This article is the second in a series that examines the present-day circumstances of the assorted weirdos, hacks, shills, creeps, and nutjobs who coalesced around the attacks on Brett Kimberlin from 2011-2012. The first installment was about the ineffable weirdness of Seth Allen.
Almost exactly five years have passed since Ron Brynaert wrote his final post at Raw Story, having begun his career at the liberal news and opinion website with great promise in 2006. By yelling at his coworkers and creating a hostile work environment, Brynaert had finally managed to get himself fired, though with a generous severance package. Alternately, Brynaert claims that he quit Raw Story over disagreements with management, but the behavior visible every day on his Twitter timeline suggests otherwise — and it is merely the tip of the iceberg. As early as 2004, Brynaert was already infamous for harassing emails as well as abusing and betraying confidences, and by 2010 the former guerrilla street activist had begun to grate on progressive netroots like an Italian cheese, becoming deeply unpopular among the website’s staff and readers. His employers exhausted every means of sustaining his talent and gentling his condition, but Ron Brynaert is utterly bananas, so he repaid their generosity by publishing personal information about his former co-workers in a vindictive RAEG.
Thus, 2011 found Ron Brynaert being sued by his former employer. Having burned his bridges, Brynaert was still rebuilding his world when Weinergate rose like a storm surge that year and swamped what little was left of his credibility out to sea. Still styling himself a journalist, Brynaert has become so infamous for deranged attack tweeting through his @RonBryn account that he has earned his own YouTube parody song. This video is an excellent example of both how and why the rightwingnutosphere tried so hard to connect Brynaert’s name to their bugbear, a former federal prisoner named Brett Kimberlin: because their contrived drama was largely enacted on the social media network by right wing bloggers, they wanted to tie Kimberlin’s name to someone already known for bizarre and deranged tweets.
And what sort of journalism does Ron do? Here at BU, we tend to take a dim view of this subject. Brynaert has repeatedly insisted that Kimberlin runs the BU Twitter account, for example, and as I have repeatedly demonstrated, proving him wrong on this point only requires a simple fact-check. David Weigel, a conservative who has written unflattering copy about Kimberlin, is still a far better journalist than Ron Brynaert because he has never made this mistake.
In June of 2012, Brynaert briefly became interested in my past volunteer work, filling my Twitter notifications with a bizarre six-degrees-of-Kevin Bacon conspiracy theory that tied me into his uniquely-insane Kimberlin cosmology. In a strange way, it is sort of his fault that I write here.
But the experience offered me a key insight, for it was evident that months of right wing attacks had taken their toll on Brynaert. Using a sketchy voice analysis ‘expert,’ during 2011 the blogging Assistant District Attorney John Patrick Frey accused Brynaert of spoofing his phone number and making a false police report in order to bring armed officers to his house, a phenomenon known as ‘SWATing.’ Frey, who blogs as ‘Patterico,’ is a popular right wing voice, and his carefully-phrased suggestion that Brynaert had committed the ‘SWATing’ on behalf of Brett Kimberlin was the hottest air to inflate the ‘Everybody Blog About Brett Kimberlin’ balloon in May of 2012. Frey currently faces serious litigation for conducting his witch hunt under ‘color of law.’
To be sure, Anthony Weiner had been a fool, but Brynaert dove into the mysteries surrounding Andrew Breitbart’s greatest victory with abandon, relishing in the details of the false Twitter personas involved in his exposure. Frey also wrote about these topics with an eye towards shoving his lance deeper into the disgraced congressman, and alleges that he was on the phone discussing these matters with Brynaert at the moment when the SWATing took place. According to Frey, this is supposedly a key indicator that Brynaert was also calling 911 at that same exact time that Frey was enduring a tirade of profanity and abuse from the former editor of Raw Story. That experience is in fact quite typical of interactions with Brynaert, who has also tweeted that he wanted to punch Frey in the face, defecate on his wife, and other choice language. But as a conservative Twitter mob began to gather and accuse him of SWATing Frey on behalf of Kimberlin, Brynaert responded by by trying to deflect the attention. Predictably, his rivalries with other liberals became fodder for these diversionary constructions, and because he was a ‘liberal,’ his words were treated as affirmation of a bipartisan consensus that Brett Kimberlin was the Evil Overlord of the unknown persons SWATing right wing bloggers.
