I’ve been talking about the phenomenon and infighting of liberal clickbait media sites for nearly 5 years. Prior to the 2012 elections, a number of liberal trolls, myself included, belonged to various secret Facebook groups where we coordinated troll campaigns on Mitt Romney’s campaign Facebook page.
We also did things like cross-promote each other’s pages and websites. We took screenshots of our witty trolling on Sarah Palin’s Facebook page, created memes, and some of us launched our writing careers from there. This alliance was already fraught with internal divisions, and personal vendettas – including my own seething hatred for Addicting Info.
Not long after the election was over, I was asked by one owner of Forward Progressives, “Thomas Barr”, to write for Politicususa – a site that he was being paid to promote on his various Facebook pages like One Million Strong Against Mitt Romney. That gig was very short-lived, I was not paid for any work, and before long, I was asked to become a “founder” of Forward Progressives where I wrote for nearly 3 years.
Forward Progressives initially portrayed itself as a counter to sites like Addicting Info, Liberal America, and others like them. In Facebook messages and emails, I was asked by “Thomas Barr” to do whatever I could behind the scenes to take down the competition, by whatever means necessary. Because I already despised those sites, it wasn’t hard to convince me to do so, which is why I believe I was brought on in the first place. The writers were also instructed to join as many liberal Facebook groups as possible in order to post their links, which would increase traffic to Forward Progressives.
In January of last year, I was suddenly removed from Forward Progressives and their related Facebook pages like Jon Stewart Fans because of what I was asked to, waging war on those sites. Myself and other people who spoke out against Addicting Info and Occupy Democrats were quickly dumped. I had already prepared Modern Liberals because I saw that my work had taken a far back seat to the angry rants of “Allen Clifton” and other writers weren’t being given the same exposure as he was.
Through a little research and some inside information, I learned that the owners of Occupy Democrats and Addicting Info had threatened to make life hell for “Thomas Barr” and “Logan White.” Thomas Clay, Jr of American News X and others had apparently promised to doxx them, if I wasn’t silenced on that site and removed. American News X had already published a libelous article claiming that Forward Progressives was owned by a Tea Party operative, an assertion that was never retracted.
After I was removed, most of the articles critical of those sites were scrubbed from Forward Progressives, and I was offered $400 to sign a non-disclosure agreement which would prohibit me from discussing any of their business matters. Naturally, I laughed at the offer. Not only was that amount offered for three years of work less than I could win at a local poker room, but I’m also not someone who can be paid to shut up.
Since then, I’ve continued to be the target of random attacks by American News X and other sites like them, as have other people like Ed Brayton from Patheos who wrote an article critical of fake news on the left.
During the past few months, I’ve also been attacked by “Bill Palmer” who is the owner of Daily News Bin and Palmer Report for criticizing his “journalism” and claiming to be a reporter. The blogger from Jenn’s A Little Loopy was also attacked by Palmer and his cult of personality for the same reasons. Bill Palmer apparently has a fear of confronting other men directly, although he has no problem sending threatening messages to Facebook profiles that appear to be female.
The liberal clickbait phenomenon has been talked about for years, often in hushed tones in secret groups for fear of reprisal. Whenever anything is published critical of them, the owners of those sites will show up in the comments trying to justify their business practices which basically boil down to rewriting a real news story, adding a hyperbolic headline, and then spamming them across every platform that they can. These sites have wormed their way into many Facebook pages, including the AFL-CIO and other legitimate political causes.
One example is a page called “Honoring Jimmy Carter” which was originally created when it seemed that President Carter would succumb to cancer. It was created by Leslie Salzillo, a blogger at Daily Kos. That page is still active, and used to drive traffic to Daily Kos and promote her work.
Yesterday, I was informed that I was mentioned on Buzzfeed. The article discusses some of the feuds between these site owners which have escalated to lawsuits over traffic and resulting five-figure monthly ad revenues.
Since Trump’s election, social engagement and revenue for liberal sites has been growing at impressive rates, publishers tell BuzzFeed News. That’s in contrast to last year, when conservative sites racked up big growth thanks to a steady diet of anti-Hillary and anti-Obama content. With Trump in power, liberal publishers have an enemy to go after every day who gets their audience riled up.
“I don’t know one progressive news site that hasn’t seen an increase in traffic since Trump’s been elected,” Roxanne Cooper, the publisher of liberal news site Raw Story, told BuzzFeed News.
Willis of Liberal America says her site currently receives between 3 and 5 million visitors per month and that she makes between $30,000 and 50,000 in monthly ad revenue. Her site went from a hobby to a full-time job. (Buzzfeed)
Tiffany Willis has disliked me for years. We have never worked together, but I drew her ire for reporting her page for copyright infringement when she used an image I had created without attribution. When the image was removed, she angrily messaged me and said that I was taking food out of her children’s mouths. Ms. Willis, to the best of my knowledge, does not have any minor children. At that time, she and Dan Simpson (who now works for the Addicting Info affiliate Reverb Press) went ahead and posted the image again, and dared me to file a copyright suit against them.
In other words, just like my original blog quoted by Buzzfeed about Matthew Desmond (or whatever he’s calling himself these days), I was being asked to sit down and shut up while other people monetized my work without credit.
It is true that I make money monthly from my blog, just like all of the other sites mentioned. While they make thousands of dollars monthly, I probably make about $300 in a good period, and I’m perfectly OK with that. What I don’t do is rip off other people’s work and pretend it is my original content. Modern Liberals does not pass itself off as a news source, and I regularly post other people’s links, along with legitimate news sources, without demanding compensation in exchange. We label our satire as such, and provide proper credit to anyone we quote.
Outrage and hyperbole sells, while real issues are being pushed to the back or being repackaged for profit. According to a number of moderators at Reddit, sites such as Addicting Info have been banned from various subs (or the site entirely) for manipulating Reddit, or threatening other users. Raw Story was apparently banned from /r/politics for rehosting other news stories, and Roxanne Cooper allegedly threatened those moderators with a lawsuit for doing so. Both Occupy Democrats and Addicting Info were also banned for violating site rules, one of which I was told involved doxxing a competitor for criticizing them.
The liberal fake news problem is one we can all work against, and it starts by refusing to share any of their links. Just like Sleeping Giants has waged a war against Breitbart by targeting their advertisers, we can do the same to liberal clickbait.
This is a nasty and dirty game I have been fighting for years. To quote Jenn, “When someone tells me to sit down and shut up, I yell more loudly.” And I don’t intend to stop, despite threats of doxxing or Ddos attacks on my site.
***UPDATE*** I’ve already drawn the ire of Thomas Clay from American News X. See below.