First Cuppa Coffee – March 1st, 2012 : Blogger Brietbart Beats Feet

by on March 1, 2012 · 19 comments

in Civil Rights, Popular

Andrew Brietbart on blades being disruptive against protesters during an anti-Koch brothers demonstration at Rancho Mirage on Jan. 30, 2011. Photo by Doug Porter.

Blogger Andrew Brietbart has died at 43 of “natural causes”. Brietbart was, to put it succinctly, a bizarre Hunter S. Thompson mirror image created by the right wing media. (Apologies to Thompson, but the metaphor fits.) His words and actions outraged people everywhere; he loved to pick a fight as long as he didn’t have to stay for any messy conclusions; and truth was a relative concept that sometimes got in the way of a good story. His penchant for roller blades (allowing for a quick getaway) during his oft repeated confrontations with demonstrators and organizations on the left was his signature move. He usually had a wingman trolling along behind him armed with a video camera; catching lefties saying outrageous things on video, either through selective editing or provocation.  It was the specialty of his house.

I encountered Brietbart briefly last year at a demonstration up near Palm Springs as he zoomed around on his blades outside a Koch family confab. Inside the fortified Country Club, America’s super-rich rightists gathered to plot strategy and pool their money to pay for whatever the next political assault on President Obama was going to be. Outside the compound several hundred activist types, ranging from senior citizens to Trotskyites waved signs, chanted slogans and hoped for mainstream media coverage that wasn’t forthcoming. From my story on the demonstration:

…it’s worth noting that the Koch family was nice enough to provide the people who came to demonstrate against their Bilderburg-type confab with a personal appearance by the right’s living tribute to Don Rickles, one Andrew Breitbart. The one-time sidekick for the Drudge Report has gone into business for himself, building a media empire based on the finest bile, half-truths and innuendo that money can buy. He’s known for calling the late Senator Ted Kennedy “a special pile of human excrement,” shortly after his death.

 In any case, without giving this asshat too much publicity, he did appear at the Ranch Mirage rally, wearing roller-blades and armed with a video camera. Despite spending most of his time trying to incite individuals in the crowd to acts of violence—you gotta give him credit, he knows how to sling an insult—Breitbart ended the day braying at the crowd to no avail. His ability to flit back and forth behind police lines when the going got tough left no doubt that he was as much a part of the entertainment as was the Riverside County Deputy Sheriff who recited the various sections of the penal code to the crowd as the police attempted to clear Bob Hope Drive at the end of the afternoon.

There’s a little Brietbart in all of us who dare to use words instead of weapons to fight our ideological battles. His hungover rants (alcohol abuse was obviously a problem) and taunts reminded me of an earlier incarnation of myself, one where I tried to self-medicate out of depression, using the perfectly legal resources provided by a friendly physician and the oak casks of the Cruzan St. Croix distillery. Oh, the anger and the self-loathing of that Zoloft and Rum era made for some pretty ugly incidents, and I consider myself lucky to have survived. Some of us get lucky and have family and friends to help guide us back from that wilderness of pathos. For some, like Thompson, the pain becomes so great that life itself must be snuffed out.

Andrew Brietbart didn’t survive. Nor did he ever get the chance to make things right. I have no way of knowing if he had enough moral fiber to even want to make things right. So now he’ll be remembered for the small and cruel things that he did, like his infamous Twitter rants after Teddy Kennedy died. He may have been famous in some circles, but for his taskmasters, he was no more than a sideshow clown.

All my utterances here are not to say or imply that one side or the other in the great ideological divides that plague our national psyche are inherently better or worse. Ultimately, it’s not what you say so much as it is what you do.  Andrew Brietbart was a mean-spirited human being who took public pleasure in causing others pain. That’s what he did.  For the rest of us, the jury is still out.

We’ll be back with our regular roundup of news and events here at First Cuppa tomorrow, provided that the editor dude forgives me for mentioning Hunter S. Thompson in a story about Andrew Brietbart.

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Anna Daniels March 1, 2012 at 9:41 am

My thoughts are with Shirley Sherrod at this moment. I wish her the best in her lawsuit against the late Andrew Breitbart.

