Cease and Desist Deez Nuts
In which the Midwest Political Science Association attempts to silence and intimidate an independent journalist
On the afternoon of March 13th, I quit my job as an investigative reporter at the Daily Caller News Foundation. On the evening of March 13th, I broke this story on my personal Substack:
I then spent the next several months aggressively blogging about corruption at Harvard, in what I can only describe as a labour of love:
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This weekend, I was finally told to sit down and shut up.
This is the second C&D letter I have received in my life. The first was from George Soros’ lawyers and it was much, much more competent than this one. This one is a farce. The first thing I notice is how poorly it is written. There are several typos e.g. failing to capitalize “Substack.” The grammar mistakes kill me — this person wrote that in 5 minutes with zero proofreading or due diligence and probably charged like $25,000 for it. Also, this letter repeats “will not be tolerated“ like five times. If this lawyer charged more than $10 for this, he's a scammer; this is exactly the calibre of a letter that I would expect from someone with this calibre of fashion sense:
I see that Jeffrey Tenenbaum earned his law degree from the Catholic University of America, located in Washington DC… and since his last name is Tenenbaum, something tells me he didn’t attend the Catholic University of America due to religious preference. It was simply the best school in DC he could get into… how grim. This means he was not good enough for American, George Washington or Georgetown. Georgetown is the only somewhat respectable school on that list and he struck out at the 2 safeties, too.
The average LSAT score at Catholic University of America is 153. This is all starting to make sense now! The intimidation letter sounds like it was written by a hack, low-IQ slimeball who wears bad suits, and lo and behold, it was.
This letter is a brazen attempt to silence a journalist. Lawyers like this make me angry; the whole profession is sullied by such hatchetmen. Yes, zealous representation of clients matters but you don’t get to become a hatchetman. Lawyers should not do this; they can represent clients, but they should not be thugs. They should not abuse their bar license for intimidation. If I had half a mind I would report him to the DC bar association.
I would remind the MPSA that hitting a journalist with a C&D is very serious; I do not appreciate false and defamatory claims about violence, stalking, etc; if any legal action is initiated against me I will seek all available remedies, including under anti-SLAPP and vexatious litigant statutes.
I will not be cowed by a 3rd rate legal mind acting on behalf of a pair of 2nd rate gender studies scholars. So long as the MPSA/AJPS continue to platform lies and fake data in their journal, I will continue to do my journalistic duty to help bring light to the truth. If the AJPS editorial board wants to be right with God and/or the Academy, I advise them to choose this path of truth as well.
Not that they could really sue me even if they wanted to — I’m stuck in Canada and can’t be extradited for mean words! I know the lawyer who wrote this extortionary letter lives in the festering shithole that is Washington DC, but in civilized countries, lawyers making threats and attempting extortion isn't legal.
I would further remind the libtards of the MPSA that everything I have written on Karlstack is protected by the First Amendment, and your limp-dick impotent kvetching doesn't change that. The First Amendment dictates that I can call the leadership team a cabal of corrupt lightweights as much as I want — I can even call them evil, rent-seeking cunts. That is free speech. I can point out that Kathleen Dolan’s CV mentions the word “women” 182 times, while the CV for Jen Lawless mentions the word “women” 272 times.
Imagine this banal “gender gap” fluff was what your career was built on?
And now you are in charge of the top journal in the discipline?
They must be walking around 24/7 with a pit in their stomach, afraid that at any moment someone will see them for the frauds that they are. I see right through them, and they hate me for that.
Here is some pro bono career advice for Lawless and Dolan, the head editors at AJPS: If you are salty/butthurt that the PoliSci profession now thinks you are corrupt and/or incompetent, my sincere advice is to build a time machine, travel back in time 30 years, and then spend your careers being serious and rigorous scholars with high ethical standards.
