In various circles — online and on TV — I’ve noticed a peculiar phenomenon.
Pat Buchanan was able to get away with his vile remarks and racist columns because he was collegial off the air and behind the scenes. He was the fun old grampy on MSNBC and got away with murder because of it.
A similar thing is happening with Andrew Breitbart.
His friends and family deserve to mourn, but people unrelated to him as well as people who happened to have bumped into him at parties and media functions are praising the guy as if he didn’t spread proven lies and hoax videos that eventually led to the firing of Shirley Sherrod, the complete destruction of voting rights advocate ACORN, and, most shockingly, the defunding and war against Planned Parenthood.
Yes, it was Breitbart who pulled the strings that ignited this new assault against Planned Parenthood and it was Breitbart who did infinitely more harm to Planned Parenthood than did Komen. It was Breitbart’s prank videos — selectively edited to deliberately mislead the public, the media and Congress — that motivated Eric Cantor and the congressional Republicans to defund Planned Parenthood and ACORN.
This wasn’t ordinary punditry. Andrew Breitbart wasn’t just another political flamethrower and instigator. He was a scam artist whose careerism cost thousands of ACORN workers their jobs, his shenanigans stripped urban areas of a reliable advocate, his lies cost Shirley Sherrod her job, and his self-promotional immorality has essentially turned Planned Parenthood into a fleeing pariah — on the run from Republicans and political extremists alike.
No, I’m not happy that Breitbart is dead. I’m not dancing on his grave and I’m not attacking him personally beyond his public actions. But I refuse to memorialize him with giggles and chummy remembrances about how cool or fun he might have been behind the scenes. I don’t really care and it wouldn’t surprise me if the victims of his careerism felt the same.
It’s difficult for me to assess Breitbart’s impact upon American media and American politics as anything other than poisonous.