PSYCHOSIS IN A POLITICAL MASK
(The second part of a two part profile, which metastasized into something larger and more unwieldy. This is part one. Originally, excerpts from Breitbart’s Righteous Indignation were transcripts from his audio book. On December 1st, 2013, they were replaced with sections taken from the actual digital print edition.)
There is almost no analysis or examination here of the various scandals Andrew Breitbart instigated during his brief period of fame, such as the closing of ACORN or the firing of Shirley Sherod. In part one I recommended Breitbart’s best epitaph as that delivered by Alex Pareene, “What Andrew Breitbart Made and What Made Him”, though this neglected what might be an equal or better obituary, which goes through each celebrated muckraking episode, and in a manner that is careful and well-sourced, tears each to dust: “Andrew Breitbart: Big Deal, Big Coronary, Big Corpse” [archive link] by Mobutu Sese Seko and General Rehavam ‘Gandhi’ Ze’evi1. Though supplemental to the scandal itself, “On Making Yourself Right” and “Fear of a Black President” by Ta-Nehisi Coates are insightful essays on the targeting of Shirley Sherrod. Only one episode of psuedojournalism here is discussed in-depth, one unmentioned by Mobutu and Ze’evi, focusing not on Breitbart’s involvement, but the involvement of almost everyone but Breitbart, and that is the one which targeted Anthony Weiner.
This, as said in part one, is an attempt at an analysis of the character of Andrew Breitbart, which I believe to be misunderstood, and how this character ended up in happy (or unhappy) convergence with political life and a press, that might be categorized as traditional, institutional, or simply, non-internet based, which is dying. Of another marginal man, his anti-hero Travis Bickle, Paul Schrader once said that this man needs to be understood, but not tolerated2. It seems that the press has done entirely the inverse with Breitbart, tolerating him without understanding. This arrangement was to their benefit as well as his, as they got circuses without looking too closely at any uncomfortable questions. If there is a single theory of his life, I believe it is not that Breitbart was a man who worked in steady progression up the rungs to a commanding position in the new yellow press, but that he was a man frustrated by the limits of his life, a man who suffered from ADD and had a sucession of lousy jobs, who wanted fame, intellectual repute, and to be a hero.
Though the salient point emphasized in the biographies (and hagiographies) of Breitbart’s immediate post-college life is his Damascene conversion from liberal to conservative in the progressive habitat of Los Angeles3, the most striking point to a casual reader of his memoir is the man’s immaturity at this stage in life, and this immaturity he carries through to his premature end. Breitbart arrives home from college and he writes of getting a job waiting tables for the first time. He writes of buying shoes with his own money for the first time. A man in his twenties, who just graduated from college. These revelatory experiences are ones that most people have had many times before they graduate high school.
Here he is in Righteous Indignation describing the extraordinary event of using his own money to buy shoes in his twenties:
But buying my first pair of shoes with my own money was an Emersonian epiphany. That was one of the first baby steps toward embracing adulthood and maturity, something that being on the easy parental dole could never provide. I felt like Andrew Carnegie in those shoes.
This is where he describes waiting tables after college:
A second step toward self-actualization was the experience of waiting tables on friends from high school and college who happened in on my lowly afternoon wait shift. Twice, friends asked me with a look of great worry on their faces, “Why are you doing this?” The peer pressure that had defined so much of my high-school years in Brentwood and the mostly wealthy clique that I spent time with at Tulane meant that if I joined the club, I would be a member of the elite. To fall outside of the boundaries of that upper-middle-classness wasn’t merely unacceptable; it simply wasn’t an option. And here I was, waiting on my former peers hand and foot.
I’d spent many years in Brentwood and at Tulane scoffing at my friends who fretted about their futures. Now here I was, watching those same people in law school, medical school, or working in jobs in buildings that I didn’t even know how to enter. Nothing like a dose of complete humiliation to make you realize how completely full of shit you are.
But strangely, it felt good. I knew the only place to go was up.
The only work mentioned before this is the work he loved, delivering pizzas throughout Los Angeles, to the notables of the time such as Judge Reinhold. The difference between this and waiting tables is one of subservience and status. When he is delivering pizzas in high school, there is the expectation that he will be working better and better paying jobs afterwards. His car is his own, the time spent with the customer is mercifully (or, in the case of Judge Reinhold, unmercifully) short. To work as a waiter it is clear you are the customer’s servant, and you must wait on their needs, hand and foot, as Breitbart says, for an extended period of time. There is also the other contrasting note of status, that his peers will be working law and medicine, making a great deal more money than he will soon. His problem is not that the game is rigged, but that is not rigged enough4 – he expects that through association with the upper-middle class, he will forever be part of the upper-middle class. This sense is not alone to Breitbart but something felt by many of those who belonged to the upper middle and middle class of the past thirty years, that the class I thought I would be in forever I no longer belong to, the class I thought I would be in forever is headed for extinction. This is key to not only understanding Breitbart, but understanding his wider appeal.
We might note here something that is given too little attention in Breitbart’s story, that he is adopted, a transplant into this world. I cannot read his story without thinking that he must have felt that if only he were born to these parents, he would have fit in. That his parents were jewish, that he was not, and the stereotype of jewish intellectual industry, may have played parts as well, or might not. This is not a question of parental acceptance, and only an issue of biological difference. I do not think an adopted child with ADD, surrounded by peers going to law school and medicine, while he waited tables, cannot help but have thought, if I were truly the child of my parents, I would not have this disability, I would not be burdening them, I would be there in medical school and law as well. He very stridently declares here that he will from now on commit himself to his parents’ traditional values, including devotion to hard work, something which supposedly puts him in opposition to the privileged elite of Hollywood. It’s a strange declaration to make since, despite the myths, much of the entertainment industry is made up of people, even those who come to their station by inheritance or nepotism, who demonstrate a frightening devotion to their work5 – a hunger entirely absent in the life of Andrew Breitbart. If he cannot show his fealty to family values through achievement, he will do so by being a loudmouth exemplar of these same values. This context, I think, gives his contempt for the Frankfurt school, immigrant intellectuals transplanted to California, a vital and obvious motive. Much of his writing on the Frankfurt school, as I try to prove in part one, is plagiarized from other sources; this section, however, is not, and comes very much from a man who may well have known strife and poverty had he not been adopted, but through good fortune did not. His rebuke to the Frankfurt school here is very personal: I learned to adopt and promote the values of my adopted parents, why couldn’t you adopt and promote the values of your adopted land as well?
These were not happy people [the members of the Frankfurt school] looking for a new lease on life. When they moved to California, they simply couldn’t deal with the change of scenery—there was cognitive dissonance. Horkheimer and Adorno and depressive allies like Bertolt Brecht moved into a house in Santa Monica on Twenty-sixth Street, coincidentally, the epicenter of my childhood. They had moved to heaven on earth from Nazi Germany and apparently could not handle the fun, the sun, and the roaring good times. Ingratitude is not strong enough a word to describe these hideous malcontents.
If only they had had IKEA furniture, this would have made for a fantastic season of The Real World.
Brecht and his ilk were the Kurt Cobains of their day: massively depressed, nihilistic people who wore full suits in eighty-degree weather while living in a house by the beach. As Adam Cohen wrote in the New York Times, these were “dyspeptic critics of American culture. Several landed in Southern California where they were disturbed by the consumer culture and the gospel of relentless cheeriness. Depressive by nature, they focused on the disappointments and venality that surrounded them and how unnecessary it all was. It could be paradise, Theodor Adorno complained, but it was only California.”
Adorno was wrong. It was paradise. To the rest of the world, America’s vision was a vision of paradise. And these Marxists were here to try to destroy the best lifestyle man had ever created.
If I could go back in a time machine, I would go back to kick these malcontents in their shins6.
Breitbart has something of the arrested adolescent, treating the usual adolescent milestones of buying clothes with your own money and doing degrading waiter work as if they are the epochal developments when he finally reaches them in his twenties, and his attitude toward his lifelong nemesis, Hollywood, is out of the fantasyworld of the arrested adolescent as well. He somehow has the expectation that work in the entertainment industry is not very difficult and painful work, just as it is in every industry, but an easy living dreamscape where a high paying coveted job is gifted you as your birthright. According to Breitbart, he is denied this dreamscape not because he is lazy or untalented, but because he has no relations in the industry and is not liberal enough. Just as others denied work in some industries are denied not due to talent, but to race, Breibart portrays himself as a similar victim of persecution.
I give lengthy excerpt to the section Breitbart devotes to his time working in Hollywood:
Based on the available evidence—that the only tangible skill set I had was that I could make people laugh, and that I was in Los Angeles—I took the first available job in Hollywood with the hope that I’d eventually become a comedy writer.
Hollywood is anything but a meritocracy. So I thought I’d try to leverage some old friends to insert myself into the world that was the backdrop of my childhood. Through a friend, I got a runner position at a low-budget movie production company in Santa Monica. Over a period of a year, I put 22,000 miles on the Saab convertible that I’d bought when I graduated college. Its quality was a constant and painful reminder that I hadn’t earned the money for it, but in the exceptionally shallow town that is Hollywood, my boss took an immediate liking to me based on his false perception that I was of his status. With the $230 that he was paying me per week, I couldn’t afford my own car payments, let alone running around with his Hollywood crowd. But I learned that that was exactly what I had to do in order to get ahead in that business.
For a year I delivered scripts around town, entering every single Hollywood office of note, including Michael Ovitz’s, Jeffrey Katzenberg’s, and Michael Eisner’s. It wasn’t long before I saw clearly what made Hollywood run. I realized that the town was about relationships, about ass-kissing, about groupthink, about looking over the shoulder of the person you’re having a conversation with to see if there’s somebody more important in the room that you should be speaking to. I just as quickly realized that this was not my world. I had spent the last four years of my life in college subordinating myself to a system that ran against my better instincts. I was not going to make that mistake again.
So while the producer was incentivizing me to become production staff—he even gave me control over a project, Valley Girl 2 (thank God that was never made)—I did everything in my power to stay in my car doing the lowly runner job because I didn’t want to get sucked in further.
In this excerpt, he makes clear the divide between the hard working ways of his parents, and the libertine attitude of Hollywood, that it is this which makes him unfit for the industry, rather than his own lack of drive or ability:
I knew that I was estranged from my parents’ belief system and that a permanently libertine lifestyle was no substitute for a clean conscience, work that felt satisfying, and a decent night’s rest.
These revelations rendered certain aspects of my life uncomfortable. I was beginning to recognize that my ethical framework did not jibe in any way, shape, or form with the Hollywood world into which I had sought entry. I knew now why I had no desire to be promoted. I even remember trying to visualize where I would be in twenty years. I remember thinking, I don’t want an Oscar. I don’t want an Emmy. And I don’t want a Grammy. If you don’t want to be the best at something, what’s the point?
I was also discovering through my boss’s relationship with the Democratic Party that Hollywood, much like the media, was part of the same architecture that Rush Limbaugh described. This boss, who shall remain nameless, was not an inherently moral individual. Everything that he did — everything — was about business. His devotion to wining and dining top elected Democratic officials was no exception.
One notices that, once again, the theme of status. He buys and keeps a car he can’t afford because he wishes to be seen as a member of the class to which he once belonged. The problem is never with his own lack of skills, but the industry itself: Hollywood is anything but a meritocracy. This, again, demonstrates his own arrested development: what place is? His problem appears to not be that the place is a libertine fantasyland – there are no anecdotes of any kind of debauchery or the glitz world’s slouching work ethic – it’s that like every other place, Hollywood is a business: “This boss, who shall remain nameless, was not an inherently moral individual. Everything he did – everything – was about business.” This boss, who runs a company in a multi-billion dollar industry, sounds unsurprisingly like a boss in any other industry. Breitbart’s problem is not that Hollywood is part and parcel of capitalism, but that it presents itself as a refuge from capitalism when it’s not. This illusion is one that few people, especially those who work in the top echelons of the industry, believe in past their teenage years. As with Breitbart finally buying shoes with his own money, it makes you ask: aren’t you a little on the old side to make a big deal about losing your virginity?
That Breitbart did want to be part of this industry, though he lacked the tenacity and talent for it, is obvious because he embellishes his own time there. The company he worked for, which he keeps nameless, was the Motion Picture Corporation of America7. Their movie list, there at IMDB is less than illustrious. Double Trouble, Grey Knight, Miracle Beach, Love, Cheat & Steal were all made while Breitbart worked at the place. My favorite description of one of their productions comes from Think Big, which, like the later Double Trouble, starred the musclebound twin brothers, Peter and David Paul: “Two somewhat retarded truckers hired to transport toxic waste across the country get caught up with a teen genius who stows away on their truck.” There is no shame in working for subpar or low budget productions, but it’s a strange contrast to the dismissive tone Breitbart takes of this industry that he appears to burnish the firm he worked for. That he visited the offices of Ovitz, Katzenberg, and Eisner suggests a more high profile and prolific company than MPCA actually was – the big name stars and high profile productions we associate with such names, MPCA had nothing to do with8.
Most striking is the way Breitbart gives himself rather outsize producer’s role for Valley Girl 2, a production for which he shows only contempt – “thank god that was never made”. This same claim is made in Chris Beam’s profile, “Andrew Breitbart: What makes the conservative pundit tick” 9, though the writer does describe the claim with a skeptical “supposedly”. The best examination of this point is not to be found in any mainstream place, but in the post at the blog News Corpse, “Noxious Irritation: Andrew Breitbart’s True Hollywood Horror Story”, perhaps the best examination of Righteous Indignation anywhere, by occasional Salon contributor Mark Howard. The writer took the time to speak to the head of the studio, Brad Krevoy, as well as the director of Valley Girl 2, Anita Rosenberg:
Upon his return home, Breitbart held a number of low-skill jobs until a friend got him a runner position at “a low-budget movie production company in Santa Monica.”
“For a year I delivered scripts around town, entering every single Hollywood office of note, including Michael Ovitz’s, Jeffrey Katzenberg’s, and Michael Eisner’s. It wasn’t long before I saw clearly what made Hollywood run.”
For such a poor student, it’s impressive that he could figure out Hollywood by merely dropping off scripts with receptionists. Nevertheless, in his retelling this was all the experience he required to impress his employer (whom he explicitly declined to identify) enough to reward him with a plum assignment.
“So while the producer was incentivizing me to become production staff – he even gave me control over a project, Valley Girl 2…”
The Valley Girl sequel was a project acquired by Brad Krevoy’s Motion Picture Corporation of America. It was slated for production in April of 1992, but was never completed. According to Mr. Krevoy, Breitbart was nothing more than an intern and that he never had “control” of Valley Girl or any other project.
Furthermore, Anita Rosenberg, who was to be the film’s writer and director, told me that she had only a vague recollection of young Breitbart. Her impression was that Breitbart was a kid hired by the producer and if he stated that he was in control of the project he was “stretching it.” She recalled Breitbart as someone she regarded as an assistant who had not earned his place and didn’t know the business. He most certainly was not in a position of control.
That Breitbart, despite his assurances that he can make people laugh, could not get anywhere near his favorite show, Chris Elliott’s “Get a Life” 10, even with Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts as his godparents, is made clear in his later vitriolic revenge piece, Hollywood, Interrupted (the title is a reference, I guess, to Girl, Interrupted). Never has Sodom and/or Gomorrah been so dull and unfunny. Had there been anything funny at all in any of its rocks thrown, I have no doubt that Breitbart would have gotten job offers in the industry. It was The Player, of course, that revived Robert Altman’s career. Hollywood is the only whorehouse in the world where a muckraking exposé gets you an invite to service its clients. After all, these whores like nothing better than seeing their fellow whores destroyed11. Maybe. The book’s witlessness makes Breitbart’s envy only more obvious. The excerpts, “Hollywood’s Family Values”, “How the media enable celebrity wackiness”, “Trashing Middle America”, and “Celebrity adopto-babies”, all appeared on World Net Daily, and all feature the insightful humor and high quality writing you associate with that publication.
What follows are two samples which show off the book’s style, a mix of low minded piousness and subtle, let-me-smash-your-skull-in-with-my-baseball-bat-of-a-joke, complete with promiscuous use of exclamation mark, the telltale venereal sore of hack comedy. From “Celebrity adopto-babies”:
Liz Hurley sure knew how to start her son Damian’s life off on a demonic note. First, she got impregnated by film producer Steven Bing (whose credits include, naturally, the film “Why Men Shouldn’t Marry”), a man who didn’t want to have a child with the actress in the first place (though he’s subsequently offered child support). According to at least one British tabloid, even private dick to the stars Anthony Pellicano publicly questioned Hurley’s claims of paternity on Bing’s behalf. Bing, a close pal of Bill Clinton, appropriately, would have been more subtle yelling, “Slut!” in a crowded theater.
Second, Hurley had the controversial C-section. For some celebrities – it is unclear whether Hurley fits in this category – it’s a fatuous vanity procedure having questionable medical benefits. In the past, the surgical procedure was relegated to medical emergencies, yet it is now being scheduled a week or two in advance of more than a few self-absorbed stars’ scheduled delivery as a means to avoid stretch marks and other post-natal aesthetic inconveniences. In the case of Hurley, Mike Myer’s costar in the first “Austin Powers” flick, she reportedly had her incision made below her “bikini line.”
Incidentally, while eight months pregnant with her second child, Mrs. Michael Douglas performed a strenuous song and dance number from the hit musical “Chicago” at the 2003 Oscars, as an ambulance waited outside in case her water broke during a particularly high note or difficult move. Anglophile Madonna scheduled her C-section based upon her reading of the Kabbalistic calendar. Oy gevalt!
Hollywood, Interrupted is the only kind of class warfare that the Republican party endorses, and encourages, a hatred of celebrities because of all the privileges they have due to great wealth, which contrast with their associated music and movies stressing the virtues of everything but money, lives lived without money. Here, from the excerpt “Hollywood’s Family Values” we have Breitbart tearing into the Gettys for the ostensible focus of actor progeny Balthazar (Breitbart dismisses the man’s abilities, where I would not), but whose aim shifts to the family itself, whose wealth is depicted as inextricably intertwined with the legacies of sinful existence, drug addiction and HIV, a portrait of the rich that might have been written by a Marxist firebrand or radical calvinist preacher:
“The Kennedys are the royal family of America. But if you want to talk about true glamour, scandal, and just a true collection of interesting and wild celebrities, that applies far more to my family,” J. Paul Getty Sr. once bragged.
The oil-rich, common-sense-poor Gettys bestowed upon Los Angeles a world-renowned, heavily endowed art museum and a semi-talented actor named Balthazar. The son of J. Paul Getty III (the one who was kidnapped, known to friends as Paul) and the grandson of J. Paul Getty Jr. – former heroin addicts alike, he also descended into a junkie’s life not long after his “Lord of the Flies” success at the age of 17.
Balthazar spent much of his adolescence under the tutelage of his now ex-junkie, HIV-positive aunt, Aileen Getty, the former daughter-in-law of the Queen of Dysfunction, Elizabeth Taylor.
This class hatred is as thick through the book as the envy, envy of being famous and part of the entertainment industry firmament, an envy that was still there at the end of his life. Few people want to be like, or even nearby, Simon Cowell, but Breitbart bragged that he was the Simon Cowell of the conservative movement. He may have declared that celebrities were more brutal, more evil than Al-Qaeda, but he fantasized about having a drink with Sean Penn12.
Though Breitbart was somehow perceived by a few notables as a “punk rock figure”13, the phrase itself now suggesting something bygone and anachronistic, rather than the intended sense of something frightening and revolutionary, his writing is full of the screechy grievance of the staid pantswetter who isn’t let into the treehouse. It is right there in this Indignation excerpt, along with his usual sense that he didn’t get a job in Hollywood because he wasn’t liberal enough:
I felt the inherent lack that resides in the right, which was so removed from the cultural process because it had self-removed, abdicated its responsibility to be a steward of the culture, handed over the entire means of representing the United States abroad and teaching Americans about America at home to the hard left. But I also knew the left’s control was a false architecture born of smoke and mirrors. Born of a media age in which the left controlled who was cool and who was not, who was in the in crowd and who was in the out crowd. Punishing those who would step out of line and rewarding those who went with the flow.
Even big stars were punished. How much more so would make-up artists doing Susan Sarandon’s eyeliner be punished if they openly traded views on the war in Iraq? Leftists without credentials made it in Hollywood because they were leftists. All they had to do was show up to Jeffrey Katzenberg sponsored fundraisers and Katzenberg would scratch their back.
There it is in his ridiculous ode to values, accompanied by a sudden, brave opposition to irony (this, from a man who wanted to write for Chris Elliott), his abrupt devotion to authenticity, all coming together in his devotional to the work of a man whose very name connotes something lyrical and extraordinary, Drudge:
It was just fascinating, unique, and worldly, while also being oddly uncynical.
Maybe it was this lack of cynicism that most captured me. My generation had embraced Kurt Cobain and late-1980s stand-up comedy and Spy magazine—we’d embraced irony as our badge of hipness. And for some reason, I was getting over it. It was weird—I was usually the best in the room at using that weapon, was comfortable being Joe Irony. But it was just starting to bore me. I was sick of the same sitcoms, I was sick of the same songs, I was sick of the same cookie-cutter everything. I felt myself moving past this defensive irony, toward that least hip of beliefs: values. With the Drudge Report and the Internet, I thought, Here, at least, is something that takes itself seriously. I was gaining nourishment from something outside of humor and cynicism; I’d found that reading about big issues and listening to other people’s thinking about conservative ideas and morality and societal standards was actually fulfilling.
It is there in his complaint about listening to the radio in 1994, a twenty-five year old rheumatic codger who bleats on about how he got into listening to talk radio because his favorite stations had been taken over by horrible new music that could not possibly match the sounds of Aztec Camera:
My habit came about accidentally. My devotion to KROQ FM and San Diego’s 91X, trailblazing alternative rock stations, began to fade with the invasion of the grunge rock movement. Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Mudhoney, Blind Melon, Screaming Trees were replacing The Cure, New Order, The English Beat, Echo and the Bunnymen14. It was like watching your youth get cancelled. And my hatred of grunge was visceral. The forced thrift-shop flannel look belied Los Angeles’s temperate weather. Who were these whiny, suicidal freaks? I didn’t want to know, I just wanted them off my car radio.
So, the picture that has been presented of Breitbart, and that he helped present, is entirely false. This is not a vital man of witty genius with a palmist’s feel for the zeitgeist, a man who could have been a formidable comedy writer if only for his lack of patience for Hollywood mores, but a petulant no-talent whining about being forgotten and excluded when musical morays changed, as they always will, and forever pining for the better days of the early eighties. I do not emphasize this simply for the purpose of diminishing Breitbart’s character (though there is some of that), but because this false image suggests a man who was confident, comfortable and belonging to the world. The hipster feels himself forever adaptable, a quicksilver man or woman, always able to find some interesting nook or cranny in music, movies, or books, while the reactionary always pines for the past – the false image places Breitbart in the former class, while the man, properly seen, actually belongs very clearly to the latter.
This sense of exclusion and uprootedness is something many in Breitbart’s audience felt as well, and it is not as simple as white privilege, and it should not be underestimated. It is very much a sense of the world grown indifferent to them, and part of this indifference is the lack of available quality jobs, as labor competition grew increasingly fierce with the signing of various trade pacts in the early nineties. There is a moment in Breitbart’s Indignation that, I think, is almost entirely overlooked, but it is crucial, as it must be connected to this anxiety, though he is never explicit about this. The passage is the following:
I still had a natural disdain for the religious right, which had been the ultimate 1980s-era bogeyman, so I was looking for some neutral ground while I tried to figure things out. If you met me in 1992, for some odd reason, I would have told you I was a libertarian, and I voted for Ross Perot. The only awkward memory that haunts me more is my roller-disco period.
A Rebecca Mead profile seconds this memory, that Breitbart voted for Perot in 1992, and since then voted exclusively for the GOP15. What’s striking is that Perot was not the third way between the Republicans and Democrats, but a significantly less libertarian candidate than the Democrats. Perot’s guiding principle, the one that made him such a substantial third party threat, was his opposition to the NAFTA trade deal. This was a trade deal supported by the two other parties, far more in line with libertarian principles of free, unrestricted trade than Perot’s opposition.
Again, Perot’s position on free trade was of extraordinary importance, and yet it is reduced or swept aside in all accounts of the election of 1992. One of the few who give emphatic highlight to this is the often very astute Maureen (Moe) Tkacik, who makes this issue the focus of her essay, “Ross Perot, Last American Leftist”. I give lengthy excerpt:
[Pat] Choate was himself a lobbyist for the defense maufacturer TRW when he wrote the book [Agents of Influence] to expose the $400 million a year influence apparatus Japanese industry trade organizations had erected to convince politicians and opinion leaders to repeatedly roll back tariffs and quotas on their exports while throwing the American manufacturing sector to the wolves; he was fired shortly after it was released. More distressingly, he was dismissed — by Michael Kinsley, and not even in the Journal! — as a racist McCarthyite Japan-basher attempting to reinvent another Yellow Peril.
But then a billionaire technology entrepreneur read the book, and started talking it up to everyone he knew, even slipping a hearty recommendation into an appearance on the McNeil Lehrer News Hour, to which he’d been invited in March 1991 ostensibly to discuss “lessons of the Gulf War”:
PEROT: You and I have to go look in the mirror, because we own this country. The folks in Washington don’t own it. Now there’s a problem here. The special interests control Washington, not the people. And if you don’t believe that, read the book “Agents of Influence” by Pat Choate, and you’ll conclude that the international lobbyists own this town. That’s driven by the cost of elections and the need to buy TV time to run. All that can be cleaned out if the people exercise their will.
LEHRER: All right. I have to exercise the will to go — an unwill to go but have to exercise. Thank you very much, Mr. Perot.
Agents of Influence ultimately inspired Perot’s whole political career—and gave Choate a second act as a senior campaign adviser commonly called “Perot’s brain.” And to their combined credit, Perot’s brain on matters of substance remained remarkably lucid, consistent and focused during the surreal and volatile four years that followed. Sure, he had some odd personal notions about a GOP plot to crash his daughter’s wedding, but his political convictions were unflappable. He spent all of seven words—“I think this is a woman’s decision”—on abortion, blaming failing infrastructure and the weak economy for the “breakdown of the family” that preoccupied the culture warriors of the day. And while he often invoked the menace of debt and deficits on the campaign trail, it was always as a byproduct of the trade deficit he sought to attack with a robust Japan-style industrial policy.
Like Choate Perot was smeared as a redneck and a xenophobe. But as Choate very explicitly stated in Agents of Influence, the most potent weapon the Japanese and any other commercial rival wielded in its stealth trade war was the homegrown American mythology of “free” markets. “Perception is reality,” Eddie Mahe, a former RNC executive director working as an adviser to the Japanese Embassy who is a prominent figure in the narrative, tells groups in Tokyo, “If enough people believe something to be true, it has the same impact as being true whether it is a fact or not.” So it went with the infallible free market: politicians who advocated negotiating tougher trade deals were pilloried as “managed trade” zealots and “protectionists” in the press. “In the process,” Choate observed, “slogans replace thought and dogma substitutes for reality.”
It’s hard to believe in hindsight that Perot was paranoid enough; even after the ten week sabbatical and the more virulent strain of media scorn that accompanied him in the campaign’s final weeks, he brought in a full 19% of the popular vote. He was the most dangerous candidate the status quo had seen since probably FDR. And once the election was over, he turned his laserlike focus to the most radioactive slice of his political agenda: defeating NAFTA. The next fall he and Choate published a book detailing the agreement’s gory provisions, and together they marshaled the full force of his supporter database and his grassroots operation United We Stand America to spread word of the bad bargain and debated it on CNN with Al Gore. It seems pretty likely in hindsight the trade deal would have been what the consenusphere calls a “two day story” if not for the inimitible H. Ross.
After this excerpt, the piece details how Perot’s base was co-opted by the very conservatives who supported such trade deals, while a Democrat, Al Gore, went against the traditional interest group of his party, unions and workers in manufacturing, to debate NAFTA with Perot, and argue in favor of the treaty. The aftermath is now certain – if better labour conditions or higher incomes might have come about due to this treaty under different terms, they have not come about now. The position of the American worker is even more difficult and tenuous than it was twenty years ago, with real wages stagnant and working conditions more abysmal. No doubt a top tier has benefited from the easier flight of labor and capital from country to country, but no else has.
