I smiled as I passed him in the hallway. Surrounded, as always, by a group of people listening intently as he spoke animatedly in his uniquely captivating way. He had stopped by the blogger room earlier in the day to brief us on the latest concerning Pigford. I stopped short a few feet past him and paused to consider taking a picture with him. I was sure I’d see him around again, he was everywhere, but this seemed a rare opportunity to catch him with only a few people in the crowd. So I turned around and waited my turn to briefly meet the man with which so many were enamored. As I stood nearby, I chatted with his friend, Larry Solov, who had taken a seat. I imagined it must be interesting to be among his friends, always having to graciously wait in the wings while excitement bubbled around him. “He seems to enjoy talking,” I commented to Solov. He responded with something along the lines of, “He’d talk to the wall if he thought it would listen.” That was him, with so much to say and not enough time to say it. After I thanked him for his tireless work and Solov took our picture, that was the last time I ever saw him. It was his last CPAC.
Today marks one year since Andrew Breitbart passed from our presence. Having only a moment in time with him, I couldn’t possibly convey what made him such an amazing man. I am fortunate, though, to know people who knew him best and are kind enough to lend their words as we pay tribute to him today.
Dana Loesch met Andrew in the spring of 2009 when she traveled to Quincy, Illinois to speak, along with him, at a large tea party rally. “We officially met at the reception the night before the event where we discussed our mutual hatred of mainstream media’s practices,” Loesch said. “We had a common lack of admiration for the propaganda we viewed as the biggest obstacle to the conservative movement. I talked to him almost every day for the next several years after that.” I asked Dana to discuss life with Breitbart then and how things have changed in the year that he has been gone.
Simply put, what were the most important effects Andrew had on your life and that of the movement?
Dana: The effect on my life was that I became more fearless and relentless in pursuing the truth. Andrew was my shade. He would walk through the fires of hell holding gas cans for you. He didn’t believe in needlessly sacrificing our own to satisfy the left. He never left anyone behind. He didn’t sweat the small stuff. He was my friend and I miss him.
As far as his effect on the movement, he understood the power behind being a kingmaker and promoting anyone and everyone that advanced our cause. He was selfless in this. He gave out his number freely and shared his rolodex with everyone. He knew how to beat the media and would explain how to anyone who would listen. There are stories that would have never made it to light without Andrew Breitbart. I was there when Kenneth Gladney was beaten and the media would have buried that story without Andrew pushing it to the forefront. ACORN, Pigford, congressional insider knowledge, all of these stories and more would have been underreported, if reported on at all. He made new media about more than just rewriting AP stories on blogs. He pushed many in new media to be the investigative journalists we need: picking up the phone, the camera, going to the subject, catching it on tape, chasing the story. The press is supposed to be adversarial, unpopular with government. It’s our job. He understood that and reminded everyone that the truth isn’t always popular but it is necessary.
What have we lost since his departure, what do we need to work on getting back?
Dana: Fellowship and the recognition that we all agree around 80% of the time. After we get that 80% of what we want we can raise hell with each other over the 20%.
What would you like to see going forward that would best honor such an important figure in our movement?
Dana: The reformation of the media and the realization by the populace that they deserve better than this. Liberty is cool.
Is there anything else you want to share that you feel is important to get out there?
Dana: It was impossible to dislike Andrew. The only people I know who didn’t like him never got the opportunity to meet him. His happiness at his work was infectious.
I’m so thankful to Dana for sharing her insights and helping us, perhaps, to know where to go from here. Breitbart was a true leader, he united so many and shone so brightly; yet he made time for everyone and changed the lives of countless people. In his absence, no leader has stepped up to lead like he did. However, through his legacy he will continue to lead through all of those dedicated to honoring his vision.
* Another close friend of Andrew’s, Brandon Darby, has also written a moving tribute to him that you can read here.
(Video created by Ben Howe and the Franklin Center last year to honor the life of Andrew Breitbart.)