Andrew Breitbart "Died" March 1, 2012
On March 1, 2012, Joel Pollak, editor-in-chief and in-house counsel for Breitbart's website, announced that Breitbart had died unexpectedly at the age of 43 from natural causes in Los Angeles. After Breitbart collapsed while walking in Brentwood, paramedics responding to a bystander's alert rushed him to the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, where he was declared dead. At least one friend of Breitbart noted that he had a history of cardiac problems.
In remembrance, Republican presidential candidates Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney, and Newt Gingrich praised Breitbart. Santorum called Breibart's passing "a huge loss" that strongly affected him, while Romney said Breitbart was a "fearless conservative", and Gingrich called him "the most innovative pioneer in conservative activist social media in America...."
His funeral was held March 6, 2012, at a Jewish cemetery in West Los Angeles. Some of those who attended included his father-in-law Orson Bean, Matt Drudge, Herman Cain, Thaddeus McCotter, Greg Gutfeld, Ed Morrissey, Guy Benson, and Rob Long.
On April 20, 2012, the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office released the autopsy report, saying Breitbart died of heart failure and cardiomegaly.
Andrew Breitbart books
Righteous Indignation: Excuse Me While I Save the World. Grand Central Publishing. April 15, 2011. ISBN 978-0-446-57282-8.
With Ebner, Mark C. (March 10, 2005). Hollywood, Interrupted: Insanity Chic in Babylon – The Case Against Celebrity. Wiley. ISBN 978-0-471-70624-3.
Breitbart was the adopted son of Gerald and Arlene Breitbart, a restaurant owner and banker respectively, and grew up in upscale Brentwood, Los Angeles. He was raised Jewish (his adoptive mother had converted to Judaism when marrying his adoptive father). He had explained that his birth certificate indicated his biological father was a folk singer. He was ethnically Irish by birth, and his adopted sister is Hispanic. He changed his political views after experiencing an "epiphany" during the Clarence Thomas hearings, and later described himself as "a Reagan conservative" with libertarian sympathies.
While in high school, Breitbart was a pizza delivery driver; he sometimes delivered to celebrities such as Judge Reinhold. He earned a B.A. in American studies from Tulane University in 1991, graduating with "no sense of [his] future whatsoever". His early jobs included a stint at cable channel E! Entertainment Television, working for the company's online magazine, and some time in film production.
Breitbart was married to Susannah Bean, the daughter of actor Orson Bean, and had four children.
Authorship, research and reporting
In 1995 Breitbart saw the Drudge Report and was so impressed that he emailed Matt Drudge. Breitbart said, "I thought what he was doing was by far the coolest thing on the Internet. And I still do." Breitbart described himself as "Matt Drudge's bitch" and selected and posted links to other news wire sources. Later Matt Drudge introduced him to Arianna Huffington (when she was still a Republican) and Breitbart subsequently assisted her in creating her website.
Breitbart's work has been published in the Wall Street Journal, National Review Online and the Weekly Standard Online, among others. He wrote a weekly column for The Washington Times, which also appeared at Real Clear Politics. Breitbart also co-wrote the book Hollywood, Interrupted: Insanity Chic in Babylon with Mark Ebner, a book that is highly critical of U.S. celebrity culture. On January 19, 2011, the conservative gay rights group GOProud announced Breitbart had joined its Advisory Council.
In April 2011 Grand Central Publishing released Breitbart's book, Righteous Indignation: Excuse Me While I Save the World, in which he discussed his own political evolution and the part he took in the rise of new media, most notably at the Drudge Report and The Huffington Post.
In June 2011 Breitbart was involved in the Anthony Weiner sexting scandal when his websites broke the story that Weiner was sending women revealing photographs of himself.
Breitbart appeared as a commentator on Real Time with Bill Maher and Dennis Miller. In 2004 he was a guest commentator on Fox News Channel's morning show and frequently appeared as a guest panelist on Fox News's late night program, Red Eye w/ Greg Gutfeld. Breitbart also appeared as a commentator in the 2004 documentary Michael Moore Hates America.
On October 22, 2009, Breitbart appeared on the C-SPAN program Washington Journal. He gave his opinions on the mainstream media, Hollywood, the Obama Administration and his personal political views, having heated debates with several callers.
In the hours immediately following Senator Ted Kennedy's death, Breitbart called Kennedy a "villain", a "duplicitous bastard", a "prick" and "a special pile of human excrement".
In February 2010 Breitbart received the Reed Irvine Accuracy in Media Award during the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C. During his acceptance speech, he responded directly to accusations by New York Times reporter Kate Zernike that Jason Mattera, a young conservative activist, had been using "racial tones" in his allusions to President Barack Obama, and had spoken in a "Chris Rock voice". From the podium, Breitbart called Zernike "a despicable human being" for having made such allegations about Mattera's New York accent. At the same conference, Breitbart was also filmed saying to journalist Max Blumenthal that he found him to be "a jerk", and "a despicable human being" due to a blog entry posted by Blumenthal.
Tea party movement
Breitbart often appeared as a speaker at Tea Party movement events across the U.S. For example, Breitbart was a keynote speaker at the first National Tea Party Convention at Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville on February 6, 2010. Breitbart later involved himself in a controversy over homophobic and alleged racial slurs being used at a March 20, 2010, rally at the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C., by asserting that slurs were never used, and that "It was a set-up" by Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic Party. Breitbart offered to donate $100,000 to the United Negro College Fund "for any audio/video footage of the N-word being hurled", claiming that the several Congressmen made it up. Breitbart insisted Congressman John Lewis and several other witnesses were forced to lie, concluding that "Nancy Pelosi did a great disservice to a great civil rights icon by thrusting him out there to perform this mischievous task. His reputation is now on the line as a result of her desperation to take down the Tea Party movement."
