Andrew Breitbart told me this past weekend, “People are going to say whatever and try to claim whatever to try and take us out. They have an irrational fear of us. They want us on a leash. We’re not going to be on a leash. They want us to dance. We’re not going to dance with them.” The truthfulness and prescience of this statement was confirmed every time Andrew appeared on mainstream media programming. Time and time again he was attacked in every way and from every angle imaginable, and time and time again he refused to be leashed and refused to dance to their tune. In our country today, to inform your fellow citizens and advocate on behalf of the positions your conscience dictates is not always an easy thing; it can be a battle. And battles need warriors.
Andrew Breitbart was a media warrior who, better than anyone, understood the challenges facing those of us who expose facts and advocate for positions which run contrary to the narrative advanced by big government and big journalism. I woke up this morning saddened by the loss and lonely without his presence; he had long been a source of comfort and advice for me because he knew better than anyone the challenges faced by citizen journalists. Better than anyone he understood the effort and energy required to fight. Not just the big fights, but also the small fights. Every article, every email, every tweet was a battle to get the truth out despite the forces that were working against him. Every day was a new struggle against the forces of conformity and compliance.
Andrew was a colorful and magnetic personality, as humorous as he was passionate. On the day we first met in August 2009, his beautiful and precocious children had apparently painted his toenails. It was during that first meeting that I showed him video footage of an investigation into ACORN. He told me the establishment would call the actions of the employees in the first tape, “an isolated incident.” “We’re going to embarrass the media if they try to cover this up,” he told me. Perhaps that’s why they want us on a leash.
While Andrew and I were very different people in many respects, there was a certain commonality in how we thought about and approached things. When engaged, there was a special creative process between the two of us. We both appreciated the theater of the absurd. “What if?” he posited mischievously. “Why not?” I would respond, adding fuel to the fire. At one event we were speaking to a friendly audience about a future video concept in which I planned to take a government subsidy to an outlandish extreme. Nobody in the audience had any idea what we were talking about. Andrew and I essentially gave up trying to convince them and instead started scheming with each other right there in front of the crowd, escalating towards the eventual media response. (I’m filming undercover right now for that idea). I wish I had a video of that moment with Andrew, though.
Andrew could at one moment be so light-hearted and in the next be a raging pitbull, filled with passion, a man with a world to take on and no time to waste. Recently, we wanted to call a reporter out, and were writing the email to the reporter on the phone with each other. When the reporter challenged the validity of the allegations we were making, I was anxious to reveal the tape proving it was true. Borrowing a page from the media’s playbook, though, Andrew told me simply to tell him that I had a “reliable source.” Many people might find such an attribution insufficient, but how could a reporter? We were both somewhat inspired by Saul Alinsky — attempting to highlight hypocrisy by making ’em live up to their own book of rules.
I’ve had a reoccurring thought of late – particularly as I’m engaged in lawsuits, depositions, subpoenas, and of course the battles with the media. I had this thought again after I got off the phone with Andrew last night after another conversation about speaking truth to power. There is nothing in this life as sweet as justice and nothing as motivating as injustice. A lot of people in the media and in the wider world waste their time pursuing power, money and glory. I’ve always found more interesting and important the pursuit of justice, the fight to expose facts and inform people, which can be quite a battle in and of itself. There is noble purpose in fighting. Andrew Breitbart took up arms in that fight with a zeal, an energy, and an optimism which was and always will be an inspiration to me. He fought with everything he had to expose media injustice.
I’ve gotten messages from people this morning asking, “What are you going to do now?” Certainly, it would have taken an army to stop him and just as certainly it is going to take an army to replace him. But in my head I can hear the response come from Andrew: “What are *you* going to do about it now?” What we need are just a few good citizens with both courage and willpower. The courage to act with conscience and conviction, consequences and misconceptions be damned.
God bless you, Andrew Breitbart; thank you for all you’ve taught me and all that you’ve given to us all.
Yours for Truth,