The Ruse And Fail Of Little Green Footballs Part V – The TurnaroundPosted: September 27, 2012 | |
This is Part 5 of a monograph about a blog named Little Green Footballs and its founder Charles Foster Johnson. Click the links below for related posts. They will be updated as the series continues.
Part 1 – Overview
Part 2 – The Ascendance of Charles Johnson and LGF
Part 3 – The Bannings
Part 4 – The Flounces
Part 5 – The Turnaround
Part 6 – Current Events & The Future Of LGF
Bonus track: Revisiting Rathergate
PART 5 – THE LIBERAL TURNAROUND
Up until the election of Barrack Obama in 2008, LGF could still be seen as essentially a conservative blog. Indeed, in blog awards voting, LGF was consistently listed as “conservative” and Johnson voiced no qualms about the distinction.
But a change was in the wind, and in 2008 Johnson became obsessed with religion and “creationism” in particular. At the same time, his posts took a decidedly “anti-Christian” tone. The same fervor with which Johnson once exposed Islamofascism around the globe, he became intent on uncovering the evil ensconced in the Christian belief that God created the heavens and earth, while ignoring the fact that other major religions held similar belief systems.
Johnson ran regular threads about lawmakers wanting to teach creationism in classrooms, with the theme that if this view prevailed and Intelligent Design and/or creationism was even discussed in schoolrooms, the Republic was doomed. While many at LGF agreed with Johnson that creationism or even intelligent design should not be taught in the schools, many were not ready to abandon their own religions and follow the tenets of Darwin. Of the religious frequenters to LGF, most realized that creationism and evolution were not necessarily contradictory.
In Johnson’s view, those who held Judeo-Christian beliefs and accepted creationism as part of their creed were somehow uninformed and ignorant. He dismissed them as “anti-science” or “science deniers,” and began searching for and naming public figures (and other bloggers) in order to label them as creationists. This was another common tactic Johnson used to “win” arguments. No matter how valid a point of discussion was, if it came from a “creationist” it was automatically null and void. The terms “Birther.” “Truther,” “Conspiracy Theorist” and “Climate Denier” were employed in a similar fashion, regardless of the true beliefs of Johnson’s target du jour, and the discussion was settled.
Most could ignore the anti-religion threads and concentrate on the political ones. If one waited long enough, an enterprising member would take it upon him or herself to hijack the comments section and start talking about something else with more widespread interest. While there is no doubt that some members began to visit the site less and less, most were still posting.
After the election of Obama, media reports began to signal the “end” of the conservative movement – the Republican Party was dead and liberalism was on the rise. It is unclear whether Johnson feared that the right-wing blogosphere was truly doomed or he had finally found an opportunity to get off the conservative train he had been riding since 11 September 2001. In any case he made a tight U-turn, on not only conservative values, but also the on the conservative base on his blog. More invisible eggshells and tripwires were scattered around the Little Green Footballs play room.
Johnson announced that he’d had a change of heart on many things – global warming, the war in Iraq, and Islam. Most notably, he demolished his relationship with other bloggers. He and Pamela Gellar engaged in a very public blogwar about his characterization of the members of anti-Jihad movements in Europe. Geller, who had actually met and spoken with these individuals in person, pointed out to Johnson his characterizations were wrong. Johnson didn’t attend, but he claimed to know all about it, and that everyone who did attend was wrong.
So Pamela Geller (who once referred to Johnson as her “blog daddy”) was banned. Posters on LGF who defended Geller were banned. Posters on LGF who complained about the bannings were banned.
More importantly, Johnson began to link and source outlets he had previously disparaged. Daily KOS, Huffington Post, Media Matters, Think Progress – these were his new blog sources. Johnson worked overtime trying to ingratiate himself with the left. But if Johnson thought he was going to re-invent himself as a liberal force in the blogosphere, he was sadly mistaken. This was an arena that was full of blogs that already had their street cred and had no need for Johnson or LGF. Indeed, they didn’t trust him, and for good reason. Most recognized him for what he is: an opportunist.
But Johnson got sloppy. At first glance, it appears that he could not be bothered to get real news stories anymore. Most of his posts were not informative – they were merely Johnson howling at the right. Either he had somehow convinced himself that he and he alone was the responsible for the greatness of LGF, or he deluded himself into believing he was a man of great political thinking and acumen.
