Hillary Clinton

Conservatives Really Want to Believe Hillary Clinton's Campaign Threatened a Comedy Club Owner

A thinly-sourced story about a rogue Clinton campaign staffer goes viral.


Last week, Reason received a tip from someone working in the social media

The narrative, it's always the narrative.

 department of the Los Angeles comedy club, The Laugh Factory, claiming:

We put up a video of our comedians talking about Hillary (Clinton) the other night. Lo and behold, a person from her camp contacted us to take it down. I think this is outrageous. Political correctness is infringing on nearly every facet of our daily lives. The comedy stage is a sanctuary for freedom of speech and the 1st Amendment no matter WHO is offended. This isn't Soviet Russia. 

This is a serious allegation, which if true would demonstrate both a chilling disregard for free speech and a shocking clumsiness on the part of the Clinton campaign. 

I reached out to Laugh Factory owner Jamie Masada (who according to his bio has won the NAACP Freedom Award, The Ellis Island Medal of Honor, and the ACLU Freedom of Speech Award) and asked who called him and what position did they claim to hold in the Clinton campaign.

Masada told me the caller's name was "John" and that he didn't remember the man's last name or what his role in the campaign was, but that "John" called the video "disgusting," asked "who put you up to this," and demanded that Masada remove it from Youtube. When asked how he could be sure this person was with the Clinton campaign, Masada said the man "sounded like a prominent person" and had asked for the contact info of all the comedians in the video. Masada says he refused and told "John" to "go fuck yourself," and hung up. 

I tried repeatedly to reach the Clinton campaign for comment or clarification of the accusation, but received no response.

The Laugh Factory has been pushing this story to a number of outlets (Debbie Schlussel's blog printed the exact same email tip Reason received). On Twitter yesterday, T. Becket Adams of the Washington Examiner confirmed that the Laugh Factory had reached out him as well. Adams writes, "I tried to run this story down. He (Masada) won't say who reportedly contacted him and he won't say why." 

But a number of sites (Mediaite, Hannity.comNewsbusters, The Blaze, The Daily Mail, The Daily CallerNational Review) have run with the story and all of them appear to have avoided any actual reporting or attempted any independent verification, but instead have relied on a single Judicial Watch blog post, which reports that Masada "did not want to identify" the identity of the alleged caller.

Perhaps it's Judicial Watch's choice of phrasing that has caused some confusion, but Adams also says Masada wouldn't say who called him, and not wanting to identify the caller is different than not remembering his name, which is what Masada told me. I reached out to Judicial Watch for clarification and was told, "The story stands."

Slate's Michelle Goldberg also spoke with Masada, who essentially told her the exact same thing he told me:

Masada told me that on Nov. 11, he got a call from a man named John—he doesn't remember the last name—who sounded "distinguished, like an attorney." John said he represented the Clinton campaign. He asked Masada "who had put him up" to posting the video. In a menacing voice, he told Masada, "This is not good for your business." John then asked for the email or phone numbers of the five comedians who were featured in the video. "I told him, 'Eff you,' and I hung up," says Masada.

How does Masada know that John was actually from the Clinton camp? He doesn't. "I'm glad I'm not in politics or any of that stuff; you might know more than I do," he says. "Maybe it was a prank, I have no idea. Was it real? Not real? I have no idea. He didn't call back, that's all I can say." Nor is Masada sure how Judicial Watch even heard about the call. "The way I understand it, it's because one of the [Laugh Factory] employees told a couple of people," he says.

To recap, 4 different people spoke with Masada, and he had at least 2 different explanations for why we don't know the identity of the caller. That doesn't mean the call didn't happen, and it also doesn't mean the call didn't come from someone with Clinton's campaign.

Goldberg lays out the probables pretty well here:

There are a few possibilities about what might have happened here. Maybe someone from Clinton's campaign really did think it was a good idea to call a major figure in the world of stand-up comedy and make empty threats over a short video. Maybe the caller was a random, overzealous Hillarybot. Maybe it was a practical joker. Or maybe it was a dirty trickster, who then took steps to send the story ricocheting through conservative media. 

Again, this story may be true, though Goldberg writes that the Clinton campaign has denied the call came from them. But it could also be true that conservative writers and websites may just want to believe this story at all costs because it fits perfectly into the narrative of Clinton as a humorless scold

However, if this exact story—single-sourced, unverified, lacking important details such as a last name or an official title—were published in a liberal or mainstream news outlet about say, Mitt Romney, it's safe to say there would be predictable howls from conservatives that basic journalistic standards went by the wayside in pursuit of a delicious story that fulfills the preferred narrative. A little healthy skepticism is never a bad thing. 

