NATIONAL HARBOR, MD — Conservative radio host Mark Levin accepted the first annual Citizens United Andrew Breitbart Defender of the First Amendment Award at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on Thursday afternoon before a standing-room-only crowd of hundreds of conservative activists.
“[Andrew] was the Happy Warrior. I’m a a pissed-off warrior, quite frankly,” Levin said, “and I don’t make any bones about it.” He recounted Andrew’s career in the media, from the Drudge Report to his new conservative news network, noting highlights such as Andrew’s hijacking of Anthony Weiner’s press conference in 2011.
Levin praised Andrew’s continuing legacy at Breitbart News: “This is true investigative journalism,” he said. “These guys are not part of the Washington circle, the Manhattan circle, and so forth. They let the chips fall where they may.” He also praised David Bossie’s First Amendment advocacy in the famous Citizens United case.
The bulk of Levin’s remarks were devoted to the ongoing threats to free speech. He praised President Ronald Reagan for vetoing legislation designed to enshrine the Fairness Doctrine in 1981, noting that Reagan had done so when conservatives might have expected to be the beneficiaries since they were relatively absent from media.
“Ronald Reagan started talk radio. Ronald Reagan started all these platforms. It was his spirit that really created the Internet and so forth–not Al Gore,” Levin said wryly, to laughter and applause. He denounced the efforts of the Obama administration to use the Federal Communications Commission to monitor newsrooms.
Levin added that the IRS scandal, in which the tax agency targeted conservative groups in the wake of Citizens United and before the 2012 election, had been another threat to free speech. “And it worked. Apparently the only one who didn’t know about it was Barack Obama–the main beneficiary of the whole scandal.”
“The symptoms of tyranny, such as these brazen attacks on free speech, have threatened republics throughout time,” Levin warned. The main threat today, he said, came directly from Obama’s radical administration and its contempt for the constitution. He urged conservatives to follow Andrew’s example: “We must speak out.”
Breitbart News Chairman Steve Bannon, President/CEO Larry Solov, and Editor-in-Chief Alex Marlow joined Bossie and Levin onstage, offering personal reminiscences of Andrew Breitbart’s career. Marlow noted that Andrew had not just fought for conservative ideas, but for the freedom to debate–for “more voices, not less.”