Charles C. Johnson is an investigative journalist with a knack for enraging progressives. His recent coverage of issues in Ferguson has made him such a gadfly that trolls in social media convinced Twitter to shut down his account – because, as Johnson put it, “Twitter apparently has a journalism problem.”
Johnson, who has worked with both the late, great Andrew Breitbart and Alan Dershowitz, is the founder and editor-in-chief of Gotnews.com, which seeks “to transform journalism by empowering everyday people, experts, and sources to break news” – very much a Breitbartian aim. A contributor to the Daily Caller and The Blaze, Johnson is also the author of Why Coolidge Matters: Leadership Lessons from America’s Most Underrated President and The Truth About the IRS Scandal. He has written for Wall Street Journal, New York Post, Los Angeles Times, American Spectator, and others.
“It’s no secret that I’ve been targeted by the Ferguson mob for publishing material that they don’t like,” Johnson wrote at Gotnews. For example, he reported that Michael Brown’s stepdad Louis Head, whoincited a riot by telling protesters, “Let’s burn this b*tch down!” was a former Blood gangbanger. Johnson is also delving into information provided by Ferguson police that Brown himself had been charged with 2nd degree murder – but that was as a juvenile, so the records have been sealed. Now that Brown is dead, Johnson has sued for the release of those records. That investigation is still ongoing, Johnson told me.
Then, after the grand jury came back without an indictment for Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown, The New York Times published the home address of Wilson and his wife. It was an unconscionable and reckless act, considering the target it put on the Wilsons’ backs, but not an unexpected one from the leftist news media, which have been known to willfully endanger people on the wrong side of the leftist narrative before (e.g., the gun owners whose addresses were mapped out inJournal News).
In response, Charles Johnson called the homes of the writers responsible for the article, Julie Bosman and Campbell Robertson, to ask them about it. Bosman later tweeted that she revised the piece by removing a photo that contained specific information which should not have been made public. But it had been made public and the potential damage was done. Charles Johnson felt that turnabout is fair play, so he posted Bosman’s and Robertson’s home addresses online as well. According to Johnson, Bosman has been phoning the police incessantly complaining of harassment and requesting protection.
Afterward, Johnson was notified by Twitter that his account had been “permanently suspended” without any warning. “I didn’t violate Twitter’s terms of service,” he said. “Twitter just decided that I had. They’ve decided to make up the rules as they go and work with the mob to target journalists.”
It wasn’t the first time his Twitter account had been suspended – he had been shut down twice before: once after he published the name of the Ebola nurse Nina Pham twelve hours before the major networks did, and again after he published the address of Youngor Jallah, the daughter of Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan’s fiancée and the last person to have contactwith Duncan. “I have liberal trolls that follow me around and try to get me suspended,” Johnson told me in a phone conversation Friday.
Johnson urged his thousands of followers to contact Twitter and complain about the shutdown of his account – it must have worked, because that “permanent suspension” was lifted after only fifteen hours. During that time, the controversy brought him over a thousand new Twitter followers. Johnson complained that “I’ve been threatened with death threats and had my site hacked but I’ve pressed on. Twitter hasn’t suspended any of these accounts… If my account is suspended, the New York Times journalists’ accounts @campbellnyt & @juliebosman should also be suspended.”
Johnson strongly suspects there was a political motivation to the censorship. He noted that Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey “wants to run for mayor of New York City. He’s a well-known liberal Democrat. Imagine if he got power if this is how Twitter treats journalists.”
Johnson’s Twitter account is back to going strong, and he and Gotnews.com continue to investigate Ferguson-related stories, such as “Meet The Rich White Guy Who Is Running the Black Boycott of Capitalism #Ferguson” and “Overwhelmed #Ferguson Police Welcome Libertarian ‘Oath Keepers’ Militia To Protect Order.” Johnson is also pursuing his goal of taking down the biased mainstream media one journalist at a time. “I will soon be running a professional team of oppo research committed to nothing more than exposing the media frauds. We will go one by one,” he wrote in a recenttweet.
None of this is likely to win Charles C. Johnson any friends within traditional news or political circles. But as Johnson has said in a different context, “I don’t really care what the political consequences of doing the right thing is.”