Back to the C&D letter: the whole thing is a tacit admission that I didn’t say anything untrue about Ryan Enos committing research misconduct. It basically makes it clear they're just mad at me for bothering them — “Stop Being mean to us on Twitter and Substack or we will sue!” There is nothing of substance in the letter. One example of how blatantly devoid of substance this letter is is that they accused me of "violence." The letter says, …“you went so far as to encourage violence…” Of course, they do not provide an example of violence; if they had one, they would’ve jumped at the opportunity to brandish it.
In their pathetic little fiefdom of PoliSci academia I guess they can get away with “words are violence” type of rhetoric and nobody questions it… but in the real world, they should be deeply ashamed that they trivialized victims of violence. What a slap in the face to domestic abuse victims. Jeez. And they call themselves feminists?
I went through my old articles and the closest thing I could find related to “violence” is a Game of Thrones joke about “trial by combat” accompanied by this meme:
Only a total hack of a lawyer would argue that this Tyrion Lannister meme constitutes “violence”; the fact that he tries to tie the word “violence” around my neck for this indicates that he is not operating in good faith. Clearly an unethical goon who will say anything for a buck.
There is no legal basis for this thuggish letter — harassment is very rarely illegal, it would have to involve like, showing up at their homes constantly to get to that level... not write a mean blog post. What a joke. I went through my articles to find the single worst thing I did to “harass” them.
It was this:
It is perfectly legal to encourage ethics complaints. If you don’t want people complaining to your boss about the fact that you committed research misconduct (reminder: refusing to investigate misconduct is itself misconduct), then my pro bono advice to you is to avoid committing research misconduct. If you do commit brazen research misconduct, you should be prepared to have people complain about it to your supervisor. That is called accountability.
The letter goes on:
“You encourage your readership to contact the editors’ places of employment, with the effect of dismantling their professional and personal lives. The implications you are creating through these persistent and harassing posts are wholly inappropriate and any such conduct will not be tolerated any further.”
Gee, I wonder if these shrews are in favor of protesting outside SCOTUS justices’ homes. Something tells me their set of morals isn’t exactly internally consistent.
The most blatant lie in this letter is the assertion that they don’t have the data necessary to verify claims of data fabrication. LIES!
They have all the data and code they could possibly need:
The official Chicago elections data is publicly available.
Enos' (much different than the public dataset) dataset is in his dataverse archive.
The code for how to read in the .csv file into R and reproduce all tables, graphs, and maps is in the report.
The whistleblower report
They already know that using the proper data, with all inconvenient data points included, changes Enos’ results. So they just pretend they don’t have the data or code or whatever. But they do. They could verify the data in about five minutes without any magical input from the memo’s author — who chooses to remain anonymous due to fear of backlash, hence why they gave this information to a journalist. Dolan and Lawless are known to be especially petty and vicious, and it is entirely possible they will ruin this whistleblower’s academic career if they come forward. They want this anonymous whistleblower to come forward so they can crush them. No econ journal has ever made such an absurd request as a condition to investigate credible, documented, easily verifiable allegations of misconduct.
Here is the original complaint from Dr. Utych, which was brushed aside by the AJPS:
Here they are sniping back and forth:
Next, I sent the feckless cease and desist letter to Fox News because I thought the intimidation of a journalist by a pair of partisan UVA and UWisconsin professors was noteworthy. Below is the conversation between the Fox producer, Gregg Re, and Tenenbaum.
I'm sending this email in my capacity as a news producer, not a lawyer.
I'm in receipt of your cease and desist to a journalist named Chris Brunet.
Please let me know when you're able to speak about this. It's a remarkable letter.
I have no information on whether Chris has a lawyer or not. I don't represent him and I don't know if anyone does. Nor do I represent Fox.
My interest in this story is that Chris Brunet has broken several significant stories on his Substack, including the publication of Lisa Cook's tenure packet and revealing the identity of an ASU student who was filmed in a viral incident harassing other students on the basis of skin color. Additionally, Chris Brunet has highlighted several other stories of national significance that were going under the radar, including the circumstances of Seth Smith's death.
Last night, Chris Brunet sent me the cease-and-desist letter that you apparently sent to his email address. The thrust of the letter is that Brunet's criticisms of alleged academic fraud "will not be tolerated," but there is very little in the way of response to the substance of his reporting.
