People coming and going in the Trump administration is nothing new, perhaps even more so than in other, recent presidencies. One such departure took place this past week however which really strikes me as questionable. You might not have even heard of Darren Beattie, a speechwriter and policy development aide at the White House, but he was shown the door last week. The reason? CNN’s digital dachshund, Andrew Kaczynski, discovered that Beattie had been invited to and delivered remarks at the 2016 conference of the H.L. Mencken Club. When presented with this information, along with the “unsavory” nature of the organization, Beattie was dismissed and CNN won the right to crow about taking another scalp from the Trump administration.

A speechwriter for President Donald Trump who attended a conference frequented by white nationalists has left the White House.

CNN’s KFile reached out to the White House last week about Darren Beattie, a policy aide and speechwriter, who was listed as speaking at the 2016 H.L. Mencken Club Conference.

The Mencken Club, which is named for the early 20th century journalist and satirist whose posthumously published diaries revealed racist views, is a small annual conference started in 2008 and regularly attended by well-known white nationalists such as Richard Spencer. The schedule for the 2016 conference listed panels and speeches by white nationalist Peter Brimelow and two writers, John Derbyshire and Robert Weissberg, who were both fired in 2012 from the conservative magazine National Review for espousing racist views.

So Darren Beattie either gave a speech or sat on a panel at the 2016 H.L. Mencken Club Conference, an organization named after one of the great satirists of the 20th century. It is “frequented” by white nationalists (few of which I’ve ever heard of). Sure, the group has a decidedly “alt-right” flavor to it and they’ve definitely feted some controversial speakers. But what was Beattie’s role in all this? No evidence is given that there was anything racist in the speech or remarks. Beattie’s name doesn’t even appear on the agenda for the 2016 event. Nor do any documents from the conference under his byline appear in their collection of texts from that year’s event. All we really know is that he was invited. If there were any details available of supposedly “horrible things” Beattie had said I’m sure CNN would have included them.

There are no other appearances, writing or anything else cited. Just this one speech from before Trump was president. It’s a fairly standard example of Kaczynski’s formula for success. He’s made his living by rooting through the most obscure, dusty corners of the world’s digital archive for oppo research and springing it at key moments. He’s turned up a lot of interesting – and frequently applicable and valid – tidbits over the years. It’s no doubt what tempted the cable news giant to hire him to find any timely crumb from the past through meticulous research and use the massive megaphone of CNN to amplify it.

But was this discovery about Beattie a firing offense? At most, it appears to be guilt by association, and the President hasn’t made a habit of abandoning his people over some accusation from the press. Or could it be a sign that the relentless media war on Trump has the White House on guard to the point where they will now cut somebody loose rather than slog through another torrent of negative headlines? The only other possibility which comes to mind is that the White House discovered something seriously damaging that CNN failed to uncover and decided to cut bait before things took a turn for the worse. But, again, that’s simply idle speculation.

This ties into the recent discussion we had about how everyone’s digital footprint follows them everywhere in an era of futuristic levels of transparency. Our government will soon be reduced to a labor pool of people who have never created an account on social media and essentially lived lives about as interesting as that of a mushroom. Either way, Darren Beattie has lost his job over accepting an invitation to a conference hosted by an obscure club and… talking. I’ll leave to you to decide if that’s progress or not.