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Remembering Andrew Breitbart: A controversial, if happy, warrior

Andrew Breitbart, conservative commentator, passed away this morning at the age of 43.
Andrew Breitbart, conservative commentator, passed away this morning at the age of 43.
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Conservative commentator and blogger Andrew Breitbart has died of natural causes. He was the founder of political websites, Big Hollywood, Big Government, Big Journalism, and Big Peace. He was 43.

New York Times media writer Brian Stelter described him as serious about conservative viewpoints, but not without a good sense of humor.

"'A happy warrior' is the term being used more often. He was vilified by liberals ... but he was revered by a lot of conservatives for being able to go right at his enemies,” Stelter recalled, “for being blunt and severe sometimes, but yet at the same time, smiling, having fun doing it. Being in on the joke sometimes."

According to Stelter, Breitbart may be best remembered for being a "highly effective messenger." His abrasive presence on Twitter, openness to interview requests (including liberal publications) and ability to make viral videos helped "amplify a message to achieve his goals," Stelter said.

Some of Breitbart's biggest scoops led to the resignations of former Rep. Anthony Weiner and former Agriculture Department official Shirley Sherrod. He also published edited and controversial videos depicting ACORN employees by James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles.

In the case of Sherrod, Stelter said the video may have hurt Breitbart's journalist reputation.

"The Shirley Sherrod case did damage reputation among some people and did lead to this notion that he was knowingly or unknowingly publishing a misleading video," Stelter said. "But at the same time, the fact that the video became so significant ... speaks to the idea that he really knew how to use the online medium very well."

The news of his death broke on one of his websites on Thursday morning. Breitbart is survived by his wife and four children.


Brian Stelter, media writer for the New York Times, author of the Media Decoder blog Media Decoder.