The End of an Era

BoxersBack in the fall of 2004, right about the time we started blogging, the influence of the “new media” became undeniable. A supposed memo about George W. Bush’s avoidance of National Guard duty was touted by CBS and 60 Minutes as the smoking gun against Bush at the height of his re-election campaign. Unfortunately for CBS, the blogs analyzed the memo, exposed it as a blatant forgery, and helped send Dan Rather into early retirement.

The initial detective work was done by Buckhead at Free Republic, but the big engines of publicity that dislodged Dan Rather from his throne were Charles Johnson at Little Green Footballs and Scott Johnson (no relation) at Power Line.

Those blogs were the two major sources of information for me during Rathergate, and they were two of the reasons I decided to take up blogging. Power Line and LGF covered the story in great detail, were scrupulous about accuracy, posted updates frequently, and linked each other’s work. They were the Big Two of the fake TNG memo scandal.

So it was a bit saddening today to learn that the two blogs have come to a parting of the ways.

Each has put up a post about the split-up. Scott Johnson says:

We have slightly updated our blogroll for the first time in a long time. We have deleted Charles Johnson’s Little Green Footballs. We long ago stopped reading LGF. Suffice it to say (suffice it for me to say, anyway) that Charles’s political inclinations and interests now diverge widely from our own.

And Charles Johnson has this response:

Since the people at Powerline have made a big public announcement about it, I’ll just say that I’m not the least surprised that they’ve delinked LGF. Powerline has been going in a very bad direction recently; the “all Obama-hatred, all the time” focus is bad enough, but worse are their articles supporting European extremists like Geert Wilders (who wants to deprive Muslims of the freedom of religion and ban books) and outright fascists like the Belgian Vlaams Belang party.

I’ve been considering removing them from my links for quite some time because of this kind of disturbing stuff, but I was foolish enough to believe they might come to their senses. I’ve written emails to them about it (which weren’t returned), and I wrote a post laying out my case, that they completely ignored. Clearly, this is a direction they’ve chosen, so I’ve removed all links to Powerline from LGF.

It’s gratifying to see at last — almost two years after the fact — an acknowledgement by a major blog like Power Line that Charles Johnson’s take on Vlaams Belang and European “neo-Nazis” was wrong, and that Fjordman, Pamela Geller, Paul Belien, and Gates of Vienna were right.
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It would have been even nicer to see some support from major American blogs back at the height of the LGF wars in the late fall of 2007.

As soon as Charles pronounced anathema against us that October, we became pariahs in much of the American blogosphere. His severe factual errors and distortions cried out for a firm response, so I appealed to some of the major blogs to examine our material — as collected in “Suggested Corrections for Charles Johnson” and “Charles Johnson: The Dan Rather of the Blogosphere?” — and speak out about a blogger who was, at a minimum, failing to do due diligence and retract or correct significant factual errors.

The response was… crickets chirping.

I don’t know if the lack of response was due to fear, or a reluctance to get into the middle of a blog war, or perhaps the result of receiving too much email.

But Charles was loaded for bear back in those days, and when he de-linked a blog, many others would follow suit or lose all hope of being linked by him. All but the biggest bloggers had good reason to fear the baleful gaze of the Lidless Eye.

Even now, at this late date, it would be nice to hear one of them say: “Gosh, Baron — you and Pamela were right after all. I’m glad you stuck to your guns.”

But that’s not likely to happen, so I’ll just have to congratulate myself (and Paul, and Pamela, and Fjordman, and the dozens of little blogs that defied the Lidless Eye).

I’m glad we stuck it out.

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The repercussions of the conflict weren’t entirely negative, even though LGF did serious damage to our American readership, from which we never fully recovered.

The unintended consequence of all this brouhaha was that we acquired a large number of new European readers. To any well-educated European who is not a member of the loonie left, LGF’s opinions about Europe were (and are) ludicrous and ill-informed. At Gates of Vienna we try to offer an alternative view that is factually correct and richly documented, so that it can appeal to serious readers on both sides of the Atlantic.

I recognize my fundamental ignorance about matters European, so I defer to the Europeans themselves. I want them to speak from their own knowledge and in their own voices, which means that I rely on a variety of translations and analyses from the people on the ground in Eurabia.

As a result, during the last two years our readership has gradually evolved into an approximate 50-50 split between Europe and North America (with some Aussies and Latin Americans thrown in to leaven the mix). The blog wars of 2007 led directly to the rich tapestry of translations and essays that people enjoy here in 2009.

