Andrew Breitbart, the hyperactive, charming, and divisive creator of Big Government and its sister sites who died today at 43, also served as the link between two of the dominant media forces of the last decade: The Drudge Report, which he helped run for years, and Huffington Post, where he was present — briefly — at the creation.
Breitbart’s role as Drudge’s right hand is well known; less public was his brief, memorable stint as one of four partners in the Huffington Post in 2005. It’s a story that hasn’t been told in great detail, but BuzzFeed founder Jonah Peretti, who also co-founded the Huffington Post with with the site’s namesake Arianna Huffington and media business figure Ken Lerer, recalled that period in an interview today.
Breitbart’s role later became contested — he brashly claimed total credit for “the plan,” which his former partners denied — but he was an unmissable presence in the Soho office that was for a time Huffington Post’s New York headquarters. There, for a month in the spring of 2005, he worked closely with Lerer (who is now Chairman of BuzzFeed), and Peretti, a graduate of MIT’s media lab, to launch the site.
“He taught us a lot of things early on,” Peretti said, recalling how Breitbart showed them key features of the media ecosystem. “He explained about looking at the British newspapers late at night because they would sometimes break news before the U.S. papers. He cared about getting links up seconds or minutes faster than other publications and was obsessive about that.”