Emboldened by Trump, Alt-Right Gloats Over Death of John McCain

— A white nationalist, a professional provocateur, a former revenge pornographer, and a big basket of deplorables

On August 14, 2017, Unite the Right rally organiser Richard Spencer held a press conference at his home in Alexandria, Virginia, where he spoke at length about the alt-right’s affinity for US president Donald Trump.

“We were connected with Trump on this kind of psychic level,” Spencer explained. “He was the first true, authentic nationalist in my lifetime…and in that sense we were connected with him in a way that the conservative movement wasn’t.”

Richard Spencer (source)

The rally in nearby Charlottesville had turned violent when two days earlier, James Alex Fields Jr., an outspoken neo-Nazi sympathiser, crashed his car into a crowd of peaceful protesters, killing 32-year-old paralegal Heather Heyer.

Signalling his own affinity for the alt-right, Trump refused to denounce the marchers, who’d mobbed the city carrying tiki torches and chanting Nazi-era slogans—even arguing that there “were very fine people on both sides.”

Unite the Right marchers (source)

The president’s response contrasted sharply with statements by another prominent Republican, Senator John McCain.

“White supremacists and neo-Nazis are, by definition, opposed to American patriotism and the ideals that define us as a people and make our nation special,” said McCain, who died late last month after a year-long struggle with cancer.

It wasn’t the first or last time McCain publicly clashed with Trump; the two men seemed to fight each other at every turn, often over basic American principles.

Trump/McCain (source)

At the outset of Trump’s campaign, McCain denounced the unlikely candidate’s inflammatory anti-immigration rhetoric, and refused to attend an early MAGA rally in Phoenix, Arizona—McCain’s home state. When Trump subsequently took the stage to ridicule McCain before an audience of 15,000 ardent supporters, McCain accused him of having “fired up the crazies.”

The war of words escalated at an event in Iowa the following week, when Trump disparaged McCain’s service in Vietnam.

“He’s not a war hero,” said Trump, who was deferred from the draft no fewer than five times. “He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured.”

Amid the glowing eulogies following news of McCain’s death, Trump did not appear to waver from that opinion, initially vetoing an official White House statement praising the late senator. The episode hinted at deep divisions within the GOP, between the so-called “principled conservatism” espoused by McCain, and a radically new brand of conservatism, unconstrained by the normal parameters of American politics and decorum.

It also demonstrated the extent to which Trump’s presidency has emboldened previously unseen elements of the far-right fringe, who appeared to be taking cues from Trump in echoing some of his most flagrantly disparaging comments about McCain.

“Is it okay to be glad when a vindictive old bastard dies?” asked Milo Yiannapolous in an article published on his website, Dangerous, where the alt-right provocateur confessed to only being “a little ashamed of the warm feeling in my stomach” upon hearing about McCain’s death.

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The vitriol continued to pile up on Gab, a social media platform associated with the alt-right, where users celebrated McCain’s death using the pro-Trump hashtags #MAGA,  #DrainTheSwamp, and #NotAWarHero.

On Twitter, Richard Spencer rehashed old conspiracy theories that McCain was responsible for starting a deadly fire aboard a naval aircraft carrier in 1967, and that in 2013 McCain met and had his photograph taken with the leader of Islamic terrorist group ISIS. Both claims were previously debunked by the fact-checking website Snopes.

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Meanwhile in McCain’s home state of Arizona, Craig Brittain, a lesser-known member of the alt-right, has been running a one-man campaign against McCain.

Brittain found infamy in 2013, when he was busted by the Federal Trade Commission for engaging in “unfair or deceptive acts or practices” via his now-defunct revenge porn website, IsAnybodyDown?

On that website, Brittain facilitated and encouraged the publication of non-consensual nude photos—along with victims’ full names, home addresses, and Facebook screenshots—then charged hundreds of dollars for removing victims’ profiles using a second business he also controlled under the alias David Blade III.

