by Ginny Grimsley
New York, N.Y.
IS SARAH PALIN THE MOST DANGEROUS WOMAN IN AMERICA?
BRADENTON, Fla., Sept. 26, 2011 -- Surrounded by a throng of reporters and bathed in the bright lights of tv cameras from all over the world, Andrew Breitbart was in his element.
He is the man who utterly embarrassed the Obama Administration with hidden-camera exposÚs on his Web site BigGiovernment.com of heedlessness at two ACORN welfare offices visited by a videographer, James O'Keefe, who dressed up actors as pimps and prostitutes who applied for financial help.
In a later political mess, he was forced to recant after promoting what seemed like an anti-white remark made out of context by federal agriculture official Shirley Sherrod in Georgia.
Shortly afterwards, he had a close brush with disgrace when O'Keefe - whether an employee or contractor of BigGovernment.com was never made clear - and three associates allegedly tried to tamper with phones in the U.S. Senate offices of Louisiana's Sen. Mary Landrieu. The four right-wing activists pleaded guilty to federal misdemeanor charges of misrepresenting themselves to enter a federal building. O'Keefe was sentenced to three years' probation, 100 hours of community service, and fined $1,500, and Breitbart was left untouched.
When Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner was politically busted for sending provocative photos and messages to women over the Internet, Breitbart got hold of one of the photos, released it in the face of charges it was doctored, and then suddenly commanded the stage at a press conference awaiting Weiner's resignation; Weiner stayed away until Breitbart was gone. Breitbart was vindicated and thoroughly back in business - not that he ever left it.
Next, he was the subject of a critical Rolling Stone cover story by Matt Taibi, so as he strolled through the "spin room" after the debate he was still a healthy and glowing celebrity.
Breitbart spoke to us in Orlando at the Presidential V Conference and Republican Party of Florida presidential debate sponsored by Fox News, Google and YouTube at the Orange County Convention Center last weekend.
The career path of many like him began with an incident in Virginia in 1996, when a slur against an Indian-American - a "macaca," as Sen. George Allen called a videoographer working for an opponent - went viral on YouTube wrecked Allen's campaign and Senate career.
Video terrorism was born at that moment, and the political right has excelled at it ever since. By now, Breitbart's eventful life has prepared him well for another political season.
Asked if there is good material for new video exposÚs awaiting him in the 2012 presidential race, he swiftly answered, "How can there not be?"
"Everybody has a camera right now," he said. "I mean, the majority of our successes have been born not of mainstream media going out there and finding investigative journalism. It's been citizens realizing what these types of cameras" - he held up a black cell phone - "these types of cameras that are on these types of phones - that they can do the work that they feel that the mainstream media is not doing.
"And that is why you see arrows of new media going upwards and old media going downwards - because they refuse to cover the stories. They refuse to cover the corruption that exists in rampant fashion in government.
"And people are out there saying, "Can you believe that ABC, CBS and NBC don't point out the massive amount of waste and fraud in our government? They think that's there something lovely about this?"
The Drudge Report's 1998 exposure of the affair between President Bill Clinton and aide Monica Lewinsky was the online catalyst for his genre of journalism.
"That narrative has happened since 1998, for 13 years," Breitbart said. "It's been a consistent thing. Every single day online, you see stories that the mainstream media won't cover.
"They're not learning their lesson," he said.