So I can’t complain — Power Line and LGF helped us out, each in its own different way.

It’s the end of an era for their partnership. But we’re just getting warmed up.

32 thoughts on “The End of an Era

  1. CJ is still hard at work trashing the best sites on islamofascism as ‘neo-nazis’. It’s gotten to the point where if you’ve ever uttered the word ‘nazi’, you are considered a neo-nazi by little green footballs (except for liberals of course. He exempts them from the rules).

    I think the latest dust-up comes from CJ calling the greatest photo-blogger on the web, Brian of SnappedShot, a fascist enabler. It was so ridiculous that both Powerline and the Jawas had had enough of Johnson’s imaginary nazis everywhere mentality, and told him off the very next day.

    It’s gotten to the point where Charles Johnson is now creepy. Whomever stood with GoV, Brussels Journal, JihadWatch, Geert, etc. against this mad bicyclist in need of medication should by now feel quite vindicated in their decision.

    Charles Johnson is the Lyndon Larouche of blogs.

  2. I’ve been waiting for Powerline to part ways with CJ and was glad to see it. They were a bit too gentlemanly to get into the fray when the LGF wars broke out, and quite frankly I’m still not sure where they stand on the Vlaams Belang. I agree with the boys at Powerline about 75-85% percent of the time and consider them honest intellectuals. As for CJ, he’s a great reason to oppose human cloning and to support mental health parity.

  3. I find something very interesting going on over at LGF. If you scan his “top rated links”, which are posted by readers, the subject selection is still overwhelmingly conservative. If you then scroll down to the subject matter CJ chooses, it has actually become quite left-leaning. It’s as if his readership is in denial.

    I still want to know what happened. Often it is something quite simple and basic, such as a new woman in his life, or that somebody bought him off.

    I’d also be interested in what his readership number is, if it’s fallen since then.

    A real disappointment he’s become.

  4. Even though I was one of the little blogs who stuck with you guys, you don’t need to thank me. This blog has always been an invaluable source of information, far more trusted than at LGF. Keep fighting the good fight.

  5. I’d never looked at “Powerline” until now, and noticed on my first visit that they have an excellent post on Rick Rescorla, who died on 9/11. I have read “Heart of a Soldier” (the book mentioned in the post) and I’m always pleased to see anyone, anywhere, recognise Rescorla.

  6. Listen, there is no question. He’s been bought off. I initially offered it as a tentative possibility, but now there is no question. The only other possible alternative is that he went crazy. I don’t think so. A lot of people revise their opinions as new information becomes available, but this is not what we are witnessing here. It’s a complete flip from right to left. His site has become indistinguishible from DailyKos. This man has sold his position in the blogosphere for money. And I hope for his sake that it was good money and he is enjoying it.

  7. I used to read LGF multiple times a day and the comments. Now he has banned so many commentors that the discussion is much less interesting. Anyone going against his opinion automatically gets banned. Now his readers are all YES men. Anyone who disagrees doesn’t comment for fear of being banned, or they just stop posting. Glad I never signed up. I’m surprised so many other bloggers followed him just on his word alone. They can’t think for themselves?
    9/11 is why I started reading his blog and 9/11 is why I don’t read it as much anymore. He was a liberal that was mugged and his wounds have healed and he has forgotten and moved on. If Los Angeles gets hit maybe he will come back to realize the threat is real and deadly and not just a tiny minority of islam.
    It is really sad to see him going after Robert Spencer, who has depth of understanding about islam that Johnson just seems to not believe. CJ hasn’t understood history it seems. Former muslims are on Spencer’s side, not Johnson’s. Which shows people who were born into it and have a very deep understanding know who is right about islam and its plan for the west.
    Maybe it is his Ad income requiring him to walk the liberal line. Maybe he has a new muslim friend who has convinced him that islam is *nice*. His posts have gone from being snarky to being close to threatening. He has definitely changed. His nasty name calling makes him look bad.

  8. Félicie: In every fight you will find somebody who switches sides. The reasons for this could be personal, or it could be because somebody paid them a considerable sum of money to attack their former “allies,” in which case they will try to put their thirty silver coins to good use. I will not speculate why Mr. Johnson did what he did. Maybe he is just an ass. Regardless of the reason, LGF is now almost indistinguishable from CAIR, which also means that it is a compliment to be attacked by LGF just like it is a compliment to be attacked by CAIR.

