Sunday, November 19, 2017

What Andrew Breitbart meant to politics

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Andrew Breitbart loved political combat.

Based in the liberal enclave of Los Angeles, Breitbart viewed himself as a one-man conservative gang.

"There was no stopping Andrew Breitbart from fighting the good fight with every fiber of his soul," said Rep. Thad McCotter, R-Mich.

He was loved by conservatives and loathed by Democrats. Wednesday night, Breitbart, 43, died of what his website said was natural causes.

His death raises a question about our modern world: What did Andrew Breitbart mean to politics?

Breitbart first came to prominence in the political world as an editor for the Drudge Report, a political tipsheet frequented by journalists, cable television bookers and politicians.

He then began working with conservative-turned-liberal activist/journalist Arianna Huffington, who was building a news site that Breitbart helped to found. He left the Huffington Post in its earliest stages.

Largely on the notoriety of his involvement with the Drudge Report, Breitbart launched a series of websites of his own.

His first big break came in 2009 when he posted an undercover video of a man — the now famous/infamous James O'Keefe — posing as a pimp and seeking legal advice for his "business" from ACORN, a community organization that has long been the scourge of conservatives.

In 2010, he posted a video of a Department of Agriculture employee named Shirley Sherrod seemingly expressing an unwillingness to help a white farmer who had sought assistance. In the firestorm her comments created, Sherrod was fired by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

It later was revealed, however, that Sherrod's comments were heavily edited and, in fact, she had been telling the story of the white farmer as an example of how she had overcome her initial doubts and worked to help the farmer.

His biggest coup came in 2011 when he was at the center of a controversy regarding lewd pictures that Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., had taken of himself and sent to a number of women who were not his wife.

The legacy Breitbart leaves on the political world is mixed. He was a pioneering force in the rapidly growing field aggregation of political news. At the same time, his methods walked a fine line between envelope pushing and downright scurrilous.

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