The Daily Caller‘s Matt Lewis showed his darker side earlier this week. It was something we hadn’t really seen before. The new, evolving Lewis cusses like a sailor. We’re enjoying the change. His metamorphosis, which may involve a bear rather than a butterfly, continued Wednesday.
A bit of context: Conservative media is broken up into two camps: The grassroots, perpetually confrontational activist crowd and the more establishment-friendly, “can’t we all just get along” crowd.
Lewis is in the latter, which doesn’t always sit well with grassroots folks like RedState‘s Ben Howe, who has also done work for conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation. Yesterday, the tension between the two was on full display, both sides letting their asses hang out for everyone to see on Twitter.
The squabble started Tuesday with John Ekdahl, a writer at the conservative blog “Ace of Spades HQ.” He sent Howe a link to a piece by Lewis wherein Lewis wrote that using a screen still from a TV hit as a Twitter photo makes one look like a “narcissistic douchebag.” Howe’s own Twitter photo is a still of himself on TV.
“I’ve never liked that guy. He’s high on his own intellect which is funny given how average it is,” Howe said of Lewis on Twitter. Some mocking of Lewis ensued, with Howe eventually joking that Lewis “has sex with animals.”
At that, Lewis wrote up a post at The Daily Caller yesterday in which he referred to Howe as his “personal Twitter troll.”
“I have no idea why Howe doesn’t like me. Until today, I’m not sure we’ve ever interacted,” Lewis wrote. He included a conversation he had with Howe:
Lewis: I’m working on a post about things said on Twitter by pols, consultants, staffers, etc., and couldn’t help but notice some pretty harsh things you said about me recently. I’d love to include a quote from you, though. Basically, I’d love to know why you do this?
Howe: Can you direct me to which quotes you are referring?
Lewis: [Referring to himself]: “not to mention he has sex with animals.”
Howe: – I see. “I couldn’t help but notice” sounds a lot more like “I want to use my spot at the Daily Caller to attack the livelihoods of conservatives that don’t like me.”
Lewis: So that’s a no comment?
Howe: That is my comment. I look forward to reading it at the Caller.
Lewis added in his piece, “No matter how much I dislike or disagree with fellow conservatives, I never accuse them of fucking animals.”
The story spurred friends of Howe’s to start the hashtag #TeamBenHowe on Twitter. Among those who sided with Howe was Gabriel Malor, a blogger for the New York Daily News. “When Party A tries to foreclose work opportunities for Party B, feelings can get strong,” he tweeted.
Because Lewis called Heritage for his post (he says he did so to confirm Howe worked there), it was seen by Howe and his allies as an attempt to have Howe fired from working there.
Though Howe had tweeted that he “never liked” Lewis, he told FishbowlDC that he was being “hyperbolic,” He said, however, he became “annoyed” by Lewis’ columns throughout the election. He also offered a semi apology for offending Lewis with the bestiality joke… “It was a silly comment made in response to another silly comment where the entire point was to be outrageous,” Howe said. “If this was offensive to Matt then I apologize for offending him. Then again, maybe being offended is part of Matt’s routine.”
Lewis, on the other hand, seems completely unfazed by the whole thing. He told us his blog post was simply a matter of looking into an issue that intrigues him. “And a lot has been said about anonymous Twitter trolls,” he said. “But what I’ve been noticing is a slightly different trend: The worst offenders I see are quite often young-ish political consultants and operatives.” He said he considered it “blogworthy” to reach out to Howe (“confronting the worst offender,” he called it) and find out why he tweeted the insults.
Then again, there was likely something personal behind Lewis’ Twitter observation. He concluded his post about Howe as follows: “Some of my colleagues actually take perverse pleasure in fighting with their stalkers. But my typical move is to block Twitter trolls, and try to ignore them. I’m going to try to go back to that for now. My arms are getting tired from punching down, as it is.”