The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Who Andrew Breitbart Was

Posted on | March 1, 2013 | 27 Comments

P.J. O’Rourke encounters Andrew Breitbart at the
Manchester, N.H., Radisson Bar, Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012

In May 2007, I interviewed Andrew Breitbart while he was working — doing his shift as an editor at the Drudge Report — at the D.C. offices of Reason magazine, and described how he worked and why he did it:

His computer pings with every new e-mail. His cell phone rings with calls from friends. Distractions surround Andrew Breitbart. Yet he remains focused on the latest happenings from around the world, flowing into his laptop computer via a half-dozen wire services and other news sources.
A self-described “news addict,” the 38-year-old Californian sips a Mountain Dew as he scans the latest headlines and talks about his journey from being a stereotypical Generation X slacker to being on the cutting edge of the 21st-century information revolution. . . .
“I’m a news addict, news aficionado who, instead of watching ‘Sesame Street’ growing up, would watch the local news. And I’d watch the 4:30 news, then I’d watch the 5 o’clock news, then I’d watch the 6 o’clock news, then I’d watch the national news at 6:30. . . . I was such a voracious news consumer.”

You can read the whole thing. There have been multiple tributes to Andrew today, the one year anniversary of his shockingly sudden death at age 43. Professor Glenn Reynolds has a round-up at Instapundit.

It’s important to remember, I think, that Breitbart was a self-professed “news addict” — not a politics addict or still less a Republican Party addict, which is what his enemies would very much love to demonize him as having been.

Any intelligent “news addict” (and Breitbart was extraordinarly intelligent) who approaches the business from an outsider’s perspective cannot help but observe the herd instinct of the media, and resent it: “Hey, look, big media — over here! There’s an interesting story you missed because it doesn’t fit your prefabricated template!”

 That’s really what it’s about. The fact that the big media’s herd instinct, insofar as it touches politics, is demonstrably about 90% partisan Democrat or ideologically liberal — that’s the niche Breitbart was filling, and also the source of his Righteous Indignation. But it’s wrong for the animals in the media herd to make that political difference a motive to smear Breitbart as they did during his life and as they have continued to do after his death.

Whose bias is the real problem here?

To assert that Breitbart’s liberal critics hated him for something other than politics is to tell a lie, just as it was a lie for liberals to smear the Tea Party as “racist.”

At some point, the cumulative weight of such dishonesty becomes a negative verdict on the credibility of those who tell these lies. And the Democrat-Media Complex, by its incessant partisan cheerleading, becomes responsible for the policy failures of the party whose propaganda it delivers as if it were Neutral Objective Fact.

Well, I need to hurry up and post this before midnight, and I’ll come back later to extend it with updates and links to other tributes, but I just had to get that off my chest first. Right now, frankly, I’m kind of depressed by this news:

A range of mainstream American publications printed paid propaganda for the government of Malaysia, much of it focused on the campaign against a pro-democracy figure there.
The payments to conservative American opinion writers — whose work appeared in outlets from the Huffington Post and San Francisco Examiner to the Washington Times to National Review and RedState — emerged in a filing this week to the Department of Justice. The filing under the Foreign Agent Registration Act outlines a campaign spanning May 2008 to April 2011 and led by Joshua Trevino, a conservative pundit, who received $389,724.70 under the contract and paid smaller sums to a series of conservative writers.
According to Trevino’s belated federal filing, the interests paying Trevino were in fact the government of Malaysia, “its ruling party, or interests closely aligned with either.” . . .

You can read the whole thing, and all I’ve got to say about it is, damn. Just . . . damn.

UPDATE: Rick Bulow makes an important point:

Like Andrew said at CPAC last year, “If you’re not in that bunker because you’re not satisfied with a certain candidate, more than shame on you! You’re on the other side!”

This is a point that I’ve certainly come to appreciate — and I think all of us should appreciate more — in the past year. During the long primary campaign, some conservatives got so into the “Anybody But Mitt” mindset that they simply couldn’t let it go. In the four months since Election Day, there has been an endless round of finger-pointing and told-ya-so’s that haven’t done anything useful toward organizing victory or, at least, staunching the bleeding.

So, yeah — get in the fight, or you’re on the other side.

UPDATE II: At the annual CPAC Blog Bash last year, the National Bloggers Club awarded Andrew Breitbart the “Changing the Narrative” Award — the only award he ever received for his work as a journalist. This year and henceforth it will be known as Andrew Breitbart’s Changing the Narrative Award.

