Larry Solov, Andrew Breitbart's business partner and lifelong friend, said the conservative blogger and Drudge Report-affiliated web pioneer had two modes: lighthearted joker and cultural warrior.
They flip back and forth, Solov told CBS. And there is not that much in between.
Andrew Breitbart died in the early hours of Thursday morning after collapsing near his home in Brentwood, Calif. In the hours following news of his death, both his conservative allies and those on the left reached out with messages of support for his family and to express their grief at his passing.
RIP O'Mighty warrior! Texas Gov. Rick Perry tweeted. What a powerful voice, added GOP presidential primary candidate Rick Santorum. What a huge loss, in my opinion, for our country, and certainly for the conservative movement.
“Media Matters has a long history with Andrew Breitbart,” said Ari Rabin-Havt, part of the liberal watchdog that frequently went after Breitbart. “We’ve disagreed more than we’ve found common ground, but there was never any question of Andrew’s passion for and commitment to what he believed.”
That passion and commitment was never more prominent than when Andrew Breitbart could find a good target to hit.
On topics ranging the Great Society to the Tea Party, mentor Matt Drudge to the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, the conservative Internet mogul delighted in his ability to shock, offend and infuriate the mainstream media and prominent politicians on the left.
For those who loved him, and those who loved to hate him, one of the best ways to remember Andrew Breitbart are through his famous and often infamous soundbites. Here, relive the life and legacy of a conservative Internet giant as he spouts off on everyone from Clarence Thomas to Shirley Sherrod, and on everything from the mainstream media to running for office.
Rejecting Liberalism: 'The Great Society Trash Can'
Andrew Breitbart was a fiery and often bombastic critic of others. But when it came to his past, especially his young liberalism, the 21st century Internet mogul rarely flinched from turning that uncompromising gaze back on himself.
Breitbart grew up in an affluent section of Los Angeles. He attended private school and went on to study at Tulane University in New Orleans, identifying as a Democrat.
While in Louisiana, however, Breitbart had less a change of heart than a rather visceral change of mind. Exposed to high crime and poverty levels in New Orleans, Breitbart soon began to express disgust with the Great Society trash can.
The true turning point, however, came in 1991, when the future Republican crusader watched the Senate hearings on Clarence Thomas after allegations by Anita Hill that he sexually harassed her.
But Breitbart came to believe that the charges against Thomas, even if they were true, were nothing compared to the Kennedy Chappaquiddick scandal. He saw the media, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the National Organization for Women (NOW) tear into a man he believed had done nothing wrong.
I went in expecting to root against Clarence Thomas, he told AP. I came out doubting the Democratic Party and liberalism.
Matt Drudge: 'I Owe Him Everything.'
Andrew Breibart may never have reached the level of fame, influence and notoriety that he achieved through the far-reaching power of the Internet, if not for Matt Drudge. From the mid-1990s onward, Breitbart became the Drudge Report founder's right-hand man.
Though he often declined to talk about his mentor, who has since praised him as a constant source of energy, passion, and commitment, what he did say about Drudge, even in jest, was often close to reverential.
I'm Matt Drudge's bitch, he was quoted as saying by Reason back in 2007. I owe him everything, he added in a more serious statement to the AP in 2010, before slamming the mainstream media for not paying enough attention to the Web pioneer.
If he had been left of center, he would have been on the cover of Rolling Stone and Wired and Vanity Fair a million times, Breitbart asserted.
But Breitbart never saw himself as the next Matt Drudge. That would be too simple. My greatest takeaway from Matt Drudge ... was his sense of individualism, to follow your path, he said. And so, Drudge is Drudge and I'm me.
The Mainstream Media: 'I'm Committed To Destruction.'
Andrew Breitbart's web empire was constantly expanding, and veering further right with each new incarnation.
Breitbart's most popular site, Breitbart.com, began under the motto just the news, and borrowed liberally from mainstream news organizations.
From there, however, his reach expanded through sites devoted to conservative commentary and right-wing blog posts. They include Big Journalism, Big Hollywood, Big Peace and Big Government.com, all of them plays on media watchwords like Big Business, Big Oil and Big Tobacco. Another site, Breitbart TV, is devoted to the video clips of the day.
Unsurprising given his reputation, many on the left decry Breitbart's tactics and motives as the basest punditry, a form of journalism where facts and nuanced analysis is forgotten in exchange for shock value and bombast.
I call it thuggery in the national discourse, Democratic strategist Karen Finney, a Clinton White House veteran, said. It's damaging to our country.
Breitbart acknowledged that criticism joyfully, viewing it as he did as a sign that establishment figures felt threatened by his reach. I'm committed to the destruction of the old media guard, Breitbart told the AP back in August 2010. And it's a very good business model.
I do what I do because the mainstream media chooses not to do it, he added. The game of the left controlling the narrative ... is ending.
Sen. Ted Kennedy's Death: 'Rest in Chappaquiddick.'
Andrew Breitbart never held back when it came to Sen. Edward Kennedy (D.- Mass.), especially when in came to the Chappaquiddick scandal. When news that Kennedy had passed away in 2009, after serving in Congress for almost 50 years, Breitbart took to Twitter to launch a savage attack on Kennedy's memory, beginning his Twitter updates under the title Rest in Chappaquiddick.
Kennedy is my villain. He took me from left to right during the Thomas hearings. Breitback wrote, before calling him a duplicitous bastard, a a big ass motherf@#$er, and a special pile of human excrement.
