Andrew Breitbart was my friend

A year ago I lost a friend. On March 1st, 2012 Andrew Breitbart died but every day, I still see both his personal and mobile IM accounts online. They serve as a sad reminder of the loss of a man I will always remember as kind. I gather his IM accounts are still online so they can continue his horrible project of wrecking America.

Andrew and I were friends. Last year when he passed away, I am ashamed to admit, I was afraid to write anything or to share how sad it was to lose such a good guy who cared so passionately about his friends. I was afraid because his life's work was monstrous.

I met Andrew around 2007. He was building and I was helping get Federated Media going. We had both grown up in Santa Monica and while he went to Pali, and I SaMo (proud of you guys this week!), we had a lot of mutual friends and experiences. We became fast friends.

As a kid growing up in Santa Monica, I rebelled against most of what was around me by imagining I was conservative. This didn't last long for me, but apparently Andrew had a similar experience—and with him, I guess it stuck. We'd talk politics when we used to hang out, but we soon learned to let our disagreements lie. Except for that one night/fight in a bar in Sausalito after a Giants/Dodgers game where he forced me to get into it with him. Politics were the least interesting thing about Andrew.

Andrew was an incredible resource to me during the adoption of my daughter. As an adoptee himself, he was passionately engaged in the process with me. If you can imagine the energy Andrew put into his work, imagine what he'd do for his friends. He wanted to know where everything was in the process.

Andrew Breitbart by Gage Skidmore

When things got hung up in my family's adoption process, he was as angry as I was. He shared so many stories with me about his experience growing up. As an adult, he tried to really help me understand some of what an adoptee experiences in life. The time and energy Andrew invested in me lives on in my daughter. I often remember those conversations, and they do guide my parenting.

We watched baseball games together. We laughed about crappy music from the 80s. He was my friend.

I hated what he was doing to our country. I miss his friendship.

I hope he responds to one of my IMs soon. I'd like to know how Harry Houdini is doing.


  1. “I hated what he was doing to our country. I miss his friendship.”

    It’s so easy for us to forget that people, even people who do things we find detestable, are real human beings.  I’ve heard it said that Rush Limbaugh is a really nice person.  His brother seems to be nice any time he does a local TV appearance, up to the point that politics comes up.  It’s okay, I guess.  I have family I all love dearly, cherish for their deceptively bumpkin–but quick-witted–ways, but whose political stances leave me nearly physically ill.

    That website with Breitbart’s name on it…*shudder*

      1. So as I understand you, if someone you love does something horrible, you miraculous forget your entire previous relationship with them.  I trust that, if a member of your family commits a crime, you’ll head down to the courtroom to denounce them.

        1.  I’m sure Breitbart’s pets and family loved him.

          That doesn’t make him a good person.
          Anyone’s family can love their relation.

          It’s like saying, “Breitbart breathed oxygen. I also breathe oxygen. We have so much in common.”

          1. Outlawed cruelty to animals, too.
            Helped invent the Volkswagen and the Autobahn.

            But the one thing Hitler DIDN’T DO? He never invoked Godwin on a Boing-Boing comment thread.

    1. I stand by what I wrote upon hearing of Breitbart’s death last year.

      I don’t believe in celebrating any person’s death, so I’ll just say this:

      During his brief life I’m sure Andrew Breitbart embodied a number of admirable qualities, and it’s a shame that he died before I had a chance to see him demonstrate any of them.

  2. Not sure I read the same thing, then, and IMHO I’m not sure Breitbart’s politics particularly need to be balanced with an, “Oh, but he had a good point.”  This is just my observation, but I commented on one of their stories, got banned from there (hey, how about that, during that time I got banned from both Breitbart and BoingBoing) but have never been removed from the Breitbart mailing list.  I stay on for entertainment values.  If it was truly factual conservatism, I could see your point.  On the other hand, does “Al Jazeera-owned Current TV explores Americans’ ‘unfounded fears of Islamic terrorism'” and “Senate Republicans draft bill to abdicate their Constitutional authority” really need balance?

    EDIT: Ugh. That was supposed to be a response to GiuseppeM. Please, if anyone feels the need to delete this comment/get out the ban hammer, contact me so we can discuss the issue. Thanks.

    1. It’s terrible that Gore sold Current to Al Jazeera, leaving him and Current open to the charge that anti-islamophobic = pro-terrorist.

      When that $0.5Billion comes knocking at your door, it’s hard not to answer it.

