Breitbart is tall and burly, with eyes the color of Windex, silver hair that he sometimes forgets is no longer blond, and jowls that he wobbles for emphasis when he wishes to express outrage. He is fond of saying that he has two modes of discourse: righteous indignation and puerile jocularity. “I like to call someone a raving cunt every now and then, when it’s appropriate, for effect,” he informed me. “ ‘You cocksucker.’ I love that kind of language.” Constitutionally adversarial, he enjoys imagining himself paired with an equally combative leftist opponent, such as Sean Penn. “Sort of like ‘Barfly,’ with Mickey Rourke—that’s how I envision it being with me and him,” he says. “I’d hate him, I’d fight him. He’d fight me, he’d get in some punches, I’d get in some punches. We’d drink some more. At the end of the day, we’d agree to disagree. And then I’d punch him again.”
No battle is too petty for Breitbart, no target too small or pathetic. He once showed me a series of messages that he had received from an apparently unhinged visitor to his Web sites. One missive concluded with a postscript: “You drank human urine three times—how did it taste?” Breitbart recalled, “That is when I said, O.K., I am not going to ignore him anymore—I want to create a level of pain for him that makes him realize this is not worth this.” He published the messages, as well as the sender’s name and photograph, on Big Journalism, along with a scathing editorial saying that the sender’s “stylings deserve a far greater public platform.” Breitbart told me, “I am sure if you talk to shrinks, or prosecutors, who are experts in these types of people, it is best to avoid them. But that’s not how my brain works.” Conflict also has the useful function of driving traffic to his sites. Breitbart.com is currently looked at by an average of 2.4 million people a month, according to Quantcast.com.
Breitbart considers himself an accidental cultural warrior. “I am not as partisan as people think I am,” he told me, calling himself eighty-five per cent conservative and fifteen per cent libertarian. His conservatism fails him on issues such as the legalization of prostitution, and he sometimes tilts toward favoring gay marriage. “But, when the entire media is structured to attack conservatives and Republicans, there is a huge business model to come in and counterbalance that,” he said.