Andrew Breitbart, a conservative blogger and activist who used undercover video to bring discredit and disgrace to his liberal targets, died Thursday. He was 43.
Mr. Breitbart was as polarizing a figure as he was popular. Hailed by the political right as a truth-teller who exposed bias and corruption, he was derided by many on the left as a provocateur who played fast and loose with the facts to further his agenda.The New York Times is ever-respectful and restrained in its reporting, particularly in reporting on a death, but "playing fast and loose with the facts" hardly even begins to cover what Breitbart did in the practice of his "journalism." What he did was to lie. Repeatedly. He took videos of his targets and edited them in such a way as to tell the story that he wanted to tell, invariably one which furthered the right-wing agenda. He showed no regard for the truth.
In single-mindedly pursuing his crusade to destroy his liberal targets, he paid no attention to who was being hurt by the process. Particularly when those who were being hurt were the poor and disenfranchised, as in the Acorn debacle. In that instance, he used video shot by the execrable James O'Keefe, video that was later proved to be completely false, to destroy Acorn which had long been an advocate for the poor.
He tried the same tricks again with Shirley Sherrod, an employee of the Agriculture Department. But in Ms. Sherrod, he met his match. She fought back and proved him to be the liar that he was. At the time of his death today, she was suing him for defamation.
When someone dies, the convention is to try to find nice things to say about them. It was a convention to which Breitbart notably did not adhere, particularly when the dead person was a liberal. The most frequently cited instance was his public reaction to the death of Senator Kennedy when among the mildest things that he called him were a "villain" and a "duplicitous bastard."
Breitbart had a family who, I'm sure, loved him and are devastated by his untimely death. One can easily empathize with the grieving widow and four children. I cannot find it in my heart ever to rejoice over the death of a fellow human being, but I also feel no need to whitewash what Breitbart did in his life. He hurt many innocent people with his lies and he brought shame to a noble profession.