UPDATE III: Dana Loesch remembers:

It was easy to be brave with Andrew around. People drew from his courage when theirs had dissipated. He likened himself to a rodeo clown, of all things. I want to share something for which I’ve never gotten to thank him, which has really bothered me. . . .

You really, really need to read the whole thing. As was said of a great general, he saw the whole field.



27 Responses to “Who Andrew Breitbart Was”

  1. RocksEm
    March 1st, 2013 @ 11:56 pm

    RT @smitty_one_each: TOM Who Andrew Breitbart Was #TCOT

  2. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    March 2nd, 2013 @ 12:07 am

    That is a well written piece. Thank you.

  3. Bob Belvedere
    March 2nd, 2013 @ 12:11 am

    Evi took the words right out of my mouth, Stacy.

  4. Capitol Commentary
    March 2nd, 2013 @ 12:20 am

    Already a year. Geez.

  5. vannschaffner
    March 2nd, 2013 @ 12:24 am

    RT @smitty_one_each: TOM Who Andrew Breitbart Was #TCOT

  6. Kevin Trainor Jr.
    March 2nd, 2013 @ 12:27 am

    Kevin Trainor Jr. liked this on Facebook.

  7. Dustin
    March 2nd, 2013 @ 12:31 am

    I was shocked at his passing. I’m glad he’s well remembered by the right people. It’s a shame he’s hated even more by the nastier or more ignorant out there.

    That Trevino stuff is very disturbing if accurate. I guess I’m naive, but I always rolled my eyes at the ‘paid propaganda campaign’ concept (perhaps because I’ve seen that accusation made when I know it’s BS). Those who behave that way have harmed the cause, and they knew they were doing so when they cashed in.

  8. K-Bob
    March 2nd, 2013 @ 12:38 am

    The “conservative” writers; were they conservatives first, who then wrote, or were they writers for dough who didn’t mind taking an occasional side gig?

    It sort of reminds me about Trent Lott’s consulting gig opening up weeks after leaving the Senate, and Spence Abraham becoming a lobbyist for Lebanon after he left the Senate.

    Something about the beltway causes folks to look back at their principles as crass idealism to be shucked at the earliest opportunity.

  9. Christopher Renner
    March 2nd, 2013 @ 1:12 am

    I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt unless and until further evidence comes out. These aren’t for the most part people who have gotten too comfortable in the National Capital Region.

  10. Eric Ashley
    March 2nd, 2013 @ 1:58 am

    The Anybody But Mitt standpoint remains valid. Breitbart had a lot going for him, and I suspect that even he knew there were limits to what he had said.

    If I were just a Rick Santorum guy, and not also a Perry and Cain guy then yeah, this critique would stand, but as an ABM guy, no, this critique is naive.

  11. Katie Scarlet
    March 2nd, 2013 @ 2:27 am

    I don’t know much about Malaysia and who the good guys and bad guys are, but It seems pretty clear from that filing that Josh knew who he was shilling for. Did the people he paid for posts know where the $$ was coming from? Did he give them a heads-up when he made the filing. This seems to be quite an ugly business to me.

  12. MrPaulRevere
    March 2nd, 2013 @ 2:45 am

    I loved his fearless combative nature. NSFW:

  13. MrPaulRevere
    March 2nd, 2013 @ 3:36 am

    I remember walking around in a daze on the day a phone call broke the news. Andrew speaks here on how he would like to be thought of:

  14. Jackie Wellfonder - Raging Against the Rhetoric – Saturday Morning Buzz: March 2nd, 2013 Edition
    March 2nd, 2013 @ 7:37 am

    […] There were many great memorial posts for Andrew Breitbart yesterday. Here is one from The Other McCain: Who Andrew Breitbart Was. […]

  15. Matthew W
    March 2nd, 2013 @ 8:06 am

    “Only a year ago”.
    Wow, seems like a lot longer.

  16. Ronin
    March 2nd, 2013 @ 9:04 am

    “It was easy to be brave with Andrew around…” That was how a whole lot of us felt, not even knowing him personally. When he died the wind becalmed and we lost momentum.

    Damn, I miss that guy.

  17. Beeblebrocs
    March 2nd, 2013 @ 9:58 am

    I’m an ABM (Alternatively, Anybody But The Latest RINO) guy too. I was also the Anybody But Obama guy in November.

