(Los Angeles) The TV cameras at the Beverly Hilton Hotel’s ballroom were there to cover a foreign policy speech by Newt Gingrich, but during the cocktail hour, all eyes at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s Summer Bash were on Andrew Breitbart.
While Gingrich was mingling privately at the June 12 event with major RJC donors, Breitbart, the self-described “biased journalist” who broke the still-brewing Anthony Weiner sexting scandal, was working the main room, drinking in the adulation from fans who had paid $250 to attend.
Two women in cocktail dresses asked Breitbart to pose for a picture with them. He obliged, putting his arms around their shoulders.
“Don’t use this against me,” he quipped as the cell phone camera clicked.
With “Weinergate,” the story of the New York Democratic congressman’s fall from grace, still in the news, Breitbart’s name was on everybody’s lips. Breitbart’s conservative website, biggovernment.com, was the first to publish an explicit photograph sent from Weiner’s Twitter account that turned out to have been sent by the lawmaker.
Breitbart also orchestrated the release of additional revealing photos taken by Weiner of himself and made an appearance just before the congressman’s confessional news conference.
Breitbart was a late addition to the RJC event’s lineup, which already included Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) and Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).
Taking the stage at the end of the evening, Breitbart seemed at ease.
“My first event was held here,” he told the audience. “Not in this esteemed room, but in the bar downstairs.”
Since then, Breitbart said, he’s had the chance to speak to RJC gatherings numerous times, and he acknowledged that he has financial backers from the group’s ranks.
“What a lucrative alliance we’ve created,” he said.
Prior to Breitbart’s address, Gingrich in his keynote address had attempted to dismiss the reports that his run for president might be on the skids in the aftermath of the simultaneous resignations of many core members of his campaign staff.
“I knew full well the rigors of campaigning for public office. In fact, I’ve had some recent reminders,” Gingrich said. “I will endure the challenges.”
Breitbart spoke glowingly of Sarah Palin, the former Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate. But in an interview with The Jewish Journal he dismissed Gingrich, saying he’d like to see the ex-House of Representatives speaker from Georgia become “the top adviser to the next president of the United States.”
In marked contrast to Gingrich, who offered nine policy recommendations about the Middle East, Breitbart painted his support for Israel simply and with a broad brush.
“I just don’t understand how an inherently decent and free people could be ‘the bad guy,’” Breitbart said of Israel. “I’m glad I’ve become a journalist because I want to fight on behalf of the Israeli people.”
After telling the mostly Jewish audience that he was kicked out of Hebrew school as a child — “that’s where the battle started with the liberal Jewish community” — and dismissing his undergraduate degree from Tulane University as training in “moral relativism,” Breitbart rejected the notion of journalistic objectivity in covering Israel.
“You cannot be objective when it comes to right and wrong,” Breitbart said. “And Israel is in the right. So I’m a biased journalist, and I’m having a great time doing it.”
His message was missed by most of the media members, who had exited after the address by Gingrich.
Breitbart, who grew up in southern California and lives in suburban Los Angeles, has worked for the websites of both the conservative Matt Drudge and the progressive Arianna Huffington. At the RJC event he held forth on his preferred target — what he calls “the Democrat-Media-Complex” — and seemed as happy that the Weiner scandal was causing difficulty for the New York lawmaker as he was excited at his own ability to direct the narrative of the mainstream media.
“This is a citizen movement,” Breitbart said of those who contribute to his conservative websites, which are aimed at forcing the media to follow — or at least address — his attacks on the left. “If you’re not going to cover this truth, every second that you don’t cover this truth, you’re going to look more and more stupid, and you’re going to lose more subscribers.”
Breitbart said he sees evidence of liberal biases everywhere — not least in Hollywood — and he is launching bighollywood.com to continuously report on it. He professes disappointment with Jewish liberals in Hollywood and the stories they choose to tell.
“I wish [Steven] Spielberg, [David] Geffen and [Jeffrey] Katzenberg, as representatives of that realm, would invest more in creating content that reflects American values,” Breitbart said.
“‘Munich’ was a paean to moral relativism,” he said, referring to Spielberg’s 2005 film about the Mossad’s hunt for the perpetrators of the attack on the Israeli Olympic athletes in 1972.
Breitbart said he liked Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds” better. That movie, Breitbart explained, also featured Jews hunting bad guys — but without the guilty conscience.
Until this month, Breitbart was best known for his involvement with James O’Keefe’s controversial undercover videos of employees of ACORN, a nonprofit community-organizing group. He also helped circulate footage of a speech given by Department of Agriculture official Shirley Sherrod, which turned out to have been misleadingly edited to portray remarks she had made as racist.
Breitbart described his ongoing plan to create a bigjerusalem.com website to tell Israel’s side of the story in a news landscape he sees as biased against the Jewish state. The online magazine Tablet has reported Breitbart saying that he has not yet found a donor to support the project.
Breitbart would not reveal if biggovern ment.com has any new scoops on Democratic elected officials in the offing.
“If they’re not doing anything wrong,” he said, “they’ve got nothing to worry about.”