On­line pioneer jour­nal­ist Bre­it­bart dies at 43

Known as a po­lit­i­cal provo­ca­teur for style of con­ser­va­tive pun­ditry

The Washington Times Daily - - Nation - BY JEN­NIFER HARPER

An­drew Bre­it­bart, the con­ser­va­tive jour­nal­ist, In­ter­net pioneer and provo­ca­teur who helped re­shape the me­dia land­scape with tena­cious and orig­i­nal po­lit­i­cal style, died early Thurs­day af­ter col­laps­ing on the street near his Los An­ge­les home. He was 43.

His pass­ing was an­nounced through a post­ing on his ex­ten­sive on­line news em­pire at bigjour­nal­ism.com, mourn­ing him as a “pa­triot and a happy war­rior.” In the past decade, Mr. Bre­it­bart bore wit­ness to me­dia bias, par­ti­san spec­ta­cle and celebrity foibles, and rel­ished pub­li­ciz­ing damn­ing de­tails to ex­pose erring public of­fi­cials.

In re­cent years, Mr. Bre­it­bart lent a forum to sting videos un­cov­er­ing ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties at the com­mu­nity or­ga­ni­za­tion ACORN and was the first to pub­lish a lurid pho­to­graph of for­mer New York Demo­cratic Rep. An­thony Weiner that led to his res­ig­na­tion. The ac­cuser was al­ways can­did about his mo­ti­va­tions.

“I love fight­ing for what I be­lieve in. I love hav­ing fun while do­ing it,” he wrote in “Right­eous In­dig­na­tion,” his most re­cent book. “I love fight­ing back, I love find­ing al­lies, and fa­mously, I en­joy mak­ing en­e­mies.”

The news spawned a del­uge of on­line tributes and re­ac­tions, and word was spread by tweets and blog posts from friends and foes alike. Both House Mi­nor­ity Leader Eric Can­tor, Virginia Re­pub­li­can, and pun­dit Michelle Malkin said they were “stunned” by his death; Mrs. Malkin also noted that Mr. Bre­it­bart — “bane of the left” — had been a men­tor to an en­tire ris­ing gen­er­a­tion of ac­tivists and cit­i­zen jour­nal­ists.

Re­pub­li­can pres­i­den­tial hopeful Rick San­to­rum called his pass­ing a “huge loss” for the na­tion, while cam­paign ri­val Mitt Rom­ney deemed him a “bril­liant en­tre­pre­neur, fear­less con­ser­va­tive, lov­ing hus­band and fa­ther.” For­mer House Speaker Newt Gin­grich said Mr. Bre­it­bart was a man of “great courage and creativ­ity,” while Sarah Palin as­sured her Face­book fol­low­ers, “We will con­tinue the fight.”

Talk-ra­dio host Rush Lim­baugh told his au­di­ence Thurs­day, “Some­time dur­ing the 1990s, Bre­it­bart had an awak­en­ing. He was con­stantly ques­tion­ing what was all around him, which was re­ally ex­treme lib­er­al­ism, and he be­came . . . a bull­dog.”

He was also at the cen­ter of a num­ber of con­tro­ver­sies about his writ­ings and news-gath­er­ing meth­ods. At the time of his death, he was de­fend­ing a defama­tion suit filed by for­mer U.S. Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture of­fi­cial Shirley Sher­rod about what Ms. Sher­rod said were de­cep­tively edited clips of her posted on Mr. Bre­it­bart’s web­site.

Mr. Bre­it­bart was born in Los An­ge­les, the adopted son of lib­eral Jewish par­ents. He ul­ti­mately emerged as a self-pro­claimed “Rea­gan con­ser­va­tive” with a canny sen­si­bil­ity about Amer­i­can cul­ture and po­lit­i­cal ironies. He was par­tic­u­larly irked by hypocrisy and cor­rup­tion among public of­fi­cials.

Like Matt Drudge, he was ahead of his time in rec­og­niz­ing the power of the In­ter­net, join­ing forces with Mr. Drudge to search out and post the sig­na­ture mix of on­line news and com­men­tary as early as 1996 for the widely in­flu­en­tial Drudge Re­port, at the very dawn of Web-based jour­nal­ism.

“In the first decade of the Drudge Re­port, 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,” Mr. Drudge wrote in a re­mem­brance posted across the top of his web­site Thurs­day.

Mr. Bre­it­bart also de­vel­oped con­sid­er­able prow­ess as a public speaker and ed­i­to­ri­al­ist, in­clud­ing pen­ning a reg­u­lar weekly op-ed at The Washington Times and mak­ing mul­ti­ple ap­pear­ances at such ma­jor events as the an­nual CPAC gath­er­ing of con­ser­va­tives in Washington.

Af­ter col­lab­o­rat­ing with Mr. Drudge and with Huff­in­g­ton Post founder Ari­anna Huff­in­g­ton, he founded six pop­u­lar web­sites five years ago, of­fer­ing a kalei­do­scope of videos, news and com­men­tary on pol­i­tics, the me­dia and pop­u­lar cul­ture.

Though Mr. Bre­it­bart re­port­edly died of a sus­pected heart at­tack. the Los An­ge­les County coroner’s of­fice will re­view his death and con­duct an au­topsy.

Mr. Bre­it­bart is sur­vived by his wife, Su­san­nah; four chil­dren; his sis­ter, Tracy; his par­ents, Jerry and Ar­lene Bre­it­bart; and his in-laws, ac­tor Or­son Bean and Ali­son Bean.


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