The Bad Judgment Behind #livejournalgate Was Its Fatal Flaw

The bad judgment behind #livejournalgate was its fatal flaw.

Likely executed by Joe Lentol’s hired social media consultants, the now infamous failed attack on Brooklyn Assemblymember-elect Emily Gallagher fell flat the minute its story broke via The Daily News and may well have cost 47-year incumbent Lentol his reelection bid.

The Daily News exposé was teased as salacious: 19-year-old college student Gallagher “admitting” via her 2003 LiveJournal post to having mooned a couple she had spied having sex.

But what Lentol’s team milked as the true horror story and character-definer was Gallagher’s other 17-year-old LiveJournal confession of having dressed up like Fiddler on the Roof and throwing a homeless party. The strategy was to smear Gallagher as not being a capable advocate for housing issues or for homelessness.

But the instantly ratio-ed Daily News tweet set the tone on how the public welcomed such news about Gallagher: mooning apparently wins votes rather than loses them.

And the homeless party had little impact. Respondents wondered why the story was even newsworthy. The premise seemed suspicious, potentially spoonfed to the News by Team Lentol.

Which it had been.

The scoop initially surfaced on June 11, two days before the Daily News published their piece, via an unassuming 10-follower Twitter account @honey_saweeti who presented as a Black female named “neka.” The LiveJournal smear tested the waters on social media that afternoon as the “neka” accounted tweeted 10 times about LiveJournal and how Gallagher was not an ally to those who are “black and brown.”

The “neka” tweets were quickly retweeted by Lentol’s paid social media consultant Michael Lambert and Lambert’s protégé Kyle Christopher.

I already had a history with both Lambert and Christopher: during 2019, I had protested against Amazon HQ2, canvassed for Tiffany Cabán and advocated for thoughtful real estate development as opposed to rampant gentrification so I wrassled often with pro-Amazon, pro-Melinda Katz, pro-upzoners Lambert and Christopher over my stances.

Their form of engagement was familiar and known to me: so familiar, in fact, that I began to suspect that “neka” was in fact Mr. Christopher himself.

I felt so strongly that I dm-ed Emily Gallagher that very day. It was an audacious accusation which I did not make lightly but I knew I was onto something.

Turns out, I was right.

I was not the only one who was suspicious of the “neka” account: John Hanrahan of the blog East & Creek was able to connect Mr. Christopher via his cellphone number to “neka” as well as to five other sock puppet burner accounts which Mr. Christopher had created and managed. It was none other than Mr. Christopher who had found Emily Gallagher’s 2003 LiveJournal in an attempt to smear Gallagher and he used his sock puppets to launch and spread the news.

Because, as it happened, Mr. Christopher had also been hired by Joe Lentol as a social media consultant, at the same $2500-a-month rate as Mr. Lambert.

This has been personal for me. After I shared my suspicions which have been since proven true, Mr. Lambert accused me of being a Karen who wanted to sell him into slavery and Mr. Christopher compared himself to Emmett Till for my having outed him.

As he had done to Emily Gallagher with #livejournalgate, Mr. Christopher had found publicly available information about my family which he then attempted to use with malice against me. As had happened with Gallagher and LiveJournal, Mr. Christopher once again fell flat with his attempted smear campaign against me.

This is Mr. Christopher’s pattern. His research may reflect thoroughness in length of time but it remains ultimately inconsequential which his judgment cannot seem to discern.

I believe Mr. Christopher thought he would ruin Emily Gallagher with the pages of hers that he found on a Russian website of cached LiveJournal entries. I believe Mr. Christopher also thought he was finally revealing me to be the millionaire I was lying and pretending not to be via my oldest brother’s documentary about our father’s fall from grace.

To this day, my family and I wonder if Mr. Christopher or Mr. Lambert had even bothered to watch the documentary about us, which literally details how my father lost all his money; we wonder if perhaps Mr. Christopher had relied solely on the reviews of the documentary for his research as Mr. Christopher couldn’t even describe my father’s job title or place of employment correctly.

Mr. Christopher’s incomplete research and questionable judgment still received the go-ahead from Joe Lentol’s campaign team so I hold all of them responsible, from the assemblyman himself to his snarky dismissive communications director Emily Mijatovic to their doubling-down hired strategist Red Horse’s Jessica Carrano to Mr. Lambert who most likely brought Mr. Christopher on board.

I called out writer Denis Slattery and the Daily News to name their source. It is dystopian and absurd that this story ran solely on the word of a person who calls themselves “Honey Saweeti” on Twitter: shame on you, Daily News, you owe the concept of truth in news better than this.

And you owe Emily Gallagher better. Every person and entity involved in the unrolling and running of this smear campaign owes Gallagher an apology, not that she’ll ever get it, not that any of these people will ever admit to what they did.

Gallagher broke ceilings with her election upset: she won her race without the endorsements of either Working Families Party or Democratic Socialists of America; she raised a fraction of the half million dollars which Lentol had secured; and she survived being smeared for what she had written when she was a teenager. None of these obstacles hindered her victory: Gallagher won despite them.

She won because the voting public chose her over Joe Lentol.

Was the clumsy execution of #livejournalgate the fatal blow of Joe Lentol’s reelection bid? Was it the terrible judgment of Joe Lentol’s arrogant, impatient and obtuse advisors? Or was it just the pure magic of Emily Gallagher’s diligent campaigning and her indefatigable spirit which garnered this triumph for her?

Perhaps it is a combination of all three and either way, it’s a win for Brooklyn.

Congratulations, Emily Gallagher: you survived #livejournalgate. The rest is cake and New York City can’t wait to see what you do.

connie murray: long island city, queens; twitter: @fuelgrannie; instagram: @fuelgrannie; web: fuelgrannie.com; queens politics, amazon, reluctant yimby watcher

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