    I didn’t enjoy it when the fallout began because I was still under the delusion that he was on “our” team. Now that it is quite evident that he works for the other team, I’m quite relaxed about it. I prefer an honest enemy to a dishonest “ally” any day of the week. Frankly, I even feel proud. Charles Johnson is attacking everybody who does a meaningful job in defending his country and his civilization. If he spent so much time trying to discredit me and people close to me, it means that he considers me to have an important position on the “good” team. I sometimes wonder whether there is any point in writing essays like we do, but since people from the Dark Side apparently hate my guts, I must be doing something right.

  9. I’d just like to thank the Baron, Dymphna, Fjordman, Christine Brim et al for resolutely sticking to their guns during the whole VB controversy.

    When I was the sole commenter at LGF willing to say nice things about the VB and the other attendees of the Brussels Counterjihad Conference, the abuse heaped on me by CJ and his underlings was unbelievable.

    But it was your calm, reasoned and thorough refutations of CJ’s smears (almost all supplied by his Euro-Antifa allies) that helped me argue with dozens of lizards at once and (I think) win!

    When CJ declared war on GoV and the rest of us, he was the big dog in the anti-jihadosphere. We were the plucky underdogs who, though forced on the defensive from day one (Oct. 19, 2007), eventually prevailed by patiently explaining our case over and over again.

    Today GoV, Atlas Shrugs, Brussels Journal and Jihad Watch (amongst others) are the gold standard of anti-jihad blogs. Today LGF has morphed into an anti-anti-jihad blog, more concerned with defending anti-white leftists like Van Jones and ACORN and attacking the million American taxpayers who protested in DC yesterday than exposing radical Islam.

    And now that we see Powerline, Ace of Spades HQ, RS McCain and Vodkapundit jump on our anti-LGF bandwagon, well…vindication feels GOOD!

  10. Of course you’re right, Baron. And it is I who should be thanking you for sticking to your convictions despite the nasty attacks you endured for your position.

  11. LGF and Charles have become a den of vile psychopaths.In his/their reaction to the 9/12/09 demonstrations in Washington appears they went out of their way to find what they consider to most radical signs and posters.

    From this extremely narrow point of reference they became the equivalent of the far far left in their condemnation of the demonstration and its participants. Compared to the comments at LGF Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid seem like supporters of the demonstrations and their participants.

  12. After being slandered by Charles Johnson, Robert Stacy McCain takes the loathsome pony tailed spoke boy apart.

    Part III.

    Read Parts I and II, which are linked. It is one of the best defenses of conservatism I have read (and a scathing take down of that old has been CJ).

  13. Charles must have a skin disease that make his scales extremely sensitive.

    It took his reptilian cranial CAVITY only 11 minutes to delete my Pelsoi-Reid comparison and block my account.

    I found his reply interesting ‘So long, haters. Whatever you do, don’t look at the extremists who run the tea parties. Reality must be kept at bay.’

    Makes me wonder who indeed are the haters.

  14. Even in his heyday, when Charles Johnson passed for conservative, his absolute lack of intellectual heft was very noticeable. The brunt of his readership posted very juvenile comments.

    I left when he banned Fjordman, one of the few substantive commenters and was taken in like a five year old child by an obvious communist from Sweden as I remember it who set him on his “call conservatives nazis” kick. Oh, I was also attacked by his flying monkeys on a non-political issue on which I was an expert and they were ignoramuses with the ringleader someone mis-named Mandy Manners or some such.

    That’s how I blundered on to Gates of Vienna and I definitely remember the relief at finding people writing in sentences and paragraphs communicating ideas and in a much more polite fashion.

    Liberals like CJ really are like evil little children. He was mugged by 9/11, temporarily understood what had happened but as small children are wont to do, forgot yesterday and went back to the favorite target of his bullying contempt, conservatives. I wonder whether he now regrets his one moment of glory in Rathergate.

    Honestly, if leftists ever gave Muslim supremacists the pounding they lay on their conservative countrymen, the Muslims would be back in their caves with their forked tails between their legs. Instead, leftists are willing to make common cause with the oldest totalitarianism still standing (Islam) to reduce their fellow citizens and country to rubble in their quest for power and building their communist utopia.

    It leaves conservatives fighting on two fronts constantly.

    Western leftists are disgusting. Simply disgusting. Small of brain and heart while big in hatred and contempt. They ooze of it.

    There was a movement of principled leftists defending the West that called themselves the Euston group but they seem to have relapsed into obscurity. Presumably, like truly moderate Muslims, they were a sweet drop of rationality in a sea of acid.