Neither was true. Today, Little Green Footballs is a shadow of its former self, populated only with “yes” men and women who serve only to tell Johnson how great he is and to apologize for the pokes the blogosphere takes at him. But there are several events that illustrate the intellectual bankruptcy of LGF and also accelerated its decline.
The Midnight Raid of Killgore Trout.
In the wee hours of September 18, 2009, prolific LGF poster and moderator Killgore Trout ventured over to the Hot Air website and committed what has gone down as one of the most atrocious acts in the history of the blogosphere. Using his LGF “nic,” Trout went Moby , and posted a racist rant on a “dead” thread, liberally sprinkling his comments with the use of the “N” word. He was shouted down and disparaged by others on the blog, and no one defended his racist comments.
Trout returned to LGF and waited a few hours for his posts to be scrubbed. When they were not, he proclaimed that the moderators at Hot Air condoned racism because they had done nothing about removal of his vulgar comments. Of course, at the time the comments were made, Hot Air’s moderators were asleep. They removed Trout’s vulgar comments as soon as they viewed them.
Read that last paragraph again. More of Johnson’s YESBUT.
When discovered, Trout’s actions were the subject of outrage, not only on Hot Air and other blogs, but even on Little Green Footballs. Johnson, in a post later that morning, made more excuses for Trout’s bragging.
That “very serious problem” was created by Killgore Trout, and supported by Charles Johnson.
So, what was the point? The moderators at Hot Air scrubbed the comments once they saw them. It is telling that Johnson neither apologized to the owners of Hot Air for the Trout’s moby attack nor was he banned for this outrageous behavior. Apparently, Johnson’s true concern was that somehow he would be blamed for Trout’s actions – and he was. The incident raised a serious question: Knowing Johnson’s penchant to ban posters who step out of line, why did Killgore Trout feel safe in his enterprise? Johnson claimed ignorance of Trout’s actions, but subsequently found validity in the use of the most disgusting racial epithets in order to discredit other bloggers more popular and successful than he.
To their credit, others on that LGF thread expressed their disgust. They were promptly banned and their comments deleted.  In an open letter to Johnson, blogger Jay Tea of Wizbang responded:
“In case it escaped your memory, I commented on Killgore Trout’s midnight raid on Hot Air. I found what he did incredibly disgusting and morally repugnant, and knowing that he was one of your trusted “monitor lizards,” I knew where I could find him to tell him so.
In that thread, I very carefully abided by every single one of your stated comments policies. I did not violate a single one of them.
Oh, but I sure as hell broke your unwritten, unpublished, unacknowledged rules. Cheerfully, in fact. I confronted and denounced one of your chosen pets, and called upon you to equally enforce other of your unpublished rules — mainly, the one where your commenters are held accountable for what they do on other sites.
To no great surprise, I was banned and my comments were deleted.” 
Indeed, Johnson later defended Killgore Trout’s subterfuge with the argument that he’d posted the offensive comments on Hot Air under his real name and not a sock. (Nevermind that the perpetrator’s “real name” is a misspelling of the name of a recurring character in Kurt Vonnegut novels.) 
Because of Killgore Trout’s astroturfing, Johnson and his minions were accused of publishing all sorts of racist comments at Fox News and other blogs as evidence of the racism and bigotry of the right. The fact that these comments were often found by Killgore Trout and brought back to LGF as trophies led to speculation that he himself had planted them. After all, he’d done it before with no consequence and with the tacit approval of Charles Johnson. Vile comments posted at left-wing sites like Daily Kos or the Huffington Post were conveniently ignored.
As stated before, the “Yes But” argument is classic Johnson. “Yes, it’s not true, but it should be.” Although he denied culpability while supporting Killgore’s stunt, he advocated astroturfing elsewhere.
Evidence of Charles Johnson’s minions’ astroturfing was exposed on Amazon.com where reviews were posted of a book by Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer that had not been released to the public. Did Johnson do it himself? Of course not, yet he dropped loud hints to his lizards, who subsequently bragged about it.
