NewsBusters Interview: Andrew Breitbart, Author of ‘Righteous Indignation’
Internet entrepreneur Andrew Breitbart has had his share of tussles with the media. He’s certainly known for that among liberal journalists who, in the words of the New York Times “hold their noses at the mere mention of his name.” That mistrust has been borne out in the media’s general lack of interest in the stories pushed out by such Breitbart franchises as Big Government or Big Hollywood and the completely absurd explanations Breitbart haters cooked up in their efforts to deny the story he most recently pushed, the exposure of the illicit online activities of New York Democratic congressman Anthony Weiner.
Lesser-known than his very public tussles with the media is Breitbart’s dissatisfaction with many within the conservative movement, many of whom he sees as unwilling to sufficiently stand up for their principles, largely because they’ve become infatuated with polling and trying to make nice with the media left—an effort that is as doomed to fail as it is craven.
Reading through his book “Righteous Indignation,” one gets the distinct impression that these are the two main battles Andrew Breitbart sees himself fighting. I spent about an hour talking about these conflicts with him. We also talk about Breitbart's conversion to conservatism, his time working with former conservative Ariana Huffington, Breitbart's conflict regarding the gay conservative group GOProud, as well has his responses to various charges of being unfair in his journalism. See below for a transcript of the interview.
ANDREW BREITBART: Well, the title took me longer to come up with than the actual writing of the book. I wanted the title to sing. The working title was “Thinking Big” because of the “Big” sites. People liked it, but I kept going to bed at night thinking that this isn’t right, this needs to speak, it needs to be guttural. “Righteous Indignation” speaks not just for me, but of the Tea Party that I was at first a defender of but ultimately felt myself as a non-joiner. I found myself slowly recognizing I am part of the Tea Party Nation and both titles reflect the plight of the Tea Party. “Righteous Indignation.” The Mainstream Media, as I call it, Democrat Media Complex throughout the book, the Matrix, was hellbent on destroying the Tea Party from the get-go and the way that it did so was trying to impugn its motives.
All left-wing activists, whether it be WTO, anti-WTO, or anti-war are idealistic as framed by the Democratic Media Complex. Yet the Tea Party, which is pretty darn clear on its main focus, which is fiscal restraint, financial restraint, economic restraint, and return to Constitutional values and Founding Fathers’ principles, had been impugned as racist, violent, homophobic, and all their motivations have been impugned.
At the end of the day, we have fought back, and I think we’ve been successful. I think that the 2009 to 2010 elections show that the country could see past the Alinsky tactics of the media to try to destroy it by impugning its motives. I am righteous and righteously indignant, the Tea Party is righteously indignant, and our goal is to not just save the country, but quite frankly, if America goes, so goes the world, so in our desire to save the country, we are trying to save the world. I’m sorry you leftists, you’re not the only people whose motives are pure. Does that make sense?
SHEFFIELD: Yeah, I can see where you’re coming from. How long had you been thinking of writing this?
BREITBART: You know, the first book that I wrote, I co-wrote with Mark Ebner in 2004, one of the great benefits of that book was that I ended up getting Joni Evans as my book agent, but I kind of told her at the time that I had no desire to write a follow-up piece because I have a theory you shouldn’t write a book unless you have something to say. And so it’s been seven years between “Hollywood, Interrupted” and this. At a certain point, there was too much bubbling inside of me that couldn’t be conveyed in 140-character Tweet or as a Facebook status update or in a blog post.
At a certain point, one’s accumulated wealth of information in one’s head and the data points that I was collecting since the very beginning of being in the new media revolution, starting around 1995. At a certain point, I needed to tell the world what I’ve learned. I’ve been there at the warfront, something akin to a general, or a high-ranking serviceman in the pursuit of trying to upend the old media order. There are a lot of lessons that people can take from me, that they can start to apply because I don’t think that I can beat the Democrat Media Complex by myself. I don’t think that Rush, Hannity, Drudge, Ann Coulter, Fox News, and AM Radio can create enough of a balance to undo the distorted media that we get from the Democrat Media Complex.
My goal is to try to weaponize the American people, try to weaponize the conservative movement, try to weaponize the underground conservative Hollywood movement, to weaponize as many people in the center-right country to try to rectify a generation-plus long problem that has been absolute media bias, absolute media used by the Democratic Party as a tool to defeat conservatives.
SHEFFIELD: Talking about the media, that is definitely a very big portion of your book. For the listeners of this interview, why don’t you talk a little about how you think the American press sort of became so--not officially in league, but certainly privately and personally in league with the Democratic Party versus being straight down the middle which they supposedly say they are.