  15. Laine:

    You said it so well. What happened to CJ? He was on the dark side from beginning. A mugged leftist who forgot. Now he’s lost in the enemies delusions. And here we are. But we are awakening.

  16. Johnson prefers to fight in his own side’s trenches -against his own natural allies- over trivial disagreements of style or decorum rather than fight the hordes of beheading, intolerant, misogynistic, imperialistic theocratic crazies and militant Mohammedan maniac jihadis swarming over the barricades (either literally or through the more cunning, and often more effective “stealth jihad”) because he gets more pleasure out of pseudo-intellectual one-upmanship (so he thinks) than in preserving liberty and decency and humanity from a brutal scrourge more dangerous than the fascists, Nazis and communists combined.

    A useful idiot.

    And a numbskull.

  17. LGF and the AP are both making themselves irrelevant, LGF by being irrational, and AP by threatening the best source of referrals they have. De-linking is a two way street. There are just too many other sources to bother with either of them.

    Thank you Baron and Dymphna for an accurate and insightful source of news that is never covered in the MSM.

  18. I used to be an LGF reader until very recently.

    After watching that crowd behave in the tea party comments, with sane commenters pointing out significant problems with their interpretations, and CJ and the rest claiming some super secret pictures they couldn’t point to which proved their point, well, I was pissed.

    Then I found out today that they banned Carl in Jerusalem. And they banned Yid with a Lid. And they banned … well … if you look it up, its something like 4000 names and people.

    It has become a very bad echo chamber there. Very bad.

    Don’t waste your time with them.

    I’ve always been an occasional GoV reader. Now I am just going to ignore LGF, apart from the link viewer, which is the last remaining thing of value at that site.

  19. I sometimes wonder whether there is any point in writing essays like we do, but since people from the Dark Side apparently hate my guts, I must be doing something right. – Fjordman.

    Kind of how I look at Israel, when I just need a quick brain-check. Look at all the dirty Bs who hate their guts – they must be doing something right then! (So let’s support them, 100%, foot-to-the-floor …)

  20. Wow, Carl in Jerusalem and Yid are banned! What an impoverished echo chamber it must be in there. What’s wrong with the posters who remain, do they agree with this sudden left shift, or what?

  21. Back in November 2007, James Lewis at American Thinker nailed Chazzer to the wall…where he’s been stuck ever since.

    He wrote the definitive explanation of Charles’ sudden lunacy, and yet his thoughtful article was ignored.

    I remain grateful to the man for saving my sanity back then. And no one else has improved on his explanation.

    IMHO, CJ was either suckered or bought, or both.

    Here’s Mr. Lewis’ take from way back then:

    A minor war has broken out in the conservative blogosphere, and it smells suspicious…

    …Brussels Journal, edited by Paul Belien and others, reads like a solid, sensible conservative website, one of the best in Europe…They make a very good case for being skeptical about the ruling class over there. Brussels Journal has never seemed out of line to me.

    Editor Paul Belien is a defender of the “Counter-jihad” movement in Belgium, which has been subjected to police beatings when they attempted to conduct a peaceful demonstration. Belien is warning that the Left in Europe is using immigrant Islamic votes to expand its power dramatically, leading to a Left-Islamist alliance that he believes will control Europe in the coming years. Sounds familiar? A Democrat amnesty for 12 million illegals, anyone?

    Check the link for the rest of his case. My only caveat is that Mr. Lewis doesn’t mention the cordon sanitaire that has been erected around Vlaams Belang in order to nullify their effectiveness. Nor does he mention the tight control that European governments maintain over political parties. Something we would never tolerate here. Something Americans don’t even know.

    Also remember that CJ sponsored some real questionable Swede ngo people in his comments…people who have long since tiptoed silently away, their mission accomplished.

    Charles was taken for a ride by Belgian and Swedish black psy ops. Though he willingly jumped into the car, it doesn’t appear that he returned with his mind fully intact.

    The merde he flung around for the following year damaged our reputation and set back our work in building networks. Charles couldn’t sever those connections, merely strain them. The more ignorant he appeared (i.e., whenever he pontificated on Europe), the more resilient did our ties to our allies become. They realized that the man didn’t know diddly and could be safely ignored.

    The American blogosphere simply backed away; they don’t know Europe either. An occasional American reader writes to ask why we’ve gone continental. Now they know: the US blogosphere, caught up in the minutiae of 24/7 politics for an election that was a year away, simply didn’t care about Europe’s fate.

