The Wall Street Journal‘s Kimberley Strassel has joined the growing chorus of civil rights champions across the political spectrum denouncing the Russian witch hunt for targeting GotNews Editor-in-Chief Charles C. Johnson, but still tried to land several cheap shots on Johnson in her “Potomac Watch” column yesterday.
Citing the chilling December 19th letter April Doss, a lawyer for the Committee, sent demanding Johnson turn over all of his communications with “persons that Mr. Johnson knows or has reason to believe are of Russian nationality or descent,” Strassel’s otherwise-powerful opinion piece contends that “Senate Intelligence Committee Democrats have moved toward neo- McCarthyism.”
Moreover, the Committee’s absurd request moves the right-of-center Strassel to correctly observe that “If this stands, Democrats will have gone far beyond criminalizing routine government contacts with Russians, which is disturbing enough.” She then notes that “Trump transition and administration officials have been smeared and subjected to exhaustive investigation merely for doing their job.”
Regrettably, Strassel – while siding with Johnson over the Committee’s overzealous attorneys, and denouncing both the lawyers’ unconstitutional demands and Democrats’ smears – tries to smear Johnson, referring to him as “the controversial and unpleasant alt-right blogger.” Johnson, who has never even met Strassel, is not an alt-right blogger, but rather an award-winning journalist and two-time Robert L. Bartley fellow at the Wall Street Journal’s editorial department.
For unknown reasons, Strassel failed to mention this in her column. In contrast, Wall Street Journal reporter Jonathan Randles was sure to disclose Johnson’s previous work with the Wall Street Journal in his August article about Johnson’s defamation lawsuit against Gawker. Randles even obtained a quote from a Dow Jones spokeswoman about Johnson’s ties to the Wall Street Journal (the newspaper is published by Dow Jones & Company).
In 2013, Johnson exposed John McCain and John Kerry’s go-to “Syria researcher” Elizabeth O’Bagy as a fraud who was lying about her academic credentials to advance her career and boost her credibility, leading to her firing from the Institute for the Study of War. Johnson also revealed O’Bagy’s undisclosed ties to the Syrian Emergency Task Force, a shady pro-rebel group pushing for American intervention in Syria.
Johnson’s investigative reporting forced the Wall Street Journal, which had given O’Bagy a platform to launder her warmongering talking points, to include a formal clarification regarding her affiliation with the Syrian Emergency Task Force. The deeply embarrassing O’Bagy scandal prompted Wall Street Journal editorial page editor and vice president Paul Gigot to make profane remarks to Johnson.
Despite its baseless smears, Strassel’s column adds her to an ideologically diverse list of political commentators who have denounced the witch hunt’s Orwellian request of Johnson. The list also includes prominent liberal writers like The Intercept‘s Glenn Greenwald, The Young Turks’ Michael Tracey, and Rolling Stone‘s Matt Taibbi.
Stay tuned for more.
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