Politics

About The Washington Post’s Romanticizing Profile Of Charles Johnson

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor

If you want more bloggers threatening to expose the identities of an alleged rape victims, then you can thank the Washington Post for helping expedite that. Today’s profile of Charles Johnson is enough to fuel Johnson’s narcissism for years to come — and to embolden the delusional dreams of dozens more aspiring conservative Hunter S. Thompsons.

“He represents a new breed of news hound: part troll, part provocateur, part bully for profit, and fully independent. In photographs, he adopts the glower of an anti-establishment rabble-rouser,” writes the Post. I think I’m turned on. Not really. Sickened is more like it. The piece reads like a profile of a celebrity. Consider the lede: “It’s 7:30 p.m. on Monday night, and the day’s most vilified blogger is driving somewhere in California, though he declines to specify where, and with whom.”

Calling someone “vilified” is a badge of honor to the reporter who postures himself a rebel and assiduously cultivates the image of a “bad boy” truth-teller. (And yes, attention from the mainstream media still means more…even to those who ostensibly hate it and celebrate its demise.)

There is, of course, the small problem of the Post romanticizing the work of someone who is threatening to reveal personal details about an alleged rape victim. And make no mistake, that’s the takeaway. Although it seems quite obvious the Rolling Stone’s “Jackie” fabricated much of (if not all of) her elaborate story about a brutal gang rape, we still don’t know everything there is to know.

Now, one could argue that Johnson is, in fact, seeking to discover exactly what actually happened. But while I utterly reject the notion that we ought to automatically believe alleged rape victims (and, by extension, assume the alleged rapist is guilty) this is still a very serious subject. And while it’s quite possible the Rolling Stone journalist is a serial fabulist, it’s also quite possible that something happened to Jackie — that she is disturbed for a reason.

Or maybe not. Maybe Johnson will win this time. When you take huge risks, sometimes they pay off. Johnson can move on when his exploits cause harm, and claim victory when he ends up being right. And then repeat it. That’s fine for him, but the question is whether or not the Post should be in the business of incentivizing this sort of behavior.

But let’s set aside that for a second. In the future, I would ask the Post, and others, to be a bit more specific when it comes to associating Charles Johnson with this outlet. He has written some freelance articles for the Daily Caller — just as he has written for many other outlets over the years. Having actually worked here for nearly four years — I’m sitting in my DC office right now — I think I might have met Johnson maybe twice.

To be clear, he never actually worked at the Daily Caller — nor (as far as I know) has Mark Judge, whom the Post quotes and cites as a “Daily Caller alumnus.” This isn’t a criticism of Judge, but when it comes to delivering big wet kisses to Johnson, perhaps the Post might do a profile of people who actually worked here? Might I suggest RollCall’s Alexis Levinson, CNN.com’s Chris Moody or Yahoo’s Jon Ward. I can probably put you in touch…