SAINT PAUL—On Monday night, Internet-guru turned right-wing messiah Andrew Breitbart arrived at the National Review party wearing jeans, a lime green, open-collar button-down and the beginning of a beard. For now, his wavy gray locks were tucked behind his ears.
Waiting in line for a beer, Mr. Breitbart said that at this point he was completely comfortable with his conservative transformation.
“The only thing that still bothers me is the dearth of artists in our party,” he said, looking around the room. He was the only one not wearing a blazer.
Two months ago, he began writing a column called “Big Hollywood” in the Conservative Beltway newspaper The Washington Times, which, among other things, addresses that dearth and more specifically the oppression of artists in entertainment industry whose views don’t conform to the “Hollywood left.”
His eponymous news aggregate site, breitbart.com, which gets an incredible amount of traffic – largely because many of the links on the Drudge Report wind up there – will soon add a new function, breitbart.com/bighollywood. It is his hope that members of the underground conservative movement in Hollywood will embrace it as a platform to vent their frustrations with the entertainment industry and voice their true opinions once and for all.
So, do the Republicans have more celebrity glamor than they know? And during a convention that tried so hard to transmit the message that Hollywood and the media (read: Democrats) are hostile to smalltown America (read: Republicans), isn’t Mr. Breitbart’s mission a little marginal?
“I’m excited to know that there are people that have been so intimidated deep into the closet that they exist out there to find out that singers and songwriters and writers and directors that I’ve long admired are holed up somewhere with their brothers and their sisters and a couple other people in the industry that quietly share their point of view,” he said.
His friends had finally gotten Mr. Breitbart to leave the National Review party, which was at members-only club in downtown St. Paul and where despite his self-proclaimed outsider status Mr. Breitbart seemed to know half the room. Next stop: the National Journal party in Minneapolis.
“It’s a really exciting thing to find out that they exist,” he continued. “And to then take on those people that created an environment that you had to be that hidden about your point of view in this country. You know this is America and to find out that the artists that don’t reflect the hard left are intimidated. There’s a parallel, and absolute parallel in American academic institutions. Try and find a conservative on a college campus. Try and find somebody who’s read Hayek on a college campus. There are provably false political tracks that are taught to this day. Marx, you know, to this day is read 100 to 1 over Adam Smith if that. So Academia and Hollywood, wherever you get the hard left you get totalitarianism, and wherever you get that there’s a great romance in the rebellion against it.”
He is not a big art guy – he and his wife did the Louvre in running shoes – but he does have a “solidarity wall” of rebellion art in the home they share in Westwood. “Whether it be anti-Castro art, all art that has been held down in totalitarian society or movements.” He lost track of his point. “I’m Mr. A.D.D.,” he said.
He allowed that his manic brain likely had something to do with his profound and immediate connection to the Internet when he first discovered it 15 years ago. He is known to be an early collaborator with Matt Drudge, and on some level he continues to work with him though he does not like to detail the exact mechanics of the arrangement, and a former collaborator with Arianna Huffington, about which he is similarly cryptic.
“I would love to romanticize it,” he says of his Internet bonafides. “I was at the right place at the right time. If I had been a lawyer or an accountant or any of these other things, I wouldn’t have had the free time and the energy to devote to what was in hindsight the beginning of a new era. I had nothing better to do. And what it was is that it became my unified field theory on everything. I’m A.D.D., it’s perfect for my brain.”
He has spent the last four years branding himself, and it was his brand that he was in St. Paul to represent. That and his cause, shaking up the “totalitarian” Hollywood left.
“To a person, when you start talking to these people. It’s amazing to see how few of them can even answer the contradictions that are inherent in their lifestyle. Not a single one. I almost admire it. I almost like the juxtaposition. It’s almost funny, the excesses of capitalism are so great that we can afford to have people caught up in such a bubble of contradiction…
“These people are like, ‘Hey more coke, more ecstasy, more this’ – these are the crass consumers that they themselves mock. And you go into a conservative party, the pro-capitalist people, the ones that are working, and they’re very moderate with their intake. I would argue that their behavior is more sustainable. Their ecosystem is more balanced.”
What has the reaction in L.A. been to Big Hollywood? His columns have addressed such topics as an active blacklist against anyone who publicly breaks from the party line.
“Nobody in L.A. knows that I do that,” he said. “You’re the only person that I know outside out of the conservative Hollywood crowd that I know or the D.C. crowd that would even think of reading what I have to write about. I don’t think my liberal friends would even indulge reading it, I don’t think they want to hear what I have to say.”
He said that while the stated premise of the column is to write about the nexus between politics and the entertainment industry, he is treading lightly on the pop culture stuff. He hasn’t been paying much attention for the last 15 years. Suffice it to say though that in that time he believes he has developed a keen understanding of the celebrity mind.
Earlier that day, he had watched as actress Wendy Malick made her way through the convention floor.
“I know her from 50 plus years ago, she played Brian Benben’s girlfriend on Dream On, OK, ‘cause I loved that show. But now she’s in tons of other stuff. And she had an entourage and she was walking through the convention with maybe 15 people following her – she was tall, thin, beautiful. And she was obviously a liberal, and you could tell that she was there as a member of the Creative Coalition and that she was indulging in an anthropological experiment. Like who are these freaks? Who are these crazy people? I bet you her mind can’t get around the idea that these people exist, thinks that they’re weirder than Aborigines living in her own outer territories.
”And that’s what it feels like in L.A. They don’t even want to listen to you, they don’t even want to have a conversation about a single – they’re uninteresting! They’re so uninteresting. I’m telling you if you were ever to go to a dinner party with some of these people, and trust me I’ve been there with the best of the best, the degree to which they’re uninteresting would shock the average American. It’s like they’ve scanned the DailyKos, they’ve gotten their conspiracy theory – I mean they’re the new conservatives” – he chuckled – “they really are.”