There’s a special place in hell waiting for Charles Johnson, regardless of whether or not he believes it’s really there.
Once one of the heavy hitters of the blogosphere (he helped in blowing the lid off Rathergate and founding Pajamas Media), in the past couple years Johnson has shifted the focus of Little Green Footballs to rooting out any perceived extremists (real & imagined alike) from the right-of-center, a venture that has its place (I’ve made clear my opposition to Birthers, Paultergeists, and other genuine loons & bigots), but for Johnson that crusade has morphed into something else entirely: a smear campaign based on specious (if any) evidence against…well, darn near every conservative blogger & commentator who isn’t him.
Ever expressed doubt as to man’s contribution to global warming? Evolution? You’re an extremist who has to be destroyed. Host a blog, but don’t police the comment threads to Johnson’s exacting, jackbooted standards? You obviously endorse every word there, then. Is there an out-of-context or unsourced quote attributed to you floating around the Internet? Good enough for Chuck! Burn the witches!
Mind you, I hate Ron Paul every bit as much as the next sensible conservative, but that doesn’t justify dishonest attacks on him. Likewise, I happen to believe in evolution (yes, I’ve changed my position since reading Godless, thanks in part to the excellent work of Dr. Francis Collins), but is creationism in public schools really a dire threat to the Union? Please.
It was only natural that Johnson would jump on the bandwagon to keep Rush Limbaugh out of the NFL, and his conduct in this matter perfectly illustrates the (empty) content of his character. Ace picked up on Johnson’s sleazy peddling of a fraudulent list of racist Rush quotes, and his utter indifference to their veracity. Now the Media Research Center has released a report on the smear campaign, in which they mention Johnson as one of the perpetrators. Johnson’s reaction? Does he feel a shred of professional or personal obligation to honesty? Nope: “I’ve finally made it. I’m an “offender” in this Rush Limbaugh idolizing article at the far right Media Research Center. My life is complete.”
That and a list of “racist and race-baiting quotes from Rush Limbaugh that are sourced and verified”:
“Right. So you go into Darfur and you go into South Africa, you get rid of the white government there. You put sanctions on them. You stand behind Nelson Mandela — who was bankrolled by communists for a time, had the support of certain communist leaders. You go to Ethiopia. You do the same thing.”
If Johnson or Media Matters would care to explain how speculation about the motives behind inconsistent stances on Iraq & Darfur (right or wrong) constitutes racism, I’d love to hear it. Speaking bluntly about racial components to political issues is not “race-baiting.”
“Look, let me put it to you this way: the NFL all too often looks like a game between the Bloods and the Crips without any weapons. There, I said it.”
Rather than a “look at those violent blacks on the field!” comment that Johnson would like you to believe this is, it comes from a larger discussion on class & maturity in NFL culture—in which he compliments San Diego Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson and Philadelphia Colts wide receiver Marvin Harrison as “the two most classy individuals playing in the National Football League today, in skill positions.” As clicking on their names reveals, a little context can be a dangerous thing.
“Have you ever noticed how all composite pictures of wanted criminals resemble Jesse Jackson?”
I can’t find context for this one (maybe Rush was trying to prod lefty sensibilities), but okay, it sure doesn’t sound good. Absent a good contextual basis, he should apologize. But is Rush Limbaugh a racist? Ask his producer.
“Take that bone out of your nose and call me back.”
Rush apparently said this early in his radio career, to an unintelligible black caller. Crude? Insensitive? Yes, but Rush openly regrets it, and an ill-considered quip uttered in frustration is hardly worth crucifying the guy over.
“I think the media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well. They’re interested in black coaches and black quarterbacks doing well. I think there’s a little hope invested in McNabb and he got a lot of credit for the performance of his team that he really didn’t deserve.”
This is commentary on media sensibilities regarding race, not race baiting. Next.
“Obama’s America: white kids getting beat up on school buses. You put your kids on a school bus, you expect safety, but in Obama’s America, white kids now get beat up, with the black kids cheering, ‘Yeah! Right on! Right on!’”
*sigh* Johnson has already been called out for this faux controversy.
Since I began writing this post, Johnson has updated his post with the Snopes analysis of the “disputed” (that’s LGF-speak for what the rest of us call “phony”) Rush quotes—y’know, the only ones that show any actual racism. He offers them without commentary, expresses no regret for his role in peddling them, and probably didn’t add them until it occurred to him that they might help him save face. To Charles Johnson, blogging means never having to say you’re sorry.
Why the obsession with smearing people? Why the abandonment of integrity? Who knows—maybe his departure from Pajamas Media left him with a chip on his shoulder. Maybe he’s overcompensating for similar charges that have been leveled against him in the past. Whatever the cause, Little Green Footballs is no longer worthy of its once-revered place in the blogosphere, and is now nothing more than a Little Green Freakshow.