The Ruse And Fail Of Little Green Footballs: Part VI – Current Events & The Future Of LGFPosted: September 30, 2012
This is Part 6 of a monograph about a blog named Little Green Footballs and its founder Charles Foster Johnson. Click the links below for related posts.
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 6 – CURRENT EVENTS & THE FUTURE OF LGF
No one argues that Charles Johnson had no right to change his mind politically. He has every right to do so. Happens all the time. What doesn’t happen all the time is when a one-time top-notch political blogger decides to attack those who helped push him into the spotlight rather than just carry on with his own business.
There are plenty of people who became more conservative after the tragic events of 9/11, Johnson among them. But the people who made Johnson’s blog great – his “Lizard Army,” his “minions” as they called themselves – were owed better than the backstabbing and subsequent kangaroo court trials followed by a bum’s rush to the door.
Once a loyal lizard was booted for stepping on one too many invisible eggshells, the vanquished was demonized by those remaining behind, and that’s what got people pissed off, both left and right, about Charles Johnson. He couldn’t be trusted. He exposed himself, not by his words, but by his actions. Johnson is nothing more than an opportunist with no loyalty to anyone but himself.
In retrospect, Johnson might have handled it better. He might have explained his progressive epiphany or allowed dissent on LGF, but he didn’t. There was no transition period, and without warning it was Johnson’s way or the highway. Over 16,000 people either picked the highway  or had the decision made for them.  Now Johnson presides over what is essentially an online cult. Johnson asserts that he doesn’t ban anyone for disagreeing with him or for questioning him, which is an out and out falsehood, and there are over 16K who know it.
The Little Green Footballs of today bears no resemblance to the Little Green Footballs of old. Today, Johnson and his blog are objects of ridicule, and the once insightful topic threads are merely echo chambers for his rants du jour. He makes feeble attempts to recapture national prominence by hawking outlandish claims against national conservative figures – a provocative Rush Limbaugh thread here, a Glenn Beck smear thread there, a snark against the GOP and Mitt Romney, hoping that someone will mention him. So far none have taken the bait, and none have done so because Johnson hasn’t come up with any original material.
That includes his one claim to fame: Rathergate. Believe it or not, Charles Johnson stole and took credit for that one, too.
Glenn Beck mentioned LGF on his television show in early 2009, but it was to eviscerate Johnson’s false claim (with video evidence) that Beck’s followers favored book burning. Indeed, the video revealed that it was a liberal anti-Beck provocateur at the rally making the comments. 
Johnson was no longer able to propel his once-famous blog to national prominence on its own merits and Little Green Footballs became nothing more than a vehicle for flame throwing and pathetic cries for attention.
Then Johnson discovered Twitter.
Once Johnson understood the exponential power of Twitter, that it allowed him to forward links to thousands at the click of a mouse, he used it to promote LGF pages and threads and to hawk music from his Amazon store using the handle @Lizardoid. But he didn’t stop there.
There is no doubt that Johnson engaged in “TwitterWars” with prominent bloggers. In 2011 his prime target was the late Andrew Breitbart. While Brietbart had over 16,000 Twitter followers, Johnson had barely 2,000, but on Twitter it doesn’t matter because it works exponentially.
If one has only two followers and they both re-tweet a message to two others who do the same, it doesn’t take long for a simple message from an unknown person to be broadcast to millions. For those of you who scoff at the 140 character limit of Twitter, that’s the power of it. A small handful of people can view and forward/retweet a link to millions in a short amount of time.
On the other hand, if you had only one follower on Twitter who Re-Tweeted your One Tweet and his name happened to be Breitbart, you just contacted 16k people. Twitter following counts don’t mean a lot.
Once on Twitter, Johnson came across as someone who believed that if Breitbart was paying attention to him, he must be important, when in fact, Breitbart retweeted every foul Tweet he received, and Johnson was merely one of thousands. Eventually even Breitbart tired of Johnson and blocked him. @Lizardoid cried foul, even though he himself aggressively blocked and reported anyone who disagreed with him (more about that below).
