Former Catholic seminarian and left-wing radio host Bill Press took to his eponymous program today and devoted significant attention to the death of conservative blogger and author Andrew Breitbart. It was not all positive, although he did feature guests who had kind things to say about Breitbart's impact on Internet journalism.
"Raised a Catholic, I was taught the great phrase 'Necal [sic] nisi bonum*' you don’t say anything about the dead unless you’re saying good things about the dead. Well, then I should say nothing about Andrew Breitbart because I can’t think of one good thing to say about him." [MP3 clip here]
Earlier in his program Press described Breitbart as (MP3 clip here; emphasis mine):
... a happy warrior, the most effect and innovative user of the new media. That’s a phrase I saw a lot how innovative he was in using the new media. And you know they’re right about that, he was very innovative in using the new media to distribute and to disseminate lies, for the most part, lies. I mean the guy had he was a right-wing extremist, he had a right-wing agenda and he used the new media to spread right-wing propaganda even if it wasn’t true.
That's certainly speaking ill of the dead, but at least Press avoided calling the late Breitbart a "suicide bomber" like he did of Newt Gingrich in January.
To his credit, Press did have guests on who largely had positive things to say about Breitbart's contributions to both journalism and political activism.
Said Dylan Byers, Politico's media reporter [MP3 clip here]
I think a lot of people are going to miss him. I think that there’s an argument even among the people who disliked him the most, that maybe journalism is going to be a little less exciting for a little while.
His contribution is as someone put it yesterday, is incredible force of will and passion to pursue the stories he wants to pursue. John Harris at Politico, the counterpart to Jim VandeHei did mention on MSNBC yesterday, that you know he was at the periphery just three or four years ago, sure force of will all the sudden was now driving the conversation. That is, say what you will about his politics and whether you disagree with him or agree with him, he made that happen.
Later in the same hour, BuzzFeed's Ben Smith explained how he was inspired by Breitbart [MP3 clip here]:
PRESS: To what extent are you influenced, were you influenced by, inspired by, or followed the example of Andrew Breitbart?
BEN SMITH: You know, I mean Andrew actually worked with the guy who founded BuzzFeed; they were two of the founding partners of Huffington Post. I mean it’s kind of a small world that these guys I think were thinking and looking really far ahead, you know in terms of what’s working on the internet. And Andrew did have this incredible intuitive sense of how the media works and how in his view it should have worked. So.
PRESS: And but you know obviously he was wrong on a lot of issues two, right? I mean he was right about Anthony Weiner he was wrong about Shirley Sherrod he was wrong about ACORN. So does that kind of put a, leave a cloud over the new media you think or, just a cloud over Andrew Breitbart?
BEN SMITH: You know, I sort of think the new media at this point is too big and diverse to have a cloud over it.
Of course, Breitbart was RIGHT about ACORN and the meme that he was wrong about Sherrod is inaccurate reporting by the liberal media.
*that should be nil nisi bonum or "de mortuis nil nisi bonum"