Vox Veritas Vita

(photo by: Craig Billow)

We took the elevator to the top floor just to see if there was a good view from one of the hallway windows.  There wasn’t.  Though, we had some time to kill before former House Speaker and GOP Presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich took the stage so we decided to wander.  That day all of the high profiles were inside The Marriott Wardman Hotel in Washington, DC.  From Mitt Romeny to Sarah Palin, Herman Cain to Rick Santorum and hundreds of reporters and bloggers.. among them Ann Coulter, Tucker Carlson, Andrew Breitbart… just to name a few.

I had registered for a press pass to CPAC 2012 (Conservative Political Action Conference) because I had helped cover the event last year while interning for The Daily Caller.  

With the official launch of my Infinity News Network only weeks away, I was able to receive press access to the conference that was sure to dominate the headlines that week, which was really the only reason why I wanted to be there.

I stood in the elevator with my good friend Steve, adjusting my tie in the mirror and checking my Twitter interactions on my phone.  Two men entered the elevator and noticed our press passes.  Like most of the CPAC attendees they were well dressed, suited up, only they appeared intense and grim.  Here is vaguely what I remember of the conversation that caught me off guard:

“You guys are with the media?” One of them asked.

“..Yeah,” I replied.

“Are you going to report on the big announcement March 1st..” They went on to mumble something about a Sheriff, “Big Joe” a press conference and “eligibility” among other words. It happened so fast and strange I barely understood and just absorbed as much as I could.

“We will surely look into that,” I said but they were already out the elevator and hastly walking away into the throngs of people in the bustling hotel lobby.

In retrospect, this was the first time I had been tipped off to a news story like that so I didn’t react right.. If I had been with Daily Caller and Yahoo News reporter Chris Moody, who I had the great honor of being mentored by during my semester in Washington, he would have chased them down, gotten their contact information and surely a better grip on the story.  Moody showed me how it was done one evening in Lounge 201 across from Union Station when a woman who worked for the federal government shared a news story by telling him “which rocks to look under” and pointing him down a path without endangering herself or dropping any names.  In this particular instance I didn’t react fast enough and partially because I didn’t have an outlet since Infinity was still being constructed.

I sat in the press room that overlooked the stage and started typing away furiously in Google.. none of my search terms produced results so I turned to a source that was greater than Almighty Google… one of my best friends, colleague, business partner and Infinity co-founder, Mark Walz (The Marque).  Within a few short minutes Mark had everything:  Joe Arpaio, an Arizona Sheriff who launched an investigation into the birth certificate of Obama was set to release what he claimed was prominent evidence toward the Presidents ineligibility in an upcoming March 1st Press Conference.  I was kind of bummed out… I was hoping for something else, something bigger than just more crazy “birther” people news.  That discussion was over.  My instincts told me I should have known it would be something crazy like that, I mean I was at what many call the annual “Conservative freak show circus.”  A part of me had always thought the whole delay on releasing the birth certificate was possibly a liberal tactic to make conservatives look crazy and radical and then release the certificate and just laugh and mock them.. however, there was no denying that there was an incredible delay in release.. especially for a President who claimed he would be “the most transparent.”

As I sat there in front of my laptop screen, kind of writing off Mr. Arpaio and the “story” I had just been scooped, I listened to the speaker dominating the stage with his giant larger than life personality: Andrew Breitbart.

His name is commonplace in the media world.  Marching to the beat of his own drum, Breitbart’s boldness brought him national acclaim, from his infamous Twitter wars to his hilarious jeering, he was a guy who could talk for hours and a strong advocate for what he believed in.

“I do what I do because the mainstream media chooses not to,” he said in a 2010 interview with the Associated Press.  Breitbart had jumped on the Internet Revolution in its early stages when he worked under his mentor Matt Drudge, creator of the incredibly famous news aggregate Drudge Report.  Breitbart helped with the launch of The Huffington Post and built his own media empire at Breitbart.com and sub sites: Big Journalism, Big Government, Big Hollywood, Big Peace and Breitbart TV.  Whether you liked him or not you couldn’t help but want to be around such a vibrant entertaining personality, read his stuff, watch his TV appearances.  Tucker Carlson called him the absolute greatest dinner guest you could imagine and I had the honor of meeting him at CPAC 2011.  We hosted a birthday party for him with The Daily Caller during my time there when he released his book “Righteous Indignation: Excuse me while I save the world.”  Breitbart was more than just a journalist and blogger he was a conservative media mogul who trail blazed the path for the rest of us new, young journalists, bloggers and truth-seekers.  He foresaw and seized upon the multimedia future, harnessing social media to amplify a message and tell what he believed was the truth.  Although, like most people he was riddled with contradictions and as his business partner and lifelong friend Larry Solov said, a “lighthearted jokester and fiery culture warrior.  And there is not that much in-between.”  Bold and to the point, Breitbart exposed the ACORN organization which led to the resignation of Shirley Sherrod and the former New York Congressman Anthony Weiner‘s wiener sexting/twitter scandal: Weinergate. (one of the most hilarious stories that generated an era of priceless headlines).