PS. Ms. Sherrod responded to the news of Breitbart’s death with the following:
“The news of Mr. Breitbart’s death came as a surprise to me when I was informed of it this morning. My prayers go out to Mr. Breitbart’s family as they cope through this very difficult time.”


mr fresh March 1, 2012 at 9:51 am

and the first right wing site to accuse Obama of murdering Breitbart will be posting their story in 3…2…1..


mr fresh March 1, 2012 at 10:02 am

…and here they are… tweets on the conspiracy to kill what’s his face….


Shane Finneran March 1, 2012 at 10:29 am

Wow, Doug, I think your observation about the hungover nature of Breitbart’s ranting gives powerful insight into what drove the guy.

And your line “There’s a little Brietbart in all of us who dare to use words instead of weapons to fight our ideological battles” is a real beauty… I like how you resist the urge to bury the guy under a pile of scorn, instead tapping into some potential common ground.

I’d wager this Breitbart obit is as good as any that will appear across media-land today. Nicely done.


Andy Cohen March 1, 2012 at 10:31 am

Shirley Sherrod is a far better human being than I am. She is far more forgiving and kind. As far as I’m concerned, if there is a God, he just did this world a huge solid. Enjoy the flames down there Mr. Breitbart! Bob Breitbart is rolling in his grave that he had to share a last name with you.


The Bearded OBcean March 1, 2012 at 12:22 pm

It’s always good to see people celebrate the death of someone else. Kudos that his wife and four kids lost a husband and father. Hurray, right? All because someone you disagree with ideologically has died. Did you spare the same venom when the monstrous Kim Jong-il died?


Andy Cohen March 1, 2012 at 3:24 pm

Nope. Pretty much held a private little celebration when Kim Jong-Il died. Same when Osama bin Laden was killed. There are some people this world could do without. Breitbart made his name by smearing and lying about good people, and was PROUD of that fact. Shirley Sherrod was but one such victim of his distortions. ACORN was found to have done absolutely nothing wrong, yet that didn’t stop good ‘ol Andrew Breitbart from selectively editing the footage his crony shot to convey a an extremist right wing message, truth be damned! His mission in life was to hurt people. His mission in life was to smear anyone who disagreed with him.

I know people are going to be taken aback by my thoughts. I know it’s not the PC thing to do, and it’s certainly not the moral high ground or the classy thing to do. But in this case, I do not care. I’m sorry for his family. But the guy had no class. He was nothing more than a thug and a bully with no morals whatsoever. He didn’t care who he hurt or how badly, only that he got attention and credit for doing so. I’m supposed to feel sorry that he’s dead? No. Good riddance. This world could use FEWER people like him, not more.

Disagree with me all you want. That’s simply what I think. I will not mourn when bad people leave us. And make no mistake, he was a bad guy.


Shane Finneran March 1, 2012 at 3:48 pm

I’m with Bearded OBecian on this one. The pull of the dark side is powerful but must be resisted. Moments like these present opportunities to rise above the tired old us-vs-them partisan stuff.

Put another way, it doesn’t make sense to criticize Breitbart’s style by employing Breitbart’s style.


Andy Cohen March 1, 2012 at 5:06 pm

Yeah, you’re right. But I’m not in a very charitable or sympathetic mood today. The guy was hailed as a conservative hero for sensationalizing the unsensational; for villainizing people who’s only goal was to help other people in need; for deliberately and systematically and unapologetically lying and twisting and distorting the story and passing it off as fact just so he could sit back and be amused by the damage he caused. That’s not a human being. That’s not being a part of civil society. And that’s the problem with Conservatives today: They don’t care about other people, only about their agenda and asserting their power and will over others.

The guy didn’t deserve my respect, and he’s not gonna get it even in death.


Anna Daniels March 1, 2012 at 6:22 pm

I disagree with you on this one Shane. I am quite capable of snark, like Andrew Breitbart, but I am not and we (majority of us on the left) are not disposed to the cruelty and bald face manipulating and lying of that man. I utterly reject that false equivalency.

For any of you who can remember Pogo, I remember his line “We have met the enemy and he is us.” That resonated with me. But I also read an essay by Primo Levi in Periodic Table. A German woman interviewed Levi, a Holocaust survivor, and opined that “we are all guilty of the Holocaust.” Levi surely and quickly reminded her that that was not the case at all.

