Five years on: Remembering Andrew Breitbart

By Jonathon Van Maren

I just noticed that five years ago today, I published (on my first blog, which no longer exists) a short eulogy to Andrew Breitbart. I often wonder what he would make of everything in the crazy media landscape he helped launch. Anyway, here’s the short column from five years ago:

Andrew Breitbart: 1969-2012

March 2, 2012

Andrew Breitbart died yesterday at the age of 43, after collapsing outside his California home. He left behind a wife and four young children.

While Andrew Breitbart is probably unknown to many, to those of us who have worked with conservative media, his name was legend. It was Breitbart who helped Hannah Giles and Sean O’Keefe take down ACORN, a left-wing community organizing group that supported Obama. It was Breitbart who helped make Lila Rose’s expose videos of Planned Parenthood famous. It was Breitbart who, with his websites like Big Government and Big Hollywood, showed conservatives that we didn’t have to rely on the mainstream media. We could create our own media.

Andrew Breitbart was notoriously ADD. I remember going to hear him speak in the convention hall in the Washington DC Marriot for the Conservative Political Action Conference 2010. He ranted, and pounded the podium, and read bits of articles from his phone, lost his concentration, and yelled again. While it was at first frustrating—I’d never even heard of Andrew Breitbart before this—I soon felt myself being riled up with the rest. He was so angry, and so fully believed in every word he was saying, that it was hard not believe him by the time the speech was over.

Perhaps Breitbart was too angry for his own good. That same weekend, I saw him face off with a mainstream journalist that dared to call him a racist. Breitbart was apoplectic at the offence, and fully willing to turn the altercation into a physical showdown. Security made sure that didn’t happen. However, Breitbart in person was the warmest person you could imagine. At CPAC, he was willing to give anybody the time of day, whether you were running a fledgling magazine or podcast or the Wall Street Journal. His presence can only be described as big.

Just after CPAC, I took a train with my fellow conservative Sam Reynolds into New York City to sit in on a shooting of FOX News’ Red Eye with Greg Gutfeld. Breitbart was the guest for the evening, along with Steven Crowder and several others. As we enjoyed a cigarette outside the studio after the show and chatted, I remember Gutfeld commenting to Crowder that while Breitbart was a wonderful human being with a great sense of humor, he was worried that the anger would kill him. And perhaps it did, as early reports seem to indicate that Breitbart died of heart problems.

In spite of his failings, Breitbart was a conservative media pioneer. He stood for all the right things. He was willing to take on ACORN, Planned Parenthood, and the president. He will be sorely missed.

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