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Sep 22 2020

Ah, RedState

I’ve never hidden the fact that I used to have (still do as far as I know but they’ve stopped sending annoying spam about cruises with Rush Limbaugh and Laura Ingraham) an account at RedState.

They never banned me, unlike dK (Twice!), even though I posted under my usual pseudonym and even mentioned on occasion that I was active at dK, you could look it up.

The reason I survived, unlike BarbinMD, is that I was never confrontational. I didn’t go there to yell at them, I went to observe. Sometimes one of them would say something that was not totally reprehensible and I’d reinforce that with approval. As I recall I posted a full piece once that conveyed my support for the joint dk/RedState anti-Doxing Initiative. One of the Mods was a big Red Wings fan and we had a nice chat about Hockey.

I also interacted with streiff. He was a Thug and a Bully who couldn’t wait to wield the Blam Hammer (their cute way of saying “Ban”), about the biggest asshole on the site (and I commented to all of them).

He actually liked me because I agreed with him that retiring the F-14 and its 110 mile range Phoenix Missiles was a bad idea.

I hope he likes his hobby because he’ll have plenty of time for it when he loses his day job.

A Notorious COVID Troll Actually Works for Dr. Fauci’s Agency
by Lachlan Markay, Daily Beast
Sep. 21, 2020

William B. Crews is, by day, a public affairs specialist for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. But for years he has been writing for RedState under the streiff pseudonym. And in that capacity he has been contributing to the very same disinformation campaign that his superiors at the NIAID say is a major challenge to widespread efforts to control a pandemic that has claimed roughly 200,000 U.S. lives.

Under his pseudonym, Crews has derided his own colleagues as part of a left-wing anti-Trump conspiracy and vehemently criticized the man who leads his agency, whom he described as the “attention-grubbing and media-whoring Anthony Fauci.” He has gone after other public health officials at the state and federal levels, as well—“the public health Karenwaffen,” as he’s called them—over measures such as the closures of businesses and other public establishments and the promotion of social distancing and mask-wearing. Those policies, Crews insists, have no basis in science and are simply surreptitious efforts to usurp Americans’ rights, destroy the U.S. economy, and damage President Donald Trump’s reelection effort.

“I think we’re at the point where it is safe to say that the entire Wuhan virus scare was nothing more or less than a massive fraud perpetrated upon the American people by ‘experts’ who were determined to fundamentally change the way the country lives and is organized and governed,” Crews wrote in a June post on RedState.

“If there were justice,” he added, “we’d send and [sic] few dozen of these fascists to the gallows and gibbet their tarred bodies in chains until they fall apart.”

After The Daily Beast brought those and other quotes from Crews to NIAID’s attention, the agency said in an emailed statement that Crews would “retire” from his position. “NIAID first learned of this matter this morning, and Mr. Crews has informed us of his intention to retire,” the spokesperson, Kathy Stover, wrote. “We have no further comments on this as it is a personnel matter.”

Crews’ authorship of the posts—which The Daily Beast was able to confirm through public records, social media postings, and internal records from the National Institutes of Health, NIAID’s parent agency—is a remarkable break from the public positions of the agency that employs him in a public relations role. And it illustrates the extent to which the response to the pandemic has become deeply politicized, even within the agencies at the front lines of fighting it. Crews isn’t just a civil servant anonymously disagreeing with his bosses online; he’s actively undermining their work and even suggesting retribution against them.

But while Crews may be one of the most remarkable cases of a government official contributing to the misinformation campaign around COVID-19, he’s hardly the only one doing so. His most scathing writings about the coronavirus came over the summer, as other Trump loyalists in the nation’s public health bureaucracy sought to undermine the work of some of the government’s foremost scientists.

The Daily Beast could not definitively determine whether Crews was writing for RedState, or posting to his Twitter account, while on the clock at his government job. But the vast majority of his writing at the site this year has been published during the work week, often during normal business hours, raising questions about the ethical use of taxpayer resources.

Fauci’s change in tone on the issue has tracked with Crews’ increasingly derisive attitude towards him. In March, as the virus began to spread in the U.S., Crews, writing as streiff, called the NIAID leader one of “the most respected experts on infectious diseases in the world.” By the summer, his assessment had shifted dramatically.

“When the smoke clears on this Wuhan virus tragedy (and I mean the tragedy of the working men and women of this nation who have seen their livelihoods and life’s work and, sometimes their actual lives destroyed by the unreasoning panic inflicted upon us by the public health nazis), one thing will become blindingly obvious: the nation and the Trump administration were failed at every turn by the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci,” Crews, under his pseudonym, wrote in July.

Crews’ writings are representative of a strain of conservatism that sees aggressive efforts to combat the coronavirus as not just misguided or counterproductive but as concerted schemes by public health authorities to amass and wield political power in an effort to damage Trump. It’s a conspiracy theory that tracks with more general suspicions by Trump supporters, and to an extent the president himself, who has insinuated that a cabal of “deep state” government employees are out to destroy him.

What makes Crews’ writings more notable is that he is in the employ of the very bureaucracy he accuses of orchestrating this seditious plot. Indeed, in some of his writings, Crews, as streiff, makes vague references to his career in the federal public health apparatus.

“I have worked in the CDC and seen the politicization up close,” he wrote in July. “It is a hotbed of progressive activity. It also has more than its share of idiots. And 90% of the people who work there should be named Karen. They desperately want to manage your life.”

At RedState, Crews has been a prolific writer since he began contributing to the site in 2004, the year it was founded. This year alone, he’s penned more than 400 posts for the site, publishing as many as five a day. As of 2018, according to a former RedState editor, Crews was among the site’s most widely read contributors.

I didn’t go out and dig this up because I’m pissed at streiff over some imagined (or real) Internet spat, this is now widely reported and virtually admitted by his immediate resignation. The lesson for those who choose to protect themselves is be careful what you reveal (for instance don’t link to your LinkedIn account) and the spirit of the truth is often as good for instructional purposes as identifying details. I have it on good authority that I am hard to track down which is fine by me, I don’t expect I’m evading the NSA but that’s not the point, it’s to avoid casual harrassment.