Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Erin Andrews Flame War

Publisher's Note: I found a couple of more things just before publication:

* Cynthia Yockey has updated her post on the Erin Andrews controversy with this comment: "I would like Donald Douglas to do time in prison."

* E.D. Kain piles on at the Yockey post: "I think many social conservatives operate from a truly honest platform – from a moral foundation that is simply hard to change or evolve. But others really do operate from a position of power alone – out of “greed and lust” for power ..."

* Dan Riehl commented again yesterday, "It doesn't really impact, or even have much to do with me in any event ..." And, Dan updated with this, "This is a guy we really don't need in the right blogosphere. He appears to be as troubled as he is troubling to deal with ..." (link).

* Stogie from Saber Point, in the comments at an earlier post, adds this: "You were wrong to post that first article about Erin Andrews and you got called on the carpet for it, and justifiably so. We all make mistakes, we are all human. Learn from it and go on ... The angry, defensive, circle-the-wagons Donald is not the Donald that I know. I hope you can get control of this situation before any more damage is created."


The blogging reaction to my series on the Erin Andrews controversy has gotten personal and nasty, and some are now insinuating legal action. But frankly, I did not elicit the latest iterations in the backlash. Folks might want to think before they attack others. They also might take responsibility for actions they've taken of their own accord. This post is to set the record straight. I wish I didn't have to write it. But the Internet cops couldn't accept my initial apologies nor could they leave things alone after that. Everyone has been glad-handing and backslapping at the expense of my reputation. Apparently no one bothered to think that it was really theirs on trial in the court of public opinion.

So, I'll be clear: It was never my intent to battle conservatives, and I've sought to avoid it. But, first and foremost is my personal integrity. Everything I've done in this debate is on the record. As for attacks on me, my responses have been limited. I tried to make light of the backlash in a post day-before yesterday: "Dan Riehl Breaks Out With Huge Gates Tax Fraud Exposé: Yet, Gasp! Dude Blows it With Lunkhead Prose Reporting!" Besides that, earlier responses can be found sprinkled throughout my extensive Erin Andrews reporting.

Well, it turns out, first, that Dan Riehl just won't let the issue die. He has by now mounted a full-blown personal jihad against me, the "Rule 5 community," and, well, the entire Internet. And let me be clear: Dan Riehl is now LYING ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED. Readers can attack my blogging ethics all they want, but one thing that's never been in doubt is my honesty. In return, we've witnessed the most dishonest, hypocritical scorn from Dan and the others, piled higher than
a dung heap in an Indian village.

Here are Dan's posts:

* WTF? (a response to my "lunkhead prose" jab).

* He Just Doesn't Get It (a response to R.S. McCain's post defending "Rule 5" blogging).

Dan, Dan, Dan ... Here's A Clue (a response to Dan Collins' thoughful comments on the issues).

Short Sighted Bloggers Busted In Cloakroom Circle Jerk (a response to me and R.S. McCain attacking us as perverts).

On The Alleged Erin Andrews Video (his initial blog response to me).

* Very Few Lines Get Drawn Out Here (yet another high-horse response to R.S McCain)

I have also been attacked by Cassandra at Villainous Company, Cynthia Yockey at A Conservative Lesbian, Joy McCann at Little Miss Attila, and Dave at Ordinary Gentlemen.

Not one of the attacks has specifically responded to my original comments on the criticisms. It's been all emotion and faux moral outrage. As I have said twice already, I make no apologies for writing an Erin Andrews Google-bomb entry. One analyst estimated that by the middle of last week nearly 5 billion searches had been launched for the nude video. It's likely that hundreds of millions of people have searched for Andrews nude. Ultimately, untold millions watched the clip. It is what it is. And recall, CBS News ran raw footage of Andrews on The Early Show (showing a second's-worth of bare back and breast). CBS later took down the video. Fox News' Bill O'Reilly, Geraldo Rivera, and the Fox & Friends all showed nude clips of Erin Andrews. The New York Post ran two consecutive days of scandalous Erin Andrews reporting, including raw photographs of the peephole shot with only minor black-barring. And Shaun Phillips, an outside linebacker for the San Diego Chargers, requested a copy of the Andrews video on Twitter.

