The recent LNP hatchet job on Trey Garrison is ripe with lessons for this county about journalistic integrity and incompetence, the ridiculous liberal bias of Lancaster Online, Big Tech censorship, what can go seriously wrong when you have a partisan media monopoly in your region, and the art of the smear.
I met Trey shortly after he moved to Lancaster, followed his work with interest, stayed in touch with him, and gave him some leads for finding programmers who could help with his blog. I don’t know him well, but I know a good journalist when I see one. For those of you who missed it, or read the wildly misleading LNP article, here’s the real story.
Garrison, a 51 year old lifetime journalist, with 30 years experience writing mostly in the Dallas area for The Dallas Morning News, D Magazine, and Reason, recently moved to Lancaster County with the idea of starting a news blog that he hoped would develop into a full-fledged conservative publication. He started his Lancaster Blog in mid-April 2020, and by late September he had posted an astonishing 162 articles, the vast majority his own, a handful written by local contributors who were impressed with his publication, or relevant reposts from other organizations. That is almost 1 article a day, 7 days a week – 1 man. The reporting was excellent, highly professional and provided a sorely needed conservative take on events in the county and state. Many of his articles racked up 10s of 1000s of views, far outpacing anything the LNP puts out. The LNP doesn’t even publish view counts, which often don’t break 100, so as not to embarrass themselves.
On top of this his tweeting was prodigious. On slow days it was maybe 2-3, on big news days it was twenty or so. He is a brilliant tweeter, witty, quick with a comeback, and highly entertaining. I followed him and found him almost addicting. Within that short time, he racked up almost 7000 followers on the brand new Twitter account he started for the blog, testimony to the fact that the public found what he had to say highly valuable. Compare this to LNP top dogs, opinion editor Suzanne Cassidy (996 followers after 7 years on Twitter) and LNP Editor-in-Chief Tom Murse (2272 followers after 12 years on Twitter.) Many LNP staffers don’t break 500 followers despite plodding along for years.
The recent arrival from Texas was a news-writing force of nature, and you can tell from his work he is brilliant at it, that he loves his trade, and is at the top of his game, benefiting from 3 decades of serious, old-school, gum-shoe reporting skills.
Garrison really hit his stride during the George Floyd protests, but even more so, during the Lancaster City protests and rioting in mid-September. At both of these historic events, he was the only one reporting from a conservative angle, and there is no other word for it, – it was epic.
He broke the story that an LNP employee was in the front lines of the rioters and was arrested. He caught rioters on video throwing rocks through police car windows, setting fires, and smashing windows of the Post Office and Police station, scenes he would tweet out immediately, at great personal risk. He identified and photographed Antifa safe houses in the city. His videos were retweeted around the nation. Conservative icon Michelle Malkin (2.2 million Twitter followers) retweeted him many times. Crucially, his articles, photos, videos and tweets were used to apprehend Antifa and BLM extremists. He accomplished all this by dressing like an Antifa activist and milling about with them, identifying ringleaders, and literally being in the front lines of the action. At one point, he was identified by rioters tweeting for the blog, and narrowly escaped being severely beaten.
In contrast, LNP coverage of the riots, with its multi-million dollar budgets, smug and self-righteous staffers and editors, professional photographers and video cameramen achieved nothing even close to Garrison on his own.
Here are a few headlines I noticed while scrolling through his blog. Sounds like badly needed perspective to me:
EXCLUSIVE: LNP Employee Among Those Facing $1M Bail for Felony Rioting, Arson in Lancaster Unrest (The LNP never did a full story on this.)
One of Garrison’s main themes was that the LNP, the mayor’s office, and the Police Department are refusing to recognize that Lancaster is rife with local, violent Antifa and BLM cells, and even display obvious sympathies with them. This is an indisputable fact, obvious to everyone except the LNP, not investigated in our county, save for Garrison.
By any measure, Garrison’s reporting in those short 6 months was not only impressive, invaluable, and self-sacrificing, but he also performed a genuine service to our community for which we owe him a debt of gratitude. More incredibly, he did it all for free, calculating that he would eventually attract people to pay him for his work.
And that is exactly what transpired, not only is he a first-rate journalist, he also had the pluck and entrepreneurial initiative to start a badly needed conservative print and online newspaper. That publication, The Lancaster Patriot, which was planning a website and a weekly print edition, was planning to print its first issue in early October.
But Garrison had a past, and that past caught up with him.