(UPDATE: Hillary Clinton's campaign replied via email but offered no comment other than referring me to Goldberg's Slate article, which includes a denial by the campaign.)

NEXT: Friday A/V Club: The Story of Hitler's England

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  1. You see, H&R, I’ve been trying to warn you to withhold judgment.

    “A little healthy skepticism is never a bad thing.”

    Absolutely! Now about that so-called moon landing…

    1. You just had to bring religion into it, didn’t you? 😉

      1. I’m making $86 an hour working from home. I was shocked when my neighbour told me she was averaging $95 but I see how it works now.I feel so much freedom now that I’m my own boss.go to this site home tab for more detai….


    2. There’s absolutely no evidence Neal Armstrong ever set foot in that Hollywood studio!

      /moon landing hoaxer truther

  2. False but accurate!!!!

  3. The reasons people are buying this is A) it is the same color smoke that she has been putting off for decades B) she and her party are not fans of the first amendment and C) they really hate the bitch and want it to be true.

    In my estimation is probably is true but since it is unverifiable we should keep it in mind but not flog it too much.

    1. Why not all three?

    2. Why not all three?

    3. Why not all three?

      (helping out Tman)

      1. Do I hear a four?

    4. …not flog it too much.


  4. Why doesn’t Congress just subpoena the comedy club’s phone records, and the records of anyone who has ever worked for the Clinton campaign, and the IP addresses of anyone who’s viewed the video? They have the power to compel testimony from anyone named John or any variation on John. This is about truth and accountability and ensuring that power isn’t abused. It’s absolutely 1000% not about screwing the Clintons by any means necessary!

    1. I say everyone… and I mean everyone should be put on a no fly list… just to be sure.

      1. I didn’t know you work at Amtrak!

    2. Or they could just ask the NSA for the records?

      1. Or, you know, the comedy club owner, who almost certainly has caller ID and could access the number pretty easily.

    3. Don’t forget the gag order. That’s as important as a secret ballot.

  5. Maybe the caller was a random, overzealous Hillarybot.

    This would be my guess. But regardless of whether you believe this incident is true or not, your opinion of Hillary Clinton and/or her people remains unchanged.

  6. A man named “John” ? Who sounded like an attorney ?
    Anyone here fit that description ?

    1. Yes! It could very well have been Episiarch.

      1. No way, Epi sounds more like he sells tires for a living. I’ve never heard anyone end so many sentences with “Knowum sayin?”

        My money’s on Pro Lib.

        1. I’ll put money on R C Dean.

          1. great minds and all that

        2. RC Dean done it!

          1. Nah. Too much like work. Plus, it would mean that I even knew these people existed, and had done a show mocking Hillary, neither of which I know or care about.

        3. Epi sells weed to middle school kids.

          1. Weed, baggies of oregano and grass clippings, whatever.

          2. I give them competitive prices you asshole!

        4. It’s DEFINITELY not Warty. Warty communicates mainly through smells and peeing.

    2. You guys never disappoint.

  7. Even if true, unless he made actual threats it’s not really a story.

  8. OT: Cracked demonstrates that ISIS is genuinely terrifying:


    1. I read that and was truly baffled that the author believes that this is somehow breaking news to US intelligence that ISIS and Iran don’t get along because “there’s some sort of disagreement between Sunnis and Shiites in the Muslim world”.

      Deep stuff, Cracked staff. Deep.

      I suggest sticking to the next “Ten Things your Orgasm Tells you about your manhood” article. It will be more informative.

        1. I saw that. And then there was the big to do at the Reddit AMA’s with “Jason Wong” – Cracked.com Editor Temporarily Banned from Reddit.

          Too bad, they were pretty funny for a while, especially back when Jay Pinkerton was writing for them. That dude is HILARIOUS.

          The Back O’ The Bible.

          Once you wade past the shallow end of the New Testament into the back half of the Old Testament, get ready: it turns out God’s a fucking lunatic, and He loves the taste of your blood. Old Testament God ain’t letting Himself get nailed to any crosses like some pussy; OT God wouldn’t spit on your balls if they were on fire. If He covers your eyes with boils to win a bet with Satan, consider yourself lucky He didn’t turn your city into a mushroom cloud for not praying to Him enough. Even a cursory reading of the Old Testament leaves only one conclusion: God is a total hardass, and if you step out of line He will most likely drop you in the time it takes most people to open a door.

          It can’t be too many more years before Christians get themselves a decent copy editor and start publishing the Bible with a quick paragraph about the Garden of Eden and Noah before seguing right to Jesus, thus bypassing a thousand pages of dense insanity completely. Until then, enjoy this candid look at the Bible’s backlog.

