You may have read The New York Times’ profile of Charles C. Johnson, the worst journalist on the internet. You also may have seen several very elaborate, very unbelievable, and very gross rumors about Johnson’s past misdeeds floating around Twitter and Facebook. So maybe you’re wondering: Which of those rumors are real?
Given Johnson’s various struggles of with accuracy and his dogged pursuit of a Times reporter’s teenage misdemeanor, we’ve examined three stories going around about the conservative media icon. Let’s see how they stack up, from least to most horrible.
Be warned: This post contains disturbing language.
Rumor 1: Johnson shit on the floor in college
This rumor, first noted (but not confirmed) by Deadspin’s Greg Howard, alleges that Johnson defecated on a dormitory floor when he attended Claremont McKenna College in suburban Los Angeles. Last week, two of Johnson’s college classmates, using Gawker burner accounts, filled in the details of the shitting story.
Hilariously, he graduated being best known for pooping on the (I think I’m remembering the floor right) 7th floor of Stark (a dorm). I’m sad this idiot is getting any attention at all, but I hope this guy becomes famous for the same reasons he was in college, his public pooping problems.
I started two years after him, so I wasn’t there since he did it as a freshman or sophomore. But the upperclassman talked about it regularly and it was an undisputed fact that he did it. Multiple people talked about it in great detail [confirmed by another commenter] on the school’s paper/website the cmcforum.com and I bet many instances of people talking about it can be seen in the comment archives from 2008-2011.
I have heart-breaking news, team, there was never any proof that he actually was the one who pooped on the floor. Someone did poop on the floor and just to sort of troll the Mountain King himself people started posting that he pooped. It was one of those things no one could prove or disprove. It started as a joke but has sort of morphed into apocryphal origin story. And there is a sort of poetic justice in tarring the biggest shit on campus with that fecal crime...but alas it’s not *really* true.
Furthermore, Johnson has explicitly denied the shitting story on Twitter:
It's interesting that the same media that accuses me of making shit up is making shit up about me me shitting on the floor. Irony. Funny.
— Charles C. Johnson (@ChuckCJohnson) December 10, 2014
Verdict: There is no evidence that Chuck Johnson took a shit on the floor in college. Chuck Johnson was, however, so thoroughly disliked in college that his classmates chose to blame an unattributed shit on him.
Rumor 2: Johnson bragged about urinating in his girlfriend’s mouth
This story is apparently confined to alumni of the Claremont Institute, a think tank based in Claremont, California which sponsors summer fellowships for conservative college students. Johnson attended the Institute as a “Publius Fellow” in 2012. During his stay, according to another Claremont fellow, Johnson bragged about urinating in his girlfriend’s mouth as punishment for infidelity. (We’ve verified that this fellow attended the Institute with Johnson.)
As the fellow put in an email:
One night during the Claremont program, about four guys are sitting outside on the balcony at our very nice hotel. I’m there, and so is Charles. He’s drunk, which was not unusual since he’s terrible at holding his liquor. I think we had been talking about past relationships. At some point, Charles announces that he sticks to Asian women because they value intelligence, which means he can get a higher “grade” of woman. Not a completely ridiculous comment, but I just mention it to point out that the trolling never really ends; it’s become embedded in his being. Each thing that comes out of his mouth is designed to offend at least one person in the room.
A few minutes later he starts talking about his ex-girlfriend, some (by his account) “fucking whore” (or something) who cheated on him (shocking!). According to Charles, he found out about the cheating, but his ex was unaware that she had been caught. So he devises a plan: wait until his girlfriend is giving him a blowjob, and then pee in her mouth. He announces to us that he executed the plan successfully. He pee’d in her mouth. She was obviously horrified, and he gleefully revealed that he knew about the cheating. Fuck yeah; she totally deserved that. High Five (not really). He was very proud to tell us.
I called bullshit. He insisted that he did it. We go back and forth and he finally tries to call his ex. It goes to voicemail. Maybe Charles Johnson didn’t pee in his girlfriend's mouth. Either way, he wanted us to believe that he did. Or maybe he actually did. Both options are psychotic. I’d rather not have my name associated with this story, but I just wanted to throw it out there.
In an email to Gawker, Johnson denied that he bragged about urinating into his ex-girlfriend’s mouth. However on Twitter he characterized the same ex-girlfriend as “psychotic”—an apparent insinuation that our source is his ex-girlfriend. That’s not true.
