Andrew Marcus is the director of Hating Breitbart, a movie about Breitbart’s legacy that opens on Friday.
Here’s the slightly edited transcript of our conversation.
Andrew started out as a liberal. Tell people how he moved from the Left to the Right.
The most influential factor in his transformation from Left to Right was the Clarence Thomas hearing. He said he had his popcorn ready. He was waiting to watch the show about the terrible man that they had primed him for. When the hearings began, what Andrew Breitbart witnessed was something that caused a revelation for him: This guy was nowhere near the boogeyman that they had created. Even worse than that was the hypocrisy of watching Ted Kennedy judge another man based on alleged and unprovable sexual exploits when Ted Kennedy was in no position to judge anybody for things like that – and the media acted like there was no problem whatsoever. That was why it happened and it set him in a new direction.
Now Andrew was always talking about narratives; that was a big thing of his and how the Left controls a story by controlling the narrative. Explain that concept to people and tell us what Andrew thought about it.
The best way to illustrate it is Andrew Breitbart said the media is the wall that we need to climb over in order for our voices to be heard. What he was talking about there is the media narrative wall that’s in place. Just to name a specific example, let’s take the ACORN story. The typical media structure that a story like ACORN would go through if it went to CBS or ABC, 60 Minutes, whatever is that at most it would get one or two segments on a show, on a specific night, and then it would be gone. The narrative would be there was this corruption that was found, we’ve talked to ACORN, and they’re going to launch an investigation. Then, they’d get it out of the news cycle.
That was why Andrew devised the tactic of dripping the videos out one-by-one. The goal there was not even so much to trap ACORN in a lie, although that was a fabulous fringe benefit, the goal was to destroy the narrative structure that would be in place to keep this story having any actual play as a result of what was contained in those tapes.
Another really good example was at CPAC last year when he yelled to the Occupiers to stop raping people and to behave themselves. The media narrative of the Tea Party for 2-1/2 years was racist, homophobic, potentially violent and the Occupy Movement came along and the same mainstream media that created that narrative about the Tea Party, ignored an epidemic of documented violence and sexual assaults inside the Occupy Movement. So Andrew was furious at the injustice of the media narrative of the Tea Party versus the Occupy Movement. So he seized the moment, sucked the air out of Occupy’s media narrative, and flipped it on its head to force the issue of Occupy violence back into the media narrative. He was incredibly successful at that. That’s what he was talking about with narratives. They’re to box you in and to box certain things out and his mission in life was to defeat the walls of these narratives.
On Twitter, Andrew was the first guy I ever remember re-Tweeting nasty liberal comments about himself. There may have been other people who did it once in a while, but he was the first one who did it regularly. Now it’s a thing and people do it all the time, but it started as I remember with Andrew. Why did he do that?
He wanted to expose the hypocrisy of those that were insulting him so vilely because the party of the Left has held itself up as the Party of Civility, the Party of the New Tone. I think that Andrew was trying to reveal that not only are they full of crap, but that you don’t have to scratch very far to find the exact opposite of how they portray themselves. They were actually behaving far more disgustingly than anyone else around and daylight is the best disinfectant.
The traditional approach was, “Don’t give oxygen to those that are behaving that way.” His point was, look they have all the oxygen they need and it’s the denial of this behavior that’s giving them the oxygen. So by exposing it, he felt he was robbing them of their oxygen.
Now Andrew died very young and under very surprising circumstances. He was actually Tweeting an hour before he passed. That caused a lot of confusion and I’ve even seen a wild conspiracy theory or two about it. Can you tell people what happened to Andrew?
Well, what can I say? I can say the most obvious answer is probably the right one. And the most obvious answer for Andrew Breitbart is that he tragically died of a massive coronary.
I think it scares people that somebody so vibrant and so alive could be struck down so early by such a horrible vulnerability, because I think it makes us all vulnerable. But my feeling is, given the history he had….if he had no history of any heart problem, then I would think that there would be a lot more reason to be suspicious. But given that he had a history of heart problems, I believe that what really happened is what we know, that the poor guy had a massive coronary.
He didn’t just burn the candle at both ends, he burned it in the middle too. I mean, I don’t know if you know anything about production, but when you’re filming with a crew after 12 hours, you’re in overtime. After like 16 hours, you’re in double overtime, all right. So now we would film and we would go into overtime but, by the time we reached double overtime, I would cut the crew loose. But there was more than one occasion when we were shooting the full 16 hours, he still had another two hours in him. He just had endless energy it seemed for both the fight and for the fun. He lived life to its fullest.
Last question: We all know that human beings have a tendency to idolize very talented people who die young. In that sense, Andrew is kind of like a conservative James Dean. But there’s more to it than that with Andrew. What do you think it was about Andrew Breitbart that conservatives have responded to so strongly? What set him apart? What did he have that other members of the conservative media are not bringing to the table?
I think in part people are attracted to strength and Andrew Breitbart exhibited strength. But Andrew Breitbart found a connection with the movement that others don’t really have. Either they don’t have the opportunity to or they don’t grasp the opportunity when it happens.
So when the Tea Party starts, it doesn’t take long before the narrative set by the institutional progressive Left is that they’re racist. Andrew, over the course of several months, began to experience the exact same vilification that the Tea Party — and frankly not just the Tea Party, anybody — the Conservative Movement, the Libertarian Movement, any group of people or individuals that go against the progressive grain are subject to this same vilification. So, the rap on Andrew — and it was on Hannah Giles and James O’Keefe, too — is that they attacked ACORN. ACORN helps black people; so they attacked black people and therefore, they don’t like black people and they are racists. The Tea Party rap was the Tea Party doesn’t like the President’s policies because the President is black. Therefore, they just are against the black man and so they’re racist.
So, you really had parallel vilification going on, perpetrated by the same people. Now the first National Tea Party Convention happens and, this is where I think he bonding between the man and the movement really truly occurred because Andrew Breitbart stood up at that convention and said, “You know what? This has gone beyond the pale and I’m not going to take it anymore and you don’t have to take it anymore either.” He declared war and in that moment, a movement found its general and the general found his Army. I think they were married from that point forward. They identified with each other in a really spiritual way and like I said, people were attracted to his strength. Here was a guy who said, “Not only am I not going to take this anymore, you want a war? I’m going to bring you a war.” And the people in the movement had been looking for someone to declare war. They’re tired of being beaten down. They’re tired of being accused of racism and homophobia simply because they have a different opinion. Also, Andrew Breitbart was not a typical, civil, old school conservative. He said, “F*ck you, war” because that was Andrew Breitbart — and that’s what people were thirsting for.