Due to recent discreet inquiries about my mashup of Brandon Darby and the SWAT calls, as well as other aspects of the case, I have ended my blog vacation two days early in order to recap recent events and put them in context.
“Randy Taylor-Hahn” appeared on Twitter as @FarLeftofRight in late 2011. In March of 2012, hate talker Rush Limbaugh inspired a social media backlash, and “Randy” took part in #stoprush, the main Twitter hashtag. He then spent weeks contacting hashtag participants by video chat and phone, recruiting them for a project he called “#stopRushTexas.”
But by late April, #stoprush volunteers were sure that “Randy” and his project were fake. He had dozens of puppet accounts mechanically retweeting him in a transparent attempt to smear the #stoprush hashtag as “astroturf.” So in May, #stoprush confronted him about those sockpuppets, and the worst of them disappeared; others kept going. Then #stoprush asked “Randy” about his fake references, and then his plagiarized blog. At that point, he stopped communicating.
Then on June 3, the #stoprush smear reemerged in “TheTrenches.us,” a fringe right wing blog. “Randy” was now complaining that #stoprush volunteers had violated his civil rights. Breitbart.com blogger Lee Stranahan was working for the website at the time, and after writing the post he went on Twitter to bully #stoprush volunteers for statements. His podcast partners Mandy Nagy, aka @Liberty_Chick, and Brandon Darby joined in with him.
They should not have done that.
“Randy” had already been positively identified as Jason Wade Taylor, a three-time loser. I published a burn notice on June 11, updating it through that week with “new” details to maintain audience interest and participation. In fact, much of what I revealed was already known to the ad hoc group of #stoprush volunteers that had formed to defend against Taylor’s ratfucking operation.
Brandon and his partners were trying to tie #stoprush and its prominent participants to the larger right wing blog narratives of the day. As a result, I became keenly interested in what they had been saying, and because they discussed SWAT calls I listened very closely to those recordings as well.
Someone was spoofing the home phone numbers of right wing bloggers, calling the police, and reporting violent crimes so that armed police would respond. But as soon as I was done listening, I got the same feeling that my first conversation with “Randy” had given me: something wasn’t right.
Bear in mind that, in a former career, I had been trained to listen to foreign radio transmissions and identify common speakers using multiple channels. One of the primary tasks of SIGINT, or signals intelligence, is to understand the enemy chain of command by the structure of its radio networks. Also bear in mind that I love busting fakes, and do it whenever possible — left and right.
By the time I listened to Brandon and the SWAT calls, several people had already been blamed for them in right wing blogs. But to me, the SWAT caller sounded just like Brandon, hero of right wing bloggers. He was already involved in one hoax with Taylor, so why not another? Brandon is exactly the sort of “chaos-spreading anarchist” who would perpetrate such a hoax. So I made a mashup to explain my suspicions:
The effect was immediate and electric. Stranahan, who had defended the civil rights of a hoaxer and tried to intimidate me with threats of a lawsuit as point man in a smear job, now claimed I was smearing Brandon. He challenged me to take my suspicions about SWAT calls to the FBI (no thanks; I’ve seen the Federal Bureau of Incompetents at “work” three times in my life, and never been impressed).
But Stranahan and Brandon and Martin all had a problem, because by now people on their own side were finding out that “Randy” was a fabrication. They were defending the “civil rights” of a nonperson. At some point, someone must have explained the principle of nolle prosequi to them: no prosecutor was ever going to sue or charge #stoprush volunteers on the word of a pseudonymous three-time loser.
But some of them forged ahead anyway, which is how the merry fellowship of #stoprush smear-hobbits was sundered forevermore.
Brooks Anthony Martin, aka “Brooks Bayne,” tried posting selections from the allegedly-illegal recording of “Randy” in his Trenches blog. Martin presented no proof that any illegal recording took place. As I pointed out in rebuttal, the inclusion of hacked emails and a stolen recording made Taylor look guilty of hacking, and made Martin look guilty of aiding and abetting. Furthermore, Martin was unable to select or falsely-interpret his clips well enough to keep them from proving everything I had been saying about how #stoprush had scambaited and interrogated Taylor.
Perhaps in desperation, Brandon threatened to sue me, then called me a liar and ignored me. As I claimed victory, the “smear team” dissolved in recriminations. Stranahan quit his moonlighting job with “TheTrenches.us” and began pointing a finger at Martin for what he called “the Randy ruse.” With the #stoprush smear now mainly confined to Martin’s blog, I exposed his “Brooks Bayne” persona as just another fake — along with his blog rankings and his Twitter following, all artificially inflated.
Brandon and his (former) friends tried to bully people on Twitter about a bullshit story from a two-bit con artist. They were tweeting “#war,” but they had chosen to pick on a warrior. They had a fabricated story — what Brandon likes to call a “false narrative” — but they tried using it on a blogger who exposes fakes wherever he finds them, and takes a special delight in exposing Breitbarter hoaxes. It was their choice; no one made them do it, and they should take personal responsibility for the consequences.
Prior to the mashup there was a lot of interest in SWAT calls on Capitol Hill, but that seems to have evaporated. Actually, less than 24 hours after the mashup posted I was informed that no one in the halls of Congress was interested in pursuing the subject anymore. Lately, Brandon says he would like to clear his name in a committee hearing:
I really hope this happens, because I would love to attend. If allowed to appear, I already know exactly what I will say to the esteemed legislators:
“Ladies and gentlemen, to me, Brandon Darby’s voice sounds exactly like the SWAT calls on Erick Erickson and other right wing bloggers. Brandon Darby has a history of fabrication, incitement, bullying, and provocation. But where is Jason Wade Taylor? Thank you.”
As I keep saying, I have a verifiable birth record for Jason Taylor. There is no such record for “Randy.” Surely those good conservatives on the committee will understand the importance of verifiable birth records?
Indeed, looking back now at my long, strange Summer, the attempted smear of #stoprush landed back in The Trenches like a badly-thrown grenade. What was supposed to have been the perfect Summertime nontroversy to build on top of other false narratives became a disaster instead, badly harming and perhaps even destroying the credibility of everyone who stuck up for “Randy.” He’s still tweeting, by the way, though he is now @FarRightofLeft:
Taylor was actually not a very good con man. In fact, he was a terrible “infiltrator.” As you can see in the example above, he makes up for his lack of intelligence and education and achievement with bullshit. Anyone who relied on him as a “source” was destined to fail. Brandon and his friends should have known better — but then, when was the last time you heard of Breitbart cultists fact-checking a source?