This morning the unexpected news came that conservative internet publisher Andrew Breitbart has passed away. His business manager Larry Solov has posted the following announcement on websites affiliated with Breitbart. [This is a developing story, see below for statements from his former boss Matt Drudge, Brent Bozell, Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, and Michelle Malkin.]
With a terrible feeling of pain and loss we announce the passing of Andrew Breitbart.
Andrew passed away unexpectedly from natural causes shortly after midnight this morning in Los Angeles.
We have lost a husband, a father, a son, a brother, a dear friend, a patriot and a happy warrior.
Andrew lived boldly, so that we more timid souls would dare to live freely and fully, and fight for the fragile liberty he showed us how to love.
Andrew recently wrote a new conclusion to his book, Righteous Indignation:
"I love my job. I love fighting for what I believe in. I love having fun while doing it. I love reporting stories that the Complex refuses to report. I love fighting back, I love finding allies, and—famously—I enjoy making enemies.
"Three years ago, I was mostly a behind-the-scenes guy who linked to stuff on a very popular website. I always wondered what it would be like to enter the public realm to fight for what I believe in. I’ve lost friends, perhaps dozens. But I’ve gained hundreds, thousands—who knows?—of allies. At the end of the day, I can look at myself in the mirror, and I sleep very well at night."
Andrew is at rest, yet the happy warrior lives on, in each of us.
Media inquiries: email@example.com
What a shock to the conservative movement and to internet veterans everywhere. I knew Andrew for a number of years and there was no question as to his sincerity of purpose. He succeeded in ways greater than he likely ever dreamed in his desire to help the right learn to toughen up and understand how the left views politics as the moral equivalent of war.
We wish the best for Breitbart and his family. His fiery soul and sense of humor will be greatly missed.
Update 10:12. MRC president and NewsBusters publisher Brent Bozell has released the following on Breitbart's passing:
Today we have a lost a truly brilliant mind and a tireless warrior for the conservative movement. Andrew was one of the few good guys who knew Hollywood inside and out. He coupled that knowledge with the creativity and passion that has become his trademark, offering it for the cause that he so believed in. The entire Breitbart family will be in our thoughts and prayers. May he rest in peace.
Update 10:17. Brian Maloney at the Radio Equalizer is collecting statements in Breitbart's honor from America's top conservative radio talk show hosts. So far he's got tributes from Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin. Here's part of what Limbaugh said:
"His passing is such a huge loss, to everyone who knew him. There was, literally, no one like him. As such, he is a legend now. He was culturally refined and a bulldog at the same time. And he was credible, always credible. It's just a shame."
Levin on Breitbart: "I am stunned and deeply saddened. Andrew was a wonderful person and patriot. He loved his family and his country."
Update 10:32. Great tribute to Breitbart by Michelle Malkin: "I’m stunned. He was kinetic, brash, relentless, full of fight, the bane of the Left, and a mentor to the next generation of right-wing activists and citizen journalists. [...] He will be greatly missed, but his legacy online and in the conservative movement is built to last."
Update 10:40. Some more details on Breitbart's death via the Daily Caller's Alex Pappas:
Katie Bosland, an ABC producer, tweets, “LA Coroner’s office has confirmed to @ABC that Andrew Breitbart passed away last night at UCLA Medical Center.”
Pollak said he couldn’t immediately provide more details on Breitbart’s passing.
“None additional,” he said.
Breitbart was walking near his house in the Brentwood neighborhood shortly after midnight Thursday when he collapsed, his father-in-law Orson Bean said.
Someone saw him fall and called paramedics, who tried to revive him. They rushed him to the emergency room at UCLA Medical Center, Bean said.
Breitbart had suffered heart problems a year earlier, but Bean said he could not pinpoint what happened.
“I don’t know what to say. It’s devastating,” Bean told The Associated Press.
Update 10:50. In June of last year, Breitbart released his autobiography Righteous Indignation. I interviewed him about it in a wide-ranging discussion. One part which stands out today is Breitbart's recollection of his first and second appearances on liberal comedian Bill Maher's show. He didn't stand up for his beliefs the first time and was invited back for a second appearance. This time, he decided to stand his ground:
I stood off to the side before I went out into the seating area opposite Professor Michael Eric Dyson, a race-bating sociology professor, and opposite Maher, in a hostile crowd. I went in, and it was a worst-case scenario, and the entire time I kept doubling-down on standing up for what I believe in. I defended Rush Limbaugh on the false charges of racism, I defended the Tea Party on the false charges of racism, the crowd booed me, Sarah Silverman mocked me, the audience interrupted me before I could get my sentences out.
But their boos, I got to sneer at the smirks from Bill Maher, and it was singularly hideous. I went back to my dressing room where friends and family were, and it was like a funeral. They started to rationalize how my life would eventually come back to me over months, perhaps years, and they thought it was like the death of my career, the end of my self-respect and dignity.
I looked at them and I basically looked at myself because I was starting to realize something interesting had happened. I looked at them and said “you don’t understand, that was the best moment of my entire life because I recognized the thing that I feared the most,” wholesale rejection from that many people, perhaps millions in the audience, watching on the television, the majority of the crowd, the popular host, the guest, Sarah Silverman, lovely, funny comedian that I like her type of work. Everyone rejected me, and it was an exultant moment, because I realized, yeah, it’s fun to be liked, but when standing up for what you believe in, it’s also very fun not to be liked.
Update 12:13. Breitbart's former boss Matt Drudge has now given his tribute to him:
DEAR READER: In the first decade of the DRUDGEREPORT Andrew Breitbart was a constant source of energy, passion and commitment. We shared a love of headlines, a love of the news, an excitement about what's happening. I don't think there was a single day during that time when we did not flash each other or laugh with each other, or challenge each other. I still see him in my mind's eye in Venice Beach, the sunny day I met him. He was in his mid 20's. It was all there. He had a wonderful, loving family and we all feel great sadness for them today... MDRUDGE
Update 16:50. Some nice flashbacks to think of Breitbart today. My NB colleague Brent Baker has video of him accepting one of our mock "dishonors" awards on behalf of Chris Matthews in 2009, complete with sarcastic speech.
Our friends at Accuracy in Media have made a compilation of Breitbart at his best and funniest.
Also here at NB, in 2010, Noel Sheppard clipped Breitbart making a later appearance on Bill Maher's show and completely eviscerating the highly partisan Democrat for his ridiculous claim that he's a "libertarian."