That Breitbart would from then on vote only Republican is entirely in line with what takes place in post-NAFTA Kansas, as described by Thomas Frank in his classic What’s the Matter with Kansas?. Those who once voted Democrat move to voting for the GOP, because at least that party will fight for them on cultural issues, since neither party will now fight on their behalf to keep good quality work:
While the Wichita Cons [the Wichita, Kansas conservatives] worked hard to build their movement, they would not have succeeded so extravagantly had it not been for the simultaneous suicide of the rival moveement, the one that traditionally spoke for working-class people. I am referring, of course, to the Clinton administration’s famous policy of triangulation, its grand effort to minimize the differences between Democrats and Republicans on economic issues. Among the nation’s pundit corps “triangulation” has always been considered a stroke of genius, signaling the end of liberalism’s old-fashioned “class warfare” and also of the Democrats’ faith in “big government.” Clinton’s New Democrats, it was thought, had brought the dawn of an era in which all parties agreed on the sanctity of the free market. As political strategy, though, Clinton’s move to accomodate the right was the purst folly. It simply pulled the rug out from under any possible organizing effort on the left. While the Cons were busily polarizing the electorate, the Dems were meekly seeking the center. In Wichita Republicanism appeared dynamic and confident; the Democrats looked dispirited, weak, spent.
However well it was received on Wall Street, Clinton’s strategy played right into the hands of Mark Gietzen [a local Republican candidate] and hundreds of other Christian conservative organizers like him around the country. If basic economic issues are removed from the table, Gietzen has written, only the social issues remain to distinguish the parties. And in such climagte, Democratic appeals to people of ordinary means can be easily neutralized. “Years ago, it was assumed that the Republican Party was ‘the party of the rich,’ and that the Democrats stood for working people,” Gietzen writes.
Plenty of Wichitans clearly came to beleive that it was. In the election fo 1994 they took their frustrations out on Democratic representative Dan Glickman, a staunch Clinton loyalist who supported NAFTA – a free-trade agreement originally drafted by Republicans – even though the labor unions back in Wichita that made up his electoral base adamantly opposed the trade accord. Says Dale Seenson, a union painter at Boeing (and a Republican state legilator): “When [Glickman] voted for NAFTA, I couldn’t any longer vote for him. I know a lot of union members were really mad at Glickman when he voted for NAFTA.” With Democrats and Republicans having merged on free trade, the issues that remained were abortion and guns. And, of course, government itself. Glickman was solidly pro-choice, and he had supported the adminstration’s measures to restrict assault weapons; he had also been involved in the House check-bouncing scandal, which seemed to confirm people’s worst suspicions about career politicians.
After this election, in 1994, Breitbart leaves Hollywood behind16. Though he did do some work in web site design, an episode makes clear how inapt his ADD mind is to acquire the skills to work in anything like the new, temporarily higher wage world of software and web development. He describes the agonizing process of trying to set up his telephone modem, a process that might take a twelve year old of the time a few minutes, which for him is a project that requires several hours to pull off:
It wasn’t until I was living in Austin, Texas, in 1994 (don’t ask) that I finally sought out an Internet service provider (ISP) called Illuminati Online. Illuminati was somewhat famous at the time for a civil liberties case that it had fought and won17. I tried to hook up to it, but had no luck—it was crazily complicated to try to get my computer to relate to my modem in order to connect to the Internet. The whole concept was just not idiotproof enough for me yet.
Then, one night, I decided that I was going to do it once and for all. I went to Central Market, a proto–Whole Foods on steroids—the Eighth Wonder of the World, an affirmation of capitalism deceptively marketed to guilty liberals—and bought a rotisserie chicken and a six-pack of Pilsner Urquell. And I sat down at my glorious Mac and said to myself, I’m not going to leave this room until I’m on the Internet.
I huffed and puffed through hours of trial and error, over and over, with no hint as to whether I was even making any progress. It was like trying to reach the finish line of a marathon in a thick fog. But then, surrounded by gnawed chicken bones and empty beer bottles, I heard the vital crackle of the modem connecting. And instead of it breaking off, the connection stuck.
I was reborn.
The internet allows Breitbart to connect with Matt Drudge, for whom he will end up working; like many of those who work with Drudge, he will barely meet or speak with the man, communicating almost entirely by e-methods. Through Drudge, he will meet Arianna Huffington, for whom he will also work as a researcher and writer18. These venues give him the opportunity for work, but also provide him the possibility to play at something in fantasy that is sorely distant from the banalities of our lives, especially a life as a low level delivery boy or content manager: to be a hero in an epic Manichean struggle. This is different from the visceral excitement one gets from being at the center of breaking news, which is something like a combination of being a rubbernecker at an accident, and some celebrity studded event like the Vanity Fair post-Oscar party where you feel as if you’re at the center of the universe because you’re in a room thick with the famous and infamous19.
This fantasy means that this man who appears utterly out of shape in every photo and TV appearance, who never served a day in any wing of the military, now incessantly writes of himself as a man who somehow is knee deep in Vimy mud or watching friends torn up by bullets while wading out from the Atlantic, when all he’s doing is yelling at people on Twitter.
And this counterattack needs field generals, platoon leaders, and foot soldiers ready to storm every hill on the battlefield. To not yield an inch of ground to the ruthless, relentless, shameless enemy we face.
I volunteered to fight in this war. I have risen through the ranks and now find myself on the front lines with an army of New Media warriors following me into the fray. It is no longer a choice to fight; I am compelled to fight.
The war for the soul of a nation, and perhaps the world, is being fought in the New Media. And I am right in the middle of it.
This descends to its vile nadir with Breitbart gleeful at the prospect of a civil war, certain that his faction will win it, because he believes those in the military are on his side20.
Breitbart is fighting the supposed Democratic Media Complex, the entertainment industry acting in concert with the liberal political elite to shape the vision, the ideals, the political and social life of the nation. Somehow, Breitbart has perceived this machine that shapes us, and he will help lead us out. This unveiling is described in bluntly religious terms in Indignation:
We start by uncovering the truth, and telling everyone about it. I’m not religious, and I’m certainly no theologian. But if there is one thing in religion that speaks to me, it is the idea of absolute truth. In fact, the word “truth” has meaning only if it is absolute. And absolute truth will set us all free from the grip of the complex because the complex lives in the clouds, in the theoretical heavens.
Though Breitbart writes that conservatism can win on the football field of ideas21, his mission is almost always described in intuitive terms. His war must be that of the intuitive, because his ADD would keep him from making anything like a solid intellectual case against any debating partner, best shown when he goes against someone like Michael Eric Dyson in debate, and is destroyed. His knowledge is that of the mystic visionary, someone who somehow knows things that others do not, such as his insight into the true character of the newly elected president. This mystic certainty is what drives him to war against his enemy, a president who is not quite a man, but something like a robot, a programmed construct:
A lifetime of work putting together a media and cultural system to affirm liberal narratives granted Obama a megacatapult to launch him in a way that no Republican or conservative could ever experience.
With the press, the unions, academia, and Hollywood behind Barack Obama, and the American people wanting to get the race monkey off their backs, the Obama presidency was a fait accompli—even if no one really knew anything about him.
My assessment didn’t make me popular where I live and raise my young family. Angelenos, especially of the West Los Angeles variety, especially those who work in the entertainment industry, don’t take too kindly to dissent—if you are a conservative, that is.
But I was right.
Sure, then-Senator Obama was good-looking—and sleek!—and possessed an undeniable gift for effortless, meaningless gab. But all I could think about was how uninteresting he sounded. With all his power and that massive artificial smile, I couldn’t envision wanting to have a beer with him. This was a power-hungry man who rose through the political ranks in corrupt Chicago and through the corrupt ranks of modern academia.
Without having held a real job, without a personal narrative of fulfilling the American Dream in the private sector—without having really done anything (achieving greatness only within the confines of political power doesn’t cut it)—this man was selling the government, not the individual, as the be-all and end-all. This man was preprogrammed, and I knew what he was selling.
I knew I had to stop him. And the Internet was my battlefield of choice.
I live on the battlefield.
The idea of a vast dream-making complex as opponent is a metaphor entirely out of The Matrix, and Breitbart explicitly cites the movie in Indignation:
4. Don’t let the Complex use its PC lexicon to characterize you and shape the narrative. If you’ve got a big story, the Complex will do what it always does: attack you personally using the PC lexicon. You immediately become a racist, sexist, homophobic, jingoistic nativist. Don’t let them do it. The fact is this: if you refuse to buy into their lexicon, if you refuse to back down in the face of those intimidation tactics, they can’t harm you. You’re Neo in the hallway with Agent Smith after he figures out that the Complex is a sham—the spoon isn’t bending, he’s bending. Once it hits him that he’s not bound by the rules of the game, he can literally stop bullets. You can stop their bullets because their bullets aren’t real.
Breitbart’s perception of his struggle and the movie’s plot are so close, that in discussing them in this excerpt, Breitbart mixes the two up. My italics: “You’re Neo in the hallway with Agent Smith after he figures out that the Complex is a sham.” Neo figures out the matrix is a sham, yet here he is trapped in Breitbart’s Democratic Media Complex.
The transformation of politics into a Manichean struggle where Breitbart is the hero who can discern the true state beneath an illusory web, is an old and familiar undercurrent of paranoid conspiracists. The attitude that Breitbart displays throughout Indignation is precisely detailed in Arthur Goldwag’s essential investigation into the conspiratorial mindset of the United States, The New Hate:
Conspiracy theory is moralistic; it describes an ongoing battle between the forces of wickedness and those of virtue (though the good are often so naive that they fail to realize that they are even at war). Conspiracy theory is monistic. As Seymour Martin Lipset and Earl Raab noted in their book The Politics of Unreason, it is “typically distinguished by its recurrent and explicit advocacy of ‘simplism’; that is, the unambiguous ascription of single causes and remedies for multifactored phenomena.” Conspiracy theory is magical: its antagonists have superhuman powers of prognostication and the ability to influence at a distance; they make use of esoteric curses and spells and mysterious symbols and equations.
Conspiracy theory flatters, congratulates, and exalts the conspiracist, who is gutsy and clever enough to crack the code, to see things that others don’t, to break out of the matrix. The conspiracist discerns the subtle interconnections between the Nizari Assassins and the Templars and the Masons, the Bilderbergers and the Rockefellers, the Jewish bankers and the UN; between Wilsonian Progressivism, 1960s radicalism, and Barack Obama. To do this, he or she employs the skills of the historian, the linguist, the librarian, the semiologist, the detective, the psychologist, and the philologist.
The conspiracist has a scholarly command of a vast alternative library of specialized literature-most of it written by his or her fellow conspiracists. In Richard Grenier’s oft-quoted phrase, “Conspiracy theory is the sophistication of the ignorant.” Writ large, the conspiracist regards him- or herself not only as a savant but as a savior, a political or religious messiah, whose knowledge can restore and redeem the world-one reason that conspiracism and cultism are such frequent consorts. Jane Kramer describes a militiaman’s descent into grandiose delusions in her book Lone Patriot: The Short Career of an American Militiaman:
He could sit in the woods, alone with his computer, and log on to the Patriot Web sites, and see his name. He could tap a key and learn everything he needed to know about the world from “experts” who were counting on him, as he often said, to “share the intel.” The world, in fact, leapt out at him from his small screen. He was privy to David Rockefeller’s dark strategies. He was an instant specialist on the Federal Reserve. He was on intimate terms with the Joint Chiefs and the Jewish bankers. He was a ranking member of the global village and never mind whose village it was, or whether he had the experience or the education or the context or even the capacity to evaluate the words he read and the pictures he saw. The illusion held. He lived in a kind of unsourced-data fugue…The more connected to the world he felt, the more isolated from the world he became.
“If every American knew this story,” [Rick] Perlstein [an excellent writer on American politics] summarized [Robert] Welch’s [co-founder of the John Birch Society] thinking, “how ready everyone would be to do what was right! If he recruited enough people to explain the conspiracy … the conspiracy could not work.”
Breitbart presents his idea as not theology, but something like theology, an absolute truth to be known, like the existence of god, and this too is entirely consistent with the mindset described by Goldwag:
Conspiracy theories themselves often add up to a kind of misbegotten, debased form of theology-one that begins with a set of suppositions and then reverse engineers a fantastical version of reality that comports with them.
Breitbart sees his opponents, the Democratic Media Complex as more brutal, more evil than Al-Qaeda, and in this representation of his foe as specifically that, evil, he taps into the fertile ground of religious Manicheanism that fuels right-wing conspiracy thinking:
Like Father Coughlin, Billy James Hargis, Pat Robertson, James Dobson, and so many other right-wing media crusaders before them, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, and Ann Coulter understand that for many religious Americans, “evil” is not just an adjective but also a noun. The Pilgrims believed they were reclaiming a wilderness from Satan. Many traditionalists on the right, whether Christian millennialists or not, feel much the same way. To them, godless Communism or secular humanism isn’t the absence of a religious orientation so much as it is a satanic religion in and of itself, whose acolytes glorify evil, promote the slaughter of innocent, unborn babies, and persecute believing Christians. Blue-state America is Rome in the time of Christ. Whether its depravity is manifested in the form of sexual libertinage, income redistribution, spiritual or economic incontinence, blasphemy, women’s and gay rights, or the threat of “race mixing,” anathema and even violence are completely appropriate responses to it.
But that is how scapegoating works—by systematically dehumanizing its objects, by taking a whole category of human beings and turning them into vermin, germs, or things. As the sociologist James A. Aho wrote in The Things of the World: A Social Phenomenology, “The enemy presents itself to me as diabolic—‘diabolic’ meaning ‘that thrown apart’ (dia = apart + bolos = thrown).”
In other words, it is something alien to me, other than me. If the enemy is “left” … then I am “right.” I am right-eous. If the enemy is filth, then I am clean; and if the enemy is death, I am life.… In marking out, isolating, and destroying the anathema (ana = counter + thema = themes) in our midst, the mores, values, and customs we share are corrected, purified, rejuvenated.… This is precisely the “social function” of enemies. They serve as scapegoats.
Breitbart’s fantasy of conservative warrior reaches a surreal apex when he describes his time at the Huffington Post. He has often and loudly made the claim that he originated the idea of the site, which has been firmly and loudly disputed by the site’s namesake22. This claim may belong with his supposed involvement in Valley Girl 2, another outsize exaggeration that he feels compelled to make in a rather unproductive life, and I assumed that Indignation would bang the tocsin in support of his role in the creation over others. Though he does quietly imply that he had a much larger role than he’s credited for, as a prime mover of the site, this is not his emphasis, and it is not the gobsmackingly audacious part. Instead, Breitbart likens his role to that of a military double agent, a mole, who helped bring the Huffington Post about as part of his own agenda to make the apparatus of the Democratic Media Complex more visible. The analogy I just used of a military double agent is not a hyperbolic exaggeration of Breitbart’s more mundane description, but Breitbart’s description itself. This is entirely at odds with his own public descriptions of his role elsewhere – even when making his disputed claim as chief architect of the site, he makes no mention of hidden subterfuge23.
I give lengthy excerpt to make clear no edit or burnish has been made to sculpt this into something more surreal than it actually is. I give bolds to the most striking part:
[At] exactly that point, I got a phone call from Arianna Huffington.
“Do you have any ideas for a website?” she asked.
Now, by this point in our tale, Arianna Huffington had shifted her political viewpoint and was in league with the very people I had grown to oppose. How that happened is surely another story. But when that group of people came to me with Arianna as their spearhead, I saw that it was a unique and dangerous opportunity.
I approached my peers on the right with my idea, and they loved it. The idea was simple: “What,” I said, “if we can get the collective left that we have dinner with, cocktail parties with, the left that talks crazy in private but only expresses itself at the Daily Kos under pseudonyms—what if we can get them all to put their names next to their crazy ideas? What if we can make it a one-stop shop for exposing liberals for who they are, and forcing them to stand by their positions?”
I presented the idea to Arianna from a different standpoint, of course. I told her she should set up a salon for like-minded thinkers to express their views. And Arianna loved it, too.
I went in with dual purposes. While the Huffington Post in theory served Arianna’s and the left’s goals of creating a battlefront where they could fight their battles, it served my ulterior purpose of creating preparation for talk radio and cable news, where everyone could see what lunacies constituted the thought processes of the richest noblesse oblige liberals in our land, the people who benefit the most from our way of life and yet craft the culture of our land in opposition to that way of life. Frankly, I wanted to put them on display. And, for different reasons, so did Arianna.
I knew going in that this was going to be a difficult psychological test of my resolve. After going through it, I know why CIA agents take rigorous tests in order to ascertain whether they can go through the stress of becoming a double agent, and I realized very soon thereafter that I didn’t have what it took to attempt to be in consistent engagement with people whose ideas I found anathema.
Nonetheless, from November 2004 through June 1, 2005, I danced with these people, conspired with these people, and helped launch the Huffington Post. By April, however, when I realized that I wasn’t going to be a spy but their manservant—I realized I couldn’t live with myself or with my true friends, who relied on me to be their go-to guy for battles against the left. So I bailed out.
But it worked. I knew it had worked by the end of the launch date, May 9, 2005. I was driving down Lincoln Boulevard and listening to Michael Medved laugh aloud as he read Rob Reiner’s launch-day piece, entitled “Where Have You Gone, Woodward & Bernstein?” It was a typical leftie ode to the idiotic theme that journalists are right wing, which is as stupid a belief as you’re likely to find this side of John Cusack. “The so-called fourth estate is now little more than the public relations arm of a government propaganda machine in which all three branches are controlled by the same political party,” Reiner wrote. “Who is watching the store?”24
Medved was chortling as he read this nonsense. And I felt mischievously enthralled that my mission was somewhat completed, because I had always looked at the Medveds of the world as some of the smartest people on the right—and if he got what my intention was, then I had done something very right.
Perhaps the best thing about the Huffington Post, though, is something I didn’t take into consideration at the time. The greatest victory for the right with regard to the site is that for years, conservatives argued that the New York Times, the most important journalistic entity in the United States, was radically left of center. And for years, the left denied it. But the Huffington Post was different—it was openly and loudly and radically leftist. When you read the Huffington Post, you knew there was a collective mind-set, a groupthink. And the great irony was that if you looked at the front page of the Huffington Post on any given day and matched it with the front page of the New York Times, they were virtually identical. If you tested the philosophical DNA of the Huffington Post and the philosophical DNA of the New York Times, it was obvious to anyone that they were identical twins. They were fighting the same battles, and the bylines at both places were of people who went to the same schools, married the same kind of people, voted the same way.
They were all part of the same incestuous, elitist orgy. They were all part of the power structure of Hollywood, Washington, and New York. They were all from the same group of people who made tons of money, vacationed in the nicest places, flew first class—or private, and then dictated to the rest of America how to live “sustainable” lives. It didn’t matter how big Thomas Friedman’s house was or Al Gore’s vacation home was—they all felt the need to lecture Americans on how to behave sexually, what to eat, how to fly, where to shop… and what’s more, they agreed on the answers to all of those questions.
By exposing part of the Complex via the Huffington Post, I had helped expose a major chunk of the Complex.
But I still didn’t know where the Democrat-Media Complex itself had come from. It gnawed at me. Why in the world had the greatest country in history submitted itself to the evils of the Democrat-Media Complex?
Just how the hell had these nutty people gotten so much power?
This passage is obviously notable because it reads like that of a delusional paranoid – “After going through it, I know why CIA agents take rigorous tests in order to ascertain whether they can go through the stress of becoming a double agent“, but it is also striking for making little or no mention of any of the political views he finds so egregious (the cited Reiner essay, as I explain in the footnote, appears to be a flagrant misrepresentation of the essay itself). Breitbart appears most angered by the money these celebrities have, the size of their houses, and how this wealth places them at such a distance from others, and yet, despite this distance, this elite presumes to think they can speak to americans across the divide. This is populist anger that others might feel towards a financial elite, that is redirected towards a fraction of this group, a wealthy enclave of liberal government, Hollywood and press (somehow the hawkish Thomas Friedman is thrown into this progressive burg):
They were all part of the same incestuous, elitist orgy. They were all part of the power structure of Hollywood, Washington, and New York. They were all from the same group of people who made tons of money, vacationed in the nicest places, flew first class—or private, and then dictated to the rest of America how to live “sustainable” lives. It didn’t matter how big Thomas Friedman’s house was or Al Gore’s vacation home was—they all felt the need to lecture Americans on how to behave sexually, what to eat, how to fly, where to shop… and what’s more, they agreed on the answers to all of those questions.
Again, if we remove the fact that his targets are progressive or celebrities, we have here an angry screed whose theme is class warfare. Were his targets not progressives, he would be taunted by those same people he counts as friends and allies for sour grapes over being one of the losers in the new economy. Why Andrew Breitbart is important is specifically for this, for highlighting this central fact that there is no place for conservative anger over stagnating wages and downward mobility, which does not explicitly declare that it is not making common cause with the left. This anger over miserable economic conditions roots a man like Breitbart in his identity, as does his identification of his enemy, the Left. In order to surrender neither, to display this class based anger and to refuse to be a pawn of a rival ideology, his anger is directed towards only one safe group, various politcos and glitterati, the approved judas goat of the conservative super rich. This identity, of someone middle aged and aggrieved with economic conditions, is something like an ethnic identity for Breitbart – and it is not the same as being white. Breitbart feels no racial solidarity with Al Gore or Gwyneth Paltrow. He does not believe that these figures have betrayed him racially, but economically – they present the false front that things are getting better in America, when, economically, things are getting much worse. Al Gore, Gwyneth Paltrow, and whoever else he’s angry at all belong to a class that is immune to the effects of the falling tide.
This results in Breitbart having a strident political identity, without any accompanying devotion to any specific political issue. Breitbart could not discuss something like chained CPI, knew nothing of the subject, and because he had no stance on an issue, Matt Welch’s epitaph facepalmingly wonders: how could such an apolitical individual be so controversial?25 He may have had no strong political beliefs or issues, but Breitbart was fiercely, partisanly political, politics as identity, this is who I am, and you are the other. This crucial theme of the importance of contemporary cultural politics is, again, made by Goldwag:
One important takeaway is that extreme partisanship, especially when it comes to “culture war” issues like desegregation, guns, immigration, affirmative action, gay marriage, abortion, the right to die, evolution, school prayer, and even global warming, is not so much about ideas as it is about identity. On some chthonic, prerational level, many people—especially those who are already anxious about their shifting status—experience political criticism existentially, as a challenge to their very right to be the person they know themselves to be.
This identity may have been class based, but I think it explains Breitbart’s obsession with race and ethnicity, an obsession that the press have consistently ignored or dismissed as existing. His most high profile targets were ACORN, a voting service used primarily by black voters, Shirley Sherrod, a black woman, Barack Obama, a black president, and Anthony Weiner, a jewish congressman. He perceives the world as one where the interests that might be termed “politcally correct”, ethnics and women, are catered to, and the economic interests of his class no longer are – the last time done so by Ross Perot in his opposition to free trade deals. He attempts to assert his own identity as one as equal to these catered identities, one that is persecuted and marginalised, while expressing resentment that these other identities are recognized, that they can be discriminated against. By destroying a service like ACORN that a marginalized group might use, he dismisses the possibility that a racial group could be so marginalised as to need such a service. He makes a false charge against Sherrod in order to make his identity equal in persecution to hers. In his memoir, he recounts Saul Alinsky’s work in Rochester, New York, and explains how he wishes to use Alinsky’s tactics for his own opposing ideology – while entirely omitting the racial segregation and strife in Rochester that Alinsky gives great space to describing, and which Alinsky was using every tactic possible to fight26.
His sense of self-righteous victimhood, is on at full lunatic display during his 2012 CPAC speech27:
Anyone that’s willing to stand with me to fight the progressive left, I will be in that bunker. And if you’re not in that bunker because you’re not satisfied with this candidate…more than shame on you, you’re on the other side. I’m just going to tell you right now, I want to end it on a media-bashing note. Because that will uplift me. Like a Dionne Warwick final rendition. We’re watching you…to play the race card. MSNBC. We saw how you cynically placed the Reverend Al Sharpton in a position of absurdist power…this is dadaism, I learned that in college. That they would allow for this guy to have a show. This is dadaism. It’s freaky, it’s Andy Kaufman. It doesn’t make sense. Unless you understand what they’re doing. This is going to be the dog whistle election cycle. They tested it in 2011, so he and his pals Touré and that punk Tim Jacob Wise, and Ed! [Schultz, I guess], and Maddow!…can sit there and call everyone who’s caucasian a racist. I HEARD IT! I USED IS INSTEAD OF ARE. He’s a racist that’s a dog whistle! They ignore it when congressman Rand does it against Allan West…no more! We’re gonna go after you. I bought a dog whistle. I bought a dog whistle factory. And I’m giving you dog whistles. And we’re gonna listen to every word that comes out of your mouths, and we’re gonna hold you to the same standards that you hold us, which is an impossible one, and you’re gonna have a hell of a time in 2012, because America has finally looked into your soul, and seen bullshit tactics, and we’re coming to get you. Thank you very much.
This speech demonstrates very clearly what the conservative establishment, as well as the wider institutional press, deems valid discourse. It was an utter embarassment, an incoherent, sordid, mad rant which, solely because it was delivered by a white conservative, was deemed authentic, a populist voice. It was to be reckoned with, despite its stupidity, despite its cruelty, despite its insanity, simply because of the ideology and (make no mistake) race of the speaker. Those in the audience didn’t simply mind the incoherence, the madness, they enjoyed these qualities, because they made the anger only clearer. White hot, violent anger does not express itself in complex, difficult ideas. To express oneself in such complexities is to deny the depths of one’s fury. That the audience had no need to hide their fury was an expression of a privilege still extant, for where others might have to guard their ire over smaller slights, they needed no such warding. Those in the audience cheering were inherently human, and would never be mistreated or slurred as something animal.
Breitbart’s life may be seen as that of a marginal man who passes through a funhouse mirror and becomes all the things he despises and wishes to be. He loathes Hollywood as a place of incestuous cronyism, yet it is through his associations that he gains his foothold in tabloid news, first through his connection with Matt Drudge, and through Drudge, Ariana Huffington. It is via Drudge’s cronyism that he finally makes big money in his life – Drudge directs his wire service traffic to Breitbart’s newly established news site, allowing him to profit adwise from this visitor influx28. He maligns the idea of american subidentities, but he presents himself as a member of one such subidentity, a middle aged conservative, as equally persecuted, if not more persecuted, than any other ethnic group. He sees a conspiracy allied against him, and he in turn presents himself as a conspirator, a double agent in the Huffington beast. He wants to be a comedy writer, but has no talent for it, so he puts together a series of cruel skits which destroy liberal enemies. His biggest laugh in his 2012 CPAC speech is the hack’s standby, the one that always gets results in a roomful of prudes. He shouts out a curse, because America has finally looked into your soul, and seen bullshit tactics, and the prunes howl like pre-K children. If you’re feeling small, and you can’t draw a crowd, then draw dicks on a wall29.
THE ANTHONY WEINER SCANDAL, OR:
THE PHANTOM MENACE / TEENAGE FBI30
Almost immediately after this scandal took place, all examination of it ended, as if something rightfully shamed the press in giving such deference to a rather creepy group to bully a man into lying about his private life, something we all, all, have done. One sentence in an article of the time that irked me then, and still irks me now, was from a story suffused with a cruel glee, “The Incredible Shrinking Weiner” by David Weigel: “The details of Weiner’s online life, as they trickle out, are absolutely pathetic.” It irked me for this simple reason – most, if not all, of our erotic fumblings, or pseudo erotic fumblings, have the strong potential to be pathetic and ridiculous. This, I think, is why someone like former Sonic Youth chieftain Kim Gordon says approvingly of Girls, “I love that all of the sex scenes are awkward and kind of a failure.”31 Though perhaps David Weigel knows more about sex than Kim Gordon. But I don’t think so!