Breitbart incited controversy for his comment on Kennedy. It was exactly what he had had in mind.
If you can't say something nice about a person, then say mean things about them instead, he shrugged. Especially if they are unapologetic manslaughterers.
Shirley Sherrod: 'A Present Tense Racism.'
Andrew Breitbart was at the center of several prominent controversies in recent years, from the exposure of the Anthony Weiner scandal and his remark about homocons at CPAC to the destruction of ACORN through a series of heavily edited video tapes in 2009.
But none of his exposees and takedown were as controversial as the Shirley Sherrod story.
In 2010, Shirley Sherrod, an Agricultural Department employee, was videotaped telling a local NAACP group that she was initially reluctant to help a white farmer save his farm over two decades before, long before her time with the USDA. She told the crowd that she came to realize he own prejudices were holding her back. She helped the farmer to stay afloat. The lesson of the speech was one of racial healing and understanding.
Sherrod's speech, however, appeared on Breitbart's web site Big Government with only the first half available, making it seem as though the lesson of Sherrod's speech was one of blatant discrimination.
I think the video speaks for itself, he said. The way she's talking about white people ... is conveying a present tense racism in my opinion. But racism is in the eye of the beholder.
He also went after the audience for responding positively to her remarks.
[This video shows] way more evidence of racism than anything that the mainstream media and TPM and all of the rest of you Spencer Ackerman friends provided to prove that the tea party was racist, he posted.
Shirley Sherrod was fired from her job as the Georgia director of rural development after the unedited but woefully incomplete footage was posted. She has since regained her position, and had planned to sue Breitbart for defamation.
Breitbart, however, saw no wrongdoing in posting the video. He felt that even with all the footage there, Sherrod's statements were proof of racism. He also refused to apologize to Sherrod for getting her fired from the USDA. What would warrant an apology? he told CNN. I'm not the one that threw her under the bus.
President Obama: 'They Plotted, And They Plotted, And They Plotted.'
Andrew Breitbart has been a frequent and vicious critic of President Obama and his Cabinet since the Democrat arrived on Capitol Hill. But in a recent talk at CPAC, Breitbart helped to create his own legacy when he told the audience that he had videotapes from Obama's college years that would vet the president during the 2012 election season.
I've got videos.. from his college days, to show you why racial division and class warfare are central to what 'hope' and 'change' was sold in 2008, Andrew Breitbart told the crowd. Barack Obama met a bunch of 'silver ponytails' back in the 1980s... who, equally radical, said 'One day, we're going to have the presidency. And the rest of us slept while they plotted, and they plotted, and they plotted.
Those video tapes have yet to be released, and in the immediate aftermath of Breitbart's death, Twitter is going wild with conspiracy theorists alleging that the online mogul was killed to stop the information from going public.
Barack Obama is a radical, Breitback said. We should not be afraid to say that.
Occupy Wall Street: 'Stop Raping People!'
Only two weeks before his death, Andrew Breitbart was caught on tape making yet another controversial statement, this one more confusing than offensive.
At the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) on Feb. 11, 2012, Breitbart went after OWS protestors when they decided to demonstrate at the GOP conference, shouting Behave yourself! and calling them freaks and animals. As a woman in the crowd told Breitbart to chill, the GOP pundit, restrained by a man in a suit, suddenly shouted, Stop raping people! ... You filthy, creepy, murdering freaks!
Protestors in the crowd were too baffled to respond to Breitbart's comments immediately.
I've never raped anybody--I don't know who he's talking to! one girl can be heard saying in video footage of the encounter. I've never raped anybody!
Running For Office: 'It Would Diminish My Power.'
I love my job. I love fighting for what I believe in. I love having fun while doing it. I love reporting stories that the Complex refuses to report. I love fighting back, I love finding allies, and--famously--I enjoy making enemies.
The thrill for infuriating, offending and unabashedly ripping into those he disagreed with made Breitbart one of the most infamous political commentators out there. But the right-wing Internet mogul's most powerful weapon was that he already knew what liberal politicians and newscasters were going to call him... and wore it as a badge of pride.
“The second I realized I liked being hated more than I liked being liked, he told TIME in 2010. That’s when the game began.”
Andrew Breitbart also resisted, with little effort, all attempts to get him into public office, what many considered the next logical step for a man lionized by the right for being unafraid to fight back and to fight dirty.
Breitbart appreciated the support, but had no interest in Andrew 2012.
I'm less of a senator than I am a pied piper or Johnny Appleseed, Breitbart said. Being a senator would diminish my power.
Final Words: 'I Apologize.'
Three years ago, I was mostly a behind-the-scenes guy who linked to stuff on a very popular website, Breitbart wrote in a new conclusion to his book Righteous Indignation.
I always wondered what it would be like to enter the public realm to fight for what I believe in. I've lost friends, perhaps dozens. But I've gained hundreds, thousands--who knows?--of allies. At the end of the day, I can look at myself in the mirror, and I sleep very well at night.
Andrew Breitbart's final public act was on Twitter, a site he used to gleefully retweet almost every negative comment about him from users. He had called a Louisiana blogger a putz the day before, but had apparently reconsidered.
I called you a putz because I thought you were being intentionally disingenuous, Breitbart said, before ending his career with the most unlikely two words possible: I apologize.
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