David Frum Weasels Out of a Morally-Suspect Corner: The 14 Errors in his Mea Culpa
I was so eager to forgive David Frum and return to the status quo we had before he believed Alex Knepper’s lies about us. Politically Frum and NewsReal Blog might have some substantive disagreements but on the key issues of support for Israel and a hawkish response to Islamofascism he maintained my respect. And so I hoped we could return to a more cordial relationship akin to when he and David Horowitz debated the merits of Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, and the Tea Parties last fall.
Unfortunately Frum has chosen to be more horrified by our attempt to prevent the victimization of children than the strong probability of the sex crimes his former protege is likely to commit. While it’s certainly good news that Frum has chosen to fire Alex Knepper, he has still attempted to weasel out of making the correct moral judgments in order to save face. His mea culpa had numerous false statements against us. Whether they’re merely innocent errors or intentional lies I leave to others to judge.
1. FALSE: Alex was fired from NewsReal Blog for something he wrote at Frum Forum.
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.
Truth: I detailed the reasons here for why I chose to fire Knepper, reasons of which Frum is entirely aware. He submitted a post to us with arguments against Coulter which I agreed with but rhetoric I did not. On that same day he also submitted a sexually-oriented post about Miley Cyrus which approvingly cited Epictetus’ maxim that a girl becomes a woman at the age of 14. (We had previously instructed Knepper not to submit any more sex posts but apparently he could not resist.) After reviewing the Coulter post David Horowitz suggested to me for the second time that I fire Knepper. At this point I had lost faith in Knepper for a variety of reasons, most notably the sexual material. : Note that this “firing” merely means that we weren’t going to publish any more of his submissions. He was never an employee and he had not yet been promoted to a paid contributor.
A few facts to be aware of regarding this “firing”: Knepper is the only person Horowitz has ever asked me to fire from NewsReal Blog. In addition to Knepper there are only four people who I have fired, or, more accurately, told that we would not accept any more submissions from them. Three of these were because of poor performance (consistently submitting posts of a low quality and being unreceptive to coaching) and one was because of unacceptable conduct (saying disgusting things to a fellow blogger in the comments section.)
2. FALSE: We previously accused Knepper of being a pedophile.
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.
Truth: In the three posts (some “campaign”) at NewsReal Blog that Jenn Q. Public and I wrote about Knepper after he was fired we never accused him of being a pedophile. The evidence was not yet on the table. (Though I was aware of the fact that he was one shortly after my first post was published when I was contacted by a source who confirmed to me that they knew Knepper was a pedophile and had evidence of it. At the time I chose not to pursue the evidence my source claimed they had. I hoped that the material we had already assembled would be adequate enough to convince Frum and other publications that Knepper should not be given a platform. Unfortunately it was not.)
3. FALSE: We published private correspondence of Knepper’s and “cyber-stalked” him.
They published Alex’s private correspondence with NewsRealBlog editors and cyber-stalked him on Google and Facebook.
What Frum is referring to here is the fact that in a comment at Frum Forum I quoted Knepper’s list of favorite authors from his NRB application to demonstrate that when he wanted to write for us he was happy to flaunt his anti-Islam credentials but when it came time to support his friend he would all of sudden shut up about the subject. Why would anyone object to a list of their favorite authors — that’s also available on their facebook page — being made public?
That Frum chooses to equate a google search to stalking someone shows further how he does not take sex crimes seriously.
4. FALSE: Our previous cases against Knepper were ineffective at establishing him as someone who should not be tolerated by decent publications.
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.
Truth: In speaking with an editor at The Daily Caller I was informed that the decision to let Knepper go was made a week before our piece ran and was prompted by the Red State post about the controversy.
And Knepper’s most strident piece — his Miley Cyrus/Epictetus atrocity — which demonstrated that his previous pieces were not just innocent provocations, was never published anywhere.
5. FALSE: We intentionally set out on a mission to find material to destroy Knepper.
And so the NewsRealBlog editors expanded their campaign.
Truth: We found the material about Knepper by accident. I recalled he had written something about teen pop star Justin Bieber so I googled “Alex Knepper” and “Justin Bieber” to find it. Upon doing so the first forum thread we cited came up and I saw Knepper’s confession that he wanted to have sex with the pop star. When we had discovered this we were morally bound to take action. Writing the piece was driven not by politics or personal vendetta but by a need to do what little we can to prevent the sexual victimization of children.
6. FALSE: Knepper and I were on “very confidential terms.”
Alex had at one time been on very confidential terms with the editor of NewsRealBlog, David Swindle.
Truth: Alex never told me anything of the nature that Frum is trying to imply here. We were on friendly terms and emailed and instant messaged about non-NewsReal Blog subjects but were not very close. I had initially hoped that Knepper would be someone I could mentor but it soon became clear he was not interested in editorial guidance or coaching.
7. FALSE: We somehow “cracked” Knepper’s Gay Teen Forum account in search of damaging information.
NewsRealBlog cracked Alex’s alias, and rummaged through his many personal posts in search of damaging material.
Truth: Alex admitted who he was in his Gay Teen Forum account and it was all publicly available online. It was not hidden behind any password and no “hacking” was necessary. The technical abilities of Jenn Q. Public and myself are limited and the Freedom Center’s IT was not involved in the investigation.
