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Breitbart leaves behind the websites that waged daily war with what he considered liberal bias infecting the media, college campuses, unions and the entertainment industry.

“The core of what Andrew did was bring new citizen journalists into the new media,” Pollak said. It “was, and still is, what we do.”

His anchor site, Breitbart.com, was visited by 1.7 million people in January, according to website tracker comScore Inc. Though other political sites are far larger _ his mentor, Matt Drudge, attracted more than 4 million visits that month _ his profile was elevated by public appearances, the Weiner scandal and relentless speechmaking, particularly at tea party rallies, where he was a favorite.

Jenny Beth Martin of the Tea Party Patriots, the movement’s largest umbrella group, credited him for “his willingness to fight for our values boldly and brashly.”

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 liberal critics as Breitbart’s book “Righteous Indignation: Excuse Me While I Save the World!” rose toward the top of Amazon.com’s sales rankings.

“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.

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 with AP. “The game of the left controlling the narrative … is ending.”

Breitbart 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 case 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.”

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