One of the most bizarre events in the entire Easterbrook flap was when this blog published what it said was an e-mail that they had received from Gregg Easterbrook. The e-mail was first brought to my attention when it was posted at Roger L. Simon's place by committed Easterbrook apologist Ryan Booth. When I saw the e-mail, I was hesitant to blog about it because, for one thing, I had no way of knowing whether or not it was genuine. The source blogger was not exactly, how shall we say, nuanced in his opinions re: Easterbrook. The opening line of the post in fact is "It's not a pretty sight when left-wing gangbangers march into action to destroy admirable men, but they really have it down to a science." It's odd that anyone would assert that Easterbrook was the victim of some kind of left-wing plot. He wasn't exactly a Conservative poster boy and his critics were a pretty bi-partisan and diverse bunch including myself, a Republican. Clearly the blogger, John Hinderaker (?), thought he was doing Easterbrook a huge favor by publishing the e-mail and was quite invested in Easterbrook's cause, which is why I was hesitant to believe it was genuine.
Strangely though, the main reason I was hesitant to blog on it was that, contrary to The Power Line's purpose, it actually presented Mr. Easterbrook in an extremely unfavorable light. The e-mail was written in the overwrought style of an unhinged paranoiac and had Mr. Easterbrook making all sorts of outlandish allegations that various people were out to destroy him. All the allegations were made with no evidence offered whatsoever. What was particularly irksome was that in the e-mail he engaged in much whining about "McCarthyism". McCarthyism, of course, was something done by the government. All of his allegations involved the actions of individuals and private corporations. This is a common mistake, but it seems a lot worse given the fact that a column Easterbrook wrote in the wake of September 11th making just such distinctions is currently making the internet rounds. My gut feeling was that the e-mail was genuine. The writing style seemed like his: strident, overwrought, extreme. However, because there was no way of knowing for sure if the e-mail was genuine, and because it could only cause him more trouble, possibly even legal trouble, given the nature of the unsubstantiated allegations he makes in it, I chose not to help spread it. Daniel Drezner and many other bloggers had no such scruples. For a moment, the e-mail was the primary piece of non-evidence for the utterly unsupported theory that Eisner personally ordered Easterbrook's firing.
Next thing, whaddaya know? Easterbrook starts going around saying that the e-mail is a fake, and it is immediately deleted from all the weblogs that had been so quick to clutch it in their greedy maws, much to the chagrin of Mr. Hinderaker who commented on Mr. Drezner's blog:
The Easterbrook email was not a fake. If Easterbrook now says it was, that is regrettable. Apparently he has made peace with his employer. But the email was from him, and it was not a fake. It was forwarded to us by a friend of Easterbrook's who discussed it with him over the telephone. The original email included Easterbrook's return email address and home phone number, which we deleted from our post.
I, also, have heard from a reliable source that the e-mail was not a fake. It didn't feel to me like a fake. And, Mr. Easterbrook would have to be a complete idiot to not realize how bad the e-mail would make him look and how much potential trouble, legal and otherwise, it could create for him. Verrrrry interesting.
I link, you decide, as they say.