GOP Hitman Andrew Breitbart's Confessional Memoir: I Wouldn't Be a Foul, Raging Jerk If I Had Made It in Hollywood
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“This book,” writes Breitbart, “marks the first time since 2004 that I’ve felt compelled to communicate a set of ideas that couldn’t be related on Twitter or Facebook, on a blog, in a chat room, with AOL Instant Messenger, via Skype, or on Blog Talk Radio.”
Yes, we can tell.
It won’t surprise anyone who has followed Breitbart’s ascent to learn that he is driven by hatred of the Hollywood and media establishments. A very deep and personal hatred. What becomes clear in these pages is the way these hatreds have origins in self-loathing and narcissism of a geographically specific type. The key is Breitbart’s rearing and life in Tinsel Town, a community he desperately wanted to be a part of, but which, it appears, wanted nothing to do with him.
Breitbart’s story begins in Brentwood privilege, the adopted son of a successful restaurateur. He early absorbed the local obsession with fame, connections and status. He writes of the joy he experienced whenever he bumped up against the local royalty, as when he had the same tennis instructor as Farrah Fawcett and Arnold Schwarzenegger. When his family rented their Winnebago to John Ritter, the young Breitbart “bragged about it in school for weeks.” In fact, he never stopped. But despite his aspiring to the glamorous life, the first half of the book describes a confused, ignorant, manic-depressive loser seething with self-hatred.
After high school, Breitbart attended Tulane, where he joined the Delta Tau Delta fraternity and drank and gambled away his parents’ money. In the Big Easy, Breitbart concentrated on partying and avoided what he now disparages as Marxist academia. He now believes that his boorish immaturity was a blessing in that it prevented him from being co-opted by what he calls the “cultural fascisti.”
Breitbart complains that he was exposed to a raft of deeply anti-American ideas. As an American Studies major, he writes, he was subjected to the evil thoughts of émigré Critical Theorists like Theodor Adorno and Herbert Marcuse, who he blames for destroying everything good in postwar America. It is impossible to overstate Breitbart’s hatred for these “boring and bleating philosophers” who escaped the Nazis and “exploit[ed]” America’s openness and liberty by deploying “ideological Anthrax.”
At one point, Breitbart fantasizes about choking the life out of these mid-century refugee philosophers. “If I could go back in a time machine, I would go back to strangle these malcontents,” he writes.
Not read them. Strangle them.
Or at least that’s what it says in a review copy of Breitbart's book provided to Media Matters . Someone apparently sanitized this line at the last moment, because in the final, published version, it now reads, “If I could go back in a time machine, I would go back to kick these malcontents in their shins.”
Strangulation aside, not everyone remembers Tulane as the Marxist nightmare that Breitbart describes. “The required courses in American Studies included two semesters each of American Literature and History,” says a former director of Tulane’s American Studies Department who taught and remembers Breitbart. “We used the Norton Anthology—very middle-of-the-road, canonical stuff.” Among the “cultural Marxists” the young Breitbart was supposed to study but didn’t were the Puritans, Franklin, Edwards, Emerson, Thoreau, Twain, Hawthorne, Melville, and Stowe. According to this professor, not even the more advanced interdisciplinary seminars at Tulane offered much critical theory.
So perhaps it isn’t surprising that Breitbart would not have graduated at all but for his pleading with a professor for mercy. “I need to graduate,” he remembers begging. “I have family and friends coming in from out of town tomorrow. We have reservations at Commander's Palace.”
Upon graduation, Breitbart returned to L.A., where his parents bought him a new Saab and continued to support him. He used the graduation gift to tool around doing a series of entry-level jobs on the margins of the film industry. With time, he says he began to chafe against the “default” nihilistic liberalism he had absorbed from the culture around him, “as if by osmosis.” Eventually a friend got him a runner position at a low-budget movie production company in Santa Monica. “For a year I delivered scripts around town, entering every single Hollywood office of note, including Michael Ovitz's, Jeffrey Katzenberg's, and Michael Eisner's. It wasn't long before I saw clearly what made Hollywood run.” By this he means liberal politics and schmoozing.