Conservative media powerhouse Andrew Breitbart, founder of BigGovernment.com among other websites, died unexpectedly this morning in Los Angeles at the age of 43, according to his websites.
His websites announced he died shortly after midnight of natural causes.
“We have lost a husband, a father, a son, a brother, a dear friend, a patriot and a happy warrior,” the statement said.
“Andrew lived boldly, so that we more timid souls would dare to live freely and fully, and fight for the fragile liberty he showed us how to love.”
The announcement cited a new conclusion Breitbart recently wrote to his book “Righteous Indignation”:
“I love my job. I love fighting for what I believe in. I love having fun while doing it. I love reporting stories that the Complex refuses to report. I love fighting back, I love finding allies, and – famously – I enjoy making enemies.
“Three years ago, I was mostly a behind-the-scenes guy who linked to stuff on a very popular website. I always wondered what it would be like to enter the public realm to fight for what I believe in. I’ve lost friends, perhaps dozens. But I’ve gained hundreds, thousands—who knows?—of allies. At the end of the day, I can look at myself in the mirror, and I sleep very well at night.”
Breitbart was walking near his home in Brentwood, Calif., just after midnight Thursday when he collapsed, his father-in-law Orson Bean told the Associated Press. A neighbor saw Breitbart fall and called 911. Emergency crews tried to revive him and rushed him to the emergency room at UCLA Medical Center, Bean said.
Breitbart had suffered heart problems a year earlier, but Bean said he could not pinpoint what happened.
“I don’t know what to say. It’s devastating,” Bean told AP.
The Los Angeles Coroner’s Office confirmed to ABC News Radio that Breitbart died shortly after midnight at UCLA Medical Center. No foul play is suspected, a source close to Breitbart told WND today.
He is survived by his wife and four children.
“I have known Andrew for nearly 15 years and considered him a friend. His passion and energy for seeking the truth will be greatly missed by the nation. It’s almost incomprehensible that he left us so soon,” said Joseph Farah, founder and editor of WND.
Matt Drudge paid tribute to his colleague and friend with a posting on the Drudge Report: “In the first decade of the DRUDGEREPORT Andrew Breitbart was a constant source of energy, passion and commitment. We shared a love of headlines, a love of the news, an excitement about what’s happening. I don’t think there was a single day during that time when we did not flash each other or laugh with each other, or challenge each other. I still see him in my mind’s eye in Venice Beach, the sunny day I met him. He was in his mid 20′s. It was all there. He had a wonderful, loving family and we all feel great sadness for them today.”
Rush Limbaugh called Breitbart an “indefatigable bulldog for the conservative cause.”
Sean Hannity told WND: “Andrew was a warrior, though a happy warrior, who relished political combat. He cared deeply for his friends, his family and his country. The movement has lost a passionate advocate. And I have lost a good friend. Andrew and his family are in our prayers.”
“I’m stunned,” wrote Michelle Malkin. “He was kinetic, brash, relentless, full of fight, the bane of the left, and a mentor to the next generation of right-wing activists and citizen journalists. Please keep his family in your prayers.”
The tweets started immediately on word that Breitbart was gone at age 43.
Ed Morrissey: “Incredibly sad to say farewell to Andrew Breitbart.”
Monica Crowley: “I can’t believe this: conservative activist & friend Andrew Breitbart has died. this is a huge loss. Prayers to his family”
In a tasteless Twitter post, the Anonymous hack group announced Andrew Breitbart’s death by calling him a “conservative loudmouth” and reminding followers that Breitbart recently confronted Occupy protesters.
“Conservative loudmouth Andrew Breitbart dies at 43 from natural causes,” read a post in Anonymous’ main Twitter feed.
A second Anonymous post read, “Andrew Breitbart dead at 43 – Hey, remember this?” linking to an article about how Breitbart confronted an Occupy crowd at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference.
The embattled Media Matters for America posted a more tasteful message, telling followers: “Media Matters has a long history with Andrew Breitbart. We’ve disagreed more than we’ve found common ground, but there was never any question of Andrew’s passion for and commitment to what he believed.”
“Andrew was a workaholic. He was online nearly 24/7. He lived and breathed the news cycle. In fact, this morning, 10 hours after his untimely death, he is still on Instant Messenger – with an ‘away’ message,” said Farah.
Learning the news, Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum called it “shocking.”
“What a powerful force,” he said of Breitbart. “It’s almost – you think of anybody out there who’s just got more energy, and just, out there constantly, driving and pushing. What a huge loss, in my opinion, for our country, and certainly for the conservative movement.”
Mitt Romney via Twitter: “Ann and I are deeply saddened by the passing of @AndrewBreitbart: brilliant entrepreneur, fearless conservative, loving husband and father.”
Newt Gingrich via Twitter: “Andrew Breitbart’s sudden death is a tragedy for his family and for conservatism. Callista and I send our prayers and our condolences. / Andrew Breitbart was the most innovative pioneer in conservative activist social media in America. He had great courage and creativity.”
Talk-radio host Mark Levin posted on his Facebook page: “Like most, I am totally stunned and deeply saddened by Andrew’s passing. He was a wonderful person and patriot. He loved his family and country. I will miss him. Many of us will. Andrew had enormous energy and courage. He was a pioneer. He was only 43 years old. I wish I had known him longer. The last time I was with Andrew was in November, when we both spoke in Washington at an Americans for Prosperity event, where Occupy DC was outside the convention center making all kinds of accusations and bullying people. Andrew loved the battle and he knew the stakes. May he rest in peace. May his family find peace. May God bless him.”
Breitbart, in addition to publishing websites devoted to repudiating what he saw as the liberal-dominated coverage of politics and culture, once served as an editor for the Drudge Report and helped Arianna Huffington launch the Huffington Post website.
Breitbart also founded his own news network, acting as the publisher of several news websites including Breitbart.com, Breitbart.tv, Big Hollywood, Big Government, Big Journalism and Big Peace.
Big Government broke the ACORN child-sex trafficking scandal by posting a series of undercover videos taken by filmmaker James O’Keefe. The videos showed ACORN employees giving advice on how to avoid taxes and get away with child prostitution. In response to the videos, Congress voted to defund ACORN, essentially putting the community organizing nonprofit out of business.
In 2011, Breitbart was the genesis of the “Weinergate” photo scandal that led to the resignation of New York Rep. Anthony Weiner. Partially nude photos Weiner tweeted of himself were plastered across Breitbart’s websites.
Breitbart was an outspoken opponent to the Occupy Wall Street movement. At the Conservative Political Action Conference earlier this month, he blasted the protesters as “filthy, filthy, filthy, horrible freaks.”
Breitbert was known for publishing controversial exposes and wrote a best-selling critique of celebrity culture, “Hollywood, Interrupted.” His newest book “Righteous Indignation: Excuse Me While I Save the World!” was on the New York Times best-seller list.
One of Breitbart’s most recent journalism projects was to track down early videos of Barack Obama:
“I’ve got videos, by the way. This election we’re going to vet him. I’ve got videos – this election we’re going to vet him – from his college days to show you why … racial division and class warfare are central to what hope and change was sold in 2008,” he said.