Conservative publisher Breitbart dies in LA at 43

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LOS ANGELES (AP) - Conservative media publisher and activist Andrew Breitbart, a firebrand who was embraced by anti-tax, conservative tea partiers and reviled by liberals for his Internet investigations that brought down politicians and chastised mainstream journalism, died Thursday at age 43.

Breitbart was behind investigations that led to the resignations of former Rep. Anthony Weiner of New York and former U.S. Agriculture Department official Shirley Sherrod.

His loudmouth style was lionized by his fans for exposing government corruption and media bias. He was a colorful and often abrasive user of Twitter, including a final message that called a follower a “putz.”

Breitbart was skilled at finding issues that pushed conservative buttons while pulling Internet traffic to his websites anchored to news aggregator Brietbart.com.

“I’m committed to the destruction of the old media guard,” he once said. “And it’s a very good business model.”

It also was a radical departure from conservative voices of the past such as William F. Buckley Jr.

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

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.”

Condolences also came from his 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.

Breitbart’s website, bigjournalism.com, said Thursday he died of natural causes. He was walking near his house in the Brentwood neighborhood shortly after midnight when he collapsed, said actor Orson Bean, his father-in-law.

He was rushed to the emergency room at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. Breitbart had suffered heart problems a year earlier, but Bean said he could not pinpoint what happened.

“It’s devastating,” Bean told The Associated Press.

Larry Dietz, watch commander at the Los Angeles County coroner’s office, said a cause of death was unknown and an autopsy was likely.

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