Andrew Breitbart would not have been surprised by the out- pouring of liberal hate after his death. He would have reveled in it, relished it, retweeted it. He enjoyed watching the left unmask itself, revealing pretensions at “civility” to be nothing more than bullying. He would have laughed to see Rolling Stone quietly pulling its ads off the page where Matt Taibbi - a drug-abusing misogynist, Andrew would have noted - had done his worst.
Nor would Andrew have been surprised at the outpouring of admiration from those on the left who truly understood him. Donna Brazile, for one,declared: “Andrew Breitbart was a conservative political combatant who was unafraid of his critics. We battled on and off air, but he was a genius.” More than a few Democrats know that unlike many in politics today - on both sides - Andrew stood for more voices, more debate, not less.
Andrew also cared - deeply - about truth. And he would have been disappointed - though not surprised - to see some of the most untruthful things about his life being said by those who call themselves fellow conservatives, those sophists who exploited Andrew’s death in the ceaseless effort to portray themselves as the urbane alternative to the great unwashed Tea Party masses in the dark interior of the Republican Party.
Take Ross Douthat, the resident conservative at the New York Times. Mr. Douthat famously earned his bachelor’s degree at Harvard - and he seems to think he went to Harvard Medical School. Last week, Mr. Douthat determined the cause of Andrew’s untimely death as “furious partisanship.” Those who knew him know that Andrew never put party above principle, and never put politics above people. Not so for Mr. Douthat.
In typical condescending fashion, Mr. Douthat contrasted Breitbart with the intellectual James Q. Wilson, who died the same week - as if the two were opposed, as if a robust conservatism was hostile to great ideas. Mr. Douthat’s prescription for the rest of us, evidently, is that it is unhealthy to resist the left’s ceaseless power grabs, so we may as well capitulate to big government, in the hope that we will be its wiser masters one day.
Then there was David Frum, who ought to return his law degree to Harvard after writing in the Daily Beast about Andrew’s “defamation of Shirley Sherrod.” Carefully couching his condemnations in the caveat that “it is wrong to see Breitbart as racially motivated,” Mr. Frum nevertheless slandered Breitbart as a racist who used hatred and “racially coded” politics to attack President Obama, whom he claimed Breitbart hated personally.
Andrew never hated Mr. Obama. He feared what the president is doing to the country. The only people Andrew Breitbart genuinely hated were journalists in the mainstream media who routinely trashed ordinary Americans using lies crafted and coordinated by the left to distract from Mr. Obama’s corruption and failure. Mr. Frum, for example, described Pigford, a multibillion-dollar scandal at the Department of Agriculture, as “back payments to black farmers,” obscuring the massive fraud that Andrew exposed.
For Andrew, the dividing line between the Republican establishment and the Tea Party grass roots was neither an economic boundary nor a geographic one. Rather, it was the willingness to accept the false narratives of the liberal media - eagerly regurgitated by Mr. Douthat, Mr. Frum and others - versus the courage to stand up to the lies, to reject the left’s faulty premises, to defend the many victims of the “Democrat-media complex.”
What discouraged Andrew about the 2012 Republican primary was how little the GOP candidates seemed to understand about the media. He applauded the few and fleeting moments when each of them pushed back against the debate moderators, wondering why Republicans would let the likes of MSNBC help them select their nominee, why the Tea Party fought CNN’s distortions in 2010 only to be co-opted by Wolf Blitzer in 2011.
Yet what gave Andrew hope was the knowledge that each individual was a potential citizen journalist, able to capture and disseminate the reality that the media and its satraps, conservative and liberal, remain desperate to hide. The vetting project that Andrew began earlier this year was aimed not just at Mr. Obama and his rivals, but also at the media, without whom the entire Obama presidency would have been impossible.
In doing so, Andrew showed the uncommon valor that is beyond the comprehension of those “conservatives” warmly nestled in the bosom of the beast. Though he was - and remains - irreplaceable, Andrew cultivated a cohort of citizen journalists that continues the work he began at the media empire that bears his name. He made this great country bigger for those, left and right, who dare to embrace its fragile freedoms.
Joel Pollak is editor-in-chief of Breitbart.com.