The Purim After Andrew

In 2012, the Jewish holiday of Purim fell on March 8, exactly one week after Andrew Breitbart had died. I did not have time to go to synagogue the night before to hear the recitation of the Megillah, the Book of Esther. We had all been too busy with the re-launch of the website, which had rolled out as planned just days after Andrew died. And then there had been Andrew’s funeral earlier that week, with much of the blogosphere in attendance.

On top of that, my daughter had just turned one year old, and my wife and I were barely sleeping. Some friends of our showed up with mishloach manot, traditional charitable gifts of food exchanged on Purim. We gratefully accepted the plates of cookies and hamentaschen. The physical and emotional and intellectual toll of the week gone by had been extreme. It was a time of feeling quite wrung out by the world, and completely exhausted.

On the morning of March 8, I woke up absurdly early and drove through the dark, quiet streets of L.A. to the CNN studio in Hollywood. There, I would link up with Soledad O’Brien and her morning crew for an interview about Andrew’s story connecting Barack Obama with Derrick Bell at Harvard Law School. As I settled into the chair, I noted they were teasing the segment as a kind of second death. They intended to bury me and the site.

I heard Andrew’s voice in my mind. Question the premise. Fight. I summoned everything I had learned in law school about navigating tough examinations and negotiations. I steeled myself for what I knew was coming. And the rest, basically, is TV history. I walked out of the studio and drove back across the city through the still-dark streets. I called Steve Bannon on the way. He had seen it. We both couldn’t stop laughing. A total victory.

That was only the beginning. The Internet lit up. My phone wouldn’t stop ringing. The fight continued, much as it had for the previous week, but with a new sense of momentum. That afternoon, a beleaguered Larry Solov looked up from his desk and shook my hand. It felt like we had turned the tide that day, that the media had done their worst, and we had pushed back. I felt no malice towards O’Brien or CNN. I just felt a kind of relief.

It was mid-afternoon before I realized I had still not heard the Megillah, and that Purim was fading. Ben Shapiro, who had been equally busy, figured out that there was a reading happening shortly nearby, at the home of the UCLA rabbi. So we headed out into L.A. traffic in his Mustang and made it just before the start. And as I followed along with the words, listening to the timeless story of survival against the odds, I just let the tears roll.