I have covered all of these developments at American Power. This is a national event, and a national scandal. Dan, Cassandra, Cynthia, and Joy have barely touched the issues of the national and mainstream media exploitation of Erin Andrews. It's understandable, of course. I'm sure none of them want to jeopardize a chance to appear on TV. Moral outrage can be selective that way.

Remember all the Erin Andrews stories are always prefaced with "creepy" or "disgusting" right before showing the peephole video shots. Folks can have their cake and eat it too.

So, I'm hoping that this will be my final response to critics. I will continue to report on the Andrews scandal because it's a huge national story of culture, ethics, gender, media, and sexual power. Frankly, it's an unbeatable combination of newsworthiness.

Now, one more time, I have no apologies for blogging Erin Andrews, although I regret labeling my initial post as a "Rule 5" entry. It was a hasty mistake, and I have already said I'm sorry for it. Yet, not one of my critics has responded to my argument laying out the case for a non-sacrificial self-interest. Instead, folks have attacked me personally and unfairly, and THEY'VE LIED about their own involvment in all this as well.

Dan Riehl has been the most voluminous in his moral grandstanding, and it keeps getting uglier. He wrote a personal attack on me and Robert Stacy McCain a couple of days ago, "
Short Sighted Bloggers Busted In Cloakroom Circle Jerk." It's mostly ill-founded faux outrage and ad hominems, and as such didn't deserve a blog post in response from me at the time. Dan writes, for example:

... both Stacy McCain and Donald Douglas have crossed a line they should have never crossed by continuing to harangue a dear friend. That would be a blogging colleague of mine for years, Cassandra at Villainous Company, who, like me, has probably forgotten more about blogging than these two hand creme dreamers can seem to gather up in those shriveled little heads they seem so fond of stroking for one another to get themselves off so seemingly obsessively these days.
Both Robert Stacy McCain and Dan Collins responded, however. In return, Dan Riehl wrote two more posts, "He Just Doesn't Get It" and "Dan, Dan, Dan ... Here's A Clue." As Dan Riehl writes in the latter entry:

My good friend Dan Collins thinks I went to eleven today over Stacy and Donald. In point of fact, I reigned it in. I deflected my true anger and resentment into the meme about Cassandra and such, partly as it also gave me a chance to acknowledge some old and dear friends. And I didn't much care for seeing Cassandra's name being bandied about by two people who have all but lost any respect I ever had for them. Really, Dan, you don't have an issue with two fellows out here playing ping pong with a solid conservative woman's name on their blog? Well, that's another matter, but I certainly do. I don't' find them, or it funny at all. Why you said nothing of that troubles me a little, because I know you to be a decent sort. Won't these two adolescent morons ever buy a clue, or lighten up? They won't if they aren't told about it, that's for sure. So I told them about it in precisely the manner I chose to do it. Too bad. As for your take on it, that isn't really a big concern, or anything that impacts my friendship with you, I hope.

But this entire affair is greatly misunderstood, as it was by Donald at the start. My original group email on this had very little to do with him, or the video at all and everything to do with Stacy McCain and his game of rules. And that's my fault for not being as clear as I could, so allow me to set the record straight. It isn't Dan Collin's fault he is misunderstanding all this. It's mine.
The passage is worth quoting at length as it shows Dan Riehl's strange psychology and pure, unadulterated bullshit. The chivalry would be fine, if it wasn't so self-serving and wickedly dishonest.

The e-mail Dan Riehl refers to is one he sent out after I cc'd my initial Erin Andrews nude video post. But it is not true that the "original group email on this had very little to do with him." On the contrary, Dan's e-mail was explicitly a response to the Andrews controversy. Here is what Dan Riehl wrote by e-mail, cc'd to 30 or so bloggers:

Friends - and many of you are - but please exclude me from all this Rule whatever BS. We were ginning our site links and some modest traffic with such gimmicks with far more sophistication and class in 2004 ...

As for the video, I already posted on it when I saw the first email. You are either perpetuating a crime, or a scam.

