Conservative Journalist Declares War On ‘Reprehensible’ GOP Operative: ‘It’s On’

Start your day with TPM.
Sign up for the Morning Memo newsletter

Charles C. Johnson, the freelance conservative journalist who’s at least temporarily commandeered the toxic political battle consuming Mississippi, has spent much of the last 48 hours tirelessly and aggressively calling out his critics by name.

His chief target, without question, has been Brad Dayspring, a former aide to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) and now a top operative for the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Johnson had been going after Dayspring even prior to publishing a report this week on allegations that Sen. Thad Cochran’s (R-MS) campaign bribed black voters in the Republican primary against tea party favorite Chris McDaniel.

As the official campaign arm of Senate Republicans, the NRSC backed Cochran in the race and sent staff to Mississippi to campaign for him.

Johnson suggested in a tweet last week that Dayspring was partly to blame for the apparent suicide of conservative lawyer Mark Mayfield, who had been charged in an alleged conspiracy tied to a blogger accused of entering a nursing home to take a photograph of Cochran’s wife.

If anything, Johnson appears even more emboldened now.

His story on the bribery allegations — for which he said he paid the source — was emphatically denied by the Cochran campaign, but the ensuing fallout has given Johnson the attention he clearly desired. Ever since the piece ran on his website, gotnews, Johnson has relentlessly promoted his efforts to raise money to subsidize his “awesome projects.” When he hasn’t bragged about the attention the story has brought him, Johnson has picked fights with other journalists and members of the Cochran team.

But nobody has drawn Johnson’s ire quite like Dayspring. The two had an extended back-and-forth on Wednesday night after Johnson boasted that his Twitter profile had seen a considerable spike in page views.

“Yup, clowns draw crowds,” Dayspring tweeted. It degenerated from there.

Johnson wasn’t done there. On Thursday, he attempted to publicly shame Dayspring again by highlighting a tweet published more than a year ago by a pornographic Twitter account. The tweet had been “favorited” by Dayspring.

Dayspring declined to comment on the record when reached by TPM on Thursday.

In an email to TPM on Thursday, Johnson didn’t mince words.

“I think Brad Dayspring is a reprehensible human being,” Johnson wrote. “The lies that he told have taken a toll of human life in the personage of Mark Mayfield. The NRSC has used every disgusting tactic imaginable against good people. We are going to begin telling the truth about who they really are.”

Johnson also explained why he’s willing to go to the mat with Dayspring.

“I offered him three opportunities not to peddle oppo against me to National Review. He continued,” Johnson wrote. “So I told my research team to build an oppo file. It’s on now.”

Dayspring himself seemed to taunt Johnson about that on Thursday, referring to a conversation he had with National Review editor Rich Lowry.

“Little @ChuckCJohnson is just mad because I told Rich Lowry that it was beneath the Buckley Standard to refer to him as a ‘journalist,'” Dayspring wrote in a tweet that led to another extended quarrel.

Latest Livewire
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: