Yesterday night, on my way home from school, like a dutiful son, I called my mother to check up on things. “Oh, by the way,” I said, “I’ve been exchanging tweets with Andrew Breitbart.”
“Who is Andrew Breitbart?”
“You remember him. He’s the guy who upstaged the Anthony Weiner press conference,” I said. “He broke that story, actually.”
“Oh, of course. But why is he talking to you?” Good question.
“Well,” I explained, “I wrote something on Twitter about his voice sounding like a love child between Owen Wilson and Dr. Evil, and he posted it on his Twitter. I think he thought it was funny. It was good-natured.”
“Just make sure it stays good-natured,” she said.
I don’t know if Breitbart actually thought my one-off joke was really funny. As I now know, he relished in retweeting criticisms of him. Today, one of my close friends told me that Breitbart had also retweeted two of his comments, neither of which are suitable for publication here. But regardless, I knew I was on his radar, and I had a couple of questions I wanted to ask him about his protege James O’Keefe. Earlier in the night, David Shuster of CurrentTV mistakenly said that O’Keefe was a convicted felon, a statement he corrected on Twitter.
To me, it was a strange analogy, almost an admission of sorts that O’Keefe, who Breitbart had once touted as the future of journalism (in so many words), was like a comedian posing as a journalist.
So, last night, I posed a question to him, and he responded almost immediately, in rapid-fire:
The crazy, incredible thing about the Internet and social media is the way in which it democratizes the free and open exchange of ideas. Like him or loathe him, Andrew Breitbart understood this; he embraced it, as unwieldy as he sometimes was. I don’t believe his analogy was apt or helpful to James O’Keefe, and I imagine that he understood this as well, which is likely why he spent a fair amount of time yesterday clarifying and expounding on it. But, at the very least, it was provocative, which was one of Breitbart’s signature traits.
As it turns out, his last “public” battle was with me, and his last public statement was to me. He apologized for calling me a “putz,” sort of. In fairness to him, he conditionally apologized, provided I hadn’t been “intentionally disingenuous” with him when I called his attention to an article in The Atlantic that said O’Keefe had pled guilty to a misdemeanor “with the intent to commit a felony.” And I wasn’t being intentionally disingenuous; The Atlantic had apparently misreported the story.
I immediately accepted his apology, and despite what The Daily Beast reported, I am certain he received my acceptance. Earlier in the night, I told him, “For what it’s worth, I begrudgingly respect that you’ve responded (to me).” I did. I thought it was cool.
This afternoon, I told ABC News that I wear Andrew Breitbart’s “putz” insult as a “badge of honor.” I wasn’t being facetious or flippant.
Less than an hour after he wrote me back, Andrew Breitbart died of a heart attack. He was only 43 years old– way, way too young.
When the news broke, only seven hours after he had written me back, my phone lit up. Today, I’ve been flooded with media requests, tweets, and Facebook comments, and on a personal level, it has been somewhat surreal. I’d never met Andrew Breitbart; I was just the last person mentioned in an epic opus of tweets (and incidentally, that does not make me “lucky,” as some of his fans have suggested).
I’m well-aware of what Andrew Breitbart gleefully said immediately after Ted Kennedy died. It wasn’t right; it was intended to hurt people who were grieving.
But during the last twelve hours, I’ve received messages from people all over the country congratulating me for “killing” Andrew Breitbart. It sickens me. It’s poisonous, vapid, hypocritical, dehumanizing hyperbole, and it’s not funny at all. None of it is. He was 43-years-old. He leaves behind a wife and four small children. I know a thing or two about this; my father died when he was only 41, leaving behind three teenagers.
I’ve also received messages from people all over the country alleging that Andrew Breitbart’s death was caused by liberals, even some suggesting the President himself ordered an assassination. Again, this is poisonous, vapid, hypocritical, dehumanizing hyperbole.
My heart aches for Andrew Breitbart’s family. But, for them, if there is some solace to be found, maybe it is this: That up until the hour before he passed, he was engaging, prodding, criticizing, and exchanging ideas and banter about the things in which he believed, with people, like me, who were more than happy to be in a debate with him. (And who still will hold fast to their own beliefs).
I hate to be a footnote, but I am proud to be called a “putz” by one of Tulane’s most famous graduates. Sometimes, an insult can be an honor.
I fully admit to being one of those said on Twitter that you “killed Breitbart”, but it was more being flippant and my extremely dry sense of humour than actual vitriol (nor was I in any way being literal). Sure, like you, I disagreed with pretty much all of his politics and his approach to “journalism”, but I wish no one any harm or disgrace. He had a family. He had friends on both sides of the political spectrum. As someone who’s facing some pretty slim odds on my own survival at this point, the irony in my statement wasn’t lost on me. I think you’ve handled all of this well and with aplomb, much better than I did when I first found out.
Good thing you’re already famous, because I knew you wouldn’t want this to be your 15 minutes of fame. Really sorry for his kids, but his deceitful politics, lifestyle and public-figure career were choices he made. All I am saying is the lesson is don’t make a career out of being a _lying_ asshole, because you have to admit it is an undeniable part of his legacy.
Lamar, thanks for sharing the story behind the story. And your “humaness” shines through in your kind comments about someone who was 180 degrees from your perspective. I appreciate your personal touch to this story.
What are the chances that Rising Tide will now hand out the Breitbart “Putz” award to the most notable political NOLA Twitterer?
Lamar, as a lefty myself, I thought it was appropriate that Breitbart was arguing with a “lefty” (not sure if you label yourself that way) right up to the end of his life! Breitbart also retweeted one of my tweets to him during the time he was supporting our troops who pissed on the Taliban corpses, but how fun it would have been if it that retweet had been an “all out tweet war” with him. I would have loved it! He would have too. LOL
Take care and don’t ever change! 😀
I give you props for having the patience to actually try and converse with Breitbart. I still can’t believe that the man who killed Acorn is dead. Like others have said its a little sad that he didn’t live long enough to change his mind.
Interesting! When I clicked to come over to your blog Lamar today….it came up as an “untrusted site”. Man, oh man, the wingnuts never stop with their ruthlessness!
Thanks for this Lamar. You deserved to be the last tweet–you handled this with class and style.
I was a Breitbart supporter and friend — and therefore totally disagree with you ideologically — but you handled this situation with utter class. Your mom should be proud to have raised such a son.