BREITBART: It’s a process, and I would argue there is a conspiracy there, but the conspiracy has been implemented over time in such an organic fashion. There’s a chapter in the book, chapter six, called “Breakthrough,” and it’s about the Frankfurt School, and it’s about how in a country that was not as susceptible to Marxism and Communism while many other countries around the world were falling to it, these German and Italian social scientists from the Frankfurt School came to the United States, fleeing from Mussolini’s Italy and Nazi Germany, and came here and tried to deconstruct what it was about the American spirit, the American middle class, the American work ethic in E pluribus unum that caused us not to be susceptible to the arguments of the utopia.
Why are these crazy people in America so happy in running around and buying products and having a happy middle class life? Don’t they realize the owner class and that their bosses have created a system that is against them? And they translated economic Marxist theory into cultural Marxist theory. It sounds esoteric, but at the end of the day, it’s basically political correctness and multiculturalism.
It’s the stuff that you’re taught in your humanities courses that pits Americans not necessarily on the haves versus the have not economic Marxist arguments, though that’s certainly there, but it’s more on the oppressor versus the oppressed that pits blacks against whites, gays against straights, and that’s the cultural Marxism that they wanted to institute, and it’s how the Democratic Party is now currently organized. It’s organized into separate different groups. There’s the National Organization for Women feminist faction, there’s the NAACP liberal African-American faction, there’s the La Raza Hispanic faction. They’re pitted against each other and it runs so contrary to the E pluribus unum American middle class experience.
Those people that created the cultural Marxist thoughts, one guy by the name of Antonio Gramsci, very important within the Frankfurt School, argued against the concept of Marxist Leninism, in which it was basically the revolutionary spirit where someone would say we need to rile up the lower classes and have a revolution and take over the factories.
They realized that wasn’t going to happen in the United States, and so Gramsci came up with this term that you’ve probably heard -- the long march through the institutions. The institutions that he was talking about were the cultural institutions, which includes Hollywood, which includes the mainstream media, and so it’s not coincidence that Columbia journalism school is right next to where Marcuse and other members of the Frankfurt School came to upon fleeing from Germany. It was there that they started to radically alter the humanities departments, the post-structuralism that changed humanities departments from English and history and just the basics to queer studies, African-American studies, Chicano studies, people started to become divided and the journalism that was incredibly affected because they were basically telling people the purpose of getting into journalism is to affect the status quo, to affect social change, to create economic justice and to create social justice.
The people who were motivated into the journalism schools were academics who were thrust into a politically correct worldview. Journalism was no longer done by Irish drinking colorful characters like they did in the 30s and the 40s with a lot of character. It was now a professional study in which leftists professors were teaching people out of one side of their mouths that they need to affect social change and not out of the other side of their mouth that they needed to be neutral or objective. I think the reason why they came up with this was because for a center-right country to move to the left, if you’re telling people that we’re giving you something that’s neutral while at the same time we’re pushing a leftist agenda, nobody’s going to challenge it.
For years, we just accepted the premise that the reporters from that J-school mentality of neutrality and objectivity were just laying out the facts. We just assumed that Walter Cronkite was unbiased. In hindsight, it is clear that Walter Cronkite was biased, and that he used feigned objectivity as the cudgel to change the American narrative from being a right of center one to being a left of center one.
SHEFFIELD: In the course of your discussing this book and other things that you’ve been involved in, you’ve certainly provoked a lot of ire from media people--they who insist that they aren’t biased. Is it possible that they can be biased and not even know it?
BREITBART: They 100% can be biased and not even know it, but that’s sort of the importance of media. Media is everything, and when you live in Los Angeles and you live in New York, it’s almost impossible to run into a conservative point of view because the conservatives that exist in Hollywood, where much of the media’s done, and the conservatives that live in New York where a lot of the media’s done are fearful of even expressing their conservative point of view. Liberals in blue states working in blue enclaves within blue cities that are producing the media, don’t even see that their positions fit on the spectrum as left of center.
They just think that when they look in the mirror and say to themselves “I’m for the environment, I’m for the children, I’m for the gay people, I’m against war,” it pits automatically, and the oppressor/oppressed leftist mindset that anyone that would disagree with them isn’t conservative, they’re crazy. They’re Nazis, they’re facists, they’re evil. Who could be against the children? Who could be against black people? Who could be against gays? And they frame the narrative in such a way that they don’t even realize that they’re espousing a very specific political point of view. They just think that they are on the right side of history, and anybody that disagrees with them has to be a troglodyte or a neanderthal.
SHEFFIELD: In your particular case, as in many conservatives’ cases, the worldview sort of permeated you in the beginning of your life, and you write in the book that you didn’t start off as a conservative.
