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Posted by on Mar 1, 2012 in At TMV, Media, Politics | 17 comments

Remembering Andrew Breitbart

In 2010, Andrew Breitbart released a short video of Shirley Sherrod – who was then the Georgia State Director of Rural Development for the Department of Agriculture — which showed her making seemingly racist remarks at an NAACP event about how she refused to help a poor farmer because he was white. I was one of the first people to contact Breitbart on Twitter and email asking to see the full video for more context. Breitbart’s response was to openly mock me, tweeting, “What, do you think later in the video she says, ‘Just kidding, that would be racist!'” Of course we now know that a day later the full video was released showing Sherrod telling a coming-of-age story of how she overcame her prejudices, helped the white farmers, and saved their farm. But by this time she had already been humiliated and fired from her job, her life irrevocably damaged. Breitbart, in reaction to these revelations, doubled down, claiming that “this was never about Shirley Sherrod,” and even went on to argue he was the real victim of the video’s backlash.

Breitbart was a sometimes-hateful man who held grandiose visions of himself as a right-wing martyr, one who was willing to throw himself in harm’s way against liberal demons, both real and imagined. His favorite pastime was retweeting others who lashed out at him on Twitter. One of his last public appearances was captured on video, with him screaming at a group of Occupy protesters, “BEHAVE YOURSELF!” and “STOP RAPING AND MURDERING PEOPLE!!” It is an understatement to say that he never backed down from a fight.

Still, I have to admire him for what he accomplished. He built an online media empire completely from scratch. His handling of the Anthony Weiner saga, slowly releasing a string of leaked photos rather than publishing them all at once, showed his understanding of how one owns a story in the internet age. He nurtured a new generation of right wing activists and pioneered his own version of conservative muckraking journalism.

I remember one day a year ago, after seeing a stream of vitriol emanating from Breitbart’s Twitter feed, I tweeted at him asking why he never tweeted about anything joyful and positive. Perhaps I struck a nerve, because his tweet back at me was the first of his I’d ever seen that wasn’t dripping with antagonism. It was a link to a YouTube video, some kind of old clip from a musical he obviously loved — I wish I could track it down, but it was too long ago. It was a brief glimpse of the man Andrew Breitbart was when he wasn’t engaged in fist fights with his enemies, the man his wife and kids and close friends knew. I was shocked to hear of Andrew Breitbart’s death this morning. My first thought wasn’t of Shirley Sherrod or James O’Keefe or Acorn or his CPAC appearances. It was of that tweet. I don’t think Breitbart was a saint or a particularly intellectually honest man for that matter, but I’m sorry to see him go and glad I got to see one brief flicker of humanity in my mostly-online interaction with him. Rest in peace.

Also read Rick Moran’s take on Andrew Breitbart.

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Copyright 2012 The Moderate Voice
  • roro80

    I wish there were some other way for him to stop being a blatant liar. His lying about ACORN and Sherrod were inexcusable, and caused permanant and undeserved harm to both. I take no joy in his death. May he rest in peace.

  • roro80

    Desert, needless to say perhaps, I strongly disagree with your assessment that there was anything about him that cared about truth, and I believe talk of “greatness” is beyond inappropriate.

  • rudi

    LOL A love-fest for Breitbart. Since the partisan is dead, will ignore the BS

  • zephyr

    “That he was attacked with such sustained vituperative energy is itself a statement about his greatness.”

    That has to be the most ridiculous standard for “greatness” I’ve ever seen. Apparently you (and you are not alone) are ready to raise his status in death from serial fabricator to some sort of saint. Btw, are you aware of the statements he made when Ted Kennedy passed away? Do you see that as more signs of “greatness”? I’m guessing you do.

  • rudi

    It is little remembered that the Sherrod incident occurred inside a context of the NAACP declaring that Tea Partiers had yelled the N-word at Congressman Lewis’ group.

    Care to explain the context and show where Lewis is involved at the march speech…

  • roro80

    “Lewis and Pelosi, et al, were obviously trying to provoke the protesters into actions which would discredit the protesters.”

    Wait, so showing themselves publically instead of creeping around in underground tunnels forced the ralliers into saying racist things? And this had something to do with a speech many years prior by someone who wasn’t there at the time, so much so that smearing her with an outright lie somehow became justified? That’s some pretty incredible “context”. As in, it’s not credible at all.

  • DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

    “greatness”?

    These are some of the men who, in my humble opinion, had greatness:
    Albert Schweitzer

    Martin Luther King, Jr.

    Homer

    George Washington

    Abraham Lincoln

    Michelangelo

    Mahatma Gandhi

    Nelson Mandela

    William Shakespeare

    Leonardo da Vinci

    Winston Churchill

    Christopher Columbus

  • zephyr

    “Breitbart, as a brilliant leader of a movement dedicated to greater recognition of falsehood and of truth”

    Congrats on your successful trolling. I think quite a few of us were taken in. As if anyone could actually believe that sort of horse hockey. Good grief..

  • DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

    “re the list of great men: you have your list. I simply think your list is too restrictive”

    1. I said “some of the men who, in my humble opinion, had greatness.”

    2. No matter how “unrestricted” this list gets, Mr. Breitbart will never come close

  • DaGoat

    DM I’m not going to speak ill of Breitbart so soon other than to say if you value centrism and moderation, Breitbart was far more a part of the problem then of the solution. I am sorry that he passed away so young.

  • Jim Satterfield

    No, “desert moderate”, your posts here have proven time after time that you are not in fact a moderate. Breitbart proved nothing with the cell phone videos you refer to. Other videos showed what you and Breitbart’s followers claim didn’t happen did in fact happen.

  • rudi

    Breitbart only spoke to “Liberal” bias. When conservatives or even he and his group were guilty of bias or lies he ignored the bias. Where was AB retraction or apology for his groups smears of ACORN or Sherrod? At least Sherrod should grace that AB lacked till his early death.
    Sherrod Class

    A primary Breitbart target(Sherrod) sends her condolences.

    “The news of Mr. Breitbart’s death came as a surprise to me when I was informed of it this morning. My prayers go out to Mr. Breitbart’s family as they cope through this very difficult time.”

  • DR. CLARISSA PINKOLA ESTÉS, Managing Editor of TMV, and Columnist

    I hope he rests in peace now. And that his 4 kids and wife will be comforted. It appears he had a heart attack or stroke, out for a walk, suddenly fell down. A stranger dialed 911. He was dead it seems when emergency help arrived. I’d just mention but I think in another comment here in a minute. Again, may his close in people be comforted

  • cjjack

    “may his close in people be comforted”

    As often happens when someone passes, his detractors go out of their way to lavish praise on the departed.

    I understand the need to not speak ill of the recently dead, but I will risk doing so.

    If in his personal life he was anything like he was in his public life, then perhaps we should not feel so sorry for his family. Simply being married and having children is no feat. I’ve known horrible fathers and terrible husbands, and given the way he treated people he didn’t know personally, it isn’t hard to imagine that Breitbart was less than kind to those he did know.

  • bluebelle

    I don’t rejoice in anyone’s death and of course condolences should be offered to his family, but the man had no standards of decency and his passion was the art of personal destruction. If he had to tell a few lies along the way, oh well.

    Also, the comments he made after Senator Kennedy’s death were vile and unforgivable.
    There is no conservative that I could ever say those kinds of things about, alive or dead.

  • zippee

    Breitbart died too young and leaves four children behind. I’m sorry for his family.

    But I’m not going to eulogize him as some great figure. He was vitriolic, insulting, deliberately provocative, hateful, and spiteful.

    He was also responsible for a new low in political dialogue in this country, and responsible for the “our side must win at all costs regardless of whether the story I’m promoting is true or not” mentality that prevails – left and right alike – across the web.

    And why the name “big journalism” should have been an affront to every journalist in America, right and left alike.

  • roro80

    “You guys are, of course, misguided, and, in some cases, deluded”

    Oh, desert. Saying that a liar lied, over and over, and that that does not make him great, and does not make him a proponent of the truth, does not make us misguided or deluded. We are not too stupid to see your “truth”. We reject it as being contrary to all evidence. With the exception of the Weiner weiner story, every single big story he broke was proven to be a big humungous lie. The Lewis story. The ACORN story. The Sherrod story. It’s kind of flabbergasting to me that you’ve not figured this out yet.

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