Unlike most Washington journalists I don’t labor under the delusion that readers are all that interested in me. So this is the only column that will ever start with myself. But it is kind of hard to avoid after having just verbally emasculated an overrated and supposedly ferocious media reporter who even said “good luck” before hanging up.
At least just about everybody else finally reached on the phone after ignoring electronic inquiries –Washington Post executive editor Marty Baron, national reporter Wesley Lowery, Reverend Al Sharpton –slammed the phone down like a man when cornered. But, hey, they presumably don’t sit down to pee like a woman. Whether Byers does remains an open question — especially because he would neither confirm nor deny widespread speculation under fierce questioning late Friday afternoon.
One of the prime goals for this column is to show readers how prominent Washington journalists and players — most highly regarded — behave when they can’t hide behind their staffers or computers. Here is the real Dylan Byers. Suddenly, he is not so verbose in the face of criticism.
Dylan Byers: Dylan Byers
Washington Gadfly: Hi, this is Evan. I am trying to chase down rumors that you are such a wimp you pee sitting down.
Dylan Byers: Um, uh.
Evan Gahr: Why aren’t you covering the Ed Schultz hearing?
Tinker Bell: Look, you gotta stop cold calling me.
Evan Gahr: I don’t cold call you. I am not a publicist. You are the publicist for MSNBC. [WaPo media bloggger Erik Wemple recently cited to New York Magazine my item on Byers disguising MSNBC spin as his own objective reporting]
Evan Gahr: You are going to answer the question. Why aren’t you covering Phil Griffin’s perjury?
Dylan Byers: Thank you, Evan. Good luck.
I just accused him of peeing like a woman and he wishes me good luck? This guy makes Liberace, by comparison, seem manly. And certainly far more savvy.
Byers was desperately trying to depict me as some kind of two-bit publicist trying to sell him a lame story. I was actually demanding to know why he has for over one year — at both POLITICO and now CNN — kept readers in the dark about the five day scandalous Ed Schultz breach of partnership trial in Washington federal court that implicated Phil Griffin in perjury. And now he plans to ignore the October 25 Washington federal appeals court hearing on whether plaintiff Michael Queen, who claims he lost due to a biased federal judge, is entitled to a new trial.
But good luck with that ploy, Dylan, Tinker Bell, whatever.
What are you going to say when your CNN bosses start asking why you also ignored high-level 2015 NBC meetings about obviously perjured testimony by the president of their chief cable news competitor shortly after it came to light? And now you are determined to deep-six the hearing before the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, where Griffin’s testimony could come up during oral arguments?
Do you really think they will be assuaged by, “Oh, yeah. Evan Gahr cold called me about that boring stuff. But I hung up on the pest — especially because I was on my way to take a whiz on the crapper anyway.”
Do you really think that is going to fly? Pardon the zippered fly connotation, Dylan. Since you clearly have no use for those things in the John.
His ploy failed almost immediately.
Something unexpected occurred when a transcript of our conversation was emailed a few moments after Byers hung up to his fellow fellow fancy pants at Huffington Post, POLITICO, WaPo and the New York Times. Plus Griffin himself.
Instead of ignoring this email completely, like they did many similar taunting inquiries about their failure to report the MSNBC story, some of the journos actually responded — for the first time ever. And by hitting “reply all” they were talking directly to Griffin.
But, hey, this email contained a world exclusive photo. How could they possibly resist?
Regardless, Byers, like the boy unmercifully teased at summer camp (but remembering his parents advice to never let on you feel hurt) tried to play it cool. He replied to the mass email by asking “Are my eyes really brown?”
“I don’t know,” his tormentor responded. “But your nose certainly is from what you are doing to Phil Griffin.”
Really? He didn’t see that one coming? Apparently not. He is not used to being challenged and anticipating counter-replies.
Byers was radio silent after that exchange. But Huffington Post honcho Sam Stein, a paid MSNBC contributor, whose nose is in the same place as Byers’, tried to play it cool. He wrote, “You also cross your arms when you pee?”
I told Stein that his nonchalance was an obvious ploy and pointed out that besides carrying water for his MSNBC paymasters he also refuses to report the Washington Post racial purge lawsuit. I gave him my number and dared him to answer the phone if I called.
He replied, “please don’t call.”
Wait? Sam, I thought we were all just having a good laugh? Why would you not want me to call for more chuckles? Oh, yeah. I know, because you didn’t want to field a question like this. “Uh, Sam. You were at Obama’s first press conference. What question did Ed Schultz ask him?”
In his testimony the breach of partnership lawsuit against Ed Schultz, of course, Griffin claimed he recruited him independent of his ex-business partners’ pitches and claimed he never even received them. Instead, Griffin twice said he reached out to Schultz after watching Barack Obama answer a question at his first presidential press conference. Except Schultz didn’t.
But when Stein clammed up DC bureau chief Ryan Grim piped in. He actually managed to say something kind of witty — but not nearly as clever as he thought. Still, Grim was clearly impressed with himself in the way — to use an obvious analogy — a kid likes the smell of his own feces.
“How do we know he wasn’t pooping? This photo isn’t evidence of what you’re claiming it is,” he snarked. “I hope the rest of your reporting is more solid. (See what I did there?)”
Grim also does not seem to have anticipated the obvious rejoinder delivered seconds later: “it is really damning to be accused of shoddy journalism by somebody who made the genius decision to put Donald Trump in the entertainment section.”
He disappeared after that. In a follow-up email to Byers and his fellow travelers, I told him to stop pretending I am a publicist. FYI, my reporting nearly sparked a Senate Homeland Security Committee investigation of the Department of Homeland Security firing and smearing an ICE whistleblower.
What was your big recent scoop? That Washington Free Beacon bought hats from the Trump campaign?
Do you really think anybody at CNN is going to believe your spin that Phil Griffin likely committing perjury is not a story?
Listen, Tinker Bell. Stein, Grim, New York Times television correspondent John Koblin, POLITICO media blogger Hadas Gold and everybody else on the email list, work for news organizations with obvious incentives to cover up the whole matter. You don’t. No wonder that Gold last year gave me the email for her editor when I called her last year. You won’t even tell me your editor’s name.
You’re like a kid at camp who just dropped a deuce in his pants but desperately hopes, as his bunk makes start to catch a whiff, that they are going to think somebody else did it.
Go clean yourself up. You just got caught with your pants down in more ways than one.