BREITBART: I’m like the ex-smoker. The apostate is a pretty potent pied piper for one side or the other. You see on the other side how David Brock has been cultivated into a fundraiser and effective tool against the right, and I understand why because he knows how the right thinks, he’s met with them, he knows what their alliances are, and the second that he moved over to the left, Sydney Blumenthal and many people on the left said okay, let’s start downloading all of your information and start engineering it against those people. As a turncoat, he’s made quite an exceptional living shooting back against his former allies. I think the collective of me, Dennis Miller, David Horowitz, David Mamet, the late Ron Silver, and countless other formerly avowed leftists, we’re able to communicate ideas to conservatives who just don’t understand how the liberal mind thinks.
I think that sometimes conservatives are way too naive to understand the zeal that liberals have in trying to destroy using Alinsky tactics the very humanity of their conservative opponents. The viciousness, the lack of rules, is so absolute within the leftist framework that the ends justify the means, that my media is very much organized to try and go toe-to-toe with those people to say we know what your motivations are, we know how vicious you are, but we are not afraid of you. My media considers the left media to be the bullies on the playground. We may be smaller, we may be small in number, we may have a lot less money, but there are a growing number of people who are sick and tired of the campaigns to destroy decent people, such as George Bush, Sarah Palin, Clarence Thomas, Paula Jones, Linda Tripp, Matt Drudge, Rush Limbaugh.
The Alinsky tactics have gone on for too long without being met with a formidable challenge, and that is my number one value in this world. I’m a former lefty, I understand how vicious these people are, I understand that they feel they have the right to control the sandbox, and I am trying to orchestrate media that isn’t just out there to push the right-of-center Libertarian narrative, I’m out there to destroy the false order, the false control that the left has in controlling the mainstream media in this country.
SHEFFIELD: What I find is interesting is given the utter lack of conservatives or libertarians in any real positions of authority at places like ABC, NBC, New York Times, etc. that many on the left seem to think that when they’re expressing themselves, that, in a phrase they love to say, they are “speaking truth to power.” How have they been able to keep up that obviously false impression that they are this little outpost in the wilderness when in fact they control the vast majority of American institutions?
BREITBART: It’s interesting, I’ve said this over and over, and there are a lot of people that criticize me and say that this defines me as an extremist, that I call the left totalitarians, and that I call the left, especially in the realm of media, totalitarians. But wherever you go, whether it be a college campus or the New York Times or ABC News or Venezuela or Cuba or the former Soviet Union, it’s amazing how the speech codes and the trying to shut up dissent is a defining aspect of the left because they believe so firmly in their utopian ideals that anyone who would disagree with that utopia is an enemy of the state, and they treat them as such.
In 1996 or 1997, out of nowhere, Fox News comes on and it’s on channel 360 on Direct TV, and out of 300 million Americans, on every single night, anywhere from 3 to 5 million watch it, we’re talking about at no more than 2 percent of the American public is watching Fox at any given moment. Yet, ABC, CBS, NBC, the New York Times, the institutional left, CNN, MSNBC, the record companies, Hollywood, all seem to be committed towards aligning their minds and their money and their other resources to try to shut up Fox News.
Or to try and shut up Andrew Breitbart, get him kicked off ABC, CBS, and NBC. Try to make it so there’s net neutrality, try to make it so there’s a fairness doctrine, this is what they want to do. They thought that media control was their birthright because they’ve controlled it without any effective longterm attempts to do a coup d’état of left control of the media. They thought that this was their permanent domain. Now that they see an insurgent conservative media that’s certainly outnumbered and certainly out-financed, they still are incredibly threatened by it because that is where they believe they are able to maintain and control their political power, through the media, not through elections.
SHEFFIELD: They’ve certainly targeted you in that regard, such as the spurious accusation that you are racist somehow. Tell us a little bit about that.
BREITBART: I think you’re going to have to search long and hard to find a person who’s more associated with the black conservative movement in this country. I think when my narrative is that I became a conservative because I saw that Clarence Thomas was not treated to the protections that are provided by the NAACP and other civil rights organizations and by the Democrat Media Complex, by white senators such as Ted Kennedy and Joe Biden. I saw that because he was conservative he was thrown to the wolves, it opened my eyes to the fact that it wasn’t that black people are protected in this country by the left; it’s that black liberals are protected just as female liberals are protected, not conservatives.
Look how they treat Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann differently, certainly, from the way they treat Katie Couric and Hillary Clinton and Tina Fey. This oppressor/oppressed cultural Marxist thing is you’re an authentic woman and an authentic black even only if you support liberal causes. If you are a woman, if you are a Hispanic, if you are black, and you abide by a value system that believes in limited government and constitutional principles, you are an apostate to the utopian ideals of the left, and you are not protected, and you are pilloried, and that is why I became a conservative because I thought it was fundamentally unfair, fundamentally un-American, and I was the master of ceremonies at the Congress of Racial Equality’s Martin Luther King dinner in front of over 1000 people where Roy Innis asked me to be the master of ceremonies. If I’m a racist, why is one of the top civil rights activists of the 1960s asking me to be a centerpiece of the MLK dinner. Why am I the only one who has the guts to stand up to this Democrat Media Complex that insists that black people must exist on the Democrat plantation.