Earlier this year, Brittain ran for senate seeking to replace outgoing senator for Arizona Jeff Flake. When he failed to produce enough votes to make the ballot, Brittain filed a lawsuit against Arizona’s governor Doug Ducey and secretary of state Michelle Reagan in an attempt to force a second vote, and in a “frivolous” attempt to remove McCain from office.

“[A] reasonable person would conclude that McCain’s seat has been ‘vacant’ since his final Senate vote in December of 2017,” Brittain said in an e-mail. “This does not weigh on his qualifications but rather is a simple statement of fact. He wasn’t there; the seat was vacated, THE TRUTH IS THE TRUTH.”

Last year, an anonymous Gab account registered to Brittain’s personal phone number was used to post numerous disparaging comments about McCain’s cancer diagnosis.

“Maybe God does exist after all,” read one of the posts. “If so, good job, God. I’m rooting for the brain cancer – the best chance to replace John McCain as a US Senator.”

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When asked if he owned the account, Brittain said he’d never used Gab and suggested that the anonymous account holder was an impersonator.

Minutes later, the account was mysteriously deleted.

When asked again, Brittain suggested that “maybe the site administrator of Gab realized it was a fake account and deleted it.” He subsequently sent a lengthy, pro-Trump diatribe criticising the mainstream media, and speculating that Chelsea Clinton—who sits on the board of directors at IAC, the parent company of The Daily Beast where I recently co-bylined a few stories—was personally involved in this article.

“Soon, President Trump will restore social media access (the loss of which crippled my campaign severely and left me vulnerable to impersonators) to people of all genders, races, creeds, origins, and beliefs,” Brittain railed. “That is when the current Mainstream News Media, which is Non-Representative, will be deleted. It will fade away and be classified as obsolete.”

*   *   *

In the end, Trump capitulated to mounting criticism over the White House’s “disastrous” response to McCain’s death, issuing a statement praising the late senator, and ordering that the flag be lowered to half-staff until after McCain’s interment.

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The gesture was arguably a big move for a president known for bearing grudges, yet it did little to appease his critics, or, for that matter, his supporters on the far-right.

“I love you, Mr. President. But this was a pussy move,” said one self-described “Middle aged conservative Odinist.”

It was just the latest reminder that within the alt-right, the only consistent principle is trumping your opponent.

Wonkette Roasts Brittain

— Shooting the Messenger cited by Wonkette article about Arizona Senate candidate Craig R. Brittain’s revenge porn past

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Via “We Need To Discuss This Revenge Porn Douchebro Running For Jeff Flake’s Senate Seat” by Robyn Pennacchia, Wonkette, January 4, 2018:

Meet Craig Brittain! He is hoping to replace Jeff Flake and be the next senator from Arizona. He is also, if not the actual worst human being on the planet, a strong competitor for the title.

From 2011 until 2013, Brittain operated the revenge porn website “Is Anybody Down?” — a blatant copy of fellow revenge porn douchebro Hunter Moore’s site “Is Anyone Up?” — where men could post nude pictures of their ex-girlfriends, along with their names, addresses and phone numbers. It was shut down by the FTC, but not because of the revenge porn — rather because Brittain also put up fake lawyer ads on the site from a guy named “David Blade III, The Takedown Lawyer” who claimed he would be able to help women get their pictures taken down for $250 a pop.

[…]

As reported by Dean Sterling Jones at Shooting The Messenger, following Brittain’s announcement that he would be running for Jeff Flake’s Arizona seat, social media expert Michael Palladino shared threatening messages that Brittain had sent a year ago to a woman he had seen on Tinder.

In response, Brittain claimed that the messages from “Craig R. Brittain” were not really from him and that someone was pretending to be him in order to ruin his sterling reputation.

He then reported the profile to Facebook.

This would all be very believable, of course, if the alleged impostor had not been the Facebook admin for Brittain’s failed ridesharing service, [Dryvyng].

Click here to read the full article.

