Update: The L.A. County Coroner's Office confirms to the Weekly that Andrew Breitbart was pronounced dead at UCLA Medical Center after "collapsing on the street."
Andrew Breitbart, the outspoken conservative blogger who took down Rep. Anthony Weiner in one fell nude pic and crusaded relentlessly against Occupy nation, died in the wee hours this morning.
One of his blogs, BigJournalism.com, posted a quick obit at 6 a.m., saying Breitbart "passed away unexpectedly from natural causes shortly after midnight this morning in Los Angeles." His stepfather tells the Los Angeles Times that the 43-year-old collapsed while walking near his Brentwood home, and KNX news radio mentions he might have been having heart problems. [Update: His daughter tells the Times "it looks like a heart attack." And she tells the Associated Press that her father had collapsed one month earlier, as well.]
Appropriately, Breitbart was Tweeting right up until his death:
He was calling a man in Louisiana a "putz," and arguing with him about Big Journalism's latest break. (Which happened to be on conservative filmmaker James O'Keefe's lawsuit against Keith Olbermann and Co. for referring to him as a felon and a rapist.)
— AndrewBreitbart (@AndrewBreitbart) March 1, 2012
Breitbart is survived by his wife Susie and four children. He passed away at the UCLA Medical Center, located right near his house in Brentwood.
"Andrew Breitbart's impact was to bring a new level of combativeness to what you might call the cultural media wars," Dan Kennedy, journalism commentator, told KNX this morning.
He had lately taken to singlehandedly shaming the Occupy Wall Street movement, whose protesters he believed to be ignorant "freaks and animals." Here he is at a rally earlier this month:
Before he started the Big Journalism/Big Hollywood/Big Government blogs (which blew up last summer when he crashed an Anthony Weiner press conference and flashed that infamous cellphone shot of Weiner's weiner to a radio-show host), Breitbart worked at both Drudge and the Huffington Post in their fledgling stages.
We'd go so far as to say that Breitbart was a founding father of online journalism, quickly becoming the only journalism. He almost invented the concept of high-profile trolling -- breaking a scandal, giving it an inflammatory headline, never following up with the whole truth and watching reputations crumble while you move onto the next big hit.
And he never ran from confrontation, or infamy. Every day on our Twitter feed, there's another RT from Breitbart of someone blathering about what an awful human he is. But that only kept his engines running. As he recently wrote in a new conclusion to his book, Righteous Indignation:
I love my job. I love fighting for what I believe in. I love having fun while doing it. I love reporting stories that the Complex refuses to report. I love fighting back, I love finding allies, and--famously--I enjoy making enemies.
Three years ago, I was mostly a behind-the-scenes guy who linked to stuff on a very popular website. I always wondered what it would be like to enter the public realm to fight for what I believe in. I've lost friends, perhaps dozens. But I've gained hundreds, thousands--who knows?--of allies. At the end of the day, I can look at myself in the mirror, and I sleep very well at night.
Here's some more classic Breitbart, in an interview over his first big blowup -- the firing of U.S. Agriculture Department official Shirley Sherrod.
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And here's his final appearance, just two nights ago, talking to Piers Morgan about Romney's win in Michigan.