The legacy of Andrew Breitbart, the late founder of the Breitbart News Network, has been invoked repeatedly during this election cycle, mainly by people who insist that he would not have allowed his media outlet to have become a sort of house organ of the Donald Trump campaign. Former Breitbart contributor Ben Shapiro, who resigned from the site in March, has been particularly adamant that the site’s support for Trump is a betrayal of all that Breitbart the man stood for.
Reminder: this is what I said about Bannon, Breitbart, and Trump in March: pic.twitter.com/AfIT4uGYyf— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) August 17, 2016
Weekly Standard senior writer Mark Hemingway joined the chorus today, also roping in Antonin Scalia:
How much better off would conservatives be right now if Andrew Breitbart and Justice Scalia were still alive?— Mark Hemingway (@Heminator) August 17, 2016
This is horseshit.
Andrew Breitbart was an reckless opportunist with no principles or ethos beyond shit-stirring and attention-seeking. If he were alive today, he’d be in the locomotive of the Trump Train wearing a jaunty engineer’s cap. He wasn’t a conservative except in the sense that the modern conservative movement counts among its leading lights a wide array of hucksters and irresponsible bomb-throwers—the Republican nominee for the presidency chief among them.
The Breitbart revisionist case rests on one 2011 Fox News appearance, in which Breitbart said Trump was a celebrity and not a true conservative. Of course, Breitbart himself was obsessed with celebrities—in his largely incoherent political worldview, Hollywood loomed far larger than Washington—and I’ve no doubt that he would have been thrilled to see a genuine TV star hijack the GOP to the horror of both liberals and establishment Republicans. For Andrew Breitbart, like Donald Trump, dominating the media conversation was more important than any policy or election. I read his memoir, and in it he spent far more time recounting his appearances on “Real Time With Bill Maher” than actually laying out any sort of conservative philosophy.
As for whether Trump’s race-baiting and winking indulgence of his widespread white nationalist support would have offended the sensibilities of the late Mr. Breitbart, I don’t think the guy who mentored James O’Keefe and smeared Shirley Sherrod would have had trouble rationalizing all anti-Trump sentiment as anything other than political correctness.
The Trump candidacy is the logical endpoint of Breitbartism, not any sort of betrayal.