Brittain Gets Streisanded (Again)

— Techdirt reports my post about Arizona Senate candidate/former revenge pornster Craig R. Brittain’s most recent efforts to delete criticism about himself from the web

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Via “Craig Brittain’s Senate Race Page Reports Craig Brittain’s Personal Account As An ‘Imposter’” by Tim Cushing, Techdirt, October 31, 2017:

Former revenge porn site owner Craig Brittain is now a Senate candidate in Arizona. He’s not a viable candidate, mind you, not even with Arizona senator Jeff Flake recently announcing his retirement. But he has filed the proper paperwork and is now engaged in a charm offensive offensive offensive to win the hearts and minds of whatever demographic feels the public would be best served by someone who reacts to every perceptible slight with unhinged personal attacks.

As a former revenge porn entrepreneur, Brittain has a bit more pre-run reputation management to engage in than most candidates. Just shortly after his candidacy was announced, Brittain issued two bogus “privacy” takedown requests targeting videos criticizing his ridesharing vaporware and his voluntary interview with journalists about his revenge porn site operations.

Brittain followed this up with more reputation mismanagement, raining down insults on a Twitter user who dared to unfollow him. He’s continued to poll the electorate in similar ways on Facebook, telling people they’re wrong about everything if they don’t agree with him, but especially about free speech and the concept of consent.

That’s what’s happening above ground. Behind the scenes at Facebook, Craig Brittain is engaged in more bogus takedown efforts, this time in an attempt to scrub the web of a string of insults he sent to a woman via Facebook Messenger. The following comes from Shooting the Messenger, with an assist by Asher Langton.

Click here to read the full article.

PR Battle of Brittain (Redux)

— Facebook deletes post criticising Arizona Senate candidate/former revenge pornster Craig R. Brittain after Brittain reports himself to website administrators

I recently blogged about the PR battles of Craig R. Brittain, a former revenge porn website operator who last month announced his candidacy for U.S. Senate.

From 2011 until 2013, Brittain operated the controversial revenge porn website IsAnybodyDown?, which encouraged users to anonymously submit non-consensual nude photos along with identifying information about the persons in the photos, including their full name, home address, and Facebook screenshots.

Craig R. Brittain (source)

The site was shut down after an investigation by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) determined that Brittain had hosted fake lawyer advertisements on the site using the name “David Blade III” in order to trick victims into paying hundreds of dollars to have their photos removed.

Earlier this week, Phoenix-based social media expert Michael Palladino posted potentially damaging screenshots of abusive messages Brittain allegedly sent to a woman on Facebook last year.

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If you can’t read that it says:

A woman I know got these messages early last year from a guy who is now running for AZ senate. He most likely doesn’t stand a chance against Ward or Krysten Sinema but the fact that he’s running at all is disgusting given the kind of guy he is. And now that Flake is out, he might get more media visibility. So it’s important that this shit is known.

He has his supporters and their response to things like this is that he’s the victim of some kind of conspiratorial hoax revenge machine, as if he would be so important as to catch the eye of the Illuminati or the Lizard People or whoever they think is responsible for their lives being shit. Or they agree with his views on women. Or they just don’t care.

Applauding anti-politicians who “tell it like it is” and “don’t care about being P.C.” can easily become the shallow backyard pool that breeds diseased mosquitoes like this.

Enough is enough. Fuck this.

The post was subsequently deleted without explanation.

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Here’s what Palladino sent me when I asked him about the deletion:

Hi Dean, thanks for reaching out. In the middle of posting I was logged out and when I was able to get back in I was shown a message saying that I posted something that violated FB’s TOS. Specifically in regards to bullying or attacking, I believe was the term they used. It apparently was reported by someone anonymously but I think I know who that person was.

Facebook and Brittain didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment, but here’s what Brittain posted on Facebook shortly after Palladino’s post disappeared:

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If you can’t read that it says: “We’ve heard an impersonator is harassing people. Those messages aren’t from us.”

Brittain also posted this screenshot showing that he’d anonymously reported the account allegedly responsible for sending the abusive messages:

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However, it appears that the disputed account does in fact belong to Brittain.

As this screenshot from June shows, Brittain’s alleged impersonator once co-managed the official Facebook group page (now deleted) for Brittain’s failed ridesharing company Dryvyng:

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As part of his settlement with the FTC, Brittain is permanently restrained from misrepresenting himself in connection with goods or services.

