitbart in real life. He deserves either one.)

    • The courage was meant for his family. Chill.

  3. I went to HuffPo and the comments from liberals were by and large (as in every one I read) civil. FoxNation readers could learn a thing or two.

  4. But then there is the disgusting, evil comments that Matt Taibbi from Rolling Stone has just spewed about Breitbart’s death. If Rolling Stone has even a modicum of decency left, they should fire Taibbi immediately.

    • Scott, did you actually read the article, or just the headline? The article itself was written to make Breitbart smile from wherever he is in the afterlife. Like a rival’s tribute.

  5. I posted a comment on Breitbart in which I speculated, “perhaps there is a gig on Fox in Breitbart’s future”. The events of yesterday ends that speculation. Eventhough Breitbart was a vicious, hateful blowhard, I’m sure he had something good in him and people who loved him. Eventhough, I believe, he was wrong on everything, I’m sure he believed in the rightousness of whatever cause he was championing. I just thought his tactics were dreadful, meanspirited and dishonest. I’m sorry to see anyone pass at this young age but I will not miss him. There are many others who will fill in for him, just watch Fox for ten minutes.

  6. First let me say I have empathy for this guy’s family. It must have been a shock to see this big, burly guy keel over at the tender age of 43. My heart goes out to them and my remaining comments have no personal animus to any of them.

    That said, it’s difficult to feel too choked up about Breibart’s untimely demise. He has done incalculable harm to the civility of dialogue and the credibility of the media he so adored. For me, the man’s arrogant contempt for truthfulness in content is the hardest thing to swallow. You said it when you wrote that he thought the medium itself was pre-eminent, the content secondary.

    It’s hard to warm up to a human being who said on EMK’s death, “Good riddance, c***sucker! Don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out.” Talk about no class! How can you feel sorrow for such a creep when he is gone? He showed none for his adversaries. And it is that mean-spiritedness, that bullying attitude, that easy ends-justify-the-means and right-makes-might assumption that I find most troubling. Unscrupulousness coupled with obsessive lust for power lie at the roots of fascism — a strong tendency in our country today.

    Meaning no disrespect to AB’s family, who I will hold blameless for his sins, I would gladly tap-dance on his tombstone. Good riddance indeed! Now I must sign off and get back to my work trying to give Limbaugh the bum’s Rush.

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