Yesterday I was the target of doxxing. Today, a publication slandered me. I sent takedown notices. It only fueled the harassment. So I started digging & made a discovery. I'd become part of a smear campaign led by the same far-right propagandists that elected Trump.
Meet the Western Journal. Before this morning I'd never heard of them. And if you guessed it might be some fake news website copying the Wall Street Journal's logo and type, you wouldn't be far off. As you can see, they hit all the right-wing talking points.
Defame Parkland survivor? ✅
Praise Trump? ✅
Depict immigrants as criminals? ✅
But this website is much much more than just another fake news site. It's part of Liftable, founded by Floyd Brown. If Floyd doesn't sound familiar, he should.
Floyd Brown is a Republican consultant who has pulled some of the most underhanded political smear campaigns in the politics. He rose to fame by producing the “Willie Horton” ad that derailed Michael Dukakis's bid for President by depicting him as soft on crime.
The Bush/Quayle campaign filed charges against Brown with the Federal Election Commission after he was caught on tape harassing a woman about whether her pregnant sister's suicide in 1977 was Clinton's fault. The Bush campaign referred to Brown as "the lowest form of life"
It gets worse, kids. Brown is also the guy behind Citizens United (corporations are people!) & Whitewater. USA Today says Brown has "established himself as one of the nation's dirtiest political strategists."
"Floyd Brown is a slimy thug for hire." -George Stephanopoulos
Brown is a longtime friend of KellyAnn Conway. Back in 2008 he invested in dozens of tabloid-style sites like Western Journalism, which rebranded as Western Journal last fall. It is the 81st largest site in the U.S. with 13 million monthly uniques, most of them from Facebook.
Brown has since moved onto to other things. Western Journal continues their mission of producing what the Intercept refers to as "bombastic headlines with little regard to the truth." They were one of the main sources of fake news that flooded Facebook ahead of the election.
With headlines like “Obama Urges Illegal Immigrants to Vote Without Fear of Getting Caught,” and “BREAKING: Muslims Ordered to Vote Hillary,” they masquerading as news with salacious headlines that drove clicks and shares, but had little to do with fact.
My initial response after becoming a target was to pursue litigation. Headlines like the ones the Western Journal create can sink a fledgling journalist like me, at the beginning of her career with few professional or financial resources. I'm sure that was the intent.
While their fake news drives clicks & shows up on the 1st page of results for my name in Google, I'll wear it as a badge of honor. Any journalist worth their salt will see right through that bullshit. And any publication with 3 pages of results on Snopes isn't worth my time
A friend over on Facebook sent this along to cheer me up: “Don’t worry, Kaz. If you go down, they’re going down with you.”