P.J. O’Rourke encounters Andrew Breitbart at the
Manchester, N.H., Radisson Bar, Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012
“At more than one point in the movie, Breitbart asks members of audiences he’s addressing to hold up their iPhones, pocket cams, and other recording devices and to turn them on. You, he says, are the media. That gesture is the essential takeaway of Andrew Breitbart’s work — and of the documentary Hating Breitbart. Such moments illustrate how something weird and wonderful is happening when it comes to media. . . .
“Andrew Breitbart understood that it’s easier than ever to own a press and that despite the vast, incomprehensible increase in chatter . . . the demand for even more is still infinite.”
– Nick Gillespie, “Hating Breitbart‘s Powerful Post-Partisan Message,” Nov. 2
One of my favorite books is P.J. O’Rourke’s Parliament of Whores: A Lone Humorist Attempts to Explain the Entire U.S. Government, which ought to be on every college freshman’s reading list. It therefore seemed obvious, when I bumped into O’Rourke in the bar of the Radisson Hotel in Manchester, N.H., after the Republican presidential debate, that I must introduce him to Andrew Breitbart.
So now I sit here and ask myself, “How would ‘a lone humorist’ attempt to explain the entire tragic situation at Breitbart.com?”
Having spent more than a few hours on the phone talking to people about it the past several days, a reasonably coherent picture is emerging, and I’m not really sure I want to be the guy describing it. In fact, the smartest thing for me to do would probably be to ignore it.
None of my business. Walk away and pretend nothing happened.
Except there’s a federal lawsuit filed by Dana Loesch, which is actual news, and maybe it’s not a good idea to let myself get scooped here.
Andrew Breitbart liked to say he had two modes of operation, jocularity and righteous indignation, and it’s rather unfortunate that he never got around to writing the book, Jocularity: Excuse Me While I Make You Laugh Your F–king Asses Off, because he certainly could.
In his righteous indignation mode, by contrast, Andrew went off on Glenn Beck last year, calling Beck a “coward,” a “snake” and a “huckster” in an interview on Stephen Bannon’s podcast:
You really ought to listen to that entire 13-minute interview. As a matter of fact, a transcript might come in handy, because (a) people are telling me that it was Glenn Beck who wanted to hire Dana Loesch away from Breitbart.com, (b) the same people depict Stephen Bannon as the villain of the story, and (c) I’m genuinely perplexed by all this.
My advice has not been solicited, because I’ve only worked in the news business since 1986, so what do I know about newsroom management?
Every newsroom is a seething cauldron of frustrated ambition. There has never been a news outfit that wasn’t afflicted by clueless management, inept editors and disgruntled reporters. “We’re working for chimpanzees,” as a former Washington Times colleague used to say.
Mistakes, conflicts, rivalries, backstabbing — it’s par for the course, standard operating procedure, and the key to survival in the business is deciding how much craziness you can stand before you decide to sing that Johnny Paycheck classic, “Take This Job and Shove It.”
What’s bizarre about the case of Dana Loesch v. Breitbart.com LLC is that when Dana wanted to leave, they wouldn’t let her.
Or so Dana alleges, I hasten to add, because the last thing I need is someone suing me for defamation, tortious interference, etc.
“Mongo just pawn in game of life.”
The last thing I need is to insert myself into the middle of the New Media equivalent of the Battle of Stalingrad, but as I said a couple days ago, the sharks are going to have themselves a feeding frenzy no matter what I do (or don’t do) and why should I let myself get scooped?
Never mind my dilemma. Hear what Patterico has to say:
I never said this before, but I was personally the recipient of some pretty shabby treatment myself from that organization, after Andrew died.
[M]y experience was not the only such experience. Not by a long shot. And having been through it, it is plenty easy for me to believe that Loesch was also treated shabbily.
And when you treat people like crap, it doesn’t stay a secret.
Read the whole thing, because it’s exactly right. The world of conservative New Media is kind of like a small town, and if a secret is juicy enough, don’t think you’re going to keep the town gossips from doing what they habitually do. Fish gotta swim. Birds gotta fly.
Anyway, this wasn’t my plan for a cheerful Christmas Eve column, and I’m sorry for throwing this bummer on you when we’re all supposed to be making merry. But even heavy burdens are lighter when they’re shared by enough people, and maybe we can crowd-source this problem.
After all, as Breitbart said: You are the media.
UPDATE (Smitty): welcome, Instapundit readers!