If you ever watch the news, listen to the radio or check the headlines on msn.com, you must read this book. There is a battle going on for the information gateway of our country: the news media complex.
And the great general leading the charge, the brilliant strategist who has been literally on the forefront of this fight and has seen it from the inside-out and the ground-up, who makes it possible for you and I to literally hear "the rest of the story".... is Andrew Breitbart.
Anything we know today, about the JournoList, about ACORN, about Pigford is directly because of Andrew Breitbart. (And if you don't know about any of the things I just mentioned, start researching, because this affects YOU)
"Righteous Indignation" is part memoir, part treatise, part history lesson. It begins with the infamous ACORN sting investigation, in which James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles went to multiple ACORN offices around the country and asked ACORN to help them find tax breaks for their brothel, in which they claimed to employ underage illegal immigrants. Yes, they explicitly stated that was their business - underage human trafficking.
And Breitbart dropped the videos, one by one. Aside from the moral repugnance of the actions of the ACORN offices, the bigger story was that ACORN was doing this using taxpayer dollars. Within weeks, Congress unanimously voted to defund one of the largest community activists groups in the country.
All because of some bloggers and a couple of kids with a camera.
The next part of the book details how Breitbart became the biggest New Media magnate of our day, the driving force behind the biggest news stories in the last 5 years. Breitbart grew up in Brentwood, LA's upscale suburb, to middle-class, hardworking conservative parents. He then went to a liberal party school for college and wound up tens of thousands of dollars in debt with a degree in American Studies. (Which, by the way, makes me feel a lot better about that Creative Studies degree I got.) He found himself challenging both the values he grew up with and the values he acquired while in college - at polar ends of the spectrum - and having to decide which were really right.
The power of the internet was made clear in the 90s. It was the internet - specifically, the Drudge Report - that broke the biggest stories of the decade. Essentially, it was Matt Drudge that exposed not only Bill Clinton's criminal and immoral activities (yes, criminal activities, his impeachment was not about sex, it was about him committing multiple felonies.), Drudge also showed how much the mainstream media was ignoring, covering up and lying about. This is gone over in detail in the book so I won't recount it here.
Breitbart also tells about his key involvement in creating what is now the antithesis to his Big sites - The Huffington Post. Yes, The Huffington Post likely would not exist without Andrew Breitbart, and he is proud of it. He and Arianna Huffington, though on opposites side politically, are still friends. Why would he create a venue for people he absolutely disagrees with to be able to express their beliefs - often times hatefully about him? Because, above all, he's a believer in the importance of letting all sides into the conversation, and that when people are able to see all points of view, only then are they able to really decide what is true and what isn't.
In the midst of all these personal anecdotes, he drops a very heady chapter on philosophical history for the last 200 years. Wait, what? My brain was not ready for the shift, and at first it was a little jarring. But the history is important, and he is able to expertly articulate, in a very non-stodgy way, the connection between today's media and political personalities and Rousseau, the Frankfurt School, and Saul Alinsky. (Never heard of those people? You will.)
The latter part of the book is the treatise, the call to action, the good ol' fashioned Rebel Yell (if he'll pardon the expression) calling you and I to stop being merely observers of the world and be engagers. The communications landscape of our country is changing, not because of what goes in in some elitist J-school or because Jon Stewart shoots his mouth off and hides behind his clown nose, but because people like you and me, bloggers, everyday ordinary people, are doing to it.
As Breitbart puts it, it's time to walk toward the fire. It's time to stop being passive and settling for what the official story is from the government and the media. It's time to start engaging our friends and neighbors in conversation and education, to spread the truth and encourage others to seek out information for themselves, rather than being spoon-fed. It's time to start asking questions, holding these people accountable for spreading misinformation, for stoking fear and division. It's time to take up the mantle of responsible citizenship and start holding the 4th Establishment's feet to the fire. We're not gonna take it anymore.
Andrew Breitbart is to me what Rupert Murdoch was to my parents. The game-changer in the media conversation, the one person willing to go out and create an avenue for news from an alternate perspective, not just the canned official line of the establishment. The difference is, Breitbart isn't a multimillionaire doing this out of academic interest. This is his life. This is his country. This is our country. And it's time we stepped up and protected it.
Walk toward the fire.