TYT Panic, Clickbait Defeats Journalism, and Back to What Matters
I was informed the evening of Friday, November 17, 2017 — only hours after false accusations were published about me in HuffPost — that The Young Turks would be terminating my employment effective immediately.
The accusations are baseless. Within 24-hours of publication, HuffPost removed both articles because they contained false, defamatory information. HuffPost went on to make a statement to the author of those pieces that they refuse to stand by them, saying specifically, “we don’t have the ability to fact-check and stand behind that sort of original reporting in a contributor post.” Furthermore, there exists substantial evidence establishing that these claims were fabricated. This evidence includes discussion board posts wherein the author and co-conspirators plotted a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack against the website I founded — Truth Against the Machine — and spoke brazenly about using the claims to threaten and demand my firing from The Young Turks along with destroying my career. Another conversation chain shows one co-conspirator admitting to me point-blank that the claims were fabrications. In subsequent public discourse, several parties have gone on to contradict themselves repeatedly while making additional threats.
I notified my boss, Cenk Uygur, in advance of a brewing effort to slander me, at which time he thanked me for my transparency, and promised to begin an immediate investigation via a third party. As such, news of termination left me bewildered. The Young Turks fired me without ever reviewing the copious countervailing evidence in my favor. While they happily used my name and image to fundraise over 2 million dollars, the hoped-for investigation never commenced, leaving me without a crucial means of demonstrating my innocence, and insufficient income to support myself while I fight to clear my name.
I was instead encouraged to take the employment equivalent of an Alford plea, something which spares TYT the inconvenience of a more formal process, but denies me the chance to defend myself. Meanwhile, The Young Turks have manufactured a fiction in which they claim that my unpaid side project for citizen journalists is a conflict of interest that — despite promoting it themselves numerous times on a TYT-branded show — justifies, throwing me under the bus.
I reiterate that I am innocent of all accusations against me — for which there is no credible evidence. Instead, we have the word of a sloppy smear artist/internet fame-seeker, who broke every rule of proper journalistic practice, and co-conspirators who giggled uproariously over a side plan to hack the website I founded. All of this has been advanced solely by internet conspiracy theorists using the “story” for click bait, and whose practices as self-proclaimed journalists are so sloppy that after misreading just half an email address, they inaccurately reported I was working with Vox Media’s legal team. They then went on to weave that into a winding, Reddit-worthy conspiracy narrative that has grown to encompass the CIA, Mossad, and probably Elvis’s ghost.
While it is unfair that I must now prove my innocence — that I have to do the impossible of proving a negative just to win my life back — I will neither frown nor despair but get to that critical task at hand. In that spirit, I have retained counsel. I hope to return to the much more important work of real journalism and providing a voice for other people’s struggles as soon as possible.
I offer my heartfelt thanks to everyone who has helped me take this wild and mostly wonderful ride.