andrew_breitbartMain Street Journal
March 2, 2012
Online exclusive

If you read the eulogies for Andrew Breitbart, the conservative media critic who died unexpectedly Thursday at the age of 43, you’ll notice they have several things in common.

First there’s the abiding shock, owed in no small part to Breitbart’s own ingenious method of setting a snare for the press (the Democratic-Media Complex, to use his phrase), meting out just enough information to trip up them up. We keep waiting for another fabulous “gotcha” moment, but this time it isn’t coming.

Then there’s the common aside that while Andrew may not have been a best friend, he had been a confidant and a regular source of ideas, connections, amazement and amusement. You could always find him where the action was, in the vanguard, and he’d be there mixing with the people on both sides of any debate.

Everyone who came into contact with Andrew has a story because he loved meeting with and talking with regular folks—holding court, as many have described it—almost as much as he relished confronting and engaging those who despised him.

He was the source of a constant stream of opinions and insights on all kinds of topics. His voracious appetite for news and information, the variety of his interests, are reflected in the array of “Big” websites he launched, covering government, journalism, film, foreign affairs and everything in between.

To these, he added his pugilistic Twitter feed and the amazing live presentations (they were never just speeches) he gave behind podiums, in hallways, along rope lines, and at protests and counter-protests, at least once while wearing in-line skates and simultaneously shooting video with an iPad.

One more thing shared by these tributes is the awe felt when contemplating Breitbart’s long list of accomplishments, mixed with equal parts devastation (Who’s going to carry his torch?) and inspiration (We are!).

Breitbart was the Right’s beloved, iconoclastic provocateur. Without him, ACORN would still be registering phony voters and exploiting the poor with complete immunity. Rep. Anthony Weiner would still be in office threatening gold investors. Democrats would have convinced America the Tea Party shouted a racist word at members of the Congressional Black Caucus, and nobody would have remembered what happened to Kenneth Gladney .

Some of Breitbart’s adventures are recounted in his fabulous autobiography, Righteous Indignation: Excuse Me While I Save The World. Others are captured in a documentary he was working on called Hating Breitbart, which was set to be released later this year. The film’s trailer debuted last month at the Conservative Political Action Conference.

Although he had already helped revolutionize the media with Matt Drudge and Arianna Huffington in the ’90s and 2000s, the ACORN videos had only recently made Andrew Breitbart a household name, in April of 2010, when he spoke to the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans.

Hitting the SRLC’s media row, he told an interviewer, “That’s the message that I’m trying to tell people: this isn’t about me, this isn’t about James O’Keefe and Hannah Giles [the creators of the ACORN videos] this is about telling people if you don’t like the way that your local news and or your local paper or the national news is reporting things, there’s something you can get at your local electronics store for $100 that can change the world the next day.”

There’s still plenty not to like, and plenty that needs to change. Andrew Breitbart showed us how.