Skip navigation

Category Archives: Faux News


Each of us has an opinion on something and that is as it should be. What should not be is any opinion on anything that is not based on correct information. It often takes several readings and some research to find the true information behind your opinion. Many quotes by well known people (living and dead) have been repeated as fact but are often repeated incomplete or out of context. These misapplied quotes have been the subject of many debates and arguments. It is incumbent on us all to get the real quote and its background to fully understand what is said or intended. All of this information is readily available if one chooses to seek it out. We are already under siege by the constant stream of inaccuracies (lies if you will) from some media outlets, our political leaders(?) and influencers which puts the onus on us readers and citizens to parse out the truth. Our ability to read and reason is the strength we have over lower animals yet we (some of us) still follow the ludicrous nattering of politicians and so called experts or well known pundits.  Many writings are designed as thought pieces with as much truth as is available, others are just slightly less than full blown lies. It is the duty of us all to seek the truth when the so called fresh fish stinks!

Please Donate

Advertisements

 

“The whole idea from the start was to build a site that could kind of infiltrate the echo chambers of the alt-right.”

A lot of fake and misleading news stories were shared across social media during the election. One that got a lot of traffic had this headline: “FBI Agent Suspected In Hillary Email Leaks Found Dead In Apparent Murder-Suicide.” The story is completely false, but it was shared on Facebook over half a million times.

We wondered who was behind that story and why it was written. It appeared on a site that had the look and feel of a local newspaper. Denverguardian.com even had the local weather. But it had only one news story — the fake one.

We tried to look up who owned it and hit a wall. The site was registered anonymously. So we brought in some professional help.

By day, John Jansen is head of engineering at Master-McNeil Inc., a tech company in Berkeley, Calif. In the interest of real news he helped us track down the owner of Denverguardian.com.

Jansen started by looking at the site’s history. “Commonly that’s called scraping or crawling websites,” he says.

Jansen is kind of like an archaeologist. He says that nothing you do on the Web disappears — it just gets buried — like a fossil. But if you do some digging you’ll find those fossils and learn a lot of history.

The “Denver Guardian” was built and designed using a pretty common platform — WordPress. It’s used by bloggers and people who want to create their own websites. Jansen found that the first entry ever for the site was done by someone with the handle LetTexasSecede.

“That was sort of the thread that started to unravel everything,” Jansen says. “I was able to track that through to a bunch of other sites which are where that handle is also present.”

The sites include NationalReport.net, USAToday.com.co, WashingtonPost.com.co. All the addresses linked to a single rented server inside Amazon Web Services. That meant they were all very likely owned by the same company. Jansen found an email address on one of those sites and was able to link that address to a name: Jestin Coler.

Online, Coler was listed as the founder and CEO of a company called Disinfomedia. Coler’s LinkedIn profile said he once sold magazine subscriptions, worked as a database administrator and as a freelance writer for among others, International Yachtsman magazine. And, using his name, we found a home address.

On a warm, sunny afternoon I set out with a producer for a suburb of Los Angeles. Coler lived in a middle-class neighborhood of pastel-colored one-story beach bungalows. His home had an unwatered lawn — probably the result of California’s ongoing drought. There was a black minivan in the driveway and a large prominent American flag.

We rang the front doorbell and a man answered, his face obscured by a heavy mesh steel screen. I asked for Jestin Coler. The man indicated that’s who he was. But when I asked about Disinfomedia, he said, “I don’t know what to tell you guys. Have a good day.”

We left Coler our contact information thinking he wasn’t likely to talk. But a couple of hours later he had a change of heart. He sent us an email and we set up an interview.

Coler is a soft-spoken 40-year-old with a wife and two kids. He says he got into fake news around 2013 to highlight the extremism of the white nationalist alt-right.

“The whole idea from the start was to build a site that could kind of infiltrate the echo chambers of the alt-right, publish blatantly or fictional stories and then be able to publicly denounce those stories and point out the fact that they were fiction,” Coler says.

He was amazed at how quickly fake news could spread and how easily people believe it. He wrote one fake story for NationalReport.net about how customers in Colorado marijuana shops were using food stamps to buy pot.

“What that turned into was a state representative in the House in Colorado proposing actual legislation to prevent people from using their food stamps to buy marijuana based on something that had just never happened,” Coler says

During the run-up to the presidential election, fake news really took off. “It was just anybody with a blog can get on there and find a big, huge Facebook group of kind of rabid Trump supporters just waiting to eat up this red meat that they’re about to get served,” Coler says. “It caused an explosion in the number of sites. I mean, my gosh, the number of just fake accounts on Facebook exploded during the Trump election.”

