I guess I’ll have to respond to some of the major points in internet conspiracy theorist Caitlin Johnstone’s latest assault on The Daily Banter, but not before doing a rundown of her hilarious insults in her response to Jeremy Fassler’s piece calling out leftist media outlets for citing her work (bold emphasis ours):
1. I responded to the first two when they published the blatantly false claim that I have no journalism degree and scared the shit out of me by falsely reporting that I write for Russian propaganda outlets, but I’ve been ignoring them up til now and it’s time to respond to these despicable lying scumbags once again.
2. What they have been freaking out about ever since that time is the fact that I threatened to sue them for libel for publishing libelous material about me, because that’s somehow unreasonable and unheard of in their privileged little imperialist circle jerk.
3. Here’s the Daily Banter‘s big tough suburban gangsta Ben Cohen (who also has me blocked on Twitter) putting me in my place when I demanded a real retraction for the Kremlin propagandist smear.
4. For Martin Shkreli wannabe Ben Cohen, however, it was just getting started. He authored a bizarre, rambling tale about how I’d ended up “crowdsourcing a fake lawyer from a fake law firm” to accomplish some sort of sinister goal he doesn’t make clear. Cohen cites no evidence of this beyond the lawyer who contacted him not having much of an online presence.
5. He and his young, dumb and over-funded goon sidekick Jeremy Fassler have been publishing article after article after article squawking about it like it’s a thing, including their latest smear piece.
6. Empire loyalists publish smears about me because they can’t get me fired since I’m crowdfunded and can’t get me de-platformed since my only platform is social media and blogging sites, but I’ll always be able to crank out quality material much faster than all of them combined can write smear pieces about me so it’s a losing battle for them.
You have to give it to Johnstone, she really does have a way with words that conveys her extreme nastiness better than we ever could. After all, this is a woman who wrote this heartwarming story when news broke that Sen. John McCain had terminal brain cancer:
To Johnstone’s points, it isn’t difficult to see why she resorts to incessant name calling in her piece — she doesn’t have a leg to stand on, and somewhere in her paranoid mind she likely understands this. Firstly, we have never lied about Caitlin Johnstone. We correctly reported that she wrote for Russian propaganda outlets, and while Johnstone argued that she hadn’t specifically submitted work to those outlets, she had knowingly allowed them to republish her work (Johnstone then lied about this).
We also wrote that she is not a trained journalist — an assertion that sent Johnstone into a complete frenzy. She published evidence of her Australian journalism degree on her blog and accused us of lying about her and smearing her reputation etc, etc. Of course there was no way to tell whether Johnstone had any qualifications in journalism given she hasn’t published them in any of her bios on any of the conspiracy theory sites she writes for, or her own blog on Medium. We were left analyzing her actual writing (of which there is much) to ascertain her journalistic credibility. And let’s be frank, it’s not exactly Pullitzer prize winning stuff. Johnstone is a fringe blogger who dedicates much of her time spreading provably false conspiracy theories about the DNC’s murder of Seth Rich, the supposed ‘9/11 inside job’, and the idiotic notion that the CIA controls the Washington Post. Nevertheless, we published an update to our piece acknowledging that Johnstone did in fact have a degree in journalism (which is perhaps even more troubling).
Johnstone’s latest assault on the Banter is basically an attempt to distract her readers from her comically idiotic efforts to sue us for not knowing she had a journalism degree and pointing out the fact she was allowing her work to be published for known Russian propaganda sites. The story is so unbelievably stupid that I don’t blame Johnstone for trying to pretend she wasn’t really trying to sue us and didn’t knowingly get a fraudulent ‘lawyer’ using his sister’s credentials to harass us on Facebook and Twitter. Johnstone refers to my article detailing the sad spectacle as a “bizarre, rambling tale” that “ultimately boils down to “someone contacted me claiming to be a lawyer and it was weird””.
Well, yes, someone did contact me claiming to be a lawyer, and it was weird, so I wrote about it given Johnstone had promised me via email that she would make us “her life’s work” and “ruin” my career “with a massive lawsuit like the one the Daily Banter is about to get slapped with.” It was about as pathetic a flop as you could have possibly imagined and I was actually a little disappointed that Johnstone made such an amateurish, clumsy mess of it. Furthermore, she genuinely didn’t seem to understand what constitutes libel — a very basic concept that any trained journalist should have a working knowledge of.
It is clear that knowing that the story is out in public, Johnstone feels pretty silly about all of this — and understandably so. The sad truth about Johnstone and the alternate reality she and her followers have created for themselves in the far corners of the internet is that they can never, ever be reached. From her bedroom in Melbourne, Australia, Johnstone has portrayed herself as a brave warrior facing down the evil American empire with her fearless “rogue” journalism. In reality, she’s just another conspiracy theorist polluting public discourse with unhinged rants about the “Deep State” and nefarious government stooges working in dark rooms to further the interests of global elites. Johnstone shouts very loudly, but thankfully few outside of her paranoid bubble of angry malcontents are listening. Whether or not she understands this is besides the point — Johnstone has found her niche and she’ll beat it to death regardless of the outcome.
It is true that some marginally more reputable outlets have cited her work, but this is not a reflection of Johnstone’s credibility as a journalist, just a troubling sign of how far their standards have declined.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.