          1. That’s a shame. I loved Cracked there for a while, but it steadily got worse and worse. The GamerGate crying fit they had finally made me realize I couldn’t justify clicking them anymore. I liked Jason Wong’s non-pc articles, so it’s really sad to find out that he’s behind the decline of the site.

            Also, I now know what the image is of, so you don’t need to tell me.

            1. Had I read this comment before I posted below I wouldn’t have, but TOO LATE!

            2. I’m with Illocust. Although I still check the site occasionally, its much less often.

              And, as is inevitable after an infection by the proggy virus, its just not nearly as funny anymore. The quality is way down.

        2. While that screencap is particularly egregious, looking at the current homepage for Cracked, what I immediately come away with is:

          1. None of the page titles are funny nor do the topics sound remotely humorous
          2. … did no one tell them Buzzfeed already exists?

        3. What’s that a picture of? I can’t get on to imgur.

          1. It’s a comparison of the front page from Cracked in 2010 vs. 2015.

            2010- Funny stupid irreverent stories like “5 Most Insane Improvised Weapons (that were animals)”

            2015- PC Garbage SJW stories like- “5 Shocking Realities of Being Transgendered that The Media Ignores”

            Seems to track well with the downfall of college campuses.

            1. They still put out some pretty good videos on your youtube channel. The ongoing series “After Hours” has some really great episodes – just nice back and forth nerd banter – and generally very funny.

              1. *their* channel

      1. I feel the same, Tman. It seems 2014-ish is when Cracked drank a bunch of PC SJW progtard Kool-Aid.

        Some of their stuff is still pretty funny. I like the listicles where they try getting smashed on drinks from TV shows. Some of those drinks are pretty good. Some are pretty wretched.

  9. Sounds like some lowly volunteer got overzealous in trying to police Hillary’s image. I doubt her main staff had anymore to do with this than the whole Vermonticut thing with Carson yesterday.

    The reason this is picking up steam by the way is because it both taps into the wider story of censorship going on on college campuses right now and it has a non-interested third party willing to verify its truth. There is no question of if the call was made. There is only a question of who made it.

    1. Smells of a false flag operation. How widely would those videos have been seen or discussed if the call hadn’t been made. Who’s to say the club owner didn’t just make it up to get attention for the club and out those crazy HRC hating Republicans?

      1. Slate didn’t accuse the club owner of making it up, so it’s unlikely he has a history of supporting republicans or hoax based PR stunts. They are way to in the bag for Hillary to allow that sort of thing to slip by, so odds are in favor of the call being made.

        False flag implies a group of people with some pre-existing organization deciding to perpetuate a hoax to discredit their opposition. While possible it unlikely due to timing. There is too much else going on for this to be a good time for such an operation. Also, its a little low scale for a false flag operation. A single phone call to one individual with no follow up to the club or other venues doesn’t make for a good scandal. It’s too easy to deny and sweep under the rug.

        Lone nut hoax is possible, but you’ve got to ask why. They’d have to be put together enough to pull it off believably which implies enough sense to have the same timing issue as above.

        Random Hill supporter with a phone is much more likely. Unlikely to be sanctioned by upper management of campaign, but wouldn’t be surprised if a phone bank volunteer. This sort of thing implies passion, which is likely to show up in more than one way.

        1. The other thing that makes it being a false flag unlikely: this guy operates in a world that is mostly progressive. If it was a false flag and he sniffed it out, whoever ran it would run the risk of it backfiring in a very major way. The risk is not worth the reward.

          It likely happened. It was likely an overzealous supporter or campaign staffer that thought they could pressure somebody into bending to their will. And it is likely that it happens all the fucking time with major campaigns, albeit with softer pr sure than is alleged to have occurred here.

        2. Back when the LP backed its own candidates, the only time libertarians gave a damn what the GOP and Dems were saying about each other was at every opportunity to get voters to remember those things at the polls and vote for us. The LP has soldiered on, heedless of Nixon’s suicide vest revenge legislation using tax dollars to subsidize the looter parties that destroyed the economy and enslaved and murdered on his watch. So… why the surprise at another hoax?

          OF COURSE the looters will lie to get into position to steal! Why do you think we call them looters?

  10. Well, I also heard that Trump just said he wants to register all Moozlimz except he didn’t but everyone hates Trump and it sounds truthy since he’s teh racist which is a lot like this sort of so I guess it depends whose Gore is being oxed, eh?

    1. You know, I kind of walked away with the same impression. Reason runs stories on H&R all the time that just have an accusation. Why is it all of a sudden insisting a story isn’t worthwhile unless it’s been proven beyond the shadow of a doubt?

      1. Why is it all of a sudden insisting a story isn’t worthwhile unless it’s been proven beyond the shadow of a doubt?

        The sinister COZMO cabal, Bill, you’ve fallen victim to the sinister COZMO cabal.

