Andrew Breitbart, an outspoken conservative activist and vociferous critic of Hollywood and the media who spawned a new generation of right-wing bloggers and several notorious political scandals, died Thursday of natural causes in Los Angeles. He was 43.
His trio of websites, BigHollywood.com, BigJournalism.com and BigGovernment.com, announced that Breitbart died shortly after midnight Thursday. He was walking near his house in the Brentwood neighborhood when he collapsed, actor Orson Bean, his father-in-law, told AP.
Breitbart had suffered heart problems a year earlier.
“We have lost a husband, a father, a son, a brother, a dear friend, a patriot and a happy warrior,” the sites said amid an outpouring of sympathy from the right, including the Republican presidential field.
Rick Santorum called Breitbart a powerful force after hearing of his death from reporters. Mitt Romney said he was deeply saddened. Newt Gingrich tweeted: “Andrew Breitbart was the most innovative pioneer in conservative activist social media in America.” Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s tweet read, “RIP O Mighty Warrior!”
Breitbart, an early acolyte of Matt Drudge, was the first to publish in 2011 a salacious photo of Congressman Anthony Weiner allegedly sent to a woman online. Weiner denied it but more pictures emerged, the scandal widened, and he ultimately stepped down.
He also forced the resignation of Dept. of Agriculture official Shirley Sherrod over select comments he posted that were taken from a much longer speech. President Obama offered Sherrod her job back but she declined.
In 2009, he was an advocate for conservative activist James O’Keefe, who created frenzy around community group Acorn. Hidden-camera videos seemed to show O’Keefe in outlandish pimp garb and fellow activist Hannah Giles dressed as a prostitute getting advice from an Acorn rep about how to skirt taxes and get away with child prostitution. Congress later voted to defund Acorn.
Hollywood was also in his cross hairs. He co-wrote the book “Hollywood, Interrupted: Insanity Chic in Babylon.”
The top story on BigHollywood on Thursday, besides Breitbart’s passing, was “Game Change: Meet the Leftists Who Turned HBO Into a Pro-Obama SuperPAC Part 2.”
Breitbart is survived by his wife Susannah, daughter of actor Bean, and four children.