Just a few weeks ago, this landed in my inbox after Felix Salmon (who since the golden days of Gawker has made a habit of asserting every time I sneeze that I must be intentionally spreading Ebola) not surprisingly criticized my fitness as the editor of the Observer. Felix issues—and creepy obsessiveness—notwithstanding, I was a bit surprised at the DM because I hadn’t seen or talked to Breitbart in over a year, and the whole thread seemed too small potatoes to even be on his radar.
But it made me think about the last time we had a substantial conversation and it was a lengthy discussion about being adopted (we both are) and we were sitting in a booth at the Box. It was a party and it was loud, but we sat for over an hour talking about it. He was thoughtful and introspective—two qualities that probably wouldn’t be associated with his public persona, which sometimes seemed like a bit of an alter ego to me.
I met him in 2003 while in LA and taking the obligatory potshots at LA for Gawker (back when the Gawker worldview was New York Is the Center of the Universe) and it didn’t go over very well with some of the LA readership. Andrew was a good sport about it, got the joke, wasn’t offended. I’d run into him occasionally at events and I don’t remember ever talking to him about politics, though like every one else, I knew what his politics were. But even when I thought he was wrong-headed about things, I never thought it was in bad faith. I didn’t think he was a nihilist. When he signed on to co-found the Huffington Post, I was surprised—and then not surprised when he left. But I think you have to have a certain courage of your convictions to join forces with someone you fundamentally disagree with in order to create something that you believe will create more dialogue, siphon through the mess to get to the facts and create a new model for how journalism is conducted. I don’t think HuffPo necessarily did that, but it was a noble aim.
Andrew was a smart provocateur—and in some ways reminds me of another smart provocateur I know. And whatever I thought about his politics, I respected the fact that he was willing to scrap with people, make enemies and fight to present his ideas and promote what he believed in.