Meet the Breitbart Truthers

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
March 2 2012 11:05 AM

Meet the Breitbart Truthers

I scoffed yesterday when BuzzFeed and other sites started publishing conspiracy theories about Andrew Breitbart's death. Breaking news: Anonymous Internet commenters are kooks and jerks. (Except for my commenters. You guys are aces.) The arrival of Alex Jones onto the "was Breitbart assassinated?" beat is... well, not unpredictable, but a lot more interesting.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

Advertisement

Most Breitbart trutherism springs from one source -- Breitbart's speech at CPAC last month, in which he claimed ownership of anti-Obama dynamite. "We've got videos," said Breitbart. "This election, we're going to vet him -- from his college days." The theory, summed up neatly by video titles like "ILLUMINATI ASSASSINATION?," is that the Obama regime took out a critic before he could unleash damaging material.

Occam's razor: This is moronic. Breitbart's operation has expanded into quite the full-service media enterprise, with a large team of journalists and editors grabbing exclusive videos. Breitbart did not have a golden key to a vault that only he could access. Whatever the Bigs had, it's going to come out. Just as moronic, sadly, is the idea that a 43-year-old man with an insane stress level might not die of natural causes. It's horrible. It happens. Breitbart was only four months younger than Anthony Shadid, the foreign correspondent who died last month of an asthma attack.

To rant and theorize, with no evidence, about a plot against Breitbart is to do him a great disservice. Two years ago, at the Tea Party Convention in Nashville, I was quizzing Joe Farah about the birther comments he made from the stage when Farah spotted Breitbart and ran to him for help. Breitbart pulverized him.

“Prove it!" [said Breitbart]
“Prove what?” [said Farah]
“Prove your case.”
“I should prove, what, a birth certificate that may or may not exist?” Farah had gotten irritated. “That’s ridiculous. You don’t even understand the fundamental tenets of what journalism is about, Andrew. It’s not about proving things. It’s about asking questions and seeking truth.”
Breitbart tensed up after that insult. “Right.”
“I know you’re not a journalist, so that’s fine. But don’t diminish people who’ve been doing this for 35 years.”
“So you’re going to go on record saying that I’m not a journalist?”
“Are you? I’ve never heard you claim to be. Are you?”
“I’ll let it be answered by you.”
“Well, I knew Drudge didn’t consider himself a journalist, so I assumed that you were. … I don’t know, I’m not trying to insult you.”
“You did.”

You can apply the same lesson -- prove your case -- to what happened in Los Angeles yesterday morning.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.