To get a sense of how the press misrepresents its role in these scandals can be found in “Why Obama Is Suddenly Under Siege” by Jacob Weisberg, the sort of empty windbaggery the press is so prolific with these days: “Washington’s need for periodic scandal is almost biological. For legislators, it’s an opportunity to strut on the national stage. For the party out of power, it is politics by other means.” The piece presents the press as it wants itself to still be, the figure of power, which gives play to these stupid scandals out of momentary caprice, something like a bored, sarcastic heiress watching a boxing match who might be inclined to cheer once things actually get interesting. I would say this is entirely false. The reason inconsequential scandals are so plentiful and the press almost always there to breathe on the flames is a simple combination of two factors: one, there are always those who will use every vile trick to destroy a candidate, especially a black president, and two, the press is now poor and powerless. They have no bureaus. They have no budgets for lengthy, in-depth stories, so they are prisoners to the unfiltered, unexamined now32. They are happy for a circus that will give them a few days content, though when the scandal comes to them via a squalid carny like Andrew Breitbart, the event is something like sleeping with a squalid carny like Andrew Breitbart, an episode that gave distraction during a few horrible desperate days which you now never want to speak of again. That they might find out a year or two later that this was a jewish politician taken down by a man whose theory of american history appears to have been plagiarized from an essay in a publication by notorious anti-semite Lyndon Larouche, only makes them gag harder on the memory.
That there has been this lack of examination, and lack of self-examination, of this scandal is unfortunate. Breitbart was a man obsessed with phantom conspiracies, and America’s happy hobby is to unravel vast plots where there was only a lone gunman or a real estate deal gone awry, and here is an event that appears to be a genuine conspiracy, a political act of small vengeance in the guise of unhappy accident, complete with a man very believably pleading that he was a patsy, insisting that there was a prime mover behind it all, a second man on the grassy knoll of bedroom politics; but the mainstream press couldn’t even be bothered to talk to the man. They were perhaps already sickened by what they’d already gotten themselves involved in, or maybe they were just bored again.
The outlines of the story are very simple. Anthony Weiner, the congressman from New York, spoke to a number of women on twitter, one of whom, college student Genette Cordova, he tweeted a private picture of himself. Before he was able to delete this same picture, it was re-tweeted by a twitter user named Dan Wolfe @PatriotUSA76. It was this tweet which would unleash the rest of the scandal, with several women coming forward to say that they had exchanged texts with the congressman that were sometimes intimate and sexual. One woman, Megan Broussard, would reveal that she and the congressman had exchanged photos as well33. A painstakingly detailed timeline of the events leading up to this, including many mysterious events discussed here, is by Greg Beato at his website soundbitten. Beato is a libertarian, and doesn’t like Weiner very much, but his work appears diligent and trustworthy, his first impulse to record what took place, rather than what he wishes took place.
Dan Wolfe, whose twitter profile had the description, “Conservative Reagan Republican. No Obamacare, socialism, sharia. Proud of the USA & Proud to be an American with NO apologies. No elitists need apply.”, and an avatar of Ronald Reagan34, would soon disappear entirely, the focus shifting entirely to one of his on-line friends, the twitter user @goatsred. @goatsred was the handle of a man named Mike Stack, and it was @goatsred who first tweeted about the possibility of a sex scandal involving the congressman. However, Stack insisted that he had first heard of the possibility of such a scandal through @PatriotUSA7635. Though it is believed that everyone dearly wishes to be famous, Dan Wolfe / @PatriotUSA76 shared none of this lust. He made no attempt to contact Andrew Breitbart by phone, though Breitbart wished to speak to him and give him the same publicity that James O’Keefe got from the ACORN scandal. Two emails from Wolfe / @PatriotUSA76 to Andrew Breitbart make his feelings clear: he is worried about an ex-wife and an ex-girlfriend with mental problems, and is worried what will take place if he appears publicly. On June 2nd, Breitbart would tweet “Lookin’ for some clarifying data from @patriotusa76. Call me. I’m listed.” There would be no reply.36.
Stack would be the one whose past became public, with the disclosure on The Smoking Gun that he was a moderator on the pr0n site XXX Porn Talk (after the scandal, he would erase all posts at the forum, so that a thread like “Petition to get redgoat removed as moderator.” (NSFW) where he himself is the subject, ends up an angry conversation where his speaking part is entirely cut out), that he had declared bankruptcy twice, that he’d been convicted for drunk driving, and that he’d been arrested for a fight with a girlfriend37. Almost no news outlet touched this material, and it may have been because Stack was a private citizen, or it may have been that giving light to this information would make clear the squalid hypocrisy of this affair. Somehow, a congressman lying about a sexual conversation was news, but that one of the men who promoted the scandal got into a fight with his girlfriend and was involved in a porn forum was somehow of no consequence. It was a peculiar kind of morality that could only be understood as no morality at all. A congressman’s sex talk was a valuable media circus, while the sordid details of one of the people who brought it about would only make clear how dirty the press’s hands were, and, frankly, how sickeningly amoral it all was.
This should not suggest that it is righteous for Stack to be seen as an object of cruel sport, whether because of his part in this affair or the fight with his girlfriend. This fight was squalid, two drunk people yelling at each other, his girlfriend running off with his wallet and Stack grabbing her arm in order to get it back38 – but it was the kind of squalid fight that most people in relationships can understand, and if they have not engaged it in themselves, they have come close. Perhaps a creature of moral certainty like David Weigel can look down on all this and declare it pathetic with happy superiority, but I cannot. Stack was, however, willfully naive, if not in denial about the consequences of his role in the affair. If you promote a scandal about details that anyone else would keep private, letting them sort it out, you should expect that your own private information should come up for inspection. To suddenly declare yourself a private citizen, and your own personal details as private after you’ve pushed the private information of another man out into the public is simple hypocrisy and of no avail. Again, that Stack has this flaw does not mean that he should be treated as something non-human, which is what too many have done.
Absent Dan Wolfe, a lengthy interview with Stack would give great insight into what actually took place, that Stack himself was manipulated by other players. However, the mainstream press, perhaps too shamed to keep their fingers too deep in squalor, made no attempt at an interview. This was left to two partisans of the Breitbart camp, Dana Loesch, a former writer for Breitbart’s site who has since had a public falling out with the site’s managers, and Lee Stranahan, a writer then and now for Breitbart.com.
I made transcripts of both interviews, and I post both here, unabridged. Though the insights from both overlap, I present both fully as their consistencies strongly suggest that Stack is speaking forthrightly and to the best of his knowledge of what took place between himself and Dan Wolfe / @PatriotUSA76.
First, the interview with Stranahan, made on June 4, 2011, and recorded by Stranahan himself for his podcast39. Notable parts receive my bolds:
So, this is Lee Stranahan, I’m talking to Mike Stack, who is a person who has been sortof pulled into this controversy about Anthony Weiner. How you doing Mike?
Good, Lee. Thank you very much for having me here and giving me the chance to speak to you.
Okay. So, let’s…I want to address one specific issue that the Patriot / Dan Wolfe person…and by the way, just to get this on record, too, have you ever spoken on the phone, or anything, with the Patriot?
No sir, I never have.
And all your contact was on-line, correct?
Uh, yes. Email, or VM.
And so, do you know anybody who’s talked to him in real life?
Never. No one has ever told me that they have…it’s always been, they didn’t know who he was or, only by electronic media.
Okay, so one thing that’s come up recently was the…the claim was made in the Smoking Gun article that was about you, revealed a lot of, sortof embarassing stuff. What they said on there was that, there was a tweet that went out that said there’s going to be a sex scandal in a few weeks that came from your twitter account. So, this was about three weeks before the incident happened. Now, are you the person who sent out that tweet?
Right. So, you sent that out. What are the circumstances under which you sent out that tweet?
Um…he or she, told me he got a tip…
When you say “he or she”, just to be clear, you’re referring to Patriot / Dan Wolfe, right?
Yes. Mister PatriotUSA76, Dan Wolfe, told me that he had a friend who worked with Matt Drudge at the Drudge report. And he said, “If we would name him, it’s one of the top five right-wing bloggers”, and the friend said we could use it, so long as we didn’t name a specific name. And he said, it would be like a blind item.
So, he told you to send it out, right?
Okay. And you did that, and then he retweeted it, how soon, like immediately-
Yes. I’m going to say without looking at my tweets right now, it was within minutes.
Right. So it was a set-up – basically, you two had been talking, and it was a set-up that you would say it, and he would re-tweet it, right?
Now, what he said in an interview with Ladd Ehlinger, jr., what he said was, that you…it was a forward of a forward of a forward of an email40. Correct? I mean, you saw that right?
That’s what he said to me and that’s also, excuse me, that’s what I read last evening when I finally got around to reading his quote unquote interview.
But…that’s not at all what he told you.
Absolutely not, absolutely not. I received…a DM and any emails that were sent to me, any emails that were sent to me, were from his now defunct yahoo account.
Do you still have that email?
Um, I do not.
Okay. But that’s why I got you on the phone, because you and I have had this conversation before, and I just wanted to get on the record, that when he said it was forwarded forwarded forwarded; now, had you ever seen an email that talked about that, from anybody? I mean, you were on a list of…you knew a number of people on twitter who were not fans of Anthony Weiner. Had any of those people that you knew about, or did you ever receive an email like that?
No. [STRANAHAN: And so-] To be honest with you, at this point, I would have remembered that there were many others copied on the email from Mr. Wolfe. It would not be hard for me to say, “Oh, yes, if it was RTed RTed RTed”, or forwarded, I would definitely remember that.
Okay. So I…like I said, Mike, I appreciate you taking the time, I just wanted to clear up that one issue. I mean, at this point, just, answer what you want, but at this point, do you feel…how do you feel about Patriot/Dan Wolfe?
Well, I feel he came around and was overly friendly with me. Um, I had commented on his avatar, the president Reagan one, and immediately, I was speaking with him, being contacted…and then the Anthony Weiner stuff started, myself, I, I joke a lot about Weiner too, and it just took off…and I feel now, that, with him disappearing, throwing me under the bus, more or less, to be accused of certain things, I really don’t approve of it, and I feel as though that I’ve been, you know, tossed away like a piece of garbage.
And have you been…he’s remained completely anonymous. But you’re obviously a real person, have you been getting any sort of harrassment, or anything like that?
Uh…yes. I’ve received many, many tweets, and some of them are saying that people now claim they know my address. And it is indeed my address. People say, people have printed my email. Publicly. And people now have, on The Smoking Gun, published my private information, from years back. Basically, it’s the usual suspects. (sighs) And, you know…every day I’m getting emails from…different reporters, or the tweets are just getting weirder and weirder. I had one gentleman say the town I live in, in two different words, to make it sound like he was doing a play on words. But basically he was saying, he’s seen my house, he knows where I live, he said he saw a google view of it, after I didn’t respond for a while, and his friend…everybody on his friend that he follows, now is retweeting everything that he says. Making sure my real name is there, and I just received a tweet, and I won’t say the user’s name, but it says: “Mugshot and more of right-winger New Jersey @goatsred and his role in framing federal official.”
And just for the record, did you have anything to do with framing Anthony Weiner, or with a hack on his account, or anything like that?
Absolutely not. I have IP records, I have phone records that show that I was not anywhere near a computer…and I received a phone call early in the morning, telling me, you know, look at what’s on the news. And I spent Saturday and Sunday, away from my home, I did not even look at this stuff until Monday. This was the first time I was at my house, and, you know, I really didn’t care about till Monday till I started seeing the events that were going on, and how my name all of a sudden started coming up. Uh, you know. I’m just going to read a few of these tweets if I can do that Lee, real quick. [STRANAHAN: Yeah, yeah.] Uh, then he tweeted, yes, this is my address…he made it seem as if I tweeted out my address. Stop messaging me, and he included Anthony Weiner in that tweet. “Do I have the correct address for you, @goatsred?” Uh…”Good info?” “So, who’s the first to mention the rumored scandal pics on twitter?” He says, me. Then another person says, “There’s pictures of your house in the media.” “Have you got a link, I’d like to see it.” This is good stuff, this is good stuff. Another one says, “You’ve got a lot of skill, my man. Bend over and smooch.” Another one says, “New Jersey resident is known as goatsred convicted woman beater”, which is…incorrect. “Bangkok porn conoisseur”. These are, you know, real nice. These are nice things to do. Uh…”Stalking and abuse”, I have, record of stalking and abuse. Um…”You seem absent from twitter all of a sudden, by the way, I didn’t dig up all this info on you, I’m not sure who did.” I mean, this is great. This is good stuff. And I’m really happy. I mean, I see the same names, over and over, all day long.
And, just for the record, you’re being sarcastic when you say you’re happy?
Oh, I am. I am very unhappy with this. Because I feel as if my safety is in jeopardy.
And the thing is, do you feel…I feel as if the person who put you in this position…I think Patriot’s the one who put you in this position.
Yes, and after this, I did try to contact him, and say, “Come forward.” And I have not yet…instead he does interviews and he rants and raves about Weiner. Still.
Yeah. Yeah. And you’re…when you were dealing with Patriot, were they the ones typically leading the charge on the stuff with Weiner? Or was-
Oh yes. He was the one who had all the ideas. You know, he claims he followed these girls, and then he put out five or six names, and then he…the group of friends I had on there, and I don’t even know, I don’t really want to communicate with all but one or two of them. The group of those people he had talked to them about the evils of Anthony Weiner. I mean I know I busted some balls now and then, but, you know, who cares what they did? The way I saw it, the guy’s an idiot.
And Mike, just one last question. Feel free not to answer this if you don’t want to, because it is complete conjecture. But, do you feel that it’s possible that Patriot had something to do more with the incident, do you feel possible that he was the hacker, or faked something, not to say Weiner didn’t do anything…but do you think it’s possible that Patriot had more to do with this than he’s letting on?
(long pause) I’m really, I’m really on the fence about that. So…I don’t really have enough information about it…I don’t know enough…but I think there’s a chance…[STRANAHAN: Well, Mike-] I’m going to say, I’m really not sure….I don’t know why. He conned me. And, to be honest, I’m being blamed for certain things, so I’d rather just say, you know, I really don’t know and I’m not sure.
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Well, Mike, I appreciate you taking the time, okay?
Anytime, Lee. Thank you for giving me an opportunity to speak.
Now, the transcript of the interview with Dana Loesch, conducted on June 7, 2011 on FM News Talk 97141. Notable parts receive my bolds:
Mike’s joining us right now by phone. Mike, good afternoon to you.
Good afternoon, Dana, how are you?
I’m doing well, thanks for joining us on short notice, I know there’s been a lot of discussion about you, you’ve had to deal with a lot of stuff because of some allegations made by other people. Let’s go back sorta to the beginning of this, because a lot of people are asking: “who is Dan Wolfe?” No one really knows who Dan Wolfe is, do they?
Absolutely not. He came and went, and he left a lot of mangled bodies behind him.
Yeah…as I was saying before, we’re not even sure if it’s a chick or a dude, it’s a relatively new account that was created in January. How did you come to get to know this individual who was the person who’s alerting all of these media to this Anthony Weiner yfrog photo that kickstarted this whole Weinergate thing? How did you first come to know him? Or know of him?
One day…I just noticed him in a stream in my timeline, he had a Ronald Reagan avatar, and I’d been a Reagan fan since I was a kid since it was the first president I became aware of, and I must of just said, “Hey, nice avatar,” whatever, and we began to talk and chat, and I introduced him to some people that were my friends in the stream, and we just kinda hit it off. Nothing real crazy…that was it, he was in my stream every day, he seemed to have the same type of issues I had, with the different politics of the day.
Now, some of the stuff people have told me is that he…this individual, PatriotUSA76 guy, this Dan Wolfe person…was the one that seemed to be really motivating the group to look at Anthony Weiner’s stuff, and was sortof like the big motivator in that. Is that true?
That is correct. It seems as though every day, there was a different person that he was watching on Anthony Weiner’s friend list, there was always some kind of update, oh, he’s following this girl, look who this girl he’s following, and it just seemed that now we know, but it just seems there was always a page open…(LOESH: Right)…there was always some kind of Weiner news, every day.
Did it strike you as odd then, or were you just like this, that maybe this Dan Wolfe character had like a vendetta against Anthony Weiner, did you all ever talk about it?
It didn’t strike me as strange at first. Because he didn’t make a huge big deal of it, he just said, a couple of crazy things, said something like, oh, you know, I left New York City when Anthony Weiner was running for mayor, or something like that, I haven’t liked him, I’ve never liked him, the jabs and the barbs, something like, the guy’s last name, he’s kinda…a showman, so to speak, on the floor of Congress, maybe he just had a disdain for him.
Now you have-
It didn’t really strike me as funny, it didn’t strike me as strange.
You yourself have been through a lot, because of this, everyone, apparently the people in the group had a falling out with Dan Wolfe…he went completely silent after I and Andrew Breitbart asked him for his phone number. And there were all of these stories as to why he couldn’t give it, but you felt as though, and others, from what I’ve been told, he kinda threw you under the bus. How is that?
Well…I know you know this Saturday, everything was coming together, I asked Dan Wolfe to be part of the conference call [Saturday, May 2011], for certain things and he didn’t want to all of sudden. He said, “Well why do they need to talk to me?”, “Why does…can’t you do this or do that?” [said, is not literal here, this either was on twitter or some other form of e-chat. Stack has never spoken by phone to Wolfe.] And I said, “You put my name next to this thing.” [LOESH: Right.] You volunteered my name. And he said, “Well, I’m having some troubles right now, there’s some stuff going on that I can’t really tell you about.” And from that moment after that, the next time I received an email from him was Monday, explaining his situation. After that, I never heard from him again and I believe various people have , but, on the record, with certain people, even on twitter, Lee Stranahan has gotten him on twitter, and on the record, has said: “Is it true that…you sent this to Mike or you havent?” And he refused to even answer. On the record. Even “no”. [LOESCH: Right.] Just say “No, I never sent this.” But he refuses to even answer this on the record.
Now, as a result of this, you’ve had…I’m told your information has been published all over the web, that you’ve had threats, what have you had to deal with because of this entity’s accusations? Things that he’s said that you’ve said.
Well, I’ve been accused of framing Rep. Weiner. I’ve been accused of hacking Rep. Weiner. My email address has been put out there, then pictures of my house. My address. My phone number. My neighbour’s names. [LOESCH: Oh my word.] And actually, I have all the screencaps of it, it’s pretty disturbing. And there’s a couple of gentlemen who just kept re-tweeting it, over and over again…uh, let’s see…death threats of course. And personal information.
So, the whole gamut of stuff. And this guy, this person has gone silent, you haven’t…have you ever talked to him on the phone?
Never…it’s all been pretty much, Twitter?
Well, yes, the Friday evening in question, about twelve fifteen, I received a text message from him, but, investigating it with everyone, it turns out it was sent from a computer program, that produces text messages. So, we looked it up and we found out that you can’t tell where it comes from…and I have that screencapped. So, we couldn’t even track him down that way. So to speak.
Wow. Mike, would you want to hang on for us over this quick break to the next segment because I have a couple more questions…you’re shedding a lot of light under this story, [STACK: Of course. I’d love to do that, Dana.] Fantastic.
One of the people at the center of all this, Dan Wolfe, this Patriot76, PatriotUSA76 guy, alerted myself, Andrew, a bunch of other media people about this story, when we pressed him for his number and tried to get some more information on him, he went silent. Now, I’m not in the habit of…nor do I never go after, or reveal sources, excoriate sources or anything else like that, I don’t even really count this guy as a source, considering that, by the time we looked at it, everybody on twitter was talking about this. But the point is, is that because of what this Dan Wolfe character said, there are a lot of people who do have their names associated with their accounts, and have been on twitter for a long time, and who have been, really, exposed to a lot of vitriol because of this, have had their address, photos of their house published, they’ve received threats, and one of those people is Mike Stack who is, stayed over the break for us, for this segment. He’s goatsred on Twitter, he’s been involved in all of this, and he’s been telling us how he got to, how he got involved with Dan Wolfe, and when things started to turn sour. Mike, thanks for sticking with us, I appreciate it.
Sure Dana, sure.
So, no one’s ever talked to Dan Wolfe, no one’s even sure it’s a guy…or a girl. Have you and some of the other conservatives on Twitter that have known of him longer than the rest of us…do you have any theories that you’ve developped, on your own, as to who this individual might be, why is it that they go to great lengths to protect their IP address, and all of this stuff…this Dan Wolfe guy said before, “Well, come and investigate me, I have nothing to hide.” But is that really the truth? What is your perspective on this?
I have a few of them, and that’s just from, you know, bouncing around now and looking at all the evidence over the last two weeks, and just looking at my interactions with him. I mean, they’re so much…I don’t know if you want me to talk about some of them really in-depth, I know we don’t have the time for that, but…many thoughts to me he could be…he could be a woman. Scorned. Who knows? It could be somebody who had a run-in with Rep. Weiner. Or doesn’t like his politics. Or, I mean, somebody who has a family member that might have been…you know, I don’t really want to say too much. [LOESH: Right, right.] Because we are on the air, and things like that…I don’t see it that he had a page open all day, and maybe he was trying to protect somebody…maybe his whole thing was to protect women from Anthony Weiner…but all I know is that, when the chips were down, he disappeared. And that’s the biggest problem I have.
And now, people, media people, and now, progressives in general, some really nasty ones, are coming after you.
Yeah…I got assassinated last friday. I don’t know if you want me to name the publication…
Oh sure, of course I do.
I mean…Mediaite…[LOESCH: Yeah.] turned me into a…I was harrassing young girls, [LOESCH: Oh god.] you know, young women42. I was harrassing them…the girls turned around and said the stuff they told me were lies. DailyKos, of course, I mean you should see…basically they said, even if this person, me, is found innocent, f him anyway. He deserves it. They printed…Neal Raushauser [Neal Rauhauser], whatever his name is…had a nice screenshot of the “package” aka he was going to send to the FBI about me. He had the FBI information. But yesterday he closed up his twitter. After someone else, finally, had some information they posted…they said, “oh, why don’t you do this or do that, stop harrassing Mike Stack”, put up a note, anyone want to check out Neal’s twitter page, he’s taking some time away from twitter with this Weinergate. And if anybody wants to know, they can tweet me, and I can tell you why. [LOESCH: Wow.] I wonder if Neal has some stuff for the FBI and he’s going underground.
There was a New York Times story that came out, Jennifer Preston wrote this…it’s on the front page of the New York Times today [June 7, 2011]43. She was discussing this loosely associated group of conservatives on Twitter called the “#bornfreecrew”.
Can I address that?
Yeah, yeah. I’m curious as to…because it’s you know The New York Times, and I’m initially suspicious. I’m curious to get your perspective on that as well.
I just want to say this for the record. I was always “Reply all” in that group. Okay? It was friends, but…the reason my name was always in there is…and please, understand that…when you answer all, my name was always in there, no matter what went out. #bornfreecrew to me was, they picked a song to describe the group44. If you look at any of my tweets, most of my stuff was constantly just me tweeting things. Okay? So I don’t really consider myself part of any group. [LOESCH: Right.] I mean, it’s great that I was in there, they’re identifying me as part of a conservative group that did this, this, or this. My name was involved in it, yes, I had a part in tweeting out some stuff, but I really, really don’t want to be associated with saying I was sitting there watching out for young people.
Do you understand what I’m saying?
Oh, absolutely. What else would you want to clarify to set straight because I am…and I know a lot of people, it’s a complex story to follow, especially when you have this individual who closed up…Dan Wolfe, he shut down his twitter account and all of this, and it leaves all of you in the wake. What…anything else that you want to address, and set straight, that you see other people discussing out there that’s not accurate?
Yes. Of course, I made mistakes in my past, everyone has. And to tell you the truth, I’m not happy with myself over those mistakes. And for them to be plastered all about, and to be re-tweeted over and over, you know, it happened, I’ve changed, things have been…you know, my life is different now. And, you know, it’s just…
Well, it has nothing to do with what happened with congressman Weiner, either. That they would come after you, what he did he did. He admitted it, he’s guilty, it should…you should have nothing to do with it, except they want a sacrificial lamb.
Right. And the funniest part for me is, a journalist, who really raked me over the coals, said to me, “You know, Mike. You shouldn’t have that information out there. You should have covered your tracks.” And I said to him, “I don’t live my life covering my tracks.” I do the right thing, once. And I don’t sit there wondering, how can I cover my tracks if people want to try and find me. [LOESCH: Right.] I just hope, eventually…we can get to the bottom of all this stuff, and you know, Mr. Weiner makes right what he has to make right, and Mr. Wolfe will come forward and say, “You know what? Here I am. Let me own up to this, and let me apologize to the people I threw under the bus.”
Right. Absolutely. Well, Mike Stack, goatsred on Twitter, involved in all of this. This whole Weinergate scandal fallout, I appreciate you coming forward and setting a lot of this stuff straight. There’s a lot of questions this Dan Wolfe character has left, but I appreciate you being out there and using your voice, and really clearing the air here. Thanks Mike.
Anytime, Dana. I enjoy the show. Thank you very much.
The conservative film-maker and blogger Ladd Ehlinger, jr. would conduct the most lengthy interview with Dan Wolfe, though it is a frustrating read. Wolfe would seemingly reiterate the same points over and over again, that he wanted to take Weiner down because of his opposition to Obamacare and concern for his own family, and that he was upset the focus had shifted to him. He revealed almost nothing about himself. It was as if he had three or four points he insisted on sticking to, repeating, and never moving off-track from those. Wolfe refused to speak with Ehlinger on the phone.
The following are excerpts from this interview, “My IM Interview with PatriotUSA76”, conducted on June 3rd, 2011. I give only a few fragments, as the repetition is so great – though I encourage curious readers to look at the interview itself to confirm this impression.
Filmladd is Ehlinger. Wolfe is danwolfe7676.
danwolfe7676 (4:04:48 PM): Well first to let’s get a few things down for the record.
Filmladd (4:04:59 PM): Okay, shoot.
danwolfe7676 (4:05:20 PM): I’ve verified it’s me to you for the purposes of this?
danwolfe7676 (4:05:28 PM): I don’t mean you know who I am
danwolfe7676 (4:05:35 PM): I know that comment will get read into
danwolfe7676 (4:05:40 PM): As all of my comments are
Filmladd (4:05:55 PM): Well, sure, but of course I don’t know who you are, where you are, what you are, whether you are male or female, and so on.
danwolfe7676 (4:06:09 PM): Right that’s why I said I don’t mean you know who I am
danwolfe7676 (4:06:19 PM): Because I knew that comment would be read into
Filmladd (4:06:30 PM): Yes but you’re the same person who emailed back and forth and dm’ed with me.
danwolfe7676 (4:06:33 PM): Right
danwolfe7676 (4:06:40 PM): That’s what I wanted to establish
danwolfe7676 (4:09:21 PM): Let me say a few things first and then I’m open to all questions
Filmladd (4:09:30 PM): Okay.
danwolfe7676 (4:11:06 PM): I’d like to say I’ve never tried to make a secret of the fact that I can’t stand Weiner’s politics and think he is a weasel. I find it so funny all the analyzing every single tweet, every DM, every message of MINE. So watching all of this play out, it gave me a new admiration for Weiner. He played you fools like a fiddle.
danwolfe7676 (4:26:03 PM): Let’s address some crazy theories now
danwolfe7676 (4:26:15 PM): I’ll answer that
Filmladd (4:26:16 PM): Okay.
danwolfe7676 (4:27:32 PM): But again, so funny that I am the one here getting investigated — NOT WEINER! I am the one where people are trying to track, hunt, publish my emails, trace my location — ME??? No one wants to investigate Weiner? See how ridiculous you all look?
danwolfe7676 (4:27:34 PM): And how brilliant he is?
danwolfe7676 (4:27:35 PM): LOL
danwolfe7676 (4:27:41 PM): Genius.
danwolfe7676 (4:27:51 PM): Why do I hate him?
Filmladd (4:28:22 PM): Yes?
danwolfe7676 (4:28:33 PM): I hate Weiner’s politics. It’s not personal. I am not a female. I don’t appreciate being called an “IT” — I don’t know what I did to deserve the insults and
danwolfe7676 (4:28:47 PM): crazy things being thrown at me
danwolfe7676 (4:29:05 PM): I am a male. I don’t want to be public. Is that wrong?
