The time has come: I disavow my old boss Bret Stephens, formerly of the Wall Street Journal and currently of the New York Times.
I struggled with writing this column. I think it is poor form to criticize your old employer, especially one who arguably gives you your start. After all, Dante tells us what happens to those who betray their benefactors.
On the other hand, Stephens helped me to see how fake so much of Conservatism Inc. truly is. I feel compelled to sound out, lest others think I condone Stephens’ neocon ways and faux elitism.
Our story begins in a familiar place. Obsessed as I was with prestige, I got a front-row seat as I watched press baron Rupert Murdoch shutter the News of the World while blogger Andrew Breitbart scalped Anthony Weiner from across the country. It was a fascinating, disruptive time.
I didn’t leave the Journal on the best terms—I was a particularly sloppy drunk at a going away party for Stephens’ female friend Bari Weiss—and I outed how they had pushed Elizabeth O’Bagy, a neocon 20-something fraud who lied about her time in Syria to push American intervention.
Both Stephens and Weiss accused me of being a “conspiracy theorist.” But the Journal, humiliated, printed a retraction—and then added me, its only two-time fellow, to the blacklist.
When I last saw the Journal’s editor-in-chief Paul Gigot, he mouthed “ I hate you” me in front of a room full of journalists. Like a middle-school girl.
Yet even Times columnist David Carr gave me credit for ending O’Bagy and with it America’s intervention in Syria. Gigot has since had a falling out with Stephens. Have your people call my people, Paul, and let’s do lunch at Michael’s.
In a column for the Failing New York Times (also known as Mexican monopolist Carlos Slim’s blog), Stephens attempts to take up the mantle of a sneering elite, looking down on the little people who didn’t have his rootless cosmopolitan experience.
But he didn’t exactly come to his preferred perch honestly.
I know, because six years ago, I was Bret Stephens’ fact checker—a job that apparently the Times can’t find a cheap migrant do with all the layoffs. While the Times lays off fact checkers, it somehow found enough cash to give Stephens a column and an assistant.
Fact-checking Stephens was a busy job. He writes notoriously fact-free copy. A personal favorite was his insistence that organic foods cause disease, which I expunged before it went to print.
I learned that Stephens had plagiarized from Caroline Glick once he moved over to the Wall Street Journal editorial page from Glick’s Jerusalem Post. We want to find the op-ed that Stephens reportedly plagiarized, so write me if you have it and you will be rewarded.
His plagiarism made his defense of serial plagiarist Fareed Zakaria clear. Zakaria had something that Stephens wanted: Access to TV and a “global platform.” Isn’t that ultimately why Stephens is obsessed with Fox News’s Sean Hannity?
Stephens also plagiarized me, and relied on my research on Iran and Chuck Hagel after I left the Journal. Compare my work published at 3 AM on February 13, 2013, and contrast with Stephens published at 8 PM on that same day for yourself. He even uses the same links! Both David Martosko, who later went to the Daily Mail, and Tucker Carlson, who went to Fox News, said that Stephens should have credited me but he didn’t. When I brought it up to Stephens, he got very uncomfortable.
Afterwards, Stephens trashed me to a San Diego billionaire. He has been known to speak about me on background, and on those neocon listservs we all know exist but no one talks about.
But, Stephens still made me a fellow. Of course, in reality, I was a glorified intern who won not one but two awards at the Wall Street Journal—a feat that had never and has not since been replicated. I wrote the most for the paper of any one of the fellows from my class.
My two awards were named for darlings of Conservatism, Inc.
They are: Holocaust-obsessive Eric Breindel, who participated in the defenestration of historian David Irving. Also: Wall Street Journal editor Robert L. Bartley, who favored the wholesale importation of millions of illegals to America. Bartley demanded a constitutional amendment to eliminate America’s borders; Stephens sees no need to trifle with the Constitution. Who needs it anyway?
My time at the Journal showed me that they never met a war they didn’t like or a foreigner that they didn’t find more deserving than an American. Stephens has subsequently admitted as much. There was no matter of principle too small to cuck on, no neocon billionaire too insane not to placate.
My friend Matthew Tyrmand, a Polish Jew, explains how Stephens smeared me:
Bret Stephens is opportunistic beyond the point of acting honestly. I know from experience as he used me, a Polish-American Jew whose father’s line was all but exterminated by Nazis in German-occupied Poland during the World War II, to dishonestly and in bad faith prove a fallacious political talking point he wanted to run out that Breitbart and Trump were knowingly sowing antisemitism and normalizing bigotry. As a “conservative” pundit he certainly knew my father’s history and it was clear to all who took a look at my body of work that when I deconstructed Stephens’s friend Anne Applebaum’s body of fraudulent and conflicted work it was far from an anti-Semitic screed as so many other political opportunists on the right and left described it. With that knowledge latent he still used this talking point in both a column a week before the election and one after. He falsely used allegations of antisemitism against a Jew to further his anti-populist agenda. This is absolutely disgraceful and deserves wide condemnation as its proof of completely lost moral high ground regarding bigotry allegations.
One thing you see from the #NeverTrumpers like Stephens: They’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you, or you, or you. Just the most opportunistic. The problem of Conservatism Inc. is its insularity—its clubbiness. It keeps you trapped.
This is ultimately why Stephens hates Twitter. It lets the little people, and the President, have a voice.
If there’s anything that the fake news, faux-elitists hate, it’s allowing us to speak freely.
And, oh, winning the presidency.
Stay tuned for more.