SHEFFIELD: You talk about fear. The left definitely uses fear to get people who are conservative to just not say anything, to just hold back. Would you agree?
BREITBART: I’m sick of the pussies on the right, if I can use that word, they’re pathetic. The poll-tested, Republican strategist driven candidate whose job is to try and not get into a battle with the mainstream media and be liked by Katie Couric is a threat to our country. It’s a clear and present danger to a country that’s in steep peril.
SHEFFIELD: In the sense of what?
BREITBART: They abide by the attacks, they stand on the sidelines as a good woman is attacked mercilessly, like Sarah Palin or Michele Bachmann, or an Allen West or a Rush Limbaugh or other people who are out there fighting against the Democrat Media Complex. They know it exists, they know it exists to the extent that they spend hundreds of thousands and millions of dollars in order to protect themselves from these villains that control the national narrative. When they’re out there, sitting on the sidelines at a time when our country is in unique peril, in which people like me and Rush stick our necks out there, or Sarah Palin who sticks her neck out there, and when they don’t defend them, and they abide by this false order, they’re not worthy of positions of leadership at a time of peril like this.
SHEFFIELD: Speaking of sticking your neck out, what’s you take on the current GOP presidential field?
BREITBART: I want the ballsy ones in there. I want the ones that stood up for the Tea Party when the Tea Party was being pilloried by the mainstream media. I like the Bachmanns and the Palins and the Wests and I like the Herman Cains, I like Thaddeus McCotter, I like fighters, and I don’t like the poll-tested ones.
The ones that after Barack Obama won in 2008, and believed the mainstream media’s framing of the Republican movement and the conservative movement as failed and this being a permanent ascendency of progressive politics in America when some of those people thought “Okay, well I’m going to start triangulating and I’m going to sign up for cap and trade,” or “I’m going to sit down next to Nancy Pelosi and talk about global warming” a few months before the East Anglia emails come out to show that the peer-to-peer review was, as most of us believed, a form of thuggery against those people that disagreed with the prevailing leftist, socialist, redistributionist, scientist-based community.
SHEFFIELD: So, I take it, no to Gingrich and Pawlenty then, it sounds like.
BREITBART: I’m not going to get specific. I think that these are new times, and if they made a mistake, they can stand up there and apologize for their mistakes and self-flagellate. We are a country that believes in redemption, but if they’re going to sit on the sidelines, not come clean, and not defend those who are out there who are getting dirty and fighting these types of nefarious forces, then to hell with them.
SHEFFIELD: Beyond Republican candidates engaging in constant polling, the conservative movement, such as it is, have there been problems with that as far as understanding, in your recent years, from talking to different people? One of your lines in the book is “Hollywood is more important than Washington.” Is that something that conservatives have understood?
BREITBART: I went to to D.C. within the last three or four years and was asked to give a presentation to a Republican conference on the Hill, and I had about 40 congressmen in there, and I gave them a presentation to tell them about a growing group of underground Hollywood conservatives who want to fight the fight but will lose their jobs if they come out and fight the fight, and we need to come up with some long-term strategies to get conservatives jobs out there and get conservative money out there, to allow for capitalism to happen.
If they’re going to be DreamWorks, which is a distinctly left-of-center capitalist venture, why not come up with a Republican DreamWorks because there’s certainly enough writers and directors and actors who secretly aspire to make movies and films that agree with the center-right perspective, and I would argue the majority perspective in this country. These people looked at me like “Why are you talking to me? You’re not helping me, I need help with my commercials. If these people can’t help me with my commercials, why am I even sitting here listening to you?”
These people suffer from a lack of vision, they only care about getting elected every two years, and the very idea that we have a generational problem that’s not going to be fixed in two years, four years, or six years causes them to say “I’m not going to be part of the solution because I’m not going to get any credit for it.” We’ve got a major problem, we’ve got a divide between the left, which understands how vital Hollywood and propaganda in communications is, and a conservative movement that thinks “no, we’re the ones who are going to solve all the issues in our country, we’re congressmen, how could you not trust us?”.
SHEFFIELD: Where do you think that attitude came from, and why is it persisting so long?
BREITBART: I think that because the left seized Hollywood in the late 60s and nobody on the right fought back really and we’re now 40 years not having had much of a foothold in the culture, and these people are used to simply poo-pooing culture, they think that a correct response to ten anti-war movies in a row, and not a pro-war movie, is to say “look, the market’s spoken, and there you go, the anti-war movement in Hollywood failed.”
