I had heard some rumblings about this on social media but Monday Glenn Greenwald wrote a piece that really spells out what has been happening. Several high-profile progressive YouTubers have gotten into a flame war involving false allegations of Russian collusion followed by accusations of sexual harassment. In short, things have gotten very ugly very fast and it doesn’t seem like anyone is willing to back down.
The battle started in May when The Young Turks founder Cenk Uygur and his co-host Ana Kasparian accused a left-wing journalist named Aaron Maté of being on the Russian payroll. Here’s the clip:
In this insane and libelous clip, @cenkuygur & @AnaKasparian say that I am "paid by the Russians" (Cenk); "seem to be working for" dictators (Ana); and deny chemical attacks on Syrian children (Ana). I don't care about their disdain for me, but I do care about being smeared. pic.twitter.com/PH229NB8SY
— Aaron Maté (@aaronjmate) May 27, 2021
And here’s Glenn Greenwald’s take:
Maté is one of the very few left-wing journalists who reported skeptically on Russiagate and who questioned the U.S. Government’s narrative about the civil war in Syria, including by traveling to war-torn parts of that country to do so. He won the 2019 Park Center for Independent Media’s Izzy Award for his work debunking Russiagate. Yet with a one-minute rant from their insulated studio, Uygur baselessly branded Maté as someone who is “paid by the Russians” while Kasparian asserted that he “seemed” to be working for Assad and other dictators — a potentially reputation-destroying smear for a journalist and one that can be quite dangerous for a reporter who, like Maté, works on the ground in war zones.
The conflict escalated when another progressive YouTuber named Jimmy Dore got involved by having Aaron Maté on his show to criticize The Young Turks. (You may remember Jimmy Dore as the guy who, late last year, accused AOC of being a sellout for refusing to pressure Nancy Pelosi to hold a vote on Medicare for All.) After playing the clip above of the Young Turks attacking Maté, Dore said it sounded like the end of a cult meeting rather than a newscast. Dore also highlighted the sparring between Uygur and Maté on Twitter which preceded the accusations of Russian collusion by one day. This response to a tweet is apparently what really kicked off this entire story:
My God tells me that this is the worst tweet of all time.
— Aaron Maté (@aaronjmate) May 25, 2021
In any case, Ana Kasparian upped the ante significantly a couple weeks later by sending a direct message to Jimmy Dore warning (or threatening) that she was about to accuse him of sexual harassment.
Rather than wait for that accusation to drop publicly, Dore simply posted the DM on his show. He denied he’d sexually harassed Kasparian and said, “So what she’s doing is she’s threatening to blackmail me because I keep criticizing her journalism.” According to Dore, the incident Kasparian was referring to involved her bending over while wearing a short skirt. Dore said he made a joking comment and people in the room laughed a little too hard. So the next day he wrote her an apology card saying he wouldn’t make any comments like that again because he knew it had embarrassed her. But according to him it was a one time incident that happened with other people in the room not a pattern of harassment.
The reason Glenn Greenwald wrote about all of this is that he points out that groundless accusations have become pretty common on the far left as a way to respond to criticism:
From Hillary Clinton and Howard Dean to Rachel Maddow and countless other liberal cable hosts, casually and falsely smearing people as paid Russian agents is now completely normalized behavior in liberal culture. And the list of people whose reputations have been destroyed from evidence-free and cynically deployed sexual harassment allegations or other vague accusations of sexual misconduct is too long to comprehensively chronicle.
Greenwald spells out what he means at length in this 44 minute long video. You can skip in about 6-7 minutes to get past all the preliminaries.