Hat tip to Asher Langton for tweeting out Palladino’s Facebook post.

PR Battle of Brittain

PR rep for Arizona ridesharing company Dryvyng flips out when asked if revenge pornster CEO Craig R. Brittain sent “profanity-laced” messages to Facebook users

I recently blogged about Craig R. Brittain, founder and CEO of Scottsdale, AZ ridesharing company Dryvyng.

Craig R. Brittain (source)

Brittain previously ran the revenge porn site, IsAnybodyDown.comThe controversial site encouraged users to submit non-consensual nude photos along with identifying information about the persons in the photos, including their full name, home address, and Facebook screenshots.

In 2013, the site shut down after an investigation by the Federal Trade Commission determined Brittain had hosted fake lawyer advertisements on the site in order to trick victims into paying hundreds of dollars to have their photos removed.

Last week I was contacted by communications expert/social media strategist Brian O’Neal, who sent me a copy of a “profanity-laced” Facebook message he claimed he received from Brittain after O’Neal unfriended Brittain on Facebook.

When I attempted to verify the authenticity of the vituperative message with Brittain’s company via Facebook, here’s what happened:

Dryvyng
3.4K people like this
Transportation Service


THU 7:04AM

Dean: Hi, my name’s Dean, I’m a blogger. Recently I got an e-mail from a communications executive named Brian O’Neal who said you sent him a “profanity-laced” Facebook message because he unfollowed your Dryvyng page. For an item on my blog, could you comment on O’Neal’s claim? Cheers – Dean

Dryvyng: Thanks for contacting Dryvyng. Someone will be with you shortly! Thank you!
Dryvyng: No one at Dryvyng has ever spoken to or heard of him. Best regards.

Dean: He sent me a screenshot.
Dean: I’ll send in a minute.

DryvyngScreenshots can easily be faked. People have agendas. We have never heard of or spoken to that person.
Dryvyng: Lots of people recently have fabricated conversations involving supposed members of our company. It is a common trend.

Dean:

DryvyngLooks like an impostor. Many people impersonate our CEO and send random messages. The only official accounts that represent our brand are this one and Craig’s verified account. Unverified accounts are impostors.

Dean: It appears to have been sent from this group account managed by Craig Brittain: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1634585306815040/admins/?ref=group_cover

DryvyngGroups cannot send messages.
DryvyngOnly pages and users can send messages. Any user account/page without a verified tag is not one of ours.

Dean: Apologies, I’m not up to scratch with Facebook’s messaging system, but it’s my understanding that you can reply to direct messages as admin.

DryvyngGroups cannot send or reply to messages.

Dean: Cheers, thanks for answering my questions.

DryvyngThank you.

Dean: Also, mind if I ask who I’m talking to?

DryvyngThis is Doug Childs, PR rep for Dryvyng.

Dean: Rechecked and apparently the message was sent from Craig R Brittain’s account, not the group account. Did you ask Craig if he sent this?

DryvyngAny account that does not have the verification checkmark is not one of our accounts.

Dean: Just to clarify, this account does not belong to Craig R Brittain: https://www.facebook.com/craigbrittainbackup?ref=br_rs

DryvyngIt is not one of our accounts.

Dean: Do you have any idea why people might be creating fake accounts for Craig?

DryvyngThere are many people with political agendas and many fake news websites that want to generate clicks.
DryvyngAs a top 3 company in a competitive field we face a lot of media adversity from the fake news which is why we haven’t received more positive coverage.

Dean: Pivot Foods founder Charles Peralo has also accused Craig of sending abusive messages via his verified account: https://www.facebook.com/charlesperalo/posts/1133303780024154

Dryvyng: Lots of political opponents make all kinds of false accusations about us based on the actions of political opponents and/or their own motivations for attention.
DryvyngThey know the fake news will print whatever they want people to believe, so they fabricate stories and/or engage with unverified accounts and report it as fact.

Dean: Again, thanks for answering my questions. One last thing: do you have a link to a website or online profile for your PR services?