I don't know all the details of what's alleged here (for instance, I do not know of an instance in which Chris Brunet threatened violence, as alleged in the letter), which is why talking to you might help. I also do not understand why it is unlawful, as the letter implies, for Brunet to suggest that others file ethical complaints in response to what he sees as research misconduct.
If there is any potential that a journalist (or Substack author) is being intimidated with the threat of legal action to avoid highlighting possible academic fraud at the highest levels, that would be a potential story for us. I mainly don't understand all these excuses to not investigate his complaint.
I am writing on behalf of my client the Midwest Political Science Association (“MPSA”) in connection with the cease-and-desist letter I sent to Chris Burnet on June 11, 2022. As you appear to be acting as a friend and representative of Chris’, I am cc’ing him on this message as well.
Instead of speaking this morning by telephone, in light of the complexity of the issues here, I thought it would be more productive and efficient to respond to your messages in writing.
First, you are correct that my letter contained several typographical errors. My apologies for that. Attached is an updated version of the letter, reflecting a correction of those typographical errors as well as several other tweaks to the letter.
Second, you state that “I mainly don't understand all these excuses to not investigate [Chris’] complaint.” This requires further explanation. Both MPSA’s American Journal of Political Science (“AJPS”) and its publisher Wiley subscribe to the publishing industry best practices, The Committee on Publication Ethics (“COPE”)’s Guidelines, in dealing with anonymous complaints like the one at issue here. See the COPE Anonymous Concern flowchart (https://publicationethics.org/files/respond-whistleblowers-concerns-cope-flowchart.pdf) and the COPE Anonymous Concern FAQs (https://publicationethics.org/files/u7141/whistle%20blowers_0_0.pdf). These Guidelines were applied thoughtfully and objectively in this situation by both AJPS and Wiley, and they both independently came to the same conclusion – that the alleged claims in the anonymous memo did not contain specific and detailed evidence to support the claim and were not verifiable without communication with the memo’s author (someone who remains unknown to my client).
AJPS’ concern about accepting an anonymous complaint is that, while they are open to concerns people might have about a published article, they cannot take submission of a complaint as evidence of its accuracy. AJPS’ editors occasionally have had people raise concerns with them about published articles. In accepting and following up on these complaints, AJPS’ editors have informed the authors that complaints have been raised and they have had independent third parties review the submitted “evidence” to determine whether it is accurate and/or credible or not. This requires the editors to be in contact with the person submitting the complaint, as there is typically a back and forth between the complainant and the editors over getting the complainant’s data and code. In doing this, they have kept the identity of the complainants confidential and have never revealed to an author who brought the complaint.
In this case, Chris made a couple of key false statements. First, by stating that AJPS’ editors told him they would only take a complaint from a “person with a Ph.D.” or from someone “who has tenure.” That is not true. What they told him is they will take a complaint from a person who is willing to work with them and share the data, code, and analysis they have done to form a complaint. Second, when Chris said, “They have the data. They have the code. They could do this analysis.” This is not accurate. While the data and code that Enos used to produce his article are publicly available, they reproduce the findings in the published article. All the editors have from the complainant is the anonymous memo; what they need are the materials that he/she used to produce the memo (the complainant’s data and code) to be able to analyze the allegations, but the memo’s author has not, to date, been willing to share any of those materials. They cannot assume he/she is correct simply because they submitted a complaint and they cannot verify the concerns without the complainant’s data and code.
Please note that the AJPS editors would be glad to engage in a fulsome, confidential discussion with the memo’s author – if he/she comes forward and presents the necessary supporting data – and conduct a full, frank, and objective analysis of the claims/complaints.
