Andrew Breitbart: Controversial Republican activist

The conservative US publisher and activist Andrew Breitbart, an outspoken critic of mainstream media, died at the age of 43 yesterday in Los Angeles of an apparent heart attack. The Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry wrote: "RIP O Mighty Warrior!" in a message on Twitter, the medium where Breitbart confronted his critics with often abrasive messages. His final message had called a follower "a putz".

Breitbart (above, AFP), was behind investigations that led to the resignations of a US Representative, Anthony Weiner, and an Agriculture Department official, Shirley Sherrod. Breitbart's website posted a picture of an underwear-clad crotch and said it had been sent from Weiner's Twitter account to a Seattle woman. Weiner eventually offered a lengthy public confession.

Breitbart also was at the centre of a video controversy which led to the firing of Sherrod, who is black. She was fired as Georgia state rural development director in 2010 after the video surfaced. In it she is seen telling a local National Association for the Advancement of Colored People group that she was initially reluctant to help a white farmer save his farm more than two decades ago, long before she worked for USDA.

Missing from the clip was the rest of the speech, which was meant as a lesson in racial healing. Sherrod told the crowd she eventually realised her mistake and helped the farmer save his farm. She has since filed a lawsuit against Breitbart.