The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

In Which @MattKLewis Makes @BenHowe His Enemy for Life

Posted on | January 12, 2013 | 49 Comments

Ben Howe: Just some random dude on the Internet?

“The socially-awkward gadfly who might once have been relegated to writing letters to the editor of Ron Paul’s newsletter, can today build an online identity that disguises his quirks. . . .
“Some of my colleagues actually take perverse pleasure in fighting with their stalkers. . . . . My arms are getting tired from punching down, as it is.”

Matt K. Lewis, Daily Caller, Jan. 9, “Confronting Ben Howe: My own personal Twitter troll”

Let’s talk about professionalism, shall we? Let’s also talk about ambition and misguided career strategies, while we’re at it.

There is no rule that requires everybody in the conservative movement to like everybody else in the conservative movement. But it is a good idea to choose one’s enemies wisely, to keep one’s Enemies List as short as possible, and to avoid turning minor squabbles into all-out feuds.

In September, for reasons best known to himself, Matt Lewis of the Daily Caller decided that he needed to be on Michelle Malkin’s Enemies List.

This created serious problems for Matt Lewis’s friends because, in such a situation, how can one continue to be Matt Lewis’s friend without risk of adding one’s name to Michelle Malkin’s Enemies List?

Dude: “Execrable”?

No one is so powerful, so successful or so popular that they can just go around making enemies like that without eventually paying a price for it. People need to think before doing stuff like that.

Avoid escalation. A few weeks ago, Ali Akbar got into a Twitter argument with John Ekdahl and, when I found out about it, I told Ali to lay off. John Ekdahl is good people and a contributor at AOSHQ, so whatever quarrel Ali had with Ekdahl, it wasn’t worth turning into a blood feud that would risk estranging Ace. As much as Ali might have wanted to double down, entrench his position and turn his disagreement with Ekdahl into an online Battle of Verdun, it was a bad move.

Forget it. Just walk away.

Matt Lewis has clearly passed the point where he’s listening to any advice of this kind. He keeps making enemies he doesn’t need to make, and seems to be pursuing the Conor Friedersdorf strategy of becoming a “conservative” whom all other conservatives loathe. Maybe there’s more of a market for that kind of thing than anyone has hitherto imagined, and Matt Lewis is actually making the smart play. On the other hand . ..

Trying to get Ben Howe blacklisted at the Heritage Foundation? To quote P.J. O’Rourke: “What the fuck? What the fucking fuck, huh?”

Ben Howe and I have not always gotten along. Last year in South Carolina, we got into kind of a shouting match about the whole Rick Perry thing. (I say “kind of” a shouting match, because I was the one doing most of the shouting.) But that was one of those conflicts where I had to ask myself, “How much of this is my own fault?” Even if it was not entirely my own fault, I can’t control other people’s fuck-ups and am only responsible for my own, and there comes a point where you just have to get over it. By the time we ran into each other in at the RNC in Tampa, the thing was sufficiently over that Ben and I were laughing together about Brooks Bayne. But I digress . . .

Enemies tend to accumulate and congregate. It was therefore not surprising to see a massive aggregation at Twitchy with this headline:

‘Execrable’ concern troll Matt Lewis throws tantrum
about trolling, tattles on critic RedState’s Ben Howe

See what I mean? That “execrable” was not forgotten. It comes back to haunt Lewis in his next feud, and the dogpile reaction — perhaps not coincidentally — includes a lot of the AOSHQ crew:

Hmmm. It’s almost as if there were a tacit alliance or something. Or maybe you’re just being such a douchenozzle that it gets people’s attention. Either way, let’s distinguish between two things:

  1. Using your own platform to fight your own battles. Matt Lewis and Ben Howe can throw down on Twitter and that’s just between the two of them.
  2. Using your employer’s platform to fight your battles. Here I am on my personal blog discussing this conflict, and that’s just me doing my own thing. But what if I wrote a column at The American Spectator entitled, “Matt K. Lewis Is a Ginormous Douchenozzle”? Wouldn’t that be seen as . . . I dunno, overkill? Or unfairly attempting to borrow someone else’s influence to my own advantage in a personal quarrel?

Tucker Carlson and the management of the Daily Caller are now on the hook for Matt Lewis’s feuds with Michelle Malkin and Ben Howe, and this is not the fault of Malkin or Howe.

