Strange things are afoot in the right blogosphere among the subsection of writers for whom occasional purges are the norm. Right now the target is Charles Johnson, who runs the blog Little Green Footballs. It isn’t a site I’ve followed very closely over the years, though I know it played a role in debunking the CBS news documents that purported to show that George W. Bush got special treatment in the Texas Air National Guard. LGF also took a hard line against radical Islam — its critics argued it was itself an anti-Muslim site. I got word of the recent dustup when Power Line Blog delinked LGF. Are formal de-linkings something that bloggers do? Well it’s news to me too, but apparently so.
Here is Scott at Powerline:
We have slightly updated our blogroll for the first time time in a long time. We have deleted Charles Johnson’s Little Green Footballs. We long ago stopped reading LGF Suffice it to say (suffice it for me to say, anyway) that Charles’s political inclinations and interests now diverge widely from our own.
At the same time we welcome Gateway Pundit and Big Hollywood. GP’s Jim Hoft is an indefatigable source of political news. He deploys exclamation points like the ancient Greeks scattered particles in their speech for emphasis. Big Hollywood is doing important work to inject diversity and political smarts to the world of popular culture. Introducing the site this past January, Andrew Breitbart described it as a big group blog that features hundreds of the big minds from the fields of politics, journalism, entertainment and culture. Big Hollywood’s modest objective: to change the entertainment industry. I have found it both instructive and entertaining.
Meta Blog is suspicious of unqualified praise of Big Hollywood!
Charles Johnson of LGF responds here:
Since the people at Powerline have made a big public announcement about it, I’ll just say that I’m not the least surprised that they’ve delinked LGF. Powerline has been going in a very bad direction recently; the “all Obama-hatred, all the time” focus is bad enough, but worse are their articles supporting European extremists like Geert Wilders (who wants to deprive Muslims of the freedom of religion and ban books) and outright fascists like the Belgian Vlaams Belang party.
I’ve been considering removing them from my links for quite some time because of this kind of disturbing stuff, but I was foolish enough to believe they might come to their senses. I’ve written emails to them about it (which weren’t returned), and I wrote a post laying out my case, that they completely ignored. Clearly, this is a direction they’ve chosen, so I’ve removed all links to Powerline from LGF.
When the blog Gates of Vienna did a roundup outlining all this, one line caught my eye: “Charles was loaded for bear back in those days, and when he de-linked a blog, many others would follow suit or lose all hope of being linked by him.”
Is it really longstanding practice in the right blogosphere, I wondered, to enforce blog reading preferences by withholding links? I e-mailed Gates of Vienna to ask about that. The response via e-mail:
Here’s how it worked: if a small blogger supported Pamela or us (or even continued to keep us on their blogroll), Charles would warn them that they would be banned, cut off, and never, ever linked again by LGF. This happened openly in the comments at LGF; I saw it myself.
When he de-linked us, a lot of his fans who were bloggers immediately de-linked us, too.
IMHO, the large blogs failed to challenge Charles about what he was doing because they feared the damage he could do, even to them. That’s when I discovered what cowards they really are. Some of the little blogs — especially those who had already been banned by Charles — stuck with us and posted about the whole affair, but the big blogs ignored it. Only Robert Spencer de-linked us, however, as far as I know.
If it hadn’t been for the increase in European readers, our traffic would probably have dropped by a third. As it was, thanks to Europe, it stayed about the same, and has grown somewhat since then.
As yet, Metablog has been unable to reach Charles Johnson, but we’ll update if he cares to contest this.
Meanwhile, Mr. Johnson has posted a series of items asserting that conservative blogger Robert Stacy McCain — who often writes insulting and provocative things about your humble Metablogger — is a racist. In the last couple years, Metablog’s author has witnessed all sorts of offensive blog posts written by Mr. McCain. We’ve never seen anything racist, however, so we’re inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt, especially since actually investigating his past would require reading a lot of tedious Inside the Beltway reportage on long forgotten political squabbles.
Mr. McCain has fought back by asserting that he is not a racist, and attacking Mr. Johnson.
Reading all these right-leaning blogs that used to fawn over one another, and are now attacking and trying to disappear one another, I am reminded of that part of 1984. “We have always been at war with Little Green Footballs!”
Metablog is glad it doesn’t inhabit a corner of the blogosphere where occasional purges are carried out, prompting ugly ad hominem battles among the people involved. Someone is no doubt right and someone else wrong in all this, but everyone loses.