From the get-go, Dan Riehl has been in the full-metal damage control mode. It's actually pretty sad. He is truly a sick man. Fudging at minimum, he's launched his own hypocritical crusade to "clean- up" the Internet. Note too Dan Riehl's comments in a follow up e-mail sent to me personally, in response to my mention of him at one of the early reports on Erin Andrews:

Correct your post ... I did not watch any clip. Ask if you're going to attribute something to me in the future.
These are Dan Riehl's own words, and I'm making them available for the record to rebut the scurrilous slander against me.

Dan Riehl's strenuous efforts to defend
Cassandra at Villainous Company provide a nice background to her series of lies and omissions in attacking me. Cassandra's morning entry is here: "My First and Last Rule 5 Post." She writes:
It’s a waste of time to attempt to refute someone who continually puts words in your mouth, or imputes to you positions which reflect neither your values nor your arguments. If you want a debate, read what I’ve written and tell me why I’m wrong. I always enjoy a good argument on the merits.

But calling me silly names (and the idea that I’m a radical feminist is just that - silly) isn’t a rational argument. Neither is ignoring what I've written in favor of what you would like your readers to think I said. People who use such tactics aren’t making an argument. They’re engaging in a pissing contest. The thing about pissing contests is that the participants tend to get wet.

Over the past few weeks I’ve written two posts about the Erin Andrews story. In neither of them did I contend that Donald Douglas is a bad person. I did not ask anyone to chastise him or cast him out of the conservative fold. I didn't try to gin up a flame war.
To be clear in response to Cassandra, I have not "put words in her mouth," nor have I imputed anything to her that she has not herself stated.

Cassandra actually sent me an e-mail a couple of days ago. I have not written a single post in response to her, and I've put up at most two or three substantive paragraphs on Cassandra. Everything I reported on Cassandra is true. But she's been fiery mad nevertheless, and has somehow tranformed the debate into "All About Cassandra." Here's the e-mail, "Jesus Christ, Donald":

I have not been reading all the crap you have been saying about me, but did you ever stop to think for one second that you might be harming a very worthwhile cause by saying something like that?

You seem to be going out of your way to prove that you will do anything, no matter who it hurts, to "win" (whatever you think that is).

I am really disappointed. If you understood even half of the good Valour IT has done, you would never have risked hurting them just to take a dig at me. Even wounded vets aren't off limits. I made a serious error in judgment with you. Despite our difference of opinion over this Erin Andrews thing, if someone had told me you would do something like this, I would have said they were crazy.

"I do know that Cassandra's not above hawking some skin in order to get the big blogs on board for promotion (i.e., images, but not of her, as far as I know). But readers will have to check with Cassandra for the details."
For the full context, please read the orginal post containing the quotation Cassandra cites: "Reliable Sources Debates Erin Andrews: Geraldo Rivera Airs Nude Clip Again; Long National Nightmare Winds Down Amid Lingering Moral Hypocrisy

As for hawking skin, this is what Cassandra told me in an earlier e-mail, when she was soliciting help in promoting the Soldier's Angels veterans' fundraiser:

Any help you can provide will be most welcome, Donald. Typically (and please forgive my bad memory - it's been 3 years!) the minimum would be to sign up on the Soldier's Angels site for the Marine team ...

You may well get some new readers - it isn't all milblogs. Hugh Hewitt, Michelle Malkin have been on the Marine team in the past. I will be trying to get some big bloggers on our side this year. That's always a challenge since I don't really keep up with who's who in the blogosphere.

I will tell you a funny story - you of all people will get a kick out of this. In 2006, we were really desperate to get some of the bigger bloggers on our side, but the other teams started before I was asked to take over and had a huge head start. So I came up with the idea of having the women on the Marine team flood Ace with adoring emails - we found photos of pinups, Victoria's secret lingerie photos, you name it. The racier the better. We photoshopped all sorts of nonsense on them:

"Ooooooh Ace ... you have no idea how *grateful* we'd be if you'd join the Marine team". It got pretty crazy, but eventually he joined the dark side. Anyway, this is not exactly a secret but I'd prefer if it didn't get out. I doubt he'd be embarrassed, but we kept it quiet since he was such a good sport about it :)

Why Cassandra felt she was at liberty to share this information is beyond me. But if she herself describes her own milblog flesh-peddling as descending to the "dark side," then she's really established a new home-run record for abject hypocrisy.

