Awhile back there had been a dinner party at Arianna’s house. Meg Ryan, John Cusak, Nora Ephoron and David Geffen were there. Mr. Geffen had recently seen a documentary about Walmart. He was aghast at what an “atrocious” company it was.
“I guarantee you he has not applied his philosophy, his hatred towards a policy of ‘we won’t sell our stuff at Walmart because they don’t pay their employees $16.95 an hour or allow for unions.
“They throw around the term reactionary so lightly. But they’re the most reactionary people in the world – I’m telling you if I were single, I’m so cynical and I’m like the typical guy, if any of them were just lying there like the Maggie Gyllenhaals of the world, I wouldn’t. I’m like, ‘No!’ It would almost disgust me, because they couldn’t be more uninteresting if they tried.
“Tonight I talked to the Republican in Massachusetts that cast the final vote that allowed for gay marriage to happen, and to talk to him, and the thought process that he went through, and how proud he was and how his wife texted him five minutes before to say I’m so proud of you. And I’m sitting there and there’s a Republican next to him who’s worked for him as his legislative aide and this guy said, ‘Yeah and I was the one who did the signature drive that raised 315,000 signatures against what he was trying to do.’ OK? And there sitting they’re and they’re friendly with each other. And they’re like this” – he puts his fists together – “over something that’s so tectonic.”
“This is why I feel so comfortable in the conservative movement,” said Mr. Breitbart, who is 39, and a father of four children. “People are willing to agree to disagree. They’re willing to disagree on the fundamental issues of our time, argue about them, fight against each other and at the end of the day say, ‘Okay well we agree about these things and we disagree about these things.’ Compare that to the Hollywood left, they were on the forefront of dethroning Joseph Lieberman as the conscience of the senate. In 2000 he was the conscience of the senate and for disagreeing on one thing, he could not be more uniformly reviled by this group of people.
“I’m telling you they’re uninteresting, they’re vicious, they’re vitriolic, they’re really, really not good people. I’m willing to say that on the record. You could probe them scientifically and anthropologically and prove that they’re not good people. They’re not acting on sound judgement, and what they’ve done to those people that disagree with them, whether they be Leiberman democrats or Scoop Jackson liberals, whether they’re Blue Dog democrats – they’ve been shut out of the party as these people do cocaine off of everybody’s buttocks and tell everybody that they need to create a sustainable future. The level of hypocrisy, I go, I’ve seen Fellini movies where I feel like I’m watching Little House on the Prairie compared to these people.”
And so he’s decided to launch this Web site – it should be up sometime this week, he says – where he hopes to get conservative members of the entertainment industry to write a la Huffington Post. Though Mr. Breitbart is not comfortable with that comparison.
“Everything I do is amorophous,” he explained. We were in the taxi now. “I don’t have a set goal of saying like, ‘Jean-Claude Van Damme and Donny Osmond are going to be blogging on my site and you’ve got to come in.’ I just want to create a healthy environment where those brave conservative thinkers, writers, ones that are comfortable being out can exchange ideas. Because I guarantee you that the bigwigs will be reading it, and will be hoping that it grows into something that causes people to go, ‘Oh I finally realized I wasn’t alone, I wasn’t going crazy.’”
His musician friend Jude Christodal was in the backseat. He had come to town follow on Mr. Breitbart’s coattails and hopefully mingle with conservative pundits. Later, at the National Journal party he told me that he was going to be blogging on the new site.
“To be a conservative in Hollywood is not something that you can really do and maintain a career,” said the singer songwriter – he performs under the name Jude. His greatest mainstream success was a CD that was produced by Starbucks. “The only people that really do it are at a level of success that there’s no blowback for them, well there’s blowback but they can survive it.” Jude’s decision to come out the proverbial closet was motivated in part by his desire for a career change. “So there’s a lack of intellectual diversity in conversation because people don’t admit it.”
Earlier this year he met Mr. Breitbart who told him of an underground conservative support system in L.A. It sounded like a scene worth checking out.
