Jonathon Van Maren

From the front lines of the culture wars

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How to win a culture war: a review of hating Breitbart

Tue Jul 2, 2013 - 11:20 am EST

When Andrew Breitbart collapsed and died near his Los Angeles home on March 1, 2012, his abrupt passing rocked the conservative world like little else could. Fox News host Greg Gutfeld said Breitbart’s death was “like a fiery planet going dark.” Film producer Jason Jones called him “a white plume over the battle.” Commentators of every stripe offered memories of Breitbart’s passion and personality. And then came the hatred—vitriol boiled thoroughly in white-hot rage stirred up by Andrew Breitbart’s devastating success in attacking the Left, from the journalistic sting operations on the left-wing organization ACORN to the infamous “Wienergate.” They were glad he was dead. They wished it had happened sooner. They were, in death as well as life, hating Breitbart.

That, of course, is the title of a new documentary released after Breitbart’s death, detailing his bombastic, no-holds-barred fight with the institutional Left in the United States. Hating Breitbart gives us an intimate look at the pioneer of New Media, from his confrontations with protestors outside Tea Party rallies, to his speeches at CPAC that often amounted to disjointed but fierce war cries, to revealing interviews with his father-in-law, Orson Bean.

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The Left hated Breitbart for many reasons, but perhaps the foremost of these reasons was that he was sure that he was right, and he wasn’t afraid of them. This is a dangerous combination for people who, generally speaking, often make their point by planting doubt, ridiculing their opponents, and declaring premature cultural victory and telling the rest of the “throwbacks” (or “Teabaggers,” as the media often referred to Tea Party supporters) to go home. And most people do—afraid of being called racist, or homophobic, or perhaps just stupid, many conservatives choose to go home, raise their families, and hope that they will be left alone. Andrew Breitbart didn’t get intimidated. He got angry, he got loud, and he got even. And the Left hated him for it.

Breitbart’s success was not as a journalist, but in how he impacted the field of journalism. Hating Breitbart reveals how he eschewed the Old Media information channels for New Media information channels, channels of his own creation that directly challenged the public narrative. Breitbart assisted Lila Rose of Live Action in releasing undercover videos exposing Planned Parenthood as an organization whose unscrupulousness was apparently not simply limited to aborting millions of children. He famously released the videos of ACORN employees agreeing to assist guerilla journalists James O’Keefe and Hannah Giles in setting up an underage prostitution ring. And he even forced the resignation of Congressman Anthony Wiener after exposing (cough) the Congressman’s penchant for sending photos of his nether regions to college girls (none of whom were his wife) over Twitter. For all of this, he was labelled a racist, a bigot, and, of course, a liar.

Andrew Breitbart, as he himself notes several times in the film, had two modes: “Jocularity and righteous indignation.” When he and his supporters were called racist, he got in their face and indignantly demanded proof—often literally. At CPAC 2010 he confronted blogger Max Blumenthal, demanding evidence for Blumenthal’s assertion that James O’Keefe was a racist, in spite of the fact that the story had been so discredited by Breitbart’s research that even Salon had retracted it. (At this point in the documentary I scanned the crowd half-hopefully for my own face—that confrontation in the lobby of the Washington, DC Marriot was the first time I saw Andrew Breitbart in action.) When conservatives protesting Obamacare at a “Kill the Bill” Rally at the Capitol were accused of hurling the n-word fifteen times at African-American Congressmen, Breitbart produced videos proving that it had not happened and offered 100,000 dollars for any evidence that it had happened even once. No evidence ever surfaced, and the reward went unclaimed.

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The documentary ends as suddenly as Andrew Breitbart’s time on earth. The film moves seamlessly from rally to rally, confrontation to confrontation, sting operation to sting operation—and then fades to black, leaving the viewer with the stark white words: “Andrew Breitbart: 1969-2012.” It is hard to believe that the larger-than-life culture warrior, full of jocularity and righteous indignation, can possibly have exited so quickly and so unexpectedly. For, as pro-life leader Gregg Cunningham wrote, “If some leaders truly are irreplaceable, Andrew Breitbart must surely be numbered among them.”

Reprinted with permission from unmaskingchoice.ca


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