As the number one purveyor of lies and propaganda for the Tea Party Right, Fox News can never rest. It has been reported, courtesy of MediaMatters.org, that the hostile web environment known as the “comments sections” are an important front in their fight to spread misinformation and deceit. Have you ever suspected that blog traffic sometimes involves stopping to pay trolls? According to David Folkenflik with NPR, this seems to be the case when it comes to Fox.
Folkenflik has released a new book, titled Murdoch’s World, in which he relays that Fox paid PR staffers to troll comments sections with pro-Fox diatribes in order to counter any negative or even neutral posts about the station. It was an elaborate ruse, which involved staffers creating dummy accounts (no pun intended) and stalking any and all blogs it could in order to clamp down on people telling the truth about Fox.
One staffer created one hundred such accounts, and used various access methods including wireless routers, multiple laptops, and even an AOL dial-up connection so that they could not be traced back to the network. According to Folkenflik’s source, no blog was too small for them to spam.
You would think that Fox would have plenty of viewers more than willing to carry their rancid water for them, and no doubt they do — just voluntary, unpaid fans. Since many of their ranks are addicted to CAPS LOCK and are loath to use spellcheck, perhaps Fox saw fit to get some favorable commentary out there that is at least semi-coherent. Averse to facts and logic, yes, but at least readable.
It is a wonder this story didn’t give itself away before Folkenflik’s book broke it open. Nothing says “paid troll” more than a somewhat cogent Fox News defender.
See an excerpt from the book below:
On the blogs, the fight was particularly fierce. Fox PR staffers were expected to counter not just negative and even neutral blog postings but the anti-Fox comments beneath them. One former staffer recalled using twenty different aliases to post pro-Fox rants. Another had one hundred. Several employees had to acquire a cell phone thumb drive to provide a wireless broadband connection that could not be traced back to a Fox News or News Corp account. Another used an AOL dial-up connection, even in the age of widespread broadband access, on the rationale it would be harder to pinpoint its origins. Old laptops were distributed for these cyber operations. Even blogs with minor followings were reviewed to ensure no claim went unchecked.