David Carr, a media columnist for the New York Times who sought to understand conservative media, died suddenly on Thursday night after collapsing in the Times newsroom.
Carr was both a critic of, and a friend to, conservative new media, and was one of the few mainstream journalists who strove to understand the movement rather than marginalizing it. He took a particular interest in Andrew Breitbart, devoting six full columns to Breitbart in a 2012 tribute, “The Provocateur.”
Carr could be prickly–famously sparring, for example, with the editorial staff of Vice News. “Just because you put on a fucking safari helmet and looked at some poop doesn’t give you the right to insult what we do,” Carr told Vice co-founder Shane Smith.
He also clashed with conservative investigative journalist James O’Keefe, who took Carr to task for an essay that grappled with questions about “who is a journalist and who is an activist” in an age of advocacy journalism.
Conservatives may not always have liked Carr’s answers, but he took their work seriously, as well as that of liberal new media pioneers.
A man who had pulled his own life back from the brink in recovering from drug addiction, he had a feel for the unconventional, and saw potential at the fringes of a notoriously inward-looking profession. He had moderated a panel discussion about Edward Snowden just hours before he died.
He is survived by his wife and by three daughters.
Senior Editor-at-Large Joel B. Pollak edits Breitbart California and is the author of the new ebook, Wacko Birds: The Fall (and Rise) of the Tea Party, available for Amazon Kindle.
Follow Joel on Twitter: @joelpollak