Andrew Breitbart, who cultivated controversy with his BigGovernment website and was a conservative thorn in the sides of many liberals, has died, his newssite's editor-in-chief, Joel Pollak, has confirmed. He emailed that word to The Two-Way moments ago.
In a post on BigGovernment, it's reported that "Andrew passed away unexpectedly from natural causes shortly after midnight this morning in Los Angeles." He would turn 43 this year.
As NPR's David Folkenflik reported last June, Breitbart "has made the scandal a national fixation" and over recent years "targeted liberal politicians and institutions and [was] a bombastic critic of the mainstream media."
We'll have more on Breitbart shortly.
Update at 3:00 p.m. ET. Shirley Sherrod Offers Her Prayers.
Former U.S. Agriculture Department employee Shirley Sherrod, who in 2010 lost her job after Breitbart posted an edited, misleading video of her that made it sound as if she had discriminated against whites when she was making a very different point, tells Talking Points Memo that "my prayers go out to Mr. Breitbart's family as they cope through this very difficult time."
Update at 12:40 p.m. ET. Arianna Huffington Remembers Her Friend:
As we said earlier, the conservative Breitbart helped the liberal Arianna Huffington launch The Huffington Post. NPR.org's Liz Halloran passes along this statement she received from Huffington:
"Liz, I was asked many times this morning for my thoughts on what Andrew meant to the political world, but all I can think of at the moment is what Andrew meant to me as a friend, starting from when we worked together — his passion, his exuberance, his fearlessness. And above all, what I'm thinking of at the moment is his amazing wife Susie and their four beautiful young children. My love and thoughts are with them right now. Arianna"
Update at noon ET. On The Circumstances Of His Death.
According to The Associated Press:
"Breitbart was walking near his house in the Brentwood neighborhood on Thursday, shortly after midnight, when he collapsed, said his father-in-law, Orson Bean, a movie, TV and Broadway actor. Someone saw Breitbart fall and called paramedics, who tried to revive him. They rushed him to the emergency room at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles. 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 said.
Update at 11:05 a.m. ET. Republican Reaction:
-- "Andrew Breitbart's sudden death is a tragedy for his family and for conservatism. Callista and I send our prayers and our condolences." (GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich.)
-- "RIP 'O Mighty Warrior!" (Texas Gov. Rick Perry.)
-- "Andrew's death is a shock & huge loss. His courage should be an example to us all. Our prayers are with his family." (GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum.)
Update at 10:55 a.m. ET. His "War Cry":
Breitbart was one of the speakers at last month's Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C. He issued a "war cry for 2012. ... You need to join me in this war against the institutional left."
Update at 10:35 a.m. ET. Breitbart's Last Tweet:
It appears to be part of an exchange with Lamar White Jr., a Louisiana blogger. Breitbart's tweet appears to have been posted at 2:25 a.m ET — or 11:25 p.m. in California.
Update at 10:25 a.m. ET. Other Reactions Are Harsh:
When Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., died in 2009, Breitbart did not hold back in sharing his opinions about the liberal lawmaker. "Villain" was one of the words — there are many we can't share — he used on Twitter in discussing Kennedy.
Not surprisingly, there are many very harsh things being said about him right now on Twitter and some are celebrating his death.
Update at 10:20 a.m ET. From A 2010 New Yorker Profile:
"No battle is too petty for Breitbart, no target too small or pathetic. ...
"Breitbart considers himself an accidental cultural warrior. 'I am not as partisan as people think I am,' he told me, calling himself eighty-five per cent conservative and fifteen per cent libertarian. His conservatism fails him on issues such as the legalization of prostitution, and he sometimes tilts toward favoring gay marriage. 'But, when the entire media is structured to attack conservatives and Republicans, there is a huge business model to come in and counterbalance that,' he said."
Update at 10:15 a.m. ET. Some Reactions From The Conservative Blogosphere:
-- "DEVASTATING," says Michele Malkin.
-- "Terrible news," writes Ed Morrissey at Hot Air.
-- "We lost a giant," adds Jeff Emanuel at Red State.
Update at 10 a.m. ET. Some Of Our Past Posts About Breitbart And The Controversies He Was Involved In:
-- 'ACORN Versus Conservatives' A Battle To The Death? (Sept. 14, 2009)
-- Conservative Andrew Breitbart Offers $100,000 For 'JournoList' Archives. (June 29, 2010)
-- Andrew Breitbart: Not About Shirley Sherrod But NAACP. (July 20, 2010)
-- Shirley Sherrod Plans To Sue Conservative Andrew Breitbart Over Edited Video. (July 29, 2010)
-- Rep. Weiner Admits Lying, Sending Lewd Photo, Inappropriate Conversations. (June 6, 2011)
Update at 9:55 a.m. ET. He Worked For Matt Drudge And Arianna Huffington:
The Hollywood Reporter, in a "9 things to know about Andrew Breitbart" post last year, noted that:
"He worked for E! Entertainment Television before becoming 'Matt Drudge's bitch' (his words) as editor of the Drudge Report. He also helped launch The Huffington Post before creating Big Hollywood, a blog for conservatives working in Hollywood. ('Big' is a reference to the media's sinister habit of referring to 'Big Oil' and 'Big Tobacco'). He has since launched Big Journalism, Big Government and Big Peace."
Update at 9:50 a.m. ET: The Los Angeles County Coroner's office tells NPR that the cause of death is not yet known.