Remembering Andrew Breitbart

That time we ambushed Media Matters's office

Forgive me for the number of emails today. I promised I wouldn’t spam you unless it was necessary, and it’s necessary today.

Today I’m remembering a lion who taught all of us the real meaning of absolute fearlessness. Our dear friend, mentor, and to this day still the undisputed Funniest Happy Warrior in the movement: Andrew Breitbart.

A couple of Andrew stories, starting with my favorite.

When I was editor of the now-defunct vertical Big Journalism we had a meeting in D.C. with all the editors for a SOTU-of-sorts and to plan the new look of the website. After a long afternoon Andrew asked who was up for a field trip. No one replied.

“What if I promised to take you past Media Matters’s offices?” he threw in with a wicked grin.

My and Mike Flynn’s hands immediately shot up.

“We should ask to see their 990,” said Flynn.

The next thing I knew the three of us were in a car driven by Steve Bannon (before I completely loathed him) somewhere in D.C., I had no idea where, I just remember four lanes of traffic. I think Andrew was talking about frozen yogurt.

The next thing I knew Andrew began yelling “DANA! START RECORDING! START RECORDING! STEVE! STOP! STOP THE CAR! STEVE STOP THE CAR!” The car literally stopped in the middle of the road. I fumbled with my camera and hit record. “THERE HE IS,” Andrew yelled. “DAVID BROCK RIGHT THERE ON THE DAMN SIDEWALK!”

Media Matters’s head David Brock was apparently walking with a posse towards their offices after lunch.

“EVERYBODY OUT! MOVE, MOVE, MOVE!” Andrew shouted as he flung open the door and launched himself into the street. It felt like an anticipated, yet entirely unrehearsed military maneuver. Flynn and I awkwardly jumped out of the car in the middle of the road and ran across two lanes of traffic following Andrew. I had never seen Andrew run before. Mike had this awkward messenger bag-thing and he was trying to run and duck his head under the strap simultaneously and it was infuriating him so he was cussing the entire time. Andrew turned around to shout “ARE YOU RECORDING?”

It was like a slow-motion comedy show. Brock’s expression was hysterical. As Andrew barreled towards him Brock’s expression went from initial recognition, to confusion, then to sheer horror, his eyes widening in response.

“HI DAVID!” Andrew comically shouted and waved, like he was calling to a friend at a Dodgers’s game instead of a guy who hated our guts and ran a smear site. “HOW’S IT GOING? WE’RE JUST STOPPING BY!”

Brock’s people huddled around him like preschoolers to a soccer ball during a match. They, Andrew, and Flynn all tried to enter the front door to the MMfA office building at the same time. It wasn’t happening. Brock wanted to get in and sprint to the elevators and not bother with Andrew. Andrew was not having it. Everyone made it to the elevators with Brock in the corner and his people in front of him like a shield. Andrew breathed heavily and leaned on the elevator door. The elevator alarm sounded because the door was open for so long. No one was going anywhere. It was a stalemate.

“We’re just here for the 990,” Andrew said breathlessly.

“Sure, just let us go get that for you,” said one of the staffers, his face red from trying to outrun Andrew to the elevator.

“I can just go up with you,” Andrew offered. There was a few more minutes of back-and-forth and the agreement, if memory serves, was that a staffer would stay downstairs as insurance while the rest of the MMfA staff went up. A few more minutes later Ari Rabin-Havt came down with the prized 990. Sadly, the video I took is no longer available online (you can read about it on the old Big Journalism site here) so this will be the only time I ever link to anything Media Matters, heaven help me:

Mediaite at the time:

It was a confrontation for the ages. Earlier today, conservative media titan Andrew BreitbartBig Journalism editor Dana Loesch, and Big Governmenteditor Mike Flynn ventured into the Washington, DC headquarters of liberal media watchdog Media Matters, reputed lair of billionaire boogeyman George Soros. Their quarry? A copy of Media Matters‘ IRS 990 disclosure form. Media Matters has released video of the confrontation between the conservative trio and Media Matters Executive Vice President Ari Rabin-Havt.

Media Matters has been the subject of a campaign to have their tax-exempt status revoked, on the heels of the organization’s declaration of war on Fox News. Breitbart’s sites frequently target Media Matters‘ tax exempt status in videos ironically hosted by conservative media watchdog (and non-profit) The Media Research Center.

All of these forces converged today, as Breitbart and his Big Editors gained entry into Media Matters’ headquarters, eyes on the IRS Form 990 prize, only to be met by Ari Rabin-Havt. You won’t believe what happened next: (video best enjoyed while playing The Imperial Death March in your head)

It was hysterical. We accomplished both nothing and everything but had so much fun doing it.

***

The photo below was at dinner after Andrew, Flynn, and I spoke to congressional members at the Reagan Library. Andrew had his back to this portrait and I noticed that they looked similar and pointed it out to him. He insisted on having his photo taken with it, telling other diners it was an ancestor.

***

The first time I was ever on Bill Maher’s show my youngest son was sick. Usually my husband Chris travels with me because I like to shut down any perception of impropriety and he’s good security (and I like his company). He opted to stay behind and insisted I go anyway.

It was very much a lion’s den and when Andrew found out I was coming alone he insisted on me having a group there to support. He, Larry O’Connor, and another member of the team met me at the studios and made sure to get there before I’d even arrived. Andrew was fascinated with how many people Al Sharpton (another guest that night) brought with him and wondered if craft services was adequately prepared in the green room.

“They’re going to hate you,” he told me gleefully. “Use it.” He supportively stood backstage like a big brother and afterwards we all talked with Maher for some time at the after event before I flew home early the next morning.

***

Andrew taught everyone two things: Be fearless and have fun. He was a most loyal friend, proud father, and media innovator. His contribution to the conservative cause can never be overstated. Most people can never say that they knew a legend while the legend lived, which is why many of us count our good fortune. What a blessing to have met, knew, and been encouraged by such a person.

Thank you, Andrew.

You (and Mike Flynn) are missed.