There were times I agreed with him and times I totally disagreed but nevertheless, despite his views, despite mine, I greatly respected him for using the Internet to ignite political scandal and expose what he believed was media bias.  As AP reporter Michael Blood wrote “In a new media age, he argued that anyone with a laptop could reshape public discourse,” and that was what I respected most about him.  In that sense he was inspiring to me as I began and continue to bring about my site Infinity.

There I was staring at my screen, contemplating the elevator encounter and listening to Breitbart’s fiery speech as he kind of declared war on President Obama.  “I’ve got videos, by the way,” he said from the podium, “This election we’re going to vet him. I’ve got videos – this election we’re going to vet him – from his college days to show you why … racial division and class warfare are central to what hope and change was sold in 2008.”

If Breitbart had videos he definitely had something very newsworthy, it was his proven reputation.

Little did I know that just days before the CPAC conference, on Feb. 9, he had spoken to Lawrence Sinclair in DC saying “Wait til they see what happens March first….”

Just the other day I woke up in my hotel room at Caesars Atlantic City… It occurred to me while I was lying in bed that it was March the first… the day of the “big announcement” I had been tipped off to in the elevator at CPAC weeks earlier. I yawned and stretched, grabbed my iPhone and tapped my Drudge Report app.  “Alright, let’s see what this Joe Arpaio guy’s announcement is all about” I said to myself, wiping sleep from my eyes, not really expecting anything big but kind of hoping for something interesting.  Instead I saw that Andrew Breitbart had died.  At age 43 he collapsed suddenly walking back to his home from a nearby bar in Brentwood, Los Angeles from what was quickly reported as natural causes.  He spent his last night doing what he did best, discussing politics.

The news of Breitbart’s death eclipsed this press conference that was scheduled for 1 pm when Sheriff Arpaio shared his findings on Obama’s eligibility as President claiming he had probable cause that the long form birth certificate released by the White House was a forgery.  Again, I was hoping for bigger news than the “birther” stuff again.

Throughout the day I read and watched the tributes from The Daily Caller’s headline “Utterly Ballsy” written by Tucker In Memoriam of Breitbart to The Huffington Post and Drudge’s personal message and Fishbowl DC and LA’s various tributes, FOX, CNN as well as countless others.

The next morning I checked Drudge and saw a link to an InfoWars story that reported, “In a stunning coincidence, It appears Andrew Breitbart suffered his untimely death just hours before he was set to release damning video footage that could have sunk Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign..”

It seemed as if Breitbart’s “March 1st” announcement he alluded to in early February might have had something to do with the videos he spoke of at CPAC.  It was odd to think that only weeks ago, while I sat there in the press room watching a vibrant seemingly healthy Breitbart speak from the podium, I was Googling “March 1st, announcement” after my brief encounter in the elevator..

Conspiracy theories flooded the internet, and sites like BuzzFeed had a blast with it.  Though granted these were pretty strange circumstances.  Although acting on the assumption that he died of natural causes and with a history of heart problems the toxicology tests couldn’t determine an official cause of death for another four to six weeks.  Who was the bystander that saw him collapse and made the 911 call and why did the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center not have any record of him being brought into the hospital when they were telephoned and asked?  Many of these things can be explained, such as the hospitals “privacy policy” and the bystander possibly feeling uncomfortable speaking to the media.  Here was a young up and coming bold, challenging culture and media warrior, a  friend and asset to many and an enemy and threat to many others, suddenly gone, in the midst of his latest investigation: Obama.  (Okay, the way I write that makes it sound pretty conspiracy-ish for sure, though I admit, I love a good conspiracy and it I think a lot of people can agree that it’s surely difficult to trust in this day and age without the speculation of what many times turns out to be hidden or not so hidden agendas… all around us.  And that is hard to deny.)

Though March 1st brought about the death of Andrew Breitbart, which was possibly the day he was going to release the damaging videos on the President, Sheriff Arpaio’s planned March 1st announcement seemed to coincide.  According to a WND article, Dr. Jerome Corsi, the author of several books on Obama, said at Arpaio’s press conference that he was able to help facilitate a request Breitbart had to interview Sheriff Arpaio only hours before his death.

Many in the media, including myself, have written off Arpaio, though, why then did Breitbart want to interview him and was there any connection to their “March 1st announcements” ?  Unlike the Sheriff, if Breitbart had a special announcement or news to break it would have been something utterly ballsy and reliable.

The damaging tapes in which Breitbart spoke of are said to be released within the next 10 days.

Although conspiracy theories abound, most are written off and certainly for good reason, but one would have to be ignorant with horse blinders not to see something very odd about this.  I am certainly not making any claims whatsoever but I will not say that there’s nothing weird about the circumstances.  Though, you know what, sometimes that’s just how life is: super weird. Though more often than not, there’s the illusion of coincidence.

Leave it to the this new age of new media and revolutionary citizen journalism that Andrew Breitbart stormed headfirst into to shape what’s driving the global conversation and hopefully bring about truth and transparency to a world that’s desperate for it.

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