Brynaert was helpfully adding his special kind of ‘journalism’ to the contrived Kimberlin SWATing narrative when I released a video comparing the audio of the SWATer with the voice of Brandon Darby, a well-known instigator and plagiarist with hero status on the right. Through his friend Erick Erickson of Redstate.com, who enjoyed pundit privileges at CNN, Frey’s ‘investigation’ had by then achieved mainstream attention, becoming an issue even in the halls of Congress, but my video seemed to instantly deflate that enterprise. Brynaert thanked me with his aforementioned Rube Goldberg machine-like conspiracy theory, propelling me on my course towards BU, and then migrated to the political left again when his new right wing friends failed to give them a place at their table. In fact, during late 2012 Brynaert was named in a lawsuit that was eventually taken up by Dan Backer, the country’s most prominent ‘money is speech’ lawyer. The goofy litigation, which Backer had called “the case of a lifetime,” was dismissed with prejudice by a judge, but surely left a bitter taste in Brynaert’s mouth.
And where is Brynaert today? Why, Ron hasn’t gone anywhere. Sure, he lost his girlfriend, then his New York apartment, and was in a very bad place for awhile. But Brynaert is still tweeting, and his audience has slightly more than doubled in the last three-plus years…to a little more than eight hundred followers. Now blocked by many times the number of people who follow him, Brynaert clearly suffers from mental illness and deserves our pity, not just our censure.
He recently accused Frey of deliberately framing him as the SWATer — a breakthrough realization only three years in the making — but this has proven to be the exception to his rule. For in setting out once again to rebuild his career, Brynaert has spent the last few months supplying his research to such right wing lowlifes as conservative chode Charles C. Johnson. Somewhere in these new travels, Brynaert seems to have been referred to Judicial Watch. You may remember Judicial Watch from the 1990s, when they relentlessly pursued litigation aimed at feeding right wing fever-swamp conspiracy theories about the Clintons. Relatively quiet during the Bush years, Judicial Watch returned with a vengeance upon the election of Barack Obama, taking part in the tea party movement while filing a new spate of ridiculous lawsuits against a different Democratic president than before. Founder Larry Klayman, who has been described as “pathologically litigious” and has become completely unhinged in the Obama era, had an ugly split with the group in 2013. But Judicial Watch is now run by Tom Fitton, who used its auspices to hold the Groundswell meetings that same year, organizing the right wing media and congressional lobbying campaign which produced the Benghazi investigations and the Washington ‘IRS scandal’ over the delayed nonprofit status applications. Groundswell, you may recall, simultaneously touted a 30-point plan for destroying the progressive movement by attacking liberal nonprofit organizations — with a special focus on voting integrity groups — because ‘hypocrisy’ is their middle name.
Judicial Watch first took notice of Bryneart’s Clinton work in April, calling him a “new breed of investigative gunslinger.” More recently, Bryneart wrote an op-ed for the Washington Times that seems calculated to appeal to the fever-swamp of Huma Abedin conspiracy fantasists. Well-known for their conservative editorial bent — after all, racist reporter Robert Stacey McCain worked there for many years — the Times was sure to trumpet their guest writer as “the former executive editor for the left-leaning political website, RAW STORY.” Five years after he was fired, Brynaert still has no other credits to brag on, and probably never will. His sad, simpering desperation for attention can never make up for his basic personality deficits; with all the liberal and mainstream outlets fully aware of his record and therefore unwilling to give him a platform, Ron Brynaert has nowhere else to go but the opposite end of the political spectrum — and lacks any selling point other than his willingness to shill for their causes as a token ‘liberal.’