It turned out that from 2017 to early 2020, Garrison was an occasional guest on an edgy, conservative podcast called The Third Rail, using an alter-ego he invented, an ivy-league educated wealthy psychiatrist named ‘Spectre’. The show pushed the envelope on sophomoric, crude, racist, misogynist, humor and Garrison, apparently, was no shrinking violet. The show used shock-jock, Howard Stern-on-steroids humor to address legitimate topics – many of which are off limits in our censored straitjacket mainstream media like the LNP – the IQ disparity between Blacks and Whites, the hardship visited on our working class by unrestricted immigration, the moral rot of our popular culture, the malignant Jewish influence on our culture and government, rampant corruption in our government and economy, and the fake and phony sham of our electoral system. His real identity was exposed and reported on by the SPLC in January of 2019, effectively destroying his career.
One can only speculate on why a man of Garrison’s ability would do this – perhaps he really is a misogynist racist – or maybe like many Americans he felt suffocated by political correctness and this was a way to blow off steam, or he yearned to be on air and this was his way of getting there, or was having a mid-life crisis, or maybe he just likes living dangerously. One thing is for sure, you and I will never know.
To prevent his “scandalous” identity from preventing his blogging in Lancaster, he only signed posts by his first name.
This is where the story gets ugly, far uglier than the telling of ill-advised jokes, for which, importantly, Garrison has apologized, disavowing racism and misogyny.
On September 27, the LNP ran a long “expose” on Garrison. By their account, they were contacted by one Jentzen Reed a Lancaster city resident and “activist” with a “racial justice” group called Green Dreamz. According to Reed he did “an exhausting amount of research”, and uncovered Garrison’s real identity. From there, the LNP, relying heavily on information coming from the SPLC, wrote their expose, which is one of the most one-sided hit pieces I’ve ever seen. Members of Green Dreamz, incidentally, were active in the rioting, at least one of them was seen wearing a bulletproof vest, according to one eye-witness I spoke to.
There was nothing in the article, nothing at all, about what I described above, about all the great work Garrison did over the last 6 months. Here is what the article did say about Garrison, some the LNP’s own opinion posing as fact, some of them quoting what the LNP presents as authoritative sources, like the SPLC (more on them below.) (Underlines mine, my comment in parentheses.)
First what they said about his reporting in Lancaster:
“claim(ed) without evidence that members of Antifa — far-left-leaning militant groups that resist neo-Nazis and white supremacists — infiltrated the recent rallies against police violence in Lancaster.” (This is a hoot – no evidence, really? What about all those rioters, those arrested right in front of your faces? And defining Antifa as wonderful people crusading against nazis and white supremacists is ridiculous.)
“(He) exploit(ed) confusion around the election.” (Huh?)
“This is the sort of thing that seems to put out information with very little evidence” (Total BS, he presented tons of evidence)
” … described by experts who study hate groups as a notorious white nationalist with a history of instigating harassment campaigns …” (Really? Which experts? The SPLC by any chance?)
“Garrison offers conservative readers a biased account of news events that supports their world views and takes advantage of the blurred lines between fact and opinion.” (LNP, have you heard of projection?)
“These kinds of sites really are designed to prey on confirmation bias processes.” (Pot?, Kettle? Hysterical laughing)
“The Lancaster Patriot is the latest example of an advocacy or partisan news site masking itself as a reputable news source.” (Another howler. The lack of self-awareness here boggles the mind.)
“Most journalists strive for transparency and a sense of balance, which is not apparent on Lancaster Patriot” (Unlike that paragon of objectivity, the LNP.)
“This is a classic case where a politically zealous writer has really tried to clothe himself as a journalist.” (Where do they find these “experts”?)
“Garrison could spread misinformation to stoke unrest.” (Ridiculous. In the opinion of most of the county, it is the LNP which is a mainstream media misinformation factory.)
“His posts focus disproportionately on civil unrest in Lancaster city and cast the Black Lives Matter movement in a negative light, playing on fears of racial violence among the primarily white and Republican population living in the suburbs and rural parts of the county. Reads one Lancaster Patriot headline: “BLM/Antifa Rioters Clash with Police in Lancaster After Police Shoot a Violent Knife-Wielding Felon.” (That is a completely accurate headline, and BLM is a negative movement – or don’t you think so LNP?)
And here is what they said about Garrison personally:
“a Dallas-area conman, who for years lied and pretended to be a wealthy psychiatrist while living a double life” (Quoting the SPLC.) (A con man? Led a double life? Pretended to be a wealthy pyschiatrist? – yeah, that was his persona on the show!)
“Garrison is a white nationalist, a misogynist, a bully and a grifter.” (Quoting the SPLC). (Wait, making racist jokes makes you a white nationalist? Ok, if you say so LNP, but where’s the evidence for the other stuff?)
The LNP is so out of touch with the views of the county that they even present a line from Garrison disapproving of flags advocating sodomy as evidence that he is a very, very bad person.
This would all be funny if it wasn’t so pathetic. How did this tripe ever get past a serious editor? I’m no expert, but it looks like Garrison has a good case for libel here. So does The Patriot. Any lawyers reading this can reach Garrison through the Lancaster Blog site.
