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Conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart dead at 43

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Andrew Breitbart, the conservative journalist and blogger who founded a slew of websites including Breitbart.com, BigHollywood.com, and BigJournalism.com, passed away shortly after midnight today of natural causes, his attorney confirmed to CNN. He was forty-three years old. A short statement posted to Breitbart.com this morning read, in part:

With a terrible feeling of pain and loss we announce the passing of Andrew Breitbart.

Andrew passed away unexpectedly from natural causes shortly after midnight this morning in Los Angeles.

We have lost a husband, a father, a son, a brother, a dear friend, a patriot and a happy warrior.

Andrew lived boldly, so that we more timid souls would dare to live freely and fully, and fight for the fragile liberty he showed us how to love.

Breitbart was a well known author and pundit, writing countless articles and lending his voice to shows like Real Time with Bill Maher and Tea Party rallies. He was certainly no stranger to controversy; he launched his website BigGovernment.com with edited versions of the ACORN undercover videos (in which James O'Keefe and a female associate posed as a pimp and prostitute) and posted excerpts of a speech given by Shirley Sherrod which ultimately got her fired from the United States Department of Agriculture. He was also the first to post the explicit photos sent by Rep. Anthony Weiner over his Twitter account. He was a highly influential voice for conservative politics online.

I'm not going to pretend I liked the man, because I didn't. (I imagine each one of you has a similarly strong opinion, one way or the other, as well. This was not a man who inspired mild reactions. Maybe you loved him!) And considering Breitbart had no problem calling Ted Kennedy a "prick" and a "special pile of human excrement" mere hours after Kennedy died, I don't have much of a problem saying that Breitbart was a bigoted bully, and one who presented deliberately misleading information as actual journalism.

That being said, it's impossible not to feel compassion for his wife and four children. It's always a great shame to see someone die at such a young age, and forty-three is certainly too young to go.