The Humble Libertarian

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Monday, March 5, 2012

Andrew Breitbart (1969-2012), R. I. P.

I never met Andrew Breitbart and am only familiar with him through his professional life as a Fox News celebrity and purveyor of his franchise of “Big” websites. I cannot shower him with odes nor weep as I would had I lost a true friend. But the occasion of his death does call for some reflection on his professional life.

Beginning as one of Matt Drudge’s deputies, Breitbart’s reputation as a right-wing troublemaker was solidified in the Obama era. His hidden camera stings on ACORN and clever editing of Agriculture Department bureaucrat Shirley Sherrod cemented his status as bĂȘte noire of the Left. In one of his last appearances, at CPAC last month, he tantalized the crowd by proclaiming that he had video tapes of President Obama’s college days, exposing his over-discussed connections to Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn, which he was going to release prior to the election.

One can certainly appreciate the corruption he exposed but any honest assessment admits that his zeal for the “truth” stopped at the party line.

The president’s college days are not irrelevant but his intent to release the videos near the election, to exact the most possible damage, is substantively no different from a Democratic Party that in 2000 leaked George W. Bush’s 20-year-old DUI. His life work was to damage the Democrats at the service of the Republicans. Nothing more and nothing less.

Like Rod Dreher, I first wondered whether this was a stunt. The rare appearance of Matt Drudge’s personal message above the headline confirmed the truth.

And that should just about sum up the legacy of Andrew Breitbart. Anyone we suspect as capable of faking his own death is an entertainer first and everything else second.

Acting like an agent for the cause of conservatism he was much less than he appeared. He was in the entertainment business, playing the part of a conservative ideologue. He was good enough at his craft to create for himself an empire.

None of this is meant to suggest that it is good that Andrew Breitbart is dead and gone. After all, let us not speak ill of the dead. His brand of sensationalistic, partisan journalism neither began with him nor is it following him to the grave. But let us not delude ourselves into believing, professionally, that Andrew Breitbart wasn’t much besides a political celebrity.

Requiescat in pace

Carl Wicklander,
Regular Columnist, THL
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