Editor of Top Conservative Site Praises Holocaust Revisionist!
Rule #1 of running one of the largest GOP shill sites in the world? Don’t praise the work of a Holocaust revisionist. Rule #2? Don’t do it in writing. Rule #3? Don’t let your bosses find out that you broke rules 1 and 2.
Kyle Becker, senior managing editor of Independent Journal Review, managed to break all three rules. The poor sonofabitch…
IJ Review consistently ranks among the top ten U.S. conservative sites by traffic. In terms of Facebook shares, it was #5 among all sites last year, beating The Guardian (#6), The New York Times (#7), and CNN (#10). IJ Review is red-hot. And suffice it to say it’s a calculated success story, bought and paid for courtesy of GOP deep pockets.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I like seeing Republicans launch a “clickbait” site. It’s proof that there are certain things both left and right can agree on, namely that many Facebook sharers are morons who love to click on things that read “Man Finds Old Penny on Ground; What He Does Next Will BLOW YOUR MIND!” or “Cat Tries Tuna for the First Time; What Happens Next Will INSPIRE YOU!”
IJ Review’s rapid rise was first covered by Buzzfeed (“The Right Wing Has Its Own Upworthy and You Won’t Believe How Well It’s Doing,” 11/27/13):
A newer conservative website, run by insiders but with an outsider appeal, has rocketed past its better-known competitors in traffic by aiming intensely at social sharing and taking advantage of a massive and accelerating shift toward Facebook as the key source of traffic to publishers. IJ Review is a Beltway product, owned by a company founded by two well-connected Republican political consultants, former Tim Pawlenty adviser Phil Musser, and Alex Skatell, a former staffer for the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
Musser served as a senior advisor to the Presidential campaign of Mitt Romney, and the campaigns of Governor Matt Blunt and Governor Bobby Jindal. He was recently appointed finance co-chairman of the Republican Governor’s Association by Haley Barbour. The company that Musser and Skatell formed to funnel money to IJ Review is called “Media Group of America” (MGA). I was never one to indulge in the crude stereotype of Republicans as soulless money-launderers, but something about Musser and Skatell’s talents as dark lords of soft money makes me think that somewhere in the MGA money-chain between GOP “angel” Pete Snyder’s Disruptor Capital and Becker’s IJ Review, puppies are being skinned, virgins are being sacrificed, and Satan is being worshiped.
Just a hunch.
When IJ Review started operating, guess who was approached to be a writer? Me, of course. Such was my esteem in those circles prior to April 20, 2013 (the night of my outing, as well as the 21st anniversary of Benny Hill’s death). Along with hiring me, Kyle Becker plucked liberally from my stable of Republican Party Animals.
After my outing, IJ Review faded into a distant part of a life I no longer led. But in December 2013, as I was collecting old articles of mine to include in my book, I noticed that the pieces I had written for IJ Review had been scrubbed from the site. Although my work had run on every major conservative site in America, IJ Review was the only site to have expunged all mention of me.
So I dropped young Kyle (pictured above) a note. I called the erasing of my work “Stalinist,” adding “Scrubbing someone’s work? Even FrontPageMag hasn’t done that, and I actually think their editor would murder me if he had the chance.” Kyle replied that the redacting hadn’t been his call. And then he added:
By the way, I don’t think you necessarily get a fair shake from people. I read your comments that are supposedly insanely controversial in a more academic light, and am not into disrespecting you or what you were investigating. They are legitimate questions and should be taken seriously, not taken out of context and blown up to be something they’re not. Anyway, good luck with the book.
Well I’ll be damned…that was very kind. Keep in mind – and I can’t stress this enough – Kyle made that statement based purely on the information that was publicly available about my revisionist work back in 2013, before my book came out. This was a period in which my former Republican allies were calling me a “Holocaust denier” and a “hatemonger.” Yet Kyle Becker was willing to state that the questions I was asking regarding flaws in Holocaust history are “legitimate” and “should be taken seriously.” He slammed the people who were giving me an unfair shake (ironically several of those people were and still are in his employ).
Hell, it was almost too complimentary a quote. Even I might have taken issue with putting “supposedly” before “insanely controversial.”
Anyway, I’m a soft touch. I told Kyle that I’d be mentioning him in my book (he offered no objection), but I decided not to use his quote in my publicity materials (at no point did Kyle ask me to refrain from using his quote, nor did he suggest that it was off the record). It was nice of the kid to express his feelings about my work, and I didn’t want to jack him up at his. Christ, I had been through the fucking ringer with Republicans and their party purges. Why would I want to visit that on someone else?
However…having said that…young Kyle, hobbled though he may be by the rakishness of youth, should have known not to provoke me.