  3. Andrew is probably having a PBR with Aaron Swartz right now, ah how cute. I can read about R2D2 socks anywhere, come on…

  4. I’m sorry for your loss. Even I, as an outsider who hated his politics and the way he conducted his business, can tell that he was a passionate man. And it sounds like he was a great friend.

    1. “Even I, as an outsider who hated his politics and the way he conducted his business, can tell that he was a passionate man”

      Champion the good friendship, but stalkers and serial murderers are “passionate”. It’s how one channels and chooses their passions that defines them.

  5. I’m sure every propaganda minister has a sensitive side, beyond the bluster.

    I wonder if he ever let the act slip, like i’m sure Ann Coulter does whenever she (seemingly) dates dems. I think that would’ve been interesting to read about.

  6. Jesus Christ, I can’t believe some of the monstrous comments you’ve gotten. This is a lovely tribute to someone who clearly took his duty as a good friend seriously and compassionately, and it’s easy to see why for you, the atrocious part Breitbart has played in the ongoing rat-fuckery of America and its media discourse is trumped by the personal kindness he showed you and your family. I get why other people still hate him! I despise his shoddy relationship to the truth and his intellectual dishonesty. But people, I would think you could lay off with your knee-jerk hate-filled comments in this particular thread, as losing a good friend is difficult enough without being made to feel embarassment at the friendship in the first place. You suck otherwise. There, sermon over.

    1. To step back a bit:

      I think the problem was that we get a 

      “Politics were the least interesting thing about Andrew.”

      But it was such a short article that we weren’t given enough of this human side to short-circuit what we, outsiders, know about Andrew as per his persona.
      So yes, maybe he had a kitty he loved, maybe he painted a little, but nobody assumed that he was a fascist in all aspects of life either, did they? People certainly talk about the banality of evil, and these charismatic manipulators certainly turn it off when the cameras aren’t around to live their lives, love their families, I just wish their fanbase could turn off the influence when the shows are off.

      Anyway, to reiterate, it probably would have gone off better here if there was more meat and detail to better explain Breitbart as a human-like-us to an obviously less interested crowd.

      I mean, it’s slightly disrespectful, and to that I apologize to Jason, but we don’t know the man. Persuade us to at least ~want~ to understand him better?

      I hope that makes sense, I’d read it again with fresh eyes if expanded upon.

      1. I can’t speak for anyone else, but it does make sense to me. As short as the article was, though, for me Mr. Weisberger had me at “was my friend.”

        When someone loses a friend, if I think their friend might have been a loathsome human being, I put those feelings aside in favor of offering sympathy to the person who’s just experienced a loss. I may choose to express my opinions regarding their friend, but I will only do so at another time and place.

        1. It’s sometimes hard to humanize a person you seemingly have so little in common with, in this case, we’re get predigested experiences and moments but without enough depth to be immersed in them.

          Silly as it sounds, I think a picture of the two together (especially from the past, or from a good time out) would have helped greatly as well.

    2. I appreciate that Mr. Weisberger lost a good friend. I think, however, that he showed poor judgement in deciding to blog about his personal loss in a public forum likely to be filled with people who could care two shakes of a rat’s tail for Mr. Breitbart’s absence, regardless of how loving and caring his friendships were.
      Jason, my condolences, but a more personal forum is likely to get less heat about the monstrosities of your missing friend.

      1. This is a personal forum.  It’s always been a personal forum.  It will always be a personal forum.  Not sure how you’ve been commenting here for years and not figured that out.

        1. Hmmm… Ok.

          It is also a public forum. Public sentiments are different than private sentiments.

          And also, I think I have changed my mind on poor judgement… some of the snide remarks aside, Jason has provoked an interesting conversation.

      2. Weisberger waited almost a year to talk about losing his friend, and I’m sure a large part of that was because of the reactions he’d get from people who also think Breitbart was “destroying America”.  I thought it was a sensitive and interesting column.

  7. Kind to his friends but a hateful fear-monger to the world.

    No one should be surprised that even “bad” people are multi-faceted.

    1. What did Zarathustra say about loving your neighbour?  “It is the farthest ones who pay for your love to the near ones; and even when there are five of you together, there is always a sixth who must die.”

  8. I am not going to respond to every hateful comment individually because there are too many of them but here’s my blanket response: really? REALLY?!

    You go to BoingBoing where one of the site owners publishes something personal in his own blog and you have it in you to spew hate?! not even mourning is deserving of respect and silence? You don’t need to leave a comment of respect for Breitbart, not even empathy or sympathy for Jason. You can do the noble thing and just be silent. At least if you don’t say anything we won’t know you are an ass.

