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Scurrilous Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-24-10 09:13 PM
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Right-Wing Flame War! (LGF!!1!)
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"Charles Johnson has been writing a blog for almost as long as the word blog has existed. A bearish, gentle-voiced, ponytailed man who for three decades enjoyed a successful career as a jazz guitarist accompanying the likes of Al Jarreau and Stanley Clarke, Johnson has always had a geeks penchant for self-education, and in that spirit he cultivated a side interest, and ultimately an expertise, in writing computer code. His Web log, which he named Little Green Footballs (a private joke whose derivation he has always refused to divulge), was begun in February 2001 mostly as a way to share advice and information with fellow code jockeys his approach was similar in outlook, if vastly larger in its reach, to the guiding spirit in the days of ham radio. His final post on Sept. 10, 2001, was titled Placement of Web Page Elements. It read, in its entirety: Heres a well-executed academic study of where users expect things to be on a typical Web page. It linked to, well, exactly what it said. The post attracted one comment, which read, in its entirety, Fantastic article."

The next 24 hours would transform his blog and, ultimately, his career. I grew up in Hawaii, Johnson told me recently when we met in his Los Angeles home, but I was born in New York. After I moved away at age 10, I would read the news stories about how the World Trade Center towers were getting closer to finishing. When they were attacked that day, that really hit home for me in a way that reached back into my childhood. Ive always been kind of a voracious reader, and when I saw the attack happen, I was probably one of the first ones to make a connection with Osama bin Laden, whod declared war on America a few years earlier. It was like a huge light bulb going on over my head about this stuff, and I wanted to really learn about it, so I started posting everything I could find.

Those searching the Web for information on the attackers soon found Johnson. Many of us felt guilty that we didnt even know who had invaded this country, says Pamela Geller, an early Little Green Footballs reader and a former associate publisher at The New York Observer, who now writes a blog of her own called Atlas Shrugs. The media had been, I think, somewhat derelict in terms of describing our mortal enemy. Charles Johnson was covering the global jihad in an in-depth and comprehensive fashion that nobody else was. Thats where I was getting my best news, from Little Green Footballs.

By virtue of his willingness to do and share research, his personal embrace of a hawkish, populist anger and his extraordinary Web savvy, Johnson quickly turned Little Green Footballs (or L.G.F., as it is commonly known) into one of the most popular personal sites on the Web, and himself the very model of a Los Angeles bohemian into an avatar of the American right wing. With a daily audience in the hundreds of thousands, the career sideman had moved to the center of the stage.

Now it is eight years later, and Johnson, who is 56, sits in the ashes of an epic flame war that has destroyed his relationships with nearly every one of his old right-wing allies. People who have pledged their lives to fighting Islamic extremism, when asked about Charles Johnson now, unsheathe a word they do not throw around lightly: evil. Glenn Beck has taken the time to denounce him on air and at length. Johnson himself (Mad King Charles is one of his most frequent, and most printable, Web nicknames) has used his technical know-how to block thousands of his former readers not just from commenting on his site but even, in many cases, from viewing its home page. He recently moved into a gated community, partly out of fear, he said, that the venom directed at him in cyberspace might jump its boundaries and lead someone to do him physical harm. He has turned forcefully against Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, nearly every conservative icon you can name. And answering the question of what, or who, got to Charles Johnson has itself become a kind of boom genre on the Internet."

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