The Other McCain

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Left-Wing Journalist Hacks Email of Republican Billionaire Joe Ricketts

Posted on | February 5, 2019 | No Comments

GOP billionaire Joe Ricketts (left); left-wing journalist Molly Osberg (right).

John Joseph “Joe” Ricketts got rich from the brokerage firm TD Ameritrade, and retired from the business in 2011 to concentrate on philanthropy. Ricketts is a staunch conservative, a Nebraska native and Catholic father of four, and his family bought the Chicago Cubs in 2009. Ricketts is also interested in journalism, and in 2009 created DNAinfo-dot-com, a site devoted to local news in New York and Chicago. He shut down the site in 2017, one week after employees voted to unionize. Ricketts hates unions, considering them a divisive force, destructive of the esprit de corp necessary to business success. God bless him.

In December 2018, a left-wing journalist named Molly Osberg, who writes for the Gizmodo-owned website Splinter News, began publishing a series called “The Billionaire’s Inbox,” with emails apparently obtained from hacking Joe Ricketts’ personal account. The legality of the methods by which Ms. Osberg obtained these emails is a matter on which I would be hesitant to offer an opinion. The hacking of John Podesta’s emails is currently being investigated by a federal special prosecutor, but hacking a private citizen’s email? That’s what is now considered “investigative journalism,” I guess. At any rate, Molly Osberg keeps publishing batches of Ricketts’ private correspondence, e.g., “The Ricketts On Capitalism and Electoral Politics” (Dec. 17), and “How to Get Filthy Rich in America Without Anyone Knowing Your Name” (Jan. 31), and one would suppose Ricketts might hire a squad of top lawyers to stop this embarrassing drip-drip-drip disclosure, but for some reason it continues.

Monday, Osberg published the latest batch of Ricketts emails (“Here Are The Racist Conspiracy Emails Rotting Right-Wing Billionaire Joe Ricketts’ Brain“), which include some Obama “birther” stuff and other offensive materials, and these revelations finally caused a public reaction:

A series of emails obtained and published by Splinter News on Monday appears to show Joe Ricketts, the patriarch of the family that owns the Cubs, sharing and endorsing racist jokes and conspiracy theories.
Ricketts, 77, and his son and team Chairman Tom Ricketts, issued separate statements regarding the emails after they were posted.
“I deeply regret and apologize for some of the exchanges I had in my emails,” Joe Ricketts said in a statement. “Sometimes I received emails that I should have condemned. Other times I’ve said things that don’t reflect my value system. I strongly believe that bigoted ideas are wrong.” . . .
Tom Ricketts emphasized that his father isn’t involved in the operations of the Cubs, although Joe Ricketts sold 34 million shares of the TD Ameritrade company he founded for about $403 million to cover the equity needed to purchase the Cubs in 2009.
“We are aware of the racially insensitive emails in my father’s account that were published by an online media outlet,” Tom Ricketts wrote in his statement. “Let me be clear: the language and views expressed in those emails have no place in our society.
“My father is not involved with the operation of the Chicago Cubs in any way. I am trusted with representing this organization and our fans with a respect for people from all backgrounds. These emails do not reflect the culture we’ve worked so hard to build at the Chicago Cubs since 2009.”

Well, why and how is this happening?

That’s the real question. Let us stipulate that almost anyone has stuff in their email account which, if made public, could be embarrassing, and furthermore stipulate that any 77-year-old Republican’s frank opinions about such subjects as Islam and immigration might be a public-relations disaster for any institution with which he was associated, if a left-wing journalist somehow hacked his private communications.

But I don’t think Molly Osberg has super-hacker skills, nor do I think Joe Ricketts’ account got hacked by some shadowy crew of hostile online antagonists. No, my hunch is this is an inside job.

Let’s go through some background: During the 2016 GOP primaries, Joe Ricketts poured his money and effort into stopping Donald Trump from winning the Republican nomination. He bankrolled something called “Our Principles PAC,” led by Katie Packer, a former aide to the Romney and Jeb Bush campaigns, which ran ads attacking Trump as a misogynist. After Trump secured the nomination, however, Ricketts had a change of heart and began spending millions to support Trump. “The Ricketts decided they could not sit back and watch Hillary Clinton become the next president of the United States,” Ricketts adviser Brian Baker told the Wall Street Journal in September 2016. Todd Ricketts was recently named finance chair of the Trump 2020 campaign.

If the leak of Ricketts’ private emails were an inside job — which is the most obvious explanation of how Molly Osberg got this scoop — doesn’t it make sense that the culprit might be some “Never Trump” type within the billionaire’s inner circle? Suppose that there was someone working for Ricketts who grudgingly went along with that 2016 switch from anti-Trump to pro-Trump, but secretly disagreed with the decision and, instead of quitting his or her job for the Ricketts political operation, became a sort of mole engaged in espionage and sabotage.

While I know nothing about who has worked for Ricketts, if I were betting money, I’d put $20 on such an explanation for how and why Molly Osberg got hold of those emails — never trust a Never Trumper.

On the other hand, maybe one of Joe Ricketts’ children decided to throw Dad under the bus because they don’t like being under the old man’s thumb. The prime suspect in that scenario would be his daughter, Laura Ricketts, a lesbian Democrat who is chairwoman of LPAC, a lesbian Super PAC that launched the “Lesbians for Hillary” website in 2015. So if Laura Ricketts ever had access to her father’s account, this could explain how his personal emails got dumped in Molly Osberg’s lap.

My hunch is that Joe Ricketts already knows who leaked his emails, and I wonder why this information hasn’t already become public. But speculation is mere speculation, and I suppose that if we’re patient, the truth about this sasbotage operation will eventually become known.

On a completely unrelated note, the fundraiser to support Gavin McInnes’s lawsuit against the SPLC has now raised nearly $30,0000 — more than double what it was Monday evening when I gave $10.

 

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