Charles first leaped into the spotlight with single-handed exposure of Dan Rather's "fake but accurate" document, allegedly "proving" that George W Bush was a privileged rich kid (which he was) who used his contacts to illegally fake his military service (which he did not). It was intended to smear W and prevent his re-election. As one comment to the blog IMAO put it:
Charles Johnson will forever be remembered with great respect for his graphic demonstrating the CBS acceptance of forged documents. Anything else he does is either icing on the cake or something that will be forgotten by history. A decade or two from now, school kids looking at Wiki entries on the former news show, CBS Evening News, will see that graphic with a link to Johnson’s website (or its archive on Bing/Google/AstralProjection).
Everything else is superfluous.
Agreed. Charles Johnson's absolute proof that this memo was an out-and-out forgery simultaneously exposed Rather's mendacity and unveiled CBS News as a bunch of left-wing partisan hacks who were doing their best to throw the election by whatever means possible. Rather's shamelessly repeated protestations to the contrary sealed his own professional doom.
In addition, LGF's precedent-shattering MSM smackdown destroyed forever the notion that bloggers were rank, pajama-clad amateurs and marked the beginning of the end of the left-wing media as we knew it. Not for nothing was this entire incident dubbed "RatherGate." (Or sometimes, "MemoGate.") Rarely does one come out of nowhere to change the course of history like this.
Unfortunately, Charles has now done a 180 in the opposite direction, joining folks like David Brock, Andrew Sullivan, and (last week at least) Christopher Buckley in their fashionable and undoubtedly lucrative turn toward the growing cadre of casually slandering elitists who occupy an honored place in the hard left pantheon.
Frankly, in the writerly world, this conversion experience is always a good business decision. A LOT more publication opportunities open up for you when you cave to the left. (One does have to eat.) But when it comes to turning viciously on friends, associates, fellow travelers, etc., the whole thing becomes a little questionable for me at least. Particularly when you yourself have been a hero to many of them.
In point of fact, I'd once had LGF on our "Good Guys" list. I regretfully removed the site from this list some time ago when I first discovered that, seemingly overnight, LGF had forgotten about the terroristas and had launched its own jihad against creationists. I never really understood the sudden switch and still don't. Things went steadily downhill after that, and now the site has begun to resemble the Soros-blessed Daily Kos in the intensity of its vitriol.
Regarding the creationists--in my experience, some of these folks are indeed a bit unhinged or at least somewhat overzealous. (Though I've never met a creationist who likes to behead people.) Nonetheless, I've always found it ironic that at its Darwinian core, evolution theory and creationism track pretty closely with one another. The major difference is that the creationists believe the Genesis story as literal truth. For a creationist, God personally created us and everything we can see, and still remains an immanent presence in our daily lives. For a pure Darwinist, well, shit happens. Yet oddly, both believe essentially that the same s... happened in roughly the same order.
Genesis, very broadly, charts the origin of Earth's current inhabitants in a surprisingly logical fashion given that its anonymous author or authors would have known precisely zero about modern science. A lot of people laugh at me when I mention this. But if any of them would take a look, they'd see what I mean.
Science-based, current evolutionary theory has become a lot more sophisticated since Darwin's era. We've learned a great deal about the Big Bang, of mass extinctions (which means that evolution hasn't always gone smoothly), etc. But in a broad sense, the Genesis story is a pretty good, mythic account detailing, more or less, how life happened over time. I don't personally believe in the story literally. But I do see a lot of truth in it. And I'm not sure that any primitive writer could have expressed a complicated phenomenon any better than was done in the initial book of the Bible.
But back to LGF. Teeing off on today's creationists is certainly fashionable. Regarding them as greater threats than the Islamofascists, however, is patently absurd. Nonetheless, this seems to have been the fulcrum of LGF's conversion experience which has gradually evolved into a real hatred toward anyone even remotely positioned on the right side of the aisle. This is the kind of absurdist reductionism that regularly taints extremists on both sides of the aisle.
Why did all this happen? Who knows? My own guess is that Charles Johnson is, at his core, anti-clerical. Which, given all the murderous hate that's been generated by socalled "religious leaders" since the dawn of human history, is actually quite logical. On the other hand, generalizing outward from a fanatical cleric or cult to include anyone and everyone who's ever had a tenuous link with said cleric or cult is hard to justify. It suggests the existence of an equal and opposite fanaticism that's likely just as dangerous.
In any event, life goes on and people do what they do. I'm sure Charles has had his reasons, which he attempted recently to point out, naming names in the process. These include the frequent, litany-like citation of that lightning rod of the left, Sarah Palin who apparently sins daily by simply existing as a fundamentalist Christian. Unfortunately, if you replaced the alleged right-wing offenders in this list with the usual suspects on the left, you could draw precisely the same conclusions.
The moral of this story: when any writer, pundit, or public figure goes completely postal denouncing the other side, you know that his or her reason has become clouded by a very personal fanaticism. Divining the reasons why at this point becomes useless. So the best thing to do is duly note what happened and move along. Which is what we're doing here.