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Breitbart And Right Wing Martyrdom

A lot of research into public opinion has shown that many people lack well-formed views on public policy issues. Instead, they pick a side, and and as they learn about that side's agenda, their views gravitate toward those of their "team." Chris Beam's great profile of conservative media mogul Andrew Breitbart -- yes, another Breitbart profile -- doesn't reference this phenomenon, but it bears it out as a kind of case study. Beam explains how Breitbart's career and worldview developed, from apathy to intense partisanship, without ever developing any serious views on the substantive issues that separate the two parties:

Breitbart doesn't pretend to care about policy. "Have you ever seen me on TV? I always change the subject to the media context. It's my monkey trick. It's what I do." (His clash with David Shuster is a valuable case study.) Breitbart thus occupies a weird space in the media universe. He claims no expertise. "It's like when people are like, 'What do you think we should do on health care?' I don't fucking have a clue. It's too complicated for me." (This does not prevent Breitbart from doing Fox News hits about health care.)

The connecting tissue of his worldview is that liberals control everything, and conservatives are plucky underdogs speaking for regular people. Hence the names of his sites, "Big Government," "Big Hollywood," "Big Media," -- all attempts to expose what he views as the powerful institutions of the left. Beam dryly reports on the reductio ad absurdum:

Other sites are in the works. Next up is Big Peace, a site dedicated to national security news.

Finally, somebody is standing up to that big Peace Lobby that makes it so impossible to build a weapons system! (For the record, I'm generally pretty hawkish, but I'm also pretty clear that this is one set of issues where the constellation of power is on my side.)