You are hereGawker: Andrew Breitbart: Big Deal, Big Coronary, Big Corpse
Gawker: Andrew Breitbart: Big Deal, Big Coronary, Big Corpse
-By Mobutu & Gen. Ze'evi
March 6, 2012- Provocateur, website founder and collector of America's largest wads of spittle Andrew Breitbart died last Thursday morning, when some sentient shred of his cardiac organ kamikazed out of an exhausted sense of justice.
The invertebrate response from journalists was exactly to be expected. Breitbart said, like, bad stuff in his lifetime, but he also married someone and fathered people; once he even objected to anti-gay GOP rhetoric. A malicious career and two milquetoast mitigating facts: It all balanced out, really, at least for the purposes of forced, quailing objectivity. To borrow a gross analogy lustily employed on Breitbart's own websites, if today's mainstream media was penning obits on May 1, 1945, they would have summed up with, "Despite initiating the Second World War, the German leader was fond of public architecture and is survived by his beloved dachshunds."
But nothing so generic could be the money quote of this squeamish grudging esteem-a-thon. For that, we have to go to Slate's Dave Weigel, who quoted Breitbart thus: "'Feeding the media is like training a dog,' he wrote. 'You can't throw an entire steak at a dog to train it to sit. You have to give it little bits of steak over and over again until it learns.'" This is just the carrot part of the metaphor. Nobody mentioned the stick.
Breitbart knew the shtick all too well: Accuse journalists of contrived groupthink, partisan deception and indoctrination to needle them professionally, while transmitting that rote accusation to your audience. Insult and demonize them on any available level until they strike back like cornered animals, and—suddenly—there's America's proof: these liberal journo thugs want to silence an honest voice, and, golly, are they ever mad when they try to.
Breitbart trained the media like dogs, and he was still doing so, on Thursday morning, from beyond the grave. People joked that they didn't know if his death was a hoax, and it's a certainty that some asked because they were afraid of telling the truth about someone by then literally incapable of hurting them. It was like watching a sick rerun of a Stalinist apparatchik sitcom, where one functionary was unwilling to believe another that The Leader is really dead, each presuming the announcement might be a trap.
If you beat a dog long enough, it learns to cower before you reach for a switch.
The anemic response wasn't all wariness. Numerous journalists, even ones on the other side of the ideological fence, were quick to note that Breitbart was generous and warm in private. But Breitbart also destroyed a woman's career in public. He destroyed an institution that helps poor minorities in public. He called Occupiers rapists in public. He screamed at strangers and loved to talk about kicking their asses in public. Outside of books written by the Aqua Net-shellacked c-minus Sturmabteilung of FOX News, his stamp on history in 20 years will be a Coughlin-esque paragraph about race-baiting and fraud.
Besides, those latter anecdotes won't ever have much traction for anyone but beltway raconteurs. The middle-class-and-sinking Tea Party that Breitbart claimed to speak for has little idea who he was sucking scallops with in Georgetown and would likely deny that he did it. Even if they could be persuaded that it happened, it would take the same role as his CPAC story of dining with Weather Underground wash-up Bill Ayers, a tale that elicited a concerned hush when he began it but soon resulted in smug smirking from the clone audience: "Ahahaha, I get it. He ate their good food, but he was trolling them and gathering intel for the coming mission to Galt's Gulch/RAHOWA/etc.!"
But this cynical gadfly behavior presents no aberrancy. What his biggest fans have never confronted, and what the obits omitted, perhaps out of embarrassment, is that Andrew Breitbart was always a creature of the left, accepted by the establishment, nurtured by the American elite. They made him from cradle to grave. He was banal troll indistinguishable from any gin-blossomed paunch of resentment occupying a neighboring barstool and nursing his own sense of denied grandeur—save for the glorious intervention of two cultures he so loudly claimed to hate: The Hollywood madding crowd and, later, the Beltway water cooler.
The Sorrows of Young Breitbart
If, as the Dean from Animal House said, "fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life," Breitbart's is an inspiring story of persistence in spite of the odds.
Andrew James Breitbart was born to hippie parents in the middle of the last American century's prosperous liberal period, then adopted by upper-middle-class restauranteurs in one of the nicer neighborhoods in our nation's blue states. Breitbart, aware that "scion to a Santa Monica steakhouse" does not a man of the people make, attempted to downplay his family's success, allowing only that "My parents granted me a brilliant middle-class life, one that didn't overwhelm and lavish spoils on me to the point of absurdity." Like a great many of the personal-responsibility shitkickers of the right wing's social-Darwinian moshpit, he didn't have to do much bootstrapping to go from a zygote, to Brentwood, to a place like Tulane, where people can drink a lot of beer and wake up seven years later as attorneys.
So far, Breitbart's story lacks an essential tragedy, the sense of loss that conservatism mourns. Horatio Alger never wrote the story of a well-heeled Californian nearly failing out of his American Studies program because he tried to drink the Southern Comfort equivalent of Lake Ponchartrain. And so like Rick Santorum, who transformed the dull meathead reality of his Penn State days into an epic, dark struggle against the oppressive forces of cultural studies, Tulane provided Breitbart a key thing: An excuse to break from the vague liberalism of his youth. His later accounts of the fateful moment of realization varied; historians will determine whether it was indeed during a concert by The Cure at the Hollywood Bowl, or while watching the public grilling on C-SPAN of a "dignified" Clarence Thomas, America's pube-bequeather.
What is beyond question is the critical role his Tulane professors played in crafting "Breitbart: Bubba Avenger." Their attempts at "brainwashing" had, instead, created a fighter. Repudiating liberal indoctrination by failing to meet even the shabby standards of the apparently predictable and sclerotic left is a familiar hero's journey for the right. Breitbart slouched, eked out a pathetic GPA as an American Studies major, then tried to exonerate his failure via a baseless indictment of "Marxist" scholarship: He didn't fare poorly because of innate failures but because he rejected the school's terms. ("Dude, I woulda done waaay better on the SATs, but I took 'em drunk, because fuck that.")
It's a familiar conservative refrain, and a familiar origin story, because nothing propels you toward the modern GOP's welcoming counterfactual bosom like finding your mediocrity disdained by institutions relying on historicity, evidence and peer review. Conservatives know why conservatives test badly: The tests are rigged commie bullshit. Conservatives know how conservatives are smart: They agree with other conservatives. There's even a publishing structure for this.
He Is Heavy, He's My Brother: Drudging His Way To The Top
From Tulane, Breitbart took the well-worn route of many a conservative before him: To Hollywood, where he took a job with E! Entertainment Television, helping to develop their online presence. But as vital as were Breitbart's efforts in writing synopses for last week's episode of Party of Five, he was still destined for bigger and better things.
The 1990s were a very special time for conservatives. Due in no small part to Breitbart's efforts, during the Clinton years, the right wing merry-go-round broke the sound barrier. Breitbart made friends fast, introducing himself in 1995 to bilgewater Beltway rainmaker Matt Drudge, for whom he came to work as assistant and night editor. In 1997 he began working as a researcher for union-busting gadfly Arianna Huffington; it was Breitbart who helped break the story of chickenhawk Clinton donor Larry Lawrence's improper burial in Arlington. Nevertheless, as late as 2007, Breitbart remained relatively unknown-his own independent website functioning as little more than a Drudge clone, a drab link aggregator. It took the rise of Obama for Breitbart to spread his wings and fly.