Breitbart, new media David or neocrank?

andrew-breitbart-time.jpgThe Time magazine that hits print tomorrow will have a piece by Steve Oney on Andrew Breitbart, the Brentwood-based right-wing media impresario and culture war provocateur. The story, which is online, covers the rise of Breitbart's website empire and his driving passion to conquer liberal influence on American culture and politics. Breitbart's featured role in the tea party movement, on conservative media and in the ACORN videos controversy are discussed.

Breitbart, 41, dressed on this late-winter day in his standard work uniform of a dirty oxford-cloth shirt and grungy khaki shorts, looks more like a surf bum than one of the most divisive figures in America's political and culture wars. Then his BlackBerry rings.

The woman at the other end of the line, conservative fulminator Ann Coulter, is among Breitbart's staunchest allies, and they soon are engaged in a spirited attack on liberals....

Breitbart perceives himself as a new-media David out to slay old-media Goliaths. As he sees it, the left exercises its power not via mastery of the issues but through control of the entertainment industry, print and television journalism and government agencies that set social policy. "Politics," he often says, "is downstream from culture. I want to change the cultural narrative."

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"I want it to be in the history books," he proclaims, "that I took down the institutional left, and I think that's gonna happen."

Breitbart observers are divided about what his future will bring. Political blogger Mickey Kaus, an acquaintance and longtime Breitbart watcher, thinks the Big sites will become exactly that — big. "I've always thought of him as an empire builder," he says. "He has the temperament of a tycoon, a conservative Ted Turner. He has what they all have — that slightly crazed look in the eyes." Boehlert sees a different ending: "What's ahead for Breitbart is some sort of spectacular flameout."

Some news in the piece: Oney says Breitbart's Big Government, Big Hollywood and Big Journalism sites are "soon to be joined by Big Peace, which will cover national security, followed by Big Tolerance (aimed at conservative gays, blacks and Jews), Big Education and Big Soros (which will address the world of institutional giving)."

Photo of Breitbart for Time: Bryce Duffy


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