Why Would Anyone Blog About Lee Stranahan?

Ever since I began pushing for today to become Everybody Blog About Lee Stranahan Day, the response from liberal and progressive bloggers has been characterized by amazement that anyone, anywhere would want to write anything about him. “He’s nobody,” they declare. Indeed, Stranahan is perhaps the lowest, most craven hack on the internet.

But that is the point: how did someone with such a rich history of shady and even fraudulent behavior, fabricated stories, and egotistical self-promotion become the linchpin of so much right-wing blogstupid that Citizens United would hire him to help create and promote a movie about Occupy? Why, because of his scams and frauds and hoaxes and ego. When I wrote a burn notice for Andrew Breitbart two years ago and asked liberal and progressive bloggers to sign it, many of them answered: “why? He’s nobody.” Stranahan carries his torch like no one else.

Although Breitbart hired Stranahan, then an avowed liberal, to work for his fake news factory and help him “Vet the Prez,” no one ever seems to have vetted Stranahan. Today, he remains a Breitbart.com writer and calls himself a “conservative” with a Road-to-Damascus story that takes place over Breitbart’s coffin. But Stranahan has also been caught selling unlicensed Breitbart t-shirts through his Zazzle store, indicating once again that profit is his only god.

To many liberal bloggers, Stranahan’s conversion to the Breitbart cult seemed at the time to be his opportunity to escape a flaky, scam-artist reputation. Hardly anyone was sorry to see him switch sides; the few who wrote about it were only too happy to see him go.

Of course, conservative and libertarian bloggers outside the Breitbart empire have quickly wised up to Stranahan’s pattern of behavior. His failure to return funds contributed by members of the community at Diary of Daedalus blog for a Kickstarter film project in 2011 figures prominently. But that is merely one of many examples of Stranahan taking money without delivering on promises in return; he has been quite nonpartisan about it.

Rumors of Stranahan’s previous career as a pornographer had quietly circulated for years while he was supposedly a liberal. Since his “conversion,” Stranahan’s erotic photography has come under fire from conservatives, but the best research has been conducted by Bill Schmalfeldt (aka The Liberal Grouch), who has questioned Stranahan about some of his models who appear younger than 18. Because Stranahan has refused to provide legally-mandated proof of their ages, Schmalfeldt has relayed his questions to appropriate agencies. Stranahan has responded only by trying to scrub the photos from his Deviant Art account.

Ironically, Stranahan has outed George Zimmerman’s alleged child sex abuse victim. He maintains Breitbart’s ridiculous meme about rapist Occupy protesters. His pictures of bound, degraded, and sexually tortured women suggest that Stranahan is not the person who should be defending “legitimate rape” comments by Republicans, much less accusing Occupy of mass-rape.

His detractors recently used this against him. A few weeks ago, members of Anonymous sympathetic to the Occupy movement conducted what they called a “legitimate rape” of Occupy Unmasked, the movie Stranahan helped Citizens United make about Occupy.

They snatched up the Twitter account @OccupyUnmasked before Lee Stranahan did. They also got the occupyunmasked Tumblr accountthe YouTube accountthe Blogspot subdomain, and the WordPress subdomain. All of these accounts went live at the same time on a Friday night. This phenomenon is known as “cybersquatting,” and no, it’s not against the law.

Stranahan, who presents himself as a social media guru, conflated this event with Schmalfeldt’s reporting to complain that his family has been threatened with rape. If he was nobody, no one would support his hysterical nonsense. But Stranahan has important right wing blog-friends like Michelle Malkin, Brandon Darby, Ali Akbar, and Robert Stacy McCain.

His continued support from this narrowing circle of conservative bloggers is necessitated by his position within the National Bloggers Club, for which he has played enforcer when conservative bloggers called for transparency. Here is the “threat” they have hyped:

Do you see a threat to rape anyone in there? I don’t. Twitchy and Stranahan clearly want readers to confuse jokes about Stranahan’s ridiculous “Occupy rape” meme, and his social media pantsing by Anonymous, with an existential threat to Lee Stranahan. But the only “victim” here is Stranahan’s reputation, which was already nonexistent.

It is hard to overstate just how ridiculous this persecution story really is. In the past, Stranahan has tweeted his phone number to bait enemies; his home address was available on the internet, and he shares it with people who subscribe to his various fundraising ideas. So Stranahan started the “Everybody Blog About Brett Kimberlin Day” event, potentially invoking the supposedly-dangerous wrath of someone known for suing people who write about him, while simultaneously leaving his address and phone number all over the internet.

But he just now realized how dissonant and dangerous this behavior might be? Really?

The idea that Schmalfeldt has “threatened” him by blogging about this information is silly, and it does not excuse Stranahan calling the police on Schmalfeldt, who suffers from advanced Parkinsons’ Disease. That incident also underlines the sinister side of Stranahan’s career in right wing blogs: false police reports seem to follow Stranahan everywhere.

Stranahan used to be a guest blogger at Patterico.com, the blog of Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney Patrick Frey. But Stranahan lost his posting privileges the day after Frey was visited at home by police, who had received a spoofed “prank call” reporting a violent crime at Frey’s address.

Frey has since tried to pin the “SWAT calls” on people who sound nothing at all like the person in recorded police 911 dispatch audio. When Frey appeared on Stranahan’s podcast in May, someone called the show pretending to be the SWAT caller. I say that SWAT calls are yet another example of right wing blog fabrication, and that Stranahan is up to his neck in it.

Not long ago, Congress was interested in SWAT calls. Simultaneously, yet another right wing blog fabrication called “Fast and Furious” was hurtling towards a showdown with Attorney General Eric Holder in the House of Representatives. Planned Parenthood faced a similar smear-turned-legislation this Spring; it was born of ACORN-style hidden camera tricks and right wing blogs.

So perhaps we should pay more attention to right wing blogstupid in its infancy instead of waiting until Congress holds a vote. Nobody wants to blog about Lee Stranahan, but maybe more people should.

About Matt Osborne

Veteran blogging the culture wars from Alabama. Video journalist, mash-up artist, aspiring novelist, and metalhead. Expect bunnies, geekery, dark humor, and snarky empirical analysis to annoy idealists of all stripes. You can follow me on Twitter, but be ready 'cause it might get loud.
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