Filmladd (4:29:21 PM): Why not make a phone call to someone with a *70 block and at least establish the gender?
danwolfe7676 (4:29:23 PM): Why should I have to be public?
danwolfe7676 (4:29:45 PM): Since someone released private emails about my life
danwolfe7676 (4:29:48 PM): Again — insane
danwolfe7676 (4:29:57 PM): I’m the hunted one here?
danwolfe7676 (4:30:26 PM): People don’t know someones circumstances and shouldn’t speculate
Filmladd (4:30:26 PM): Which emails are you talking about? The ones on the smoking gun site?
danwolfe7676 (4:30:31 PM): Yes,
danwolfe7676 (4:30:52 PM): People shouldn’t judge from an email I sent in private to someone
danwolfe7676 (4:31:01 PM): That was meant to be private.
danwolfe7676 (4:31:07 PM): I don’t want my kids in this.
danwolfe7676 (4:42:27 PM): Of course I hated him. When did I say different?
Filmladd (4:42:34 PM): Yes, but why?
danwolfe7676 (4:42:56 PM): I hate his politics. He is a lying weasel. The author of obamacare.
danwolfe7676 (4:43:09 PM): Or the self proclaimed author
Filmladd (4:43:12 PM): So… why not Obama or Pelosi?
Filmladd (4:43:19 PM): Or Reid?
danwolfe7676 (4:43:34 PM): Yeah them too. I’ve said that I hate them. But you guys aren’t focused on that
danwolfe7676 (4:43:39 PM): And because
danwolfe7676 (4:43:44 PM): Weiner is out there every day
danwolfe7676 (4:43:47 PM): All the time
Filmladd (4:43:49 PM): On Twitter?
danwolfe7676 (4:43:58 PM): On twitter, on tv, everywhere
danwolfe7676 (5:14:21 PM): Not in stalking exactly but related to why it bothered me about Weiner and young girls
Filmladd (5:14:32 PM): How so?
danwolfe7676 (5:15:09 PM): This will answer a few things. First, it all comes back to that private email regarding my family
danwolfe7676 (5:15:23 PM): My oldest daughter
Filmladd (5:16:00 PM): Yes?
danwolfe7676 (5:16:05 PM): slow typer
danwolfe7676 (5:16:07 PM): remember
Filmladd (5:16:09 PM): ok
danwolfe7676 (5:16:20 PM): My oldest daughter
danwolfe7676 (5:16:40 PM): she was the victim of a guy that was a predator of young girls
danwolfe7676 (5:16:50 PM): I will not get into the details
danwolfe7676 (5:16:57 PM): Again, I dont want my kids the target here
danwolfe7676 (5:17:53 PM): My oldest daughter was the victim of a predator of young girls
danwolfe7676 (5:18:09 PM): This was the worst thing in my life
danwolfe7676 (5:18:26 PM): That’s why this whole episode doesn’t really get to me
danwolfe7676 (5:18:47 PM): When you see your kid harmed, I don’t know if you’re old enouh to have kids
danwolfe7676 (5:18:57 PM): but its the worse thing that could ever happen
Filmladd (5:19:10 PM): I understand.
Filmladd (5:19:35 PM): So are you saying this is part of the animosity towards RAW [Representative Anthony Weiner]?
danwolfe7676 (5:19:40 PM): Yes
danwolfe7676 (5:20:09 PM): Weiner puts himself out there more
danwolfe7676 (5:20:13 PM): than any other politician
danwolfe7676 (5:20:16 PM): of either side
danwolfe7676 (5:20:18 PM): so yes
danwolfe7676 (5:20:21 PM): whenever
Filmladd (5:20:22 PM): What exactly about his politics?
danwolfe7676 (5:20:26 PM): let me finish
Filmladd (5:20:58 PM): Ok
danwolfe7676 (5:21:02 PM): Because he puts himself out there more than any other politician of either side – there are TONS of opportunities to comment on what he says and does
danwolfe7676 (5:21:10 PM): Anyone that denies that is a liar
danwolfe7676 (5:21:31 PM): I hate his politics
danwolfe7676 (5:21:43 PM): And he’s always on every channel, media whore
danwolfe7676 (5:21:49 PM): in our faces
danwolfe7676 (5:21:58 PM): Pushing obamacare
danwolfe7676 (5:22:00 PM): etc
danwolfe7676 (5:22:02 PM): you name it
danwolfe7676 (5:22:07 PM): issue of the day for him
danwolfe7676 (5:22:13 PM): I hate everything he stands for
danwolfe7676 (5:22:27 PM): And he has a big mouth.
In addition to this interview, a few excerpts from a shorter interview conducted by John Sexton, were published on his blog, Verum Serum, on June 6th, 2011, “Dan Wolfe Would Like an Apology from the Left-Wing Media”.
The most specific personal details of Dan Wolfe were revealed in one excerpt, their possible truth left to the reader:
VS: BTW, is Dan Wolfe your real name or a pseudonym? Lots of speculation about that?
DW: Dan Wolfe is my real name
VS: One more personal question which you don’t have to answer if you don’t want. How old are you? Give me a range at least.
DW: I am 45-50 (closer to 50) lol
Shortly after these interviews, Wolfe would disappear entirely.
From the interviews with Stack, “Dan Wolfe”, and the soundbitten timeline, we might put together some undisputable details to form a concept of @patriotUSA76 / Dan Wolfe. His account was started on January 6th, 2011. His first tweet sent to @goatsred takes place twenty minutes later, the subject Anthony Weiner, and the sort of pithy, witty remark that makes up much political commentary on twitter: “@goatsred did you see him pimping his wife on his tweet on how beautiful she is. she is as blessed in looks as he is – both gross looking.” His other tweets prior to this all dealt with Weiner, and they were all derogatory45. He ingratiated himself with the already existing twitter group of Stack, the #bornfreecrew, and he devoted himself with a laser like focus to Anthony Weiner and the women who follow him on twitter – Stack’s words: “It seems as though every day, there was a different person that he was watching on Anthony Weiner’s friend list”. For some reason, he denies how focused he is in this task and how crucial a role he plays in the eventual scandal46. He stresses in his interview with Ehrlanger that he’s not very knowledgeable, yet in one of his letters to Stack, Wolfe warns against sharing information on the scandal with anyone associated with Republican Jason Chaffetz, as this man was at Anthony Weiner’s wedding – it’s striking that he knows such a detail that even those who follow politics might not know (I didn’t)47. His passion is fanatical, and though Stack doesn’t like Weiner, it’s several degrees stronger than what he feels – Stack speaks of Wolfe writing of the evils of Anthony Weiner. Yet when asked what drives his hatred, Wolfe’s answers are banal, almost arbitrary. He doesn’t like Obamacare and it was Weiner who presented it on the floor of the House – but he gives no answer as to why Weiner was the target and not Pelosi or any other prominent democrat. This devolves into the childish summary for why he did what he did: “I hate everything he stands for” / “And he has a big mouth.” He avoids publicity with the same fanaticism with which he goes after Weiner, and once the congressman has resigned, he disappears entirely.
There is one striking aspect to Wolfe’s twitter profile that goes unmentioned in any of the interviews: how strikingly generic it is, almost as every detail was designed specifically to say “Tea Party Conservative”, and nothing else. A Ronald Reagan avatar. A name that is an aggregate of Patriot and USA and, presumably, 1776. Here is his twitter description, again, containing nothing to do with work, movies, music, or anything but a specific political identity: “Conservative Reagan Republican. No Obamacare, socialism, sharia. Proud of the USA & Proud to be an American with NO apologies. No elitists need apply.” It is something like an on-line profile for a female escort or nude model, where every point has something to do with sex, nudity, and meeting interesting men, all with the intent of luring males, except all the signifiers here are exclusively designed to declare the twitter user as a patriotic conservative american, to make others of like mind comfortable that he is one of their own.
@patriotUSA76 / Dan Wolfe, was one unusual player in the drama, but there was another major figure whose mystery, like Wolfe’s, remains unresolved at this date. This was a sixteen year old girl by the name of Nikki Reid, twitter handle Nikki Reid @starchild111. This account can be dated to at least August 14th, 201048. Just as there is something ersatz in the way PatriotUSA76 signifies only and exclusively Tea Party Conservative, there is something in Nikki Reid / @starchild111’s initial tweets where each one seems designed to indicate that she is an average teenage girl: she follows Oprah, the Kardashians, Jennifer Lopez, and Natalie Martinez, an actress who is a spokesmodel for J. Lo’s clothing line. Examples of her tweets to Martinez are as follows: “am a fan!”, “you are very talented.”, “u are also so glamorous!”, “do u have a facebook page?”, “could you message me?” She is a sixteen year old girl, a huge fan of Martinez, but somehow does not have the wherewithal to look up Martinez’s facebook page, but must ask Martinez herself. Her location is later set as Los Angeles, and her bio is “high school, politics and homework and the beach is my life!”49
Until the scandal reaches its conclusion, Nikki Reid / @starchild111 would follow Weiner as well as many of the women he was in contact with – such as Cordova, Ginger Lee, and a high school girl named Ethel, who did direct message (DM) the congressman, but whose texts contained no sexual or intimate material. Nikki Reid / @starchild111 would attempt to contact many of these women as well. A tweet to Ginger Lee after Lee got a DM from Weiner: “I can relate I’m a fangirl too! What did he say (trying to live vicariously through you lol)?!!!” A tweet to Ethel, again about the congressman: “Hey! I’m a fangirl too! I’m living vicariously through you! How’d you get him to talk to you???” Weiner adds a college student to his facebook and the student tweets in response, “HOLY #congressionalcrush! @RepWeiner just added me on facebook. DAY. MADE.” Nikki Reid / starchild111 tweets her a few hours later, “@[college student – name redacted] omg! my friend ethel here on twitter and I are Weiner fangirls too! Could you DM me how you got a follow? that’s so cool!” She would tweet various friendly messages throughout to these other women, such as a consolation message to Lee on her difficulties with lupus50.
On May 16, 2011, Weiener starts following Nikki Reid. She then announces her campaign to get him to be her prom date. PatriotUSA replies to the tweet: “RT Starchild111 Please tweet and follow @RepWeiner & tell him to be my prom date>>Poor girl. We should warn her.” The #bornfreecrew warn her that the congresman is not as good as she thinks51. The morning of May 18th, 2011, Nikki Reid has a sudden and abrupt outburst after Weiner stops following her52:
Well @RepWeiner unfollowed me. That was a short time. I defended him from people. Some thanks he gives to his loyal followers.
@RepWeiner It’s really a sad thing when you have the time to call a loyal fan names through twitter messaging….I’m sorry I ever defended you to the trolls on twitter. You don’t deserve it. Calling a young fan names is despicable…. RepWeiner do you take pleasure in humiliating your young fans? Is it acceptable to insult and call me names?….@RepWeiner was it fun getting another one of your followers to also insult me? Isn’t that immature?….@RepWeiner didn’t know that Congressmen spent their time insulting supporters on twitter that defend them from trolls….@RepWeiner thank you for getting one of your followers to spy on me and message me about how bad you and she feel you attacked me…. @RepWeiner her message referred to you as “we” and how bad “we” – Rep Weiner and I feel for attacking you. Thanks for that.
She would recant this outburst two days later53. On May 27th, Weiner sends out the tweet to Cordova which gets captured by @PatriotUSA76, retweeted by Mike Stack, and sent to Andrew Breitbart, the impetus for the entire scandal.
The next day, Nikki Reid makes several attempts to contact Cordova via Cordova’s friends54:
@[Friend 1 – name redacted] [Friend 2 – name redacted] This is nikki i am a friend of a friend. I have some info that could help. Please DM me. Ask her she knows me.
[Friend 1] [Friend 2] if she/U needs proof I can prove it’s me.
The same day, two hours later, Nikki Reid’s father suddenly appears on twitter, the handle @JohnReid9, and tweets the congressman, offering help55:
@RepWeiner Is there anyway you or someone you work with can DM me I have info that someone is lying about you.
His daughter would then try to contact Cordova via her father’s @JohnReid9 account56:
@GennetteC if this is really you you’ll know who i am – starchilld111 I can prove it’s me and have been defending you in private please DM….@GennetteC defending you. Please DM PLease it is nikki….@GennetteC I will delete my tweets to you right after and LOCK my account like before….@GennetteC There is alot I’m working on to help defend u and stop this craziness and set the record straight. you are my friend. i miss u….@GennetteC You were set up and I am working to help show/prove this now. Please pleasse DM me. Nikki. I can tell u name of my dog….@GennetteC I can tel you what pet I had before my dog. And what the name was too….@GennetteC I can tell you the name you wanted for your pet and what pet you want and what pet you had. I can prove it’s me Please I can help.
There is no response to this from Cordova.
After the scandal broke, three women – Nikki Reid, a classmate and friend of Nikki’s named Marienela Alecia, and Nikki’s mom, Patricia – would contact reporter Tommy Christopher (at Mediaite) to give some details of their side of the story. There was a puzzling confusion to what they told – Nikki alleged the #bornfreecrew had approached her and Marienela to manufacture incrinminating evidence against Weiner, while the actual tweets of Marienela showed her approaching the #bornfreecrew with offers of such evidence. Nikki, Marienela, and Patricia would explain this inconsistency by saying that Marienela was just making a bid for attention at the time57. Both girls made clear that they were fearful of various attempts to contact them, and were deeply worried of being identified and harrassed. Their fears appeared so heartfelt that Christopher gave the two girls pseudonyms, with Nikki and Marienela named, respectively, Betty and Veronica58. Christopher appealed to Markos Moulitsas, the founder of DailyKos, to take down a blog post at his site which identified the girls59. He published a statement from Patricia promising legal action against anyone who identified her daughter or her friend. Both Nikki and Marienela submitted their own statements on the affair which Christopher published. Christopher communicated with the women via twitter, then spoke to Patricia by phone. To prove who the identities of herself and the girls, Patricia faxed a copy of her driver’s license, her home address, and school identification information for Nikki and Marienela60. The statements of the three women were collectively posted in an article on June 3rd, 201161.
On June 17th, a day after Weiner announced his resignation from Congress, a New York Times article marked the final chapter on this strange family, in which a startling fact about Nikki Reid, her mother and father, and her friend, Marienela, was revealed: they didn’t exist. “Fake Identities Were Used on Twitter in Effort to Get Information on Weiner” by Jennifer Preston made clear that the license shown was a fake, no one by the name of Patricia or Nikki Reid was listed at the residential address, and no one called Nikki Reid or Marienela Alecia had ever enrolled at the school they said they attended, Hollywood High.
At least three months before the revelation that former Representative Anthony D. Weiner was sending lewd messages and photos to women online, a small group of self-described conservatives was monitoring his exchanges with women on Twitter. Now there is evidence that one or more people created two false identities on Twitter in order to collect information to use against him.
A Twitter user employing a fake name posed as a 16-year-old California high school girl in May and tried to get Mr. Weiner to be her prom date, according to people with knowledge of the communications and a review of documents. The person behind another Twitter account created under a fake name claimed to be her classmate and offered to provide the group with incriminating evidence about Mr. Weiner.
One Twitter user the group observed seeking to interact with Mr. Weiner was called “Nikki Reid.” She started an online campaign to get Mr. Weiner to be her prom date at Hollywood High School in May, using the account @starchild111. Within days after Mr. Weiner started following her, a Twitter user, also using a fake name, Marianela Alicea, and pretending to be Nikki Reid’s classmate, contacted a member of the #bornfreecrew and said she had information about Mr. Weiner, but never provided any.
But there is no evidence that either girl exists. There is no Nikki Reid or Marianela Alicea enrolled at Hollywood High School. In response to requests from a reporter from the blog Mediaite, a woman claiming to be Nikki Reid’s mother provided documentation to substantiate her identity and her daughter’s identity. But records show the street address the woman provided does not list anyone named Reid as an occupant. State officials in California have confirmed that the driver’s license this woman provided to Mediaite was false, as well.
The @starchild111 Twitter account, which was deleted two weeks ago, was created in September. There were very few posts on the account until March, when the fictional Nikki Reid began posting comments about admiring Mr. Weiner, including:
“Tweeps my progressive idol @RepWeiner is following me. Today is the best day ever!”
“Today also marks day one of my campaign to get @RepWeiner to be my prom date.”
“Will you be my prom date @RepWeiner.”
“Everyone please please follow @RepWeiner and tell him to be my prom date.”
Then, in what seems to be an elaborate ruse, the Twitter user claiming to be Nikki Reid and then a woman claiming to be her mother contacted Tommy Christopher, a correspondent for Mediaite, the media blog. After first communicating online, Mr. Christopher said, the woman dismissed claims of incriminating evidence against Mr. Weiner and accused members of the #bornfreecrew of harassing her daughter and her daughter’s friend. The woman also made a statement, which offered a forceful defense of Mr. Weiner.
She repeated this by phone to Mr. Christopher, who insisted the woman provide documentation confirming her identity. The woman faxed over a copy of a California driver’s license with her name, Patricia Reid, at a Los Angeles address, as well as school identification for the girls. But it turns out that the driver’s license and the school identification were fake, according to California state officials and school district officials.
Nikki Reid’s av, of an attractive girl holding a cat, would turn out to be a photo from someone else’s flickr account62.
Gennette Cordova already thought there was something off. Nikki Reid was a sixteen year old American girl. With no Facebook account. She was a sixteen year old American girl. Who showed off her youthfulness by making plenty of references to “The O.C.” A show that had been cancelled four years earlier63. Mediaite would publish their own addendum to the earlier story: “‘Betty And Veronica’ Turn Out Not To Be Who They Claimed” by Colby Hall. This piece ended with this note:
One thing that is clear from this entire episode is this: there are individuals involved in this story who remain unidentified who are taking extraordinary measures to create or influence this story and the way that it has been reported. The reasons why individuals would conspire to effect the news is anyone’s guess, but we will leave that specific speculation to you, dear reader.
Various fevered guesses created conspiracies and counter-conspiracies around who was the prime mover in this scandal. The investigation was enthusiastic, the investigation was wild, the investigation was lunatic. It was discovered that before the @starchild111 profile had the name “Nikki”, it had the name “Jenay”. When starchild111 was looked up, the discovery was made that it was associated with the name “Jennifer George”64. Jenay could well be a nickname for Jennifer. This resulted in a torrent of attempts to contact a woman in California who had no association with anything that took place in the Weiner scandal, but whose name was Jennifer George.
She would demonstrate more grace than many would, and would list these efforts at a page on her site, “Jennifer George’s record of her alleged involvement in Weinergate”.
Below is a complete log of all correspondence and conversations I’ve had with journalists or bloggers regarding Starchild111 and Weinergate. I had never spoken to any of these people before via email or phone previously. My first knowledge of the name/handle Starchild111, or any variation thereof, came when Lee Stranahan emailed me Sunday night (June 19). All times in the headers are Pacific as far as I know. All that follows is in chronological order. I realize that the headers aren’t consistently formatted. I will update this log with any additional contacts and reserve the right to add anything that I have accidentally left out. I will highlight these changes as they occur.
An email from Jennifer Preston, the reporter who broke the Nikki Reid sock puppet family story:
Jun 14, 2011 at 1:30 PM
Preston, Jennifer wrote:
Subject: New York Times reporter
I would love to talk to you about a story that I am doing. Might you be available? My direct line is XXX XXX XXXX.
Tuesday, June 14, 2011 7:22 PM
From: Jennifer George
To: Preston, Jennifer
Subject: New York Times reporter
Why on earth would you want to talk to me?
An email from Breitbart associate Lee Stranahan:
Sun, Jun 19, 2011 at 2:54 PM
From: Lee Stranahan
To: Jennifer George
Subject Question about @Starchild111
Can you please call me at XXX XXX XXXX
Sun, Jun 19, 2011 at 5:41 PM
from Jennifer George
to Lee Stranahan
subject Re: Question about @Starchild111
Just googled you, and figured out what you’re after. It’s not me.
Sun, Jun 19, 2011 at 5:52 PM
from Jennifer George
to “Preston, Jennifer”
subject Re: New York Times reporter
Saw your story today and got a weird email from a guy named Lee Stranahan. After a quick Google search I finally figured out why you contacted me. Just wanted to let you know that I had nothing to do with this whole thing. I don’t care who Anthony Weiner sends pictures to.
Sun, Jun 19, 2011 at 8:24 PM
from Lee Stranahan
to Jennifer George
subject Re: Question about @Starchild111
A number of people I’ve spoken seem to think this has something to do with you.
If you can call me at XXX XXX XXXX, I can explain more. If you can be ruled out, that’d be great for everyone – -especially you.
Sun, Jun 19, 2011 at 8:32 PM
from Jennifer George
to Lee Stranahan
What would it take for you to rule me out?
A phone call from Alison Gendar, NY Daily News:
“Hi, this is a message for Jennifer George. This is Alison Gendar. I’m a reporter with the New York Daily News. I’d like to talk with you regarding a lot of the chatter and Twittering about Anthony Weiner and Congressman Weiner and some allegations that you possibly were behind some of the fictitious Twitter accounts that were set up and that were trying to grab his attention. This is my cell [Redacted]. Thanks. Bye.”
An attempt at a google webchat by Stranahan, with George, to which George did not respond:
Lee: Hi. Hopefully, you’ve seen that I’ve tried to be as clear as possible that 1) I don’t think you have anything to do with the story and 2) that you are no the Jenny George in Massachusetts who is clearly connected to the story
Lee: But if there’s anything else I can do to clarify, please let me know,
An email from Neal Rauhauser, a liberal blogger and long-time Breitbart nemesis:
So, I am researching the Weiner stalking, I have a short list of people I know were involved, a few more that I think were involved, and I might spend another month or three watching and gathering info. You’re not on my list at all. I do like Ginger Lee, Meagan Broussard, Mike Stack, and I think I know where to find the person who posed as Dan Wolfe.
I see this tiresome Stranahan fellow bothering you, and maybe this Patterico creature would like to get into the act, too. Sorry to hear you’re facing this – they pulled something similar to Weinergate with me last fall, but I’m not a big fish like Weiner so it didn’t go anywhere. But that’s why I take this stuff so seriously.
Maybe you’ve been told things that would help me solve the puzzle. Feel free to whisper in my ear if that’s the case, either from this one or anonymously – my email is quite public. If you’re sick of it all and just want it to stop I can understand that, too …
An email from Peter Pavel, a name entirely unknown to me:
Subject: For you and Neal
Sent: Thu, 15 Sep 2011 23:49:13 -0400
You must grant me pardon. My English is not good. I am now trying to contact you regarding Neal Rauhauser. I will no longer explain. I am of confidence that you know of the situation well enough to understand.
Why the search is continue
It is for the most simple reasons I can even imagine. Security steps you have made did not work. I have now seen amateurs make the finding of you beyond what you made available for public information on the internet. This was very easy. I make no effort for finding the info. I let the amateurs do.
I decide to send this email to your gmail and not to your hotmail. I do this for the reason because you do not make it public. But now you have a mission. You should now make the contact to Neal Rauhauser and tell him of this message.
You may notice that I include no link. I not need you to click any link to capture your data. That has been done already. MD5 and more trace me to you and Neal. And the fun will begin.
If you make decision not to send message to Rauhauser (the German) it is no problem still. I or maybe I can say “we” are watching already 🙂
It is now the time for the end of Weinergate investigation. No more time can you remain in the background. No one will from my group can ever think to do the same you have already done to the others that are investigating this. This can not even be dreamed of. But law men will be taking this to their files:)
So now you must for this contact the Rauhauser. A method does not matter. Email I can see. Phone I can see. Chose to mail a letter with postal service? that I may not be abled to see.
Peter Pavel L.
It was in dealing with this paranoia harvest that the conservative film-maker Ladd Ehlinger, jr. made the most promising analysis. Ehlinger jr. is best known to the public for a series of political ads he made which were either hilarious, disturbing camp, or simply disturbing. He was far more intelligent than his ads, and in a moment of mistaken sympathy you might even grant him the possibility that these were attempts to sabotage these terrible candidates in plain sight, all of whom lost their races65. The very fact that he was a conservative and had a strong dislike for Weiner was an important context given the partisan divide over something like the idea that Weiner’s twitter account was hacked. His analysis does not stem from a belief in a republican persecution machine, but only an attempt to determine what took place.
His thesis, naming no specific actors but simply establishing the outlines of the plot given the circumstances, was first stated as part an essay dismissing another klunky conspiracy, “Meet the World’s Greatest Detective”:
Anyway, “Dan Wolfe” spent a lot of time online watching Anthony Weiner’s Twitter account like a hawk. From the first tweet to the last, it was Weiner Weiner Weiner. Who has time for that? A blogger with a day job like Patterico? Please.
A jilted lover? Maybe. Possible. I’ve run across some freaky Fatal-Attraction types on teh Internetz. But they acted a bit differently than “Dan Wolfe.” Mostly, they were more hysterical.
A conservative offended by Anthony Weiner’s politics? Maybe. Maybe. But I know a lot of conservative activists on Twitter, and “Dan Wolfe” was way too professional for that. He hid is IP well, hid his identity with maddening efficiency. Usually a Twitter activist makes friends and personal details slip out. “Wolfe” never made those amateur mistakes.
The most realistic supposition, to my mind, is that “Dan Wolfe” was a social-media opposition research team for a political campaign.
If you’ve ever worked on a political campaign – and I’ve worked on lots and lots of them – then you know that opposition research is a time-honored tradition. There are people who specialize in such work, which has been made much easier by teh Internetz. Sometimes the work involves not just Googling your opposition, or checking out their FEC records, it involves checking out what they do on Twitter and Facebook, if your opposition happens to use social media.
And Weiner loved him some social media. Where else could he send out some proud pricktures? Where else could he find young sycophantic progressive women who haven’t yet learned that if they have a hankering to peek at a penis, there are plenty available for viewing in real life?
Anyway, if I were inclined to be a super-sleuth on the identity of “Dan Wolfe” and wildly tossing out nets of suspicion, I would be looking to political campaigns or the freelancers who work for political campaigns as opposition researchers. Probably based in New York. Someone who had something to gain if Weiner’s political career suddenly went limp.
Sure, Andrew Brietbart jumped in and showboated the thing (that was his stock in trade), but he didn’t find the picture. He didn’t start the story.
“Dan Wolfe” did, by cyber-stalking the crap out of Weiner.
Anyway, I could go on for a thousand more words on connecting dots (Reid, Betty and Veronica, Tommy Christopher, etc.) and talking about how all the jigsaw puzzle pieces fit this scenario, but meh, that’s pretty boring stuff. I also have my own ideas about who the opp-research team was, and yes, I do have some clues that no one else seems to have on the matter. Unfortunately, none of it is definitive, only circumstantial. Mentioning those clues here is pretty pointless, because if I’m wrong, I’d be an ass for casting aspersions. Suffice to say, I don’t think any of the arm-chair Clouseaus in this little tempest in a tea pot are looking in the right direction at all.
An outsize chunk of this same essay frequently featured too many jabs about liberal opponents that broke an important rule – if you’re going to be cruel, be funny – but the excerpted section was a very helpful isle of clarity.
In the comments, long-time Breitbart stalwart Mandy Nagy / @Liberty Chick gave a healthy nod to his assessment:
Yep, I agree 100%. Good post.
She would elaborate in another comment:
Well, you’re right about it being an oppo research political op. That’s pretty clear, and it’s funded. Problem is, whoever did this must not give a flying-eff that by doing this whole thing, they opened up the gates for sociopathic opportunists to take advantage of the melee and take it well into crazyland, into people’s real lives, online AND offline. And those nutbags have ruined these people’s lives, for now anyway. Better humans – left, right or independent – would come forward and fess up, at the very least, to some of those who’ve been hurt by all this. Instead, they’ve let it continue while victims try to work around their own limitations to sort it all out on their own. I’m with you on that last point for sure…share it! Because eventually, they’ll be exposed anyway. Only difference is, it’ll just take longer. But the damage just keeps piling up more and more, the longer it goes on.