Coler says his writers have tried to write fake news for liberals — but they just never take the bait.

Coler’s company, Disinfomedia, owns many faux news sites — he won’t say how many. But he says his is one of the biggest fake-news businesses out there, which makes him a sort of godfather of the industry.

At any given time, Coler says, he has between 20 and 25 writers. And it was one of them who wrote the story in the “Denver Guardian” that an FBI agent who leaked Clinton emails was killed. Coler says that over 10 days the site got 1.6 million views. He says stories like this work because they fit into existing right-wing conspiracy theories.

“The people wanted to hear this,” he says. “So all it took was to write that story. Everything about it was fictional: the town, the people, the sheriff, the FBI guy. And then … our social media guys kind of go out and do a little dropping it throughout Trump groups and Trump forums and boy it spread like wildfire.”

And as the stories spread, Coler makes money from the ads on his websites. He wouldn’t give exact figures, but he says stories about other fake-news proprietors making between $10,000 and $30,000 a month apply to him. Coler fits into a pattern of other faux news sites that make good money, especially by targeting Trump supporters.

However, Coler insists this is not about money. It’s about showing how easily fake news spreads. And fake news spread wide and far before the election. When I pointed out to Coler that the money gave him a lot of incentive to keep doing it regardless of the impact, he admitted that was “correct.”

Coler says he has tried to shine a light on the problem of fake news. He has spoken to the media about it. But those organizations didn’t know who he actually was. He gave them a fake name: Allen Montgomery.

Coler, a registered Democrat, says he has no regrets about his fake news empire. He doesn’t think fake news swayed the election.

“There are many factors as to why Trump won that don’t involve fake news,” he says. “As much as I like Hillary, she was a poor candidate. She brought in a lot of baggage.

Coler doesn’t think fake news is going away. One of his sites — NationalReport.net — was flagged as fake news under a new Google policy, and Google stopped running ads on it. But Coler had other options.

“There are literally hundreds of ad networks,” he says. “Early last week, my inbox was just filled every day with people because they knew that Google was cracking down — hundreds of people wanting to work with my sites.”

Coler says he has been talking it over with his wife and may be getting out of the fake-news racket. But, he says, dozens, maybe hundreds of entrepreneurs will be ready to take his place. And he thinks it will only get harder to tell their websites from real news sites. They know now that fake news sells and they will only be in it for the money.

Below are highlights of NPR’s interview with Coler.


Interview Highlights

Tell me a little about why you started Disinfomedia?

Late 2012, early 2013 I was spending a lot of time researching what is now being referred to as the alt-right. I identified a problem with the news that they were spreading and created Disinfomedia as a response to that. The whole idea from the start was to build a site that could infiltrate the echo chambers of the alt-right, publish blatantly false or fictional stories and then be able to publicly denounce those stories and point out the fact that they were fiction.

What got you engaged in this?

My educational background is in political science. I’ve always enjoyed the ideas of propaganda and misinformation. Then I coupled that with an interest in what makes things go viral. So that led me to finding those groups and ultimately to finding contributors. But it was just something I had an interest in that I wanted to pursue.

When did you notice that fake news does best with Trump supporters?

Well, this isn’t just a Trump-supporter problem. This is a right-wing issue. Sarah Palin’s famous blasting of the lamestream media is kind of record and testament to the rise of these kinds of people. The post-fact era is what I would refer to it as. This isn’t something that started with Trump. This is something that’s been in the works for a while. His whole campaign was this thing of discrediting mainstream media sources, which is one of those dog whistles to his supporters. When we were coming up with headlines it’s always kind of about the red meat. Trump really got into the red meat. He knew who his base was. He knew how to feed them a constant diet of this red meat.

We’ve tried to do similar things to liberals. It just has never worked, it never takes off. You’ll get debunked within the first two comments and then the whole thing just kind of fizzles out.

How many domains do you own and run?

Well, I would say there’s somewhere around 25 domains that I am currently managing. National Report has been my bread and butter, where I’ve spent most of my time. I have people who work with me and for me in developing and maintaining the other sites and social media kind of stuff. [Coler later said not all his sites are fake news.] So I, for the most part, focus on National Report, and a lot of the other stuff is run by other folks on the team.

So, you’re the publisher of an empire.

Well I wouldn’t go so far as to call it an empire but, yes, its several sites [chuckle].

How many people do you have writing for you?