During my years as a conservative writer, plagiarism was my biggest peeve. I was a “hard news” guy. I never did opinion journalism. Each of my stories involved real news items – things I was bringing to light for the first time. This is the type of content that gets stolen. Nothing made me angrier than getting ripped off (to the extent that I sometimes blogged about it), but I was so well-liked in those days, I had defenders in high places who’d always come to my defense. After my outing, when I became a hated outcast, I no longer had any line of defense against story pilfering, so I stopped writing about politics, and I stopped searching for leads. If I confined my writing to the Holocaust and to promoting my book, I could be certain that no conservative sites would want to plagiarize me.
About a week ago I decided to publish something political, for the first time in a year. It wasn’t a life-or-death piece of earth-shattering hysteria, just an unintentionally funny video produced by the Department of Defense about man-on-man groping. I mean, what were the odds that my first political piece in a year would get swiped? Surely I was no longer on the radar of theft-happy conservative sites.
Wrong again, Davey-boy. My new piece was plagiarized by two sites within 48 hours: Washington Free Beacon, and (drum roll) IJ Review. Free Beacon is a trash site that I never read even in my GOP heyday. The site has a reputation for paying goons to steal stories for them (a necessity, as the site’s writers have no actual journalistic skills). Yet as ethically-challenged as the Beacon is, theftmeister Liz Harrington eventually did add a hat-tip crediting my site (after some pestering).
But not IJ Review. Pure thievery, no credit, no hat-tip.
So I emailed young Kyle Becker (email@example.com), that brave soul who praised my work when all around him were calling me a Holocaust denier, and I asked him, “why no credit?”
His first response? “Have no clue what you’re talking about. Enjoy your day.”
I sent him links to the IJ Review piece and mine so he could compare them side-by-side. Now he had a clue, and he sent me this: “We’re never hat-tipping your site – I’d pull the article first. Later, Kyle.”
Well, consider my buttons pushed. I told Kyle I saw no reason at that point to still be a gentleman about not using his flattering quote, and Kyle responded by threatening to sue me if I used it. He also claimed to be marshalling parent-company MGA’s cadre of GOP-funded lawyers to come after not just me but my book: “You’ve given me more than enough already for the MGA lawyers to sue you and potentially get your book removed from the shelves. So tread wisely, smart aleck.”
I reminded Kyle that Michael Shermer had made a similar threat, and, in fact, he actually did send his lawyers to try to get my book pulled, and I got them to surrender in writing. I welcome MGA coming after me. Kyle’s supportive quote in 2013 was a nice gift, but being able to point out that it’s so dangerous to praise my work that one of the most well-funded GOP operations in the world threatened legal action to suppress that quote is priceless.
Hell, it’s even worthy of an IJ Review-style clickbait headline: “Man Admits the Legitimacy of David Cole’s Work; You Won’t Believe What Happens Next!”
Since Kyle had invoked MGA and its legal department, I reached out to IJ Review bigwigs/GOP shills Phil Musser and Alex Skatell and their PR monkey Matt Manda for comment. The result? Petulant Facebook-blockings, proving that even your most accomplished GOP operatives are still small children at heart, acting out on social media and throwing around words like “sue” with no concept as to their meaning.
As a final note to any readers who might be wondering about young Kyle’s change of heart, from “I’m there for you, bro” to “screw off, we’ll never credit your site,” I should add that this is a fairly routine occurrence in the surreal, rat-infested Wonderland that’s been my life since that fateful April night in 2013. Some of my old friends-turned-foes read my book and became friends with me again. Some former pals renewed contact with me once I started writing for Taki’s Magazine. Conversely, others who started out supportive chickenshitted out once I proved I’m not going away. The foul redhead who outed me had assured the crowd that I’d vanish after the revelation. A lot of my then-friends expressed their honest, heartfelt sentiments to me, because they assumed it was a final goodbye, and I’d never be heard from again. It was a farewell to a dying man. When I showed that I still had some life left in me, the chickenshits panicked, afraid that their words might come back to haunt them.
Ironically, such was the case with IJ Review’s staff “writer” Michael Hausam, who, in the weeks after my outing, lent his unconditional support: “You’ve got some serious fans in your corner, okay? We only met a few times but I LIKE you and, if welcomed, would like to help” (4/20/13, one of eight text messages he sent me that day).
A year later, fearing for his reputation as the best copy-and-paster IJ Review has, Hausam changed his mind, angrily typing “Sieg Heil!” at me in the comments section of a Youtube video.
Considering the fact that he’s the giant skinhead-looking guy with the German surname and I’m the diminutive Jew, if I were him, I’d go easy with the “sieg heiling.” But what do I know? I still have a childlike belief that political journalism should involve doing original work and not copy-and-pasting or paraphrasing the work of others. Becker, Hausam, Skatell, and Musser disagree, and their success proves that they’re not only right, but they’re the future of conservative journalism. I can do nothing but congratulate them.
Sorry if you found this post a little too self-indulgent. Let me make it up to you: here’s a farting cat, proof that a website can bring you the finer things the Internet has to offer without resorting to clickbait-style trickery.