Death threats. Harassing phone calls. Threatening e-mails. Such was a day in the life of Drew Johnson a few weeks ago.
His crime? Johnson is president of the Tennessee Center for Policy Research, a free-market think tank that broke one of the juiciest stories of 2007. A day after the Academy Awards, on Feb. 26, Johnson’s organization reported details of Al Gore’s enormous utility bill. The former vice president had consumed nearly 221,000 kilowatt hours of electricity in a single year -- more than 20 times the national average.
The story skyrocketed to the top headline on the Drudge Report, sending tens of thousands of visitors to the Tennessee Center for Policy Research’s Web site. With Gore facing charges of hypocrisy just a day after winning an Oscar for "An Inconvenient Truth," the news traveled fast.
Unfortunately for Johnson, it meant enduring days of attacks from liberals -- even though the facts of the story came directly from public records.
Last week he visited Washington, D.C., to share his story. Johnson told a group of conservative bloggers at The Heritage Foundation that he heard from hundreds of angry callers, many of whom used profane language. The research center’s vice president, whose phone number was listed on the Web page, eventually had to change her number when the attacks became so persistent and threatening.
The phone blitz was only one avenue liberals used to intimidate. Johnson said his organization received thousands of e-mails, the vast majority of them negative and hate-filled.
Shortly after the story made headlines, popular liberal blogs Daily Kos and Huffington Post, laid out their plan of attack. A blogger called NeuvoLiberal wrote on Daily Kos, "please post any specific (action oriented) ideas you have for fighting back…. We'd like to target every person out there that is spinning in various rightwing and other outlet for this kind of smear job (the damage is done before you wake and smell the coffee)."
Over at Huffington Post, bloggers Dave Johnson and James Boyce issued another call to action: "Al Gore is a hero. Even heroes need help - join us, add to the comments, let's find out everything we can about these guys and stop them in their tracks. Now."