Andrew Breitbart, Right Wing Carnival Barker, Partisan Bully, Race-Baiter, New Media Jerk, Is Dead

THE ATLANTIC: He went on to build his own little empire of “Big” blogs: Big Hollywood, Big Government, Big Journalism, and the youngest, Big Peace. It was fitting that Breitbart took on the “Big” brand, though he surely meant it as an attack on the powerful reach of these institutions he so hated. Because Breitbart embodied big: Everything he did was suffused with the bigness of his ideology, his conviction, and his willingness to battle it out with anyone who disagreed. For Breitbart, that combativeness was an asset, and not just because it made his work and his words fly around the Internet, but because he believed that that was how you reached people — how you persuaded people to see the world as you saw it. When GQ‘s Lisa DePaulo asked him last spring whether he though the title “one of the most polarizing figures of our time” was a compliment, he answered:

Yes. The media is dominated by people who disagree with American exceptionalism–the academic Marxist crowd’s worldview–and somebody needed to start taking it on directly. The Right has focused its energy and money on the political process, and it just kind of shrugged off culture. But culture is everything in this country. Once you get down to the political level, you’ve already lost the battle.

For many people, the way that Andrew Breitbart could fuel support for his political views with scandal and emotion says something sinister about democracy, news consumption, and political decision making in this Internet age. What does it say about how we consume and evaluate news that Breitbart could achieve such power with his bluster, his dust-ups, and his cynical gimmicks? MORE

MATT TAIBBI: So Andrew Breitbart is dead. Here’s what I have to say to that, and I’m sure Breitbart himself would have respected this reaction: Good! Fuck him. I couldn’t be happier that he’s dead. I say this in the nicest possible way. I actually kind of liked Andrew Breitbart. Not in the sense that I would ever have wanted to hang out with him, or even be caught within a hundred yards of him without a Haz-Mat suit on, but I respected the shamelessness. Breitbart didn’t do anything by halves, and even his most ardent detractors had to admit that he had a highly developed, if not always funny, sense of humor. MORE

THE NEW YORKER: Breitbart considers himself an accidental cultural warrior. “I am not as partisan as people think I am,” he told me, calling himself eighty-five per cent conservative and fifteen per cent libertarian. His conservatism fails him on issues such as the legalization of prostitution, and he sometimes tilts toward favoring gay marriage. “But, when the entire media is structured to attack conservatives and Republicans, there is a huge business model to come in and counterbalance that,” he said. He does not pretend to be an expert in policy, or to be particularly interested in it. “Just because I am paying attention to politics and culture doesn’t mean that I should be talking about the health-care bill, talking about the minutiae,” he told me. Instead, Breitbart is obsessed with wresting control of the political narrative from the established media organizations. If the wire services that Breitbart aggregates, and the bloggers he recruits, serve as his content providers, then Breitbart might be called a malcontent provider—giving seething, sneering voice to what he characterizes as a silenced majority. MORE

RELATED: Andrew Breitbart has to meet Shirley Sherrod in court and respond to her defamation suit. Breitbart filed a motion to dismiss Sherrod’s defamation suit. But the US District Court in Washington DC refused Breitbart’s request to dismiss. Sherrod filed the suit in February of 2011, a year after the Breitbart tapes seeped its way into mainstream media. Breitbart’s tape, edited to paint Sherrod as racist and a reflection of NAACP racial behaviors, resulted in Sherrod’s dismissal. Breitbart maintained that he never meant to hurt Sherrod, but to place heat on the NAACP. Sherrod was fired on the spot by Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, a direct order from the White House, she wrote in her complaint. Sherrod also said she was forced to pull over and resign from her position via Blackberry. A year later, she filed a defamation suit against Breitbart and his partner. MORE

DAVID FRUM: Yet it is wrong to see Breitbart as racially motivated. Had Breitbart decided he hated a politician whose ancestors came over on the Mayflower, Breitbart would have been just as delighted to attack that politicians with a different set of codes. The attack was everything, the details nothing. This indifference to detail suffused all of Breitbart’s work, and may indeed be his most important and lasting legacy. Breitbart sometimes got stories right (Anthony Weiner). More often he got them wrong (Sherrod). He did not much care either way. Just as all is fair in a shooting war, so manipulation and deception are legitimate tools in a culture war. Breitbart used those tools without qualm or regret, and he inspired a cohort of young conservative journalists to do likewise. In time, Andrew Breitbart might have aged into greater self-control and a higher concept of public service. Premature death deprived him of the chance at redemption often sought and sometimes found by people who have done wrong in their lives and work. MORE

RELATED: A video posted today shows conservative provocateur Andrew Breitbart shouting “Behave yourselves!” and “Stop raping people!” at Occupiers protesting outside CPAC this afternoon. He also calls them “freaks and animals.” According to Campus Progress writer Emily Crockett, who filmed the video at around 6:15 — shortly after Breitbart stopped in to talk to media in the press filing room — Breitbart stayed outside yelling at protesters for a few minutes and then “was gently encouraged to go inside by the security people.” Breitbart has made Occupy a large part of his role at CPAC this year: His “Occupy Unmasked” documentary was teased at CPAC today and he showed up at the conference wearing a Guy Fawkes mask. MORE

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