ndrew Breitbart might have been the most controversial journalist and political commentator of this century. This was a role he embraced, even saying in an interview, “I enjoy making enemies.”
And make enemies he did. The number of liberal Americans who would consider themselves fans of Breitbart likely could be counted on two hands.
But despite these “enemies,” Breitbart’s recent death at the young age of 43 has not only taught all Americans an important lesson about dedication, assertiveness and moral courage, but the commendation he received from news media on both sides of the political spectrum after his passing illustrates what a special man Breitbart was.
It is likely that many university students outside of the Schieffer School of Journalism and the political science department have never heard of Breitbart. In short, he was a conservative political commentator, blogger and journalist who never shied away from letting his opinions be known – even if that meant causing a stir with the leftist news media, or putting new targets on his back by exposing fraudulent organizations.
Not only did Breitbart work alongside Matt Drudge on the popular news site the Drudge Report, he also helped Arianna Huffington launch her career with The Huffington Post.
He was responsible for revealing the 2009 ACORN scandal by posting a video on his website of an ACORN employee candidly discussing intents of prostitution and trafficking with an undercover journalist. He started many of his own websites, sharing with the public the headlines and stories he believed were vital to core American values.
He was the guy who enjoyed retweeting his opponents’ insults just to get a rise out of them.
Though Breitbart’s political style made him a polarizing figure, the allies and friends he made during his career seem to have outnumbered his adversaries significantly. The death of a polarizing figure is often as controversial as his or her life was – one group of people is mourning, while another group is quietly celebrating the demise of someone who represented everything they believed to be wrong with the world.
However such is not the case with Breitbart. It has only been a few days since his death was announced, and not only are his conservative colleagues, friends and fans sharing memories and stories that exemplify his admirable character and authenticity, but the liberals that he worked with also have come forward to express their utmost respect for Breitbart and his career.
Not everyone who has come forward to celebrate Breitbart’s life agreed with his beliefs or with his way of expressing these beliefs, but all admired his fearlessness and his conviction.
CNN contributor Piers Morgan acknowledged in an interview that he did not believe it was conventional journalism to make people angry as often as Breitbart did. But Morgan also praised Breitbart saying “The thing I liked about him was his passion…I loved his passion. I think he was a lot more intelligent than people give him credit for … A lot of people today will realize that life will be a little bit duller without Andrew Breitbart.”
Breitbart made a huge impact on journalism and on blogging. He knew what he believed in, and he never had any doubt in expressing those beliefs.
And putting politics aside, there is something we can all learn from his passing.
We only get one chance at life, and as Breitbart’s death shows, too often life is cut short. To his friends and colleagues he seemed healthy, happy and excited for the upcoming election season. But life has no certainties, and now a husband, father of four young children and admired leader in the conservative movement has left this life to begin another.
There are people in this world who will back down from fighting for their beliefs when the battle gets too tough. And then there are those who take after Breitbart – a fighter who had no problem waging through the fire, proudly standing up for his opinions no matter how difficult things became.
Learn from Breitbart’s death: Life is too short not to have enemies.
Booey Mittelstadt is a freshman film-television-digital media and political science double major from Chattanooga, Tenn.