For some months, we have been occasionally publishing here at FrumForum the work of an American University undergraduate named Alex Knepper. Alex Knepper is an outspoken young libertarian, a brave and brainy writer of real promise.
Alex also published on other conservative sites, including the Breitbart sites and the Daily Caller, but most relevantly, NewsRealBlog. Alex and NewsRealBlog had a falling out in July, after Alex published a post on this site criticizing Ann Coulter’s negative turn against the Afghanistan war.
Coulter is an important friend to the NewsRealBlog’s parent organization, the David Horowitz Freedom Center, and Knepper’s post prompted NewsRealBlog to discontinue their association with Alex Knepper. Alex relates the incident here.
That was not the end of the matter however. After terminating Alex, the editors at NewsRealBlog launched a campaign of accusation against him as a sexual deviant, a pedophile and so on. They published Alex’s private correspondence with NewsRealBlog editors and cyber-stalked him on Google and Facebook.
At first, the NewsRealBlog editors tried to make their case based on Alex’s published words. This method did not work, partly because Alex’s published articles made reasonable points, and partly because Alex’s most strident pieces had appeared on NewsRealBlog itself.
And so the NewsRealBlog editors expanded their campaign. Alex had at one time been on very confidential terms with the editor of NewsRealBlog, David Swindle. Swindle somehow discovered that Alex had posted many pieces under a pseudonym on a chat site for gay teens. NewsRealBlog cracked Alex’s alias, and rummaged through his many personal posts in search of damaging material.
They found it.
Alex had not disclosed the existence of this material to me. My first encounter with it was on Saturday morning, when I read the material on the NewsRealBlog site.
NewsRealBlog’s behavior in this case was vicious, invasive and outrageous. I wonder what would remain of the reputations of NewsRealBlog’s editors if their expectations of privacy were ripped away, if their private emails were published, their sexual fantasies and peculiarities exposed to public view.
NewsRealBlog’s editors have fused high school cyber-bullying and New Left character assassination. They have relentlessly harried and pursued somebody himself only months out of his own adolescence. They bombarded him with accusations long before they did the snooping that provided their squalid evidence. They have sought to destroy a career in the midst of the worst job market for young journalists since the 1930s, all to settle a private score.
I took a long weekend to think through the right response to this material. I consulted widely and communicated repeatedly and at length to Alex himself. Alex has expressed to me his regret and remorse for the offensive material.
Within the limits of my own prejudice and ignorance, I tried to make allowance for the extra difficulties that Alex has encountered on his route to adulthood. I tried too to keep my focus on the person Alex is now, not the person he was two or three years ago when he wrote many of the most offensive of the items.
Yet in the end, there was a gap that could not be closed. A website functions as a community. If agreement cannot be reached on the moral and ethical standards that should govern that community, then the members of the community must part ways.
I sincerely wish Alex well, and I hope and trust he will grow in wisdom and human sympathy. Until then, however, you will have to look elsewhere than this site for his byline.