For the people that loved and admired Andrew Breitbart, it will be impossible not to watch this never-been-seen footage of him without having a profound sense of what we have lost. You’re about to see a nine minute clip that’s part of a longer 45 minute interview that was shot for the new film Informant about Andrew’s friend and protégé Brandon Darby.
Although the interview is specifically about Darby, it also carries a much broader meaning. It’s a reminder that when we lost Andrew in March 2012, the world was robbed of the most fervent warrior against the modern left and the number one recruiter of new troops in that fight.
A little backstory is in order. Andrew Breitbart famously hated bullies and two young men named David McKay and Bradley Crowder are the ultimate bullies. McKay and Crowder were leftist anarchists who made decision after decision to terrorize the people attending the 2008 Republican National Convention. They traveled to the RNC in Minneapolis with homemade weapons and once there, they made Molotov cocktails.
Luckily, the group had been infiltrated by an undercover FBI informant named Brandon Darby, who was instrumental in stopping McKay and Crowder from doing any real harm. At the time, Darby was a hero to the radical left and a legend for his work feeding people in New Orleans after Katrina. In order to help convict McKay and Crowder, he revealed his law enforcement work. By helping the justice system in the conviction of these anarchist thugs, Darby became a wanted man on the left.
In this newly unearthed footage, Breitbart talks about meeting and mentoring Darby. Breitbart didn’t live to see the Boston Marathon bombing but his understanding of culture and media allow him to make a chillingly prescient statement about how the left puts their heroes on cover of Rolling Stone. If Darby had busted conservatives, the world would have been his oyster but because McKay and Crowder were committed leftists, Darby was subject to ostracization and death threats
Andrew also points out the harsh truth: conservatives are often just plain lousy at reaching out to people. What Breitbart did better than any other conservative in recent memory is outreach. Long before the pundits looked upon the wreckage of Mitt Romney’s run for the White House in 2012 and began bleating the word OUTREACH like so many sheep, Breitbart realized that building a big tent was the only way to long term political success. Despite his high-profile media presence, Andrew often did this the old-fashioned way: one person at a time.
Andrew’s big tent expansion tactics weren’t conciliation or compromise. In fact, Andrew Breitbart simultaneously symbolized two seemingly contradictory principles. He fought a fierce, brave, offensive battle for conservative principles while at the same time championing, mentoring and shepherding new people and organizations into the movement.
Breitbart’s firebrand evangelism is summed up by a line from his final CPAC speech:
And when I walk through CPAC or I travel the United States to meet people in the Tea Party who care – black, white, gay and straight – anyone that’s willing to stand next to me to fight the progressive left, I will be in that bunker.
In Brandon Darby, Andrew Breitbart found a fighter; someone that other conservatives had simply ignored. When Andrew met people for the first time, he didn’t assume the worst of them based on their race, background, sexual orientation or stated, current ideology.
Based on his own background as a ‘default liberal’ growing up in Los Angeles, Breitbart fundamentally believed in the power of people to change. He knew that some of the best fighters against the scourge of progressivism were once progressives themselves. Andrew realized that the stranger you meet today could become the ally standing shoulder to shoulder with you next year. That stranger doesn’t become an ally through insults lobbed thoughtlessly or assumptions made prematurely and they don’t just show up magically. Sometimes the key to outreach is simply reaching out.
Since Andrew Breitbart left us, Barack Obama was elected to a second term as president. The political landscape seems more uncertain than ever and with Obamas’s flailing failures evident on display in both domestic and foreign policy today, it’s more important than ever to enlist new fighters for freedom. Andrew Breitbart is back today- if only for nine minutes – to explain exactly how it’s done.
Here’s hoping that for the sake of all our heirs, including the four children Andrew loved so much and left behind, that politicians and conservative activists will listen and learn.