Here’s a rule of thumb: When you turn a personal quarrel into a conflict that generates not just one Fishbowl DC item, but two Fishbowl DC items, you’re probably doing the wrong thing. (Say, has anybody heard from George Archibald lately?)

The whole trying-to-get-people-blacklisted thing may seem like fun and games, but if the Giant Wheel O’ Karma ever takes a turn against you, that stuff is likely to be remembered.

Not in a good way, either.

UPDATE: Somehow I missed this one:

There are problems and then there are problems. And having seen what can happen when Ace of Spades gets fed up with somebody’s bullshit and finally decides to unload on them, I long ago decided to pay attention when Ace gets angry, irritated or even mildly annoyed at me.

See, this is my problem: I can be irritating and annoying. And after a while, you learn to look for cues that you’re starting to get on people’s nerves.

You can make excuses for yourself: “Hey, what I did wasn’t that bad. Ace is just being hyper-sensitive.” Or you can reflect on the situation and say, “Yeah, maybe Ace has a point here and in the future I should avoid doing what he’s already told me twice to stop doing.”

Because in the back of my mind there’s always this thought: If Ace ever decides I’m such a useless douchenozzle that he needs to blow me up in public, to ridicule me as a laughingstock . . .

One wouldn’t want to be “socially awkward,” eh?

 


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Comments

  • badanov

    At least conservatives waited until they fumbled on the 2 yard line before fighting….

  • g joubert

    When you get right down to it, a certain amount of this has to be simple professional jealousy.

  • http://evilbloggerlady.blogspot.com/ Evi L. Bloggerlady

    Good advice!

  • http://evilbloggerlady.blogspot.com/ Evi L. Bloggerlady

    Good observation!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_MJGP4QXZ5PRW2MFA5E25CV2WNU rosalie

    It sounds as though The Daily Caller has a problem with women. The last big blowup was about Palin, if I’m not mistaken. Matt Lewis is jealous, plain and simple.

  • RobSterling

    The sky is blue, water’s wet, bloggers in-fight.

  • robertstacymccain

    In a situation like this, it’s best not to speculate about motives or attribute people’s actions to bad faith.
    There may an epidemic of stupidity going around, and it’s possible that Matt can recover from it. To have two outbreaks in the span of four months is troublesome, but having had my own occasional bouts with The Stupidity Virus, I’m really sympathetic to the afflicted.

  • http://anexconsview.wordpress.com/ Paul H. Lemmen

    It just ain’t worth it! Trust me, I know all too well.

  • http://twitter.com/RMNixonDeceased RMNixon Deceased

    You all are amateurs regarding enemy lists.

  • Quartermaster

    I don’t think you are irritating and annoying. I kinda like your gratuitous snarkacity and sarcasm. But, then, I’ve never been the target.

  • bet0001970

    I’ll never understand you boys and your twitter drama. All this “putting your business out on the street”. Didn’t Reagan have a rule about this?

    Twitter: It’s the bathroom wall of the internet.

  • http://www.theconservativevoices.com/ dmacleo

    the same lewis who says anyone that would not vote for rubio is a racist/idiot/etc.lewis is an idiot. and hes not worth anyones time.

  • warnertoddhuston

    Matt really is making a major mistake. I can name three major conservative bloggers I ignored who tried desperately to start a feud with me (one of them is a good friend of R.S. and is such a jerk I almost joined that feud.). But I don’t have time for it and generally conservatives AREN’T my target. I’ll call someone out for a stupid comment on serious issues, of course, but I just ignore personalities. So, when I see a Twitter feed that calls me names, I just block them right off. I don’t care WHO they are, they get blocked. I don’t even want to see their ass-ness.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_MJGP4QXZ5PRW2MFA5E25CV2WNU rosalie

    When someone in his position makes a remark like that about Malkin, I can only believe that it stems from jealousy. To put her name in the same sentence as Frum’s, to me, is outrageous. With bloggers like Lewis on our side, who the heck needs enemies?

  • http://twitter.com/richard_mcenroe richard mcenroe

    If people know you have an enemies list you’re doing it wrong. It’s okay if they suspect you have one, but as with sharks, the only evidence they should have is the circumstantial disappearance of nearby swimmers.

  • bet0001970

    I think it has less to do with jealousy and more to do with ego. On everyone’s part. Understanding that you don’t actually know everything is real wisdom. And sometimes silence is the better virtue.

