- (Wikimedia Commons/Gage Skidmore)
Do you remember how, in middle school or perhaps high school, when someone at your school died, suddenly everyone was good friends with the deceased, which of course was impossible, but hey, you were all young and didn't want to be excluded from anything, especially not a public mourning, and so all anyone could talk about was the time they first met this dead student, the last words they shared, or how they loved how this person used to do this or that funny, crazy, or nice thing? Adults do this, too.
Andrew Breitbart, the conservative blogger, died at 43 today. But all that matters, apparently, is whether or not you met him.
"Last summer I was still fairly new to Washington, D.C., but it’s when I met Andrew Breitbart," recalls Eddie Scarry, the FishbowlDC contributor, in the Blaze. "It was at the book launch party for his new book 'Righteous Indignation: Excuse Me While I Save the World.'" The point of this post, "Brief encounter with Breitbart," seems to be merely that Breitbart signed Scarry's copy of the book with the encouraging words, "Eddie, fight the man!"
Scarry's editor at FishbowlDC, who shall remain nameless (I took a vow), writes in the lede of her remembrance, "I never wanted to write one of those stories where I relay my experiences about someone who suddenly dies." Then she disgorges more than 1,000 words about her "friendship" with him — they met at CPAC, less than a month ago — and offers such epiphanies as, "You don’t have to agree with everything a person says or does to respect and admire their success or be open to their ideas."
Quin Hillyer's "On Breitbart," over at the American Spectator's website, opens promisingly: "I won't pretend to have been good friends with Andrew Breitbart." Phew. But then he continues, "I met him just twice, in passing, and corresponded or spoke to him on the phone just a few other times." These are critical details when writing about the death of someone you barely knew.
"Memories are the way we keep people alive, and my early reaction to this grief is that my memories of Andrew will flee if I don’t immediately freeze them," writes Mediaite's Tommy Christopher. But can't he just freeze these words in a Moleskin or something? Then we'd be spared stories about how he heard the news over Gchat, and about the last time they (literally) ran into each other: "I can’t remember exactly what he said, just that he spoke my name when he recognized me. I really wish I had paid closer attention, and that empty space in my memory is a chilling reminder that you’re never guaranteed a next word."
Don't beat yourself up over it, Tommy.
Not everyone's first-person remembrances have been flimsy and unilluminating. Tucker Carlson spoke with Fox News about Breitbart's wicked sense of humor, and wrote that his friend was "utterly ballsy." And Matt Drudge, another close friend, wrote atop the Drudge Report, "I still see him in my mind's eye in Venice Beach, the sunny day I met him. He was in his mid 20's. It was all there."
Do the math: That was about two decades ago, not a few weeks or months. Maybe that's why Drudge didn't even feel the need to state that Breitbart was his friend.
Can't express how sad I am to hear about the passing of my friend Andrew Breitbart. His beautiful family is in my thoughts.— S.E. Cupp (@secupp) March 1, 2012
I'm in shock. I can't believe Andrew Breitbart is dead. He was so full of life and dynamic. He was a friend.— Emily Miller (@EmilyMiller) March 1, 2012