There is no reason for any of us to know who Ethan Czahor is. You do, though: He was, until Tuesday, the "chief technology officer" for the political action committee formed by former Florida governor Jeb Bush as a way to plant a flag for his 2016 presidential bid. And the reason you know who Czahor is is embedded in the previous sentence: 2016.
On Monday afternoon, Time's Zeke Miller spotted Czahor's apparent hire, the evidence of which appears mostly to have been that Czahor's LinkedIn profile had been updated with his new position. Within minutes of that news breaking, Marcy Stech of Emily's List pointed to a tweet from Czahor about how he'd like to have sex with Lindsay Lohan before the actress dies. That tweet has been deleted -- along with other tweets that referred to sluts and made generally terrible jokes.
Now, an admission. After Stech's tweet, I poked around in Czahor's Twitter feed, most of which predated his time as co-founder of Hipster.com -- the main work experience cited in articles about his hire. I saw the tweets that were soon called out by BuzzFeed's Andrew Kaczynski, but figured, this is a staff hire for a PAC who said gross, bro-y things four years ago. So I skipped it. I failed to account for two things. First, that my perception of his jokes as bro-y was likely very different from how a woman would view them. And, second, that in a relative vacuum of news about the 2016 election, even a small spark can create an inferno of interest.
The Huffington Post got the big prize in this weird contest, finding old blog posts of Czahor's from his college days, in which he disparages Martin Luther King Jr. and makes pretty overtly racist comments. At Bloomberg News, Dave Weigel suggests that Czahor's brashness from six years ago was not particularly out of place for his cultural space, but that's no excuse for having crossed the line from making an edgy joke to saying obnoxious things to get a reaction. (By the way, it's always worth remembering Jay Smooth's admonition about differentiating between being and sounding racist.)
I've written in the past about how time is flat on the Web; that it's hard to embed words you read online in any moment but the present. Czahor's tweets had a little "2011" in the corner showing when he tweeted them, but they appeared at Twitter.com looking just as fresh and new as if he'd written them today. We've all done and said horrible stupid things (right?); immortalizing them online means that we carry them with us indefinitely and that they will be seen as part of who we are now. Czahor says he has changed. In the six years since college, it seems hard to believe he hasn't. But there were those tweets, and there were those blog posts.
And there they were on a day on which we all were poking around to figure out who the next president might be. From a tech standpoint, Czahor's experience was not terribly impressive; I'm pretty Web-savvy (I like to think) and I barely remembered that Hipster.com ever existed. In another time or even at another moment in the campaign, it's possible that people would have skipped the Czahor story because, really, what does it tell us about Jeb Bush?
It's justifiable that we expect our political candidates to have never said gross, inappropriate or borderline-racist things, though we do give them a pass on some things that happened in their youth. It's a bit weird that we expect as thorough a vetting of every top-level hire; it's impossible that we should expect it of everyone even casually linked to the candidate. Every election cycle is a cottage industry of finding supporters of candidates who are willing to say stupid things in front of a camera. (Take, for example, James O'Keefe's "gotcha" on Alison Lundergan Grimes in 2014.) What this article presupposes is: Maybe there shouldn't be?
Or maybe this is just how the world is now. Jerk says jerky thing; years on, jerky thing costs reformed jerk a job. Maybe cleansing your past is as important as polishing your resume; maybe we should adopt the joking suggestion of Google's Eric Schmidt and let people erase their online activity before age 18. (Czahor would probably argue for a higher age limit.) Probably, though, in a country that's increasingly partisan and about to elect a new leader, the scouring is unavoidable, however silly it might be.
When that scouring yields results, and when there's not much else going on to serve as a distraction? Ladies and gentlemen, meet Ethan Czahor, who will soon fade back into sufficient obscurity that even the most thoroughly versed trivia enthusiasts will not be able to summon his name by the time the next president is up for reelection.