Finally, please note that my cease-and-desist letter related solely to Chris’ escalating and harassing behavior toward AJPS’ editors and editorial board. The letter did not in any way relate to Chris’ complaints about and positions with respect to the article at issue and the underlying academic research and data. Chris is free to articulate such positions as much as he wants and MPSA would never attempt to silence such comments (through legal action or otherwise). But his aggressive and harassing behavior toward AJPS’ editors and editorial board cannot be tolerated. Chris’ harassing posts included misogynistic and disparaging language and went so far as to encourage violence and retaliation against the AJPS editors and encouraged his readers to contact the editors’ places of employment, with the effect of dismantling their professional and personal lives. This is wholly inappropriate and unacceptable. That is the sole conduct to which my cease-and-desist letter related. Your comment that ”a journalist (or Substack author) is being intimidated with the threat of legal action to avoid highlighting possible academic fraud at the highest levels” is just simply and flatly untrue.
I hope and trust that this clears up any confusion that may have existed on your part and Chris’.
Man, this is just embarrassing.
The whole point of a cease and desist is a show of force. Legally, they have essentially no weight (at the margins, they can maybe cause more damages if someone ignores warnings, but this is not a case like that) and their big show of force has all these errors and THEY ADMIT TO IT AND APOLOGIZE.
Even funnier than his apologies for his typos, he then updated the letter with several tweaks to the substance… after being prodded that the substance was flawed. It wasn’t good enough the first time around, but I’m sure you nailed the letter on your second attempt, champ.
*playfully ruffles Tanenbaum’s remaining hair, gives him a noogie*
Oh wait did I just commit violence by joking about giving you a noogie? Nerd.
Thanks for the reply.
I still have outstanding questions. Is there a way we can speak by phone? Off-the-record is fine. I genuinely am not acting as Chris Brunet's representative. (I CC'd him on this email because you did).
I understand there is a vast political gulf between Chris Brunet, Fox News, and the professors involved in this story. Political disagreement is fine with me. What I don't understand is this threat of legal action. It seems totally meritless -- moreso after your latest email.
Please call within 48 hours.
We cannot talk by telephone. My email from this morning was very clear and speaks for itself. The cease-and-desist letter I sent to Chris related solely to his harassment of the AJPS editors and editorial board and my attempt to prevent it from recurring in the future – it had nothing whatsoever to do with Chris’ underlying claims and the complaint at issue. I have no views on any and was not writing in connection with any political disagreements, and the letter was not an attempt in any way to attempt to silence any underlying claims or contentions that Chris has about the 2015 AJPS-published article. Chris is free to pursue such claims and contentions so long as he does not harass any AJPS-connected individuals in the process; my client (MPSA) would never attempt to stop that.
But you haven't defined the unlawful harassment. This is now my third email asking about it. What is the unlawful harassment that prompted you to send this letter, which threatens to sue a journalist investigating academic fraud? If Brunet does not respond, what will you sue him for precisely? Explain it to me slowly, like I'm an NYU Law grad who couldn't hack it in biglaw. Seriously.
I don't care if we have to speak by carrier pigeon. I'm requesting a response within 48 hours because this is now a major story. Thanks.
This will be my last response this evening.
Two things to say. First, the letter was a cease-and-desist letter, not a promise-to-litigate letter. So long as Chris refrains from any further such harassment in the future, there will be no litigation brought by my client. I thought my letter was clear in that regard.
Second, while there are other examples from one-to-one emails sent by Chris, below are a couple of examples from his recent Karlstack posts.
I hope this helps.
This is getting hard to believe. You have just quoted me two passages from Brunet's Substack, without explaining what gives rise to a civil cause of action. You say they are not a promise to litigate, just a threat to litigate. OK! To be clear, I do not endorse those posts. I don't necessarily agree with them. But you are still threatening to take him to court over them!
So I will ask a fourth time: What makes you think you can threaten a Brunet, or any journalist, with a lawsuit over posts like this? You're the lawyer, in good standing with the bar. You should be able to explain this clearly. Instead, you are telling me you're responding to me anymore tonight, or that we can't speak by phone. It looks like you are trying to hide here. So many excuses.
Let's take the "trial by combat line" (juxtaposed with Game of Thrones memes, now that I look at it). What exactly is unlawful about that? Is there a claim that amounts to some sort of intentional infliction of emotional distress? What? I am asking in good faith, once again. You are refusing to answer. Why? Is there merit to the underlying accusations? That would make some sense of this.
