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What, If Anything, Does the @MikeElk Meltdown Prove About the Left?

Posted on | December 9, 2013 | 50 Comments

Do you really care about a personal feud between Mike Elk (a labor reporter for the progressive journal In These Times) and Eli Lake (a national security reporter for The Daily Beast)?

You probably don’t, and who am I to say you should? But you probably don’t really care about Charles Johnson, Barrett Brown, Neal Rauhauser, Bill Schmalfeldt, Roger Shuler or any of the other kooks and weirdos who have occasionally crossed my path in recent years, and there is an odd affinity between those kooks and Mike Elk.

Volkswagen Gave Money to Anti-Union
Group That Used Pro-Confederate Rhetoric

That’s the headline on a Nov. 15 article Mike Elk wrote at In These Times, and let’s start with the obvious question, “What does ‘Pro-Confederate Rhetoric’ have to do with Volkswagen?”

The equally obvious answer: Nothing whatsoever.

Mike Elk was simply doing a guilt-by-association smear against Matt Patterson of Americans for Tax Reform. The United Auto Workers, having wrecked Detroit’s economy, are now attempting to do the same at a Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga. Patterson wrote an op-ed for the Chattanooga Times-Free Press referencing the 1863 Battle of Chickamaugua and a “union invasion” of Tennessee.

Union invasion, get it?

And pro-Confederate rhetoric, get it?

It’s a cheap “gotcha” smear that has nothing to do with the merits of any argument for or against unionizing the Volkswagen plant, and this is the kind of “reporting” Mike Elk gets paid to produce at In These Times. Want to see how easy that kind of tactic is?

A clearinghouse for the hard-left agenda, the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) lays claim to the title of “the nation’s oldest multi-issue progressive think tank.” It was founded in 1963 as a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) by Richard J. Barnet and Marcus Raskin, who shared a vision of transforming the United States . . .
Throughout its history, the IPS has committed itself to the task of advancing leftist causes, working with agents of the Castro regime, championing environmentalist and anti-war positions in the 1960s and 1970s; declaring against the Reagan administration’s efforts to roll back communism in the 1980s . . .
Begun in Washington, DC, IPS headquarters quickly became a resource center for national reporters and a place for KGB agents from the nearby Soviet embassy to convene and strategize. . . .
The anti-Israel Middle East Research and Information Project (MERIP) was begun in 1971 by IPS fellow Joe Stork, who is now a director with Human Rights Watch. The magazine Mother Jones was founded in 1975 by the IPS spinoff Foundation for National Progress. In These Times, founded in 1976 as a leftwing tabloid, was financed by the IPS until 1982. . . .
The IPS, which created the Chicago-based socialist newspaper In These Times, has consistently tried to derail American efforts to combat Communism.

OK, so Mike Elk works for a magazine that was essentially a pro-Soviet KGB front during the 1980s. But wait! There’s more!

In August 2010, [unrepentant terrorist Bill] Ayers announced that he was retiring from his teaching post at the University of Illinois. However, he continues his work with AERA and serves also as an editorial-board member of In These Times, a Chicago-based socialist journal.

Ayers’ name has been removed from the masthead of In These Times, which is published by something called the Institute for Public Affairs in Chicago and — because I’m having no luck finding any public information about that outfit — I’ll just go ahead and insinuate it’s funded by shadowy foreigners with sinister anti-American agendas.

In These Times is a subversive terrorist organization! Q.E.D.

This kind of sick parody of journalism is what Mike Elk does for a living and he imagines that being a leftist makes him a courageous hero. Mike Elk expects admiration for his moral superiority to those evil right-wing nutjobs who get corporate money — DIRTY, DIRTY CORPORATE MONEY! — to write op-eds opposing the UAW.

Did I mention that Mike Elk is afflicted with Asperger’s Syndrome and dyslexia? His neurological and emotional impairment are directly relevant to his recent online meltdown:

Elk has long charged that he has been “cyberbullied” about his mental illness, Asperger’s syndrome. He has also admitted to having dyslexia. The Free Beacon has poked fun at Elk’s penchant for typos — we can attest from emails we’ve studied and received that Elk butchers verb tenses, names and sentence structure. He claims [BuzzFeed reporter] Gray is making light of his mental condition and learning disability by giving an Elk parody account — @ElkMinusContext — a #FF (for the blissfully unaware, this is a “Follow Friday” on Twitter). The account does not explicitly make fun of Elk’s conditions.
Elk, whose own Twitter account has a dyslexia disclaimer, has consistently used his Asperger’s and dyslexia to play the victim online and to cry “cyberbully” even when the charge makes no sense. When pressed on this point — where’s the proof of Lake’s cyberbullying? — he had a wild explanation that Lake is a social king of sorts over a group of a reporters that includes [Free Beacon reporter Alana] Goodman, Gray and others. He told The Mirror over the weekend, “Eli has you know is kinda like the old man of that crew he is always tweeting about partying and rapping and being in his 40s. Like did you see all these #elilakecyberbully hashtag where like all the kids who party with him joked about Eli lake playing grand theft auto with them. It was really a demonstration of their frat culture. Eli the old white guy rapper that his brand that makes him seem cool to all these young kids at the free beacon.” 

