Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Andrew Breitbart Allows Flaming On Big Sites To Further Agenda

Recently I have been posting on Andrew Breitbart's Big Government in addition to various other sites when I noticed something interesting.  While other sites moderate the comments, removing offensive statements or personal attacks against posters, Big Government seems to turn a blind eye.  While on the site, I have seen a couple comments that have been actually removed, typically by posters with negative ratings, meaning differing ideologies from the website (I have unfortunately been unable to read a removed comment before it was deleted), I have yet to see Breitbart pull inflammatory comments made against posters by people who agree with the propaganda on the site.  I have decided to conduct an experiment.

My hypothesis is that Breitbart & Co. keep statements that defend their positions, while deleting comments critical of them, therefor, I plan on reporting offensive comments made to benign posts that I make, to see if Big Government will actually delete these comments or just leave them alone. 

I will then have another commenter post the same comments made by their right-wing counterparts and see if their comments are then removed, thus exposing the hypocrisy.

Alternatively, I suspect that Breitbart may keep my comments and remove the comments of others that are offensive to make his supporters look like the victims of a liberal assault.

Here are what Breitbart's "Terms of Service" state:
You agree not to use the Services in any way that abuses, defames, stalks, annoys, threatens, harasses or violates the rights of privacy, publicity, intellectual property or other legal rights of others (now or hereafter recognized) or which encourages conduct which would violate any law or give rise to civil or criminal liability or post, publish, transmit, distribute, disseminate or upload any inappropriate, infringing, defamatory, profane, indecent, obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent or illegal/unlawful material or matters, including, without limitation, information, topics, names or other material.
The part in bold is commonly referred to as "flaming."  Here is the definition of flaming, as found on Wikipedia:
Flaming (also known as bashing) is hostile and insulting interaction between Internet users. Flaming usually occurs in the social context of a discussion board, Internet Relay Chat (IRC), Usenet, by e-mail, game servers such as Xbox Live or Playstation Network, and on Video-sharing websites. It is usually the result of the discussion of heated real-world issues like politics, sports, religion, and philosophy, or of issues that polarise subpopulations. Internet trolls frequently set out to incite flame wars for the sole purpose of offending or irritating other posters.
I am sure that some users at Big Government would consider myself as being a "troll," but the I assure you I am not, because my goal is not to incite flame wars.  My intentions is not to offend or irritate, rather, they are to try and offer varying opinions and views, not necessarily my own, because it is my opinion that sites like Big Government are one-sided, allowing misinformation and propaganda to foment.

Here is the initial comment that started this experiment:

The article I was commenting on was in regards to the Senator Dodd and the financial reform legislation. While a majority of the commenters sided with the article, calling it government take over of business, another commenter referenced bankruptcy proceedings as a comparison, and asked why there were no such complaints. The general consensus is that bankruptcy is initiated by either the business, the investors, or the creditors, not the government.

Here is the comment that led to mine, as well as a couple of the responses (and let me just say that I do not condone Free Speech's "idiot" comment):

Free Speech later made the point that certain provisions in the bill were an extension of the practice of an "involuntary bankruptcy," in which the company does not voluntarily go into bankruptcy, and as you can see, the Big folks refused to understand the comparison being made, and refuse to even believe in the facts, even when the original article they are defending states them.

My comment was simply pointing out that if a trustee, who is a representative of the courts, assumes the responsibility of liquidating a private corporation's assets, then one could draw the logical conclusion that that the courts, and by association, the government, considering the judicial branch is part of the federal government, is taking over business.

That is what led to the "God, you're dumb" comment by almostacowboy77 and the subsequent reporting to website moderators.

While Cowboy's statement might have seemed harmless, check out this next example that was made in response to a comment I made regarding Islam, stating that the religion is not a murderous one and that there have been many deaths made by Christians or in the name of Christianity:


This commenter, Kevin Stowell, felt it was necessary to tell me to "shut [my] mouth and just be thought a fool" and called me a "chickenshit, panties-pissing, bitch."  This kind of name calling would never be allowed in other forums like over at The Huffington Post or Media Matters, but on Breitbart's sites, it is fair game.  Needless to say this comment was also flagged.  I would also like to point out that Stowell had actually got some thumbs up for his comment, and it has only gone up since I took this screenshot.

Here is another from the same post, where I am called an "idiot":

One poster had actually come to my defense, citing an article from NPR:

Here is what the article had to say:
A Brazilian official said Friday that three former altar boys who accused a Roman Catholic priest of sexual abuse have received threats and are under police protection.
The three were threatened after they denounced Monsignor Luiz Marques Barbosa for allegedly molesting former altar boys in northeastern Alagoas state, according to an adviser to the Senate pedophilia commission.
Commission adviser Renato Paoliello said a different priest — also accused of having sexual relations with minors, but who is collaborating with investigators — also is under police protection after being threatened.