Wouldn’t that suggest that maybe there’s a market for pro-war movies against radical Islam that the American people would like to see they mythologies played out that show that our guys are the good guys fighting against forces who are anti-modern, who are anti-civil rights, who are anti-decency, like the radical Islamists. They think that by simply saying that we don’t like Rosie O’Donnell and Sean Penn that that constitutes a a cultural response.
The response is capitalism. The response is make movies, make money. With Michael Medved, he’s talked about this for 15 years, the movies that make money aren’t the R-rated movies, they’re the ones that have a broad appeal, are upbeat, and the American people like. If you deconstruct the movies that have done well, Pixar-type movies that do incredibly well and make hundreds of millions of dollars, they have a strain of decency and conservatism that maybe even their filmmakers don’t even recognize. Yet, we cross our fingers that by mistake, liberal filmmakers and liberal producers are going to by mistake make conservative movies. We have to become invested in it, or else we have no excuse to complain.
SHEFFIELD: You talked a little about your personal background in the book. You mentioned the time you were working for Arianna Huffington, who started off as a conservative but seemed to rather conveniently become a liberal.
BREITBART: Her road to Damascus conversion happened over 24 hours it felt like. I was researching her articles and she dug up Larry Lawrence from Arlington National Cemetery, Clinton’s number one donor, and I’m like, this seems like a pretty cool job for a young conservative who wants to get into the media. Overnight, it seemed Arianna opted for having the cool Hollywood friends that refused to come to her house when she was a Republican. When she switched, she didn’t just switch political sides, she switched friends, and she became what Hollywood wanted Warren Beatty to be. She became the centerpiece and the person who ran the number one political salon on the west side of Los Angeles, and it was a very demoralizing period for me to watch somebody that I was so close with turn on a dime.
SHEFFIELD: You think it was just for financial reasons?
BREITBART: I’m not in her head. There’s more money on the left in media than there is on the right. Nobody’s coming to me with 60 million dollars to turn it into a 315 million dollar juggernaut even though I created the Huffington Post. You would think that AOL would want to hedge its bets ideologically. The left understands the media. The left wields it, and the right sits on the sidelines and complains.
SHEFFIELD: Speaking of AOL and their acquisition, they don’t seem to have made any attempt to rein in the left-wing lunacy on that website.
BREITBART: That was the reason I was motivated to help create it with Arianna. I told it to her face. I said, “it’ll be great for you, you’ll become the queen of the left-wing blogosphere. It’ll be great for me because I guarantee you, your friends are crazy, and I want to see what they have to say.” The first day it was launched, I was very worried about how it would be interpreted. Would people think I was a turncoat? And I wasn’t, I really wanted to show people how people on the west side of L.A. and on the Upper Westside of Manhattan thought, and the only other place on the internet where the left was being free and open about their point of view was at the Daily Kos, and people were writing under fake names, under pseudonyms there.
The first day that happened, I was driving up Lincoln Boulevard worried about the response, and I turned on Michael Medved’s show, and on day one, there was a post by Rob Reiner, saying where are the Woodwards and Bernsteins of today, and he was railing against the lack of journalistic criticism against George Bush. As he was reading it, you could sense the irony and sarcasm dripping from Medved’s mouth. I was laughing, he was laughing, and I thought “wow, I’ve hit pay dirt. Now we’re going to have a place where the American people can see just how crazy and marginalized the organized left is.”
I left very soon thereafter because I was very uncomfortable being around those people because they really don’t like conservatives. I remember there was a point where Drudge linked to a story where Arianna Huffington had a writer saying that two weeks into the Katrina flooding in New Orleans, Randall Robinson of TransAfrica, a Jesse Jackson Rainbow Coalition type organization, Randall Robinson claimed that blacks were cannibalizing each other two days into the flooding. Drudge linked to it, which caused Arianna to have to force a retraction from Randall Robinson.
When I first read it, I thought where are the fact checkers? Who starts cannibalizing after only two days? It didn’t make any sense, so I kind of looked at the Huffington Post as a performance art venue and it’s how I met Greg Gutfeld, and what greater performance artist could have we met other than Greg Gutfeld, an avant-garde conservative, if that’s an oxymoron.
SHEFFIELD: Why aren’t there more Greg Gutfelds?
BREITBART: I don’t know, it’s a huge problem. I think that because the conservative movement is like a country club based in Washington, D.C., it’s almost as if George, Will, and Charles Krauthammer are sitting on a co-op board telling people who or who can’t live in the conservative co-op. I’m more of a Tea Party person. This isn’t a co-op, this isn’t a country club, this is our country. It’s a democracy, and the reason why the conservative movement loses is because it believes that it is elite, that the smartest in its midst who have gone to the right schools and who have worked at the right think tanks and have the right opinions and the right friends can run it for the rest of the country. That’s why I’m a Tea Party adherent over a Republican or conservative establishment adherent. That’s how you get more Greg Gutfelds, is to say to hell with the co-op board.
SHEFFIELD: Or it could be that conservatives simply don’t believe in cloning, and we can’t stuff Greg Gutfeld into a machine.
BREITBART: I’m pro-cloning of Greg, Bill [Schulz], and Andy [Levy].
SHEFFIELD: One of the other things that you get into, just to switch gears a little bit, is some rules for conservatives as opposed to rules for radicals of Saul Alinsky. If you could just very quickly touch on maybe one or two of those.
BREITBART: I would say that the most important one is ignore the co-op board that I just described. When the co-op board says don’t go on Bill Maher’s show, or don’t go to Hollywood, or don’t appear on the “Family Guy” show because “Family Guy” is so violent and filthy, no, it’s the funniest show on television, why don’t you ask your children?
I’ve been told over and over not to go on the Bill Maher show. Well, my best moments have happened on the Bill Maher show. It’s been magic for me. In fact, I learned on the Bill Maher show that I can survive the audience booing at me, the guests hating me, Sarah Silverman mocking me, that I can survive. That’s a lesson right there for people on the right. Stop fearing being attacked. If you don’t like being attacked for your point of view, you shouldn’t be in politics in the first place.
That’s my biggest lesson is that the co-op board says let’s just go on AM talk radio, and let’s only talk to friendlies, and let’s preach to the choir. I remember after one of my dreadful moments on Real Time, where I was ganged up on by everybody, and I went to Starbucks the next day, and the typical liberal tattooed and pierced barista said “Hey, you were on Bill Maher last night. I’m a liberal, but I really admired that you had the courage to stand up to that rude audience.”
The very idea that the liberals saw that, how is it that I became a conservative from being a liberal? It’s because I witnessed how liberals behaved to a conservative. They treated him poorly. Had I not seen that, I wouldn’t have opened my eyes. For those in the conservative movement to think that you’re going to change minds only by preaching to the choir, you don’t understand how media works. So that’s probably the most potent weapon out there is to go fight the fire, go towards the fire.
Another point I make in the book is to look at how potent it would have been for the discovery that Barack Obama did cocaine in college, but he put it into his biography and it was blunted by the time the election happened. If you see in my book, I get into my misdeeds and misbehavior in college when I was a default liberal. A, I’m bragging about it because I had fun, to be honest with you, and I don’t reject that part of my life, but I kind of make my life an open book as long as the left exists to use Saul Alinsky tactics to destroy people, your background is going to be fair game. If you’re a human being who has behaved as a human, they’re going to use anything that you’ve done wrong against you. I’ve lived my public life as openly as possible so that they can’t rip something out of my closet to use against me. I behave in public like I behave in private. I’m irreverent, I’m not politically correct, and I feel that I’m protected in my private life because I live a very public private life. I’m very honest about where I’m coming from.
If you are a Newt Gingrich, who’s running around in the era of Bill Clinton, and you’re having an affair as this thing is there, you are compromised. You can’t speak freely and openly on the most important issue of the day because you’re fearful that your closet is going to come and haunt you. I choose to air my closet.
SHEFFIELD: Speaking of closets, you’ve had a bit of a difference with some conservatives over gay issues. At CPAC, you hosted a party with the GOProud group. Talk a little bit about your difference with many conservatives on that issue.
BREITBART: To this day, I wish that the people who protested GOProud’s existence could explain to me what is not copacetic about my point of view. I believe in a big tent. My endorsement of GOProud is not based upon a pro or con position on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell or the Defense of Marriage Act. It’s that I have gay friends in my life who are conservative. I have gay friends in my life who are for gay marriage and against gay marriage. I believe in an open and free debate.
If the social conservatives feel that they have a strong argument on traditional marriage, then feel free to have it. You’ll have many gay people on your side who just because they’re gay, doesn’t mean they’re for gay marriage. I don’t understand if the conservative movement says you can’t be gay and conservative, and I’m straight, then I don’t think I can abide by that form of conservatism. I am for a huge, huge tent that espouses conservative principles.
SHEFFIELD: Maybe I’d like you to make a distinction because a lot of times when you hear people say “I’m a big tent Republican” that they’re implying they want people who are liberal or moderate to be under that tent.
BREITBART: I’m not saying that. I have gay friends who are more conservative than most of my conservative friends.
SHEFFIELD: So it’s a big tent with regard to conservatism?
