When a whirlwind dies, there is a sudden quiet. Los Angeles last Thursday was deathly silent. Andrew Breitbart — the conservative gadfly-blogger-entrepreneur — died at the age of 43. He just crumpled on a Westwood sidewalk, in full view of other pedestrians.
Breitbart — besides being a unique media figure who in many ways changed the face of news — was a friend of mine.
Indeed, I am typing these words in my office, where Andrew, a man many years younger than I and 20 times more energetic, would sit with me seven or eight years ago when we first met, typing out his end of the Drudge Report while gossiping nonstop and downing pizza, soda or anything else that was at hand.
It’s hard to believe he’s not still here.
He was, as they say, a man of appetites. He was truly astonishing even then, scanning the AP feed for Drudge possibilities and then pushing them to the news site with a rapidity that foreshadowed Twitter and just about everything else.
He was the first with the news, and he shaped it.
He would say to me, “You know, bloggers don’t know how to write headlines.” He was right, of course, and I wondered if he was talking about me. I was one of those bloggers, struggling to get a few hundred hits against the massive traffic he and Drudge were generating. Among his many talents, Andrew was a brilliant headline writer.
And then came that awesome entrepreneurship, spawning websites the way guppies spawn babies — Big Hollywood, Big Journalism, Big Government … big, big, big. With expose after expose, bringing down the mighty of the liberal establishment.
All this seemed natural to him. He was a man born of the Internet and born for it. He boasted of having ADD, but it was his own special kind — an attention deficit disorder mitigated, maybe enhanced, by an extraordinary gift for zeroing in on the zeitgeist in a microsecond.
The Internet was his natural playground. Liberal hypocrites were his natural enemies — especially liberal media hypocrites. He loathed them.
They loathed him back, of course. So on his death he became object of tremendous derision from the left. Twitter was awash with all manner of disgusting, often obscene, comments that reflected much more directly on their creators than on Breitbart himself.
It was almost like a posthumous demonstration, as if Andrew himself had risen from the grave to show once again what shameless creeps the so-called liberal intelligentsia had become. Or maybe always were.
Who knows — because Andrew, like me, was once a person of the left. He abandoned the liberal ship after watching the Clarence Thomas hearings, seeing for the first time the intolerance with which the left treated black people who didn’t agree with their narrative.
It was that “narrative” that Andrew Breitbart went on to fight for the rest of his life. And, like the famous sarcophagus of Voltaire in Paris, Breitbart’s hand is reaching out from his sepulcher. He was in possession of some videos of the young Barack Obama when he died. Those videos will be released soon.
But even if they do not influence the coming election as Andrew hoped they would, his legacy is secure. The media are not the same.