Conservative Activist Andrew Breitbart Dies At 43
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
The conservative world was shocked today is by news of Andrew Breitbart's death. He was only 43 years old. The cause has yet to be determined.
As NPR's Neda Ulaby reports, Breitbart was a passionate conservative voice who founded a number of extremely popular websites.
NEDA ULABY, BYLINE: Andrew Breitbart was a leading purveyor of red meat dished up conservative style. From the community organizing group ACORN...
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1: Acorn workers caught on camera saying it all.
ULABY: ...to a video targeting Shirley Sherrod.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: It shows an African-American USDA official in making what appears, at first glance, to be racist comments...
ULABY: Or his piece de resistance.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #2: Congressman Anthony Weiner has hired an attorney to advise him on what to do next after a lewd photo...
ULABY: Andrew Breitbart had a hand in every single one of these scandals. He told NPR last year about the release of the Weiner photographs.
ANDREW BREITBART: Let people savor the first photo and then, you know, tell them that there's going to be another one. And, you know, get people into that refreshing mindset.
ULABY: Breitbart believed Americans have been swayed by powerful liberal media outlets.
BREITBART: They want to control the narrative and I'm saying no more. The new media has freed it up.
ULABY: Breitbart was born in Los Angeles. Irish-American by birth, he was adopted by a Jewish family, along with the Hispanic sister. For while, he was a self-described slacker, then he started working for Matt Drudge of the "Drudge Report." It was there he met Arianna Huffington, still a conservative then. In 2005, he helped launch "The Huffington Post."
BREITBART: I said to Arianna, you can take your salon and your Rolodex, and you could have these people write for you and create a virtual salon.
ULABY: But soon, he moved on to Breitbart.com, BigGovernment.com and others. They became profitable lightning rods. Just last month, his eponymous site attracted almost two million individual viewers.
Jenny Beth Martin co-founded the Tea Party Patriots. And she says Breitbart brought something new and necessary to the conservative conversation.
JENNY BETH MARTIN: He gave people across the country a platform to be able to report their own news, and at a place where people actually came and they read it and they paid attention to it.
DAVID CORN: I think he really could have used an editor.
ULABY: David Corn is the Washington correspondent for the liberal magazine Mother Jones. He says some of Breitbart's high-profile stories, like ACORN and Shirley Sherrod, were misleading.
CORN: Because he could move fast and because he had his own platform, I think he made some rather damaging mistakes.
ULABY: But it was not Breitbart's style to ever back down, like when he taunted protesters at a recent conservative convention.
BREITBART: You freaks...
ULABY: But Andrew Breitbart galvanized his followers, says Ned Ryun of the conservative group American Majority. Like many in the movement, he was devastated by the news.
NED RYUN: You know, I was just sitting there realizing he's not here anymore, that the impact that he could continue to have over the next 10, 20, 30 years of changing the mentality and the mindset of the conservative movement - that we don't have to sit here and just take it.
ULABY: Breitbart died in Los Angeles early this morning. He leaves his wife, Susie Bean, and four children.
Neda Ulaby, NPR News.
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