I met Andrew in the mid ’90s; he was working as a research assistant to Arianna Huffington, then on the Right. (Later, he’d talk her into launching what became the Huffington Post — which, like the Drudge Report, became a phenomenon.) And he immediately got into a fight with me, which was par for the course with him.
It was over some changes I insisted on making to an Arianna column I was editing. I told him he was out of line, that I’d been at this longer than he had and he shouldn’t teach his grandmother how to suck eggs — and he laughed and said his father used to say that to him, and we became friends in that moment.
Of course I was wrong; that I was older and with a longer career in the news biz meant nothing to him, and it shouldn’t have. He understood something I didn’t — that the guildlike nature of media was about to shatter into a million pieces; gatekeepers like me (I was then editing these pages) would have to reconcile ourselves to the entry of amateurs who had something new and powerful to contribute, or we’d be crushed by the shattered glass.
He knew more about how to make the Web work, and all the possible uses of it — from how to break a story to how to integrate video with text to how to run a site frugally and sensibly — than anyone. That was why he could’ve built a media dynasty. But he was made of different stuff.
And of course, what made Andrew different and special and new was his politics. There’d been counterculture figures, disrupters, before him, but they’d all been on the Left. Andrew brought all the qualities of counterculture journalism — sophomoric humor, ribald energy and a sense that the Establishment needed to be destroyed — in the service of core conservative values, like honor and patriotism and equality of opportunity.