LAS VEGAS – Andrew Breitbart was as shunned as he was loved but he had “all the right enemies,” attendees at this weekends’s RightOnline conference said of the late conservative online entrepreneur whose sudden death earlier this year rocked the right-wing blogosphere.
Conference-goers paid tribute to Breitbart this weekend at a rally-the-troops convention in Las Vegas. His provocative and at times abrasive style in his quest to “expose hypocrisy,” particularly within the Occupy Wall Street movement, made him a hero to many online conservatives and a villain among Democrats, they said.
Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity, the Virginia-based group that sponsored the RightOnline conference, hailed Breitbart in his opening remarks as “truly revolutionary” in his fight for “economic freedom and individual freedom.”
“Andrew taught us that we could use social media effectively for our cause,” Phillips told a crowd of several hundred conservative bloggers and activists gathered inside the Venetian Hotel on Friday night.
“Oh, did the liberals hate him for it,” Phillips said, “But that’s OK because we loved him and still love him.”
Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, who headlined the two-day conference, also praised Breitbart as a fearless leader among “new media activists” in “unmasking the truth.”
“Reload that inspiration of his fearlessness,” Palin told audience members, many of whom held up red signs with Breitbart’s image and the words “Breitbart Is Here.”
Indeed he was. Almost every speech included an anecdote about the 43-year-old conservative provocateur and author, who died suddenly in March from heart failure near his home in California’s Brentwood neigborhood.
Excerpts from the film “Hating Breitbart” were also broadcast on two huge television screens, highlighting in particular Breitbart’s contempt for the Occupy movement – which he claimed was masterminded by radical, left-wing anarchists and not born out of an uprising of unemployed college students. In another film "Occupy Unmasked," Breitbart calls Occupy activists “filthy, raping, murdering freaks” and “animals.”
A preview of the "Hating Breitbart" film, which has yet to debut, showed a contentious exchange between Breitbart and Harry Reid supporters at a 2010 Tea Party Express rally in Reid’s hometown of Searchlight, Nev., in which Breitbart challenged the egg-throwing protesters. Another clip showed Breitbart sharing some choice words for John Podesta of the Center for American Progress when he famously leaned into a reporter’s notebook and yelled, ““F--k you, John Podesta. What’s in your closet, John Podesta?"
One California-based conservative blogger and Breitbart friend, Jon Fleischman, shared a gentler, more private side of Breitbart whom he said had a special compassion for fallen soldiers and their families. Fleischman told FoxNews.com that Breitbart’s home overlooked the Veterans Memorial Cemetery in West Los Angeles, where Breitbart would sometimes go to stand silently with a soldier’s family, whom he did not know, as they buried a family member.
“He and I went together rather spontaneously one day,” Fleischman recalled. “It was a very somber and special time with him … Andrew was a ‘culture warrior’ and so he believed in American exceptionalism.
“He was a very passionate defender of our military,” he said.