Editor's Note: This piece includes graphic language and links to a piece including graphic language.
When I wrote about Claude Taylor yesterday, the Chair of Mad Dog PAC and the mastermind behind those salacious ads claiming "Matt Gaetz Wants to 'Date' Your Child," I found it rich enough that the man had worked for Bill Clinton. But wait, there's more.
In a Community post for Daily Kos, Bob Johnson wrote on May 5, 2017 that "No, Claude Taylor and company are not reputable sources on Trump-Russia."
Now Johnson's language is quite salty, and the reason why this piece contains an editor's note. It certainly serves a purpose though in illustrating who this character is, with original emphasis:
But let’s remember that [Keith] Olbermann’s speculation begins with that tweet from Claude Taylor.
What else has Claude Taylor “reported” *cough* from his “sources” *cough* via Twitter? Here are just a few of Taylor’s “breaking news” *cough* claims:
- Trump was considering resigning.
- The Trump children have been recorded by British, German and Qatari authorities discussing “criminal acts.”
- Preet Bharara turned over his Trump investigation files to New York AG Eric Schneiderman before leaving office.
Taylor touts himself as a “former Clinton administration staffer.” He worked in the volunteer office in 1993 at a salary of $35,000. In the volunteer office. One would think, the way he and his band of promoters talk, that he was some national security insider.
Johnson also includes tweets from Taylor claiming on April 20, 2017 that Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) was resigning.
A Utah source now confirming that Chaffetz resignation expected as early as tomorrow.— Claude Taylor (@TrueFactsStated) April 20, 2017
A 2nd source is claiming that the Russians knew about Chaffetz's affair and were blackmailing him. https://t.co/Dg4hKCzRNp— Claude Taylor (@TrueFactsStated) April 20, 2017
The piece includes a #Bullsh*t tag, with Johnson really wanting you to know that Taylor is indeed full of that BS, which we can't really argue with.
But that's just one community post at the Daily Kos. That's not all there is to it, though. Far from it.
In a May 19, 2017 thorough report for Vox, Zack Beauchamp warned that "Democrats are falling for fake news about Russia." Beauchamp doesn't mean like your ordinary Democrat neighbor, but the likes of Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) and Donna Brazile. Here's where Taylor falls into this, with original emphasis:
Claude Taylor is the third core member of the Russia sphere. He’s a DC-area photographer who claims to have worked for three presidential administrations; his role is to provide inside information into the alleged legal cases against the president. He also routinely claims to have advance knowledge what’s happening, even down to the precise number of grand juries impaneled and indictments that are on the way.
These anonymous intelligence community tip-offs lead him to tweet, with certainty, that Trump is finished. His tweets routinely get thousands of retweets.
These three — Mensch, Schindler, and Taylor — form a kind of self-reinforcing information circle, retweeting and validating one another’s work on a nearly daily basis. A quick Twitter search reveals hundreds of interactions between the three on the platform in recent months, many of which reach huge audiences on Twitter (judging by the retweet and favorite counts). They’re also reliably boosted by a few allies with large followings — conservative NeverTrumper Rick Wilson, the anonymous Twitter account Counterchekist, and financial analyst Eric Garland (best known as the “time for some game theory” tweetstormer.)
Everyone needs to be patient. You may not see it but the process that will end with Trump's resignation or impeachment has begun.— Claude Taylor (@TrueFactsStated) May 12, 2017
It's looking more and more like Hatch as caretaker president— Claude Taylor (@TrueFactsStated) May 12, 2017
Jon Swaine with the Guardian wrote on August 28, 2017, "Lurid Trump allegations made by Louise Mensch and co-writer came from hoaxer." Taylor was that "co-writer."
Some highlights of that story, as laid out by the Guardian:
- Mensch and Claude Taylor tweeted details of criminal inquires that didn’t exist
- Hoaxer who fed information said she acted out of frustration over fake news
- Taylor issues mea culpa on Twitter after being approached by Guardian
Considering what we know about Taylor so far, that he's been caught in a hoax is one of the least surprising things you'll hear in a while.
Now while Louise Mensch deletes her tweets, Taylor did not. They provide enough of the story if you don't feel like reading the nearly 2,000 words from Swaine, who also conveniently provides oodles of evidence, including from the hoaxer's emails.
From NYAG Schneiderman source, "I am aware of at least one sealed indictment targeting multiple Trump Organization Principals".— Claude Taylor (@TrueFactsStated) July 22, 2017
I have few details but apparently the possibility exists that our president has been a sex trafficker. That's frowned upon. https://t.co/SFScjkaLlK— Claude Taylor (@TrueFactsStated) July 22, 2017
2. Bureau has one. The OCTF is targeting between 70-80 people and the FCB's investigation is targeting 30-40 people. Trump has exposure on— Claude Taylor (@TrueFactsStated) July 23, 2017
From Schneiderman source on money laundering case. Targets include Don Jr, Eric, Ivanka, Jared & Trump Sr, Felix Sater & 15 Rus nationals.— Claude Taylor (@TrueFactsStated) July 28, 2017
An August 29, 2017 piece from Shane Ryan for Paste warns "Claude Taylor and Louise Mensch as Cautionary Tales: Stop Believing Twitter's "Citizen Journalists,"" links to Swaine's piece above. Ryan refers to Taylor and Mensch as "unhinged opportunists masquerading as the digital vanguard of #Resistance 'citizen journalists.'"
...It is the clearest indication yet that these digital sleuths have no standards, no real sources, and in fact only adhere to a very flimsy version of the truth as they pursue their Russia-based conspiracy theories. Further, Donald Trump would be hard-pressed to custom-design a pair of more useful idiots—this is literal “fake news.” People like Taylor and Mensch, when they are inevitably discredited as over-credulous paranoiacs, actively feed into the narrative of the Russia investigation as a witch hunt pursued only by agenda-driven lunatics...
And his closing is an absolute joy to read:
One of the favorite liberal narratives in the aftermath of the Trump election is that Trump voters are somehow more “stupid” than those on the left—that they would believe anything their candidate told them. (This despite the fact that the stupid people won.) Watching people like Taylor and Mensch amass such large followings among the self-styled liberal #resistance community is proof that they are wrong—liberals are equally prone to being seduced by outlandish fantasies, as long as it matches their belief systems. Under the proper circumstances, their credulity is just as embarrassing as anything you’d find on the right, and they’re equally susceptible to believing, and even seeking out, false information that suits their worldview. The only real difference is that there’s more empathy and less cruelty among liberals—marginally.
More recently, Tim Murphy with Mother Jones included Taylor in his list of "A Quick Guide to Who’s Making Money Off Trump Paranoia" for the outlet's July/August 2019 issue.
If you're going to go through such lengths to go after anyone, you may want to make sure you have a shred of credibility.