Friday, March 11, 2011

The Right Wing Consists Entirely of Cheaters

From Thom Hartmann:

Beside screwing with EPA regulations – meddling in Wisconsin – and courting Supreme Court Justices - what else are the Koch brothers up to now? Try rewriting Wikipedia. ThinkProgress has uncovered evidence that the Koch’s employed a PR firm to act as a “sockpuppet” for them on websites.

A “sockpuppet” is Internet lingo to refer to someone who creates a fake online identity to hype up himself or herself or a company they work for on message boards or social networking sites. If a sockpuppet is found out – it usually leads to the person’s account being disabled. The Koch’s “sockpuppet” edited their several Wikipedia pages to remove any references to the Tea Party – hype up George Soros conspiracy theories – and delete any citations to progressive media outlets – essentially scrubbing the Internet of any potentially embarrassing or damning facts about the Kochs.

The Kochs have contracted with dozens of PR firms – they are BILLIONAIRES – to ensure their political agenda is kept under wraps. But thanks to some great reporting nowadays – these guys aren’t in the shadows anymore.

ThinkProgress fills us in on the details:

Last year, Koch Industries began employing New Media Strategies (NMS), an Internet PR firm that specializes in “word-of-mouth marketing” for major corporations including Coca-Cola, Burger King, AT&T, Dodge and Ford. It appears that, ever since the NMS contract was inked with Koch, an NMS employee began editing the Wikipedia page for “Charles Koch,” “David Koch,” “Political activities of the Koch family,” and “The Science of Success” (a book written by Charles). Under the moniker of “MBMAdmirer,” NMS employees edited Wikipedia articles to distance the Koch family from the Tea Party movement, to provide baseless comparisons between Koch and conspiracy theories surrounding George Soros, and to generally delete citations to liberal news outlets. After administrators flagged the MBMAdmirer account as a “sock puppet” — one of many fake accounts used to manipulate new media sites — a subsequent sock puppet investigation found that MBMAdmirer is connected to a number of dummy accounts and ones owned by NMS employees like Jeff Taylor.

But New Media Strategies isn't the only PR firm engaged in this type of deception. As George Monbiot reported in the Guardian, a PR firm called the Bivings Group specializes in "internet lobbying," which is corporate-speak for creating false consensus. And the Bivings Group wasn't content to post inaccurate Wikipedia entries; they actually sought to ruin the reputation of a scientist named Ignacio Chapela, whose research found fault with Monsanto's patented "Roundup Ready" crops. Of course, as we learned last month, thanks to the efforts of Anonymous, The Bivings Group isn't the only PR firm employed by Monsanto to game the system.

Back in 2001, the PBS programs FRONTLINE and NOVA teamed up to address the question of genetically modified crops in a segment entitled Harvest of Fear. Their extremely balanced approach included a 12-part questionnaire designed to offer valid "for" and "against" arguments regarding the use of genetically engineered crops. Readers were encouraged to view all 12 arguments -- six "for" and six "against" -- and then cast a final vote on where they stand. However, the site administrators for the questionnaire were forced to suspend the final vote and tallying options of the questionnaire because:

"In late May 2004, thanks in part to the vigilance of several outside readers who phoned in, we discovered that some person or persons had tampered with this feature's tally. Specifically, on May 16-17, 1,540,016 'Yes' votes and 33,641 'No' votes were cast via just four IP addresses. (Prior to May 16, a total of roughly 124,000 votes of any kind had been cast since the feature launched in April 2001.)

"Deeming the credibility of the tally to have been compromised, we made this page unavailable for several days while we decided how best to address this problem. In the end, we threw out these suspicious votes and recalculated the remaining response numbers and percentages. Then we did a more thorough scouring of votes from before May 2004.

"It appears that a lesser degree of multiple voting has been going on for some time, so we have decided to temporarily remove the final vote and tallying options from this feature until we can put a more secure system in place. The feature itself remains unchanged, and we encourage you to challenge your stance on GM foods by reading it. We apologize for any inconvenience, and we appreciate your readership."—The Editors

I wonder if it was The Bivings Group that was behind the fraudulent voting.

This type of online cheating has become legion. Remember last year's story about right-wingers "down voting" progressive stories on And who can forget this handy instructional video about how to become "digital activists."

Conservatives cannot prevail simply by stating and defending their position, so they have to cheat. It's their M.O. Sound ideologies aren't constructed with lies.

UPDATE: Please forgive the multiple fonts. Blogger's text editing is whack.

UPDATE II: The government is also getting in on the action. And if you listen to right-wing hate radio, chances are you're listening to actors.

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