In the course of making the documentary Hating Breitbart, I had the rare opportunity to travel the country with Andrew, bearing witness to some of the most dramatic moments during the last few years of his life.
When Andrew was in the early stages of launching Big Government with the release of the now-famous ACORN tapes, my cameras were there.
When Andrew rushed to the defense of the Tea Party and offered $100,000 for any shred of evidence to back up the race libel told by the Congressional Black Caucus that the N-word had been hurled at Congressmen Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) and Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN), my cameras were there.
When Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV)’s henchmen of the Las Vegas IBEW hurled eggs at a Tea Party Express bus and then made false claims to police blaming Andrew for throwing the eggs, my cameras were there.
It was during the egg-throwing incident that Andrew came to call the documentary crew his bodyguards. True to form, the progressive protesters attempted to control the narrative by blaming Andrew Breitbart for the vandalism. But Andrew understood more than most that we live in a brave new digital world, and because our cameras were on the scene, there was a high likelihood we captured the lying union thugs in the act. As it turned out, we had, and in less than 48 hours the IBEW was being mocked by Jon Stewart, using our footage of members of IBEW with eggs in their hands–and thus on their face.
My cameras were there for the worst of times when it seemed the entire industrial media complex was falsely labeling Andrew a deceptive racist. And my cameras were there for the best of times, when the same media complex was exposed, along with Anthony Weiner’s wiener, as fraudulent character assassins, hired guns for the progressive establishment.
In all of that time, I learned a lot about Andrew Breitbart. I learned that he had an inexhaustible passion for the fight, but that he also had the same boundless energy for having fun.
I learned that he loved to laugh and enjoy life with the people around him every bit as much as he loved to take down a corrupt institution.
I learned that almost everything negative that was ever said about him in the press or propagated by the assassins of Media Matters was totally false. He was not racist and he was not deceptive. Those are simply the badges of honor the left bestows on people and movements that aren’t progressive.
These things which I learned about Andrew Breitbart are in my film Hating Breitbart, which documents arguably the most important years of Andrew’s career and, by extension, the movement that accepted him as a natural defender and leader.
But what I hope stands out in the picture, even more than what is to be learned about Andrew, is what is to be learned from Andrew.
Following Andrew and his work as closely as I did taught me two things about all of us, especially myself.
First, when you’re under attack, don’t ever roll over. Stand up and fight back. Andrew learned from the example of people around him that pushing back twice as hard against the character assassins in the mainstream progressive media makes you stronger. It infuriates your critics while attracting those who thirst for the self-respect that comes with standing up for oneself.
The second lesson I learned from Andrew was about friendship and honor. Andrew Breitbart was one of the most honorable men I’ve had the good fortune to know.
Time and time again, Andrew Breitbart vigorously came to the defense of those around him when their work and ideas, like his, drew baseless obligatory labels of racism from progressive media organs.
It wasn’t so much that Andrew selflessly defended the Tea Party from false accusations of racism, which he did.
It wasn’t so much that Andrew selflessly defended James O’Keefe and Hannah Giles from false and slanderous charges of racism and worse, which he did.
It wasn’t so much that Andrew could be constantly found defending the underdog, often by placing himself between the progressive lynch mob and their target, which he did.
What stands out to me about Andrew’s dedication to those he befriended and loved–and that list is long and diverse–is that when you were facing your darkest hour, that’s when you could count on Andrew Breitbart. He wasn’t a fair-weather friend. He was your friend when all others feared to stand up to the bullies, when your so-called allies deserted you and left you to face alone the progressive mob and their character assassination tactics.
Andrew’s impulse to defend those around him when it was least popular to do so was the quality that made Andrew stand apart from the herd. It’s what made him honorable, and it’s what made him the kind of friend we should all aspire to be.
Andrew’s passing has left a hole that’s been felt repeatedly over the past 12 months.
I’ve felt Andrew’s absence when he’s not fighting the bullies on the playground, or exposing radicals by re-tweeting their hate on Twitter, or when he’s not on our televisions battling the latest leftist attack, or when he’s not making those late-night marathon phone calls to laugh and plot and plan.
We’ve all felt Andrew’s absence.
But Andrew is still here; the very essence of him continues to weave itself through so many lives in so many ways. His spirit lives on in all of us–in our cameras, in our words, and in our souls.
When James O’Keefe exposed potential vote fraud in the 2012 election cycle, I felt Andrew’s presence. When Rebel Pundit Jeremy Segal embedded himself into Occupy Chicago and spent the night running with the anarchists, documenting the ugly truth of those destructive progressive vandals, I felt Andrew’s presence.
And in true Breitbart fashion, as an entire movement mourned in reaction to Andrew’s passing and wondered how such a gaping hole could ever be filled, millions spontaneously stood up and declared, “I Am Breitbart!” There could be no greater affirmation that they understood Andrew’s central message that we are engaged in a fight for the soul of freedom and that now is the time to stand up and fight to win.
In our Hating Breitbart, Andrew declares war, on behalf of himself and of the entire conservative movement, against the machines of hatred, the weaponized news rooms that assassinate character on behalf of the progressive complex.
A year later, that war is still raging, and be it Andrew’s example as a fighter, or Andrew’s example as a friend, I continue to try in my own small way to live up to the example he set.
I am Breitbart.