BREITBART: Yes, and not to distort underlying values within conservatism. Not RINO [Republican In Name Only], not Susan Collins, not Olympia Snow. I’m talking about my gay friends who are very conservative, are incredibly conservative because in Hollywood especially, if you’re gay and conservative, it’s worse to be a conservative in the gay community than it is to be a conservative in Hollywood. It’s worse. Those people who espouse conservatism that causes them to be under permanent attack by the left gay activists cabal, those people are in need of a protection. They’re not doing that because it’s fun. They’re not taking that stand because it’s fun, they’re taking that stand because that’s what they believe in, and they need to have somebody standing up for them, and I’m more than happy to do so.
SHEFFIELD: On a different note, you mentioned the phrase activist cabal. You certainly are associated now with the former group ACORN. In retrospect, what are some of your thoughts on how things have panned out and how they’re going forward with that?
BREITBART: It kind of played out exactly as I predicted. I knew that the mainstream media would defend ACORN, that’s why we did it one video at a time to cause ACORN to step in it, to step into the traps. When ACORN stepped into the traps, the mainstream media went along with ACORN’s lies, and eventually falling into the trap three or four times in a row, the media can no longer parrot the PR spin coming from ACORN, and that opened it up for the political class to defund it.
I told Hannah [Giles] and James [O’Keefe] that they would be held to a different standard, that had they taken down the NRA, they would be on the cover of Rolling Stone and Time Magazine and have their own HBO show. I told them, you’re going to be held to a different standard. While ABC, CBS, and NBC do undercover videos that they edit them down to size and edit them down to their most effective, potent, journalistic nuggets, I said you’re going to have to give me the full context, the full transcripts, the full videos because they’re going to say that you’re manipulating what was said here. We proactively did that.
Yet, I’m now almost two years into the ACORN thing, and the meme on ACORN is selectively edited, selectively edited, selectively edited, even though we granted them as much time as they could possibly want to pour through the transcripts and the audio to find where the edits somehow caused ACORN employees to appear to be doing something much more innocuous than what the edited videos suggest, and it doesn’t exist.
But, the power of propaganda is to say something enough times that it becomes the Big Lie. That is what has happened right now. James O’Keefe and I are associated with selectively editing those videos. It is a testament to how powerful the media is. I’ve said it since the videos came out, I’d sit there with John Podesta, Eric Boehlert of Media Matters, or George Soros, and let’s go through every single inch of all of the ACORN video and let’s see at the very end if their best argument even holds any weight at the end of that ten-hour or so point, and they say, but James O’Keefe was never dressed in an ACORN office dressed as an extravagant pimp as if it matters. It’s just propaganda. It’s what the left does, and we’re exposing their Alinsky tricks and they don’t like it.
SHEFFIELD: If that’s the biggest point they have, it’s really not much of a point.
BREITBART: Especially when what they’re arguing is that James O’Keefe has music in the videos as well. Is he insinuating through that selective edit that if they walk into ACORN, there was music hovering above their heads, or that there was an aura of music as they’re walking in, and what about the screen credits that were happening? This is like an intro to “Borat.”
What’s amazing is that as effective as that argument is that James O’Keefe selectively edited to make it appear that he was dressed one way and not another, if you look at the first video, the one that had the most impact, ACORN Baltimore, you actually see James O’Keefe, I don’t even know why he edited this in, but it’s there. You actually see him walking into ACORN with Hannah, who’s dressed as a prostitute, you see that he’s dress in khaki pants and an oxford shirt at around seconds 18 to 22, as he’s walking in, and at around seconds 38 through 41, you see him walking out in the same outfit.
And so they’re even lying about selective editing the part about the costume thing because he’s actually not hiding anything. He acts as a prostitute, while dressed as a Dockers model, but does it matter? Does it matter? But he’s actually telling the truth. He was not trying to create the false impression. It’s clear because in the initial edited videos, he’s dressed as a Dockers model, not an extravagant pimp.
SHEFFIELD: And that’s in contrast to this piece that came out recently alleging that there were murders at Gitmo when in fact the sources for the piece actually never have been in the position to know what they were talking about. And yet that piece, and we talked about it on NewsBusters, won the National Magazine Award. If there are any two cases that illustrate liberal media bias more clearly, it’s those two right there.
BREITBART: James O’Keefe and Hannah Giles have had such successes with undercover video that I’ve had to go on TV like Piers Morgan and talk about the process of undercover video and saying is it fair, are you allowed to do it?
When “Dateline NBC” went into NASCAR country, went to a NASCAR race, and tried to dress up as Muslims to try to get fly-over country NASCAR people to say intemperate things about Muslims and they failed, why wasn’t Piers Morgan or Columbia Journalism Review excoriating NBC saying ‘What were you trying to do to induce good and decent Americans to say bad things about Muslims?’ Why are they allowed to dress up extravagantly in the form of an undercover lie to induce misbehavior from innocents?