And remember,
Cassandra's post this morning includes this gem:

What disturbs me most is the argument that traffic is so important that it justifies pretty much any act. Over the past few months I've sat back and watched this argument percolate across the blogosphere in various forms: society is oversexed but sex sells; I'm not really sure this is such a great thing to do, but it boosts my traffic without much effort; blah blah blah.
Okay, now lets' wrap this up with what's happening with Little Miss Attila. In the same post I responded to Little Miss Attila's attack on my name, saying she didn't want me screwing up the Freakazoid franchise:

Change your name, Bud. Or use a nickname as a first name—one that doesn’t begin with a “D.”

How about “Frank”? Or “Goofball”? Or “Butch”?
Well, actually, I'm rather proud of my name - especially since it's my late-father's name, as I'm a junior. I responded to Little Miss Attila at the post. Little Miss Attila is Joy McCann, and I got an e-mail from her a couple of days ago:

I am sorry that you took seriously what I meant as a lighthearted joke about your name, and the allusion to Douglas Douglas of Freakazoid.

I am asking you to please remove your link to my husband's blog. I am at present under legal and personal threats from someone whose cult I was involved in at the ages of 13, 14, and 15, and publicizing personal information about me and my family members may help this person to find me and subject me to further harassment from him and his associates.

I would appreciate your help in this matter.

All best,
Joy McCann, Little Miss Attila Online Magazine

To be fair, that's a genuine apology, and I'd consider her request. But before you know it, I got this e-mail from Ace of Spades HQ, "Hey Dude":

I got a note from Little Miss Atilla (which I don't understand the
details of) saying that you're outing personal information about her
for reasons I can't really fathom.

Why are you doing this?

First of all, I'm not "outing personal information about her." Joy McCann's husband is John McCann, and he has his own Wikipedia entry, which links to his personal blog, "Write Enough." It's all public. No doubt anyone who's really looking to threaten Joy McCann can find the information without my help. But why send an appeal to Ace of Spades regarding an issue to which he is not involved? Joy McCann pulling some strings to get me to take down her husband's name? What a scandal!

Interestingly, after that, Joy McCann gets right back into the "Rule 5" action this morning with a post congratulating Dan Riehl for taking it "upon himself to
school Donald and Stacy about their unseemly obsession with stat-meter size."

Also, I get the feeling that Cassandra has e-mailed her post this morning all around, hoping to clean up her blemished name. Robert Stacy McCain has this on it, "Nine Days in July: Nuclear Diplomacyin the Conservative Blogosphere."

Also, just now from the comments to the post in queston:

May I suggest that you are out of your mind suggesting that Cassandra has done anything to get the attention of Castle Argghhh!

You see, I am Beth Donovan, married to John Donovan, creator of Castle Argghhh! Cassandra has had posting privileges at Castle Argghhh!for years - before Valour IT was even thought of.

Cassandra is a dear friend, and I insist you withdraw any and all comments about her, Castle Argghhh! and Valour IT.

I would also suggest that you withdraw comments about Joy, also.

You are making insinuations that are completely untrue, insulting and possibly even libelous.

Believe me, I will be contacting a lot of our friends who have Milblogs, and letting them know just what kind of person you are.
So, I'm being threatened now? NBFD, although I'm not surprised it's come this far. Beth Donovan's blog is here.

I have all the e-mails just in case.

So let me conclude:

By now it's clear that the backlash to
my original Erin Andrews nude video post has spiraled out of control into an ugly monstrosity of self-serving dishonesty and deceit. And these folks are conservatives?

And the conclusions are really simple. The folks still standing with the honor and integrity are the "Rule 5" bloggers themselves. Cassandra, Dan Riehl, and Joy McCann opened up a can of worms, and boy the contents inside are really ugly.

What can we do next?

