“I love my job. I love fighting for what I believe in. I love having fun while doing it. I love reporting stories that the Complex refuses to report. I love fighting back, I love finding allies, and—famously—I enjoy making enemies.” — Andrew Breitbart
Online publisher and conservative media activist Andrew Breitbart died shortly after midnight at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Times has confirmed. He passed “unexpectedly from natural causes,” according to one of his websites, BigJournalism.com. He was 43.
Breitbart was born and raised in the upscale West side of Los Angeles. He often described his upbringing in the liberal enclave as having defined his desire to become a conservative media crusader.
Breitbart cut his teeth in the freewheeling world of online media as an editor of the Drudge Report, working in Los Angeles. He also worked with liberal blogger Arianna Huffington, playing an early role in the creation of the Huffington Post, which was founded in 2005.
A Matt Drudge protege, Breitbart’s websites — Breitbart.com, BigGovernment.com and BigJournalism.com — were a home for sting videos and other materials that embarrassed government employees or officials, including the deceptively edited video of a Department of Agriculture official being racist, James O’Keefe’s ACORN video and the sexually explicit photographs obtained from former Representative Anthony Weiner’s Twitter account.
Breitbart relished the role he cast for himself as an embattled conservative on the margins of the mainstream media he called “the Complex.” Even so, he gained fans as a frequent guest on television news shows.
A witness saw him collapse while walking near his home and said that he had no external injuries, Paramedics rushed Breitbart to Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at 12:19 a.m. on Thursday, said Ed Winter, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Department of Coroner. An autopsy is tentatively scheduled for Friday.
“It looks like a heart attack, but no one knows until an autopsy is done,” Breitbart’s father-in-law, actor Orson Bean, told The Times.
“He was walking near the house somewhere…. He was taken by paramedics to UCLA, and they couldn’t revive him,” Bean said. “We’re devastated. I loved him like a son.”
Breitbart was memorialized in a page at Breitbart.tv.
“We have lost a husband, a father, a son, a brother, a dear friend, a patriot and a happy warrior. Andrew lived boldly, so that we more timid souls would dare to live freely and fully, and fight for the fragile liberty he showed us how to love,” the memorial page said.
The author of Righteous Indignation is survived by his wife, Susannah Bean; four children; his parents; and a sister. The family has not announced memorial arrangements.
Matt Drudge, editor of The Drudge Report, made a rare personal statement on his website about Breitbart:
“In the first decade of The Drudge Report, Andrew Breitbart was a constant source of energy, passion and commitment. We shared a love of headlines, a love of the news, an excitement about what’s happening. I don’t think there was a single day during that time when we did not flash each other or laugh with each other, or challenge each other. I still see him in my mind’s eye in Venice Beach, the sunny day I met him. He was in his mid 20’s. It was all there. He had a wonderful, loving family and we all feel great sadness for them today.”
Arianna Huffington, the editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post Media Group, also paid tribute:
“I was asked many times this morning for my thoughts on what Andrew meant to the political world, but all I can think of at the moment is what Andrew meant to me as a friend, starting from when we worked together — his passion, his exuberance, his fearlessness. And above all, what I’m thinking of at the moment is his amazing wife Susie and their four beautiful young children. My love and thoughts are with them right now.”
UPDATE: Friday, March 2, 2012
It will probably take several weeks before the Los Angeles County coroner’s office determines an official cause of death for Andrew Breitbart,
A source familiar with the investigation told The Los Angeles Times today that although officials completed an autopsy earlier today, they are awaiting results from various tests that will take six to eight weeks to be returned from the lab. The source stressed that such waits occur in most cases in the coroner’s office.
The source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the case was still under investigation, said officials are working on the assumption that Breitbart died of natural causes.
Was He Murdered?
I think it’s possible. I don’t think there’s much that isn’t possible, obviously. But working backwards from there and into the realm of the practical I believe he was a likely target, and “walking near his home around midnight” sounds good for this as well. And in the end, I find it at least a little suspicious when any apparently healthy 43 year-old in good spirits suddenly collapses on the sidewalk near his home and promptly gives up the ghost. I feel that more than likely it was death by natural causes: an aneurysm, heart-attack, whatever. At this point the best any of us can offer up is conjecture. Because we don’t have all the facts on hand requisite for any definitive conclusion.
I do believe this, however: I believe we are going to see more and more hits carried out this way, as the technology becomes more widely available. It’s really the sweetest way to assassinate someone. Because the best place for an assassin to go scot-free isn’t in the courtroom by any means — it’s in the coroner’s office.
A ruling of “death by natural causes” at the coroner’s office, and the whole show’s over, then and there. No “death by homicide” ruling means the buck stops there — no suspects, no further investigation. The assassins go free, and long before any arrests and subsequent court trials, not to mention probable long-term imprisonment and even execution.
There’s absolutely no doubt in my mind whatsoever that the technology to carry out a hit of this nature exists., and has for some time. We’re probably looking at the administration of a fast-acting lethal toxin here. Not unlike the curare used by the aboriginal tribes of South America to coat the tips of the lethal darts they deliver from their blowguns. And they’ve been doing that for thousands of years.
Special thanks to the New York Observer, located at: http://www.observer.com