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Breitbart, Conservative Journalist, Dies at 43

A Jew, he never got to launch his planned ‘Big Jerusalem’ site

Marc Tracy
March 01, 2012
Andrew Breitbart last year.(Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

Andrew Breitbart last year.(Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

The political class has been shocked this morning by the sudden death of conservative journalist and media impresario Andrew Breitbart at the age of 43 (Breitbart is not known to have been ill). He was an immensely polarizing figure: it’s not only that he loudly espoused a viewpoint, it’s that he gleefully went out of his way to brawl and to make enemies—it’s what helped make him such a compelling figure and such a talented, effective journalist. (Breitbart’s final tweet read: “I called you a putz cause I thought you werebeing intentionally disingenuous. If not I apologize” [sic].) Still, I ultimately find myself thinking of the wife and four children he has left behind and expressing my condolences to them, as well as to his other loved ones. Josh Marshall has a good take from a liberal perspective that sounds these notes.

Here, though, we celebrate Breitbart the Jew. And he was Jewish: raised in Los Angeles, attended the Brentwood School, had an early infatuation with the Western Marxists of the Frankfurt School, and then turned right. He planned to launch Big Jerusalem, a companion to his primary Website, Big Journalism, but apparently never did. “We allowed the American narrative and the Israeli narrative to be hijacked by the media,” he told a crowd at a Republican Jewish Coalition fundraiser last summer.

In a fantastic profile, Chris Beam reported,

His parents raised him Jewish—his mother converted in order to marry his father—but the faith didn’t take. Especially when he realized Mom and Dad weren’t exactly frum. One day, he fell and chipped his tooth. “I said, ‘Jesus Christ,’ and my mom said, ‘Don’t use the Lord’s name in vain.’ I was like, ‘I’m Jewish, Jesus is not the Lord. I was just Bar Mitzvah’ed. You were there.’”

Sounds pretty Jewish to me.

Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.