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Last weekend rightbloggers put on their finery for the Breitbart Awards in Providence, Rhode Island. Some got plaques, others listened to speeches and attended seminars.
It certainly sounds like a good time to us, so we think it strange that rightbloggers didn’t seem as interested in their own event as they were in the left-wing Netroots Nation event that was happening across town. In fact some of them went over there in search of thrills. That worked out pretty much as you would expect.
The awards ceremony was attached to an invitation-only “Future of Journalism” event for rightbloggers and rightwing reporters, sponsored by the Franklin Center for Government and Public Intergrity and the Heritage Foundation.
Word went out early that Ace of Spades — best known for his He-Man Woman-Haters Club sense of humor — would be the inaugural Breitbart honoree as Best Blogger, or Blogger of the Year, or King of the Bloggers or whatever it is.
But before he could be honored, Spades backed out.
He’d put up a long post about the Brett Kimberlin mishegas, in which rightbloggers were protesting the machinations of the convicted Speedway Bomber, who has initiated what appear to be frivolous legal actions against some of them.
Their efforts were pretty successful, as Senator Saxby Chambliss and Rep. Kenny Marchant have asked the Department of Justice to investigate incidents in which some of the targeted rightbloggers have had SWAT teams maliciously called to their homes.
In comments to Spades’ post, readers who’d heard that Spades would be honored with the Breitbart Award congratulated him.
“I am not receiving the Breitbart Award,” said Spades in his own comment. “Because of concerns about my physical safety, I decided I could not attend. As I could not attend, I decided I was not worthy of the award — Andrew Breitbart would not be afraid. The Andrew Breitbart award will go to someone more deserving.”
He didn’t explain exactly why he was concerned about his physical safety, but his devoted fans generally accepted that he must have good reasons.
On Saturday Spades disabled comments, announcing that someone named “Jimmah” had “decided to set blog policy for me, and several others have decided to challenge me on the point as well. I will have to end commenting until I can figure out how to ban them.”
It seemed odd that in nine years’ stewardship of a contentious commenting section, Spades had no idea how to ban commenters — particularly as he’s threatened to ban them before. Anyway, Spades grew maudlin, threatening, “I’m going to possibly simply destroy the blog by letting it go dark.”
Ace of Spades fan site The Empire of Jeff blog explained what had happened: Jimmah “decided that he was going to take on all comers, including Ace. He was going to throw down the gauntlet, dare anyone to come and get him. Sue me. SWAT me. Go after my job, because I’m self-employed. You can’t hurt me. And by the way, here’s my name, address and telephone number. What a fucking asshole.”
The problem with this, Empire of Jeff said, was that Spades would be the one who would be attacked for Jimmah’s bravado, rather than Jimmah himself, because, Empire of Jeff told Jimmah, “you’re a fucking NOBODY. You could start your own blog for free on WordPress or Blogspot, but you won’t because nobody will ever see the Internet Tough Guy bullshit you write. And if the wrong person saw it and came after you legally, no one would rally to help you out BECAUSE YOU’RE A FUCKING ASSHOLE.”
Then Ace of Spades returned with a bizarre conversion narrative, declaring that anger was the problem and advising his acolytes to eschew it.
“This blog is a home, of sorts,” said Spades. “People want to come here for interesting and fun banter. It is not intended to be a hostile environment. If anger makes you hostile, you will have to check that, or check out.”
Wait — Ace of Spades said this? The guy who said of a jihad victim’s father who counseled Christian forgiveness, “When he dies… I hope his son slaps this stupid fuck right in the face“? Who, when women disagree with him, compares them to unattractive men? Who yelled at Jon Stewart because he didn’t believe Stewart would “actually celebrate the death of a terrorist killed by US forces or a Predator drone, as we do here”? Who said, “The only way to permanently defeat an opponent is to either kill him or so demoralize him he defines himself as defeated, permanently, and cannot even imagine the state of being victorious… Well, we’re not technically allowed to kill liberals.. So that leaves us with that faggy defeat-them-in-their-minds thing“? That guy?
Relax, he didn’t mean it, as was obvious from the headline, “How The Left Abandoned Traditional Notions of Restraint, Reserve, and Self-Mastery In Favor Of Righteous Rage, And How The Right Has Sadly Followed Them.” Nonetheless Spades affected a transformation, or perhaps a nervous breakdown: “I had frowned,” he said, “I had shown a lack of interest or enthusiasm, I had been stingy with kind words and compliments. I was, in short, a real piece of shit. Still am. But I am trying. I am trying to take Praeger’s counsel and remind myself that to be unhappy, and to project unhappiness out into the world, makes other people’s lives poorer, other people’s lives unhappier.”
Birds sang, dawn broke, and shortly after this group hug Spades’ colleague contributed a post about how the Wisconsin recall election gave him an erection (“Shadenboner”), and how much he enjoyed watching some Democrat cry on TV after Barrett lost: “Snort. Yeah, right,” he wrote. “‘Blue collar’ implies having to work for a living and that whiny little pussy looks like some spoiled baby who’s never worked a day in his life.”
So, everything’s back to normal. Meanwhile, in Providence the Awards went on without Spades, with his award shoveled to Duane Lester of something called All American Blogger. (Recent posts include “Must See Video: Injured Army Vet Stuns America’s Got Talent,” a piece of reportage that, the update reveals, went awry.)
It’s hard to tell from Gateway Pundit Jim Hoft’s crummy photos of the event what sort of party this was. Breitbart’s own Big Journalism headed its report of the Awards with a picture of Andrew Breitbart, who is dead and presumably was not in attendance.