8. FALSE: What we have done is morally wrong.
NewsRealBlog’s behavior in this case was vicious, invasive and outrageous.
Truth: Frum is more concerned about his young protege’s career prospects than protecting children from his sadistic impulses. There have certainly been people who have criticized us for our actions in choosing to publish this story. To them I always ask the same question and am unable to get any coherent answer in return: What is the correct thing to do once : you have conclusive evidence that someone is sexually attracted to children? What would Frum have had us do? Just circulate the evidence privately to Frum and Knepper’s other editors? What would that accomplish? Provide a temporary bump in the road, forcing Knepper to find new publications to support him?
Writing and publishing this story was not a pleasant thing to have to do but it was the least worst option available to us and the most effective action we could have taken to try and impede Knepper’s rise to a position of power in which he could more effectively victimize children.
9. FALSE: This is about embarrassing Knepper.
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.
Truth: Jenn and I are both socially liberal and completely uninterested in Knepper’s fetishes. (In fact I was aware of many of his fetishes when he chose to flaunt them on his NRB application.) In all honesty if Knepper favored group sex, sadomasochism, coprophagia — whatever gross act you can imagine — then that would not even be grounds for termination from NewsReal Blog. We even received embarrassing material (a disgusting photograph of Knepper in a fetish costume) but have no intention of publishing it since it’s not relevant.
This is perhaps one of the most disturbing sentences in Frum’s entire post. He’s choosing to make a moral: equivalence between the sexual exploitation of a child and consenting adults being kinky. Whatever dirty laundry Frum might find in our respective closets could never compare with someone willing to scar a child for life.
10. FALSE: We are childish bullies and New Leftists.
NewsRealBlog’s editors have fused high school cyber-bullying and New Left character assassination.
Truth: Again, Frum is downplaying the severity of his former protege’s impulses. An attempt to try and prevent child exploitation and expose a sexual predator is compared to junior high students gay-baiting their classmates.
More sinister is Frum’s reference to “New Left character assassination,” a dig at our Editor-In-Chief who Frum resents because of his own inability to answer him in the debate on Palin, Beck, and the Tea Parties.
Jenn and I are ex-leftists but certainly far too young to be of the New Left variety. Frum’s reference here dredging up Horowitz’s politics from 40 years ago is a McCarthyite smear — the exact behavior he claims to be condemning in us.
11. FALSE: Knepper is a kid and we should cut him some slack.
They have relentlessly harried and pursued somebody himself only months out of his own adolescence.
If we are to accept that Alex Knepper is 20 and therefore a kid, we should not treat this kid as any sort of authority on any vein of conservatism. If we accept he is an adult and we should engage on his thoughts, then we must recognize that his behavior is outside the bounds of acceptable conduct and he should not be rewarded while engaging in perverse behavior.
12. FALSE: This was motivated by something trivial.
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.
Truth: If we are unjustified in destroying a sexual predator’s career to prevent him from having greater abilities to victimize children then Frum needs to put his money where his mouth is and keep Knepper on at Frum Forum.
Just sit for a moment and consider this fact: Frum is more disturbed by Knepper’s lost career than by his expressed desires to victimize children.
13. BIG FALSEHOOD: The worst of Knepper’s Teen Gay Forum posts were from years ago and he’s a different person today.
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.
Truth: The majority of Knepper’s most offensive items are very recent. Reminder: the material at these links is explicit and disturbing.
This thread — An *embarrassing* lostpainting sex story — is from June of 2010.
This thread — Ode to Chilfs — is from December 2009.
This thread — I had a dream last night that I had sex with Rylan (perhaps the most disturbing of the lot in which Knepper brags about a dream he had in which he engaged in a sex act with a childlike penis): — is from September 2010.
So Frum is trying to claim that Knepper used to have a problem but he’s more mature now. This is clearly not the case at all.
14. The BIGGEST FALSEHOOD of all, though, is that Frum doesn’t actually tell his readers what the problem is. Nowhere does he admit that Knepper is a pedophile. He doesn’t say what is so morally objectionable about what we have unearthed. Nor does he actually link to our story so that his readers can judge for themselves.
There are still some people doubting that Knepper is actually sexually attracted to children. But there is no doubt in Jenn and my minds that he is. There’s plenty of evidence one can look through to firmly establish this case but it can really be summarized easily. Knepper admits in the forum posts to masturbating to images of “CHILFs.” We have such an image that Knepper posted and dubbed “the cutest CHILFs.” In the version of the picture we posted we blacked out the faces. I’m more than happy to send David Frum the uncensored image and he can see for himself who Knepper is sexually attracted to if he still doubts the truth.
This was Frum’s opportunity to restore his reputation and regain the confidence of a Conservative Movement who has come to doubt his moral clarity. He could have just done a brief note saying, “Alex Knepper will no longer be a contributor to Frum Forum. We have a disagreement about ethics and moral standards that cannot be be reconciled. We wish him well.” But apparently he’s not capable of doing that.
David Swindle is the managing editor of NewsReal Blog and an associate editor of FrontPage Magazine.