    Being a purist is foolhardy though since every conservative purist has their own version of what’s “pure”. Our problem has always been, not that the RINO gets shoved down our throats, but that there are are always 5-10 conservatives running in the primaries against the one or two RINOs. Until we can fix our primary system, then a RINO will always get the nomination and that means from now on out, expect liberal control of the WH. That is, unless we all go Breitbart. Then we might have a chance.

  18. McGehee
    March 2nd, 2013 @ 10:05 am

    Stacy, Insty posted a video late last night about A.B. and the screenshot on it when I looked in featured your own unforgettable mug.

    And fedora. But I recognized the face first.

  19. Becca Lower
    March 2nd, 2013 @ 10:48 am

    Agreed, Beeblebrocs. And I was a Cain supporter then a Santorum voter. But in November, to paraphrase what Breitbart clearly and rightly said, there were two paths. I took the one that was closest to Tea party and furthest from tyranny. How do those who sat home (or voted third party) live with themselves, knowing that they reelected Obama?

  20. Eric Ashley
    March 2nd, 2013 @ 11:50 am

    Quite well, actually, Becca. I’m attempting to play the long game is the short explanation.

    Beeblebrocs, I agree with every word you say, except the sentence about ABO in November. And also, the ‘purist’ comment. You can’t fairly call someone who’s willing to vote for Newt or Rick or Perry a purist.

    I’ve been persuaded by Bill Quick’s shit sandwhich arguement. At some point, every person has a ‘too far’ moment. Forex….let’s say the GOP, in its asinine glory decides to run Dennis Kucinich for president…you’d probably say no, even if the Dems were running someone worse.

    And the only way to keep the GOP from pressing leftward, and giving us a runnier and runnier sandwhich is to draw a line and say ‘No.’ And as we just proved with DK, everyone has a line so the act of line drawing is not illegitamate.

  21. Da Tech Guy's Blog » Blog Archive » White House vs Woodward: Mission Accomplished
    March 2nd, 2013 @ 11:57 am

    […] I’m sure it’s sequestration’s fault and DaTip­Jar has not been vis­ited by agents of Malaysia as some oth­ers have. […]

  22. Becca Lower
    March 2nd, 2013 @ 12:19 pm

    What’s your ultimate goal in this long game? If it’s different from mine (and from other conservatives), then we might as well be speaking two different languages. And no, you didn’t agree with most of Beeblebrocs’ ideas. He’s saying that we cannot win with divided purposes, divided energies. So again, what is your purpose?

  23. Neo
    March 2nd, 2013 @ 1:11 pm

    Your interview reminded me of the days when you had to watch as many of the networks as possible in order to figure out what was really happening.
    Of course, that doesn’t work any more. Like so many retail stores, they all now have the exact same products.

  24. Malaysians, and Other Foreigners I Might Be Able to Give a Damn About, If You Could Pay Me $389,724.70 to Care : The Other McCain
    March 2nd, 2013 @ 3:17 pm

    […] having briefly remarked — “Damn. Just . . . Damn.” — last night about this story, I’ve had a few conversations with friends, and […]

  25. BenInNY
    March 2nd, 2013 @ 5:57 pm

    Me too, reading over that article and the updates that have been posted to it, it seems like it might be a case of “less than meets the eye.” The other writers seemed entirely clueless about the relationship, too. Never know, though.

  26. Eric Ashley
    March 3rd, 2013 @ 3:09 am

    Becca, I am a social conservative aka a regular conservative. Constitutionalism, federalism, end of abortion, lower taxes, ending the deficit, and paying down the debt, shrinking gov’t by oh…2/3rds, getting rid of the Depts. of Education, Energy, Commerce, Interior, HHS, and Transportation.

    the Border Patrol, the FBI, the NSA, and one exterior spy agency for the civilian side, and the CDC, and the Patent Office.

    My more extreme viewpoints include defunding Big Science except for infectious diseases, and returning the Army back to the states as seems to be Constitutional.

    I agree with much of the diagnoses of the problems that the PUA community suggests, but my solution is the rebirth of High Culture aka Chivalry and not a descent into Barbarianism aka PUA.

    Of the two parties, the GOP is ….pretty pathetic. Its infested with cronyism, and country clubbers and idiots who think that if only we get rid of the conservatives all will be well.

    I’d like to take over the GOP or create a third party that takes their place. I believe the current leadership of the GOP is significantly to the left of the party, and to the Left of America. But they don’t want to admit this for obvious reasons.

    I could go on, but this is more than long enough already.

  27. Eric Ashley
    March 3rd, 2013 @ 3:10 am

    eh, that’s ‘keep the Border Patrol…’