Andew Breitbart of course marched to his own drummer. And he isn’t someone with whom I ever expected to be “friends.” I never wanted to write one of those stories where I relay my experiences about someone who suddenly dies. But here I am.
“Sorry you’re under fire,” Breitbart wrote me last week after I was attacked online for writing a short piece about some female journos’ choice in avatars. No one knew better than him what it felt like to endure a public stoning and the one I went through was ant-sized compared to what he experienced daily. It meant a lot to get his note. “I’ve only half thought thru how I handle it. It takes a huge toll. Its gotten to be performance art for me. Don’t make a habit of it.”
Months ago I fought with Andrew over Twitter over — well, it doesn’t matter over what right now, does it? It wasn’t a horrible fight. Just garden variety online arguing that eventually deescalated and moved into more playful online banter. At the time I told him I respected his success even if I didn’t agree with his opinion on the matter — and I meant it. You don’t have to agree with everything a person says or does to respect and admire their success or be open to their ideas.
I met Andrew during CPAC. Much to my surprise I was invited to a book party at “The Embassy” which is Breitbart’s “office” here in Washington on Capitol Hill. It’s a masculine townhouse where conservatives have gathered for parties, a haven of sorts. Andrew had no idea I would be attending the party and I’m not convinced he would have allowed it had he known. We had never met face to face and I was nervous. Would he throw me out, cause a scene? I’d heard he had a penchant for causing scenes.
In the kitchen, he greeted me (still not knowing who I was), smiled warmly and welcomed me to his home. Oh no, I cringed to myself. This could get ugly when he finds out. Shortly thereafter, I began interviewing the book author. About 15 minutes into it Andrew peered his head into the parlor, pointed at me and said, “It’s YOU!” He seemed amused. Soon he came in, sat down and we chatted for more than two hours. He was nothing I expected him to be. He had me in stitches laughing for hours as he shared stories about his life, himself, and his feelings about the media.
I wrote a lengthy profile on him and soon the hate mail poured in from those who felt I shouldn’t be talking to him, much less writing about him. They called him “Breitbarf.” Even today, I received this: “Britebarf was a vile, odious piece of crap. Good riddance.” My feeling was and still is fuck them.
Once he returned to Los Angeles, our friendship continued. Last week he asked me to be the trusted “broker” in a fight he was having with Current TV’s David Shuster. I obliged and for a day tried to get Breitbart and Shuster to agree on a bet. If Shuster lost, which Andrew seemed to know he would considering information he had, he wanted Shuster to host a seminar for “aspiring maggots” on why he was fired from both Fox News and MSNBC. He phoned early in the morning and hilariously went off on Shuster. He called me mid-morning, again to unload more. I tried hard to convince him to go on a radio show with Shuster — he declined, but instead invited Shuster on the Dennis Miller show last Thursday as he was filling in. Shuster refused. Again, I implored Andrew to go on with Shuster, who was subbing for Bill Press. I ran an item on it, complete with side-by-side pictures of him and Shuster. Andrew wrote me rather quickly, saying, “Worst most overused angry Andrew pic ever.” Ultimately I couldn’t get the pair to agree on anything, but it was fun as hell trying.
Another shock came that morning when Andrew direct messaged me and wrote, “Call in yourself. Now!” So I went on the Dennis Miller radio show and he asked me to discuss the demonized perception of him in Washington. We chatted about how interesting it was to meet one another in person after arguing online, how contentious and surreal the online world can be, and how everything is different when you meet someone in person.
An excerpt from the show: “We’ve been at war over a lot over the last couple of months and then we got to meet each other in DC and started to realize that when you put a face with these battles, sometimes those battles get alleviated. I see how the left wants to frame me as angry. But, when I’m in a crowded hotel and people point at me and start screaming ‘Racist! Racist! Racist!’ And they think that I’m crazy because I respond in kind. I’m 99% a lighthearted person, but that 1%, I will fight back.”
During the recent online uprising against me, Andrew wrote and offered to review the story and give me his thoughts. And this is what he had to say:
“I see why they are pissed! But I’m not offended in the slightest. They are not inappropriate to me, but they do enter that ‘come hither’ avatar look. Given our past back and forth on Michelle Fields… think about this: you now have a burden, ironically, the ‘sexist’ template. After Sherrod and Acorn, but 2 of countless stories we’ve done… we became bogged down on issue of ‘race’. I’d literally pray that tips coming in be of Caucasian subjects. One time we had to pass on to competitor a great pictorial of John Conyers reading Playboy while flying coach from D.C. to Detroit. Funny pic. Had to pass. Didn’t want to walk into a race trap that Media Matters would happily play up. Avoid these types of stories for a while.”
I was very much looking forward to my newfound friendship with Andrew. Even in his last days, he was a source of comfort to me and I won’t forget it. In his honor, I am using the least angry picture of Andrew I could find.