Andrew Breitbart was very much aware of Dan Savage and his bullying tactics. In his book, Righteous Indignation, Andrew recalled the Dan Savage “licking the doorknobs” incident – and he rightly noted that this was the first shot in the media war against Christian conservatives, and the last gasp of the legitimate journalistic establishment:
To the nation, the media’s Clinton-created response to the Lewinsky scandal was a turning point. They had been the Edward R. Murrow wannabes, the guys who idolized Woodward and Bernstein. Now they were open partisan hacks digging up as much dirt as possible, whenever possible.
That became even more clear to me two years later, when, absent the “ugly times require ugly measures” excuse, Salon.com ran a piece by Dan Savage, the radical gay-left columnist from the Pacific Northwest. Savage infiltrated then-presidential candidate Gary Bauer’s Iowa campaign at the caucus level and, under the guise of being a conservative Christian, got a job for one month to help out.
Savage described how, sick in bed watching television, he’d devised his plan. Watching Bauer on MSNBC, he saw Bauer state, “Our society will be destroyed if we say it’s okay for a man to marry a man or a woman to marry a woman.” It isn’t exactly news to those of us who have lived outside San Francisco that religious conservatives feel this way.
But it was news to Savage:
In my Sudafed-induced delirium I decided that if it’s terrorism Bauer wants, then it’s terrorism Bauer is going to get – and I’m just the man to terrorize him. Naked, feverish and higher than a kite on codeine aspirin, I called the Bauer campaign and volunteered. My plan? Get close enough to Bauer to give him the flu, which, if I am successful, will lay him flat just before the New Hampshire primary. I would go to Bauer’s campaign office and cough on everything – phones and pens, staplers and staffers. I even hatched a plan to infect the candidate himself …. My plan was a little malicious – even a little mean-spirited – but those same words describe the tactics used by Bauer and the rest of the religious right against gays and lesbians.
He spent the rest of the piece describing with glee how he applied his bodily fluids to the entire office – he licked “the front door, office doors, even a bathroom door … the staplers, phones and computer keyboards … the rims of all the clean coffee cups drying in the rack.” Then he chewed on a pen and handed it to Bauer.
This is not journalism. It’s not even the third-grade ramblings of a snot-nosed booger eater. It’s the vicious actions of a perverse, degraded, and disgusting human being. And Salon ran it without question. Why? “It was savage (no pun intended), powerful writing, Swiftian in its desperate, satiric outrage at anti-gay discrimination.” In other words, the ends justify the means.
This was Salon.com. It wasn’t like this was an alt weekly with ads for hand jobs. For many people, this was a respected publication. That these people allowed for such a story to be published, sending the message that it was open season on Christian conservatives, without so much as a Columbia Journalism Review symposium labeling such behavior outrageous and asking how best to shame Salon for so completely abandoning journalistic standards … it was a new low. If a conservative writer had done the same thing to a Democratic candidate, that writer would not only be shunned – he’d need a criminal defense attorney.
I believe strongly that this was the moment in which the politics of personal destruction – especially in the age of New Media, where the Old Media were on their way out – took over the business. The New York Times and Time and Newsweek were all finally figuring out that they were clinging to each other in desperation as they plummeted off the financial cliff. Their downfall as the result of their failed business model combined with their failed ideology. But their foot soldiers were now firmly embedded in the New Media, where the left’s partisan hackery could operate on a whole new front. Drudge had taught them the power of the Internet. Now, with all its collusion and single-minded advocacy intact, the Complex was firmly established on this new frontier.