I read today that there is a prominent ad in the DC Metro that takes Obama to task for his health care initiative that ends with “Go to hell Barack.” Andrew Breitbart lives, and that ain’t me babe/


Shane Finneran March 1, 2012 at 6:53 pm

I wasn’t saying the average lefty plays the same types of games Breitbart does. Just saying that anyone who curses Breitbarth’s corpse is sinking to his level.

I give Taibbi negative points for his obit. The rationale is “he did it so we can do it to him.” That’s equivalent to “an eye for an eye.” Which is not how we roll, is it?


The Bearded OBcean March 1, 2012 at 4:10 pm

Will you flash that same vitriol when a polemicist from your end of the spectrum passes away; The Olberman’s, Tabibi’s et al of the world. Or is it reserved for conservatives? I’d figure it would be best to at least show consistency in the matter.

But of course, we’re all entitled to feel however we want, no matter the person, situation etc. And you are certainly entitled to your opinion. Though I’m sure his four kids feel differently.


Andy Cohen March 1, 2012 at 5:23 pm

Here’s the difference between people like Breitbart and folks like Olbermann and Matt Taibbi (who is brilliant, by the way): Olbermann and Taibbi want fairness. They don’t want the rich and powerful to be able to game the system for their own advantage in order to squash the rest of society. They’re left wing firebrands (moreso Olbermann than Taibbi), but what they do is based purely in empirical facts and not fantasy about what the “liberal elites are doing to subvert the Constitution.” They don’t invent birth certificate crises because they don’t like the fact that the country duly and appropriately elected a black man as president. Guys like Breitbart want to make sure that the rich and powerful maintain the upper hand; they don’t mind at all suppressing the rights of others, so long as it’s to their advantage. Bigotry is a way of life for guys like him. Hatred is a badge of honor. Olbermann might be a bit out there, but if it weren’t for guys like Breitbart and Bill-O and Hanity and that other fruit loop “Lonsesome Rhodes” that Faux News used to employ there would be no need for the Olbermann’s of the world.

And yes, I’m sure his wife and kids do feel differently. And I’m sorry for their loss. But I’m neither his wife nor his child. And like I said in response to Shane, I’m not in a very charitable or sympathetic mood, especially when it comes to people like this guy.

Speaking of Matt Taibbi, here’s his reaction to Breitbart’s death:

Andrew Breitbart: Death of a douche

Thanks for bringing up Matt Taibbi. If you hadn’t I probably wouldn’t have checked his blog for this gem.


Anna Daniels March 1, 2012 at 7:46 pm

BOb- parse this one for us please:
“After Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts died in 2009, Breitbart tweeted “Rest in Chappaquiddick” and called him “a special pile of human excrement.” When critics questioned his tone, he tweeted they “missed my best ones!”

Maybe Ted Kennedy’s wife and children felt differently.


Goatskull March 1, 2012 at 11:12 am

Maybe he’s the reason Rollerblading isn’t as popular as it used to be.


Andy Cohen March 1, 2012 at 1:27 pm

Line of the day from a tweet feed I saw on The Daily Beast: “Coroner investigates Breitbart death. Speculation he died of a heart attack aroused suspicion since most know Breitbart had no heart.”

I know, it’s totally and completely tasteless to dance on the grave of another. And ordinarily I wouldn’t do it. But in this case, the guy was such a complete douchebag and pure evil that I’ll make an exception. Besides, Breitbart was the one who danced on the grave of the late great Ted Kennedy.


Joey March 1, 2012 at 1:39 pm

That’s what u get for calling us dirty hippies. Meow MF’er


mr.rick March 1, 2012 at 2:33 pm

Just heard on the tube that Rush is taking execption to insurance paying for womens necessties. Maybe he/those guys would prefer to pay child support for the next 18-20 years.


goBallistic March 1, 2012 at 4:49 pm

But that is the wisdom and the point: There is a little bit of Brietbart in each us (Thanks, Doug). And thanks to those who seek to balance the scales of justice without “hurting people” with more lies and bullying (restorative justice, in the making, perhaps).
I did not feel drawn to my own anger by Andy’s comments, which were, for me, more akin to allowing the pendulum to freely swing along its full arc and trajectory. We are all made of the same stuff. Finally, thanks to the truth being taught to us by the actual victims, as they teach us all the example of reconciliation in the face of hatred, bigotry and violence. To quote one of my favorites, “Blessed are the peacemakers”.


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