Republicans may not like Democrats and Democrats may not like Republicans… but nobody likes an asshole.
Recently I reported on the National Bloggers Club and two of its founders, Ali Akbar and Bill Murphy. The story has been simmering beneath the surface since June, when Akbar’s felonious past was revealed. In the past three months concerns evolved into questions about the integrity of the National Bloggers Club. It leapt into the spotlight three weeks ago, when progressive bloggers revealed that Team Romney hired Murphy as its Social Media Director. My three stories thus far have focused on Akbar and Murphy’s past associations, the dubious nature of NBC’s claims to be a non-profit, and conservative bloggers’ distaste for, and demands for accountability from, Akbar and NBC.
In the past week I’ve enjoyed the oh-so-predictable responses from Akbar’s supporters. They think they can instantly discredit me by “revealing” all my dirty secrets: I’m a liberal activist; I don’t understand non-profits; I called Tea Partiers racists and neo-Nazis; and I’m collaborating and conspiring with scary boogie men.
I’d like to take a minute to address these myopic observations – that last one first.
In the eyes of right-wing social media, Brett Kimberlin and Neal Rauhauser are currently tied for Public Enemy #1. Most of the pseudoconspiratorial actions against certain conservative targets are attributed to sock-puppet accounts managed by either or both of them, or their subservients. So naturally if you say I’m working for them, I’m instantly part of the Vast Left Wing E-Conspiracy.
I don’t know Brett Kimberlin. Never met, spoke with, or communicated with him in any fashion that I know of. I wrote a story about National Bloggers Club committing charitable fraud. Kimberlin posted a link to that story on Democratic Underground. Kimberlin has accused National Bloggers Club and its president, Ali Akbar, of committing charitable fraud. So it’s not surprising that he would a) be keeping tabs on coverage of NBC and b) post a story sympathetic to his cause.
As far as Rauhauser goes, I do in fact have “connections” with him. Just like all those conservative bloggers and new media strategists have connections with each other. It’s a small world, professionally speaking. Neal and I came into contact in 2010 briefly, when he was working with one of my office’s new media consultants. Every now and then I drop him a line if I see him on Google chat, just to say hello. Oh, wait, I forgot the most insidious and horrifying detail: that diabolical bastard bought me a drink at Netroots Nation 2011. Obviously that makes me his indentured servant for life.
I don’t work for Kimberlin. I don’t work for Rauhauser. In 2009 I was volunteering with Organize for America to help pass health care reform. When the Tea Party movement sprung up, I began to follow it – know your enemy, and all that. I quickly realized that the media was totally misrepresenting – not to mention underestimating – the movement. Crazies and Nazis make for good television; militants and racists make for good copy; but if the Tea Party is fringe, those people are the fringe of the fringe of that fringe. Meaning that while the left was giggling about teabags, on the right the strategists and operatives and organizers and billionaires were busy funding, co-opting, and organizing a group of terrifyingly motivated voters. I decided to follow American Liberty Alliance after seeing a Rachel Maddow piece on RecessRally.com. I really truly have been following these people (on and off) for three years now.
So stop giving those two guys all the goddamn credit! What’s your new catch phrase? Oh yes, that’s right – I BUILT IT.
NEO-NAZIS AND RACISTS
On September 2nd, Robert Stacy McCain committed libel.
In a poorly-researched article on my well-researched article on National Bloggers Club, McCain wrote, “Brant-Zawadzki frequently assailed the Tea Party movement as ‘neo-Nazis’ and ‘teabaggers.’” This is simply, demonstrably untrue. And if McCain chose to use the word ‘repeatedly’, he is either a blindingly incompetent researcher or a liar. Either way he is liable for his vile and slanderous behavior.
As far as ‘teabagger’ goes, I challenge McCain to produce a single instance in which I used the term “teabagger” in any of my reporting. If anything, I decried its use – albeit in an article entitled “Let’s Get Serious About Teabagging”. In fact, I invite Mr. McCain to suck on this rock-hard quote from that piece, published in March of 2010:
“Too easily overlooked is the fact that the majority of the Tea Party movement are everyday Americans. We hear terms like racists, militants, rednecks, birthers, deathers and secessionists applied to the movement; meanwhile television cameras focus on incendiary signs, offensive images, and the occasional semi-automatic weapon. But most are decent, hardworking, practical folk who believe their country is collapsing around them.”
Thanks for playing, Stacy. Wanda, what do we have for our losing contestants today?
As for Nazis – In January of 2010 I wrote an article entitled, “Neo-Nazis, Militants Eye Tea Party for Recruitment.” I would argue that even the title clearly distinguishes between the formers and the latter. You see, during my research on the Tea Party I came across a discussion thread on the white power website Stormfront. Commenters were optimistic about the possibility of either using the Tea Party to instigate a race war or using it to drum up some new recruits:
Whites Forward: “Go where our people are starting to stand up around symptoms of the problem, and INTERVENE to guide them. Just because these started as an anti-tax protest doesn’t mean that they must be limited and can’t be developed upward toward an explicitly racial mass struggle.”
Scottish: “I think the “tea party” is a good way to meet people with potential. Most people at this event will be white people who are fed up with the direction of things and they are ready to hear how we got into this mess.”
I also mention how neo-Nazi J.T. Ready started a fight by unfurling a Hitler flag at an Arizona Tea Party rally. But how would that start a fight? Because the Tea Partiers at the rally fought with him. Because believe it or not, most Tea Partiers would rather not have their movement associated with Hitler. If I were looking to slander, why even include the part about the fight? Why not just say “Ready unfurled a Hitler flag at an Arizona Tea Party rally”?
I’ll take “Fatuous Arguments” for $1,000, Alex. Oh, and it’s a Daily Double!
National Bloggers Club claims to be a non-profit and a 501(c)3 – status pending. However, there is no record of NBC in the IRS or Guidestar databases. They have a year before they must file a Form 990 to report their financials and prove their non-profitability, But non-profit status is something that must be awarded. The term specifically refers to organizations whose cash receipts and expenditures place it in a category governed by section 501(c) of the Internal Revenue Code. And to file an application to be a 501, one must apply for an EIN – an employer identification number. EINs can be obtained immediately by filing online or phoning it in. If you fax in your application, it will take several days to process. If you mail it in, it shouldn’t take longer than five or six weeks.
National Bloggers Club incorporated in January.
To my knowledge the NBC has not yet divulged their EIN, nor has it even received one.
They are thus not allowed to identify themselves as a non-profit.
If you see a man punch someone, you know he’s committed battery. If you see a man shoot someone to death, you know he has committed murder. If you see a man steal a woman’s purse, you know he has committed theft. Because they are not yet a non-profit according to the tax code, and because they have been advertising themselves as such, and because in March they claimed their 501(c)3 status was “pending”, NBC is committing charitable fraud.
So let me get this straight: some conservative bloggers and politicos are accusing me of being a partisan activist?
THEY’RE PARTISAN ACTIVISTS!
I’m reporting on an organization that rips off CONSERVATIVES. If I were a good little activist, if anything I’d IGNORE this story. The blogosphere was already on its way to outing these bozos. If I just let nature take its course, this would all be happening weeks down the road – meaning the Romney campaign would have less time to react and recover, and the embarrassment would be more fresh in the minds of voters.
If Mr. McCain wishes to act like a big boy and actually address my claims and arguments, as opposed to insulting his readers’ intelligence and attacking my integrity because I do exactly what he does but from a different political viewpoint (and better), we can have a rousing debate. And if the Pope were Jewish he’d have a very tall yarmulke.