By the way, I never really understood why anyone saw Weiner as *that* much of a threat. The guy’s own party couldn’t stand him, so it’s not like that would take him too far in a federal office. But I suppose that’s what complicates this in the first place, widens the suspect list, doesn’t it? Dude was not that popular outside his own backyard. That to me was always a telling component in all of this.
To which Ehlinger jr. would reply:
New York state and city politics, methinks – not federal.
This analysis by Ehlinger would be restated during a sort of Geneva summit for american partisans, a discussion with liberal blogger Matt Osborne, “A Chat Over The Wall With Ladd Ehlinger”. Much of the talk deals with the petty figures of the microworld of partisan blogging, but this part is of interest:
Ladd is Ehlinger. “me” is Osborne.
Ladd: It was, basically, a @Shoq op [a liberal blogger who has been involved in sock puppet campaigns]. Except on the other side. In other words, it didn’t start out as some conspiracy to hack the Weiner pricktures. It was a freakin’ social-media political campaign operation
me: Thank you. We are actually not worlds apart here
Ladd: You hire a few kids to tweet about what a creep Weiner was. You get those kids to make friends. You form groups like BornFreeCrew. You do hashtags. You do things like notice if he’s following some young hot chicks. You @ tweet the chicks, you stir things up. Happens all the time! Hell your guys do it and are, in fact, better at it these days.
me: LOL I’m not going to argue with that. And I’m not saying that with pride
Ladd: So they were trying to get him to hit on some fake chicks (Betty and Veronica) when they got impatient and wanted to see something really happen. Then out of the blue, Weiner gives them the sword – so to speak. The only reason they did the interview w/me and VerumSerum and those other folks was because Weiner looked for a while as if he wasn’t going to resign. Then he resigned and you know what they did? Turned off the lights and got gigs on other campaigns.
me: That’s the most curious thing – they spent some time “investigating” those sockpuppet people at Patterico
Ladd: All these goons running around trying to find Dan Wolfe, going after Stack, blah blah, it’s so freaking stupid.
I agree with Ehlinger in almost all the particulars – that it had to do with local politics, that Nikki and Marianela were created to entrap Weiner, who then became unnecessary because of the other women. Whoever was behind the sock puppet women was also behind PatriotUSA76, who played the crucial role of re-tweeting the picture sent to Gennette Cordova, setting the scandal in motion. This political campaign was separate and unknown to Breitbart, and the objectives were not entirely the same as Breitbart’s. The first and foremost goal of Breitbart, as always, was publicity. Those conducting this campaign, on the other hand, were very adverse to publicity, because then the subject would not be a ridiculously overblown sex scandal huffed on by media prudes, but a months long effort to remove someone from office by non-political means. This fear of identification was behind the utter refusal to speak to anyone, including Breitbart, on the phone. It was why the fake Patricia put out a statement threatening legal action against anyone who tried to get identifying information on her daughters. It was the reason for the strange and abrupt behavior of the girls, first offering incriminating evidence, then suddenly taking Weiner’s side when the scandal broke. They had to come out in support of the congressman, because if they didn’t, the focus would then shift from women like Gennette Cordova and Meagan Broussard, to the high school girls, and if the focus shifted to the high school girls, it would become clear that they didn’t exist. And the momentum of the press would not remain on the sob stories of the various women, but on this far more fascinating one of ghost girls, and the obvious question would then be asked: the fuck is going on here?
I disagree with Ehlinger on only two points, and they have nothing to do with partisanship, only practicals. I do not think this was “political”, in that I don’t think party difference played much part here. I think it was entirely vengeance, and the person behind it could well have been of the same party as Weiner or entirely apolitical. Crucially, I do not think it was the creation of a social media team from a political consulting firm, but someone from a slightly different field. A person who watches a twitter stream, in Ehlinger’s words, like a hawk, does not suggest to me the discipline of a consulting firm’s social media team, but someone with a strong background in law enforcement. Someone used to spending hours simply watching and waiting. That sort of background would also be helpful in putting together a fake driver’s license. And, above all, it would be useful in staying utterly calm while doing certain things, because it’s one thing to conduct a whisper campaign in darkness, but to engage in these deceptions when the hot light of scandal has fallen on you, to stay calm enough in order to write letters, in character, as two girls and a mom, requires a cold spine. One last note: when I say law enforcement, I do not imply some entire apparatus being involved in this, or even a large conspiracy. Perhaps only one player, with law enforcement training; if this person was not a woman, then they also had a woman to help them to play the part of Patricia Reid in the phone call to Mediaite’s Tommy Christopher. One person who handled all the twitter accounts – Dan Wolfe, Nikki Reid, Marienela Alecia, and Nikki’s father, John Reid (@JohnReid9). This person, if not a woman, had a woman to play the part of Patricia Reid, and, if not a woman, maybe had her write the letters of Patricia Reid, Nikki Reid, and Marienela Alecia. These letter show a subtlety and assurance in playing their part, someone who knew what it was to be a daughter and a mother, that the Nikki Reid twitter account lacks, the Nikki Reid twitter account having the quality of rote imitation.
Ehlinger specifically avoided any speculation, but lacking his upstanding moral character, I’ll happily wallow in it. Where this arrow lands will not be on anyone of snow white wool, but who already has, as they say, quite a few things on their plate. It is, however, only speculation, a little like casting for a part in the movie. Right after the start of the Iraq war, I know I overheard a conversation where someone was trying to get Dostoyevsky’s The Idiot made, and they were giving vent to their efforts to get a specific A-List actress to play the part of Nastassya Filippovna. They never revealed who this was, but I thought, it must be Angelina Jolie. Beautiful? Yes. Magnetic? Yes. One can imagine two men obsessed with her? Yes. Can this actress play crazy? Yes.
The game played now is a similar one. Is there someone who might have had a major issue with Weiner? Yes. Someone who’s shown a temper in the past, who would want payback for something Weiner did? Yes. Someone with a background in law enforcement, who might have an old friend, from the same background, who could pull off this campaign? Yes.
When he was elected in 2010 as a Republican to the Staten Island congressional district, Michael Grimm had all the qualities which could be crafted into the heroic ideal, the sort of politico who is always in the movies and rarely in congress. He was good looking, confident, a man of dapper three piece suits, a former marine who’d served in the first Iraq war and a former FBI undercover agent who’d been in the elite Gambino Squad, whose mission was to take down the crime family of the same name66. However, I might be reckless in my accusations, but I am not that reckless: as said, this lamb’s wool is not entirely snow white.
A notable FBI colleague of Grimm’s was Carlos Luquis, who had been sentenced to twelve years in prison for stealing over $2 million from a public utility company in Texas. Luquis had been hired to handle security for the utility, and he, along with five others, created a series of shell companies which charged for non-existent work. At his sentencing, a lead FBI agent in the 9/11 investigation testified that Luquis exaggerated his own role in the 9/11 investigation on his résumé. Another FBI official testified that Luquis deceived the agency by withholding the fact that his job would involve security work, in direct contravention with FBI employment guidelines67. Of the twelve year sentence, Luquis would serve eighteen months. Luquis would often be by Grimm’s side during the election campaign, and together, they would form a company called Austin Refuel, which turned grease into fuel, and for which Luquis was director of logistics. In two Department of Transportation inspections, it would rack up eleven safety violations68.
Grimm would start a Manhattan restaurant, Healthalicious, which would be fined $80K by the city for not having workers compensation insurance. Two former deliverymen would sue on the basis that they had not been paid minimum wage or overtime. The restaurant would change its legal name in order to foil such lawsuits – if the name of the party is wrong on legal papers, the lawsuit can be thrown out on that basis. The name went from Healthalicious with a c, to Healthalitious (with a t), and, right after the suit was filed, back to Healthalicious (with a c)69. Grimm would urge clemency in the case of Thomas Kontogiannis, after he was convicted of helping to illegally funnel over a million dollars in donations to Randy “Duke” Cunningham. This was the fourth bribery conviction for Kontogiannis; the judge ignored the request and gave him eight years70. When Grimm ran for the Staten Island seat, the Republican burrough committee took the unusual step of giving their endorsement to another canddiate, from Brooklyn, because they felt Grimm’s answers about why he left the FBI and what he did afterwards were too vague71. After his election in 2010, Grimm would travel to Cyprus, his trip hosted and paid for by Peter Papanicolaou, head of a Brooklyn construction company and the president of the Cyprus Federation of America, who would be arrested on federal corruption charges for treating a city official to a free trip to Greece in order to win housing contrasts for his firm. Grimm would first omit the trip from Congressional financial disclosures, then amend the disclosures after Papanicolaou’s arrest72.
Grimm had a temper. In a story on an informant run by Grimm, Josef von Habsburg, “The Mark” and a separate follow-up, “Congressman Grimm and the Night Club”, Evan Ratliff would tell the story of Grimm going with a woman to the nightclub Carribean Tropics, where they ran into her estranged husband. The husband got into a fight with Grimm, until the two were separated by an off-duty NYPD police officer. Grimm would allegedly say to this officer that the husband “don’t know who he’s fucking with…I’ll fuckin’ make him disappear where nobody will find him.” Grimm, the husband, the woman left the club. Two hours later, Grimm and the husband showed up at the club again. Grimm had his gun out and, according to the same NYPD officer who was still at the club, was screaming “I’m gonna fuckin’ kill him.” The officer asked him, “Who are you?”, and Grimm allegedly answered, “I’m a fucking F.B.I. agent, ain’t nobody gonna threaten me.” Again, Grimm left the club. Two hours later, at 4 A.M., Grimm was back again, with an FBI agent and several NYPD officers. He alleged that the husband had assaulted him. Grimm refused to let anyone in the club leave. The NYPD officer who had been there the past two times, Gordon Williams, was still there. “Everybody get up against the fucking wall,” he heard Grimm say. Grimm was looking for the estranged husband, and the husband was of a specific race. According to Williams, Grimm then said the following: ““All the white people get out of here.” Two other witnesses, one a former NYPD officer, confirm Williams’ version of events73.
All this messy past would come out in 2012 when a major scandal involving Grimm would break. Congregants of Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto, a prominent and controversial rabbi, would allege that they had been coerced into giving tens of thousands of dollars to Grimm’s 2010 election campaign. The donations were well over campaign limits, with one donation of 5K given to Grimm right outside New York’s FBI offices, an envelope full of cash. Some of those who gave had to do so through intermediaries, as the donors were non-citizens without green cards. Allegedly, Grimm told the rabbi that he could make life tougher for his congregants, that he was a former FBI agent and that it would be good to have him as a friend. House Ethics Committee would begin an investigation into possible campaign finance violations by the 2010 Grimm campaign, but deferred the inquiry when the Justice Department began its own separate probe. The FBI would question at least four campaign operatives or volunteers in the Grimm campaign. This probe, at the time of this post, is on-going.74. Grimm’s connection to rabbi Pinto was Ofer Biton, an Israeli businessman who would end up being indicted for lying about the source of a business loan on his visa application. The rabbi’s congregants alleged that Biton extorted money from the rabbi by threatening to plant damaging stories in the press. Pinto was grateful that Biton had been finally arrested75. But the rabbi’s hands may have been dirty as well – Pinto’s religious organization, Mosdot Shuva Israel, spent hundreds of thousands in luxury travel and there were questions over its handling of millions in donations. A Pinto aide was investigated for money laundering and fraud at a charity. Pinto’s father-in-law alleged that he had been enlisted to conceal the ownership of luxury apartments76.
Whatever took place between Pinto, Biton, and his congregation, in October 2010, Pinto went to one of the people he counseled with the allegation that Grimm was strong arming his congregants. This person told the rabbi to go to the FBI with the allegation, and the rabbi did so. This person was Anthony Weiner. This information would only emerge long after Weiner had reisgned. Grimm’s lawyer would dismiss the allegation: “Mr. Weiner’s false allegations about Congressman Grimm are no more credible than his original claims of innocence in WeinerGate.”77 On September 24th, 2012, Grimm alleged that his campaign office had been broken into, and that hard drives had been cleared by installing Linux on the computers. The congressman would tell authorities that sensitive campaign data had been backed up only hours before. Grimm condemned the act as “an assault on democracy and the political process.” Police found no evidence of a break-in, and were investigating the event as an act of criminal mischief, not burglary. Two teenagers, one a juvenile, would be arrested for throwing cinder blocks at the windows of the campaign office, which they said they did without even knowing that it was a congressman’s office. Grimm would acknowledge that a campaign volunteer might have erased the campaign data accidentally. Grimm would offer the two teenagers the possibility of working on his campaign. He hoped to use the incident “as a teachable moment on the importance of serving our community.”78
(Photo of Michael Grimm copyright Mark Bonifacio/New York Daily News)
Again, the reason that Dan Wolfe states he did what he did, my tender bolds: “I hate everything he stands for” / “And he has a big mouth.”
There are two last notes to be said of this theory. The first is the detail which might undermine it entirely – the Nikki Reid twitter account was created in August, 2010, before Pinto went to Weiner. But the identity of a high school female has a variety of uses, and maybe this one was created without a specific project in mind. The second is that the character selected for the central villain is not from my own imagination, but taken from a conversation between former Anonymous spokesman Barrett Brown and a mysterious figure, Carlito2000. A number of names were part of this figure’s own theory of what took place – I have not included them as I think them entirely unnecessary, and believe, as said, that only one or two people were involved, in addition to the man giving orders. This central lead I think an excellent choice, and it is the one just presented. A last, supplemental note: it is a symptom of the everyday everyplace saturnalia we have now that a man whose only legacy is venality and grift should, this past weekend, bask in the worshipful kneeling of a swath of politicos as he gives lessons on our proper moral path, while Barrett Brown, a man of considerable color and light, a person of interest in the best possible sense, a man whose actions are worthy of a stern talking to and nothing more, be confined away. I hope for many things, and one of them is for Brown’s confinement to end soon79.
As said, this in-depth hypothesis is only casting. Jolie would have made for a great Nastassya Filippovna. Grimm makes a good fit for this part. But maybe those two men a decade ago were talking about Eva Green.
(This post, like most recent posts, ends abruptly because it is definitely unfinished. A concluding section, which will deal with, among other things, Jay-Z, the SWATting of Mike Stack, Breitbart’s disciples, and the afterlife of Anonymous, will be added in a few days. Some small edits have been made for clarity, and a few broken links were fixed on June 20th, 2013. Clarifying details on the investigations into finance violations by the 2010 Grimm campaign. On June 23rd, 2013, the details about the break-in at Grimm’s campaign headquarters and his Cyprus trip were added. On July 24th, some clarifying edits were made, an image link for Mike Stack’s police report was fixed, and the second page of this police report was added to the transcription in footnote 37. On July 26th, the front image, which I’ve always hated, was replaced by something I dislike a little less. On April 12, 2015, this post underwent a copy edit.)
PSYCHOSIS IN A POLITICAL MASK
1 The names are, obviously, noms de guerre. Seko recently revealed himself to be Jeb Lund. His website is “Et tu, Mr. Destructo?” Another notable credit of Lund is one of the most entertaining essays to appear in New Republic, or anywhere, for a good while: “Best Conservative Rap Songs: AEI’s Hilarious List”.
2 From “Taxi Driver’s Screenwriter Paul Schrader”, an interview by Richard Thompson. This interview segment might be understood only by those who’ve seen Taxi Driver, and contains a major spoiler about the ending of the film.
It’s quite an irony that he goes through the carnage and comes out an accidental hero.
Well, it’s not realistic. It pretends to be a realistic film, but it takes all kinds of license. The whole film takes place inside that man’s head; that’s why it’s not a realistic movie. I think the ending is thematically immaculate and poetically satisfying. The gimmick of the script is to create an untenable situation and see how close you can get to it. You get right to the point where you can’t kill the candidate – or you’d have an uninteresting movie. You get right to that point and build up the pressure, then break it away and twist everything around. He’s just about to do the act which will totally remove him from our sympathy. Thats when the realism of the script starts to fade; it moves into a poetic level.
The controversial nature of the film will stem, I think, from the fact that Travis cannot be tolerated. The film tries to make a hard distinction for many people to perceive: the difference between understanding someone and toelrating him. He is to be understood, but not tolerated. I believe in capital punishment: he should be killed.
3 That Breitbart may never have been a liberal is something that is given little or no mention in any of his profiles. No political activity or commitment is mentioned from his pre-college or college years. There is also this stray remark from his CPAC 2011 speech (3:54-4:00):
I’m a former liberal, sorta not really. Girls just like…saying I was liberal…when I was twenty years old, so I said I was.
4 That the game should be rigged in his favor, that something in his very family’s association demands that he be treated a certain way, that his evaluation should be apart from his actual performance, is there in this episode from Righteous Indignation, where he successfully pleads for a teacher to let him pass a final for which he has not studied, all for the sake of his family:
After I stared at question one for about fifteen minutes hoping that I would be inspired, waiting for the math muse, I realized that today was not going to be my day. I started to see my life passing before my eyes. I started to consider that years of recklessly skating by, expecting everything to work out had been exactly the wrong approach to derivatives.
It was a big moment for someone raised on, and among, the trusty happy endings of Hollywood. Apparently, I realized, sometimes it doesn’t work out. Sometimes you have to make it work out. Which means, maybe values do matter.
I took a deep breath, stood up, walked toward the teacher as the rest of the class scribbled away, and asked that he join me outside the classroom. I said: “Sir, I’m going to be frank with you here. I need to graduate. I have family and friends coming in from out of town tomorrow. We have reservations at Commander’s Palace. Failing this class is not going to serve either of our needs. Now, the way I look at it, I’m not going into a career in science or math. I think we can agree upon that. I’m not asking for your answer right now. I just wanted to put this into your head. Perhaps you could see my flawed humanity, and allow for me to move on with my life.” Even though english was not his first language, he got the message. I called the next day, and he gave me a passing grade in the class. A C-, I believe. In the end, I graduated at just above a 2.0.
Late at night I am watching Bobby De Niro in some mobster comedy on TV, and I feel sorry for him because these Mafia parts, at which he is so superb and which he could do for the next thirty years, will soon no longer exist. Al Pacino, too. Which is marvelous, because both are American treasures and should be remembered for great roles, not for playing cheap, unworthy punks. I much prefer De Niro or Pacino to Olivier in anything.
Now, watching this movie, I remember a hot summer afternoon when the producer of a movie they were making of The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight asked me to meet this young actor, Bobby De Niro, because he was replacing Al Pacino in a big role. Pacino was leaving our film to be in another movie, called The Godfather. De Niro was taking over his first big movie part.
We talked briefly in a bar, the old Johnny Joyce’s on Second Avenue. De Niro looked like he was homeless. It was on a Friday. On Sunday morning I saw him again. He was going to Italy to learn the speech nuances of people in towns mentioned in the script. He was going there on his own. He was earning $750 a week for the movie. When he left, I remember thinking, Do not stand between this guy and whatever he wants.
6 From “GOP Hitman Andrew Breitbart’s Confessional Memoir: I Wouldn’t Be a Foul, Raging Jerk If I Had Made It in Hollywood” by Alexander Zaitchik and Mark Howard, we learn that the language here was originally more violent:
At one point, Breitbart fantasizes about choking the life out of these mid-century refugee philosophers. “If I could go back in a time machine, I would go back to strangle these malcontents,” he writes.
Not read them. Strangle them.
Or at least that’s what it says in a review copy of Breitbart’s book provided to Media Matters. Someone apparently sanitized this line at the last moment, because in the final, published version, it now reads, “If I could go back in a time machine, I would go back to kick these malcontents in their shins.”
7 For whatever reason, almost no writer has attempted to identify this movie company. Though Breitbart’s movie experience is mentioned in Chris Beam’s “Andrew Breitbart: What makes the conservative pundit tick”, this movie company goes unnamed. It is relatively easy to track down by simply trying to find out who owned the rights to Valley Girl and who was trying to make a sequel to the movie at the time Breitbart says he worked in the entertainment industry. Here is an article announcing the failed start of a Valley Girl remake attempt at the Motion Picture Corporation of America studio after Breitbart had left: “News Real `Valley Girl’ Sequel? Like, Totally Cool!” (the article is behind a paywall). MGM Studios would buy MPCA, and the rights to Valley Girl as part of a larger deal which involved them buying a group of smaller studios, “Metromedia to Sell Film Units To MGM for $573 Million” (no article author listed), which is why MGM is now a partner in the Valley Girl musical remake which will soon be gifted to the world: “Paramount-MGM ‘Valley Girl’ Musical Redo To Be Helmed By Clay Weiner. Who?” by Mike Fleming Jr.
8 That a talent agency like Michael Ovitz’s famous Creative Artists Agency (CAA) deals with ordinary, below the title talent as well as names known to everyone is something little known or unknown to those outside the entertainment industry, who only hear of such agencies in connection with the biggest names and biggest projects.
From “Inside the Agency : How Hollywood works: Creative Artists Agency and the men who run it” by Michael Cieply:
While much of the agency’s business is routine–a fair number of its 600 clients will simply want work, somewhere, at any given moment–the projects that truly consume CAA are such high-horsepower films and TV shows that link at least two clients.
9 From “Andrew Breitbart: What makes the conservative pundit tick” by Chris Beam:
He’d always wanted to write comedy (dream job: writing jokes for Chris Elliott), so he went to work for a production company. It didn’t go well. Part of it was the material. One supposedly big break for him was an offer to develop Valley Girl 2. “I remember being like, ‘Wait, is this not the worst fucking idea you’ve ever heard of?’ ” The other part was the crowd. “The people who come to L.A. saw Beverly Hills, 90210 or a variation on that theme, and so that’s how they act there. Or they see Entourage. So you have bad actors coming to Hollywood bad-acting the part of what they think Hollywood is like. So you have really insecure people in a non-meritocracy where it’s all about your
relationships, who are vicious backstabbers, who don’t think you should be dating somebody. It’s like an orgy of people climbing over each other to stick it into the next orifice.”
10 A sample episode:
This is a town whose citizens pray for, make possible, and derive real pleasure from the failures of their own kind.
12 From Chris Beam’s “Andrew Breitbart: What makes the conservative pundit tick”:
Along the way, Breitbart eased into a new role as curator, connector, and booster of the right. Especially in Hollywood. He became a regular at the monthly gathering of L.A. writers and pundits at the Japanese restaurant Yamashiro. He befriended Ann Coulter. He would later introduce Steven Soderbergh’s agent-turned-right-wing-documentarian Pat Dollard to financial backers for his film about Iraq. “I’m the Simon Cowell of the conservative movement,” Breitbart said. “You’ve got talent, you don’t.”
At the exact moment in my life when I was recognizing the strength of my antileftism, my anticommunism… at the exact point when I was seeing that my emotions and theories were unintentionally driving me toward an accidental “culture-warrior” status… at the exact juncture when I was realizing that the most brutal, evil force I could imagine wasn’t Al Qaeda or radical Islam (at least you know where they’re coming from, the brutality of their mission and their anti-Western, anticlassical, liberal hatred), but the Complex surrounding me 24/7 in the form of attractive people making millions of dollars whose moral relativism and historical revisionism and collective cultural nihilism were putting them in the same boat as the martyrs of radical Islam rather than red-state Americans… at the exact time when I was undergoing the fundamental recognition that my neighbors in West Los Angeles were acting to undermine national cohesion in a time of war, which put me in a perennial state of psychic dissonance…
From “Rage Machine” by Rebecca Mead:
Breitbart is tall and burly, with eyes the color of Windex, silver hair that he sometimes forgets is no longer blond, and jowls that he wobbles for emphasis when he wishes to express outrage. He is fond of saying that he has two modes of discourse: righteous indignation and puerile jocularity. “I like to call someone a raving cunt every now and then, when it’s appropriate, for effect,” he informed me. “ ‘You cocksucker.’ I love that kind of language.” Constitutionally adversarial, he enjoys imagining himself paired with an equally combative leftist opponent, such as Sean Penn. “Sort of like ‘Barfly,’ with Mickey Rourke—that’s how I envision it being with me and him,” he says. “I’d hate him, I’d fight him. He’d fight me, he’d get in some punches, I’d get in some punches. We’d drink some more. At the end of the day, we’d agree to disagree. And then I’d punch him again.”
13 This point was explicitly made in “Pop Cultural Conservatism, Year One A.B. (After Breitbart)” by Thaddeus G. McCotter:
What Punk did for Rock-n-Roll, Andrew’s reinvigorating creativity did for conservatism’s forsaken generation of “Rock-n-Roll Republicans” who came of age during the Reagan years. Rejecting disco’s soulless, strobe-streaked smoke and mirrors, Punk had rekindled the smoldering embers of Rock-n-Roll’s rebellious fire in the belly (and lower). Per usual, the genre’s achievement was only fully appreciated after its demise, when Punk Rock was superseded by, yes, the lame ass, techno-’80’s hair bands Andrew loved.
McCotter is a former Michigan congressional representative who became best known for the fact that his staff used forged signatures so that he would be eligible for 2008, 2010, and 2012. The discovery of these forged signatures led to McCotter’s resignation in that latter year.
From “More fake petitions for Thaddeus McCotter discovered” by Kathleen Gray and Joe Swickard:
The staff of former U.S. Rep. Thaddeus McCotter evidently had some practice dummying up petitions in order to get their boss on the ballot.
A review of the nominating petitions turned in for McCotter’s elections from 2002 through 2012 shows he did not have enough signatures to qualify to run in at least the 2008, 2010 and 2012 elections. The skullduggery wasn’t detected until this year, when a part-time staffer for the Secretary of State found that of the more than 1,800 signatures turned in by the McCotter campaign for 2012, only 244 were valid.
“I started with 2010 and immediately thought, ‘This is unbelievable,’ ” said Jim Daggy, data archivist for the consulting firm. “It was like a giant 100-foot sore thumb sticking out. My God, what were these people thinking?”
The 2002 and 2004 petitions were relatively clean with few duplicates, but in 2008, at least 67 of the 177 petition pages submitted were either copies or had been doctored by cutting and pasting dates from other documents onto the petitions.
“It seems like at every election cycle, they expanded on what they had done and used some new tricks,” Daggy said. “They just got more and more emboldened.”
In 2010, at least 73 of the 167 pages turned in were duplicates, which would have invalided more than 1,000 of the signatures. In 2012, both the cut-and-paste and duplicate tricks were used.
Daggy said the doctoring is stunning.
“You see little rinky-dink stuff that you can pass off, but this is just — you have to wonder what was going on in their heads, that they didn’t think they were going to get caught,” he said.
Four of McCotter’s staff members — Don Yowchuang, Paul Seewald, Mary M. Turnbull and Lorianne O’Brady — have been charged with a combined 13 felonies and 21 misdemeanors related to the fraudulent petitions. O’Brady, who was arraigned Wednesday on five misdemeanor counts of falsely signing a nominating petition, is the only one not facing felonies.
Both of these informative links, McCotter’s essay and the piece on vote fraud, are courtesy of the Wonkette story, “Genius Cultural Observer Thaddeus McCotter Believes Breitbart and Co. Exude The Punk Rock Aesthetic, Is Wrong” by “Stefan BC”.
14 A strange omission in this lament for british music of the early eighties is the utter lack of mention of the best band from that genre at that time, The Clash. This should not imply that their music cannot be listened to while ignoring their politics and that this was done enthusiastically, when bomber pilots blasted “Rock the Casbah” while dropping ordinance during both Iraq wars, to the utter revulsion of the band.
In 1992, Breitbart voted for Ross Perot. Thereafter, he has voted Republican.
16 To Breitbart, it must have seemed as the universe was laughing at him, since the very year he left Hollywood and the MPCA, the little studio probably had the best year of its existence, the start of the company releasing movies people might actually have heard of. From their filmography on IMDB, in 1994 they would make Threesome and the mega-hit Dumb & Dumber. Afterwards, they would go on to make the classic Kingpin, Beverly Hills Ninja, a movie so unfunny Breitbart might have written it, Kevin Spacey’s directorial debut Albino Alligator, and Walter Hill’s under-rated Undisputed.
A brief excerpt:
On the morning of March 1, without warning, a force of armed Secret Service agents – accompanied by Austin police and at least one civilian “expert” from the phone company – occupied the offices of Steve Jackson Games and began to search for computer equipment. The home of Loyd Blankenship, the writer of GURPS Cyberpunk, was also raided. A large amount of equipment was seized, including four computers, two laser printers, some loose hard disks and a great deal of assorted hardware. One of the computers was the one running the Illuminati BBS.
