America lost a conservative icon and national media innovator with the untimely passing today of Andrew Breitbart, who died of natural causes at age 43. He was my friend, and all who love liberty will miss him.
Andrew was one of the foremost media innovators in American history. He helped create the Huffington Post before it went far-left, was one of the principal contributors that elevated the Drudge Report to its worldwide global status, and then created his own media empire of Breitbart.com, including the websites BigGovernment.com, BigJournalism.com, BigPeace.com, and BigHollywood.com.
He tirelessly worked to realize his vision of using modern technology to make media so accessible that conservatives could freely get their ideas and viewpoint to the general public as easily as the mainstream establishment does through television and national newspapers. In just a few years, he revolutionized the media culture.
Candles that burn twice as bright sometimes only burn half as long. Andrew worked day and night, both full-time as an entrepreneur, and also as a devoted family man.
He slept little so that he could give his wife and children the time and love they deserved, but then also pursue a grueling schedule of speaking events, writing, and building his media business to ever-greater impact.
While we agreed on most things, we disagreed on a couple. He was Jewish with some social libertarian beliefs; I’m Christian and a social conservative. But in those rare instances where we differed, he relished the free, fair, and unfettered exchange of different ideas not only with civility, but also with profound respect and even good humor.
He loved to debate and discuss, to think, to inform, and to share. His vision was that the media should embody this ideal, and his mission was to make it a reality and destroy an institutional establishment that denied people such a forum.
He was amazingly easy to talk to. If you hadn’t spoken in a couple months, he would pick up the conversation right where you left off, always eager to push forward with trusted friends to advance liberty.
My friend Andrew’s death reminds us that we are all mortal. Two centuries ago, it’s striking how often one person would write to another in personal correspondence something like, “If I live, I’d like to become a businessman,” or “If God spares me a few years, I’d like to see the ocean.”
People were keenly aware of their own mortality. They took to heart the words of James 4:14−15: “You do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’”
Andrew’s untimely passing could not drive this point home more fully. Just two weeks ago, I had lunch with him near his Los Angeles office, talking about the future, both in 2012 and beyond. My schedule was tight, but now I’ll always be grateful for that last time we spent together.
With modern medicine we take life for granted, at least until people are late in life. We too easily forget that only God knows how many days we have in this brief life.
Andrew had so many plans to advance liberty and impact society. Although his websites already reach 20 million people every day, he was busy taking them to the next level. He pursued an information revolution.
He accomplished so much, but the tragedy of his death is compounded by the extraordinary things he would have accomplished in coming years. Had he lived to a ripe old age, we would be looking back at decades of his making news and shaking the establishment to its foundation.
Our prayers go out to all the members of the Breitbart family, from his wonderful wife Susie and four young children, to his coworkers at Breitbart.com who are every bit a family. May God bless and comfort them. They have all lost a husband and father, a captain and champion.
And those of us who knew him have lost a wonderful friend and an inspiring, happy warrior. We will never forget him, and we honor his legacy.
Examiner legal contributor Ken Klukowski was among the first contributors to Andrew Breitbart’s groundbreaking websites.