Michael Bates attended the whole Future of Journalism event, and meticulously detailed the meetings and presentations he witnessed, e.g. “Bill Beach, director of the Heritage Foundation’s Center for Data Analysis, gave us an overview of the wide range of federal data available online. He also told us about the early days of his career, when processing government data for analysis involved hours of data entry work and going to the lab in the wee hours of the morning to process stacks of punch cards.” Maybe the attendees were just too drained after a day of this sort of action to party.
Big Journalism reporter Tony Lee faithfully recorded the commendations of the award presenters and the reactions of the winners. Lester, for example:
“When I was told I would be given the award, I was stunned,” Lester told Breitbart News. “I feel honored that my peers felt I was worthy of an award created to highlight bloggers for ‘intrepid reporting that goes over the heads of the legacy media to communicate directly to the people.”
But neither Hoft’s report nor Lee’s mentioned Ace of Spades — though other reports noted that Spades’ rejection of the award was mentioned at the ceremony; nor did they say anything about any fun times or hijinks by the attendees.
It would seem those folks went looking for fun at someone else’s party.
Also in Providence that weekend was the sixth annual Netroots Nation gathering of lefties. The Breitbart Awards operators mischievously said this was deliberate. “‘Certainly, timing-wise,’ it’s no coincidence, said Franklin Center spokesman Erick Telford,” reported the Providence Journal. “‘In no way are we taking them [Netroots] on or trying to compete with them head-on. It’s more just serving as a leverage point for contrast.”
Some of the brethren took the bait and crashed Netroots Nation. But their incursions didn’t come out the way they seem to have expected.
Breitbart reporter Dana Loesch and Gateway Pundit Hoft, for example, hit former Obama advisor Van Jones’ booth at Netroots Nation and asked him to autograph their copies of his book, “Rebuild the Dream.” Maybe they thought Jones would get mad and mau-mau them, creating a sensational report that would win them a Breitbart Award next year. Or maybe they thought he wouldn’t know who they were and, thinking he was among friends, say “Death to America” or something.
Loesch certainly did her best. She said she “asked him if he thought the tea party was still racist. ‘I’m not sure that I ever said the tea party was racist,’ he explained.” Jones then, per Loesch, led her through a patient, lawyerly explanation of all his quotes on the Tea Party (“I never said they they were racist, but I do think they have racial anxiety”).
This apparently left Loesch unsatisfied, so she yelled about how big the Tea Party is (“is [Jones] unaware of how many congressional seats the tea party has flipped, how the movement is to credit for the GOP majority in the House?”) and how awful Occupy protesters are (“they have defecated on cop cars, spray painted landmarks”) — but she yelled this to her readers, alas, not to Jones, who graciously signed her book.
Hoft seemed more satisfied with his guerilla activity — “it was a real pleasure to finally meet commie Van Jones,” he said. Jones signed his book, too. We can imagine Loesch and Hoft showing their autographed volumes to friends and asking for high-fives for their wicked burn.
Special guest star James O’Keefe, who helped make the Breitbart empire with his anti-ACORN videos, came to Netroots, too — where he was spotted and filmed by Mother Jones writer Adam Weinstein, which appears to have crimped O’Keefe’s muckraking style. (Postings at Daily Kos show that Netroots attendees were generally quick to pick up on the gate-crashers, and to spread the word among their comrades.)
William Jacobson of Legal Insurrection did what he could with this. “O’Keefe ‘shuffled off surreptitiously’?” he quoted Weinstein. “What does that mean? Definition of surreptitious: ‘done, made, or acquired by stealth.’ It couldn’t have been that ‘surreptitious’ if you saw him walk away, oh, I mean ‘shuffle’ away.” Good job, professor! Now explain what you mean by your headline, “Mother Jones chickenhawks James O’Keefe at Netroots Nation.”
Jacobson’s associate Anne Sorock did her own commando action, following Elizabeth Warren around at Netroots and asking her “if she’s a ‘role model to women of color?'” (This refers to last week’s rightblogger obsession.) Netroots attendees noted Sorock’s presence and warned others to watch out for her, which Jacobson counted as a triumph: “Breitbart lives in the heads of Netroots Nation protectors of Elizabeth Warren,” he announced. Also, he accused the Netroots people who discovered their trolling of “typically Alynsky tactics.”
But it wasn’t a total loss — Jim Hoft was able to get a picture of empty tables at the back of the hall in which Paul Krugman spoke. “Lib Genius Paul Krugman Gives Netroots Speech – To Empty Room,” he reported.
Loesch made another try at a big Netroots scooping by trolling Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown. Their exchange is contained in this Loesch tweet:
Loesch made of this lemon some weak lemonade, building a story on Al Gore’s reweet of the exchange, to which Gore added the comment, “Awesome.” “He later deleted it,” said Loesch, “but not before I and others screencapped it.”
Loesch’s departure from Providence was alas, no more fortunate; her husband got an extra pat-down at airport security. “[The TSA agent] performed the pat-down which began as routine, except that he used the front of his hands,” reported Loesch. “He then bent down and specifically targeted Chris’s crotch. Using the front of his hands, he pressed against his genitals and swept his hands across the crotch three times across, and then pressed at the top of his genitals and wiped his hands down three times. Make no mistake: outside of the airport this would be considered molestation.”
Well, maybe they’ll have a better time at Sarah Palin’s Right Online shindig in Vegas next weekend. Try the veal and watch your wallets, folks!