        1. Except that doesn’t really address my question. Sorry, but the standard they’re pushing in this article to run a bad story about Hillary Clinton is roughly the equivalent to the standard Dunphy would demand to run a bad story about cops.

          1. Maybe no one is responding to your questions because it doesn’t make any sense. They *are* running the story, why are you complaining that they are also making the factually true point that the story’s main accusations are unsubstantiated?

            1. Actually, no, they’re running a story about the coverage of the story. Sorry if that’s too subtle a point for you.

              1. OK, so you’re saying they should have embarrassed themselves by uncritically parroting the story without looking into it or questioning the claims?

  11. If it’s a hoax it’s not a bad one. Given Hillary’s imperious attitude it’s fairly easy to believe.

    I also find it easy to believe that it could have just been a supporter. Some of them are pretty hardcore, and will brook no criticism of their heroine.

    1. I looks like class-A rat-fucking right out of Nixon’s playbook. But I can’t imagine any of the current republican candidates smart enough or ballsy enough to do it.

      1. That sort of thing is really not necessary any more. The populations have gotten so big and the requirements to pull off a hoax have gotten so low that all campaigns need to do is wait. Let some lone nut who can’t be traced do the deed, then you just give it advertising.

  12. “Who shall rid me of this troublesome comedy club?!”

  13. Laughs shouldn’t be made in a factory. They should be organically grown and authentically, sacredly shaped by indigenous indigent craftsfolk.

    1. Laughs should be treated like Syrian refugees. They should go through an intense vetting process before being let into our ears.

      1. “Why these refugees are trying to get into my ears, i’ll never know.”

        1. Aural sex?

        2. He didn’t mean “…our ears” he meant to say “…our rears”. Syrian refugees with an affinity for anal rape are no laughing matter

          1. We should definitely make sure that’s part of the vetting process. It’s bad enough that STEVE SMITH is native.

  14. The amount of evidence supporting this story is more than sufficient to force university presidents all over the country to resign.

  15. NSA you so crazy


  16. You know it’s funny– or maybe it’s not so funny– how many of these ‘viral’ type political stories are thinly sourced.

  17. if this exact story…were published in a liberal or mainstream news outlet about say, Mitt Romney, it’s safe to say there would be predictable howls from conservatives that basic journalistic standards went by the wayside in pursuit of a delicious story that fulfills the preferred narrative.

    It is also safe to say every liberal media organization would be tossing whatever whisper of journalistic standards they still possess by the wayside and repeating the store at the top of every hour, above every fold and on the cover of every three-ring binder.

    1. Something, something, homophobic slurs at boarding school!

      (WaPo’s sole source was the alleged victim)

    2. I wonder how many times news organizations have retailed the “I can see Russia from my house” as something Sarah Palin actually said. And that wasn’t even a hoax.

      1. I wonder how many times news organizations have retailed the “I can see Russia from my house” as something Sarah Palin actually said. And that wasn’t even a hoax.

        That always irritated me, even though I am not a big Palin fan. There are places in Alaska where you can see Russia, and if it wasn’t for the Border Guards, you could qayaq or dogsled over.

        1. cf. also Bush’s photo op and speech around “Mission Accomplished” vs. OBama’s “ISIL is contained”.

          Both true in their actual context [the carrier’s mission was done, ISIL was/is contained on the ground in Iraq in context of the statement].

          Both taken as Obviously False Comically Stupid Lies by the other side, and will be believed as gospel until they die of old age.

  18. her record before this speaks for itself. enemies list, threatening or pressuring ABC, getting a movie banned, and sending a different movie maker to jail. she’s 1A piece of shit regardless of whether it happened again.

  19. Hillary 2016

    comedy club report to the woodchipper

  20. The story may be very well be much ado about very little. On the other hand, after Clinton’s denial about things like her e-mail server should a denial about something by her carry any weight?

    1. Negative weight, perhaps – the more vehement the denial, the more likely it actually happened.

  21. lol US POlitics, best politics money can buy!


  22. If conservatives decide they want to believe it, they’ll believe it, and Reason can do nothing about it. The whole point of mindless religious fanaticism is that it frees the mind from the tyranny of factual knowledge and formal reasoning. If the Billy Graham Crusade says altruism is not evil, then it isn’t. If Jimmy Swaggart says a pregnant woman has no individual rights, she doesn’t. If the Landover Baptist Church says that merry-jew-wanna and LDS will mutate your kids into bug-eyed monsters, that makes it true, Q.E.D., ipso facto and Res Ipsa Loquitur.

  23. This is why the ‘conservative alt media’ is a bust: they are just a low-budget version of their liberal MSM nemeses.

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