Meet the Breitbarts
Andrew Breitbart created a conservative media machine with a take-no-prisoners style. Can it survive without him?
Can Andrew Breitbart's media empire survive without him?
Photograph by Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images.
After the funeral, on March 6, Andrew Breitbart’s successors drove back to the office. Breitbart.com world headquarters sits in an unincorporated part of Los Angeles. (It’s not really part of any city. This is a selling point.) Ten of the website’s editors filed out to the alley. They arranged themselves side by side in their best Reservoir Dogs poses. Click. Dana Loesch, the Tea Partier, CNN contributor, and editor of Breitbart’s Big Journalism vertical, stood in the middle of the frame. She put the picture up on Instagram. The caption was a Twitter hashtag: #war.
“We took that picture to say, ‘Hey! We’re still here,’ ” said Mike Flynn, the editor of Breitbart’s Big Government vertical, when I talked to him this week. “We’re going to carry out Andrew’s vision.”
Left side of the photo: Joel Pollak, Breitbart.com’s editor in chief, who slowly took over that role after coming in as a legal counsel. Right side: Ben Shapiro, a conservative columnist who’d become the site’s editor at large. Larry Solov, Breitbart’s best friend and business partner, thought the pairing was hilarious. “You’re looking at our two Orthodox Jewish, Harvard Law-grad bookends!” he said when I showed him the photo.
The bookends were not famous people. They were soft-spoken; Breitbart really, really wasn’t. But the day after the photo was taken, they were on Fox News, promoting a scoop—a 1990 video of Harvard Law student Barack Obama embracing critical race theory pioneer Derrick Bell—that Breitbart had been readying before his death.
Every time they upload a story or tweet, Breitbart.com’s editors are answering a question: How do you keep this stuff going without your star? Can you keep getting on CNN and Fox and the Drudge Report? Does your inbox keep filling up with tips and video scoops? How do you replace Andrew Breitbart?
You really don’t. Breitbart’s death was commemorated by memorials in L.A., New York, and—twice—in D.C. The admiring bloggers who put on the first D.C. memorial went on to start the Breitbart Scholarship. Ideally, board members like James O’Keefe will use it to dole out cash for enterprising student journalists.
The second D.C. memorial, which I attended last night, was held at the Newseum in a theater a few steps away from a giant slab of the Berlin Wall. Four members of Congress gave speeches paying tribute.
“I don’t know anyone who can, with clarity, articulate the left and what they’ve done over the last 100 years,” said Rep. Steve King, an Iowa Republican, after the memorial. “I didn’t think I was the only one who understood it, but when I read his book, I realized—wow, he really understood it. Marcuse, the Frankfurt School, all of that.”
The tribute ended with a short video tribute by the makers of the upcoming documentary Hating Breitbart. The #war hashtag started with their original trailer. It ends with Breitbart closing a long rant with, “Fuck you,” staring at the camera for a few seconds, then saying, “War” like he was trying to spook somebody out of the hiccups.
“We didn’t even push that hashtag,” said Andrew Marcus, the director of the documentary. He rattled off some of the other Breitbart memes that have spread since the Web pioneer died. “IAmBreitbart, BreitbartIsHere, the posters—that’s all organic. Nobody’s planning that.”
David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or tweet at him @daveweigel.