To his dismay, Johnson found he didn’t have the same control over Twitter as he did with Little Green Footballs. Twitter is public, as opposed to a private blog where an administrator creates and enforces the rules. Everything posted on Twitter is public, and there are archive sites such that once a Tweet is posted, that 140 character missive cannot be erased easily. For those who engage in TwitterWars, archiving is essential, and there are many who not only archive, but save screencaps for later use, for both attacks and defense. The practice is petulant and childish, but that’s what Twitter and other social media outlets have devolved to due to abuse of the systems.
Eventually, Johnson was alerted to an underhanded tactic used by some Twitter users to eliminate opposing political viewpoints. “Block and Report” was a Twitter tool designed to eliminate spam Tweets, but it had a flaw. Anyone could “Block and Report” anyone, and if enough Twitter users organized and targeted a specific user in a short period of time, regardless if that user was Tweeting spam, they could get that user blocked from Twitter. The automated system didn’t differentiate between real spam and faux reports, and the phenomenon became known as #Twittergulag.
#Twittergulag was denounced by Charles Johnson and others practicing it as a fraud, a manufactured outrage, until some intrepid sleuths figured out the algorithm and confirmed the practice by using throwaway Twitter accounts and testing it. Some of those accounts were “Blocked and Reported” and shut down without having posted a single Tweet to anyone. Johnson was part of the operation to shut down opposing views on Twitter, and once he was called on it, deleted many incriminating Tweets and changed his habits, at least in public. 
So is Johnson making a comeback? Not really. His August/Sept 2012 bounce was primarily a result of three events: The Republican National Convention, the Democrat National Convention, and the brutal assassinations at the U.S. Embassy in Libya. Removing those days from the mix, the average for both months drops by 100-200 (although that’s still higher than most of 2012).
Little Green Footballs, once premier among the conservative blogosphere, is barely a blip on anyone’s radar. It is no longer on anyone’s “must read” list except for those who follow and mock his decline, and the handful of sycophants who have deluded themselves that they’re a privileged elite allowed membership in an obsolete dysfunctional hive run by an egotistical blogger who believes that all other political bloggers should follow his lead and rule with an Iron Fist.
The truth is, Johnson just isn’t as important or as influential as he once was, and many newcomers to social media have never heard of him. For someone like Charles Johnson, his milieu has to be unnerving. He knows he’s no longer on the stage, and he’s not even the opener for the puppet show. What’s worse is that he knows there’s no one to blame but himself, and that’s a big chunk to swallow for anyone.
As summarized by a caller on a Blogmocracy Radio podcast:
“Charles Johnson is one of those guys who jumps out in front of the parade and thinks he’s leading it.”
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.
 See Part 4 of this series: “The Flounces” Diary of Daedalus, 25 September 2012. http://diaryofdaedalus.com/2012/09/25/the-ruse-and-fail-of-little-green-footballs-part-iv/
 See Part 3 of this series: “The Bannings” Diary of Daedalus, 23 September 2012. http://diaryofdaedalus.com/2012/09/23/the-ruse-and-fail-of-little-green-footballs-part-iii/
 Transcript of the “Burn The Books” hoax with video. Glenn Beck, 13 April 2009. http://www.glennbeck.com/content/articles/article/198/23948/
 “More Conclusive Proof @Lizardoid Tied to #Twittergulag”, PanOfTheForest, Diary of Daedaulus, 19 July 2011 http://diaryofdaedalus.com/2012/06/19/more-conclusive-proof-lizardoid-tied-to-twittergulag/
Credits: This Series was a collaborative effort by dozens of netizens across the blogosphere, some with axes to grind, some just curious observers, and some are still lizards in good standing at Little Green Footballs. Kudos to LGF2.0/The Blogmocracy, Diary of Daedalus, The Boiler Room Crew and many others who provided behind-the-scenes leads, tips and commentary for this monograph. Andrew Breitbart would have loved it.
Special Thanks go out to, um, well, you know who you are.
We can’t wrap this up without a hat tip to the biggest contributor. Charles, if it wasn’t for you and your “If you don’t like it here, start your own blog” advice, none of this would have been possible, and for that we owe you a lot of gratitude. You’ve provided us and others with years of entertainment. Carry on, you rascal you.