    ETA: Just to clarify: you don’t need to respect Breitbart, but you could show some respect for Jason.

      1. eh, just because the option to leave a comment is there, it doesn’t mean one needs to exercise it. 

  9. I enjoyed reading this Jason. That sort of conflict about a friend or loved one can be really difficult to deal with, and reading something like this can be helpful — I hope writing it was as well.

  10. Well, you could take this as an example of what partisan politics are doing to our country.  Two people, both capable of empathy, divided by dogma.  The real threats to our country aren’t the terrorists or the radicals or whatever boogeymen the politicians create.  The real threats are the institutions within our country, that seek to do away with reason and replace it with appeals to emotion or authority.  I’m so tired of Americans’ willingness to blame the stupidity or immorality of other Americans for the problems in our country.  We desperately need a return to civil discourse, and to do that, we need to start looking at our neighbors as people, not members of factions.  I know that seems overly optimistic, but it’s worth talking about.

    1. “The real threats are the institutions within our country, that seek to do away with reason and replace it with appeals to emotion or authority.”

      What about the agents of our social and political institutions? Can we be displeased with them, as the Establishment and tools of fucking up discourse?

      1. Not only can we be displeased with them, I believe we can do something about it.  I think the solution to those who seek to destroy civil discourse, is more civil discourse.

        1. I’d agree more if monitoring language and tone trolling would actually do anything to help the national dialogue.

          We should’ve broken up Clearchannel and the rest of the radio monopolies years back.

  11.  I don’t think anyone’s obligated to say nice things about Breitbart just because Jason wrote this very touching bit about Breitbart’s human side, but perhaps — just maybe — there is a more appropriate place for reasoned (and otherwise) criticism of Breitbart than this particular comment thread.

    Thanks, Jason, it’s too easy to forget that people who disagree with us are human beings, and often very good human beings who just see the world in a different way.

    1. …Even people who are bad people are, ultimately, human beings. Is this mind-blowing to you? Why do people fall for this? If someone disagrees with me on basic moral ideals such as human rights and equality, then yeah, they’re a bad person. How dare I be so prejudiced against intolerance, am I right?

      To use an extreme example, sociopaths are often charming, engaging human beings. That’s how they get people to help them. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be able to thrive in society, at all. This kind of reasoning wouldn’t bother me so much if it wasn’t so enabling.

      Sure, I wouldn’t spit on Andrew Breitbart, but I wouldn’t call him a “very good person” just because I heard of him being nice to someone.

      1.  I’m trying to separate private views of morality (and our views of morality are necessarily private due to the problem of other minds) vs. public action.  Jason’s article is about Breitbart the human being vs. Breitbart the public actor.  I have serious problems with Breitbart the public actor but I’ve never met — and therefore can’t judge — Breitbart the individual human being.

        When I determine that I don’t like Breitbart the public actor this is no small part because of my own political ideology.  However, I like to think that I might be mistaken in some regards of my own political morality, that I may not have everything figured out yet and that perhaps there are some merits in views that strike me immediately as being terribly immoral.

        For that matter, I disagree strongly with the political views of my stepfather.  I think he’s very wrong on gay rights, economics, tax policy, the war on terror…but none of this leads me to conclude that he is anything but a “very good person”.  I know he is a very good person through a great deal of personal experience with him.  His political views don’t seem to prevent him from being a very good person even if, in some way, they seem kinda evil to me.

        Since I never knew Breitbart personally I can’t make the same determination in his case; all I know is that I don’t like his politics any more than I like my stepfather’s.  As far as whether Breitbart was a “very good person” as an individual human being I have to rely on people who actually know him — such as Jason.

        In other words, I can’t conclude on the basis of someone’s political views that they are “bad people.”  Many good people believe apparently strange and terrible things.  Sometimes getting to know them as people leads to an understanding of why they believe those things and the realization that they aren’t so strange and terrible after all.

        TL;DR: Try not to let your political ideology get in the way of seeing people for who they really are rather than your interpretation of the political views to which they relate.

        1. Oh, FFS: It’s not about his political opinions; it’s about the way he represented them and himself on the public stage and the grossly negative impact he had on the public debate.

          To Godwin it up: No one would give a damn about Hitler’s views if he’d remained a failed painter.

  12. I don’t see how you can say someone was a good person when their actions caused serious harm to many people.  Why do unethical actions suddenly “not count” when they are deemed political?  Sure, a fascist, Stalinist, teabagger, or nihilist, may have some admirable personality traits, but if they actually act on those kinds of destructive politics, they will induce unnecessary suffering.  Their net effect on the humanity will be negative.

