By Emily Goodin - 05/20/11 10:02 AM EDT
Conservative commentator Andrew Breitbart discusses his political journey — from his Democratic upbringing to his work with the Tea Party movement — in his new book, Righteous Indignation: Excuse Me While I Save the World!
Breitbart spoke to The Hill about what prompted his move to the right, his friendships with Matt Drudge and Arianna Huffington and how he wants people to see him in a different light.
For over 30 years, I’ve been I was a default liberal from Brentwood [Calif.]. It’s basically the factory setting from where I’m from. … When I watched a bunch of white liberals having free rein grilling Clarence Thomas with the accusation of him being a serial sexual harasser, I wanted to hear what the accusations were. … By the end of the hearings, I wondered when the actual allegations would be met by evidence. I watched how the mainstream media presumed his guilt. … It didn’t turn me into a conservative, but it caused me to open my eyes and start asking questions. My questions were answered bluntly a year later when Bill Clinton was anointed leader of the Democratic Party … and his relationships with women were the epitome of what the women’s movement said was wrong with Clarence Thomas.
Q: Was it liberating for you to realize you were a Republican?
There isn’t a day when I don’t look in the mirror and think, “How in the hell did I become a conservative Republican?” It’s still a weird reckoning, because it shouldn’t have happened. It is liberating, but it’s also the recognition that, if I’m going to try to challenge the Democratic media complex to the degree that I do, that liberation is going to be coupled with every day being a battle.
Q: Is that tiring for you?
It’s mostly a high, but there are moments where it gets overwhelming. Or you get subtle hints that it’s taking a toll — like finding out that there are certain family members who are liberal who no longer want to have Passover with me.
Q: Is there a particular high moment that stands out for you?
All the time. I get stopped by people on the Upper West Side of Manhattan — actors, directors, people that I revere —who are closet conservatives who feel the same way but can’t speak out. And they think I am fighting for them so they can come out of the closet eventually and express themselves without worrying about losing their jobs.
Q: In the book you also discuss your friendships with Arianna Huffington and Matt Drudge.
We were all hanging out together at the Susan McDougall trial in the late 1990s. We were all pals. We all lived in Los Angeles and were the only conservatives we knew. So when Arianna did her pirouette into leftyville, it was like one of your stars being traded to your team. We maintained an emeritus relationship as much as humanly possible, but her friends have a special loathing for me and certainly lack any appreciation for my hands in creating The Huffington Post, but I’ll accept the ingratitude.
Q: Seth Meyers mocked you in his speech at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. Did it upset you?
I loved it. It was validating. It was what he was supposed to do. He made fun of Arianna. He made fun of The Huffington Post. He made fun of [New York City Mayor Michael] Bloomberg. It was great. I’m a “Saturday Night Live” guy. I’m a comedy guy. As long as they’re giving it to everyone, I don’t care about how low they go, most of the time.
Q: Where do you get your news from?
Everywhere. The newswires. I recognized … very, very early on that ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and Fox News were dependent on The Associated Press and Reuters. So my daily intake of information is from watching the newswires. The networks don’t have a presence in Indonesia or in Thailand, so when the earthquake hits Indonesia and creates a tsunami in Thailand, it’s the newswires that have the vast resources to cover it. The first place that a news addict, or a person who wants to be informed, should watch is the newswires.
Q: I wanted to get your take on the 2012 presidential race.
I love it. I think this is going to be the most exciting media war of our lifetime. 2010 was a prelude to 2012. … Hopefully the most authentic fighter — not the poll-seeking, Republican-strategist candidate — hopefully that type of candidate will fall by the wayside and somebody authentic who means what they say and says what they mean will emerge. … I’m a Tea Party guy. I want the Allen Wests, the Herman Cains, the Michele Bachmanns, the Sarah Palins, to be the ones that emerge.
Q: Is there anything else you want to say about your book?
I kind of poured my heart into it. And it’s not your typical conservative book — as in, if you believe this, you’re a good person, and if you don’t believe this you’re a bad person. But it’s really a heartfelt look into my transformation [to a conservative] and I’m just really asking people to think about people like me in a different light. … Agree or disagree with me, but I’m not trying to hurt puppy dogs or put poison into the water.