Why would a 60 years old man care that former protégé Pamela Geller was successful enough to write and publish a book that had nothing to do with Charles Johnson or Little Green Footballs and attempt to undermine her achievement by sending his minions to deliberately sabotage reviews on Amazon? Pure ego-centric petulance. It didn’t affect Geller’s book sales, but it did expose Johnson’s irrational propensity for petty tyranny.
Publishing Personal Information
Occasionally there were those who spoke their opinions to Charles Johnson. A common retort from Johnson was, “If you don’t like it here, go start your own blog.”
Several took Johnson’s advice and never looked back. For the handful who dared to stare into the rear view mirror, Johnson demonized them as “stalkers,” and falsely claimed that the websites of the banned were infested with viruses and spyware. Johnson needed to keep his fans from venturing away from Little Green Footballs and finding out the truth – that he’d made it all up.
One of those blogs had the audacity to call their new website “LGF2.0” (later renamed “The Blogmocracy”). In retaliation, Johnson published the real names of former LGF-registered commenters “Rodan,” “Savage” and “M,” a serious breach of internet protocol, courtesy and manners, and he did it out of spite, merely because they disagreed with his opinions. Their comments, like those of many others, were cleansed from Little Green Footballs.
Indeed, Charles Johnson went so far as to register “Little Green Footballs” as a trademark in order to shut down the blog known as “LGF2.0.” 
While Johnson claimed to have the information on all three from other sources, One commenter’s personal information could have come from only one source – the PayPal account from which she hit Johnson’s “tip jar.” Johnson was again seen as an untrustworthy individual having broken a cardinal rule of the blogosphere – thou shalt not publish people’s personal information without their permission. The result is that Johnson’s desperate pleas to “hit the tip jar” went unheeded by a lot of his remaining fans.
The Tennessee State Flag
If being considered untrustworthy wasn’t bad enough, Johnson found himself looking ridiculous due to his utter lack of research and fact-check skills. On 28 March 2010 he stated in his near-daily “TEA Party Racism” thread the following:
The flag in question, the one he was so sure was a neo-Nazi flag, is the State Flag of Tennessee. In his desire to find Nazis and racism everywhere, he became the same sort of ill-informed conspiracy theorist that he himself despised.
The Obama Flag
Just a few years prior to misidentifying the Tennessee State Flag, Charles Johnson posted this gem:
Charles Johnson missed the memo that Barrack Obama was campaigning in Ohio at the time. With regards to recognizing State Flags, Conservative Charles was just as ignorant as Liberal Charles.
Weinergate and The New York Menu Board
Although by now Johnson had severed ties with Andrew Breitbart (despite the fact that Breitbart introduced him to the people of Pajamas Media) he announced that he had proof that Breitbart lied about only showing Anthony Weiner’s photos to news producers. Breitbart admitted showing the photos to radio personalities Opie and Anthony and to Ann Coulter but denied publicizing them.
Then Johnson claimed that Breitbart lied about keeping Weiner’s photos private, and for proof posted a photo of Coulter’s supposed reaction outside a Manhattan restaurant – taken right after she viewed the photos from the open laptop to her left. Johnson pointedly says “Ann Coulter is not a news producer,” ergo, Breitbart lied. 
Although he wasn’t there, Charles Johnson described the scene:
In fact, two nights ago, Andrew Breitbart went out drinking with Anthony and several others — and according to Anthony, showed the picture to numerous people, even leaving his laptop computer unattended with the picture on the screen for long periods of time.
One of those people was right wing flamethrower Ann Coulter. Here’s Anthony’s photo of Coulter reacting to the picture; notice that his computer is apparently there, but Breitbart is nowhere to be seen.
The open laptop in question was a menu board in front of the restaurant, as evidenced by photos taken of the same location in daylight. Johnson to this day maintains it was a laptop. But more to the point, Johnson mischaracterized Breitbart’s statement regarding the showing of the photos to news producers. Blogger Patterico nailed Johnson on his selective editing of Breitbart’s statement:
On his blog, Johnson posted this quote from Breitbart:
“…it was necessary to show the pictures I had received from our source to several news producers, including several at major news networks, to prove that the additional material I described really did exist, which some have continued to doubt.”
Oh wait! Chuckles did some selective editing. Here’s the whole quote.