    1. In politics, you assume that whatever you believe is right and ethical, so the opposition must be the opposite. Therefore someone who believes wrongly causes suffering. If you go too far down that slippery slope you might fall on into a radical Buddhist critique where everything causes suffering, and the only morally acceptable course is to lie down and stop breathing. So it warrants some caution.

      On the other hand friends are friends, and there’s a difference between counting their ethical actions and counting what they mean to you, personally.

      1.  The man caused suffering in real and tangible ways. These aren’t esoteric or philosophical disagreements.

          1. I’m sure they do, but I don’t buy that false equivalence. Right and wrong, ethics, self awareness, history… they’re on the wrong side.  If they aren’t, then we can just call all kinds of horrible political conflicts just “differences” of opinion.

            Jim Crow? Good, bad? Just a difference of opinion?

          2. What makes them horrible is usually what you’re willing to do for the sake of the difference.

            Usually, maybe not in the case of Jim Crow. Maybe not in the case of Shirley Sherrod either. (I wasn’t born last week, for frick’s sake.) But I don’t find it justified to wallow in the same type of attitude they do, which they do because they think they’re justified.

      2. “you assume that whatever you believe is right and ethical”

        Limbaugh, Breitbart, Beck, et al. aren’t politicians, they are/were entertainers. Their sincerity in private life doesn’t carry over to their persona so your statement doesn’t hold up.

        1. Since we know they have a private life, we also assume the stuff they go around saying is a “persona” so we don’t have to grapple with the question of “how the hell do they believe THAT?”

          1. There’s usually a gleam in any hucker’s eye where the insincerity winks back.

            Look for the grin. The difference between say, a Bircher Republican True Believer like Ron Paul and a Limbaugh/Beck is unmistakeable.

            How the powers-that-be also react to say, a Paul and a Limbaugh are entirely different. The former gets mocked (and co-opted to serve the mainstream), the latter gets lavished with attention and praise.

            Not to say that Paul isn’t his own brand of huckster snake oil-peddler, but the beliefs and his believers are less of a joke to him.

          2. I’m not sure it’s so easy to tell the difference between a huckster and a true believer that went overboard at some point, which is what I think Keith Olberman is. 

            What I’m saying is, we tell ourselves that somebody egregious must be a huckster because it’s easier to contemplate than the alternative. It *might* be true, but that don’t make it so, necessarily.

            People who put forth their opinions often consider it an acceptable hedge to say, “Oh, everybody thinks this is a crock? Well then TROLOLOLOL!” But I find it suspect enough for them to say about themselves, so I don’t try to say it for them.

  13. What is the purpose of posting this article with open comments if you then go on to delete so many of them? If you wish to have an open discussion, recognize that part of that open discussion is going to be the bile that this man raised (and evidently wished to raise).

    For my part, I don’t know if I could be friends with someone I felt was actively destructive to something I valued. This man devoted hours to political rage. For me it’s a hypothetical, though. 

    1. Open discussion is fine, but, in the context of this article, many of the comments here have been leaning towards pure dickishness.

      1. What prompted me to post was the removal of one specific comment (not one by me). It said in essence: I’m not sorry he’s dead (or maybe it was even glad), but I’m sorry for your loss. That’s pretty close to my own feelings. I don’t think really that egregious, and perhaps the legacy of a man who reveled in his own dickishness might be dickishness too. 

        The man’s been dead a year. We are not dancing a jig in front of his grieving widow. We are mostly questioning if he can be referred to as a good guy just because some guy on boingboing said so, seeing his effect upon the world. Jason acknowledged his own conflicted feelings. Some of us will go one way with this, some the other. This isn’t a forum for emotional support for Jason, it’s for discussion. No need to be mean, but I can’t feel Breitbart was anything but a net negative in the world.

        1. I was going to say that I’m not glad Breitbart is dead, but I admit to being glad he’s not still out there slandering people.

          I also appreciated the paradox that poster was trying to express. Somebody like that dies in such a way, it produces conflicting emotions. Period.

          1. I was going to say that I’m not glad Breitbart is dead, but I admit to being glad he’s not still out there slandering people.

            An appeal you’ll often hear when a good person passes away is “don’t mourn so-and-so’s death, celebrate their life.”

            Perhaps we would do well to adopt the corollary for others: “Don’t celebrate Brietbart’s death. Mourn (at least some aspects of) his life.”