    It’s instructive to remember that we expect children to throw temper tantrums. When adults do it…it’s just unseemly.

  • bet0001970

    You are correct sir.

  • Jaynie59

    Oh jeez. Matt Lewis is not a conservative. He’s a libertarian. Of course he attacks conservatives. Libertarians hate this country and every thing it stands for even more than liberals do. And that’s saying a lot.
    [heavy sigh] You people are never going to wise up. There are two competing factions in the country today. There are those of us who love this country and everything it stands for, and then there are those who hate this country, believe it is the root of all evil in the world, and must be destroyed and remade. That’s it.
    It’s being played out all over the world as Western Civilization versus whatever-idiots-think-will-be-better-than-what-is.
    We’re losing because conservatives can’t stop eating their own long enough to fight back against idiots like Matt Lewis.
    And by the way, Ed Morrissey and Allahpundit, Ace and his crew, the NRO boys (except Mark Steyn), the Powerline guys all do much more harm than good. The very fact that they are seen as bastians of conservativism on the internet is exactly why we’re losing. But heaven forbid you (that’s an editorial “you”) don’t get that link from them or Glenn Reynolds. Another libertarian.
    FU WAR#

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003232872834 Becca Lower

    Whenever the personality of the writer becomes the topic of conversation, not the quality of his work, there’s a problem.

  • bet0001970

    I think the DC has got bigger problems than that. Like with it’s editorial staff. If they let something like this get published on their site…big, big problems. Somebody needs to get canned.

  • Dan Levitan

    Okay, so half of the blogosphere has been regarded as being “not conservative”.

    Jaynie59, I give this command to you: “Start blogging, or shut the fucking hell up.” If you want “real conservatives” blogging, get up off your duff and do it yourself.

  • http://twitter.com/richard_mcenroe richard mcenroe

    But what IS Mike Tyson’s take on this whole issue?

  • robertstacymccain

    At some point — and this may have already happened — Tucker or somebody will say to Matt, “Hey, that hole’s deep enough. Stop digging.”

  • http://twitter.com/JadedByPolitics JadedByPolitics

    I believe Tucker Carlson is so full of himself that this twit he employs is not a problem for him. I will not spend anytime at the Daily Caller and hence forth I will be dreaming of the day it goes KABOOM! Its only a matter of time that the goodwill they built up to have the traffic they do will have turned against them and their idiocy and we shall speak in the future of the that old blogsite Daily Caller.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_MJGP4QXZ5PRW2MFA5E25CV2WNU rosalie

    I think Tyson’s opinion should finally settle this mess.

  • BLBeamer

    Honestly: “libertarians hate this country and everything it stands for even more than liberals”? Honestly?

    You must be a troll – no one else but a Progressive or a liberal misunderstands libertarianism or throws out the libertarian hate like that.

  • http://wizbangblog.com/ Adjoran

    I suspect this is Stacy’s way of tweaking Tucker and not-so-subtly schmoozing Ace by piling on Lewis.

    Matt Lewis doesn’t amount to a mosquito buzzing Michelle Malkin and Ben Howe is just another of Erickson’s Insects. David Frum was the first Jew accepted to Hamas membership, not sure he ever did anything else of note except fetch Harriet Miers’ coffee in the White House and bear a grudge for it.

    As to the lot of these fleas on the faithful dog, who gives a Fluke?

  • http://thecampofthesaints.org Bob Belvedere

    I have my share of problems with capital ‘L’ Libertarians, but your statement is just plain foolish and displays a shocking ignorance.

  • bet0001970

    Wow. I’ll let all my “conservative” friends know how much damage they’re doing. I’ll also be sure to tell my libertarian friends what traitors they are. I’m quite sure my liberal friends will rejoice at this news.

    Or perhaps, it’s not “everyone else”. It’s just you. You know, it’s like I said below. People expect children to throw temper tantrums. But when it comes from an adult, it’s just unseemly.

  • bet0001970

    Once again, your wisdom slices the through the issue like a Ginsu through a beer can.

  • bet0001970

    But if I were running a firm with any sort of reputation…there is no way I would allow something like this to be published. It goes to credibility. Someone would be fired.

