Note: This is part 1 in a series on what happened to the Breitbart name and legacy after Andrew Breitbart’s death.
Around 2007, I wasn’t a big consumer of conservative media. I was working a “real” job and didn’t have time to listen to Rush Limbaugh. I was also less inclined to read conservative websites in the waning days of the Bush Administration, especially since the right decided to eat their own and start complaining about Bush.
I usually watched some Fox News in the morning, but was up at 2am and saw something completely different. It was called Red Eye. FNC had decided to give a (really) late night show to former magazine editor Greg Gutfeld, a writer named Bill Schulz he dragged along through his career and Andy Levy, a commenter at Gutfeld’s website whose goal in life seemed to be fact checking what everyone else says.
Red Eye was how I was introduced to Andrew Breitbart. Breitbart started as a sort of unpaid gopher for Matt Drudge’s website “The Drudge Report” around the time the Monica Lewinsky story broke. Drudge introduced him to a fiercely right-wing 1990’s era Arianna Huffington. Breitbart worked on the Huffington Post in the days it was still bipartisan, and brought on magazine editor Greg Gutfeld as a contributor.
Breitbart appeared on Red Eye a number of times while his breitbart.com and breitbart.tv sites were starting to take off. By 2008, I was engaged in politics again and watched the missteps the McCain campaign seemed to make with Sarah Palin and McCain himself. Somehow an incompetent moron became president.
When the Tea Party came into being, Breitbart was a big booster to the movement. So was Palin. The bare minimum of filibuster-capable Republicans actually fought and that seemed to encourage the wave that gave the House a majority in Congress and put the Senate within striking distance of becoming majority Republican.
Besides aggregating news, Breitbart’s websites made news by performing stings on big government and exposing corrupt government officials. Andrew seemed ready to put all his efforts into getting Republicans elected in 2012. Around that time, he was asked about Donald Trump, who was failing to host a GOP debate, starring himself.
Sadly, Andrew Breitbart died on March 1, 2012 before even a GOP nominee could be decided. On top of that, his legacy was about to be turned on its head.