This morning, along with the news of Andrew’s terribly untimely passing, I see that Glenn Beck is stating that Andrew is the responsible party in their division. I’m sure Glenn Beck has his side of the story, but I’m going to tell Andrew’s side of it, because Andrew isn’t around to tell it himself.
And honestly, I can’t say that he would, because it goes beyond personal disagreements and animosities, and it touches on the welfare of people whom he didn’t want to hurt.
I had a unique position from which to judge these events due to the accident of having worked for Scott Baker and Liz Stephans at the B-Cast as a researcher. When they were just starting out, I helped a little from Protein Wisdom to put them in the eye of the right blogosphere, and when I lost my teaching job with St. Michael’s in Vermont they were kind enough to offer me part-time work helping to gather up stories and line up guests to the program. And for that I am grateful.
Gradually, though, they came to collaborate with Glenn Beck, Scott supplying a lot of the insights regarding Obama’s Alinskyite past, links with SDS, the Chicago academic milieu out of which he emerged, ACORN and all the rest. My role began to diminish, and eventually I was let go on the eve of their announcing that they were going to work for Beck.
Andrew bought them out. He and Scott had been estranged for some time, anyway, and Larry O’Connor took over the gig of managing Breitbart TV. I had been hired, not under Breitbart per se, but Hot Metal Media, owned and operated by Scott and Liz.
The estrangement, according to Andrew, between him and Scott began over money. Scott had quit his several-hundred-thousand-a-year gig as anchor at a Pittsburgh television station. Liz had been working in television, too, as a production assistant, drawing a relatively small salary. Realizing the potential of the internet and Breitbart’s emerging Big sites, Scott wanted Andrew’s backing. The deal was, Andrew had to accept both Scott and Liz as partners in this portion of his enterprise, even though she appeared not to be bringing as much to the table. The real sticking point was salary: Andrew was unwilling to pay Scott anywhere near what he had been earning in TV. Contrary to what many seemed to believe, Andrew wasn’t made of money. He ran a tight ship, economically. He was looking for bang for the buck.
That, apparently, left a bad taste in Scott’s mouth. He had a big house in the suburbs, and children from two marriages. They had an uneasy compact, seldom speaking. During the time that I worked for Scott and Liz, I had asked on several occasions when James O’Keefe and other Breitbart folks were in the limelight, whether we shouldn’t invite Andrew on. I found the tepid reactions somewhat puzzling. Scott, meanwhile, finalized his second divorce and became engaged to Liz, though neither I nor any of the viewers of The B-Cast were aware of this. We just noticed the rock on her hand and wondered to whom she was engaged.
In the early days, when Scott had been looking to work for Andrew, he’d been very friendly. As he became a regular part of the Beck program, then still on Fox, he re-contacted Andrew and said that he was working to bring about a collaboration between Breitbart and Beck. Andrew said he was interested, but that he would like to negotiate with Beck directly, if that were the case. He recognized the scenario. Back when Scott had been trying to bring Liz in as well as himself as a collaborator with Breitbart, Andrew had said to him that he’d like to get to know Liz on a one-to-one basis if that were the case. Scott hadn’t seemed to like that.
Keep in mind, now, that what I’m presenting is on the basis of two phone conversations with Andrew, and that I may make Scott out to be a much bigger Svengali than in fact he was in these events. Andrew was groping for answers as to why Beck had seemed so willing to throw him under the bus over the way the Shirley Sherrod/Pigford incident had unfolded. At one point, he and Beck had been friendly, and he was trying to understand how things had gone so sour.
On several occasions early in their entente, Scott had informed Andrew that Liz’ dad had deep pockets, and that Andrew might consider him as an investor. I’m sure that this point will lead to a lot of recrimination, but as Andrew’s no longer around to tell his side of the story, I will have to do so for him. He later learned that Scott and Liz were essentially living off of Liz’ trust from her father, supporting his mortgage and the travels to visit his kids who were living in Florida with one of his ex-wives. This bothered him a great deal, as did the idea of a middle-aged, twice-married man with children scooping up a significantly younger bride who had in many respects become responsible for their welfare. Is that unfair? Perhaps, but it shows you that Andrew was trying to take a look at the big picture.
You’ll recall that when Breitbart released the first Sherrod tape, it showed her speaking before an NAACP audience who hooted their approval when she spoke of a white farmer whom Sherrod had originally declined to help, on the basis that he should seek help from ‘his own kind.’ At the end of the clip, she stated that she’d reflected and decided to help, because this wasn’t a matter of race so much as it was one of income inequality. Beck ran originally with an edited version that cut out the denoument, then quickly reversed himself by joining the left in claiming that Andrew was the one who had edited and mischaracterized Sherrod’s address. Right or wrong, Andrew saw behind that the machinations of an alienated Scott Baker, and he had other sources who backed up his suspicion that Scott continued to harbor a grudge, one in particular who had worked closely with Scott and gotten to know Liz well after he’d gone over to Beck.
No matter what Beck may now say on the subject, it was his volt-face on Sherrod and his casting of the blame on Breitbart’s shoulders that was the original occasion of their falling out. And it seemed to other people, such as me, that once Beck established his GBTV and left Fox, he continued to attempt to define himself by contrast with Breitbart, even when one might expect that he’d be ideologically aligned. Personally, I think that that was a mistake, and this post is not about just what it was and is that Beck is trying to set himself up as, but the professions of innocence in the falling out ring hollow to me.
I have other information at second hand, that out of respect for the privacy of some of the involved I am not going to share. But in this matter of choosing sides, I am convinced that the estrangement doesn’t fall on Andrews’ large shoulders. He was gentler than some would have you believe. Posse et nolle, nobile: to have the power to do harm and to refrain from it is noble.
UPDATEx??: Many thanks to Maggie’s Notebook for the link.
UPDATEx???: Howard Kurtz and Suzanne Malveaux perpetuate lie about Breitbart on Sherrod:
UPDATEx?????: Andrew’s new Bigger Bigs will unveil on Sunday.
UPDATE: Michelle has some of the ugly tweets in the wake of his death. More milk of liberal kindness here.
Among Andrew Breitbart’s many achievements: temporarily suspending the Twitter hostility over the Republican primaries.
Breitbart is dead. Breitbart lives.
He may have been the greatest genius I’ve ever met, with a keen, intuitive mind. Although he had been diagnosed with attention deficit disorder — he had a freewheeling quality about him, and his schedule was quite improvisational – Breitbart was also capable of a laser-like focus on whatever subject captured his interest. There were times you’d be talking to him and, if that spark of passionate interest hit, his luminous blue eyes would glow with an intensity that was almost frightening.
“He did greater work than Woodward and Bernstein.”
Lots of great stuff at Ace’s, the best of which is the contrast with David Frum.
As I type this, Breitbart is more alive than David Frum has ever been.
UPDATE (Joy): Welcome, Blaze readers.