DryvyngI work specifically for Dryvyng. Dryvyng is my only client.

Dean: Do you have any online presence at all that I can link to?

DryvyngNo, intentionally.

Dean: Okay, thanks.

DryvyngCharles Peralo is a known hoaxer and scammer who is also a legitimate political opponent of our CEO.

Dean: Do you have any evidence for these claims and could you provide links please?

DryvyngCraig Brittain is currently the frontrunner to become the Libertarian Party Presidential nominee in 2020.

Dean: I didn’t know he was part of the libertarian party.

DryvyngThere is no need to prove Peralo is uncredible. He has failed to prove that he is credible.
Dryvyng: No one has ever seen anything Peralo has done or even verified that any of his work exists. We are verified and thus credible via verification.
DryvyngPeralo has 35 twitter followers.
DryvyngNot 35k, not 35m, 35.
DryvyngNot a credible or notable source. A fake.
DryvyngLots of these fake experts hoax in order to get attention.
DryvyngThey make up conversations that never happened, or alter conversations that did to benefit themselves.
DryvyngThat is how fake news works. The mainstream media does it in almost every story and the bloggers copy the formula.
Dryvyng: 99% of all news is fake and can be dismissed as such
DryvyngMade up to keep people believing whatever they want to believe.
DryvyngIt is easy to understand why Mr. Peralo is jealous of Mr. Brittain’s success.

Dean: I’ll certainly ask him about this. Cheers

DryvyngBrittain’s verified Facebook page gets up to 1m impressions and tens of thousands of engagements per day
DryvyngDont ask him, he isnt credible.
DryvyngWhy would you ask a noncredible person what they think? Ask someone with credibility
DryvyngA long list of credible people and celebrities support Brittain. They have affirmed his greatness.
DryvyngDont print fake news about randos that nobody cares about, print real news about all the great people that support us.
DryvyngYou havent even asked about our company at all so it is clear you aim to print fake news.

Dean: His Twitter account only has thirty plus followers but his Being Libertarian account has almost 5k. I simply got a tip from Brian O’Neal and I’m following up.
Dean: Thanks for answering my questions.

DryvyngYou didn’t get a tip from anyone. You have a personal connection to Brian O’Neal and you are acting on his behalf to print fake news.
DryvyngGet a real job.

Dean: That’s incorrect.

DryvyngFalse, it’s correct, fake news.

Dean: Cheers again. Thanks

Brittain Gets Streisanded

Popehat and techdirt publish articles based on my blog post about “revenge pornster” and Dryvyng CEO Craig R. Brittain re: DMCA takedown requests

Via “As A Dog Returns To His Vomit, Lunatic Revenge Porn Extortionist and Dryvyng CEO Craig Brittain Returns To Censorious Threatsby Ken White, Popehat, April 6, 2017:

Thanks to Dean Sterling Jones at Shooting The Messenger, I see that the demented and easily enraged Craig Brittain has returned to his habit of ineffectual gestures at censorship.

You remember Craigbo. He ran a revenge porn site called “Is Anyone Down,” posing as a lawyer named David Blade in order to extort victims into paying money to have their pictures taken down.

…More recently, Craig has embarked on two simultaneous paths: the path of a social critic and aspiring pseudo-journalist seeking investors to back his anarcho-capitalist critique of society, and aspiring CEO of Uber competitor “Dryvyng,” a business devoted to the proposition that if you’d like a ride you ought to order one from a pathological revenge porn extortionist with a searing hatred of women and humanity in general.

on behalf of Dryvyng [Brittain recently issued a DMCA copyright complaint against] a Wikipedia page on his revenge porn site “Is Anybody Down?” The DMCA process, as you know, addresses intellectual property rights, but with characteristic legal acumen Craigbo has demanded that Wikipedia remove the page based on “Slanderous [sic], libelous and deliberately misleading Wikipedia entry designed to defame and libel me and my company . . . Please permanently remove this page (and all of Wikipedia itself, which is a left-wing hive for slander and libel) from Google.” Craigbo has also attempted to target Business Insider, Fusion, Reddit, and others.

