Illustration by David Smith
Andrew Breitbart's sudden death on March 1 at the age of 43 shocked North American observers. A social media pioneer, political pundit and Washington Times columnist, he was viewed as a beacon of light by some individuals — and a controversial spokesperson by others. Yet there was never any doubt that he cared deeply about his wife and family, politics, the US conservative movement, and the need to get President Barack Obama out of the White House in November.
Glowing tributes were immediately posted on Facebook and Twitter. Prominent conservative publications such as the Weekly Standard and National Review published wonderful, heartwarming eulogies about their late friend and comrade-in-arms. Political stalwarts, from Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich to Democratic strategist Donna Brazile, were quick to acknowledge Breitbart's influential role. There were also scathing comments from the Left (Slate's Matt Yglesias: "The world outlook is slightly improved with @AndrewBreitbart dead") and the Right (the Daily Beast's David Frum: "It's difficult for me to assess Breitbart's impact upon American media and American politics as anything other than poisonous.")
Alas, news of the blogging giant's death in the UK resembled the sound of crickets. A few articles dribbled in, and The Times eventually ran an obituary. Only the blogging community reacted quickly, such as Paul "Guido Fawkes" Staines's tribute describing Breitbart as "provocative and brave". That's a real shame, and it proves how underrated he was in this part of the world. He shouldn't have been.