The article included a handful of quotes reflecting Garrison’s politically incorrect humor, cherry-picked from over 200 hours of airtime. Could the LNP find nothing at all that Garrison said on the show that was edifying or valid? Could they not find a single person in the county to quote who liked and admired Garrison’s work here over the last 6 months? They could have easily found them in The Patriot’s Twitter feed or in comments section of the site – but, presumably their self-righteous dander was so high this never occurred to them. So much for fair and balanced reporting!
If the LNP’s incompetence ended here, it would be bad enough, but it gets worse, much worse.
The fact of the matter is that the LNP probably relied much more heavily on a joint investigation together with the SPLC than they are letting on, and that is of crucial significance because of the sordid facts about the SPLC.
Now some county residents who follow politics might be aware that for the last couple of years, the SPLC has become a favorite whipping boy of mainstream conservatives. Hardly a week goes by when some Republican Congress Critter doesn’t beat his chest on camera about the SPLC’s latest outrage. Trump loves kicking them around on Twitter. Most liberal-leaning Lancastrians, probably infer that this is just partisan politics, just a lot of hooey. What they probably don’t realize is that the wrongdoing of the SPLC has been so egregious, that they have been disowned by the left too. Even liberal media powerhouses, usually willing to lie about anything, no less than The New York Times, The New Yorker, and The Washington Post, ran devastating exposes on the SPLC’s corruption, cynicism, and hypocrisy. The SPLC is the Harvey Weinstein / Bernie Madoff of the political activist world, an organization that completely imploded due to the immorality and criminal activity of their top leadership, which was forced to resign en-masse in March of 2019.
The SPLC was always a scam, a kind of corporate shake-down operation, (give us money or we’ll accuse you of being RACIST!) founded by the now disgraced Morris Dees 49 years ago. Dees made the common CEO mistake of hanging on too long, to the doddering age of 82, at which point his racketeering operation collapsed into a cesspit of accusations of sexual harassment and racism, with lawsuits flying around like jello cubes in a food fight. Dees himself was accused of trying to rape his teenage stepdaughter. It was all the more jaw-dropping because the SPLC presented itself in relentless fundraising mailings to trusting liberals as a spotless moral crusader against the very things that were rampant under their own roof. Anybody of any quality or ability fled the SPLC as if it were Chernobyl, leaving behind the dim bulbs who didn’t have prospects anywhere else. A reputable independent charity watchdog operation, Charity Watch, gave them a grade of “F”. For a good sampling of the slime at the SPLC, this is a good place to start.
Even before this very public implosion, there were telling signs that the SPLC leadership was getting senile, for example, when they would blacklist churches as “hate groups” for opposing LGBT ideology, and losing a series of expensive libel suits against them and others. That they even exist anymore is testimony to remarkable chutzpah.
The funny thing is, I spoke last week with one of the LNP reporters who wrote the hatchet job on Garrison and asked if they were aware of the reputation disaster of the SPLC, since they seemed to rely very heavily on them, quoting them at length as some kind of grand authority. They answered that they had never heard this. Such is the competence of our local Morality Polizei. To make matters worse, I then asked if they had collaborated extensively with the SPLC in their investigation of Garrison, and they said: no comment. I then asked if they had met with one Michael Hayden of the SPLC, who was in Lancaster two weeks ago. They said: no comment.
Think it can’t get any worse? It does. Enter the incomparable, the one and only, Michael Hayden of the SPLC, probably the foremost example of the dim bulbs mentioned above.
For the scoop on Hayden, I refer you to an eye-opening, and very amusing article by investigative journalist Eric Striker, which appeared last week in the excellent Unz Review, the largest and most influential conservative webzine in America, published by Ron Unz, the former publisher of the American Conservative, Silicon Valley entrepreneur, and former candidate for Governor of California (34% of the vote in the 1994 Republican primary). The comments at the end of the article are damning. From that article:
“Hayden, an anarcho-communist and self-described Antifa member, first appeared on the scene in 2017 when the owners of Newsweek started hiring undignified and unethical people willing to churn out fake news at their clickfarm for pocket money. It later came out that Newsweek during this period was just front for a Moony cult’s money laundering operation.”
“… After about a year of us making fun of him on Gab for being a failed softcore porn writer, Hayden was eager to oblige. With a little lunchbox full of half-truths in tow, he was able to gain employment in yet another racket, the F-rated “charity” known as the SPLC.”
“… I am reluctant to psychoanalyze people, but projection comes to mind when you read about his insecurities over being mixed race, his habit of getting wasted at work, his history of making explicit threats to send Antifa after people, or the fact that he used to direct his wife Aadya Bedi in BDSM performances for fellow deviants.”
