Reason’s review of Hating Breitbart: No hate
posted at 11:03 am on November 2, 2012 by Ed Morrissey
My friend Nick Gillespie wrote a very thoughtful review of the new film Hating Breitbart that speaks less about the film (which he enjoyed) than about the New Media activist environment which the late Andrew Breitbart pioneered. Nick’s very positive about these developments, and about Andrew’s contribution to them:
At more than one point in the movie, Breitbart asks members of audience he’s addressing to hold up their iPhones, pocket cams, and other recording devices and to turn them on. You, he says, are the media. That gesture is the essential takeaway of Andrew Breitbart’s work – and of the documentary Hating Breitbart. Such moments illustrate how something weird and wonderful is happening when it comes to media. Surely it’s more than a little ironic that just asHating Breitbart hit theaters, the Daily Beast pulled the plug on its sick sister, the comatose magazine Newsweek, and Breitbart’s protege James O’Keefe released a video about voter fraud that led Patrick Moran, the son of Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.), to resign in shame from his father’s campaign.
There’s no question that all the old sources of power and privilege still wield enormous, perhaps even ultimate, ability to shape conversations both large and small. Witness the constipated flow of information about White House knowledge regarding the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi – and a thousand other stories you, I, and our crazy uncles think are getting short shrift in the old media (that sort of complaint is hardly the sole province of the right wing).
Internet-empowered journalism isn’t a Cosmic Cube-style weapon that will once and for all lay waste to all bullshit artists residing in low and high places. No, the new media that Breitbart helped operationalize are more like an over-the-counter Super Soldier Serum that helps us all fight for truth and justice as we define those terms (apologies for the turn to Marvel Comics-based metaphors). As the folks at Talking Points Memo, Mediaite, and even Reason.com can tell you, the expression enabled by all this doesn’t reliably tilt right, left, or libertarian and it doesn’t guarantee quality of content or even an audience. But it does allow a lot more people to speak up.
“Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one,” mused A.J. Leibling back in the dark ages (1960), in The New Yorker, an establishment organ whose influence runs strong even as one its dauphins, Jonah Lehrer, has recently been revealed as a fraud thanks to new media fact-checking methods. Andrew Breitbart understood that it’s easier than ever to own a press and that despite the vast, incomprehensible increase in chatter – back in 1999, I estimated the World Wide Web had put at least 10 billion extra words in circulation! – the demand for even more is still infinite. You may have hated or loved what you think Andrew Breitbart stood for, but Hating Breitbart makes it clear that we’ll all be living in the world he called home for a long time to come. And that it’s filled with far livelier and more inclusive conversations than it would have been if he’d never been born.
Nick mentions me in the piece as well, very kindly.