Craig will be Craig. But will he be Craig, free and in the wild forever? The wheels of justice grind slowly — but remember that they do grind, my friends. To the extent that Craig’s continued existence as Craig is not the most brutal consequence a cold universe can inflict upon him, Craig will encounter justice sooner or later.

Via “Revenge Pornster Craig Brittain Issues DMCA Notices Demanding Google Delist Entire Websites, Including Wikipedia” by Tim Cushing, techdirt, April 7, 2017:

Former revenge porn site operator/lawyer impersonator Craig Brittain is once again engaged in some DMCA abuse. A couple of years ago, Brittain issued bogus DMCA notices in hopes of whitewashing his past. Along with posts at Popehat, Vice, Huffington Post, Ars Technica, and Reddit, Brittain asked Google to delist the FTC’s press release about its settlement with Brittainover his revenge porn misdeeds.

It didn’t work, obviously. A new set of stories highlighting Brittain’s sordid past swiftly filled up any gaps in the revenge porn purveyor’s vanity Google searches.

Popehat reports Brittain has apparently learned nothing from his last Streisanding. Brittain is once again issuing bogus takedown notices — this time on behalf of his alt-right ride-sharing pipe dream, Dryvyng. (Pronounced “dryheaving.”)

…It’s this “company” that Craig has issued the DMCA notices for. Apparently, he’s none too thrilled at the lack of positive press for his hypothetical ride-sharing startup and has once again asked Google to delist all sorts of things he has no business asking to be delisted. Dean Jones of Shooting the Messenger is the person who originally discovered a handful of notices sent by “Dryvyng,” all of which feature petulant commentary not normally found in legal paperwork.

…In every case, the accusation is internet libelslander, which can’t be touched by DMCA notices. The reason is in the name of the notice itself: Digital Millennium COPYRIGHT Act. But when you’re angry at the internet, any fill-in-the-blank form will do. Even if Brittain had used the proper paperwork, Google would be under no obligation to delist the alleged slander, thanks to Section 230 of the CDA.

It’s no surprise Brittain’s attempt to pass himself off as David Blade, Esq. went so badly. He obviously has zero legal acumen. If you’re going to beclown yourself with bogus notices, at least try to do so somewhat competently. Sure, the outcome won’t change, but at least you won’t look like even more of an idiot than you already do.

You can read my April 6, 2017 blog post about Brittain by clicking here.

The Return of Craig R. Brittain

Did Dryvyng CEO Craig R. Brittain demand the removal of “fake, slanderous, libelous” articles about his sleazy revenge porn past?

In February, an anonymous representative for Scottsdale, Arizona ridesharing company Dryvyng sent Google a number of takedown requests asking the search engine to delist articles about notorious revenge porn website, IsAnybodyDown?

Citing US copyright law, the complainant asked Google to “permanently remove” articles by Business Insider, Fusion, and Wikipedia, on the basis that they allegedly include “slanderous, libelous and deliberately misleading” information “designed to defame and libel me and my company.”

The complainant also requested that Google remove “all of Wikipedia itself,” describing the online encyclopedia as “a left-wing hive for slander and libel.”

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IsAnybodyDown? was founded in 2011 by Dryvyng’s CEO Craig R. Brittain. The controversial site encouraged users to anonymously submit non-consensual nude photos along with identifying information about the person in the photos, including their full name, home address, and Facebook screenshots.

In 2013, the site shut down after an investigation by the Federal Trade Commission determined Brittain had hosted fake lawyer advertisements on the site in order to trick victims into paying hundreds of dollars to have their photos removed.

I wasn’t able to confirm Brittain filed the takedown requests as he didn’t reply to my request for comment, however I did get a reply from criminal defence/First Amendment attorney Ken White, co-founder of the Popehat blog.

White has written extensively about Brittain’s revenge porn antics (click here to read), and in 2012 and 2015, his blog was even the target of two takedown requests by Brittain.

White said the complainant’s defamation claim “appears to be complete nonsense.”

This item has been revised to emphasise I was unable to get a reply from Brittain to confirm he sent the takedown requests.