The interesting thing is that Roger had blocked out the main point of the article, and completely omits the part about the alter boys being targeted with threats, seeing the article as promoting the idea that Christians have no problem with sexual abuse.  Surprisingly, Roger links to a website for the Reverend Magda Graham and Magister James D. Sass of the Church of Satan to point out that the investigator in the Brazilian child abuse case is, in fact, an evangelical pastor, which has nothing to do with the point of the story - the alter boys were threatened for coming out against the church.

Here are some more insults against my comments, this time regarding an article by Dr. Ronald L. Trowbridge, who actually criticized the Arizona immigration bill recently signed into law by governor Jan Brewer.  I had actually defended the author of the article from the attacks of the Big Government uneducated masses, and in particular, the author's reference of his time in Soviet Bloc East Germany and how it compares to this piece of American legislation.

All I asked was a simple question, but none of the intellectuals at Big Government could supply an answer.  All I wanted to know was why the posters disliked the article, and in particular, the comparison with East Germany, but instead of actually stating why the law was good, they just went on the attack.  StanH wrote that "comparing enforcement of our countries borders to the East German Stasi is well…goofy," yet one could make the argument that East Germany was doing the same exact thing - protecting their borders.

I have detailed several instances of conservative flaming, but what about comments critical of Big Government and their loyal following?  Using the same comments made against myself, I will see how the folks at Breitbart's site take their own medicine.

Using the name of "LibTroll", I left this comment on the following article, choosing a comment close to the top to get greater exposure:

The article was about Oliver North confirming the capture of Mullah Omar, and brings out the chickenhawks of the fringe, which is why I went with the most offensive comment used against me (the one written by Kevin Sowell).  This article is no stranger to conservative flaming either.  One commenter made the statement that North has been known to lie in the past.  His statement was met with many personal attacks, including this one:

I found the above comment pretty damning, seeing that it was not only insulting to the commenter, but it seemingly made fun of homosexual discrimination, as well as using homosexuality as an insult.  I reported this comment as well to see how Big Government would react.

Here is another I made, this time using my name (to avoid having the name LibTroll targeted):

This response was in regards to my defense of the Trowbridge article.

I had made one more, this time using my actual account, in regards to an article attacking the boycott against Arizona.  In the article, author Gregg Opelka mentions the actions taken by Highland Park High School  to boycott a varsity basketball tournament trip to Arizona in December.
Now—in a full court press of absurdity–a Chicago-area high school has decided to take on the AriZona tea boycotters in the political protest stupidity Olympics. This time it’s Highland Park High School and specifically District 113 Assistant Superintendant Suzan Hebson. You can read the play-by-play here and here, but to recap for those just tuning in, on Monday the school canceled the planned December girls varsity basketball tournament trip to Arizona. Hebson says the junket was junked because “it would not be aligned with our beliefs and values.”
My comment simply congratulated the school for exercising their freedom of choice in the free market.  I thought that this comment would go over well with the free market fanatics at Big Government, but boy was I wrong. Instead, I got lectured on how the school was under the influence of "totalitarian leftists," forcing the girls to stay home. Oh yeah, I was also called stupid.

I responded in kindness.

I also want to point out Opelka's allusion that the school's actions were only because the affluent neighborhood is surrounded by Latino communities, and many of those people work in Highland Park.
It should be noted that Highland Park, a primarily affluent North Shore suburb, is bordered by a few smaller, much less affluent villages with heavy Latino populations, such as Highwood, many of whose members work in Highland Park and the surrounding wealthy North Shore suburbs.
Opelka came short of saying all the surrounding Latinos work as gardners and maids - and to believe the right are the ones who make accusations that Obama and liberals are trying to exploit racial differences.  I am also curious as to why he described the neighborhoods of the wealthy as being a "suburb" but the Latino neighborhoods as "villages" - is the author trying to evoke a sense of tribalism or unsophistication?  I decided to leave a second comment, this time to berate the author.

So, what was the result?

All but one of the comments remained up on the site, and the one that was taken down was removed by the author, not the site, which I found very strange.  It makes me believe my alternative hypothesis to be the correct one.

It made me think that the commenter was either tipped off by Big Government and asked to remove his comment, or the commenter is a paid employee of Big Government and removed it to avoid risk of disciplinary action. Another thought that crossed my mind, considering the methods Breitbart uses to spread his propaganda, is that the comments supportive of the right-wing agenda that can be classified as flaming would be removed, leaving comments like the ones that I posted as proof that liberals are the aggressors and conservatives are the victims, but this is qustionable, considering the large quantity of attacks coming from the right - many of them baseless.

I have come to the conclusion that Big Government, or any of the Big sites for that matter, receive a high number of traffic from the ignorant fringe, and those readers leave numerous insulting comments, ranging from simple one word insults to the profane string of words Kevin Stowell left for me. Stowell's comments were the worst I had observed and the only one to be removed, which leads me to believe that Breitbart & Co. allow their guests to flame to help advance their agenda, and they really don't moderate their message boards.  They seem to only moderate messages left by their supporters, not their critics.

Just take a look at some of the other comments from some of Breitbart's other sites.

