April 29, 2011

“Ubiquity is key.”

This is one of Andrew Breitbart’s rules for aspiring conservative revolutionaries — and it’s one he lives by. You’ve probably seen him on cable, sparring with liberal voices. Or you’ve clicked on his “Big” Web sites (Big Government, Big Journalism and the rest). Or you love/hate him for posting the infamous videos of a fake pimp and prostitute getting tax advice from the nonprofit group ACORN, or the deceptively edited video of former Agriculture Department employee Shirley Sherrod that made her remarks seem racially biased.

And now, inevitably, comes the book. In “Righteous Indignation,” Breitbart deconstructs his enemies, lavishes praise on his heroes and calls on new conservatives to join his cause. Don’t have the time or inclination to get through it but want to pretend you did? We’ve got you covered.

The takeaway: Half how-to manual, half manifesto, the book portrays Breitbart’s battle with the “Democrat-Media Complex.” “The left does not win its battles in debate. It doesn’t have to. In the twenty-first century, media is everything. The left wins because it controls the narrative.” His mission: “To gain back control of the American narrative.”

The awakening: The 1991 Supreme Court hearings for Clarence Thomas were Breitbart’s road-to-Damascus moment. “This was the exact point where I realized that it was not just that I disagreed with the Democratic Party but, more important, that the media were its dominant partner in crime. The national disgrace that was the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings, for me, changed everything.”

The TMI moment: Breitbart really likes Farrah Fawcett. He met her when he was in high school in Los Angeles and they shared a tennis instructor. “I’ve never felt so cool, before or since.” And in the early Internet years of the 1990s, alt.fan.farahfawcett was one of his favorite newsgroups.

The factoid: Breitbart launched BigGovernment.com in 2009 with a $25,000 loan from his dad. (“Yes, we’ve since paid him back.”)

The stretch: Breitbart explains his motivation in launching the liberal Huffington Post. “While the Huffington Post in theory served Arianna’s and the left’s goals of creating a battlefront where they could fight their battles, it served my ulterior purpose of creating preparation for talk radio and cable news, where everyone could see what lunacies constituted the thought processes of the richest noblesse oblige liberals in our land. . . . Frankly, I wanted to put them on display.”

The victory lap: Chapter 8 details Breitbart’s collaboration with James O’Keefe to launch the videos that discredited the community organization ACORN. He calls the incident “the Abu Ghraib of the Great Society.”

The cop-out: Breitbart offers just four sentences on the Sherrod fiasco. “You may have noticed that I don’t discuss the Sherrod incident in this book. You probably know that Sherrod has threatened in the media to sue me. I can say this: there’s a hell of a lot more to the Sherrod story than you’ve heard to this point. Stay tuned.”

outlook@washpost.com

Carlos Lozada is editor of Outlook.

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No time for “Righteous Indignation” by Andrew Breitbart? No problem.