    You’ve written about newsrooms and egos before. But those egos NEVER get into print. This is serious stuff. To my mind this effects Carlson’s reputation, personally. The mere fact that this incident is being written about and discussed is bad. It’s bad all around. In my opinion, this is a firing offense and if Carlson wants to maintain the credibility of his publication and his personal reputation…he better make some choices.

  • http://twitter.com/richard_mcenroe richard mcenroe

    Every street rat in Studio City who tries to bust our hump at the Friday rally claims to be a “libertarian.” Not sure they know what it means, but they claim it. And they tend to be even more coheren’t (to borrow Kurt Schlicter’s great term) than the lefties.

  • bet0001970

    I have to disagree. I was over on DC perusing the comments section and found clear and convincing evidence that Mr. Lewis was in the wrong on this one: Brooks Bayne was whole-heartedly supporting him.

    Always remember, if Brooks Bayne is behind it, it’s radioactive. That’s all you need to know. I’m gonna go take a shower now. I feel dirty for having typed his name.

  • http://twitter.com/RMNixonDeceased RMNixon Deceased

    Unless you’re dead, then you can have all the temper tantrums you want. No one will pay attention and you’ll still be dead. Tough shit.

  • bet0001970

    Do you think before you post?

  • http://twitter.com/RMNixonDeceased RMNixon Deceased

    I’m dead, ergo, I cannot think.

  • http://profiles.google.com/dianna.deeley Dianna Deeley

    I think they think “libertarian” means they want weed to be legal, and to frighten the horses.

  • Finrod Felagund

    I go to Daily Caller to read Jim Treacher; I don’t bother with Lewis while I’m there.

  • Quartermaster

    Better use a wire brush too. That stuff really adheres.

  • bet0001970

    Yeah. I keep a bottle of bleach in the bathroom as well. But I’ll grab a my grill brush and have another go around just to make sure. Thanks for the advice.

  • Quartermaster

    Hot Air has declined with the sale of the site to Salem and departure of Malkin. Morissey is a squish and Allahpundit is a big question mark.

    NRO is now a moderate, or Neocon, site with a few good people, but Lowry is an idiot and coward and does not help the conservative side at all. There were some redeeming points to NRO, even when Goldberg the foolish was in charge. Then it was handed to someone with even less intellectual power than Goldberg, and that took some doing. Steyn, and the odd column by Krikorian,is about the extent of NRO’s necessary reads.

    Towards the end of his life (about mid 70s on) Buckley thought it important to be found respectable among libtards. As time went on he became more and more of a squish and worth less to the conservative side. When he handed NR over to a bunch callow youths, like Lowry, NR became far less valuable to us. Buckley running off the Birchers was also a serious long term mistake. Allowing one man to do something like is a serious tactical mistake. Reading Welch out was a different matter, and making it clear the Birchers would be welcome back when Welchism was relegated to the fringe where it belonged would have allowed The John Birch Society to become what it could have been without Welch.

    Buckley, in my mind, is a big question mark. I think he enjoyed the argument more than he stood for the cause. Yale may have hurt him more than anyone thought, regardless of what he wrote.

    I think, however, that to say that Hot Air , and others, are why we are losing is just a bit in left field. At least in the bleachers, if not on Waveland Ave.

  • sablegsd

    Is he gay?

  • bet0001970

    Don’t tweet that out or he might call your employer and then write an article in the DC about you. Apparently, he’s “sensitive”.

  • http://twitter.com/LadyLiberty1885 LL1885

    Two points:
    1. Twitter is very public. I like Ben Howe a great deal, but his tweets are also public and he is a public figure. He pulled a half-weiner with a snark twist here. Lesson learned perhaps.
    *Note: the tweet in question did not even have lewis in it by acct name. It clearly was something sent to him by someone else.

    2. Having stated #1, Mr. Lewis’ return punch was below the belt. Pun intended. Respond in kind or proportionally; using your column to cry about being insulted on Twitter — what is the equivalent of the armpit of the internet is just… childish at best.

  • rmnixondeceased

    In other words, yes, he’s a peter-puffer.

  • http://twitter.com/richard_mcenroe richard mcenroe

    I believe Dierks Bentley’s rule is, “take that…stuff outside…and ya can’t come back in.”

  • http://thecampofthesaints.org Bob Belvedere

    Well…I don’t know…however, I do know that I was proud to be blocked by Little Matty:

    http://thecampofthesaints.org/2012/09/24/bob-gets-blocked-by-mattklewis/