Conservative media colleagues Tucker Carlson, Matt Drudge, Chris Ruddy, Glenn Beck remember Breitbart as a leader and a lightning rod

Breitbart ignited the scandal that took down Anthony Weiner. ()
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The conservative media lost one of its most prominent and influential torchbearers when Andrew Breitbart, the pugnacious and polarizing figure credited with helping to usher right-wing journalism into the digital age, died suddenly in Los Angeles this morning at the age of 43.

"In the first decade of the DRUDGEREPORT Andrew Breitbart was a constant source of energy, passion and commitment," wrote Matt Drudge in a statement posted on his website, where Breitbart cut his teeth as an editor.

"We shared a love of headlines, a love of the news, an excitement about what's happening. I don't think there was a single day during that time when we did not flash each other or laugh with each other, or challenge each other."

Breitbart was a stranger to Drudge when, impressed with what he was doing, he approached the right-wing Washington agitator-aggregator about helping him with his then-nascent project.

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"I still see him in my mind's eye in Venice Beach, the sunny day I met him," Drudge wrote. "He was in his mid 20's. It was all there. He had a wonderful, loving family and we all feel great sadness for them today."

"He stirred things up," Ken Chandler, the Manhattan-based editor of Newsmax magazine, a conservative monthly glossy, told Capital. "It's a significant loss."

Chandler's colleague, Newsmax Media C.E.O. Chris Ruddy, said that he'd increasingly begun to view Breitbart, with whom he'd had a friendly rapport, as more of an activist than a journalist. But Ruddy said Breitbart's lasting influence could be seen both in The Drudge Report and, on the other side of the ideological aisle, The Huffington Post, which Breitbart had a hand in launching.

"Across digital media, he was a person that had a role to play," said Ruddy.

Michelle Malkin, The New York Post columnist, wrote on her website that Breitbart was "a mentor to the next generation of right-wing activists and citizen journalists. ... He will be greatly missed, but his legacy online and in the conservative movement is built to last."

In an interview on Fox News this morning, Tucker Carlson, a friend and fellow conservative web publisher who said he'd spoken to Breitbart just last night, described him as "completely fearless. He thrived on the brawling."

Carlson said Breitbart was supportive a year-and-a-half ago when Carlson launched The Daily Caller, ostensibly a competitor to Breitbart's stable of websites, including Big Journalism, Big Hollywood and Big Government. 

"He was so completely and utterly entertaining and truly, I would say, one of the more generous people I've ever known, and helped us a lot [when] we started a business not unlike his," he said. "He didn't feel competitive, He was just nice to us from day one and helpful to us from day one, and just a great friend."

On CNN, network contributor Dana Loesch, who is also the editor of Big Journalism, had this to offer: "It's a very sad loss today. He stood for truth."

Glenn Beck, speaking on his radio show this morning, seemed to agree with that assessment. Saying he was "stunned" by the news, Beck also dismissed a "feud" he was once said to have had with Breitbart.

"We pray for his family, we pray for his children, and we pray that his mission to expose those who need to be exposed continues,” said Beck, who also owns a conservative news website, The Blaze.

Of Breitbart's sites, Beck said: "They've broken a lot of stories. A lot of stories. We need more voices not fewer voices."

According to the Associated Press: "Breitbart was walking near his house in the Brentwood neighborhood shortly after midnight Thursday when he collapsed, said his father-in-law, Orson Bean. Someone saw him fall and called paramedics, who tried to revive him. They rushed him to the emergency room at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles, Bean said."