The controversy triggered days of questions about how and why someone would hijack Weiner’s account to send out those photos, and increasingly implausible comments from the congressman, including his famously telling CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that he could not say whether or not the photo was of his own underwear-clad private parts.
A few days later Weiner called a press conference in a hotel in New York City to admit that, indeed, that was him in the photo, and he had engaged in sexual chat with young women on Twitter. But before Weiner arrived, Breitbart stepped up to the microphones and “hijacked” the press conference, denouncing Weiner for lying and the media for uncritically repeating his lies.
This footage appears only as the credits of Hating Breitbart start to roll. As the credits continue to roll, talking head after talking head — many on MSNBC, unsurprisingly — refer to the “so discredited” Breitbart.
None of this is to suggest that Breitbart fans won’t be glad this movie was made; they will. But we may feel that Breitbart’s death needed to be addressed by more than just the closing visual, “Andrew Breitbart 1969–2012.”
Periodically in Hating Breitbart, professionals in the news business discuss Breitbart’s influence on modern journalism, and during tea-party rallies, we repeatedly hear grassroots activists citing him as an inspiration. Perhaps the legacy of Andrew Breitbart is a sufficiently rich topic to warrant its own separate documentary, but it feels strange to see that topic largely left untouched by this one.
As the movie hits theaters, one of Breitbart’s protégés, James O’Keefe, has exposed a congressman’s son making suggestions for committing voter fraud; the exposé led to the son’s resignation as field director of the congressman’s reelection campaign. Breitbart was unique, but his methods are likely to live on for many years in our political life.
There’s one more wrinkle that would have made a natural topic for the film’s close and the discussion of Breitbart’s legacy: the future of the institutions he founded. The wacky-cat-pictures-and-political-journalism site BuzzFeed recently did a story on the state of Breitbart.com, and large swaths of that article read like a hit piece, with lots of unnamed sources carping about their bosses. It’s an unfortunate treatment of a legitimately fascinating story; the challenge before Solov, Bannon, Larry O’Connor, Dana Loesch, and the gang is a supremely difficult one. Their mission — maintaining and building an institution so closely associated with the popular personality of its founder — is difficult, probably the toughest of its sort since . . . well, perhaps since National Review needed to forge an identity without William F. Buckley Jr.
But perhaps it’s appropriate that Hating Breitbart ends too abruptly and leaves the viewer wanting more. That applies to the life of its subject, too.