The only computers taken were those with GURPS Cyberpunk files; other systems were left in place. In their diligent search for evidence, the agents also cut off locks, forced open footlockers, tore up dozens of boxes in the warehouse, and bent two of the office letter openers attempting to pick the lock on a file cabinet.
The next day, accompanied by an attorney, Steve Jackson visited the Austin offices of the Secret Service. He had been promised that he could make copies of the company’s files. As it turned out, he was only allowed to copy a few files, and only from one system. Still missing were all the current text files and hard copy for this book, as well as the files for the Illuminati BBS with their extensive playtest comments.
In the course of that visit, it became clear that the investigating agents considered GURPS Cyberpunk to be “a handbook for computer crime.” They seemed to make no distinction between a discussion of futuristic credit fraud, using equipment that doesn’t exist, and modern real-life credit card abuse. A repeated comment by the agents was “This is real.”
Over the next few weeks, the Secret Service repeatedly assured the SJ Games attorney that complete copies of the files would be returned “tomorrow.” But these promises weren’t kept; the book was reconstructed from old backups, playtest copies, notes and memories.
On March 26, almost four weeks after the raid, some (but not all) of the files were returned. It was June 21, nearly four months later, when most (but not all) of the hardware was returned. The Secret Service kept one company hard disk, all Loyd’s personal equipment and files, the printouts of GURPS Cyberpunk, and several other things.
The raid, and especially the confiscation of the game manuscript, caused a catastrophic interruption of the company’s business. SJ Games very nearly closed its doors. It survived only by laying off half its employees, and it was years before it could be said to have “recovered.”
18 From Chris Beam’s “Andrew Breitbart: What makes the conservative pundit tick”:
In 1995, Breitbart started reading Matt Drudge’s e-mail newsletter, then called, simply, Report. It wasn’t a Web site yet—just a mix of Hollywood gossip, Clinton Whitewater news, and extreme weather. Breitbart was impressed enough to send Drudge a note. Drudge lived in Hollywood at the time, and they arranged a meeting. Breitbart soon started working for Drudge. He doesn’t like to talk about that period, citing Drudge’s desire for privacy. “He’s a mysterious dude. And I grant him that mystery.”
What we do know is that the Drudge Report was not a cash cow—at least not at first. (Drudge started running ads in 1999.) So while Breitbart had found his dream job, it wasn’t feeding him. Breitbart eventually became known as Drudge’s second-in-command—or, as he put it, “Drudge’s bitch.” Drudge would aggregate and post headlines in the morning; Breitbart would take the afternoon shift.
It was Drudge who introduced Breitbart to Arianna Huffington, then a conservative syndicated columnist, who hired Breitbart as her research assistant. “Arianna was my Mr. Miyagi,” Breitbart said. “She turned me from a slacker into a hyperproductive person.” Breitbart originally thought he’d be doing Web design for her. But it quickly became clear he would be her researcher—sometimes up to 16 hours a day. “I was like, what did I sign up for?”
From “Watching Matt Drudge” by Philip Weiss:
Who is the man behind the Website? The more power Drudge has attained, the more reclusive he has become. Drudge seems to despise his own fame with a Kurt Cobain–like intensity. On radio he speaks of himself as a nobody and has referred to his fans as “psychic vampires.” He has utterly compartmentalized his life, separating the personal and the public. Acquaintances describe very brief, formal encounters, and even friends of Drudge’s, if there is such a category, generally communicate with him by IM. He’s said by some to be gay, but he has thrown water on these speculations.
Those who know him guard his privacy. Andrew Breitbart, a conservative writer living in Brentwood, California, who Drudge says is his only employee—“Andrew does the afternoon shift”—e-mailed me that “I haven’t talked to him in over a year,” then declined to talk.
Breitbart, who was an early user of Prodigy and CompuServe, recalls, “I said to him, ‘Yeah, I’m on the Internet.’ And he said, ‘No, that’s not the Internet. You can create your own path. You can create your own environment.’ It was almost like a dare.” Soon afterward, Breitbart went out and bought a six-pack of Pilsner and a rotisserie chicken. “I said to myself, ‘O.K., you are going on a date tonight, and you are not going to bed until you have gone all the way.’ And I remember hooking up to the World Wide Web that night, and it was a revelation. It was just like shooting yourself into outer space, and trying to latch onto anyone else who was out there. I remember finding weather sites and earthquake sites, and being able to monitor earthquakes in real time, and that was weirdly invigorating.”
He checked the latest news, through Breitbart.com. “One of the first revelations I had where I was, like, ‘I think I’ve figured it all out,’ was realizing that the Associated Press was driving the news cycle—whether you are watching Fox News or CNN or MSNBC,” he said. “I had been watching the news wires like Rain Man, like a savant. The first five years I did it, it was embarrassing. It was like a private problem that I wouldn’t really want to share. But then when ‘news aggregation’ and ‘new media’ started to become buzzwords, and people who knew something about it started to seem important, some of the shame went away.” He clicked on another link. “There is just something about knowing information when it happens,” he said. “There is something about telling somebody, ‘Did you know that Michael Jackson just died?’ It’s just weirdly powerful. It’s fun.”
Mike Silver, a businessman who is Breitbart’s neighbor, remembers being at Breitbart’s house for the 2004 Super Bowl, when Janet Jackson had what her co-performer, Justin Timberlake, characterized as a “wardrobe malfunction.” Silver recalls, “He immediately grabs his laptop—he has all these disciples who send him things—and the phone starts ringing off the hook. He wrote the story, calling what Jackson was wearing a ‘solar nipple medallion,’ and then for the next couple of hours you could see that phrase popping up on all the broadcasts. I couldn’t believe how quickly they could influence the Zeitgeist of the world.”
Photos from the Vanity Fair 2013 Oscar party can be found in the least obvious place.
20 This inconvenient, unguard moment was barely mentioned by the press when it took place and entirely omitted from any epitaph, which is unfortunate, because it is revelatory, cutting to the quick the man’s cruelty and belligerence.
BRING THEM ON. I must say, in my non-strategic…because I’m under attack all the time, you see it on Twitter, they’re intolerant and call me gay…they’re vicious, there are death threats and everything…and so, there are times where I’m not thinking as clearly as I should…and in those unclear moments I always think to myself: fire the first shot. Bring it on. Because I know who’s on our side. And they know that. They can only win a rhetorical or propaganda war, they cannot win. We outnumber them in this country, and we have the guns. (crowd laughter) I’m not kidding. (crowd laughter) They talk a mean game, but they will not cross that line. Because they know what they’re dealing with. And I have people who come up to me in the military (makes a gesture that the person has military stripes), major names in the military, who grab me and go “thank you for what you’re doing”, and we’ve got your back. So…(very loud crowd laughter) They understand that. These are the unspoken things. We know. They know. They know who’s on their side. They’ve got Janeane Garofolo. We are freaked out by that. (laughter) When push comes to shove, they know who’s on our side. They are the bullies on the playground. And they’re starting to realize, what if we were to fight back? What if we were to slap back? You know, these union thugs, these SEIU union thugs…I’m just waiting. Bring it on. I’m sick of it. I am sick of this Trumka guy [Richard Trumka, head of the AFL-CIO], I am sick of this John Sweeney [former head of the AFL-CIO], I am sick of the SEIU. I’m sick of them going to people’s homes. Executives’ homes and showing up, and the media not…you don’t think they have a problem with that? KATIE COURIC. What if we went to Katie Couric’s house? What if the Tea Party showed up at Katie Couric’s house? And scared the living crap out of her teenage kids? And that’s what they do, because they know the mainstream media won’t cover it. And so…just a part of me that wants them to walk over that line.
21 From Indignation:
Your opponents will pretend to be experts if you don’t, but that’s okay, because you can always puncture their balloon with one word: why?
Asking them to provide evidence for their assertions is always fun, and it’s even more fun asking them to provide the source for that evidence. Attacking the fundamental basis of their arguments is fun too. If they tell you health care is a right, for example, ask why. Liberals don’t have a why, other than their own utopianism, and their dyspeptic view of the status quo and America. Reason is not their strong suit. Emotion is. Force them to play on the football field of reason.
22 From Chris Beam’s “Andrew Breitbart: What makes the conservative pundit tick”:
“It was basically my idea,” Breitbart recalled. (Though the name, he said, came from his wife. Arianna initially wanted to call it the Huffington Report). “I was basically the architect and they were the implementers.”
A Huffington Post spokesman disputed Breitbart’s account: “It’s odd that five years after HuffPost launched, Andrew Breitbart is now claiming he ‘created the Huffington Post.’ Whatever. Success has many fathers, right? Arianna Huffington and Ken Lerer created the Huffington Post. Andrew helped get it up and running, as did Jonah Peretti and Roy Sekoff. It was a team effort. But Andrew didn’t come up with the idea.”
From by “How Andrew Breitbart Hacks the Media” by Noah Shachtman:
Shortly after Hollywood, Interrupted came out, Huffington — by then a left-wing pundit — invited Breitbart to help her and Democratic fund-raiser Ken Lerer assemble what would become liberal Hollywood’s favorite Web site, the Huffington Post. It was political apostasy, of course. But the paycheck was substantial for Breitbart, then a father of three. Also, he says, building something from scratch was a chance “to show that I was a presence and a player.” Breitbart liked the idea of a new forum for ideological combat, separate from the traditional media’s slanted playing field. “He was extremely interested in how to have a conversation online — how to bring together all these interesting voices,” Huffington says. “Now it’s, like, so obvious. But at the time, it had never been done.”
The Huffington Post was consciously designed as the Left’s answer to (and upgrade of) the Drudge Report. But instead of aggregating news and opinion, the HuffPo would host it. Newswires would appear right on the site; bloggers could battle it out in a giant group forum. The site launched in May 2005.
By June, Breitbart was out. Today, five years later, even his role in building the site is a matter of dispute. “I created the Huffington Post,” he says simply. “I drafted the plan. They followed the plan.” Huffington disagrees, saying that while he helped with strategy, the idea for the site was cooked up at a meeting in her living room after the 2004 elections. Breitbart, she says, “wasn’t present.”
From “Huffing and Puffing” by William D. Cohan, about a lawsuit by Peter Daou and James Boyce, where they make their own claim of authorship of the site:
[Peter] Daou, the former Internet director for Hillary Clinton for President, whom The New York Times once described as “one of the most prominent political bloggers in the nation,” says the dénouement came for him when he picked up a March 2010 Wired magazine profile of Andrew Breitbart, the conservative blogger and agent provocateur, in which Breitbart brashly claimed that he had created the Huffington Post. “I drafted the plan,” Breitbart said definitively. “They followed the plan.” When Wired asked Huffington to respond to Breitbart’s statement, she could barely contain herself. Although admitting that he helped with the strategy, Huffington said that Breitbart “wasn’t present” at the seminal December 3, 2004, meeting at her Brentwood mansion, where the idea for the Huffington Post was hatched—and therefore could not possibly have been the originator.
For his part, Breitbart said the fighting among the four protagonists amuses him, especially since Huffington fired him after six months. Although he had not read the complaint, he said with barely repressed glee, he stands by what he said in Wired—that he was the creator—as “100 percent truthful,” and he looks forward to “being deposed on this matter. I will set the record straight. There’s a long history that could be found in documentation and e-mails in Arianna Huffington’s possession that will be very helpful and illuminating.” He added that “there is nobody who likes a courtroom drama more than me” and “all I know is what I did and what my role was. I am finding this all to be bizarrely poetic.”
23 From Chris Beam’s “Andrew Breitbart: What makes the conservative pundit tick”:
Breitbart said he knew that working at a liberal site would produce conflict-within himself, as much as with others. But the opportunity to do something new and influential was too tempting. “I didn’t want to exist in Drudge’s shadow in perpetuity,” he said. “And by helping Arianna create the Huffington Post and making it a success, I felt it would allow for people to say, ‘Oh, this guy kind of understands this milieu.’ ” The Huffington Post, meanwhile, could brag that it had stolen the secret sauce from Drudge.
Once the site launched, Breitbart lasted three weeks. “Editorial differences to the nth degree” is how he characterizes the breakup. Breitbart was nominally in charge of aggregation. But he had thought that while the opinion blogs would be mostly liberal, he could bring in some conservative voices. This turned out not to be the case. He was also asked to take a larger role in the site’s day-to-day operations than he had expected.
Political tensions sometimes blended with personal ones. Lerer in particular chafed at Breitbart’s style. He didn’t like the headlines Breitbart wrote. The time difference between New York and Los Angeles also created conflict. Some days, 11 a.m. would roll around and the headline would be from the night before, to Lerer’s dismay. “I think that the conflict was that Ken and I liked each other,” Breitbart said. “I thought that I could convert Ken, and Ken thought he could convert me. And when both of us realized that wasn’t going to happen, it was like, ‘Oh, OK.’ ” As for Huffington: “Trust me, we’ve got one of the great awkward air-kiss relationships going.”
From “Rage Machine” by Rebecca Mead:
Through Drudge, Breitbart had met Arianna Huffington, then a conservative commentator. In 2005, Huffington, now a liberal, was preparing the launch of the Huffington Post, and Breitbart joined the enterprise. He worked for several months on the start-up, but lasted less than a month after it went live. “She was the closest thing I ever had to a collaborator who was working on the same energy levels and with the same kind of skill set,” Breitbart says. “It is very frustrating to me now that we find ourselves pitted against each other on an ideological front.” Huffington was, in some sense, a model for Breitbart. “I knew that I wanted to get into what I had helped create for Arianna, but I wanted to do it from a different perspective,” he says. “It was, like, Wow, if she can do that, why can’t I? Well, because I am not world famous, and I don’t have a salon at my house. So I was, like, Well, why don’t I create one?”
24 This is the essay, “Where Have You Gone Woodward & Bernstein?” by Rob Reiner. I find no basis for Breitbart’s assertion that the essay’s theme is that “journalists are right-wing”; it’s theme is entirely that the press is too passive, that the investigative arm which existed in the time of Watergate is now extinct. I give a small fragment which embodies the theme, but I think any reader will find confirmation in the essay itself.
The truth is, when Americans are treated with respect and receive accurate information, they make wonderfully wise decisions. The system breaks down, however, when the press fails to provide such information, as they do today. The so-called fourth estate is now little more than the public relations arm of a government propaganda machine in which all three branches are controlled by the same political party. Who is watching the store?
In some ways, the mass media are all of our surrogates for the truth – they are our eyes and ears. In days gone by, they were just that. To take but one example, the Washington Post famously risked their entire existence when they pursued a story about a suspicious break-in long after everyone else believed the story was dead. Would they make the same tough decisions today? Would any media outlet? Certainly not if there was a government-issued Video News Release handy.
25 From “Farewell to a Friend: Andrew Breitbart (1969-2012)” by Matt Welch:
It was always funny to many of his friends that Andrew Breitbart, after he became famous, was probably most famous for being a 100 percent polarizing political lightning rod. The reason that was funny was two-fold: He didn’t actually have strong philosophical/policy beliefs – at all – and he was always perfectly comfortable and perfectly welcome in ideologically and culturally diverse settings.
26 Breitbart describes the situation as such in Indignation, and gives no other space to the context of Alinsky’s fight:
In 1964, he moved to Rochester New York in the aftermath of race riots and targeted Eastman Kodak, the largest company in town, by far. He quickly implemented rules thirteen (target, freeze, personalize, and polarize), and five (mockery is the best strategy). The media interviewed him when he stepped off the plane at Rochester, asking him what he thought of the town. “It is a huge Southern plantation transplanted North,” Alinsky said. This got him the reaction he was looking for from the opposition, which gave him more targets to attack.
W. Allen Wallace, president of the University of Rochester and director of Eastman Kodak, went after Alinsky. Alinsky responded by comparing Wallace to George Wallace of Alabama. Did it matter if the charge was true? Of course not. But it was effective.
I give lengthy excerpt to Saul Alinsky introducing his attempts at reform in Rules for Radicals:
In 1939, when I first began to organize back of the old Chicago stockyards, on the site of Upton Sinclair’s Jungle, I acted in such a way that within a few weeks the meatpackers publicly pronounced me a “subversive menace.” The Chicago Tribune‘s adoption of me as a public enemy of law and order, “a radical’s radical,” gave me a perennial and constantly renewable baptismal certificate in the city of Chicago. A generation later, in a black community on Chicago’s South Side, next to my alma mater, the University of Chicago, it was the university’s virulent personal attack on me, augmented by attacks by the press, that strengthened my credentials with a black community somewhat suspicious of white skin. Eastman Kodak and the Gannett newspaper chain did the same for me in Rochester, New York. In both black ghettos, in Chicago and in Rochester, the reaction was: “The way the fat-cat white newspapers are ripping hell out of Alinsky-he must be all right!” I could very easily have gone into either Houston, Texas or Oakland, California; in the former, the Ku Klux Klan appeared at the airport in full regalia, with threats against my personal security. The Houston press printed charges against me by the Mayor of Houston, and there was a mass picket line by the John Birch Society. In Oakland, the City Council, fearing the possibility of my coming into Oakland, passed a widely publicized special resolution declaring me unwelcome in the city. In both cases, the black communities were treated to the spectacle of seeing the establishment react with unusually severe fear and hysteria.
In 1964 Rochester exploded in a bloody race riot resulting in the calling of the National Guard, the fatal crash of a police helicopter, and considerable loss of life and property. In its wake, the city was numb with shock. A city proud of its affluence, culture, and progressive churches, was dazed and guilt-ridden at its rude discovery of the misery of life in the ghetto and of its failure to do anything about it. The City Council of Churches, representing the Protestant churches, approached me and asked me if I would be available to help organize the black ghetto to get equality, jobs, housing, quality education, and particularly power to participate in the decision-making in all public programs involving their people. They also demanded that the representatives of the black community be those chosen by the blacks and not those selected by the white establishment. I advised the church council of the cost and said that my organization was available. The council agreed to the cost and “invited” us to come in and organize. I replied, then, that the churches had a right to invite us in to organize their people in their neighborhoods, but that they had no right to speak for, let alone invite anyone into, the black community. I emphasized that we were not a colonial power like the churches who sent their missionaries everywhere whether they were invited or not. The black community had been silent-but at that point panic gripped the white establishment. The Rochester press, in front page stories and editorials, raised the cry that if I came to Rochester it would mean the end of good fellowship, of Brotherhood Week, of Christian understanding between black and white! It meant that I would say to the blacks, “The only way you can get your legitimate rights is to organize, get the power and tell the white establishment ‘either come around or else!'” The blacks read and heard and agreed. Between the press and the mass media you would have assumed that my coming to Rochester was equivalent to the city’s being invaded by the Russians, the Chinese, and the bubonic plague. Rochesterians will never forget it, and one had to be there to believe it. And so we were invited in by nearly every church and organization in the ghetto and by petitions signed by thousands of ghetto residents. Now we had a legitimate right to be there, even more of a right than any of the inviting organizations in the ghetto, for even they had not been invited in by the mass of their community.
The scene is Rochester, New York, the home of Eastman Kodak-or rather Eastman Kodak, the home of Rochester, New York. Rochester is literally dominated by this industrial giant. For anyone to fight or publicly challenge Kodak is in itself completely outside of Rochester’s experience. Even to this day this company does not have a labor union. Its attitudes toward the general public make paternalistic feudalism look like participatory democracy.
Rochester prides itself on being one of America’s cultural crown jewels; it has its libraries, school system, university, museums, and its well-known symphony. As previously mentioned we were coming in on the invitation of the black ghetto to organize them (they literally organized to invite us in). The city was in a state of hysteria and fear at the very mention of my name. Whatever I did was news. Even my old friend and tutor, John L. Lewis, called me and affectionately growled, “I resent the fact that you are more hated in Rochester than I was.” This was the setting.
One of the first times I arrived at the airport I was surrounded by reporters from the media. The first question was what I thought about Rochester as a city and I replied, “It is a huge southern plantation transplanted north.” To the question why was I “meddling” in the black ghetto after “everything” that Eastman Kodak had done for the blacks (there had been a bloody riot, National Guard, etc., the previous summer), I looked blank and replied, “Maybe I am innocent and uninformed of what has been happening here, but as far as I know the only thing Eastman Kodak has done on the race issue in America has been to introduce color film.” The reaction was shock, anger, and resentment from Kodak. They were not being attacked or insulted-they were being laughed at, and this was insufferable. It was the first dart tossed at the big bull. Soon Eastman would become so angry that it would make the kind of charges that finally led to its own downfall.
The next question was about my response to a bitter personal denunciation of me from W. Allen Wallis, the president of the University of Rochester and a present director of Eastman Kodak. He had been the head of the Department of Business Administration, formerly, at the University of Chicago. He was at the university when it was locked in bitter warfare with the black organization in Woodlawn. “Wallis?” I replied. “Which one are you talking about-Wallace of Alabama, or Wallis of Rochester-but I guess there isn’t any difference, so what was your question?” This reply (1) introduced an element of ridicule and (2) it ended any further attacks from the president of the University of Rochester, who began to suspect that he was going to be shafted with razors, and that an encounter with me or with my associates was not going to be an academic dialogue.
Ultimately, Alinsky achieved his most effective results through a revolt of shareholders of Eastman Kodak. This tactic goes unmentioned by Breitbart, and there is nothing in Indignation to imply a reason for the absense, but one can imagine why. These actions for a specific political end, of specific social benefit to the community. Not a single tactic that Breitbart undertook can be said to have achieved anything like the equivalent purpose. There was nothing ostentatious about the tactic, nothing that involved publicity, because Breitbart’s tactics almost always involved the end goal of himself or an associate such as James O’Keefe, appearing on TV.
27 The speech excerpt is from 13:50 to the end:
28 From “Breitbart.com has Drudge to thank for its success” by Greg Sandoval:
Few people other than online-news junkies may recognize the name Andrew Breitbart.
But even they may be surprised to learn that the 36-year-old author and conservative commentator is the proprietor of one of the Web’s fastest-growing publications, thanks in large part to his former boss and mentor–Matt Drudge.
Drudge, the Internet news icon, has been shipping large numbers of readers to Breitbart.com, a site that provides little else outside of newswire copy. Since 1998 when Drudge shook the world with his Web-based reports on former President Bill Clinton’s affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky, his site has attracted an enormous following. Drudgereport.com, which sees more than 3 million unique visitors a month, according to Web-tracking company Nielsen/NetRatings, is a news hub that combines original stories with links to headlines from major news outlets, including the Washington Post, the New York Times and CNN.
Drudge has shown little preference for any of the sites he links to. Until now.
Almost overnight, Breitbart.com went from obscurity to a site that boasted 2.64 million unique visitors in its first month of operation and 2.737 million in October, according to Nielsen/NetRatings. Breitbart.com slightly outpaced older and more established news sites, such as TheStreet.com (2.736 million) and Slate (2.726 million). The flood of traffic could mean big bucks for Breitbart if he attracts advertisers, which he says he has begun to do.
There’s nothing wrong with Drudge favoring one news outlet over another. And there isn’t any law that prevents Drudge from sharing traffic with whomever he wants, he said, adding that he holds no financial stake in Breitbart.com nor does he receive any compensation from its founder. “In the 11 years since I started doing this, I have never owned a share of any company that I’ve linked to,” Drudge said.
But Drudge is the newshound who earned a reputation in Washington, D.C., for exposing insider deals and conflicts of interest. For that reason, Drudge’s relationship with Breitbart (pronounced Bright-bart) has raised a few eyebrows. Said one executive at a major media company, who requested anonymity to preserve his relationship with the Internet newsman: “We’ve noticed it and we were curious.”
Drudge readily acknowledges that he’s sending traffic to Breitbart partly because of their friendship.
“I want to help him out,” Drudge said in a phone interview with CNET News.com about his former employee. “He has always wanted to do this. This is his idea and hopefully he can make a living from it.”
Brauchli started in September 2008 and wasn’t in the job a year before Politico broke the story that Weymouth and Brauchli were selling access to politicians, policymakers, and Washington Post journalists in the form of $25,000-to-$250,000 sponsorships of off-the-record “salons” to be held at Weymouth’s house. The episode, dubbed “Salongate,” branded the pair as enemies of the Post’s journalistic standards. Brauchli’s handling of Salongate—saying that he hadn’t been aware of the details even though he had been included in much of the planning and had agreed to lead the salon discussions himself—left many feeling he had been less than candid. “We clearly made mistakes, and the nuances didn’t reflect well on us,” Brauchli told me. “But at the time and subsequently, I met with anybody in the newsroom who wanted to meet, in small groups or large, and explained honestly, fully, and in detail what happened.” The relationship with the newsroom wasn’t helped when, in 2009, Brauchli announced that the Post was closing its remaining domestic bureaus, in Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles. (The New York Times has 14 bureaus nationwide.)
There have been a string of high-profile departures from the Post in recent years, not to mention five rounds of buyouts. Anthony Shadid, who won two Pulitzers for his reporting from Iraq, left for the Times in 2009. (Shadid died suddenly in Syria in February.) Other Post reporters, including Peter Baker, Mark Leibovich, Peter S. Goodman, Michael Barbaro, Jo Becker, Serge Kovaleski, and David Segal, have also decamped to the Times. John Harris, the editor in chief of Politico, talks openly about reporters and editors who have left the Post, not through buyouts but simply for other outlets. In addition to those already mentioned, the list includes David Von Drehle, Dafna Linzer, Michael Grunwald, Barton Gellman, and Harris’s Politico colleagues Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen. Brauchli is mindful of the departures, though he assured me that “if you look at the ledger we have gained as much as we have lost.” Not really. Brauchli has hired 100 new people since he joined the paper, but overall, the newsroom has shrunk in size by more than 100. In early February, when announcing a fifth round of buyouts, Brauchli wrote, “We will continue making tactical hires so that even as we get smaller, we get stronger.” The scale and quality of the brain drain has been astonishing. And the departures are not just the stuff of inside baseball—ordinary readers notice. The newspaper’s vaunted Style section once published long-form features that national magazines looked upon with envy. Today it is a pale shadow of its former self. Brauchli and Weymouth both recognize that the attention people pay to the Post has declined dramatically.
It’s easy to forget that the ideals Gordon championed are now taken for granted by a younger generation, a fact driven home when Gordon mentions Lena Dunham’s Girls. Despite being a fan of the hit show (“I love that all of the sex scenes are awkward and kind of a failure”), she’s troubled by what she calls a “misleading” scene in which Marnie sleeps with Hannah’s gay roommate. At one point Marnie says no, but they proceed to have sex, and her objection becomes part of their sex-ual play. “It’s a mixed message about what no means,” Gordon points out. It’s part of an “ironic Williamsburg hipster” pose, she goes on, that considers political correctness kind of square. “If you’re going to do that [in Girls], you also have to—in some other instance—show that it’s not cool.” For a show that’s been written about nearly to death, it’s an observation that seems both totally obvious and underdiscussed.
Mr. Breitbart, who used to help Matt Drudge run The Drudge Report and worked for Arianna Huffington, remains a hero among many conservatives even while many liberals and members of the mainstream news media hold their noses at the mere mention of his name.
He said he had never met Ms. Broussard or the friend who had suggested she reach out to Mr. Breitbart and Mr. Drudge. Mr. Drudge did not respond to requests for comment, and ran only links to other articles about Mr. Weiner.
“I’ve only talked to both of them on the phone a few times,” Mr. Breitbart said, adding that the first time he heard from them was around May 20.
A week later, a member of an online group calling itself #bornfreecrew discovered a lewd photo that Mr. Weiner had sent to a Twitter follower in Washington. This member, identifying himself as @PatriotUSA76 on Twitter under a false name, Dan Wolfe, shared the post on Twitter with his followers, adding his comments: “Anthony Weiner tweets X RATED PIC TO FOLLOWER! RT RT RT.”
On Twitter, where RT means re-tweet, he also alerted Dana Loesch, a blogger for Mr. Breitbart, saying “Anthony Weiner just tweeted an X Rated pic to a follower.” He later shared screen shots of the photo and the post with Mr. Breitbart. By the next morning, Mr. Breitbart had published an account of the events on his blog, titled “Congressman Claims ‘Facebook Hacked’ as Lewd Photo Hits Twitter.”
