I suspect many of Andrew Breitbart’s friends thinking today about how they’ll remember Andrew will picture him charging through the lobby of a hotel followed by opponents hoping to trip him up, supporters cheering on the confrontation, or journalists taking it all in. Some will recall seeing him give a speech to hundreds of conservative activists as he did in Michigan last Saturday. Many will remember having drinks or dinner or coffee with Andrew and a large group of people crowded around a tiny bar table or spilling out awkwardly into the aisles of a restaurant.
This is who he was and what he did. His influence on journalism is indisputable. He was the silent partner in the Drudge Report for a decade. He helped start the Huffington Post. He created Big Government and the associated “Big” websites. He advised the founders of the Daily Caller. He was a pioneer of the kind of “combat journalism” practiced by the new Washington Free Beacon.
Andrew didn’t always get it right. None of us does. We had differences about a number of things, including the wisdom and utility of engaging political opponents willing to just make stuff up. Andrew thrived on confrontations and sought them out. He believed that someone had to fight the distortions and misrepresentations of the left, and that it was important to do it without the conventional politeness of those who use words like “distortions” and “misrepresentations” instead of “lies.” He went after his opponents aggressively and made enemies. But he made just as many friends, including many who disagreed with him vehemently.