Saturday, November 11, 2006

Steve Janke: The "Beamer" of our time.

In the 1977 episode "Beamer's Last Case" of the series "The Rockford Files" starring James Garner as private detective Jim Rockford:

After taking a vacation Jim returns home to find his trailer lived in, his car smashed, his clothes worn, and money spent on his charge cards. What is worse; someone is going around town posing as 'Jim Rockford' and taking dangerous cases which need solving!

The "someone" turns out to be Fred Beamer, a geeky mechanic's gopher at the garage where Rockford takes his car who desperately wants to be an important someone and who takes advantage of Rockford's absence to take his car, then spends the next several days running around playing junior detective, all the while passing himself off as Jim and getting Jim in just a buttload of trouble. Sound like anyone you know?

Meet Steve Janke.

Back here, I asked (in all seriousness) whether there were any Blogging Tories that were even remotely worth reading. Robert over at MyBlahg picked up on that, which prompted a slew of comments there, one of which suggested that the eJankulator sometimes produced "real" research if, by "real research," you mean more about Cindy Sheehan's menstrual cycles than you ever wanted to know.

Now, having read Janke's meticulous investigation into Sheehan's gynecological issues, one can certainly appreciate that Janke is unquestionably a thorough investigator, while at the same time wondering what the fuck it was about that story that so obsessed him. I mean, it's one thing to want to get to the bottom of a story, but it's quite another to wonder why anyone is so frighteningly attracted to that story in the first place. And it doesn't end there.

Another commenter in that thread writes of Janke:

Mr. Janke very much does not admit when he’s wrong. Take his most recent posts about the disappearance of Ms. Eva Ho.

As for the Yasmin Ashareh “story” thread, his “research” was conducted under false pretenses that were quickly sniffed out by his interviewees.

And it's following that second link that very quickly starts to creep you out something fierce.

Apparently, Janke is (for no really apparent reason that I can see) absolutely obsessed with the death of one Yasmin Ashareh, and is determined to play junior investigator, as he opens that thread (emphasis added):

... If anyone has any information, either personally or through friends and family in Canada or Somalia who know the Ashareh family, please contact me at In particular, I would like to know who Yasmin's father is, the circumstances of his return to Somalia, whether Yasmin was born in Canada or Somalia, and any other family or clan background.

I am a freelance reporter in Toronto trying to piece together the truth behind this killing.

Um ... a "freelance reporter?" Since when do fourth-tier right-wing hacks from Open Bathrobe Media start passing themselves off as reporters? But that's OK, because Steve ends up posting such suspicious idiocy that readers figure out, in short order, that something is very wrong here:

dalmare: I do not think that you are a journalist but a Toronto police offier [sic] trying hard. Who else would be interested about the death of a poor black girl in Toronto.

Responds the eJankulator:

I'm flattered that you think I'm a police officer, but I assure you I am not. Actually, I'm an engineer who does investigative reporting on the side...

I'm just trying to establish some level of credibility.

And, suddenly, Janke's no longer a "freelance reporter," he's just an engineer who gets his kicks playing Junior Investigative Journalist in his spare time, which pretty much opens the floodgates of scorn aimed in his direction:

dont talk to this guy ... again he is a lawyer for imona russel fishing for some defence for his client! ...

This one smells bad to me folks. If he was a journalist do you think he would come to to find out about this girl? He could just go to Somali community offices all over this city, and believe me there are plenty of them around there. But perhaps he thinks he can find better info that those in the community offices would release to him online.

If you know any more info about the family of our late deceased sister don't give him this guy. I am a social scientist who knows exactly how men and women in his "profession" work...

Awrliqe Good Job. You figured out that Steve was trying to paint the murder of Yasmine as honor killing. “Qataal Sharaf”. Awrliqe, you are always one step ahead of everybody. Alaa yacisak Reer OOGO

As far as I know we do not practice “honor killing” in Somali society. We are not Pakistanis!

Oh, yes, those readers nailed Steve's motivation nicely, didn't they? And the upshot? Well, we don't call him the "Premature eJankulator" for nothing, as we can see how quickly Steve ends up backpedaling here regarding the Eva Ho story:

Hopefully the Sing Tao can sort this out. It's important, because the true circumstances of Eve's disappearance might be very grim indeed, but utterly unrelated to the problem of online predators ...

No more information on Philip Ho Sing Sit is available on the web as far as I can tell. All we know that a few days after Philip's remains were found, three of his friends went missing, including Eve.

As far as we know, that is all the police know as well.

In short, Steve appears to have squat in the way of actual facts, but it doesn't stop him from jumping all over this story and sensationalizing it based on the flimsiest of conjecture. Which inspires the obvious question: What the fuck is driving Steve Janke? And the answer, as I'm sure you've already guessed, is obvious.

Steve really, really, really badly wants to be a legitimate investigative journalist. My God, but what he wouldn't give to break a real story, and see his name on the front page as the super-sleuth who got to the bottom of the case. He fancies himself as Jim Rockford when, in fact, he's Fred Beamer, bumbling around, passing himself off as a freelancer and, in general, fucking up everything he touches, after which he writes lurid pieces with appropriately salacious details but with an Adam Daifallah-like absence of content.

I could go on, but there's really not much point. It's not that I think Janke is too clueless to take seriously -- it's that I think he's dangerously irresponsible. So while I don't think Janke is even remotely worth reading based on his actual production, I think he's worth keeping an eye on based simply on the damage he seems capable of causing. And frankly, if he keeps up this sort of sensationalistic rubbish, I'm betting it's only a matter of time before he finds himself on the business end of a defamation suit of some kind.

And that I'd be willing to blog about.

: I realize I should let this go, but there's still some free entertainment to be extracted from this. At that original extended thread regarding Yasmin, one commenter apparently uses one of Steve's own articles to question his credibility.

That article of Steve's can be found here, and opens thusly (and, as you read this excerpt, do not follow the links yet):

The investigation of the murder of Yasmin Ashareh continues. A man, William Imona-Russel, has been arrested. My original theory that Yasmin might have been the victim of an honour killing seems to have been discredited.

So, quite clearly, Janke first proposed that this was an honour killing, then had to retract when it became obvious he was just blowing smoke. But that's not the best part. The best part is when you see where those four hyperlinks go. Check them out. Go ahead.

That's right -- every single one of them points back to one of Steve's blog posts. Apparently, Steve's idea of investigative journalism is, quite simply, to quote himself. If that isn't hermetically-sealed wankeritude of the highest order, I don't know what is.

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