Traitors of Journalism: Pieter Friedrich, Conspiracy Theorist/Freewheeling Slanderer

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Overcrowding at Tulsi Gabbard’s event in Londonderry, New Hampshire on 10/01/2019. Conspiracy theorist Pieter Friedrich questions the authenticity of a video I released (which can be viewed here) in which a woman challenged Tulsi Gabbard’s alleged support of the Modi administration in India. He also wants to know why no other recording of the event exists. Note the person filming in the picture above.

I really don’t enjoy expending my time and energy on fruitless measures of journalistic warfare, not when it is far more satisfying to argue in the affirmative, but in the last nine days, I have been beset a desperate mob of unprincipled critics, some of whom seem to misrepresent me knowingly, with malice. We have already vanquished Lucid Primate, a man who failed to live up even to his own unflattering name when he scolded me for exposing his idol, Bernie Sanders, hours before he accused me of plotting to assassinate Sanders; but in the midst of that controversy, it was easy to overlook the outlandish accusations made by Pieter Friedrich, a self-proclaimed expert on “South Asian affairs” who, for the last year, has written extensively, though not at all convincingly, about his favorite political fantasy. According to this man, Tulsi Gabbard is a devoted agent of the RSS, and as President of the United States, she will empower that military group at the fatal expense of Indian Muslims.

Anyone who has followed the Gabbard campaign—or anyone who has read my own work, for that matter—is sufficiently conversant with the assiduous claim, as baseless today as it was in January, that Gabbard labors to empower bloodthirsty warmongers all over the globe, that there is no sight she finds more delectably sadistic than the vision of persecuted millions perishing at the bad end of an imperialist weapon. It’s an awfully creative and audacious accusation to be made of the one presidential candidate in the Democratic Party who has spoken in unambiguous, credible contempt of the military-industrial complex, but ours is the time of tragic irony, and on this day, it is not at all improper to accuse a critic of imperialism of untoward aggression.

The corporate media rewards this inverted and insane commentary, and as Ana Kasparian profits by voicing it to the lowest common denominator, Pieter Friedrich gussies up the same propaganda for the bourgeois pseudointellectuals. If this were Russiagate, then Kasparian would play the part of Rachel Maddow, Friedrich that of Seth Abramson. Friedrich wrote a preposterously prolix piece on the imaginary connections between Gabbard and the RSS, a scroll that, by his own boastful and incessant reminders, runs for more than 18,000 words; by contrast, my longest piece published here, on a website named for wordiness, ran for less than 7,000. And yet, in all of that language, Friedrich fails to forge even the most tenuous link—although we shouldn’t pick on him, not when Abramson wasted four hundred and fifty pages without finding a single proof of collusion.

I came on Friedrich’s radar on the morning of October 3rd, less than two days after I had uploaded a video of a Gabbard campaign event in Londonderry, New Hampshire. In this video, a woman in the audience asks Gabbard why she has “served primarily, a lot, as one of the major rehabilitations of [Narendra] Modi”. Again, anyone with a respectable understanding of Gabbard’s campaign is familiar, all too familiar, with the claim that she is a cheerleader for foreign dictators; typically, she is connected with Bashar al-Assad, a figure who has quite conveniently resurfaced in the media this week, after several months’ promotion of this charge against Gabbard. Accordingly, we can give the woman in the audience some credit for diversifying her slander, for focusing on Modi, this time, lest we fall asleep while explaining, for the millionth time for the last man in the back, why her reluctance to engage Syria in war does not equate to unqualified approval of everything that al-Assad has ever done.

The woman in my video, after describing Gabbard as “one of the major rehabilitations of Modi”, stands humiliated when she is forced to admit that she lacks even an elementary knowledge of the history of Modi’s reign. Alas, she proves herself to be quite the enthusiastic masochist later when she claims, with no evidence at all, that the RSS is funding Gabbard’s campaign. She furnishes no proof because it doesn’t exist: it is plainly illegal for the RSS, or any such foreign entity, to finance an American presidential campaign. If this woman in the crowd—or some other critic, such as Friedrich—could prove this financial entanglement, then such would be enough to end Gabbard’s candidacy, and possibly even imprison her, as well.

None of this, of course, is of any interest to Friedrich. Instead of contemplating this woman’s ignorance and, perchance, acknowledging its disquieting resemblance to his own, he asks the most jarring of all non sequiturs: “Where’s the unedited live-stream?” I attempted to explain to him that, as far as I knew, there was no livestream of the completely rally because Gabbard’s husband, Abraham, who usually films her campaign events, was out with an illness: he had arrived sick in Nashua earlier in the day, and he was so under the weather that he missed all of her subsequent events for the week, not just the rally in Londonderry. However, I don’t see the significance of the missing livestream: what does that have to do with the authenticity of the video I shot?

