Andrew Breitbart, notorious conservative journalist, has died at UCLA Ronald Reagan Medical Center, after collapsing on a sidewalk near his Brentwood home early Thursday morning.
His last public conversation appears to have been at The Brentwood, a bar and grill near his home, where he struck up a conversation on politics with marketing exec Athur Sando over a glass of wine, wrote the Hollywood Reporter.
Sando had not met Breitbart before, he said. He was pronounced dead at 12:30 a.m., an hour after the two departed.
Breitbart started his foray into conservative journalism editing the Drudge Report in 1994. Then in 2005, he founded the Huffington Post with Arianna Huffington. Following Huffington’s abrupt left turn, politically, Breitbart started his own blogs, including BiJournalism.com, BigHollywood.com BigGovernment.com, BigPeace.com, Breitbart.com and Breitbart.tv.
In the past three years, Breitbart has been a giant in the conservative press. His brash assault on what he called “Institutionalized liberalism” often took bold turns. He became notorious in 2009 when he published videos of activists posing as prostitute and her boyfriend seeking help from the community non-profit ACORN to start a brothel that would house underage El Salvadorians.
In other news, he exposed Rep. Anthony Weiner for sending lewd twitpics of himself to women, forcing Weiner eventually, to resign from office. And he posted clips of Shirley Sherrod that were edited to show her publicly discriminating against a white farmer. She was fired from her job and later, the unedited clips of the speech showed that the Breitbart version was edited to make it look like Sherrod was practicing reverse discrimination.
“He was one of the most fearless people I knew,” said Jonah Goldberg of National Review Online, upon hearing the news while in the Fox Studios for an interview. The two began their Internet blogs together in the early years of Internet journalism, when he launched National Review Online in 1998.
“All I can think of at the moment is what Andrew meant to me as a friend, starting from when we worked together—his passion, his exuberance, his fearlessness. And above all, what I’m thinking of at the moment is his amazing wife Susie and their four beautiful young children. My love and thoughts are with them right now,” wrote Arianna Huffington on the Huffington Post.
But the all media is not kind to a man who broke scandal after scandal. He has been vilified in tweets and posts throughout the media, with some gleefully celebrating his death in a twisted sense of the macabre:
Mean tweets include these:
The death of breitbart is the loss of one hateful and damaging voice in the world. "now is not the time for your tears." b. Dylan
TO THE PEOPLE SAYING Andrew Breitbart WAS 'ASSASSINATED': impossible, since that only happens to HISTORICALLY SIGNIFICANT people
At The Rolling Stone, Matt Taibbi could hardly conceal his glee at Breitbart’s passing. "I couldn’t be happier that he’s dead," he wrote.
With that in mind, journalist and film producer Dan Gifford, a Brentwood resident who writes for Breitbart’s site BigHollywood.com, had this to say:
“A complete autopsy and investigation that looks into the possibility of foul play needs to be performed.”
Gifford produced the controversial film, Waco: the Rules of Engagement, about the standoff between the Branch Dravidians, the FBI and the BATF, garnering enemies in high places for his revelations of inept handling.
In an interview, Gifford told Patch that he and Breitbart had shared stories about death threats that they had both received.
Now, with some saying he may have been assassinated, the Los Angeles coroner will be reviewing his autopsy very carefully to determine the cause of death, reported the Los Angeles Times in a blog Thursday afternoon.
Says Gifford, “Andrew was stepping on powerful toes ... Andrew’s death is probably due to natural causes, but given the people he was angering and the political stakes this year, it would be wise to remember there are ways to make one’s death appear natural, especially if something like a reported heart condition is known to exist.”
Conservative pundit and radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh was a close friend and compatriot of Breitbart. He spoke eloquently of his friend’s untimely death and he had this to say on his show Thursday:
"Now, he had health problems. People knew that. But there was no terminal diagnosis involved here. There was no ongoing illness that people were aware of. There were some health problems, but nothing that indicated anything like this.”
And as a friend who knew him well, Limbaugh echoed the sentiments of conservatives interviewed throughout the day when he addressed the viscous attacks on Andrew Breitbart, saying “ ... it is really viscous stuff, which, in the end he would have loved.”
At the same time, a bomb squad was called to Rush Limbaugh’s Palm Beach home on Thursday. The radio talk show host was safe.
Andrew Breitbart is survived by his wife, Susie; their children Samson, 12; Mia, 10; Charlie, 6; and William, 4; and his sister Tracy.