BOB GARFIELD: This is On the Media. I’m Bob Garfield.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: And I’m Brooke Gladstone.
ANDREW BREITBART: The Republicans screwed up everything. If you can’t sell freedom and liberty, you suck!
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Andrew Breitbart, conservative Internet publisher, commentator, activist and firebrand, died Thursday at the age of 43.
ANDREW BREITBART: And by “suck” I mean, you suck – [CLAPPING] profoundly.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: As a youth, he worked quietly behind the scenes on The Drudge Report. Then, he said, after watching the press collude with President Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky scandal – that would certainly stun Mr. Clinton – Breitbart decided to go public.
ANDREW BREITBART: And I said, okay, this is a center right nation and this mainstream media, this allegedly neutral and objective group of people – oh, indeed, they are – based out of New York and Los Angeles where I have an apartment and a house, thank you – I’m bicoastal, I’m hip and I’m shallow – I know what you’re up to, I go to your cocktail parties.
And I hear your contempt for people from middle America. Don’t tell me you’re neutral!
BROOKE GLADSTONE: He determined, he said, to go to war against his neighbors, those bicoastal elites and their pet causes. He put a young protégé, James O’Keefe, on the payroll of his website, Big Government, where O’Keefe posted elaborately staged stings of ACORN, NPR and Planned Parenthood.
When O’Keefe was slammed for using shady techniques, like deceptive editing, that would never pass muster with mainstream journalism, Breitbart called it “mainstream hypocrisy.” Didn’t NBC’s Dateline send ringers dressed in Muslim garb to NASCAR rallies as a provocation? That must mean provocation is okay.
ANDREW BREITBART: I grew up with Abby Hoffman as an idol and Hunter Thompson and the Merry Pranksters. As long as the mainstream media tells me that it’s okay when Dateline does it and when 60 Minutes does it, I’m not gonna be here to criticize it when James O’Keefe did it.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: For most media watchers, even Glenn Beck, Breitbart’s lowest moment came when he posted a snippet of a speech to the NAACP by Shirley Sherrod, a U.S. Department of Agriculture official. It made her sound racist. But just a little later on in that speech, she described finding prejudice in herself and in common cause with the white farmers it was her job to serve. The White House flinched before the facts were in and fired her.
DAVID GERGEN: And this has ripped away the veil and shown us all that is wrong with politics today.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Political pundit David Gergen.
DAVID GERGEN: An ideologue injects poison into the Internet. Other people rush to judgment, so they can – on camera, and the administration gets stampeded and – and c – commits this travesty of justice.
ANDREW BREITBART: We are in the most exciting time ever in the history of media!
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Breitbart exulted in his outrages and his outrage. He sought it out, as when last month he stopped by a group of drumming Occupy protesters near the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington.
ANDREW BREITBART: [SHOUTING] Behave yourself, behave yourself. Behave yourselves. You are freaks and animals. You’re freaks and animals! Behave yourselves.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: An odd imprecation from a man who regarded misbehavior as the better part of valor. When he died, apparently of natural causes, Twitter buzzed with the Tweets of many who felt no sorrow at Breitbart’s demise, among them Slate’s Matthew Yglesias, who wrote, “Conventions around dead people are ridiculous. The world outlook is slightly improved, Andrew Breitbart dead.”
Some conservative blogs took umbrage, but probably Breitbart would not have. On Thursday, Big Government quoted a new conclusion he penned for his book, Righteous Indignation. He wrote, “I love finding allies and, famously, I enjoy making enemies. At the end of the day, I can look at myself in the mirror, and I sleep very well at night.”