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Friedrich goes on to identify other points of suspicion: he wonders why the woman in the audience “fumbles the very beginning of the question”. Why wouldn’t a person standing up in front of a crowd of two hundred people to confront the person they have all come out to see, thereby running the risk of engendering their displeasure, not exhibit some degree of timidity or fear? Wouldn’t it be more suspicious if she had spoken with perfect clarity? Take a look at the many videos in which I ask presidential candidates about Julian Assange: I am often clumsy in my wording, and if not, then I exhibit anxiety bodily, as in my video with Marianne Williamson. Again, I have no idea why Friedrich is so fascinated by these trivial details—unless, of course, he is looking for a reason to badmouth Gabbard, even when the evidence does not support his aim.

He is also suspicious of me being the only person in the room who recorded the question. For what seems like the twentieth time, I have no idea why the absence of additional footage would confirm a conspiracy in this instance, but more importantly, I wonder how Friedrich knows that no one else filmed the encounter. I appear to be the only one who uploaded the exchange on the Internet, but how does he know that another recording doesn’t exist elsewhere? Why would someone else upload a video of the encounter taken from a different angle? In any case, couldn’t a plethora of videos be interpreted as proof of the event’s staging? And why is Friedrich so convinced that it was staged, anyway?

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Friedrich is suspicious of my status as a journalist, too, describing me in a subsequent tweet as a “hardcore Tulsi Gabbard supporter”. I suppose we should congratulate him for having done a little bit of cursory skimming of the Internet in-between his posts, as he apparently learned that there is nothing even slightly unusual about me attending a Gabbard campaign event in New Hampshire, nor should anyone be alarmed if I have filmed a video, or taken a picture, or, I don’t know, written thousands of words about her rallies. Do your research, and try to keep up, now. His conspiracy theory would have made more plausible if a different person, a person who hadn’t covered the Gabbard campaign in such exhaustive detail previously, an ostensible outsider, had taken the video, but then again, the myopia of his paranoid worldview doesn’t allow for such intellectual introspection.

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His final piece of evidence is that the rally’s venue was in “someone’s living room in the middle of nowhere”. At last, the leitmotif of his desultory garrulousness is clear: he believes that Gabbard did not really host a rally, but that she gathered a few people to make it seem as if there was a real rally, filmed the woman asking the question—in coordinated collusion with me—and moved on. Here, I will accuse Friedrich of deliberate distortion: surely a man who has followed political events as long as he has simply must be aware that it is standard practice for candidates to host these so-called “intimate” gatherings that allow people to get up-close-and-personal with the candidate in question. I’ve attended so-called “house parties” for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, in addition to several for Gabbard, and any number of such events are scheduled for every weekend of the primary season.

Not, of course, that this was a house party. Contrary to what Friedrich alleged in one of his senseless tweets, the house in question, located at 2 Litchfield Road in Londonderry, is a frequent site of events for the Rockingham County Democrats. No, the RCD isn’t based at this address (these events are seldom held in offices, after all), but it is the host site of several of the RCD’s events. Prior to Gabbard’s appearance at this venue, Andrew Yang and Bill de Blasio held their own events there in August, and on the same day, no less. Seth Moulton had an event at the house in May, and I wouldn’t be surprised to find that most of the other Democratic candidates have, as well. His ridiculous claim that the venue is difficult to find conveniently ignores the fact that this event was advertised (and subsequently reported on) in the local media. I heard about the event through the New Hampshire Public Radio “Candidate Tracker” app, which I have previously used to find candidates when I need to ask them about Assange.

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Since Friedrich is too lazy and incompetent to perform any of this research on his own, I will provide some helpful links here:

https://www.nhpr.org/post/2020-nh-primary-candidate-tracker-where-and-when-see-candidates#stream/0

http://rockinghamcountydems.org/

https://www.derrynews.com/news/londonderry/tulsi-gabbard-speaks-in-londonderry/article_32dedb24-1d84-5781-b408-d1433b9f9c0e.html

https://patch.com/new-hampshire/londonderry/calendar/event/20191001/654136/tulsi-gabbard-londonderry-town-hall

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Tulsi Gabbard speaking with the media after the event.

Have I been understood? Pieter Friedrich cannot find evidence to ground the Tom Clancy novel he has crafted in his mind, so he searches for visual and situational phenomena that may obscure the portrait. Once we are prevented from discerning what we see, he steps in to serve as our intruding guide, interpreting the material in a manner that is consistent with his distorted vision. Fortunately, his trickery is remarkably easy to see through, especially when one is standing on the other side of the camera.

But then again, maybe my point can be simplified, as well. Perhaps I should tell Friedrich what Eminem once said to his own ignoramus of a critic: “Know your facts before you come at me, little goof.”

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