These comments were left on Big Hollywood regarding Rosie O'Donnell returning to daytime television (notice a familiar name?)

I stumbled upon this comment and thought it was great, and not because Stowell left it, and not because he called the person he was commenting on "stupid", but because of his comment regarding treason.  "Under certain conditions and during times when we didn't have drooling morons running our world, that might have been an act of treason," wrote Stowell.  I thought it was interesting that he claims O'Donnell's actions could be considered treasonous but he fails to realize his support of Andrew Breitbart and the comments made on his sites to fall under his very own definition of treason as well.

Here are a couple from a video showing a CBS reporter, Chip Reid, upset that the president didn't answer his question at the signing of a law that will now require the State Department to "list countries that threaten press freedoms and permit violence against journalists."  Breitbart makes the video sound as if it was a bill regarding the freedom of the press, and his followers didn't even bother to question.

See? A simple comment immediately attacked by the mindless sheep. I decided to make another:

Here were the responses, attacking the president, Mexicans, Muslims, and pretty much everyone else they could think of.

I have one more Breitbart site to visit - Big Journalism, and what better story to comment on then the recent comment made by Dick Blumenthal regarding his service during the Vietnam war.  Conservatives have been focusing on this story because it probably reminds them of Presiden't Bush's own avoidance of combat, but the difference between the two is that Blumenthal misspoke and he has the right-wing echo chamber to use his comments as propaganda.  The Huffington Post detailed this recent gaffe, as well as past comments from the senator.  The right-wing has been focusing on an excerpt from a New York Times report, where Blumenthal was quoted as saying from a 2008 event that "we have learned something important since the days that I served in Vietnam," but as The Huffington Post points out, Blumenthal had a history of mentioning the details of his past service, saying the following from a March 1st, 2010 Senate debate:
Serving in the United States military gave me a perspective as well, even in the reserves. Although I did not serve in Vietnam, I have seen first-hand the affects of military action, and no one wants it to be the first resort, nor do we want to mortgage the countries future...
This was my statement left on Big Journalism, along with a reply and my response:

There was only one incident of flaming, but oddly, the comment was not deleted, only modified. Here is the email notification of the comment I received along with the comment as displayed on Big Journalism:

Here is how the message appeared on the website:

Who edited the comment?  Why wasn't his entire comment removed? 

While the offensive part was removed, the portion of the message implying The New York Times is a liberal paper remained.  I would think that this edit fits well into my theory that Breitbart & Co. are actively editing the content of their websites, including comments, to present their positions in a positive light.  In the two instances of profanity used against me as an insult, the comment was either modified or removed, but not by the site.  In all other instances of insulting, the comments remained, and I had personally reported every single one of them, including the ones that I had made under different names.

The problem with these websites is that they present news stories in a very skewed manner, and then leave it up to the readership to fill in the gaps, but as I have illustrated, the readership are unwilling to look at an issue rationally, and tend to fall back on the conservative narrative spoon-fed to them from the fringe, attacking all statements they don't agree with, even when such statements are in line with their logic.  What makes the far-right media like Breitbart's collection of websites more dangerous is that there is no solid narrative coming from the left - they are more ideologically diverse.  You hear a lot of talk insulting Democrats and calling them communists or Marxists, but where is the left-wing dialogue of communism coming from?  If you pay close attention, all claims of liberal obstructionism come from conservative interpretations of liberal actions, using their secret decoder rings and x-ray specs of course.

I'll leave you with this final flame from an article today:

Update: Apparently this article struck a chord with the right-wing activists.  John Smithson of Midknight Review already flamed this article in the comments, but I took care of that!


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Smithson, your comment was very interesting considering the nature of this article, which was "flaming."

    That is why I deleted it. It did not contribute anything to the debate and was insulting towards myself.

    Also, Smithson, if you notice the formatting, I clearly distinguish my original content from those I cite, and I linked to all supporting websites.

  3. since you deleted the comments, none of have a clue as to what you are talking about, do we.

    Keep pumping out those 14 page posts. That will take you to the top of the blogging food chain for sure.


  4. @jds

    Why would we want to even have a clue about a flaming post? Here's a tip if you don't want comments deleted.....don't flame. You can have the opposite opinion of Kevin in all regards and post on here and he will keep long as you don't flame or troll.

    Although I do agree with you about Kevin's lack of using the "More" tags to shorten the amount of each blog on the front page, I'd say his 14 page blogs has worked rather well for him considering he's above you in the blogging food chain.

    People have positive responses (retention on a site) to long posts if they are well written, and if they use visual aids to clarify points. The posts on this site do that and his numbers prove it.

  5. I just added a page break. I had originally made the post my top story, so I did not add a page break, but when I added a couple more during the day, I forgot to add a page break, but I finally included one, but to attack the length of the article is as ridiculous as the conservatives attacking the length of the health care bill - not everything can be summed up in a 10-second sound bite. What I did was document everything I had done and tracked the results. Some would call that research.

    As for the original flaming comment I deleted, I thought it was ironic that Smithson would flame this article.


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