Earlier today, The Mirror ran a story about the ongoing email war between In These Times labor reporter Mike Elk and The Daily Beast‘s national security correspondent, Eli Lake.
After reviewing the emails and tweets exchanged over the past two months, it became abundantly clear that Elk started the fight, perpetuated the fight and has allegations so wild they’d make your great grandmother run for cover under the afghan. Elk often makes charges of racism, elitism, ableism and says certain reporters are being bought off by lobbyists. He was given ample time and ability to comment for the story. Try four days. He provided a ton of emails and commentary. I ran much of it, but like any story, you can’t be dictated to by your sources. At some point the information must be synthesized in a way that helps readers understand what happened, and not confuse them with repetitive points and disorganized information.
Not surprisingly, Elk wasn’t enchanted by a story that painted his behavior as less than angelic. But criticize him at your own peril — he’ll charge that you’re against people with conditions like Asperger’s and write your boss and insist on your termination. He wrote in 16 times today to tell me why I’m not a journalist and he is.
11:22 a.m. Mike: Betsy, you left a key email where I said discussion my relationship was a not a matter of public discussion. They broke ground rules, you are letting them break ground rules and you didn’t print key email showing lake silencing the book
11:26 a.m.: Mike: I mean I didn’t know you wanted to go back that far and I was given no chance to respond. Betsy: You had a full chance to respond. I wrote a lot. I printed all the emails. I don’t have to print everything you gave me.
11:44 a.m. Mike: Yes but I was unaware that it was the subject of the story since the subject matter appeared to break the agreement that lake broke. Betsy: That what was the subject of the story? I asked you specific questions. I gave you endless chance to respond. You said what you wanted to.
11:47 a.m. Mike: Well then if you are going to include all the emails Eli gave you form me then you should include the one that Eli sent regarding the guy doing a book review. Your piece doesn’t really strike me as ethical. Betsy: The story was complex. I couldn’t include everything. You can think what you wish.
11:53 a.m. Mike: Reporter with tact for saying racists things against asians [sic] writes story downplaying the racist behavior of Eli Lake – no wonder it was a hit piece. Betsy: I do hope you have a Happy Holidays. And p.s. go fuck yourself.
Reader: “Mike elk calling out you for journalistic ethics is like Charles Manson saying you have bad manners.”
11:54 a.m. Mike: Quite the solidarity of racists Betsy. Betsy: Okay Mike. You keep believing whatever stupid shit you want.
12 p.m. Mike: [sic] Its not just me. I mean Lee Fang other asians believe it, but you downplay serious life or death issues. People like Eli Lake a racist fascists not actual reporters. Betsy: Great, strangers believe something. I don’t give a shit, Elk. Your thinking is very twisted and weird and I’ll have no part of it.
12:04 p.m. Mike: A racist thinking. Betsy: Maybe you’re the racist. Maybe you’re the cyberbully. Just things to think about.
12:08 p.m. (Just in case he thinks I got a sudden case of amnesia and forgot who I’m talking to, he tells me.) Mike: Hey Betsy, There is a difference here. The difference is that I am coming after you hard over what you do, you guys mock and make fun of people over how they were born – their race, neorological impairments etc. Learn what real journalism is Betsy. melk Betsy: Interesting. You have the same pattern again and again with everyone. You are the king of journalism, of course. You are seriously demented. And no, that’s not a slam on your mental illness or your dyslexia, it’s a slam on you personally for being such an idiot. And you’re coming after me hard? Oh, also interesting. Thanks for sharing.
12:13 p.m. Mike: Betsy, You work at the Daily Caller enough said? melk Betsy: And your point is what? I’ve never read your magazine. You work at In These Times. Are we just going through our resumes now? You’ve tried to disparage and get three reporters fired in about 7 weeks. Let me fill you in … you’re not some warrior. Your thoughts and accusations don’t add up. Enough said, Mike Elk.
12:20 p.m. Mike: Betsy, My journalistic credibility is impeccable – I have never had to issue corrections anywhere close to the scale of the magnitude that these reporters were forced. I gotta go catch a plane to Chattanooga and go interview workers. Its what real reporters do. melk
12:53: Subject line: “whose your editor” Mike: You include this line that Eli Lake does not want people to read Blumenthal’s book. You make me look crazy and don’t include the email I have that has clear evidence that Lake does not want people to take Blumenthal seriously as a reporter. Betsy: You’re crazy, and I mean that sincerely. Who cares that he doesn’t want to take Blumenthal seriously? He’s not hiding. That’s obvious. And my story states as much. Who’s my editor? Are you an idiot? Tucker Carlson. Call him, write him, I can’t wait.
1:05 p.m. Mike: You act as if I pay attention to the Daily Caller. Betsy you have never read a word of my reporting, I would dare you to find the errors in my reporting that you can find in Lake’s, Gray’s , or Goodman’s. You don’t know my work at. You woud [sic] rather caricature my behavior which is sympathetic of someone with Aspergers and smear me as a reporter than actually ever read a single thing that I have written. Betsy: I wouldn’t rather do anything. I never said your work has errors. I have read your stuff in the past…but no, in general, I don’t read that magazine. I’m sick of your stupid allegations though. I thought you were too busy being a journalist to engage like this. You have the same accusation over and over again. You’re a perpetual victim. I’m not falling for it. And I don’t care if you follow The Daily Caller or not. But everyone knows who started the publication and who edits it.
1:08 p.m. Mike: What’s Tucker’s email? Betsy: Seriously, you’re really amazing. Look it up. You’re such a great journalist — figure it out. Betsy (at 1:51 p.m.): Out of the goodness of my heart, it’s BLANK. Enjoy.
1:10 p.m. Mike: Hey look Betsy you failed to mention that Obama Disability Official even tweeted at WSJ telling them it was offensive. Instead of examining the sensitivity of the issue at stake and presenting Obama Admin Officials who are agree [sic] with me, you belittled my concerns and acted like no shares them. How can you call this journalism?
1:13 p.m. Mike: I hope you never have a child with aspergers [sic].
Reader: “Best as I can tell, the guy basically wants to be able to behave like an ass in public and then hide behind his mental illness when he’s called on it. It just seems too deliberate to me to totally chalk up to an autism spectrum failure to understand social cues, but I’m not really an expert.”
3:04 p.m. Mike: You’re not even worth coming up with a creative insult for. Betsy: You really have a way with words.