“Prior to the publication of our story on BigGovernment.com and BigJournalism.com this past Monday morning, it was necessary to show the pictures I had received from our source to several news producers, including several at major news networks, to prove that the additional material I described really did exist, which some have continued to doubt.
Oh, wait – that’s not a policy. That’s explaining what happened before the story even broke.”
The Accusation of TEA Party Murder of a US Census worker
On 24 September 2009, a man was found hung, with the word “FED” scrawled upon his chest. Johnson insinuated that a TEA Party member killed US Census worker William Edwin Sparkman Jr. in Kentucky after a Glenn Beck Rally, when in fact the death was a suicide.
MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow presented the unsubstantiated rumor as a likely scenario, and Charles Johnson promoted the lie, months before the facts of the death were known. The results of the investigation determined that Sparkman committed suicide, but staged it to appear to be a murder such that his family could collect on a life insurance policy.
Not even the liberal LA Times bought into the story, yet Charles Johnson did.
These are not the only examples of Johnson’s slanted egregious “reporting” on Little Green Footballs. Contrary to his claim that his Little Green Footballs is a “news aggregator” (as stated in his application for trademark registry) Johnson does little more than cut and paste the latest memes, often verbatim, from left wing media sources with little or no background fact checking. That seems to be fine with his fan base of unquestioning sycophants hanging out at Little Green Footballs.
[Caveat: In no way is this monograph comprehensive, nor is it intended to defame or otherwise impugn Charles Johnson, Little Green Footballs or anyone associated with any blog. Any and all conjecture should be intuitively obvious to the casual observer. This is not Wikipedia; however, if any readers find fault with this monograph, please leave comments with verifiable backup and we’ll correct factual errors.]
[Coming up: Part 6 – Current Events & The Future of LGF]
 From Urban Dictionary: Moby – An insidious and specialized type of left-wing troll who visits blogs and impersonates a conservative for the purpose of either spreading false rumors intended to sow dissension among conservative voters, or who purposely posts inflammatory and offensive comments for the purpose of discrediting the blog in question. http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=moby
 “Indeed, one of Johnson’s buddies (with whom he is still friendly) actually admitted planting racist comments at Hot Air in 2009. Specifically, in September 2009, trusted LGF Lieutenant Killgore Trout went over to Hot Air in the middle of the night to plant some racist comments. Ace described what happened.” “Charles Johnson, An Unlikely Crusader Against Racist Comments” Patterico, 15 April 2012 http://patterico.com/2012/04/15/charles-johnson-an-unlikely-crusader-against-racist-comments/
 Here is the link to the comments. Note the abnormally large number of deleted comments. http://littlegreenfootballs.com/article/34695_Overnight_Open_Thread/comments/
 Jay Tea, Wizbang “I Will Not Poke Lizards With Sticks. I Will Not Poke Lizards With Sticks.” 2 March 2010 http://wizbangblog.com/2010/03/02/i-will-not-poke-lizards-with-sticks-i-will-not-poke-lizards-with-sticks/ Quote: “Congratulations are in order. I have now joined the illustrious club of ‘People Charles Johnson Has Lied About.'”
 “Charles Johnson’s Flying Monkeys Astroturf Amazon Again” http://diaryofdaedalus.com/2011/08/03/charles-johnsons-flying-monkeys-astroturf-amazon-again/
 U.S. Patent andTrademark Office, registration for “Little Green Footballs.” https://diaryofdaedalus.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/lgftrademark.pdf
 In fact, the engineers of the Opie and Anthony Show, unbeknownst to Breitbart, captured the image via a live camera in the recording studio and “scooped” Breitbart, thus forcing Breitbart’s hand. This is not conjecture, as it was confirmed by Opie and Anthony as well. http://www.foxnews.com/on-air/on-the-record/transcript/breitbart-039opie-and-anthony039-went-against-their-word-secretly-recorded-and-tweeted-x-
 “The Death of Bill Sparkman” Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_Bill_Sparkman
 Charles Johnson’s “reporting” of the Zimmerman Martin case before the facts were released is too long to post here. He went so far as to claim Zimmerman was a white racist who was not injured in the altercation that resulted in Martin’s death. None of Johnson’s allegations have been proven to be true.