From “Anthony Weiner admits tweet, will not resign” by Jennifer Epstein and Maggie Haberman:
Among the photos posted Monday on Big Government are four images of Weiner shirtless and flexing his muscles.
One of the images is the same one of a man in bulging gray underwear that was also sent publicly to the 21-year-old college student, Genette Cordova. All of the photos made public yesterday are said to have come from a Yahoo e-mail address that the woman who provided the photos says Weiner used to communicate with her, according to Big Government.
The woman is Meaghan Broussard, a 26-year-old from Texas. In an interview with ABC News released during the press conference, Broussard acknowledged that she was the recipient of the photos and forwarded them along to Breitbart.
“I didn’t think it was him,” she said. “I thought for sure, ‘Why would someone in that position be doing this?’”
Broussard said she told several close friends about the photos, including a man with Republican ties who encouraged her to share her story with Breitbart and Matt Drudge. Breitbart gave Broussard’s name with ABC News, which said it “obtained and licensed” photos from her.
“Weinergate: Porn star, stripper Ginger Lee talks to TheDC” by Matthew Boyle:
#Weinergate rolls on for Rep. Anthony Weiner, New York Democrat. Now we’re learning that the plagued congressman shared private communications with porn star and stripper Ginger Lee. In a March 13 tweet, Tennessee-based Lee indicated that Weiner sent her a private Twitter message:
You know it’s a good day when you wake up to a DM from @RepWeiner,” Lee tweeted. “(I’m a fangirl, y’all, he’s my trifecta of win.)
When contacted by The Daily Caller, Lee wouldn’t say what Weiner sent her in that private direct message, or DM in Twitter-speak. Lee also refused to answer whether she and Weiner have had other private communications and declined to say whether Weiner has sent her photos of any kind. Instead, she downplayed the #Weinergate scandal.
“I haven’t met Rep Weiner. I follow him on twitter because I support him & what he stands for,” Lee said in an email to TheDC. “I have been hounded by his political opponents but that hasn’t changed my view of him and what he fights for.”
As Rep. Anthony Weiner made the bombshell admission Monday that he has sexted six women over the last three years, some of his Internet relationships began to reveal themselves, along with a mountain of racy correspondence they say they’ve received from the married Congressman.
26-year-old Meagan Broussard, a single mother from Texas, offered up photos, emails, Facebook messages and more from her month-long Internet affair with Weiner in interviews on Monday.
Lisa Weiss, a 40-year-old blackjack dealer in Las Vegas, claims to be another of Weiner’s online mistresses. She told RadarOnline she sexted back and forth with Weiner for nine months, and that the Congressman used government resources to hide his bad behavior. She even claims he called her from his office for a 30-minute phone sex chat.
34 The Dan Wolfe/@PatriotUSA76 twitter icon:
Stack also contended that while he sent out the May 5 tweet first hinting that a “big time” Congressman was about to be ensnared in a sex scandal, he claimed that Wolfe actually provided him that information. Wolfe, Stack said, told him that he had heard the rumor from a source who worked for a well-known conservative web site.
After Stack sent out the initial tweet, Wolfe quickly ran with the rumor, attributing it–“via@goatsred”–to his online buddy. In retweets, Wolfe immediately attached Weiner’s name to the rumor, wondering “@RepWeiner are you this Congressman?” Stack did not have an explanation as to why Wolfe sought to launder the rumor through him. He also vehemently denied that he was Wolfe.
As the Weiner story began to spread over the weekend–and detractors started accusing him of somehow hacking Weiner’s accounts–Wolfe balked when Breitbart sought to arrange a conference call to discuss how to further exploit and advance “Weinergate.” In e-mails sent from his Yahoo account, Wolfe asked, “Why does he need to speak with me for this?” and “I’m just not sure why he needs to talk to me. Why is talking necessary?”
He also noted that, “I am having major personal problems right now getting worse by the minute.”
In a subsequent May 30 e-mail, Wolfe expounded on these troubles, explaining why he wanted to avoid speaking with his Twitter cronies. “I have ALOT of personal problems I didn’t want to go into–but as I become the focus of this I am more and more afraid this will all come out.”
The following is this email from Dan Wolfe to Andrew Breitbart:
From Dan Wolfe [REDACTED]
Sent: Monday, May 30, 2011, 12:23 PM
I have ALOT of personal problems I didn’t want to go into – but as I become the focus of this I am more and more afraid this will all come out. I want to tell you why I haven’t talked on the phone yet.
I have an exwife suing me for custody of our 2 kids and for lots of other stuff right now. Her attorneys are after everything I own.
I have an ex girlfriend who has mental problems causing issues for me at work.
My business is suffering as a result.
If my exwife attorney’s got a hold of a call recorded with me on it they’d have a field day with that. I want to try to avoid.
She had me recorded twice before. She worked with my ex girlfriend an had two calls recorded.
I has gotten me in a lot of legal trouble.
I am screwed. If all this comes out along with everything I am dealing with here — I don’t know what to do.
From “Dan Wolfe Becomes Collateral Damage in Weinergate; New York Times Turns Over” by Joe Coscarelli:
Salon’s War Room blog thinks Breitbart might have leaked the Smoking Gun Wolfe’s emails in an attempt to distance himself from Wolfe, who promised in other now-public correspondence, “We have more,” referring to Anthony Weiner, but then stopped responding to anyone.
Today, Breitbart tweets, “Lookin’ for some clarifying data from @patriotusa76. Call me. I’m listed.” And Wolfe, like Weiner’s alleged hacker, appears to still be in hiding.
As TSG reported yesterday, “Dan Wolfe” has conveniently evaporated in the wake of “Weinergate.” In fact, today Wolfe’s entire Twitter page was deleted.
But Stack, the other Twitter Twin, remains online. An examination of his background has discovered:
- Stack, who aggressively pushed the story about Weiner’s underpants shot, has worked as a moderator on a pornography web site, and been a regular commenter on several other X-rated sites. Stack describes himself as a “Pervert” on one site, where his avatar, captioned “Antichrist,” is a drawing of President Barack Obama as Jesus Christ.
- New Jersey court records show that Stack was convicted of drunk driving in February 2008. He was previously arrested for domestic assault in July 2004 following a drunken fight that left his girlfriend with bruises on her arm (that case, though, ended with a dismissal in April 2005). Stack is pictured above in a mug shot taken by the Readington Township Police Department following his 2004 collar.
- Stack has twice declared bankruptcy during the past 14 years. His most recent Chapter 7 case ended in July 2008, around the time Stack lost his Hunterdon County home to foreclosure. At the time of that filing, Stack reported working as a warehouseman for Johnson & Johnson.
- The Internal Revenue Service last year filed a $5907 federal tax lien against Stack.
38 A transcript of the police report:
On Sunday July 11, 2004 at 0129 hours, I was dispatched to 30 Mallard Ct. to meet with a Michael Stack to assist him with retrieving property from his girlfriend, [REDACTED]. Upon my arrival, Mr. Stack was waiting in the parking lot, who appeared to be intoxicated and had a strong odor of a alcoholic beverage emanating from his breath. Stack began to relate, he and his girlfriend were out drinking at Cryan’s in North Branch and the two of them had an argument while they were taken a cab back to their condo development in Hunters Crossing. Stack stated as they entered the parking lot of Mallard Ct. [REDACTED] grabbed his wallet, cell phone and keys and ran off. Stack stated he grabbed her in attempt to retrieve his personal belongings, but ran off to her apartment at [REDACTED] At this time, Stack stated he called the police for assistance. After speaking with Stack, I advised him to wait at his condo while Pil. Riva and I, responded to [REDACTED] condo at [REDACTED]
Upon my arrival, at [REDACTED] Ptl. Riva and I, were met by [REDACTED] who also appeared to be intoxicated. Ptl. Riva and I advised [REDACTED] we were there to retrieve Stack’s property. At that time, [REDACTED] began crying and stated, while she was in the cab with Stack, he grabbed her left forearm and caused it to bruise. [REDACTED] noted, upon arriving at their destination Michael began telling her to give him his wallet, [REDACTED] stated while she was looking in her bag for his wallet, he became upset and grabbed her left forearm. While speaking with [REDACTED] she pointed to her left forearm and I observed a reddish tint with very slight bruise. [REDACTED] further advised, the two of them had been dating for approximately 6 months and there have been problems with fights in the past. At that time, Ptl. Riva explained to [REDACTED] he Domestic Violence Rights. [REDACTED] advised us she understood her rights and signed the Victim Notification Form, stating she did not wish to file for a civil restraining order at this time, [REDACTED] stated she would rather file for a restraining order in the morning after she sobered up. I advised [REDACTED] Stack was going to be placed under arrest and charged with simple assault under the Domestic Violence Act. I advised [REDACTED] when she responded to our police headquarters in the morning, I would have an officer photograph her injury after it became more evident and more indicative of the true trauma. [REDACTED] advised she would be in later that morning.
Stack was arrested and transported to headquarters where he was processed and issued a complaint warrant #2004-000078-1022 pending a court date on July 22, 2004 at 0700 hours, at Readington Twp. Municipal Court.
Filmladd (4:49:08 PM): “How did he know that a “top 5 blogger” had some sex scandal on Weiner, two weeks before this incident? I know he says it was a retweet; but what did he know of this? Who floated this, and did he have further details about it? If no details, what did he suspect?”
danwolfe7676 (4:49:48 PM): A rumor came floating around the net and I am actualy surprised more people didn’t get it
danwolfe7676 (4:50:02 PM): I don’t know where the original source was
danwolfe7676 (4:50:15 PM): It got forwarded of a forward of a forward of a forward to me
danwolfe7676 (4:50:57 PM): It looked like it was spreading around for a while so I’m actually surprised others weren’t talking about it
41 The Dana Loesch radio segment with Mike Stack, in two parts:
42 “Weinergate Zealotry On Right And Left Exposes Underage Girls To Risk” by Tommy Christopher.
43 “Conservative Group Scanned Weiner’s Twitter Posts, Warned Women” by Jennifer George.
44 “Born Free” by Kid Rock:
01/06/11: “Dan Wolfe” creates PatriotUSA76 Twitter account. As a user name “Joe” first documented at Patterico.com, PatriotUSA76 begins tweeting at 8:43PM on 01/06 and sends his first tweet to Goatsred just 21 minutes later, at 9:06PM Eastern. This first tweet reads, “@goatsred did you see him pimping his wife on his tweet on how beautiful she is. she is as blessed in looks as he is – both gross looking.” It is referencing this retweet that Weiner posted a day earlier.
Before tweeting Goatsred, PatriotUSA76 tweeted five other Twitter users, all of whom had posted derogatory comments about Weiner. That is, Patriot’s tweets are responses to statements made by the other tweeters.
danwolfe7676 (6:02:54 PM): From the beginning
danwolfe7676 (6:02:55 PM): I’ve said
danwolfe7676 (6:03:01 PM): all I did was RT his tweet
danwolfe7676 (6:03:20 PM): I do not want to be the one to “Take him down” like you said or whoever said that
danwolfe7676 (6:03:28 PM): that is not my job
danwolfe7676 (6:03:32 PM): That would make it look
Filmladd (6:03:33 PM): But you just spent month and months doing that!
danwolfe7676 (6:03:42 PM): No, I don’t see it that way
danwolfe7676 (6:03:50 PM): I never really thought
danwolfe7676 (6:03:54 PM): he would be that stupid
Filmladd (6:03:55 PM): Are you serious?
danwolfe7676 (6:03:58 PM): Yes.
danwolfe7676 (6:03:59 PM): I am
danwolfe7676 (6:04:04 PM): This is what you all don’t get
Filmladd (4:48:30 PM): Here I will copy and paste. Here’s one: Did he have any reason to not like Huma, Weiner’s wife?
danwolfe7676 (4:48:35 PM): I thought you were trying to test my political knowledge. I never claimed to be a knowledgable guy. I just follow politics
danwolfe7676 (4:48:53 PM): No it was just another way to tweak Weiner
danwolfe7676 (4:48:56 PM): That’s all
Filmladd (4:56:36 PM): Because remember, “Even though we as humans should evaluate arguments only on their strengths, we seem to be biologically trapped into considering the source of the argument as well.”
Filmladd (4:56:47 PM): I can think of many. Fear.
danwolfe7676 (4:56:49 PM): I’m not that deep of a guy
danwolfe7676 (4:56:54 PM): I appreciate the quotes
danwolfe7676 (4:57:04 PM): But they’re lost on me
Filmladd (5:05:50 PM): I think this qualifies. Mt. Olympus is gearing up to strike at you.
danwolfe7676 (5:06:01 PM): I don’t understand that
danwolfe7676 (5:06:05 PM): Again not a deep guy
This is an email sent by “Dan Wolfe” to Mike Stack, about the possibility of contacting Seamus Kraft, a staffer for Darrell Issa, about what they might discover with relation to congressman Weiner:
I meant to tell you, bro. We have to be very careful who even in gop we tell — weiner is friendly with Jason Chaffetz repub from Utah. Chaffetz has said publically he was at Weiner’s “wedding”. I don’t know who else from the other side Weiner is friendly with but at this point I don’t trust many.
I don’t want anyone giving him the heads up so he can scramble and wipe away all traces of this.
08/14/10: The Twitter account for the entity known as Starchild111 dates to at least 08/14/10. At this point, the name associated with the account is “Jenay.” Eventually it will change to ostensible high school student “Nikki Reid.” (Source: Screen-cap.)
Starchild111’s first follow is the UCLA Extension Writers Program, which tweets stuff like “Tip of the day: ‘Writing teen dialogue can be tricky business…'” She’s also following Oprah, several members of the Kardashian clan, an inspirational website called TheDailyLove.com, Jennifer Lopez, a Jennifer Lopez fan site, and an actress/model, Natalie Martinez, who serves as the spokesmodel for Lopez’ JLo clothing line.
This cache shows seven tweets. Four are directed at Natalie Martinez (whose former Twitter handle was @Goldnd12), and two go to the Lopez fansite. These tweets are characterized by a combination of flattery (“am a fan!” “you are very talented.” “u are also so glamorous!”) and some kind of request for more information. (“do u have a facebook page?” “could you message me?”)
While Starchild111 claims to be a “huge fan” of Martinez’, she simultaneously asks Martinez if she has a Facebook page or a Web page. Presumably, this is information a “huge fan” would already know.
Finally, there’s Starchild111’s tweet to the Kardashian sisters, wherein she asks them about a makeup organizer they use on the show. Web searches show that this makeup organizer is a highly sought-after product that has inspired numerous knockoffs.
Given that Starchild111 consistently asks questions that she could have easily answered herself with a quick Google search, one can’t help but wonder: In her initial incarnation, is Starchild111 some kind of SEO-oriented spambot created to generate Google-food?
04/16/11: By this date, Starchild111’s Twitter profile page includes a name (“Nikki Reid”), a location (Los Angeles), and a bio (“high school, politics and homework and the beach is my life!”). (Source: Google cache of Twitter)
The IMDB page for Natalie Martinez is here.
03/13/11: In response to Ginger Lee’s tweet about getting a DM from Weiner, Starchild111 tweets Ginger Lee. “I can relate I’m a fangirl too! What did he say (trying to live vicariously through you lol)?!!!” Ginger Lee tells Starchild111 that Weiner thanked her for her shout-outs and said he liked her blog. Starchild111 tells Lee that she likes her blog as well. Ginger Lee responds, “Well thank you. :blushes:” (Source: Google cache of Twitter, Twitter, Twitter)
9:17PM: Starchild111 sends a tweet to Ethel. It reads, “Hey! I’m a fangirl too! I’m living vicariously through you! How’d you get him to talk to you???” (Source=PrudencePaine.com)
04/21/11: A college student tweets, “HOLY #congressionalcrush! @RepWeiner just added me on facebook. DAY. MADE.” Approximately two and a half hours later, Starchild111 tweets, “@[college student] omg! my friend ethel here on twitter and I are Weiner fangirls too! Could you DM me how you got a follow? that’s so cool!” (Source: Screen-cap of rs.research.ly archive of Twitter)
05/16/11: Starchild111 tweets that Weiner is following her on Twitter, announces campaign to get him to be her prom date. One of her tweets: “Follow the best progressive Congressman @RepWeiner he is a democrat who fights for us & against Republican trolls!” (Source: Patterico.com)
05/16/11: At 1:21 pm, Patriotusa76 tweets: “RT Starchild111 Please tweet and follow @RepWeiner & tell him to be my prom date>>Poor girl. We should warn her.” (Source: Daily Dose)
05/17/11: Four members of the BornFreeCrew tweet messages to Starchild111, telling her that he is “not as good as you think” and that they have “proof of what he does & worry,” and that there are “many incidents that we know of that he’s been involved in.” (Source: Google cache of Twitter)
05/18/11: At At 9:19 AM Pacific, Starchild111 tweets, “Well @RepWeiner unfollowed me. That was a short time. I defended him from people. Some thanks he gives to his loyal followers.”
Then, she goes on a tirade against Weiner, posting seven tweets in the next eleven minutes. Here they are, grouped as one. Ellipses indicate the end of one tweet and the beginning of the next:
“@RepWeiner It’s really a sad thing when you have the time to call a loyal fan names through twitter messaging….I’m sorry I ever defended you to the trolls on twitter. You don’t deserve it. Calling a young fan names is despicable…. RepWeiner do you take pleasure in humiliating your young fans? Is it acceptable to insult and call me names?….@RepWeiner was it fun getting another one of your followers to also insult me? Isn’t that immature?….@RepWeiner didn’t know that Congressmen spent their time insulting supporters on twitter that defend them from trolls….@RepWeiner thank you for getting one of your followers to spy on me and message me about how bad you and she feel you attacked me…. @RepWeiner her message referred to you as “we” and how bad “we” – Rep Weiner and I feel for attacking you. Thanks for that.” (Source: rs.research.ly screen-cap 1, rs.research.ly screen-cap 2)
05/18/11: At 6:18 PM PDT, Starchild111 tweets, “@RepWeiner sorry about earlier. I got msgs that were untrue/lies about u, from that same follower. If u want to see them let me know.” (Source: Screen-cap from rs.research.ly archive of Twitter)
05/28/11: At 6:42 PM Pacific, Starchild111 attempts to contact friends of Gennette Cordova. Specifically, she tweets: “@[Friend 1] [Friend 2] This is nikki i am a friend of a friend. I have some info that could help. Please DM me. Ask her she knows me.” A minute later, she tweets, “[Friend 1] [Friend 2] if she/U needs proof I can prove it’s me.” (Source: Screen-cap of rs.research.ly archive of Twitter)
05/28/11: At 8:53 PM PDT, JohnReid9, allegedly the father of Nikki Reid, aka Starchild111, tweets, “@RepWeiner Is there anyway you or someone you work with can DM me I have info that someone is lying about you.” (Source” Screen-cap from rs.research.ly archive of Twitter)
05/29/11: Shortly after noon PDT, Starchild111 sends seven tweets to Gennette Cordova via the JohnReid9 account. Here they are. Ellipsis indicates the end of one tweet and the beginning of a new one:
“@GennetteC if this is really you you’ll know who i am – starchilld111 I can prove it’s me and have been defending you in private please DM….@GennetteC defending you. Please DM PLease it is nikki….@GennetteC I will delete my tweets to you right after and LOCK my account like before….@GennetteC There is alot I’m working on to help defend u and stop this craziness and set the record straight. you are my friend. i miss u….@GennetteC You were set up and I am working to help show/prove this now. Please pleasse DM me. Nikki. I can tell u name of my dog….@GennetteC I can tel you what pet I had before my dog. And what the name was too….@GennetteC I can tell you the name you wanted for your pet and what pet you want and what pet you had. I can prove it’s me Please I can help.” (Source” Screen-cap from rs.research.ly archive of Twitter)
57 From “Andrew Breitbart Did Not Run ‘Weinergate’ Evidence Which Turned Out To Be Fake (Update)” by Tommy Christopher:
A high school friend of Betty’s, whom I will call Veronica (she’s a minor), was also contacted, via Twitter, by a member of the group, Mike Stack (@goatsred). For personal reasons I won’t go into, Veronica saw a means of getting attention, and agreed to follow @Goatsred so that they could speak privately. She told him that she and Betty had incriminating Direct Messages from Rep. Weiner, a claim she now admits was false, and which she made without Betty’s knowledge.
In fact, she was simultaneously telling Betty that @Goatsred had tried to induce her to lie about Rep. Wiener, and to enlist Betty in the plot. Veronica now admits this was also false. Yes, @goatsred did contact her, and she did feed him false information about Rep. Weiner, but this was not at his urging.
58 From “Andrew Breitbart Did Not Run ‘Weinergate’ Evidence Which Turned Out To Be Fake (Update)” by Tommy Christopher:
Shortly after the Weinergate story first broke, one of several red flags I noticed, and shared with Breitbart, was the fact that there was only one unique retweet of the picture. My back-and-forth on Twitter caught the attention of a young girl who had information about the story, and she contacted me. Since she is a minor, and at her parents’ request, I will identify her pseudonymously as Betty.
From “Andrew Breitbart Did Not Run ‘Weinergate’ Evidence Which Turned Out To Be Fake (Update)” by Tommy Christopher:
A high school friend of Betty’s, whom I will call Veronica (she’s a minor), was also contacted, via Twitter, by a member of the group, Mike Stack (@goatsred). For personal reasons I won’t go into, Veronica saw a means of getting attention, and agreed to follow @Goatsred so that they could speak privately. She told him that she and Betty had incriminating Direct Messages from Rep. Weiner, a claim she now admits was false, and which she made without Betty’s knowledge.
From “Andrew Breitbart Did Not Run ‘Weinergate’ Evidence Which Turned Out To Be Fake (Update)” by Tommy Christopher:
This is where the new media pitfalls come into play. Betty and Veronica are both terrified of being identified and further harassed, but since Betty contacted me, at least one blogger has repeatedly tried to contact her, based on clues from our social media accounts. This person was probably acting on a hunch, but it scared Betty. The reason it has taken me five days to publish this story is that I’ve been trying to verify everything, without jeopardizing my source.
59 From “Andrew Breitbart Did Not Run ‘Weinergate’ Evidence Which Turned Out To Be Fake (Update)” by Tommy Christopher:
Then, on Thursday, a blogger at DailyKos published a diary rife with wild speculation, and unfounded insinuations, including an unredacted version of Veronica’s Direct Messages to @Goatsred, which also contains Betty’s name. This is the problem with new media, an ignorance, or contempt, or simple disregard, for established journalistic practices. Redacting the names would have no effect on the item’s news value, and the message states they are high school girls, but the blogger either didn’t notice, or didn’t care.
When the girls’ parents became aware of this, they were very distressed, fearing for their children’s safety and privacy. I assured them that I would contact the blog’s proprietor, Markos Moulitsas (a father himself), and he would surely take it down, or redact their names.
The reality, though, was quite another story. When I contacted Moulitsas, he refused to call me, insisting upon email, which greatly hampered the amount of detail I could give him. The result was that he refused to redact their names, or make any changes, but the actual emails demonstrate a reprehensible lack of compassion or responsibility.
60 “Fake Identities Were Used on Twitter in Effort to Get Information on Weiner” by Jennifer Preston:
Then, in what seems to be an elaborate ruse, the Twitter user claiming to be Nikki Reid and then a woman claiming to be her mother contacted Tommy Christopher, a correspondent for Mediaite, the media blog. After first communicating online, Mr. Christopher said, the woman dismissed claims of incriminating evidence against Mr. Weiner and accused members of the #bornfreecrew of harassing her daughter and her daughter’s friend. The woman also made a statement, which offered a forceful defense of Mr. Weiner.
She repeated this by phone to Mr. Christopher, who insisted the woman provide documentation confirming her identity. The woman faxed over a copy of a California driver’s license with her name, Patricia Reid, at a Los Angeles address, as well as school identification for the girls. But it turns out that the driver’s license and the school identification were fake, according to California state officials and school district officials.
In response to requests from a reporter from the blog Mediaite, a woman claiming to be Nikki Reid’s mother provided documentation to substantiate her identity and her daughter’s identity. But records show the street address the woman provided does not list anyone named Reid as an occupant. State officials in California have confirmed that the driver’s license this woman provided to Mediaite was false, as well.
61 From “Andrew Breitbart Did Not Run ‘Weinergate’ Evidence Which Turned Out To Be Fake (Update)” by Tommy Christopher:
The statement of Patricia Reid, Nikki Reid’s mother:
My husband and I have been made aware of an image that a popular blog is posting of one of my daughter’s classmates. This classmate specifically mentions my daughter by name and this classmate mentions that she can supply another twitter user (a grown man) with Direct Messages from my daughter’s twitter account that were between my daughter and Representative Weiner.
First, no one was ever authorized to speak for my daughter and my husband, myself or my daughter were NOT aware this classmate was interacting with this grown man and speaking for our daughter without her permission and without mine or my husband’s permission.
My husband and I monitor every single moment of our daugther’s internet activity through both parental software and personal monitoring. We see everything – absolutely everything that she says on twitter and everything she does on the internet.
It is true that she did follow Rep. Weiner for a short time when she asked to be followed with his “WEINER YES” hashtag. She asked our permission before sending this tweet and my husband and I could not have been more happy of her admiration of Rep Weiner.
Anyone with teenagers knows that their crushes range from overpaid athletes to teen idols that are photographed partying, drinking and taking drugs. We were proud of our daughter’s interest in politics, as she is studying it in school and her teacher first introduced them to Congress. It was in class that she was made aware of Rep Weiner and she was very excited about learning more about our government. When Rep Weiner followed her back we were all thrilled.
When Rep Weiner followed my daughter the one and only message he sent her was welcoming her to his twitter followers and suggested he go to his website for more information. My husband and I were delighted with this message as it furthered our daughter’s interest in learning about government. We were very grateful to Rep Weiner for this and saw nothing wrong or inappropriate with this message.
This was the one and only message that Rep Weiner sent our daughter. Our daughter sent a message thanking Rep Weiner for following her and thanking him for the welcome message. This was the one and only message our daughter sent to Rep Weiner.
Soon after she was following Rep Weiner, a group of grown men and a few grown woman who described themselves as “concerned mothers” began harassing my daughter. I can assure you, as a mother, I’ve never heard of such disgusting behavior. My daughter, with our permission, responded to these attacks on Rep Weiner following her with grace and maturity – which is something that cannot be said for these “mothers” and their fellow grown men involved in the attack.
These mothers and their grown male friends attacked the intentions and character of Rep Weiner to our daughter and suggested that he was somehow perverse for following her. This disgusted myself and my husband. They were attacking a man, who has done nothing to them and has done nothing wrong.
Ultimately, Rep Weiner had to unfollow our daughter as a favor to her so these attacks would stop. We were sorry that these bullies caused this and we were disgusted to see that even after he unfollowed her, this group of so called mothers and grown men — continued to try and contact my daughter.
As a result, we forced her to shut her twitter account down. Isn’t that a shame? Bullied right off of something she enjoyed.
There are a few popular blogs with an image of these tweets that I referenced earlier in which a classmate inaccurately described herself as a spokesperson for my daughter. This could not be further from the truth. We know this classmate’s parents personally. This young girl is troubled and she was hounded by a couple of members of that pack of harassing grown men and women until one of them got her to agree to follow him so they could send each other direct messages.
From there, this man questioned this young girl and was gleeful over anything that he could find to incriminate Rep Weiner. He goes by the name goatsred. He also tried to contact my daughter and she locked her account when this happened. After she locked her account he continued to send requests to follow her, she refused to allow him to follow her.
This classmate of our daughters is troubled and got caught up in this media frenzy and this grown man, goatsred, took advantage of her youth – she is a minor like my daughter. My husband and I are adamant that the only perverse and inappropriate behavior that has occurred has been shown by this group of mothers and grown men and the media, and liberal and conservative blogs.
My husband and I have seen the attacks in recent days and have been sickened over the so called media and their allegations on Rep Weiner regarding younger girls. This is disgusting and only a perverse mind would be able to concoct such allegations on an innocent man who did nothing but encourage our daughter’s interest in government.