We reached out to every other male Publius fellow from the summer of 2012 for whom we could find contact information. Most did not respond to requests for comment, or ceased communication after we provided the details of the story above. The one fellow who did respond said: “I was not present for that story, nor do I recall hearing it from others. I am decidedly not a fan of his but I can’t attest to it.”
Verdict: Chuck Johnson is credibly accused of bragging about urinating in an ex-girlfriend's mouth. Whether or not he actually performed such urination is unknown. You probably would not want to be romantically involved with him.
Rumor 3: Johnson fucked a sheep
This story requires a detailed accounting. Shortly after Deadspin’s floor-shitting post, Greg Howard received the following tip:
Chuck had a 2002 bestiality charge expunged from his record due to his being a minor, 14 at the time.
As far as rumors go, this was both outlandish and thinly-sourced. But who knew, maybe there was something there. So Howard sent a short email to Johnson asking about it. Twelve hours later, in the middle of the night, Johnson tweeted a screenshot of Howard’s inquiry (without confirming or denying it).
This is why deadspin got the Cory Gardner story wrong. pic.twitter.com/BxdSmyWxiT
— Charles C. Johnson (@ChuckCJohnson) December 10, 2014
Johnson’s response would have probably halted any further reporting beyond a few searches through Lexis-Nexis and public records. After all, nobody seemed to know where the charge, if it existed, was filed. Even if someone determined where the incident took place, there wasn’t a great chance of obtaining the incriminating police report if Johnson had it expunged.
But then, later on Wednesday, Howard received an iMessage from an unfamiliar number. It began: “Hey, sorry to use the # from chucky’s post, but the bestiality story is 100% true...”
And went on:
A friend is in the San Bernardino County Sheriff Dept... As I heard it, Chuck was about 14, had gone to stay with his cousins [for] a few weeks... He went for a weekend with one to a friend of the cousin’s who owned a ranch near Wrightwood.
The father of the friend got suspicious when they caught him coming back inside very late the first night. The next night, he apparently wandered back out & got the cops called on him by a neighbor when he was spotted attempting to copulate with his wool sheep. The neighbor took pics with a telephoto lens, which, since the cops didn’t catch him mid-act, were used as the basis for his conviction. He was pants-down, pinning the sheep against the fence.
The story is still famous in circles of San Bernardino County law enforcement, apparently. He got it expunged in 2007, saying he was just a kid experimenting, and he didn’t want it to reflect badly when he was in college working for collegiate newspapers. My friend won’t give interviews, because he’d get in trouble for leaking expunged records, but it definitely happened, and word is that the files & pics still exist. Hope that helps!!
In a subsequent text, the tipster explained how their friend put two and two together:
His wife was browsing my Twitter feed one day & he saw Chuck’s name & pic over her shoulder... He called me right away & told me the story. Said it was the strangest case he’d ever worked on as a police officer.
The source declined to provide the contact information for their officer friend, but was otherwise willing to speak on the phone at length about the incident. So we know, at the very least, that this source is a real person.
Johnson denied this account on Twitter after Gawker followed up with him:
Gawker is making up two stories about me fucking animals and pissing in an ex-girlfriend's mouth. Seriously. pic.twitter.com/blITThk2TM
— Charles C. Johnson (@ChuckCJohnson) December 12, 2014
In an email he sent an hour later, Johnson added: “Both statements are untrue, in their entirety. If you publish these stories, or any version of them, you will have intentionally libeled me, with malice.”
A search through public records and the archives of local newspapers did not turn up any mention of an arrest matching the one our source described. (This does not necessarily mean that the arrest didn’t occur, though; editors don’t necessarily publish all incidents involving the police, and public records databases would not contain an expunged record.)
The San Bernardino County Sheriff referred our inquiry to the county’s district attorney; a representative at the juvenile division there said they do not divulge information pertaining to individuals arrested and/or charged as juveniles, as Johnson allegedly was.
Verdict: There is no evidence that Chuck Johnson was arrested in 2002 for pinning a sheep to a fence and fucking it. Johnson is, however, the kind of guy about whom random people make up and circulate rumors about him being arrested in 2002 for pinning a sheep to a fence and fucking it.