    So we were left to swim on our own. Never venture into the murky waters of the blogosphere without a life vest and a buddy.

    However slowly grind the mills of a God Charles doesn’t believe in, those mills do eventually pulverize the grain until the truth rolls out. Now there’s nothing much left between the millstones except Chazzer’s sorry carcass.

    A sad but fitting end.

  22. Well, for what it’s worth, I did defend you here, not that it did much good. I’m not much of a voice.

    My final straw was when Charles Johnson claimed the Celtic/Solar cross was a racist symbol. I should have broken all ties with LGF then. I have now.

  23. Hey, Baron, just wanted to let you know that my little blog, Pirate’s Cove, supported you (and Pam, Robert, and the others) from when I first learned of this issue earlier in the year. And, I will continue to support y’all.

    Keep at it, Baron!

  24. Quote: I don’t know if the lack of response was due to fear, or a reluctance to get into the middle of a blog war, or perhaps the result of receiving too much email.

    In my particular case, it was actually pretty close to that.

    When Charles first went on his crusade (pardon my pun) against y’all, and then added Pamela to his targets, I immediately assumed he was trying to clean his blog up for public consumption. Kinda like he was looking to get on the air more often, and had tired of being called an extremist because of who he linked to (or who commented at LGF).

    I disagreed with his position against you, but I wrote it off as the necessity of being a big-time blogger.

    Once he turned on Robert Spencer, however, it was pretty clear that there was something else going on. I e-mailed Charles about it directly, saying that I thought he was making a mistake, but he would hear none of it – instead claiming that it was he that was wronged by Spencer.

    Since then, he continued going down an increasingly Right-bashing path, until we’re at the point today when LGF is essentially a moderately pro-military outpost of the Daily Kos.

    It’s truly sad to see, but it definitely looks from the outside like he’s bringing it on himself.


    PS: Mr. Blogagog, you’re too kind. I’m only a puppet for the anti-photography industry, don’tcha know?

  25. The Murray lists need an added list of wrecker or intellectual destroyer or traitor meister type. Charles Johnson might make it somewhere onto that list. The West seems to be spectacularly endowed with such contributors, who have unique creativity and varied backgrounds. Diseased also rans is another category name as well. CJ might appear in 2 categories ranking him with Newton in physics and math or Leibniz in philosophy and math.

    CJ’s blog had little to say that I could tell and the comment section format tended not to promote the thoughtful or informative. I never understood the attraction of that blog or of CJ.

    The point of blogging or reading blogs is to get access to people speaking the truth and informatively about important topics.

    My overall take on the LGF story is that if our movement is dependent on people thinking for themselves, arriving at the correct conclusion and then speaking up to insist on the right thing being done then we may not make it. However, there are other tendencies in the opposite direction that give me hope anyhow. Maybe a fool’s hope.

  26. I have been critical of Johnson and specifically his treatment of you, Pamela and Robert Spencer (and Lionheart) and though we have our own differences I am thankful you exposed Johnson years ago.

  27. Shoot it took CJ all of 30 minutes to ban little old me. I am of no consequence to anyone but he banned me all the same. His blog is an echo chamber of the worst sort.

    CJ rails about “Nazis” but must miss the apparent fascistic tendencies of our current regime. (And I mean the strict sense of what fascism is and means – control of the means of production)

    I have not been much concerned with Europe as the events here at home are scary beyond belief.

  28. I, too, began having doubts about LGF when he started attacking Robert Spencer, whose books and blot posts I greatly admire, and even stronger doubts when he associated the Celtic cross with racism.

    But in the last couple of weeks, he has gone pathetically berserk. I respectfully disagreed with something he posted today and asked to be un-lizarded. What a relief!

  29. Have stopped by once in awhile, and for whatever reason, didn’t get to “really” reading all the good stuff here. That was my loss. Thanks to good old surfing the web, and other conservative sites, I ended up here (It all started with a post at “The Rott” talking about Charles further slide toward who knows what.) And for what little it’s worth, have added you to my “roll”. (Over at Snugg Harbor … “The Col” and his blog is another alter-ego.)

    Keep up the good work, you are NOT alone.

  30. Its sad to see LGF become a step child of DailyKos. Johnson posted photos of the Tea Party and thinks people who embrace the 2nd Amendment are extremists. Moe Lane at Red State is not far behind. He will ruin that blog soon as well.

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