We are also disgusted at the targeted attacks by the so called media and blogs with publishing of pictures, names, tweets of my daughter and other young girls. The media and blogs – both liberal and conservative are high tech bullies. They are bullying our daughter and these other girls. As parents we could not be more disgusted and appalled by this behavior. It is no better than the group of mothers and grown men that attacked these girls for following Rep Weiner.
There is no crime in following a person you admire. There is also no crime for a young girl to say she has a “crush” on a public figure – as we’ve seen the media obsess on with a couple of these girls. If you are a parent of a teen or a young girl, then you know how many “crushes” a teen goes through in a week — sometimes a day. This is normal teen behavior. Any suggestion that it is perverse says more about the perversion of the person making that suggestion than it does about Rep Weiner or the girls.
This must stop. We are appealing to the media and blogs – both liberal and conservative, tabloids, on behalf of all parents of all kids and these girls. This is bullying that you are doing. Publishing their pictures, names. Trying to contact them via social media, looking up their names and contact information, finding out where they live, work, go to school — this is stalking, bullying and harassment on behalf of the so called media and blogs. Please put yourselves in the shoes of a parent, and ask yourselves if you would want that for your daughter or son.
We would also like to express our disgust at the harassment of Rep Weiner and hope that everyone remembers this man did nothing wrong. Look at your own behavior and your own mental hang-ups and ask yourself why you find certain things so perverse — it says more about you than it does about the person you are accusing.
And concerning a certain adult actress, we would like to add that this girl did nothing wrong. If you actually read her blog it is about politics and chronic illness. My husband and I read it together with our daughter. Again, ask yourself what your own personal prejudices and hangups are before you make accusations.
To all members of the media and blogs, both liberal and conservative, if someone were to take a microscope to your life, what would they find? Maybe you wouldn’t be so quick to accuse others if you had the spotlight turned towards you.
I would also like to add, that if this image with my daughter’s name appears or if her name or image appears in print anywhere or the image of her friend, both my husband and I and her classmate’s parents will be taking legal action against all blogs, members of the media that have published this information/images. We advise you to take it down immediately or you will deal with our attorneys.
The statement of Nikki Reid:
I followed Rep. Weiner with the permission of my parents. I sent a request to Rep Weiner using his WEINER YES hashtag and he followed me back. He sent me one welcome direct message that said to visit his webpage. I sent him a message thanking him.
I was so excited because we were learning about politics in school and he is a great hero of mine. This excitement turned to fear when a group of women and men started harassing me for following Rep Weiner and for being followed by him. They said the most terrible things about him.
He was forced to unfollow me so they would stop harassing me. But they did not stop. One man, goatsred – tried to contact me. I locked my account. After I locked my account he tried to follow me and I denied him. My parents made me shut down my account as a result.
Rep Weiner never tried to contact me beyond his welcome message. I never had knowledge or gave my permission to my classmate to speak on my behalf. What she said was completely untrue. There was no truth to any of what she said. I believe she was taken advantage of by this man, goatsred.
Rep Weiner is a good person and it’s so mean what everyone is attacking him without any proof. It’s wrong. The media needs to leave all of us girls alone. You are scaring us. Please stop. We want to be normal kids and lead our lives. Leave us alone, please.
The statement of Marienela Alecia:
I am a classmate of (Betty)’s and we were following each other on twitter. I never followed Rep. Weiner and he never followed me at any time. (Betty) never gave me permission to speak for her. Goatsred contacted me on twitter with a mention @ and he friended me and I friended him back. I feel sorry I did this now. I know that he is not a nice person and I am sorry for lying about (Betty). I never saw any direct messages except the welcome message that (Betty) showed me Rep Weiner sent her. I lied to goatsred because I saw many other girls in the news and I wanted to be famous. I’m very sorry and my mom is punishing me for this. I have no television, internet or phone for the next 6 months. Nothing I told goatsred was true. I’m sorry to everyone for lying and for embarrassing my mom.
Just as the brief Starchild111 girl-and-stuffed-dog avatar in the fourth cache was not an original photo but appears to have been poached from someone else’s 2006 Flickr photo account, Starchild111’s falling star graphic avatar is not an original creation either. Google image search finds several copies of this graphic uploaded two or more years ago to a clip art site called Piczo.com.
This was the av:
63 From “Fake Identities Were Used on Twitter in Effort to Get Information on Weiner” by Jennifer Preston:
Ms. Cordova said that as she looked back on their exchanges, she saw other signs of a fraud. For example, “Nikki Reid” did not have a Facebook account, like most girls her age. And she made references to “The O.C.,” the television show (featuring the young Hollywood actress Nikki Reed) that was popular among teenagers but ended in 2007.
“There is no way this girl is in high school,” Ms. Cordova said. “No way.”
64 From “Is StarChild111 Actually “Jennifer George”? -Updated X 2″ by “adam”:
Jennifer Preston at the New York Times wrote a fascinating story on Friday documenting that two high school girls who seemed to be at the heart of one of #weinergate’s major sub-plots did not actually exist. The IDs they provided were not real, as Preston confirmed by contacting the state and the school they claimed to attend. At this point it’s not at all clear what was going on: they might have been trying to set up Weiner, they might have been trying to set up Breitbart and Dana Loesch (because, as Tommy Christopher knew but did not report, one of them claimed that Loesch and Breitbart were trying to get them to tell a story about their interactions with Weiner), or they might be real but simply disguising their actual identities.
Anyway, yesterday, someone tweeted an interesting
link that showed that one of the girls, @starchild111, who throughout #weinergate was thought to be named “Nikki”, originally had the name “Jenay.”
This prompted me to reexamine some of the search results for @starchild, and it appears that the account @starchild111 is actually associated with the name “Jennifer George” (click the photo for a larger view):
65 “King of Offensive Political Attack Ads” by Alex Berg gives an overview of Ehlinger’s work. “‘Give Us Your Cash, Bitch’ Is the Year’s Most Racist Campaign Ad” [archive link] by Max Read highlights Ehlinger’s Nancy Pelosi attack ad.
“We are better than that!!!!!!” for Dale Peterson, candidate for Alabama agricultural commissioner; “Gather your armies” for Alabam congressional candidate Rick Barber; “Whack the Dons” for Michigan congressional candidate Glenn Wilson.
Peterson lost, Barber lost, Wilson lost, Craig Huey (running against Janice Hahn) lost, Sean Bielat (running against Barney Frank) lost, John Dennis (running against Nancy Pelosi) lost.
66 From “Ex-undercover Mafia buster, Michael ‘Mikey Suits’ Grimm, seeks Staten Island congressional seat” by David Saltonstall:
Meet Michael Grimm, 39, the Republicans’ newest hope for recapturing Staten Island’s congressional seat, won last November by Mike McMahon, the district’s first Democrat in 30 years.
A decorated Marine whose FBI record often reads like a “Sopranos” script, Grimm is unquestionably the only congressional hopeful who’s ever had a fake wise-guy name – “Mikey Suits,” in honor of his always-dapper dress.
Grimm joined the Marines when he was 19 and soon found himself on the front lines of the first Gulf War. He wrote goodbye letters to his parents the night U.S. tanks rolled against Iraq. He earned a battlefield commendation for leading prisoners through a minefield and left the service as a corporal.
Returning home, he worked as a clerk for the FBI, got an accounting degree, segued to a Wall Street job, then decided to head back to the FBI – this time as an agent.
He soon found himself on the FBI’s Gambino Squad, then one of the bureau’s most elite postings. Grimm’s job was to know everything about Peter Gotti, the brother of John Gotti Sr.
Perhaps his biggest coup was “Operation Wooden Nickel,” during which Grimm spent two years posing as a dirty Wall Street currency trader. More than 50 white-collar crooks were nabbed in that operation when it ended in 2003.
67 “Ercot Former Manager Carlos Luquis Sentenced To 12 Years For His Role In Crime Ring” from the site of Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott:
Carlos Luquis, 38, was sentenced to 12 years on each felony charge by Williamson County District Judge Michael Jergins. He will serve the sentence concurrently and will pay a $10,000 fine and make restitution of $205,000 to ERCOT [the Electric Reliability Council of Texas].
A jury returned a guilty verdict late Friday night on two counts of engaging in criminal activity for theft and misapplication of fiduciary property connected to his role with five other defendants in the operation of in-house “shell” security companies, which cost ERCOT millions. After three days of evidence presented during the punishment phase of the trial, the same jury today recommended the judge order the sentence against Luquis.
During the punishment phase of the trial, Assistant Attorney General David Glickler brought in Mary Galligan, who served as the FBI’s lead investigative agent in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. She told the jury she recently obtained a copy of a resume Luquis submitted to ERCOT officials when he was still employed by the FBI, but at the time on administrative leave. In it, she said Luquis exaggerated his involvement in the intense 9/11 investigation, leading her and other FBI officials to conclude he exploited the national tragedy for personal gain.
Gregory Jones, a special agent in charge during 9/11, told the jury Monday that Luquis deceived the FBI about his plans for joining ERCOT and withheld information that his new job would involve in-house security work, both in direct conflict with FBI employment policies.
Shortly thereafter, Luquis joined colleagues inside ERCOT to work as a security manager, cobbling together the phony security-contract schemes with the other defendants that cost the organization millions of dollars.
National Democrats slammed Rep. Michael Grimm (R-Staten Island/Brooklyn) yesterday for having an ownership stake in a trucking company that has safety violations against it.
But Grimm defended himself, and said his hands-off ownership stake in the firm doesn’t pose a conflict of interest with his House duties.
The company, Austin Refuel Transport, hauls crude oil across Texas and racked up 11 safety violations in its first two U.S. Department of Transportation inspections, the Daily News reported.
The paper said one of the company’s five trucks was pulled off the road because the driver had been behind the wheel for more than 60 hours within seven consecutive days.
The company was also cited for violations ranging from a driver who didn’t have the required medical certificate to a truck leaking fluid.
From “Congressman’s Business Ties Are at Odds With Upright Image” by Alison Leigh Cowan, Anne Barnard And William K. Rashbaum:
And in 2008, shortly after Mr. Luquis was paroled, Mr. Grimm formed another Texas company, Austin Refuel, to turn grease into fuel.
Mr. Luquis, who declined to comment, was Austin Refuel’s director of logistics.
From “Business associate of Staten Island Rep. Michael Grimm is convicted felon Carlos Luquis” by Benjamin Lesser:
A business associate of law-and-order Rep. Michael Grimm is a convicted felon who served time for his role in a $2 million scam, the Daily News has learned.
Carlos Luquis identified himself on his business card as a “director” of Austin Refuel, a Texas-based company Grimm has co-owned since 2008.
69 From “Congressman’s Business Ties Are at Odds With Upright Image” by Alison Leigh Cowan, Anne Barnard And William K. Rashbaum:
Twelve years later, Mr. Grimm was back in business in New York, where he formed a company called Granny Sayz, L.L.C., which operated Healthalicious, a restaurant on Second Avenue near 83rd Street in Manhattan. The company was affiliated with a company now connected to Mr. Biton, the Grimm fund-raiser who is under investigation.
The New York State Workers’ Compensation Board last month ordered Healthalicious to pay $88,000 for not carrying workers’ compensation insurance. And in 2011, two former deliverymen retained a lawyer, Dan Knauth, asserting that the restaurant had paid them less than minimum wage, did not pay for work beyond 40 hours per week and paid cash to evade scrutiny.
Mr. Knauth said he contacted Mr. Grimm’s office about the complaints. Shortly afterward, Mr. Grimm filed papers with the state to dissolve his company, Granny Sayz.
On Dec. 1, the deliverymen sued the restaurant, Mr. Grimm and others.
The defendants have not responded in court. But the restaurant has engaged in maneuvers that make it more difficult to sue.
The restaurant’s legal name originally contained the word Healthalicious, with a C. Then in 2010, it was changed to Healthalitious NYC (with a T).
Finally, right after the lawsuit was filed, the restaurant changed its legal name again, to Healthalicious Upper East Side — with a C.
Staten Island Rep. Michael Grimm urged a federal judge to spare a New York-based developer with three bribery-related convictions from serving a day in prison, the Daily News has learned.
Grimm sought leniency for Thomas Kontogiannis in 2008, before Grimm entered Congress as a Republican and after he had left a career as an FBI agent. Kontogiannis then faced sentencing on his third conviction — for helping funnel $1 million in bribe money to former Rep. Randy (Duke) Cunningham (R-Calif).
In a three-page letter, Grimm asked California Federal Judge Lawrence Burns to “be as lenient as the law will allow and your conscience accepts, granting him a noncustodial sentence.” Burns sentenced Kontogiannis to eight years.
71 From “Congressman’s Business Ties Are at Odds With Upright Image” by Alison Leigh Cowan, Anne Barnard And William K. Rashbaum:
But along the way, Mr. Grimm met friction from some fellow Republicans on Staten Island. In 2010, the borough’s party committee took an unusual step: endorsing a Brooklynite for the House seat. (Mr. Grimm nonetheless won the primary and defeated the Democratic incumbent.)
Two people familiar with the committee’s deliberations said in interviews that it did not endorse Mr. Grimm partly because he gave vague answers when asked why he left the F.B.I. after a decade — and what he did afterward.
When Representative Michael G. Grimm, a first-term Staten Island Republican, went on a fact-finding trip abroad last year, he widely publicized his first stop, Israel, sending off a stream of messages about his activities there via Twitter. But he was largely silent about his second stop, Cyprus.
In fact, Mr. Grimm did not file required paperwork about the trip, which was paid for by a private organization, with the House clerk, according to Congressional records. Nor did he initially report the Cyprus trip on his Congressional financial disclosure filing in May, even though he did list the Israel trip, according to the records.
But in June, Mr. Grimm amended his financial disclosure filing to report the Cyprus trip, the records show. The amended filing came one day after his host on the trip, Peter Papanicolaou, the president of the Cyprus Federation of America, which paid for the $6,890 visit, was arrested in Brooklyn on federal corruption charges.
Prosecutors accused Mr. Papanicolaou of treating an official of the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development to a free trip to Greece as part of a scheme to gain city contracts. Mr. Papanicolaou’s construction company in Brooklyn was awarded $95 million in department contracts between 2002 and 2008, according to city records.
Mr. Grimm’s lawyer, William McGinley, maintained that the filing in June had nothing to do with Mr. Papanicolaou’s arrest.
On July 10, 1999, Williams said, he was working off duty at Caribbean Tropics. Shortly after midnight, Michael Grimm walked in with a woman of Caribbean descent. The woman’s estranged husband, who is also of Caribbean descent, was at the club and confronted Grimm. The two men began to argue. Williams escorted Grimm away. Williams recalled, “He said to me, ‘Thanks a lot man, he don’t know who he’s fucking with.’ Then he said something frightening. ‘I’ll fuckin’ make him disappear where nobody will find him.’ ” (Grimm calls this allegation “insane.”) After that, Williams said, Grimm and the woman left, as did the husband.
Around 2:30 A.M., there was a commotion on the dance floor. According to Williams, somebody was shouting, “He’s got a gun!” Following a crowd into the club’s garage, Williams discovered that Grimm and the husband had returned, and Grimm was holding a weapon. Grimm was “carrying on like a madman,” Williams said. “He’s screaming, ‘I’m gonna fuckin’ kill him.’ So I said to him, ‘Who are you?’ He put the gun back in his waist and said, ‘I’m a fucking F.B.I. agent, ain’t nobody gonna threaten me.’ ” (Grimm said he only moved his gun from an ankle holster to his waistband.) The bouncer at the front door told Williams that, when he patted Grimm down and found his gun, Grimm had showed his F.B.I. identification. The bouncer then let him pass through the club’s metal detector.
Grimm left the club, but at 4 A.M., just before the club closed, he returned again, according to Williams, this time with another F.B.I. agent and a group of N.Y.P.D. officers. Grimm had told the police that he had been assaulted by the estranged husband and his friends. Williams said that Grimm took command of the scene, and refused to let the remaining patrons and employees leave. “Everybody get up against the fucking wall,” Williams recalled him saying. “The F.B.I. is in control.” Then Grimm, who apparently wanted to find the man with whom he’d had the original altercation, said something that Williams said he’ll never forget: “All the white people get out of here.”
Nirmilla Jitta, a retired N.Y.P.D. officer who was at Caribbean Tropics that night, confirmed that Grimm “left and then he came back.” Grimm, she said, “forced everyone to stay in the club, saying that he was an F.B.I. agent. He was using his authority when he shouldn’t have been.” An employee of the club who was working that night remembers Grimm telling the white people to leave. Grimm “was really aggressive and really violent. You know, you put on a badge and you really think you are above everybody else,” the employee, who is white and who was allowed to depart, said.
74 From “Rabbi’s Followers Cast Doubts on Congressman’s Fund-Raising” by Alison Leigh Cowan And William K. Rashbaum:
In interviews, followers of the rabbi spoke repeatedly about the close ties between Mr. Grimm and Mr. Biton.
“Grimm and Biton were together all the time during the campaign,” said one of the followers, Yossi Zaga, a real estate investor who donated $4,800, the legal limit, to Mr. Grimm at Mr. Biton’s urging. “They would drive around together to the homes and offices and ask for contributions.”
Three of the rabbi’s followers said in separate interviews that Mr. Grimm or Mr. Biton told them that the campaign would find a way to accept donations that were over the legal limit, were given in cash or were given by foreigners without green cards.
Congressional campaigns are not allowed to accept cash donations of more than $100. Foreigners without green cards are barred by law from giving to political campaigns. They are also not allowed to solicit contributions for campaigns.
One follower of the rabbi said in an interview that Mr. Grimm pressed him for $20,000. The follower said Mr. Grimm instructed him to meet him “near the F.B.I. building,” in Lower Manhattan, in summer 2010 to give the money. The follower said he handed over $5,000 in cash in an envelope to Mr. Grimm in Mr. Grimm’s car.
“Grimm wanted you to supply the money, and if someone wants to give and cannot give, you have to find a friend to give it through,” the second follower recalled. “Let’s say someone is not legal to give because he’s not American. Grimm wants this guy, Joe A, to give the money to Joe B so Joe B can make the contribution to the campaign.”
A third follower said he picked up, at Mr. Biton’s behest, $25,000 for Mr. Grimm’s campaign from a single Israeli.
“I give the checks to Ofer, and he gives them to Michael,” the third follower said.
The third follower said the money donated by the Israeli was falsely listed in Mr. Grimm’s campaign disclosure records as having been given by at least five other people. The practice referred to — creating so-called straw donors — is illegal.
From “Anthony Weiner reported Staten Island Rep. Michael Grimm to FBI over alleged extortion” by Celeste Katz and Alison Gendar:
“The complaint at the time was that Grimm had mentioned that he was a former FBI agent and let the rabbi know, through his interpreter and staff, that he could help the congregation, or make life tougher for them, and that he was a good person to have as a friend, not an enemy,” a law enforcement source told Roll Call.
From “Michael Grimm Investigated By House Ethics Committee” by Larry Margasak:
WASHINGTON — The House Ethics Committee announced Monday that Rep. Michael Grimm, a former FBI agent, is under investigation for possible campaign finance violations, but said it is deferring the inquiry because of a separate Justice Department probe.
The New York Republican may have violated campaign finance laws by soliciting and accepting prohibited contributions, actions that may have caused false information to be included in campaign finance reports, the committee said.
One focus of the investigation is whether the congressman improperly sought assistance from a foreign national, by soliciting contributions in exchange for offering to use his official position to assist the person in obtaining a green card, according to a committee statement.
William McGinley, Grimm’s lawyer, said, “Today’s announcement by the House Ethics Committee comes as no surprise. We appreciate the committee’s decision to defer consideration of this matter while we continue to work with the Department of Justice to favorably resolve the false allegations against Congressman Grimm.
“Any fair and objective review of all of the facts in this matter will conclude that Congressman Grimm engaged in no wrongdoing. We are confident that the Department of Justice and the Ethics Committee will reach that result.”
The committee said the Justice Department sought the delay in the House effort – as it often does – when conducting a parallel investigation. Following precedent, the ethics panel voted to place its investigation on hold.
From “FBI Questions Four (Or More) In Rep. Michael Grimm Campaign Donations Investigation” by Celeste Katz:
The FBI has questioned at least four people who worked on Congressman Michael Grimm’s 2010 campaign as part of its ongoing probe into allegations the Tea Party favorite took illegal election donations.
Our Alison Gendar reports:
The four, either campaign operatives and volunteers, were questioned in the past two weeks. In one case, the interview was conducted by a federal tag team that included an Assistant U.S. Attorney, sources told the Daily News.
The FBI opened an inquiry into the Republican’s fund-raising after members of Rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto’s New York congregation complained he was strong-arming them for donations, as the New York Times reported in January.
One of the people questioned by the FBI told the Daily News the recent interrogation involved “general kinds of questions” and described them in this fashion: “Who was in charge? Who contacted donors? How was money collected? Who went and collected the donations?”
Another person who was questioned said the feds wanted to know who had donated, how much and why — and they wanted the names of the big donors.
“Did they give up what they knew? No. Are they very serious about their questions? Oh, yes,” the person said.
Grimm has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.
75 From “Rabbi’s Followers Blame Aide for Missing Millions” by Alison Leigh Cowan:
The rabbi’s followers and lawyers said they told federal investigators that a former aide to the rabbi, an Israeli named Ofer Biton, 39, had pocketed millions of dollars in donations that were intended for the rabbi’s charity.
Mr. Biton’s lawyer in New York, Jeffrey A. Udell, denied the accusations. He said Mr. Biton did not have “any involvement whatsoever in any plot” against Rabbi Pinto.
The rabbi’s followers have also charged that Mr. Biton and Ronn Torossian, a public relations agent based in Manhattan, engaged in a scheme in which they leaked purportedly damaging information about the rabbi to reporters. Then, the followers said, Mr. Biton pushed to have Mr. Torossian put on retainer to help put an end to the bad publicity.
From “Michael Grimm’s Reliance On Rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto Comes Back To Haunt Him” by David Caruso:
Pinto’s attorney in New York, Arthur Aidala, said the rabbi was “very satisfied with the arrest, and looks forward to the prosecution of this defendant and others who have done harm to rabbi Pinto and his family.”
76 From “Michael Grimm’s Reliance On Rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto Comes Back To Haunt Him” by David Caruso:
In the two years since the election, Pinto’s religious organization, Mosdot Shuva Israel, has been a frequent target of media scrutiny. News articles in the Jewish press accused it of spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on luxury travel and raised questions about its handling of millions of dollars in donations.
Pinto’s own father-in-law, an influential rabbi in Argentina, complained in a court filing that Pinto – who professes to have no worldly possessions – had enlisted him in a scheme to conceal his ownership of luxury apartments in Jerusalem.
More recently, a Pinto aide, rabbi Abraham Israel, was detained by Israeli police in April as part of an ongoing investigation into suspected money laundering and theft at an anti-poverty charity, Hazon Yeshaya. A spokesman for Pinto said he had no involvement in that charity.
Large amounts of Shuva Israel’s money have also disappeared, according to the organization’s lawyers. In December, Pinto and his supporters publicly blamed Biton, claiming he had embezzled large sums. They also made allegations, first reported last year in The New York Times, that Biton had conspired with another member of the congregation to extort money from the rabbi by threatening to plant damaging stories about him in the media.
Biton has called the extortion and embezzlement allegations lies.
77 From “Anthony Weiner reported Staten Island Rep. Michael Grimm to FBI over alleged extortion” by Celeste Katz AND Alison Gendar:
Shortly before his sexting scandal forced him out of office, then-Rep. Anthony Weiner passed on reports to the FBI that Staten Island Rep. Michael Grimm extorted an influential rabbi for campaign cash.
Rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto, who has been sought for personal advice by some of Israel’s most powerful pols as well as sports figures such as LeBron James, told Weiner in October 2010 that he felt coerced into encouraging his congregation to donate to Grimm’s campaign.
“The complaint at the time was that Grimm had mentioned that he was a former FBI agent and let the rabbi know, through his interpreter and staff, that he could help the congregation, or make life tougher for them, and that he was a good person to have as a friend, not an enemy,” a law enforcement source told Roll Call.
The disgraced Democrat confirmed that he passed along the tip about his colleague to the feds.
“I don’t know the truth of the allegations the rabbi made, so I am not going to repeat them. But I can confirm that I did the right thing at the time and reported the allegations to the FBI,” Weiner told the Daily News.
“Mr. Weiner’s false allegations about Congressman Grimm are no more credible than his original claims of innocence in WeinerGate,” said William McGinley.
78 From “Michael Grimm Campaign Office Broken Into, Hard Drives Erased “ by Nick Wing:
The Staten Island campaign office of Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.) suffered a destructive break-in over the weekend, in an incident that left three windows shattered by cinderblocks and computer hard drives cleared.
The first-term congressman was informed of the damage Sunday and quickly decried it as a “politically motivated crime” and “an assault on democracy and the political process.”
The New York Daily News reported that police have found no evidence of forced entry at the building and are investigating the incident as an act criminal mischief, not burglary.
Intruders were able to clear data from the hard drives by installing Linux on office computers. Grimm told authorities that the sensitive polling data, voter information, and other campaign material contained in the hard drives had all been backed up “literally hours before.” He suggested that a suspect could have gained access to the building because his campaign hadn’t changed the locks since it changed hands from the car dealership that had previously occupied the building.
From “Grimm fairy tale? S.I. pol sees cybergate in HQ burglary” by Shane Dixon Kavanaugh:
Campaign workers said they found cinder blocks hurled through the windows of the Hylan Blvd. office late Sunday morning and later discovered a computer hard-drive containing campaign files and polling data had been erased.
Grimm, a former FBI agent who is facing an ongoing federal probe into illegal fundraising activity, charged foul play.
“I do believe this is a politically motivated crime,” said the freshman lawmaker in a statement. “This is a disgraceful act of cowardice that is beneath the people I represent.”
From “Michael Grimm Looks for ‘Teachable Moment’ for Rock-Throwing Teenagers” by Emma Dumain:
Rep. Michael Grimm seems to want to do right by the two teenagers who vandalized his campaign office on Staten Island, saying he is open to offering internships or volunteer opportunities to them to give a firsthand view of public work. For their part, the teenagers apparently threw rocks through his window just for the heck of it.
“I invite the teenagers to see firsthand the importance of public service and the political process by interning in my official office or volunteering in another capacity within our community,” the New York Republican said in a statement, adding that he hoped the judge “will take leniency with these children and use it as a teachable moment on the importance of serving our community instead of vandalizing it.”
It’s becoming evident, however, that the vandalism was not an act of aggression against a public official or against the community at large. One of the teenagers responsible for the incident has told authorities he and his friend didn’t even realize it was a Congressman’s office until after the rocks has been thrown.
It’s been more than three days since Grimm first informed the public that his office had been vandalized, initially believing the broken windows were a cover-up for an overt “political assault” on his operation. The campaign computer’s hard drive containing sensitive data, he asserted, had been tampered with.
Since that time, while the New York Police Department continues to examine the computer in question for signs that it was tampered with, Grimm has acknowledged the possibility that it might have been a volunteer who accidentally wiped the computer clean without admitting to it.
The New York Times first reported Monday night that sources within the NYPD were doubtful there had been an intrusion into the office and a hacking of the computer system. It wasn’t until the first teenager admitted Tuesday afternoon to being behind the vandalism that Grimm, a former FBI agent, released a statement expressing his disappointment in the perpetrators but his relief that it was not a politically motivated attack.
79 The transcript of the chat between Barrett Brown and “Carlito 2000” is part of the chat between Barrett Brown and Breitbart associate Patrick Frey, and can be found on cryptome: “LA Prosecutor Patrick Frey Chats with Barrett Brown 3”.
The unnamed figure whose only legacy is venality and grift is a passing swipe at Ralph Reed, who I attempt to cover in “Ralph Reed: Venal Rex”, and the event of the past weekend was the Faith and Freedom “Road to Majority” Conference. The link is to a picture gallery of the event.
“How Barrett Brown went from Anonymous’s PR to federal target” by Ryan Gallagher is a good introduction to the subject of Brown’s arrest. “Flavor of the Week: Fireside Chatrooms” is an early piece of non-political writing by Brown.