Again, I'm welcome to talking about this anytime. On record, or off. In an alleyway, or on an airplane. I don't care. You are the one playing the games with threatening to sue, and hiding from emails and phone calls. I don't know if this is your call, or your client's. But someone needs to explain this.
I believe my client’s positions and their rationale have been made clear in previous emails to you as well as in the letter to Chris, which he shared with you.
First, my letter to Chris was a cease-and-desist letter, designed simply to address what appears to my client to be an escalating pattern of harassment. It is my client's sincere hope that the pattern does not continue and that no action is necessary. Please see my email of 13 June 2022 8:43 PM ET for an elaboration of the actions that prompted the letter.
Second, Chris is free to pursue claims and contentions about published articles, so long as he does not harass any AJPS-connected individuals in the process. As Chris has been told in the letter of 11 June 2022 , the AJPS follows well-established procedures, which mirror industry best practices as codified in the COPE Core Practices.
This email chain kills any suit against me.
I am confused why Tenenbaum even answered the Fox news producer at all… I guess he is just a retarded, balding little bitch boi who was afraid of being featured on the nightly news, so he panicked and choked on his own words. His admissions in these emails are just brutal. No defamation claim can survive this. It’s an admission it was pure intimidation.
Speaking of the COPE Core Practices, I read them, and here is my assessment:
They are so broad as to be deliberately useless
There are no firmly codified “rules” or “process” that dictate AJPS can’t investigate Enos’ fabricated dataset. Rather, AJPS is unethically interpreting and twisting this deliberately broad framework to make it seem like these rules exist.
I will chop off my left nut if Tenenbaum has read the COPE core practices himself
You see, Tenenbaum has a tendency to just lazily repeat whatever MPSA tells him to repeat. They say they follow the COPE guidelines, so he says they follow the COPE guidelines. They say there isn’t enough data or code to properly investigate, so he says there isn’t enough data or code to properly investigate.
Do you think the guy who was too lazy to proofread his cease and desist letter for typos actually did his due diligence and checked the code/data? It’s not like he has the technical skills to do this even if he wanted to — it is not as if the curriculum for Catholic University of America’s law school covers introductory statistics or introductory data science. He has no clue what he is talking about here — he is way out of his depth — so he is putting his trust in Dolan and Lawless. They lied to him about the data/code being insufficient to investigate, and so he in turn lied to me about the data/code being insufficient to investigate. Lawyers are NOT supposed to mindlessly parrot LIES by clients or things they SHOULD KNOW are lies. He is UNETHICAL.
Here is how I responded to his outrageous cease and demand letter.
I have yet to hear back from them after sending this email.
They are usually such prompt answerers.
Hauling them into court in Nova Scotia would be interesting.
That is the other thing that reveals their original C&D was a joke, they didn’t tell me to preserve docs/DM's etc… they are not serious. Well, guess what, shit just got serious. I didn’t want this fight — you started it with your letter!! — but I will see it through to the end. I don’t appreciate my free speech being frivolously threatened by affirmative action editors.
The Midwest Political Science Association defamed me to the #1 show on the #1 cable news network in America and statutory damages are substantial — even in absence of showing actual harm, you can’t defame people. When it’s malice, statutory damages alone are a lot.
I assume since I cc’d the in-house counsel for UWisconsin and UVA in my response, those adult lawyers are busy dressing down Dolan and Lawless for foolishly embarrassing their schools, and Tenenbaum for blindly enabling their tenuous grasp of the law.
Litigation would be a disaster for these schools — they absolutely do not want me to see their internal debates on anything. We both know they can’t stomach discovery.
There were 2700+ precincts in 2004 according to Chicago official data. Enos' data file has 1800+. Of those, ~20% have different turnout numbers (off by up to +/- 500) and/or Republican percent vote (off by up to +/- 25-30%). So he has ~50% of accurate official data in his dataset. The rest is missing or consists of nonexistent values. There are other issues as well; these are the most obvious ones that can be verified in 10-15 minutes, either by browsing official data directly, or using the code in the report. It's not rocket science.