  14. Negative comments? Well boo-hoo, Andrews whole reason for living was to be hated by others. Any time he made someone else angry he saw that as a personal victory, and his life was dedicated to perfecting the lying assholery that would get him the hatred he craved so badly.  Nothing would make him happier now than to know that people still hate him. 

    1. I suppose you’re correct in that those posts would have made him smile when he was alive. Also interesting would have been hatesoak anecdotes from his formative years…

  15. I can sympathize with the sentiment expressed here, but I don’t like the “It’s just a simple difference in politics” narrative that’s being repeated, just as much as I don’t like the guests who I presume are just making crass insults, which is so rude considering that Jason has written a pretty nuanced, honest and sincere piece here.

    It’s not a simple disagreement about politics, because that man gleefully did real and tangible harm to people, and particularly the most vulnerable among us. See him basically destroying ACORN as just one example of an incredibly dark legacy. Here you had somebody working tirelessly to destroy a group that tried to help and empower low income Americans. Real evil villain, crushing the little people stuff. These aren’t simple disagreements in politics. I just can’t accept that. Sorry.

    I sympathize with Jason losing a friend, and I myself have been in similar situations where I can drink and watch games with a couple guys but we have to agree not to talk politics, but wow, those are way more benign guys when it comes to their politics and how they carry themselves and treat others in life. There are others that I’m civil with, but I’ve just had to cut them out of my life. I’m afraid a guy even remotely like A.B. is a complete deal breaker…beyond the pale.

    1. Some of them were insults, but the first “Guest” was actually complaining that Jason condemned Breitbart’s politics at all, and basically ignored all the rest that he was trying to express. Which is also rude, of course.

      This strikes me funny about BoingBoing moderation sometimes. I understand certain comments have to be deleted. But the responses are left, so there’s half of an argument sitting there and anybody who comes along is bound to wonder what the hell it was about.

      1. I just assumed they were either crude insults about A.B. or crazed fanatics that were driven here from his site to incoherently defend him and screech about socialists. Either way, not civil discourse and: No bueno.

        1. “crazed fanatics that were driven here from his site to incoherently defend him and screech about socialists”

          You guessed correctly.

  16. As someone who knows people who were hurt by Andrew B and his other cohorts, I cannot like the man.  You say he was destroying the country, and that’s true, but he was also destroying people he disagreed with.    It wasn’t JUST the amorphous faceless nameless “liberals” he targeted, he got REAL people and destroyed them.   That’s evil.

    That said, I also understand that losing a friend is hard.  And I am sorry for your loss.  I can respect that he was your friend, and I totally understand he did good things for you and to you.    I just really wish he’d done good things for my friends too, instead of turning the hate cannons on them.

  17. Some of us try to stick up for what’s right. And then we have to deal with defamation from the right wing media, beatings from the police, and so on. And it’s easy to blame Andrew Breitbart because of his role in the right wing media.

    I can’t point to anything, on Breitbart’s part, as egregious as that WingNutDaily editorial, whose author I forgot, which insisted that anti-war protesters are terrorists and should be shot, or Michelle Malkin calling for violence against protesters, or Patrick Howley pretending to be a protester and attacking police so the police would have an excuse to attack protesters. (see )

  18. I was afraid to write anything or to share how sad it was to lose such a good guy who cared so passionately about his friends. I was afraid because his life’s work was monstrous.

    I know the feeling.  I’ve dealt with many people over the years in business and in personal life who support things and “principles” I abhor,  but still find the good in them on a more personal level as they have in me.  I hope you find more peace by writing about your loss and knowing you’re not alone in these conflicted feelings towards people like Breitbart.

    I honestly think many people like Breitbart have little or no control over themselves anyway and I try (I really do!) to keep that in perspective whenever I’m dealing with them.

    Thank you for the reminder for me to remember that more often when dealing with conservatives/libertarians online and AFK.

    1. “I honestly think many people like Breitbart have little or no control over themselves anyway and I try (I really do!) to keep that in perspective whenever I’m dealing with them.”

      I don’t think he had control over his addict nature, but that’s really the most that I’ll give the Limbaughs and Breitbarts. They wouldn’t change because it makes them a very comfortable living and it gives them pleasure to be a hatesoak.

      I’m an outrage junkie so I can understand some of the compulsions, but it tends to calcify once you’ve got a living being made on screaming at people. Just ask Keith Olbermann. I agree with some of the politics, but the rhetoric is just a total turnoff as a liberal.

    2. Accepting that you “don’t have control” over your political orientation, I think people do have control over the demonization (or not) of people of different political alignments.