“… While it’s easy to laugh at tragic clowns like Michael Edison Hayden, the post-truth sea he’s doggy paddling in has flooded every aspect of American life. Articles about white supremacist boogeymen working for Putin are standard SPLC fare to scam Mueller watching, party attending, MSNBC cat ladies out of money, but the moral panic they’re fundraising off is very real and very dangerous.”
I encourage you to read the whole thing, it is excellent, and very relevant to the smear operation orchestrated against Garrison and The Patriot.
Hayden is a buffoon who somehow manages to stand out in a forest of social justice buffoons. Most of the engagement on his Twitter feed is from Antifa nut jobs, for whom he seems to write in order to physically endanger the targets of his smears. It was Hayden who wrote the original SPLC hit piece against Garrison in early 2019, and he has displayed an obsession with stalking his every move since then, something he has a proven pattern of doing with his targets.
Personally, I don’t believe that local citizen “sleuth” Jentzen Reed dug up Garrison’s identity. It is patently obvious that either Hayden gave Reed the information, or else offered it to the wildly naive LNP directly. Hayden’s known penchant for projection is on prominent display in the LNP’s quotes. It is Hayden who is the personification of a grifter, and with a nasty streak – hounding down people for money, like some kind of social justice bounty hunter, vindictively doing everything he can to destroy their lives.
The LNP doesn’t seem to realize the SPLC’s
business model, grift. They gin up a lot of hysteria based on exaggerations, innuendo and slander, then send out a fundraising letter pointing to their latest “research”, claiming to be “fighting against racism.” The LNP swallowed this con – hook, line and sinker.
After the LNP’s initial hit piece, they ran two more in the following days, here and here, repeating the same nonsense about Garrison, and trumpeting that their hounding of The Patriot’s advertisers had forced them to shut down before even opening. The Grande Finale was an insufferable, school-marmish, sputtering, thin-lipped, red-faced, finger-wagging, self-righteous, sanctimonious scolding from the opinion editor, the above-mentioned Twitter champ Suzanne Cassidy. Tellingly, the comments to these articles on LNP’s Facebook page and in the articles themselves were heavily in favor of Garrison / Lancaster Blog / Lancaster Patriot. Then, outrageously, with no explanation, Twitter permanently deleted The Patriot’s Twitter account, memory-holing Garrison’s brilliant tweeting, and other staff tweets, about vital historic events right here in Lancaster. Nicely done LNP.
It is highly likely that it was in fact the SPLC who got The Patriot banned from Twitter. Twitter formally renounced the SPLC in April of 2019, yes, they are that toxic, and Facebook and Amazon soon followed suit, but what a company says publicly and what happens behind the scenes are very different. You can be sure that the faceless censors in Silicon Valley who routinely violate American’s right to free speech, continue to rely on “advice” from their fellow leftist zealots. Prior to severing ties with the SPLC, Twitter listed them as a “safety partner”, working to combat “hateful conduct and harassment”. They had the same gig at Facebook and Amazon. What a disgrace!
I recently asked a conservative representative in the Pennsylvania Legislature if he could name any conservative newspapers in the state. He said there are none, not a single one!, only a couple of talk radio hosts with small audiences. The Patriot would have met a vital need in this state and county. The LNP, collaborating with the SPLC, made sure that wouldn’t happen. Mission accomplished.
Now, I’ve been very blunt in my criticism of the LNP, so I should explain that I believe that they are basically good, decent people, like most of us in this county, and in my interaction with them they have been polite and professional. They are trying to get to the truth as best they can. They just need to get out of the CNN / MSNBC bubble they inhabit! And they need to be more careful about checking their sources, and more balanced in their reporting. Hope springs eternal! They often do excellent work when covering non-political issues, describing the people and traditional culture of this wonderful county.
So what are we to make of this sordid tale? A talented journalist who made a great contribution to our community and humiliated the LNP with superior reporting was smeared beyond recognition with childishly inept journalistic malfeasance. A potential competitor, a badly needed alternative to the hopelessly deluded and incompetent liberal bubble known as the LNP was strangled in its cradle. The whole thing seems to have been spoon-fed to the LNP by the frankly odious SPLC. Big Tech censorship then stamped out evidence of the crime, at the urging of the SPLC.
I say the LNP owes the county, The Patriot, and Garrison an apology. Real Lancaster County conservatives should be outraged. This whole episode shows how badly we need an alternative voice to push back against this kind of nonsense which has all the pathos of a Salem witch hunt, and how crucial it is that we end Big Tech censorship of conservatives. I wish Garrison would start blogging again, and if he does I will be glad to contribute the occasional article. I think he’s a hero.
Start blogging again Trey, this county needs you, we welcome you, and we are grateful.