As the rape accusations leveled against UVA began to unravel, and the story by the Rolling Stone comes apart, Charles C. Johnson, a “venomous conservative blogger” — not by his own admission, of course — injected himself into the situation with the deftness we’d expect from a conservative hack. Predictably, it’s now blown up in his face.
First, some background on the original story. Rolling Stone published a piece about a woman named Jackie, a student at UVA. Jackie claims to have been gang-raped by seven men at a frat house, but several of her friends who saw her that night dispute her claims. The story rapidly began to crumble, and Rolling Stone noted in a later piece that there were many “discrepancies” in the original story.
Enter Charles C. Jackson; over the last few weeks, Johnson has dedicated himself, with the sort of single-minded tenacity that calls to mind a particular cartoon coyote, to exposing the woman he believes is Jackie. Charles C. Johnson decided that she was “rape obsessed” and a liar, and that he was doing a service by exposing her.
On his site, GotNews (the answer to that, by the way, is “no, he doesn’t”), Johnson posted her photograph “proudly displaying” a sign that she was a rape survivor. To accompany his post, Johnson wrote “Are we really to believe that a mere 18 months later [Jackie] didn’t know what to do after she’d been raped a second time?”
Little Green Footballs, noted, however, that there were some distinctive similarities between the photo that Johnson posted and a picture on SlutWalk DC’s Facebook picture, where the woman is clearly identified as Angie Duran. Johnson pulled the photo from Pinterest and posted the picture on his own website, claiming it was Jackie.
This is the sort of ratf*cking journalism that makes Jame O’Keefe smile on the inside.
SlutWalk DC issued a furious statement, stating that they know “with 100% knowledge of the truth that his claims are unfounded, vile, and dangerous.” They added in the statement that “We, nor the photographer of the image, gave permission for this photo to be used or provided any details to this “journalist”. He has put another young woman in danger of harassment and we are beyond disgusted. He was wrong and violated all journalistic integrity in publishing the information that he did.”
He couldn’t possibly violate journalistic integrity; that’d imply he had it to begin with.
Johnson issued something that resembles a correction, admitting that it might have been a photograph of Duran but adding that “I honestly still don’t know.” Now, as a result of the picture, Duran is pursing legal action against Johnson.
There’s a beautiful irony here: Johnson, in addition to his skilled reporting — on the same level as a blind and deaf polar bear — is an Internet Tough Guy. A brave of the ASDF-JKL; tribe, Johnson has threatened countless lawsuits in his time: for instance, he’s threatened legal action against Gawker Media for reporting that he may have sh*t on the floor once. In response to a gloriously unflattering piece that New York Times writer David Carr published over the weekend about him, Johnson dug up Carr’s mugshot — which, along with several other pictures, was on the cover of Carr’s own best-selling book, detailing his battle with cocaine.
For his part, Carr penned a take-down of Johnson’s narcissism, noting that much of what he writes is “tasteless” or “wrong,” in addition to mocking Johnson’s claims he has friends in high places:
In conversation, Mr. Johnson is prone to narcissism, not uncommon in media types, but he has his own special brand of it. He sees himself as a major character in a great unfolding epoch, dwelling on his school-age accomplishments and his journalism awards and vaguely suggesting that he has strong ties to many levels of law enforcement. Like what, I asked?
“Have you ever read the book or heard of the book ‘Encyclopedia Brown’?” he asked, referring to a series about a boy detective. “That’s the capacity in which I help them. I don’t go out of my way to discuss the kind of, shall we say, clandestine work I do, because the nature of the work has to be clandestine in order for it be effective.”
Given this gaff, maybe he should be comparing himself to Wikipedia Brown, instead.
While Johnson is lapping up the attention now, something tells me that he won’t be too keen if a lawsuit comes home to roost.