Andrew Breitbart, a controversial conservative blogger and commentator and one of the early proponents of Internet news, is dead.
According to CBS News and Breitbart's own site, the Los Angeles, native died this morning at the age of 43. CBS was told by the L.A. County Coroner's office that Breitbart died at UCLA Medical Center.
He had earlier collapsed while walking near his home. The exact cause of death was not disclosed.
In the mid-1990s, Breitbart was among those who recognized the Web's likely impact on media, leading him to begin corresponding with Matt Drudge, creator of the Drudge Report. He later served as an editor for the site and became a close Drudge friend and ally.
"In (Breitbart's first e-mail to Drudge) I said, 'Are you 50 people? A hundred people? Is there a building?'" Breitbart told CNET in 2005 about his first contact with Drudge. "I thought what he was doing was by far the coolest thing on the Internet. And I still do."
Drudge later introduced Breitbart to Arianna Huffington and Breitbart helped her create The Huffington Post. Drudge Report and the Huffington Post would become two of the Internet's most popular news and opinion sites.
"I was asked many times this morning for my thoughts on what Andrew meant to the political world," Huffington wrote today. "But all I can think of at the moment is what Andrew meant to me as a friend, starting from when we worked together--his passion, his exuberance, his fearlessness."
Drudge posted a note to readers about Breitbart to the top of his site this morning. "In the first decade of the DrudgeReport, Andrew Breitbart was a constant source of energy, passion and commitment."
Breitbart eventually launched his own Web sites, including Breitbart.tv, and Big Hollywood, where he lashed out at big entertainment, big media and Democrats.
In addition to his commentary, Breitbart was a journalist who broke the news that Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) was texting revealing photographs of himself to young women. He also wrote a weekly column for The Washington Times.
Breitbart was sued for defamation by Shirley Sherrod, a former official in the U.S. Department of Agriculture, after he posted edited video clips of her allegedly making racist comments during a speech. Based on the clips and Breitbart's commentary, the NAACP condemned Sherrod and she was forced to resign.
The Obama administration and the Department of Agriculture later reviewed the entire video of her speech and eventually apologized and asked her to return to work. They concluded that Breitbart had taken her comments out of context. Breitbart tried to get the case thrown out but a court denied his request and Sherrod's case is still pending.