No Cant or Sanctimony on Andrew Breitbart

by A. Jay Adler on March 1, 2012
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Consider that Andrew Breitbart was a contemporary new media turn on Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin. Imagine either of those two dying not in the faded aftermath of their celebrity and achievements, as they were, but at the height of their notoriety. That said, I will be very surprised to read a fairer, wiser consideration of how to respond to Andrew Breitbart’s death, or any death like it, than this from David Frum.

In time, Andrew Breitbart might have aged into greater self-control and a higher concept of public service. Premature death deprived him of the chance at redemption often sought and sometimes found by people who have done wrong in their lives and work.

And this is where it becomes difficult to honor the Roman injunction to speak no ill of the dead. It’s difficult for me to assess Breitbart’s impact upon American media and American politics as anything other than poisonous. When one of the leading media figures of the day achieves his success by his giddy disdain for truth and fairness—when one of our leading political figures offers to his admirers a politics inflamed by rage and devoid of ideas—how to withhold a profoundly negative judgment on his life and career?

Especially when that career was so representative of his times?

We live in a time of political and media demagoguery unparalleled since the 19th century. Many of our most important public figures have gained their influence and power by inciting and exploiting the ugliest of passions—by manipulating fears and prejudices—by serving up falsehoods as reported truth. In time these figures will one by one die. What are we to say of this cohort, this group, this generation? That their mothers loved them? That their families are bereaved? That their fans admired them and their employees treated generously by them? Public figures are inescapably judged by their public actions. When those public actions are poisonous, the obituary cannot be pleasant reading.

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charlie k March 1, 2012 at 1:42 pm

You mean you dont feel he was a courageous warrior for truth?

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