Andrew Breitbart, who died this morning at the age of 43, was one of those people who made conservatism look like fun. More important, Breitbart was, as John Podhoretz put it on the Commentary blog, “a revolutionary, and I mean that almost literally.”
Podhoretz rightly credits Breitbart with helping midwife a transformation in the way we get news that broke the narrow, liberal ideology that had heretofore dominated the information business.
Breitbart started out as Matt Drudge’s assistant and went on to help set up the Huffington Post (Breitbart's friend Michael Walsh recalled Breitbart’s “uncannily spot-on” impersonations of Arianna Huffington). Breitbart's Big Hollywood, Big Government, Big Journalism, and Big Peace won him many enemies on the left, which he is said to have enjoyed.
Jonah Goldberg, another good friend of Breitbart’s, hits the same theme as Podhoretz—that Breitbart was a media genius:
I’ve never known someone, perhaps with the exception of Drudge himself, who had more of a savant’s sense of media, old and new — but especially new. In the early days of the Drudge Report there was a lot of talk about how Drudge made the news, and that was often true.
But he could only do that by understanding the news and how it worked at a visceral instinctive level. Matt saw this same gift in Andrew, which is why he hired him.
The two of them changed the course of the massive river of news for literally billions of people. That’s no exaggeration, even venerable enterprises and institutions that despised the Drudge Report and pretended it didn’t exist had to change course because of it.
John O’Sullivan also takes up this theme:
Andrew was a media entrepreneur of genius, in the same league as Hearst, Pulitzer, and Murdoch, and if he had lived, one who would have had comparable achievements. He was also a brave and resourceful warrior — I will never forget the brilliant comedy of his walking into a crowd of union protesters and simply asking them what they were protesting about. None of them could give an account. His simple question explained more than a 5,000-word article in the New Yorker could have done.
Breitbart uncovered so much that was unflattering about the left in life. In death, he revealed for one last time just how nasty the left all too often is: It seems that, upon learning that Brietbart was dead, Slate economics and philosophy writer Matthew Yglesias sent out a gleeful tweet (hat tip: Washington Free Beacon):
Connventions around dead people are ridiculous,” the Slate correspondent wrote on Twitter this morning. “The world outlook is slightly improved with @AndrewBrietbart [sic] dead.”
Slate editor David Plotz replied pathetically to questions about Yglesias’ Tweet from WFB by saying, “Matt is a very passionate journalist and Slate values that passion. We do not control the Twitter accounts of our employees.” Plotz also noted feebly that Slate had posted a “very admiring” obit of Breitbart.
Breitbart’s untimely death is a huge loss to the conservative cause but even more so to his family. He had four young children.