Hating Breitbart (2012)

Andrew Breitbart was the teddy bear-like new media guru who became integral to Conservative activism after the election of Barack Obama in 2008. He was the unofficial spokesman of the Tea Party movement and crucial to the founding of what became known as the ‘alt right’. After helping found Drudge Report and HuffPost he spun off his own news website Breitbart.com and was possibly the biggest thorn in the side of the Obama administration as a pundit. It was Breitbart who broke the Weiner sexting scandal story that would eventually contribute significantly to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 election loss. That makes it all the more coincidental that he suddenly dropped dead in 2012.

Unfortunately this film is not really worthy of its mercurial subject. While it gets there by the second half, finally jumping into the nitty gritty of Breitbart’s pugnacious activism with the Andre Carson/ John Lewis ’N’-word issue, the first half is way too slow, hanging around its subject reality TV-style in an uncritically fawning attitude that is tedious. There are also not really enough insights into the nuts and bolts of his online methodology, that was somewhat revolutionary at the time, and how he brought it to bear on the causes that fired him up. It’s a bit of a glorified home video in the final analysis, with inadequate depth and variety of perspective.

Nevertheless because of its subject matter, and because it provides a unique window into a zeitgeist, this doco is still really fun and absorbing to watch. Overly familiar to its subject and with not enough of the real substance of Breitbart nor the spice of hearing from his political opponents it may be, yet so far it is the only serious onscreen attempt to profile a man whose career crystallised the change from old media to new media, and who in the process became incredibly influential and shone very brightly for a brief moment in time.

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