You may know a man by his enemies. So goes the adage, which is the guiding principle behind Hating Breitbart. It fits. A summary of this intense documentary would be a man with a website who forever changed the narrative journalistic paradigm, upending the traditional press and changing the ground-rules of political journalism.
A year after the passing of media gadfly and truth messiah Andrew Breitbart, an exemplary documentary on the brilliant and passionate advocate who was Andrew Breitbart is a biting, often hilarious, usually provocative leave-behind for those who noted his Olympian fight against lies, government distortions and, especially, media skew the size of the Andes.
He died, we were told, of a massive heart attack at 43. What some might not know going in is that Andrew (like his sister, who has strong Mexican blood) was adopted, so his genetic predisposition to heart or related ills was not known. Intriguing factoid: His close friend confided to me that she thought he was related to George Washington's family, since there is a resemblance [of sorts]. She added that Breitbart had tossed the idea around with her, too, so perhaps it tickled his fancy that as an acknowledged, rambunctious avatar of STTP -- speaking truth to power -- his DNA may have hailed from the Father of the country he so boisterously, and coruscatingly defended to his last breath.
The filmmakers culled his impish wit in hotels, conferences, panels; in cars on the move, with his ever-evident laptop a constant companion as he prepared to speak before appreciative, adoring crowds; in CPAC and at Tea Party gatherings. I attended several of the events he appeared at, where newsies massed in plantations of mics and notebooks around him for impromptu pressers, more often than not attacking him with unwarranted, even bizarre, accusations -- desperate to take him down in their zeal to defend against his (what Gandhi called satyagraha) truth force.
We see Blazing torrents of righteousness and sardonicism. His take-no-survivors full-on fury at those who tried not to correct the lies he pointed out, but to smear and barrage him from getting to the public with his message, make for amazing viewing. He did not back down when people of note accused the Tea Party protesting fiscal irresponsibility and waste (sound like the current sequester LP saga, eh?) of (baseless) racism. He offered, as we recall, the impressive sum of first $10,000 to anyone who could document even a single call against various black congressmen and "war heroes"--then, when nothing came forward, $100,000 to bring any solid video evidence of anyone calling out the N-word, let alone "15 people calling it out 15 times." With the thousands of cell phones and electronics, cameras and TV crews in evidence, not a single instance of any name-calling or deliberate "spitting" could be adduced or brought forth: No one collected. The charges were fiction.
Same thing happened with Breitbart as he broke the news of Anthony Weiner's ...weiner being a public offering on Twitter and perhaps elsewhere. The first thing the press did, again, was to attack Breitbart; Anthony himself spent a good few days denying the evidence of his own underwear and his own privates on parade to college coeds and others of indeterminate but female non-wifehood. The scabrous attacks against him continued. When the truth emerged, and Weiner finally acknowledged his genitalia had 'unwittingly' made the news via his irrepressible obliviousness to how public the social media had become, not a soul of all the cackling hyena media apologized. The cheering section for the Administration failed to apologize for their insistent misstatements and distortions.
There are excerpts from TV interviews on all the major news channels, as well as those prominent for being unwatched but vociferous and consistently against the Fox News Channel. In most instances, tellingly, the razzing press indict themselves by their crude and unmodulated baying and nonsensical charges.
Breitbart's part in getting ACORN's flagrant abuses against ethical government and lawful policies is another major feature of this riveting doc. We see the two now-famous intrepid young journalists affecting prostitute and pimp as they ask office people in various cities how to cheat the government and get subsidized for bringing in underage South American girls for brothel use. The ACORN-hired and -trained workers colluding in practices both abhorrent and illegal are soon fired. Better, as we know, all of ACORN is exposed for the scam it has long been. Although they have changed their name and still operate under different guises, exposing this scurrilous tentacled scam was a major public service. Likewise, Congressional racism in the Shirley Sherrod case is also covered, with the usual suspects coming under scrutiny and eventual discrediting.
The focus is unswerving and blistering. Righteous indignation rises in the gorge of all viewers (or should). It is also the eponymous name of Breitbart's well-received and popular political scathe, Righteous Indignation. His impish humor is on display throughout, but when he is correctly exercised at media abuses, and they are legion, even today, he is unremitting in his salty censure. Not backing down from absurd charges, he relished his encounters with interviewers less prepared than he for a Brobdingnaggian fray and bruising back-and-forth.
Since no one knew his genetic parents, although he had had premonitions and signs of heart weakness, in the end, he could not, apparently, joust against the only combatant he could not shout down with mirth, brio and witty, palpable integrity. His like will not soon be matched.
In another century, in another country, he would have been an honored presence, a holy jester of counteraction. A year post-attack, Breitbart is sorely missed: He would have lots to merrily debunk.