Umm, yeah.

Mike Elk’s social life is also kind of relevant here:

Elk says the debacle began when WSJ’s [Sohrab] Ahmari remarked on Twitter on Dec. 5: “Early Friday #FF @MikeElk to see a journalist at something called ‘In These Times’ going through a real-time mental breakdown.” In that string of tweets, Lake said, “Early #FF for @SohrabAhmari a great writer and a real mensch with a kind and sensitive soul.” Elk perceived this as Lake “validating” Ahmari’s call to watch Elk’s so-called “mental breakdown.” . . .
Elk claims Lake made a derogatory statement against [freelance writer] Rania Khalek and demanded that he apologize. . . .

[E-mail from Elk to Lake] Oct. 28, 9:09 p.m.
Subject line: apologize to my ex Rania Khalek
I just now saw the racist slur you put against my ex, Rania Khalek. Given the way that Rania was treated following 9-11, her parents her own history of being bombed and imprisoned in Lebanon, and you are a white man its clear you need to apologize. For you to treat my ex this way is absolutely horrendous. You need to apologize now or I am going to call your editor.

“Racist slur”? There was no such thing. But note the “complete moral authority” gesture by which Elk claims that his ex-girlfriend’s personal experience entitles her to an apology, simply because Lake was sarcastic toward her on Twitter. (Sarcasm on Twitter? I’m shocked!)

Read the whole ridiculous mess, including the part where Mike Elk calls Eli Lake a “coward” for not replying to his e-mails.

How strangely Schmalfeldtian . . .

Does this prove anything about the Left? I’m not sure it would be fair to generalize too much from this one example, but Charles JohnsonBarrett BrownNeal RauhauserBill SchmalfeldtRoger Shuler – am I the only one who sees a pattern here?


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  • Evi L. Bloggerlady

    “Does this prove anything about the Left? I’m not sure it would be fair to generalize too much from this one example, but Charles Johnson, Barrett Brown, Neal Rauhauser, Bill Schmalfeldt, Roger Shuler – am I the only one who sees a pattern here?”

    I think you are just trying to connect the dots. And this bunch tend to loop back on each other.

  • Mm

    Since when is “Lebanese” a race?

  • robertstacymccain


  • Pablo

    Eli Lake is a serious, sober reporter who has done some excellent work on a number of issues.

    Mike Elk is a batshit crazy progressive union lunatic and the next important piece he writes will be his first. Also, he’s nuttier than a squirrel turd, which can’t be mentioned often enough.

  • Bob Belvedere

    At least squirrel turds serve a useful purpose.

  • richard mcenroe

    If the pattern you are suggesting is that a network of dysfunctional neurotics and progressive/dem opportunists are taking advantage of a social media and an uneducated, underinformed populace conditioned to passivity to piss in the well of pu lic discourse for their own advantage, then yes, you might be on to something.

  • richard mcenroe

    Technically Lebanese are genetically descended from Phoenicians, not Arabs.

  • G Joubert

    Either Elk is Schmalfeldtian or Schmalfeldt is Elkian. Does it really matter which witch is which? Maybe like two blind squirrels looking for an acorn they’ll find each other. Then they can go out and tag team their enemies in their own special way. A full blown freak show.

  • Steve Skubinna

    Absolute Moral Authority combined with Total Personal Immunity. It’s like a super power.

  • Pablo

    This is the nitwit who’ll print quotes like this, as though they deserve anything but merciless ridicule:

    “Virgin American is a great airline and a great a company. All flight attendants want is to be treated the same way they treat their guests,” says TWU organizer Karla Kozak.

    Right. All the EMPLOYEES PAID TO SERVE CUSTOMERS want is to be treated like they’re the PAYING CUSTOMERS THEY WERE HIRED TO SERVE.

    Anyone who can make it through that piece without feeling that either you or Elk needs to be beaten with a ball peen hammer until the stupid stops is a better man than I, even if you’re a Vaginaed-American. .

  • Pingback: Anyone that mocks someone with Asperger’s Syndrome/Autism Spectrum Disorder ought to shot in the head and left to die in a parking lot | The Americanist

  • Kas

    What kind of pansy accuses another grown man of “bullying” him???
    This is like putting in bold Vegas-Strip style lights: I HAVE NO ARGUMENT SO I’M GOIN’ WITH THIS (blink/blink)

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  • neshobanakni

    Still doesn’t stop me from thinking about when two of them lebanese get together and … you know.