Ian Murphy is one paranoid dude. Not to mention loathsome, a word he uses rather liberally.
On Thursday I emailed him to request an interview. The reason: On Wednesday he had published the “50 Most Loathsome Americans of 2010” on his website, Buffalo Beast (not even a distant cousin to The Daily Beast. The site is a Buffalo-based publication originally founded by Rolling Stone‘s Matt Taibbi. Taibii no longer has any affiliation with the publication.) Those who made the list included Daily Caller Editor-in-Chief Tucker Carlson (#38), accompanied by a uniquely nasty writeup fitting of “Mean Girls” the movie, four Supreme Court Justices, Celeb chef Paula Deen (#50), President Obama (#14), Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y. #40), FNC’s Roger Ailes (#11), House Speaker John Boehner (#15), Big Government’s Andrew Breitbart (#18) and well, at least 41 others that make him, as he put it, “want to vent your spleen.”
Late Thursday night he emailed back, saying to forgive his being a “little crazy”, but how did he know I wasn’t actually Carlson? I was willing to play paranoia — I told him to look me up and get in touch with my Manhattan-based boss. I offered email, phone number, whatever he wanted to alleviate his near Bellevue-worthy mental state. Hours later, he emailed me back from another account apologizing profusely for his weirdness, saying if he hadn’t “ruined” things he’d really like to be interviewed. I suggested 3 p.m. He said he had to drive his “dumb roommate” to the auto garage but he was free at 3:30.
Friday he phoned me on Skype — he has no cell phone. “Too poor for such luxuries,” he said, laughing. For the first 10 minutes (at which point I’d asked no more than basics about the site) he probed further on whether I was working for Tucker or associated with him in any way. Outside of a lie detector or genetic testing I wasn’t sure how to assuage his feelings.
I questioned him more. And let’s just say I now desperately need to buy a pair of those preppy Breton-red pants and maybe a Circa 2006 red polka dot bow-tie…
Asked why Carlson was on the list, Murphy turned bitchy. “Do you really need an answer for that?” he snapped. “He’s just awful. He’s just a sniveling little brat. The way he comports himself is appalling. He’s just a grating personality, crawled under my skin immediately.”
On TV of course. Murphy also claims to have met Carlson in Manchester, N.H. in ’08. “He was wearing glaring orange pants, and he wouldn’t admit it,” he said (again sounding like a 13-year-old girl). We’ve since cleared up TrouserGate. Carlson was wearing Breton-red pants. He has no recollection of ever meeting Murphy.
In that ’08 story, Murphy ridicules a variety of D.C. journos, including, NBC MTP Host David Gregory, CNN’s Dana Bash and WaPo‘s Chris Cillizza.
I remarked, “Wow, this sounds pretty personal.” He laughed. “I’m sure the guy is fine. I only talked to him for about a minute. He annoyed me. It’s not personal.”
Murphy has been writing the Loathsome list since 2004, but calls this year’s installment his “baby” since he wrote most of it. He stayed awake for four days to finish and slept 30 straight hours (apparently without sleeping medication) to recover.
His politics are left-leaning. “I try not to call myself anything,” he said. “I call myself objective but that doesn’t fly with people. Liberal. Progressive. Whatever the extreme wing of that would be.”
At this point I apologize and say I want to return to the subject of Carlson. This trips another paranoid valve and he wonders again if I work for Tucker. At this point he’s convinced of it. (In a subsequent email he writes, “Say hi to Tucker for me.”)
But Carlson isn’t the only person he has obsessed about. In 2005, Tom Cruise made the list and his lawyer sent Murphy a letter threatening to sue. His description of Cruise included calling him a “cokehead” amid accusations of predatory behavior toward women. (He asked over email, “You’re not a Scientologist out to get me, are you? ARE YOU?” I replied, “No, I’m not a f–king Scientologist.” He asked if I was in cahoots with DHS.)
All that paranoia about Carlson? He explained, “It’s sort of my M.O. to prank people, so I’m assuming it’s going to come back and bite me in the ass.” With that, he noted the time he posed as a handicapped journo to get into the grand opening of a Creation Museum in Kentucky. “Yeah, I’m a terrible person,” he says, explaining that there’s no way the museum would have granted him credentials had he not pretended to have Asperger Syndrome and write for Special Times. “I’m kind of a slime ball like that.” (See “Let there be Retards” here.)
Some might use the word loathsome.