“It’s the truth,” he said, loading up a plateful of hors d’oeuvres. He said he was reluctant to get into specifics. “There are conservatives in Hollywood that are closeted to the degree that it’s depressing. It’s one of those things that you can’t prove it – and people like to point the finger and say oh you’re whining — but it’s the truth, people really lose work over it.”
“Andrew’s nexus is that he knows people in Hollywood and he knows people in DC and in each place he’s kind of like a celebrity because people in Hollywood who are kind of like quietly political, meaning they’re on the right, are fascinated with him because he knows all these media pundits that we’ve been reading quietly, and he actually knows them! It’s incredible! And in D.C., he goes there and he’s Mr. Hollywood.”
Mr. Breitbart strode up. He had been talking to Republican Congressman Eric Cantor and publisher David Bradley, who had been thrilled to finally put a name to a face. “You’re Andrew Breitbart?” he exclaimed when introduced. I told the walking legend that Jude had just been talking about his celebrity status. He shuddered a bit, and joked that if anything he was more akin to a porn star.
Mr. Breitbart grew up in Los Angeles. His father owned a restaurant, mom was a bank executive. At Brentwood High School he watched administration types socialize with certain parents in the entertainment industry. He got C’s, played baseball, was a class clown, but hung out with the smart kids. He always suspected that school had been against him, a conspiracy theory that was eventually confirmed by a friend’s mom who confessed to him that the principal had called her into his office to turn her against the young Breitbart. This, he says, was the beginning of a lifelong crusade against bullies.
“Aren’t you the Hollywood guy,” said Williamson Evers, assistant secretary for the Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development at the Department of Education. We had finally arrived at Weekly Standard party which was, Mr. Breitbart agreed, pretty Hollywood in its excess. Four floors, every kind of booze, flamenco dancers, a cigar balcony.
His current crusade is bigger than the industry, indeed he would argue that is the biggest story of our time, one so hot reporters don’t have the stones to touch it. This is a totalitarian leadership in Hollywood that “allows for a very parochial political sensibility in this town to be propagated around the world. And people just assume, well that’s Hollywood, that’s the voice of the American people. And to find out that people disagree with that point of view, that Hollywood acts like a bully, and asserts its political power not through any sort of electorate but through itself and its own power. And says, ‘This is who we are. This is what we stand for. These are the good people. These are the bad people. To hell with Red states, to tell with anyone who disagrees.’ And I just want to send a message to the rest of the country that something’s been at play for the last 40 years. That the same thugs and bullies that made it so that the left is dominant and monolithic on the college campuses, did the exact same thing to Hollywood, that it’s coordinated, that the likes of Jane Fonda, you know, when she was shunned by a lot of the country for what she did in Vietnam was embraced and celebrated in Hollywood …”
Someone tugged on his shirt. “Have you had a chance to take a shower yet?” joked Steve McEveety, who is Mel Gibson’s producing partner. Mr. Breitbart had got in early that morning after spending a weekend at his hippy brother-in-law’s wedding in Santa Cruz. He had indeed showered. He said that McEveety was the kind of person he hoped would be writing for the site.
He said he doesn’t see this Web site as his be-all-and-end-all moment on the Web. And yet, the reasons for doing the new Web site keep tripping off his tongue.“The actors have adopted a political sensibility that’s European leftist. So what’s American about that? … What’s fundamentally American about that? Nobody voted on that. Yet these people live here and then the lecture the American people on how politics should be done. A lot of people in Hollywood think, ‘Wait a second. How did this happen? It happened without anybody talking about it or voting on it. It just happened.’ And I think that if we write about it and reflect upon it and we show people that the water’s warm – it doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor, if you’re known or not known in the industry. So people feel comfortable talking about what they really think. I think it’s gonna help the industry. There’s a reason why you have prequels of sequels of Freaky Friday. It’s because the competition of ideas has been limited. Everybody’s going how do I get that guy to sign me to a million dollar contract? What does he want me to think? That guy in that office, all I know is he’s a big Clinton guy, he’s a big Obama guy. So people are crafting the product to try and sate the opinion makers. Creativity is dying! Hollywood is fundamentally uninteresting,” he said.