I think apologies all around are in order, and I'll go first: I am sorry that I sent the original Erin Andrews post by e-mail and got people involved in a news scandal to which the didn't want to be.

Folks can publish apologies and retractions at their own blogs, with the appropriate citations and links, and that ought to do it. As for my posts, they'll remain as a legal record of what has transpired. The e-mails I have cited go to disprove the allegations being made against me. This is all about setting the record straight and putting the focus back on the folks who got so damned ruffled in the first place.

I don't know if anyone will step back, look at themselves, and say this has gone too far. Can't we all just get along? I'm certain that I won't be speaking with a lot of people after this.

I do know that I've been honest throughout. It's regretful that people stoop this low in moral hypocrisy. So on that note, I'll just close with the King James Bible, Luke 6:37:

Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven ...


No Sheeples Here! said...

Professor Douglas,

Don’t you think you’ve carried all this a little too far? I have deliberately avoided this spectacle but I am asking you as politely as a friend can, to turn down the volume. Please.

Serr8d said...

Defend yourself, Professor. That's a list of bloggers you've annoyed, for whatever sanctimonious self-serving reasons they've concocted, that I don't read anyways (except for Ace, of course; and he's seemingly acting more confused than confrontational), especially that Dan Riehl fellow. I had a problem with him years ago what left a bad taste in my mouth. I've spat him away forever.

Defend yourself, as you see fit.

Stogie said...

Donald, the best thing to do now is (1) Stop calling other bloggers names like "liar" (a difference of opinion does not necessarily make one a liar and it just inflames them more with no benefit whatsoever).

(2) Drop this ugly mud-wrestle and let it die; just STOP. Take time to COOL OFF.

(3) Take a vacation. You are stressed out and not thinking clearly. Suspend blogging for a week or two with a post titled "On Vacation." Go fishing. When you get back things will look better.

AmPowerBlog said...


I hope this post is my final response to my self-serving critics.

Sides are already drawn, so folks can man their battle stations. Those who hate me are already assembling their battle formations. Friends who wish this blowout never happened don't really like dirty laundry being aired.

Rest assured, my head is clear. I'm on vacation right now, and loving it. Bloodied but unbowed.

A reader sent this to me by e-mail, and I'll share without revealing any more names:

"I ... think this whole thing frankly is a tempest in a teapot and what should have just ended with the first round of posts has now taken on a life of it's own, pretty much independent of the original thing.

It looks like WWI. Some idiot shoots a politician, suddenly the world is at war, and nobody really knows how we got there.

I suggest everybody (and yes, I've talked with Cassie and said the same thing) just walk away.

The attention the issue is getting, such as it is, isn't on the substance anymore, but that of rubberneckers at a car accident or kids gathered around a playground fight. And it's an intramural fight at that, that only aids the common foe.

I recommend to both sides that if you find yourself in a hole, you should quit digging. To this mostly disinterested observer, it looks like a hole, not a foundation.

Just my private $0.02"

reffo said...

"Can't we all just get along? I'm certain that I won't be speaking with a lot of people after this."

Interesting. So rule 5 blogging leads to rule 4 blogging (i.e. make some enemies)! Has that helped stats too? ;-)

Mark30339 said...

AmPow is the site that clued me into the Erin story and spurred me to search for the video that was missing from youtube by that time. I confess that I still found snippets elsewhere; I confess watching them; and I confess both revulsion and titillation from watching from the same POV as the Peeping Tom watched. I commented earlier that before the internet age, we would have averted our eyes. Now we can privately indulge our inner peeping tom with nothing but our own integrity to hold us back. I acknowledge and regret my diminished integrity.

I do not hold AmPow responsible for this, and I commend AmPow for being a witness to how the story was being a reported. I am disappointed, however, by the flaming engaged at this point and I wonder if Donald is one of those disproportionate bloggers who feel only their own pain. AmPow does not apologize for being a smut gateway on the grounds that the smut was newsworthy, and now it impugns the integrity of critics for decrying the fact that AmPow was a gateway for smut. Was a pathetic fight over minutia the exit strategy you envisioned when you launched on Erin?