      What’s characteristic of Breitbart, and seemingly the majority of the right, is their characterizing their opponents (that is, Democrats) as: Communists, Socialists, enemies.  Democrats and people on the left do not similarly demonize the Republicans.

      This he does have control over, and this is what he should be condemned for, by the rational on both sides of politics.

      1. I agree with you that these people should be condemned, but as far as them having control over themselves I think that’s very debatable if you look at the science behind it (see link above, for starters). I know it’s perhaps easier on the brain to think that they have absolute control over themselves, but I think it’s wiser for the rest of humanity to figure out ways to recognize the true source of their disfunction and treat these harmful, mental conditions if it’s possible (and humane to do so).

        More research:,1,4352129.story

        And more links at the bottom of my post here:

  19. Sometimes I tell people on line (and I’ll tone this down) “Don’t act like Breitbart unless you really want people to be badmouthing you long after you’re dead.”

  20. I get it. Even people who do things that fill us with righteous fury often have admirable qualities that most people don’t see.

    One person that comes to mind is Dick Cheney—those who know him personally describe him as a kind man who cherishes his friends and loved ones, including his gay daughter and her family. When his ticker finally gives out for the last time those people will mourn him as the loving grandfather they knew, and that seems appropriate.

    On the other hand, those of us who don’t know Cheney personally will likely remember him as a lying, warmongering, torture-promoting manipulator whose machinations destroyed countless innocent lives. That too seems appropriate.

    1. I don’t want to get too far off-topic, but Cheney is a good example of a thornier problem. As much as I may disagree with Cheney politically, I try to keep in mind that he’s a fellow human being, and that he’s kind to those closest to him.

      And yet, regarding his gay daughter, he chose political expediency when the President under whom he served called for a Constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. Admittedly Bush wasn’t spending a lot of political capital on the issue, but he must have known that the amendment would potentially affect Cheney’s daughter. And, as far as we know, Cheney put his president’s priorities above his daughter. I’ll emphasize that that’s as far as we know, but it says something that Cheney wasn’t willing to speak out publicly then. That seriously undermines a view of him as someone who cherishes his family.

      1. And yet, regarding his gay daughter, he chose political expediency when the President under whom he served called for a Constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. 

        Yes and no. Cheney didn’t resign in protest over the issue and didn’t become an especially vocal advocate of marriage equality, but he also never changed his public opposition to Bush’s proposed Amendment. He reiterated that stance in interviews even as W. was pushing forward with the idea.

        In any case I’m not one of the people who will likely remember Cheney as a loving family man when he finally kicks the bucket. But his daughter apparently is, so I see no point in trying to change her mind.

        1. “he also never changed his public opposition to Bush’s proposed Amendment. He reiterated that stance in interviews even as W. was pushing forward with the idea.”

          “I disagree” and letting it drop is not really sticking up for his daughter and her family.

          1. Can we all just agree that we can remember him as a kindly war criminal and a friendly facilitator of mass murder and suffering?  ;)

          2. I remember Cheney as being a fantastic Secretary of Defense under Bush 41 when we attacked Iraq the first time.

            The Dark Lord who emerged as the power behind the throne of Bush 43 is completely unfamiliar to me.

          3. Nor is it expressing blind ideological devotion to his President or party. When was the last time a President proposed a Constitutional Amendment and his VP publicly stated that he thought it was a bad idea?

            Again, I don’t want to create the impression that I’m a Cheney fan. Quite the opposite: I fall solidly in the “he’s a lying, warmongering, torture-promoting manipulator” camp. But I can see how his friends and family might have a different take, just as Jason has a different take on Breitbart.

    2. One person that comes to mind is Dick Cheney—those who know him personally describe him as a kind man who cherishes his friends and loved ones

      He also apparently has a monster cock.

  21. It’s very difficult (speaking for myself, anyway) to separate people into their separate parts. For example, I recently found out, after an argument, that someone I’m close to (or was) is a Tea Party supporter. I’m not quite sure how to relate to him now. He’s not a racist by any means, but why would he associate with a group that is?

    So this post brings up some interesting questions.

    As far as Breitbart goes, he played a part in getting Shirley Sherrod to resign. He played a part in the “undercover” ACORN videos. He played a part in the Anthony Weiner “sexting scandal.” And, having listened to him rant, his political views were nothing short of noxious.

    Personally, it would have been extremely hard for me to be friends with a guy like that.