There exists sufficient information to start an investigation into Enos. Period. This information has been vouched for by Dr. Steve Utych… and I would add that he doesn’t even like me.
Nor is he ideologically aligned with me… I don’t have a clue what his politicals are. He just happened to be the only guy in the entire PoliSci profession who had enough integrity to act on this open plea:
Poetically, Enos has built his Harvard career by stepping on non-Harvard people like Utych. Check out this quote tweet:
Ryan Enos @RyanDEnos"How local partisan context conditions prosocial behaviors: Mask wearing during COVID-19" newly published. We find that as the share of Republicans in a neighborhood increases, Republicans are increasingly unlikely to wear a mask to prevent COVID. 1/ https://t.co/Yc6lB8A2tm
The same people you meet on the way up, Enos, are the same ones you meet on the way down.
We all know that at worst Enos fabricated data, at best, he fatally fucked up his data and his results are wrong. Either way, AJPS knows that incorrect data is published in their journal. There is no need for me or anyone else to run any additional analyses. Enos owes the discipline an explanation of the irregularities in his data, and AJPS owed the discipline an investigation. If Enos and/or AJPS is not able to produce code that shows how to obtain his results starting from official data sources, the paper needs to be retracted. The onus is on Enos to show he didn’t fabricate his data, or at least that he committed an honest error.
This is out in the open now and can no longer be swept under the rug. Even those who don't understand R code can look at Enos' data file and official data in parallel, and understand that hundreds of precincts were either deleted or had turnout and/or vote values changed.
Rather than conduct this investigation as it should, AJPS chooses to bully journalists with legal threats. Well, they threatened the wrong journalist. I can keep dragging this out for years if I need to; there is no shortage of fraud and corruption in the Harvard department of government; nor is there any shortage of fraud/corruption/misconduct at the AJPS; nor at the MPSA. There seems to be phony data and fake code under every rock. I will keep flipping over those rocks with autistic determination, and I will not allow you to muzzle me with your tears.
In the battle of attrition between these midwit gender scholars and weaponized autism, onlookers would be wise to bet on the weaponized autism.
Ironically, the American Journal of Political Science doesn’t seem to be politically savvy enough to grasp is that we are not engaged in a battle for the facts or for the truth — I have already handily won this battle — rather, we are engaged in a battle to win the minds, hearts and brains of the Political Science profession.
Hundreds/thousands of political science professors are reading this article right now, and you can be sure that the vast majority of them are now downgrading AJPS. Every day that passes, AJPS slips further down the rankings. Every day that passes, the PoliSci profession is increasingly convinced that Ryan Enos engaged in research misconduct. Every day that passes, the PoliSci profession is increasingly convinced that Kathleen Dolan and Jen Lawless are complicit in covering up this research misconduct. It is only a matter of time until the AJPS replaces them as head editors. When that inevitably happens, they will only have themselves to blame.
Imagine at the peak of your career, having risen to be head of the top journal in the entire profession, and your professional legacy is defined by a spat you got into with a PSR troll — and you didn’t even win the spat. That is the legacy Kathleen Dolan and Jen Lawless deserve, and that is the legacy they will have earned unless they crack down on Ryan Enos’ fabricated data.
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************************************* BONUS **************************************
Ryan Enos frequently draws comparisons to Michael LaCour, who is perhaps the single most infamous case of data fabrication in social science.
He had his PhD revoked and Princeton AP job rescinded and went off the grid a few years ago, and nobody could figure out where he went. Well, I have an update on Michael LaCour, and it is stranger than fiction. After having his PhD revoked he changed his name to “Michael Jules” and has reemerged as an erotic singer.
This is your future, Ryan Enos. Take a long, cold hard look at it. You better start doing sit-ups and crunches.
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Here is a link to the Ryan Enos prediction market, where you can bet on the outcome of this research misconduct and fabricated data.
The market is currently pricing in a 41% chance that he will have a paper retracted before 2023.