Conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart dies in LA

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His book “Righteous Indignation: Excuse Me While I Save the World!” rose to No. 7 in Amazon.com’s sales rankings by late Thursday.

Republican candidates for president were quick to offer praise and condolences after learning of his death. Newt Gingrich tweeted: “Andrew Breitbart was the most innovative pioneer in conservative activist social media in America. He had great courage and creativity.”

He played by his own standards. He faulted what he called the mainstream media for all manner of shoddy work and bias, but his aim could go off course, too.

Sherrod, who is black, was ousted from her job as the USDA’s state rural development director for Georgia in July 2010 after an edited video surfaced of her making what appeared to be a racist remark. She is seen telling an NAACP group that she was initially reluctant to help a white farmer save his farm more than two decades ago, long before she worked for USDA.

Missing from the clip was the rest of the speech, which was meant as a lesson in racial healing. Sherrod told the crowd she eventually realized her mistake and helped the farmer save his farm.

Once the entire video surfaced, Sherrod received numerous apologies from the administration _ including President Barack Obama _ and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack asked her to return to the department to work on civil rights issues.

She declined Vilsack’s offer but later sued Breitbart, his employee, Larry O’Connor, and an unnamed “John Doe” defendant for defamation. A lawyer for O’Connor said Thursday it’s not clear whether the case will proceed against the other two defendants, who were seeking to dismiss the lawsuit in federal court.

In a statement Thursday, Sherrod said she was surprised to hear of Breitbart’s death: “My prayers go out to Mr. Breitbart’s family as they cope during this very difficult time. I do not intend to make any further comments.”

Breitbart was skilled at finding issues that pushed conservative buttons while pulling Internet traffic to his websites.

“I do what I do because the mainstream media chooses not to do it,” Breitbart said in a 2010 interview. “The game of the left controlling the narrative … is ending.”

Condolences also came from liberal critics.

“We’ve disagreed more than we’ve found common ground, but there was never any question of Andrew’s passion for and commitment to what he believed,” said Ari Rabin-Havt of Media Matters, a liberal watchdog group and frequent Breitbart nemesis.

The 2009 hidden-camera video that eventually brought down ACORN showed staffers offering advice on taxes and other issues to actors posing as a prostitute and pimp _ a technique that would be frowned on in journalism schools. Some employees appeared willing to support illegal schemes involving tax advice, misuse of public funds and illegal trafficking in children. A Government Accountability Office report cleared ACORN of criminal activities.

Even so, public pressure led Congress to block previously approved funds from going to ACORN and to stop future payments. Roughly 10 percent of ACORN’s funds came from federal grants, and the group eventually disbanded.

Weiner’s downfall began May 28 when Breitbart’s website posted a lewd photograph of an underwear-clad crotch and said it had been sent from Weiner’s Twitter account to a Seattle woman.

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