Reporters and editors hand-picked by journalism icon Andrew Breitbart descended upon Los Angeles yesterday to attend his funeral service being held within the city.Breitbart, 43 died of natural causes on Thursday in a Brentwood shopping area after having a friendly late night political discussion with CBS marketing executive Arthur Sando in an area restaurant and bar.
Jon Kahn, a Los Angeles based musician and close friend of Breitbart’s who often traveled with him around the country–and performed at the National Tea Party convention–handled many of the funeral events, and said the planning of the service mirrored Breitbart’s personality.
“I think there are so many moving parts, and they’re happening in a typical Andrew fashion,” he said in an early Tuesday morning interview. “I was up until 3:30 in the morning putting out fires working on no sleep, but it’s all coming together.”
Journalists whom Breitbart gradually hand picked one at a time, based in different locations around the country flew into Los Angeles on Monday creating an unusual scene in the company newsroom, which is typically only inhabited full time by about four of the company’s members.
Big Government editor Mike Flynn who is based full-time in Washington, D.C. arrived late Monday at LAX and immediately met with a team of Breitbart journalists who were congregating in a hotel restaurant off Sunset Boulevard.
“My total trips to Los Angeles before this were less than half a dozen,” he said “but I’m here for one reason and that’s Andrew’s family. That’s the only reason I’m here, to let them know that Andrew is loved and remembered.”
Earlier that evening, the company’s Editor in Chief, Joel Pollak remained working beside Breitbart’s empty desk in an upstairs loft while other editorial members Alex Marlowe and Benjamin Shapiro flanked him.
Downstairs, a team of Breitbart reporters Meredith Dake, Christian Hartsock, Jeffrey Scott Shapiro, Tony Katz, Breitbart TV editor Larry O’Connor and Big Journalism editor Dana Loesch worked on individual assignments on their laptop computers in a circle formation while listening to iTunes.
“It felt like being home with family during a time when they need it” Loesch said. “I think it’s all good to spend time together… it was difficult not to notice Andrew’s empty desk, that was what was biggest for me, but it was like spending time with family coming together.”
Loesch’s husband Chris Loesch and one Hollywood actor who stopped by to offer support both assisted in performing newsroom support tasks for the team.
After sunset, Dana Loesch randomly chose to play “King of the Mountain,” by Midnight Oil on her laptop and Pollak called down from the upstairs loft, “Who is playing this song and why?” When Loesch responded it was a random choice, Pollak explained, “This was one of Andrew’s favorite songs.
Breitbart was known throughout his inner circle for cherishing 80’s new wave and retro music. He often listened to songs by bands like New Order, the Cure, Duran Duran and his high school favorite–Devo. He sometimes distracted his fellow editors by spontaneously playing a song from his iTunes account and happily singing along in the newsroom while Tweeting responses to his adversaries and playing air-drums.
Later, Breitbart’s business partner and the company Chief Operating Officer Laurence Solov came into the downstairs part of the newsroom and showed working reporters of a photograph of himself and Breitbart in elementary school, having what appeared to be a serious conversation as they both leaned on a 1970’s Ford station wagon.
Solov jested that he wanted to title the photo, “First Company Meeting.”
As of 9 p.m. PST Kahn announced that the funeral already had 648 confirmed guests, a number that was much higher than expected since the service was planned as a private, intimate event. U.S. Congressional Representatives Louie Goemert of Texas and Steve King of Iowa informed Breitbart reporters Monday they would be flying to Los Angeles to attend, and staff members from the offices U.S. Senators Joe Lieberman and John McCain as well as President George W. Bush in Dallas expressed their sympathies via e-mail and telephone.
On the day Breitbart’s death became public, Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney published via Twitter, “”Ann and I are deeply saddened by the passing of @AndrewBreitbart: brilliant entrepreneur, fearless conservative, loving husband and father.”
Breitbart team member Steve Bannon stopped in toward the latter part of the evening to thank everyone for coming to Los Angeles and to congratulate everyone on a job well done during a difficult time.
“Everyone’s done great work,” he said to the team as they greeted him. “We’re going to make this happen.”