I'm committed to the destruction of the old media guard. And it's a very good business model."
— Andrew Breitbart, quoted by the Associated Press, August 3, 2010
Breitbart launched a number of websites, including Breitbart.com, BigHollywood.com, BigGovernment.com, BigJournalism.com, and BigPeace.com (all gone and redirecting to Breitbart.com)!
Breitbart launched his first website as a news site; it is sometimes linked to by the Drudge Report and other websites. It has wire stories from the Associated Press, Reuters, Agence France-Presse, Fox News, PR Newswire, and U.S. Newswire, as well as direct links to a number of major international newspapers. Its Blog & "Network" links tend to run to the right within the U.S. political spectrum (e.g., National Review and Townhall.com). The site also has a search engine powered by Lingospot and a finance channel powered by FinancialContent. In 2007, Breitbart launched a video blog, Breitbart.tv.
In 2008 Breitbart launched the website "Big Hollywood," a "group blog" driven by some who work within Los Angeles, with contributions from a variety of writers, including politically conservative entertainment-industry professionals. The site was an outgrowth of the Breitbart's Washington Times "Big Hollywood" column included issues conservatives faced working in Hollywood. In 2009, the site used audio from a secretly recorded conference call to accuse the National Endowment of the Arts of encouraging artists to create work in support of Barack Obama's domestic policy agenda.
Breitbart launched BigGovernment.com on September 10, 2009. He hired Mike Flynn, a former government affairs specialist at Reason Foundation, as Editor-in-Chief of Big Government. The site premiered with hidden camera video footage taken by Hannah Giles and James O'Keefe at Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now offices in various cities, attracting nationwide attention resulting in the ACORN 2009 undercover videos controversy.
In January 2010, Breitbart launched Big Journalism. He told Mediaite: "Our goal at Big Journalism is to hold the mainstream media's feet to the fire. There are a lot of stories that they simply don't cover, either because it doesn't fit their world view, or because they're literally innocent of any knowledge that the story even exists, or because they are a dying organization, short-staffed, and thus can't cover stuff like they did before." Big Journalism was edited by Michael A. Walsh, a former journalism professor and Time magazine music critic. It is now currently edited by Dana Loesch. The site has a fictional contributor named "Retracto, the Correction Alpaca" who posts items requesting corrections from the traditional media.
BigPeace.com debuted July 4, 2010. The site covers topics such as international issues and foreign policy, the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, terrorism, Islamic extremism, espionage, border security, and energy issues.
Anthony Weiner's WeinerSexting Scandal
On May 28, 2011, Breitbart posted a sexually explicit photo on his BigJournalism website of New York Representative Anthony Weiner obtained through Weiner's Twitter account. Weiner initially denied that he had sent a 21-year-old female college student the link to the photograph, but after questions developed, he admitted to inappropriate online relationships. On June 6, 2011, Breitbart reported other photos Weiner had sent, including one that was sexually graphic. On June 8, 2011, the sexually graphic photo was leaked after Breitbart participated in a radio interview with hosts Opie and Anthony, though Breitbart stated that the photo was published without his permission. Weiner subsequently resigned from his congressional seat on June 21, 2011.
Resignation of USDA Shirley Sherrod
In July 2010 Breitbart was accused of smearing USDA official Shirley Sherrod with a video titled "Proof NAACP Awards Racism". Breitbart's video showed Sherrod speaking at a NAACP fundraising dinner in March 2010 in which she admitted to a racial reluctance to helping a white man get government aid. In response to the video, the NAACP condemned Sherrod and cheered her July 19 dismissal from government service. Following criticism for editing Sherrod's words out of context, Breitbart posted the full 40-minute video of the speech. Citing the full video the NAACP said that Breitbart's edited video of the speech "snookered" them: elsewhere in her speech, Sherrod said her reluctance to help a white man was wrong and she had ended up assisting him. The NAACP also reversed their rebuke of Sherrod. Shortly thereafter Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack apologized to Sherrod and offered her a new job. In 2011, Sherrod sued Breitbart for defamation, and despite Breibart's death, Sherrod could continue her suit by holding Breibart's estate as liable. Breibart said he never intended to portray Sherrod as a racist. Instead, his target was the NAACP and the audience's reaction to parts of the speech to show the NAACP as racist.
ACORN 2009 undercover videos controversy
Breitbart was also involved in the 2009 ACORN video controversy. Hannah Giles posed as a prostitute seeking assistance while James O'Keefe portrayed her boyfriend, and clandestinely videotaped meetings with ACORN staff. Subsequent criminal investigations by the Brooklyn District Attorney's office and the California Attorney General found the videos were heavily edited in an attempt to make ACORN's responses "appear more sinister", and contributed to the group's demise. Breitbart then provided a forum for O'Keefe on his BigGovernment.com and defended his actions on Sean Hannity's Fox News Channel program.
GOProud 2011 CPAC
Breitbart was also embroiled in a controversy within the conservative movement related to the participation of gay group GOProud in the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), an annual conference held in Washington, D.C., by the American Conservative Union. In 2011 he was the primary host of a party that served to "welcome" the "homocons" to the convention (though it was the second year they had been participants). This flew in the face of a boycott staged by a few social conservative groups that were offended by the inclusion of GOProud within the conservative fold. Writer, producer, and publisher Roger L. Simon referred to the group as a "game-changer" for the Republican party, and asserted that it represented a turning point in the appeal that the conservative movement might hold for young people. Breitbart was on the Advisory Board of GOProud until he stepped down in the wake of the group's inadvertent outing of a senior Rick Perry aide.