That’s their argument against ACORN. Do you find it interesting that in all those videos with all those people that aided and abetted in underage sex slave operation that there was no report on ABC, CBS, or NBC, or the New York Times or the Washington Post to go, let’s analyze the behavior of the people at ACORN? Everything was diverted over to an analysis of the messenger. It was a kill the messenger hit job from the word go.
Nobody could handle the fact that when asked what I was asked about, I said what did you think of these videos, I said I thought they were the Abu Ghraib of the great society. The reporter from the Washington Post, Carol Leonnig, argued with me. I’m like, you asked me a question, it’s my opinion, Carol, I’m not sure why you’re arguing with me. She said “It’s because I did the Abu Ghraib story for the Washington Post, and that was an abomination.”
I said “what do you mean, that was one National Guard unit that was used to become an example of the wartime policy of the president when it was one aberrant unit that was punished for its behavior.
This is multiple ACORN offices that are associated with the progressive movement and the President of the United States, which is treated as if it’s sacrosanct and beyond reproach. Do you know an individual in the world, let alone, a handful, all except for one, that when confronted with a pimp and a prostitute trying to get government money and government funds and government help to establish an underage sex slave operation, do you know of one person who would go along with it? Then why are you incurious as to why ACORN had service with a smile in every office except for one.
SHEFFIELD: It is kind of amazing that the issue continues to perpetuate itself. Just to wrap it up, one of the other interesting anecdotes that you mention in the book is the first time that you were on the Bill Maher show, when you didn’t exactly stand up fully for yourself.
BREITBART: Yeah, that was in like 2004, 2005. I learned a huge lesson. First of all, I was petrified to go on national television on a liberal show with a liberal audience that was piping in through HBO. But it was also a delirious moment. Who doesn’t want to be on TV? Who doesn’t want all the high school and college friends to see you on TV laughing it up on the Bill Maher show? I went on, and as opposed to trying to defend my core values, I was going for some cheap laughs. The audience laughed at me, the people in the greenroom said I was great, and the writers said they’d love to have me on again. I went out to lunch later that week with a friend by the name of Richard Hara [ph] and he said “You were great on the show, (pause), but why didn’t you stick up for what you believe in?”
And it was like a punch in the gut that stuck with me for a few years until I was on the show the next time. I stood off to the side before I went out into the seating area opposite Professor Michael Eric Dyson, a race-bating sociology professor, and opposite Maher, in a hostile crowd. I went in, and it was a worst-case scenario, and the entire time I kept doubling-down on standing up for what I believe in. I defended Rush Limbaugh on the false charges of racism, I defended the Tea Party on the false charges of racism, the crowd booed me, Sarah Silverman mocked me, the audience interrupted me before I could get my sentences out.
But their boos, I got to sneer at the smirks from Bill Maher, and it was singularly hideous. I went back to my dressing room where friends and family were, and it was like a funeral. They started to rationalize how my life would eventually come back to me over months, perhaps years, and they thought it was like the death of my career, the end of my self-respect and dignity.
I looked at them and I basically looked at myself because I was starting to realize something interesting had happened. I looked at them and said “you don’t understand, that was the best moment of my entire life because I recognized the thing that I feared the most,” wholesale rejection from that many people, perhaps millions in the audience, watching on the television, the majority of the crowd, the popular host, the guest, Sarah Silverman, lovely, funny comedian that I like her type of work. Everyone rejected me, and it was an exultant moment, because I realized, yeah, it’s fun to be liked, but when standing up for what you believe in, it’s also very fun not to be liked.
SHEFFIELD: And so that became a catalyst going forward for you?
BREITBART: I think that if anybody sees me out there, I think that it’s almost like my calling card. I have to credit Ann Coulter because I always wondered how she did it. I call it the Coulter threshold. I think some of you have to go through the pain of being rejected, the pain of being attacked on television, and ultimately there are people at home who are rooting for you and are wondering why more people don’t defend what they stand up for.
People are afraid, people don’t want to be rejected. I’m trying to teach people to get past the Coulter threshold. You’ve got to get past the Palin and the George W. Bush threshold because when you get past it, after they’ve booed you, you’re like, okay, well I’m alive and I’m going to keep standing up for what I believe in. Once you get to that point, boy you are dangerous. That’s why the left doesn’t like me, they don’t like Coulter, they don’t like Palin, they don’t like Rush Limbaugh because we’ve all survived it and realized that which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
SHEFFIELD: With that, thank you for joining us, and I definitely commend the book Righteous Indignation to our readers to check out.