The Daily Caller’s Patrick Howley published a hit piece Thursday night about the Huffington Post’s Ryan Reilly, one of two journalists who was arrested this week in Ferguson, Mo.
Over the course of his nearly 700-word piece, titled “Crying Huffington Post Reporter Is A Disgrace To Journalism,” Howley disparaged Reilly as a “smug hack” and a “fake reporter.” He also repeatedly mocked the HuffPost justice reporter for “crying” about his arrest in the St. Louis suburb.
There’s a lot going on here, but it’s probably worth pointing out up front that it was Reilly who played a central role in a story earlier this year that made Howley look very bad. Howley had fired off a pair of sexist tweets aimed at Buzzfeed reporter Rosie Gray. Reilly made screenshots of the tweets and notified Tucker Carlson, the editor-in-chief at the Daily Caller.
Following the incident, Howley took some time off Twitter, and he and Carlson both apologized to Gray.
But the piece on Reilly is rich for other reasons, too.
Let’s start with this paragraph:
There’s an idea in journalism now that if you can’t break a story (and no, like America, I haven’t seen the “J. Reilly” byline on anything before this) then pull a stunt instead. OK, well, not most people’s cup of tea but at least there’s a precedent for it. Norman Mailer and Jimmy Breslin ran a stunt mayoral campaign, George Plimpton specialized in journalistic stunts.
It might surprise Howley to know that Reilly has in fact broken news before, like last year when he reported that former Reuters social media editor Matthew Keys was indicted for allegedly assisting Anonymous hackers.
But it’s also notable that, at least at one time in his career, stunt journalism was very much Howley’s “cup of tea.” In 2011, while covering an Occupy protest in Washington, D.C. for the American Spectator, Howley said he helped escalate clashes with security guards that shut down the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. He later wrote about his role as the agent provocateur, all while criticizing the Occupy protests as “disruptive.”
But while Howley can accept a journalist becoming a part of the story, one thing he won’t tolerate is crying.
But the for the love of God, if you’re going to make yourself the story and get your ass kicked by a cop, don’t start crying about it. When Mike Wallace got beaten up at the 1968 Democratic convention, did he then take to the airwaves and cry like a spoiled, overweight suburban child? Did Edward R. Murrow pause in his coverage of Senator McCarthy to cry that Tailgunner Joe was being mean to him?