One of my fellow writers has been asking me to take on the political blog The Palmer Report for the past couple of days. It’s a website with links that have been forwarded to me by a number of people, asking if their story on the Wisconsin recount was real. Spoiler alert: it’s not anything other than hearsay evidence and speculation, which no real journalist would report as being factual.
So as I’m piecing together how I would approach this subject, an acquaintance of mine who writes for Snopes took that Wisconsin story apart. Then a fellow skeptic shared this blog from “Jensalittleloopy” that took everything I wanted to say, and did it ten times better than I could ever hope to do.
Here’s an important excerpt from her evisceration of The Palmer Report and its owner, which I believe everyone should read in its entirety.
“Articles on Palmer Report and Daily News Bin contain deliberately misleading headlines. Those headlines and the claims made in the articles tend not to be supported by the sources cited in the article. So, they are opinion pieces, not news articles. This would be fine if they were clearly labeled as editorial content, but they aren’t.
There’s no indication that an editorial process in place, nor does Palmer appear to independently gather facts from primary sources. I’m not saying he doesn’t have an editorial process, but rather there is no evidence of one. To illustrate this point, compare the “Facts about Daily News Bin” to NPR’s ethics and standards.
Social proof is not evidence of quality or value. It is not evidence of anything other than “I wrote a thing and someone clicked and shared it.” Palmer is masterful at creating clickbait-type headlines and building communities – which lead to the social proof he points to as evidence of his credibility. Having articles shared by political figures, celebrities, and other news sites is evidence of nothing but the share itself. Again, all of this would be fine if he were honest about who he is – a political blogger.” (Source)
The predecessor to The Palmer Report, Daily News Bin spent its time trashing Bernie Sanders and fawning all over Hillary Clinton as if she was the second coming of Christ himself. That is not what a journalist does, that’s the modus operandi of a political blogger who seeks to cash in on an election season and pit supporters of different candidates against each other to further that ad revenue flow.
I have firsthand experience with this stemming from my days writing for Forward Progressives where “Allen Clifton” happily bashed Bernie Sanders every chance he got, just like H.A. Goodman wrote one preposterous article after another fawning over Bernie in a way that made supporters like myself cringe. Oh yeah, and then there was this Reddit AMA where Goodman’s Q&A session turned into a train wreck of both liberals and conservatives joining together to mock him.
“What’s the big deal? If you don’t like a website, don’t read it! I don’t understand why you go out of your way to criticize other liberal sites! Why don’t you deal with Fox News and Infowars instead of bashing people on OUR side? You’re just jealous because sites like Occupy Democrats are much more popular than you are!”
These are just a few of the criticisms I’ve received over the past few years, and these are the mild ones which do not include threats of lawsuits or physical harm to myself or my family. Why do skeptics and fact checkers continue to speak out against inaccuracies and outright falsehoods, because we believe it is our mission to educate the public, especially after an election cycle where conspiracies and fake news stories outperformed legitimate articles.
Ad revenue is the lifeblood of websites, including this one. Some individuals have even managed to quit their day jobs and work from home producing quality content, but individuals like the owner of The Palmer Report tend to collect a check every month peddling exaggerated stories, conspiracy blogs, and trying to milk every last bit of hope out of Americans desperate to stop Donald Trump from becoming president. Currently, Mr. Palmer is complaining about being on a list of fake news sites, even though The Palmer Report and Daily News Bin are sensationalist blogs posing as news, and he’s definitely not a reporter as he likes to claim.
Legitimate websites and respected bloggers don’t throw around the words of libel towards their critics. They certainly don’t hire individuals to cyberstalk and bully their detractors, nor do they descend like a horde of screeching locusts on every blog that casts doubts on their credibility.
There’s no shame in being a blogger. Honest opinions and analysis of current events are a vital part of politics, but there is a difference between blogging and reporting, between satire and fake news. This isn’t the sports or entertainment industry, politics affects each and everyone of us as we’ve witnessed with the election of Donald Trump.
Sadly, I believe that individuals like Bill Palmer are far more interested in personal profit than providing accurate information. As much as they loved to shit on Bernie Sanders and his supporters, along with perpetuating political myths, it’s entirely plausible that this was a contributing factor to Trump’s victory. We deserve better media than this, we need better media than The Palmer Report if we want to claim liberals are better informed than conservatives.
***UPDATE*** We just received this from a person who was in a group run by Bill Palmer and asked a question about this article. Here is how he responded to them, and then followed up on Facebook messenger.