    1. He not only played a part, he edited the raw video.  He knew the truth, and intentionally lied anyway.  

      1. More apropos to this thread, right after Ted Kennedy’s death,

        Washington Times columnist Andrew Breitbart labeled Kennedy “a special pile of human excrement,” along with epithets that cannot be printed in a family newspaper.


        Also, he

        post[ed] a series of Twitter messages in which he called Kennedy a “villain,” a “duplicitous bastard” and a “prick.”

        “I’m more than willing to go off decorum to ensure THIS MAN is not beatified,” Breitbart wrote. “Sorry, he destroyed lives. And he knew it.”


        May he be accorded the same respect he gave Sen. Kennedy.

  22. The author isn’t the first liberal who personally knew Breitbart to say he was a good friend. When these sentiments arise though, are they supposed to make people sympathize with a person who ruined people’s lives with false accusations to advance his own career? Furthermore, he advanced ideas that were hateful and destructive. When you do stuff like that, you reap what you sow. 

    I have conservative relatives as well that I love but disagree with their politics. But they aren’t actively engaging in the political sphere (beyond voting) at the level of a guy like Breitbart. That makes a difference.

    1. I don’t think all of us have to (or will) like Breitbart, and his public legacy is not a likable one.  But for someone like Breitbart to change and be a better human being, it is nearly essential for someone like Jason to be a friend to him.  There are people of apparently deep political convictions who have changed many of their views, examples being Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs, David Brock of Media Matters.  I think if you believe that people are irredeemable, we will be locked in internecine stuggle indefinitely. 

      That said, I don’t think it was Jason’s agenda to change Breitbart’s mind on his politics.  People develop honest relationships around shared aspects of humanity, even when fundamental parts are unshared.  Part of that humanity is missing them when they’re gone, and sometimes the need to share that loss with others. 

  23. I really appreciate this article. The only side most people knew of Brietbart was that horrific side, but it’s nice to be reminded that he was still a person. He had a mother who loved him and he carried feelings in his chest just like the rest of us. I’m sorry about your friend.

  24. I recently ended a 38 year friendship. If had been iffy for the past twenty or so years, but since the election of Obama, he had finally gone off the deep end. It seemed all he wanted to talk about was politics; it was on the constant forefront of his conversation. I simply did not want to any longer.
    For the past few years, our friendship was confined to social media, but after a scathing reply to a Jon Scalzi piece about being poor that I shared, it occurred to me that the time had come. So this guy, whom I remember as being picked on mercilessly in junior high, who was something of an outcast when he was young (something we both had in common), had shifted roles; he now no longer had an ounce of compassion for those less fortunate. 
    It was a tough decision, and one that makes me sad, but one I stick to. He was not the first friend I cut out of my life like this (another friend followed the same path, more than a decade earlier, and I let him go as well. Sadly, he has passed away).
    I admire, even envy, Jason; they were able to keep their views separate. But in my own experience, there seems to have been a breaking point that was eventually reached.

    1. “this guy, whom I remember as being picked on mercilessly in junior high”

      The bullied often are only angry at being bullied until they can find some power to abuse over another, be it social, employment-related, or political.

      1. Or as Alex Jones would put it, “NEEEERRRRRRDDS!!!”

        If you’ll excuse me, I have such an irony headache that I need to go lie down.

  25. Interesting about him being orphaned.  Likewise Karl Rove was abandoned by his flamboyantly gay father and his mother killed herself. 

    I have a friend with a monstrous mother and he is an angry racist – but he does lot of charity for minorities, despite being an angry racist.  He hasn’t made a career of being an angry racist, he doesn’t incite anger and racism in others, he doesn’t rely on other people to convince the world he’s not an angry racist, he just goes through life desperately unhappy, and he’s managed to do a fair amount of good things.

  26. I think there is a keen and important reminder here about how we imagine the solutions to our political disagreements.  We (and I mean that, myself definitely included) abominate the politics, up to an including what other people consider permissable tactics in pursuing them, but what is the solution?  “Will no one rid me of this troublesome priest?”

    As the tides of political influence drift from side to side, we must still live next to one another, unrepentent, angry, or else embrace a vision of our country that our very nation was formed to prevent.

  27. This article actually makes me think WORSE of Breibart.  It’s one thing to do the things he did if you are a remorseless sociopath who cares not whom you destroy on your way to the top.  Finding out that he was actually a nice guy places him squarely in the “banality of evil” category.

  28. What I took from the author, is that he knew Breibart and missed him as a friend, but that he in now way advocates for Breibart’s political views. That Breibart was a complex person. Neither saint, nor absolute demon.

