Reporter Philip Klein of The Washington Examiner, blogger Duane Lester of AllAmericanBlogger.com and LibertyNews.com, and citizen film director Andrew Marcus, who produced the much-anticipated movie Hating Breitbart, were the recipients of the inaugural Breitbart Awards at the Future of Journalism Summit in Providence, Rhode Island on June 8.
To keep the late Andrew Breitbart’s spirit alive, pay tribute to “the monumental achievements of Andrew Breitbart's work,” and recognize “those who continue his legacy by carrying the torch for freedom and truth,” The Heritage Foundation and Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity created the Breitbart Awards. The winners were honored at a dinner held during the first-ever Future of Journalism Summit, which was organized by both organizations.
Each year, three individuals--a full-time reporter, a blogger, and a citizen activist--“whose efforts advance the spirit of Andrew Breitbart's work” and who “are driven by an indomitable pursuit for truth and accountability, and whose work has broken meaningful ground in advancing those causes on behalf of the public good” will l be honored by The Heritage Foundation and The Franklin Center.
The Franklin Center is quickly becoming a force on the national and state levels in helping keep state and local governments accountable, filling a vital public service necessity--and doing it well--in an era of cuts to many state and local newspapers. The Heritage Foundation, with Robert Bluey and Lachlan Markay leading the way, has also been doing groundbreaking investigative journalism and expanding the organization’s footprint across all spectrums.
Lester told Breitbart News that it was symbolic that these two organizations ushered in inaugural awards, and the dinner was held “in the same town and the same time as NetRoots Nation,” the annual gathering of liberal online activists. NetRoots Nation held its convention in Providence, Rhode Island this year to prevent conservatives, particularly the Right Online conference, from holding a gathering in the same town as they have done in recent years, because Providence does not have many venues available for such large gatherings.
Yet, in the spirt of Breitbart, the organizers found a way to hold The Future of Journalism Summit in Providence. As Lester said, “Breitbart wasn't afraid to go where the enemies of liberty gathered and confront them or expose them.”
Philip Klein, winner of the full-time reporter Breitbart Award
Klein, whose new e-book, Conservative Survival in the Romney Era, may be one of the most important books written this election cycle, won the Breitbart Award given to a full-time reporter who still recognizes “the awesome responsibility in belonging to the only profession to be enshrined in the Bill of Rights” and has the “courage and honesty in telling the real stories that matter to people’s lives.”
Klein (@PhilipAKlein) is a senior editorial writer for The Washington Examiner whose work on domestic policy, particularly health care, and politics has been lauded. Klein has also fiercely and consistently held Republicans accountable for straying from conservative positions even when Republicans controlled Washington.
Those who nominated Klein for the award recognized these traits, effusively praising him as a journalist who “provides the rare combination of insightful coverage of politics and policy, noting “his coverage of the [Obamacare] hearings before the Supreme Court [was] the best of any professional journalist, with a thorough understanding of the complex policy and legal issues involved,” and making the case that Klein is “one of the most thorough and responsible reporters working for an American newspaper today and stands as a rejection of the idea that conservative journalists can't do it all.”
“Back when I started writing about health care policy, which I thought was one of the most important issues facing the nation, I kind of felt like I was talking to myself, or maybe a small community of journalists and analysts who were focused on the subject,” Klein told Breitbart News. “So, years later, it's personally flattering that readers have chosen to recognize my work on health care and other elements of public policy in this way. It's particularly gratifying to know that there are conservatives interested in the type of policy journalism I strive to do, something which runs counter to the stereotype that we only care about red meat attacks on liberals.”
Klein said that “on the handful of occasions” he met Breitbart, he “was always struck by his boundless energy and incredible passion” and it was “was clear how much joy he derived” from doing things like racing into the bloggers' room at CPAC dressed as Guy Fawkes to promote his "Occupy" film. Klein said because he did not know Breitbart well, “it was great to listen to all the personal stories that were told during the awards dinner as well as reflections as to why he was so important to so many people.”
“I still can't quite believe he's gone,” Klein said.
Duane Lester, winner of the blogger Breitbart Award
Lester (@bodhi1), the co-founder of All American Blogger, won the Breitbart Award given to “a blogger for intrepid reporting that goes over the heads of the legacy media to communicate directly to the people.”