    It seems so black and white, so stereotypically Breibartian, that the people he was so opposed to in life, in response to his death are so steeped in a visceral hatred that they can no longer appreciate the complexity of people. Andrew Breibart should be proud in how his reduction in death makes those who hate him, so much like how he could be in life.

    1. Holy False Equivalence Batman! How did I not see it earlier? Us scorning this man even after his death is SO MUCH LIKE his actions in life. Wait…wait…no.  He was an amoral hack whose biggest achievements were spreading lies and getting good public servants fired.

      I can’t say the public discourse has dramatically improved since his demise, for there are still too many like him continuing his efforts, but it’s certainly a start.

  29. Jason, thank you for being an adoptive parent.  The world is a better place for it, not just your family.  And I never thought I would admire anything Andrew Breitbart ever did, so I appreciate your revealing the side of his character that helped you through the process.

  30. He may have been kind to people in his Dunbar number group.  But he was a tool that ruined people for political gain.  It went beyond just trolling.

    If you were his friend why didn’t you call him to task for ruining people lives?

  31. In my opinion, this view of Breitbart makes him so much worse. This means he was capable of empathy, but chose to suppress it in order to be a public asshole.

  32. I think the idea that his public persona was just an act is a horrendous amount of denial and rationalization. 

    When he was ranting away, sweat pouring off him, laughing maniacally, and he looked like the reanimated corpse of drowned hobo – that was just an act?  Riiiiight.

  33. Judging by the vitriol here I’m guessing we should hate Jason’s daughter because Breitbart lives on through her, right? Screw you little girl!

    I bet if you take a look at yourself you will be able to come up with someone you like or admire who many people think is a bad person. I’d actually never heard of the guy until this post and if I knew of him during his life I probably wouldn’t have liked the guy either… but all Jason is doing here is giving us his view of the guy to better colour the memory of who he was.

    Considering Jason actually knew the guy I’d say he’s better positioned than most people here to make commentary on Breitbart’s personality.

    1.  And the multitudes of people whose lives have been ruined because of Breitbart, well fuck them. It all balances out because one time he helped a friend out with an adoption.

      Sorry, no. “He was kind to his friends” doesn’t change a bit of what Breitbart did with his influence. It doesn’t change the gibbering beast of a website he helped create that continues to savage the innocent people he targeted while he was alive. It doesn’t change the hateful ideas he spread that live on after his passing.

      Jason, he may have been your friend, but he was a remorseless enemy of many of us here and he was so through his own design, through his own choices. We and others felt none of the kindness you experienced, never would have felt it from him and never will feel it. Whatever scant good he did in his life lies in the ground with him while his vile legacy continues on. That’s where the rest of his time and energy was invested.

      1. You entirely miss the point.

        Jason is saying “he was an inexcusable douchebag in many regards but he did this too”. No one is pretending that being a nice guy to your friends makes up for being a total dick to others, but if I was dead I’d hope at least that people talked about what I actually did, rather than distilling me down into a few words.

        IMO the tea baggers are a sad group of retirees and loons and anyone associated with them cant be far off. History is not going to forget he was mostly a dick just because Jason wrote this post.

  34.  Sorry for the loss of your close friend.  My only quibble (and it’s yours to ignore of course) is the characterization of his work as “monstrous”.  People do things intentionally in my 44 years of experience and “monsters” do “monstrous things” or have “monstrous” goals.  Good guys and sweet personalities don’t.  I agreed with some of his goals and not others though the idea of a conservative MSM as espoused by many here is laughable at best.

    Anyway… sorry for your loss and continued sorrow.  I hear Mr. Breitbart’s mother passed away today as well so prayers for her survivors and friends as well.

  35.  This seems important to me. We can be awful people without making it our *work* to be awful. I’m reminded of some of my favorite artists who were fiends in life but nonetheless made their work into something useful.

    But then the question becomes… is it more important to be good at what we do or just be good to those we know?

  36. As someone from the UK I was more touched about what this says about friendship and people’s basic humanity than worried about a figure I’ve barely heard of, and even then just as a Conservative Blogger, and some of those are quite interesting and basically moral (even to those from a different political stand-point.)
    Googling him, I was a little concerned that he was so offensive about Ted Kennedy in the hours after his death. He showed even less respect than some of the liberals here as they comment on a post about someone’s grief for a friend.

  37. Jason, my deepest condolences on the loss of a friend. I have many dear friends who are simpatico until we get to religion or politics or whatever. That doesn’t make them any less dear. Sometimes, it makes them all the more special to me. Thank you for sharing your struggle with us. I hope it brings you some peace. 

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