Lester was a journalist for the United States Navy and spent five years touring the world while reporting on local news and sports. Those who nominated Lester noted his integrity, acknowledged he was “faithful to his beliefs and to his God,” and commended how he is “committed to his website and blogging” even while working long hours at his day job, with hours that often made it difficult to spend as much time as he would have liked with his wife and six children.
“When I was told I would be given the award, I was stunned,” Lester told Breitbart News. “I feel honored that my peers felt I was worthy of an award created to highlight bloggers for ‘intrepid reporting that goes over the heads of the legacy media to communicate directly to the people.'’’
Lester said the award “helps fuel the fire to work harder” to “find a way to redouble what I do online” to “be the change I want to see in the world.”
Lester felt great pride in having been successful in opening the eyes of people to different points of view through his blogging, and that is something he wants to do “on a much greater scale” in the future. Lester hopes his work can motivate more people to get involved in politics to ensure their liberties are not curtailed by big government, which Lester equates to less freedom.
“My passion comes from a desire for my children to enjoy a free America,” Lester said.
Lester is just getting started.
The success of his videos lead him to start his own media company, All American Media, in 2012, and he is considering starting “another podcast focused on blogging tips,” “increasing the amount of original reporting on All American Blogger” and “pushing stories that conservatives need to know about at LibertyNews.com,” where he is Editor-in-Chief.
Andrew Marcus, winner of the citizen activist Breitbart Award
The Breitbart Awards also honors a citizen because “the fight for freedom requires a constant stream of new recruits willing to make time in their lives to serve as watchdogs in their local communities.”
Marcus (@HatingBreitbart), a film director who recently produced the forthcoming movie Hating Breitbart and also directed a film, “A Tale of Two Missions,” about the competing cultures in the American education system, was honored as a citizen and “information activist committed to digging up the truth.”
Marcus said the Breitbart Award is like “the Oscar Award of citizen journalism.”
“Winning an award bearing Andrew Breitbart's name is a badge of honor I will wear proudly for the rest of my life,” Marcus told Breitbart News. “It isn't possible for any one person to measure up to the man that was Andrew Breitbar,t but winning this award makes me proud to try and meet his expectations in whatever small way I can.”
Marcus cites a Cindy Sheehan protest he attended as being a turning point in fueling his activism. Marcus uploaded a picture of a satellite truck he saw at the protest of these so-called progressive “grassroots” activists, and uploaded the picture to the web, where it was picked up by the Powerline blog. His photo helped debunk the false narrative the mainstream media was pushing, and Marcus realized the difference a single citizen could make in combating the mainstream media’s false narratives.
“From that moment I was hooked on exposing the difference between the narrative the progressive mainstream media was pushing versus the reality on the ground,” Marcus said.
The next trigger for him was seeing all of the information about Obama’s past, which the mainstream media purposely buried during the 2008 elections while “they portrayed him as a moderate centrist." Marcus also points to the episode in which members of the Congressional Black Caucus said members of the Tea Party called them the “N-word” without any documented proof, something which the mainstream media took as fact to falsely portray the Tea Party as racist, as another seminal moment in which he decided to redouble his citizen activism.
“This episode exposed for me the true darkness of the progressive movement that was willing to so destructively lie and label whole swaths of average, everyday Americans as racist just for political gain,” Marcus said. “It's no small coincidence Andrew Breitbart's heroic reaction to this race libel is one of the defining moments of his career as a fearless warrior for truth.”
Marcus said one only needs to look at the mainstream media’s failure to report the participation of anarchists, as well as numerous instances of violence, at the “Occupy Wall Street” protests to see how important citizen activists are to holding the mainstream media accountable.
Marcus wants to continue “filling the void left by a progressive mainstream media who refuse to do their jobs of simply telling the truth” and plans to “try and learn, and put into practice, the lessons of my friend Andrew Breitbart, who taught me about loyalty and perseverance--especially in the darkest of times.”
Reflecting on the Breitbart Awards dinner, Marcus said the “event was a wonderful evening of remembrance of some of [Breitbart’s] most inspirational qualities,” and he cited “Sonnie Johnson's brilliant and passionate speech” and “Larry Solov's touching stories about his brother in all but name” that “reaffirmed the legacy Andrew has left behind is more alive than ever.”
Others who spoke included Stephen K. Bannon and the Wall Street Journal’s John Fund.
“Those of us who knew and loved Andrew Breitbart need more evenings like that,” Marcus said.
The Heritage Foundation and The Franklin Center, with the annual Breitbart Awards, will ensure there is one such night every year.