It comes and goes, and as for actual employed writers, again these guys sort of make their own money through ad code. So I don’t say, ‘Hey, you have to write 10 stories this week’ and this and that. Really, we have a more free-form idea where people, when their creativity strikes them then they can write something. And if they’re in a slump then they just go dormant for a while. With that said, at any given time there’s probably 20, 25 contributors all over the country. …

Talk about the “Denver Guardian.”

Well, it’s kind of a side project. We have some people working on next steps in the fake-news industry, and that came from that whole discussion. We had purchased several domain names that sounded legitimate. … More local news sort of stories. The idea was to make the sites look as legit as possible so the home page is going to be local news and local forecast, local sports, some obituaries and things of that nature, and then the actual fake news stories were going to be buried off the home page.

We’ve tried lots of things in the past. The dot-com-dot-co domains were something I toyed in for a while. Those I quickly got away from because you don’t get away long with borrowing someone’s copyright or trademark. That was something that worked very well from a fake-news perspective. People were fooled into the domain name, but that wasn’t so much what we were after. So again, the next step was to go after more city-type sites. And the “Denver Guardian” was one of those sites.

You’re talking about the future of this (fake-news business) which looks more insidious because it’s more real?

That’s the way that it’s going to be. Not just from where I am. I mean, this is probably going to be my last run in the fake-news biz, but I can promise you that it’s not going to go away. It’s even going to grow bigger and it’s going to be harder to identify as it kind of evolves through these steps. …

Do you know who wrote the actual FBI Clinton story?

I do know who wrote the story, but only through an anonymous pen name. Privacy is something that we take very seriously in our writers group. The actual reasonings behind that story … it’s one of hundreds that have been written about mysterious deaths of Clinton associates or political foes. This one kind of took off more than others, I believe, just because of the nature of the story. The people wanted to hear this. So all it took was to write that story. Everything about it was fictional. The town, the people, the sheriff, the FBI guy. Then, we had our social media guys kind of go out and do a little dropping it throughout Trump groups and Trump forums and boy it spread like wildfire.

Why hide your identity?

This isn’t the safest business to be in, to be honest. Just the number of death threats I’ve received. I have a beautiful family, a beautiful life.

Some of these people that we … bait is probably the right word — are often — let’s call them the deplorables, right? They’re not the safest crowd. Some of them I would consider domestic terrorists. So they’re just not people that I want to be knocking on my door.

It seems like National Report is getting spoofier.

If you went to National Report today, it’s specifically satire. “Chris Christie nominated to Supreme Food Court.” “Sarah Palin Banning Muslims from Entering Bristol Palin.” They’re a little bit more offensive than some people care for their satire. I mean fat-shaming and slut-shaming isn’t something that is normally met with applause. But again, it’s a lot more fun in nature.

Do you make serious money?

It depends on what you would call serious money. I think I do pretty well.

Can you say how well?

I would rather not. There have been some people who have been reported on recently. The folks in Long Beach that were doing just all right stuff. They were reporting $10,000 to $30,000 a month; I think that’s probably a relative ballpark.

So you’re doing as well as those?

Yes.

You’re making money through the ads?

Yes.

Who do you work with?

We have several advertisers. Google was one, although they shut down my account last week. We’ve replaced them with other advertisers.

Can I ask who?

There are literally hundreds of ad networks. Literally hundreds. Last week my inbox was just filled everyday with people, because they knew that Google was cracking down — hundreds of people wanting to work with my sites. I kind of applaud Google for their steps, although I think what they’re doing is kind of random. They don’t really have a process in place for identifying these things. I happen to know a very successful site that, as of today, of this morning is still serving Google ads. So it seems to be a kind of arbitrary step that they’re taking either based on, I don’t know if it was my reputation within the industry or specifically the “Denver Guardian” site that angered them, or I don’t know what it is, but back to your question, there’s hundreds of people that will work with me.

What can be done about fake news?

Some of this has to fall on the readers themselves. The consumers of content have to be better at identifying this stuff. We have a whole nation of media-illiterate people. Really, there needs to be something done.

Do you consider yourself an entrepreneur?

Sure.

Are you one of the biggest in the fake-news biz?

If you look at someone who has specifically sometimes peddled in fictional news then I think that I would probably be considered one of the larger sites.

As a liberal, do you have any regrets?

I don’t. Again, this is something that I’ve been crying about for a while. But outside of that, there are many factors as to why Trump won that don’t involve fake news, right? As much as I like Hillary, she was a poor candidate. She brought in a lot of baggage.

You don’t feel responsible.

I do not.

Do you think you would have kept doing it if it wasn’t so lucrative?

Really, the financial part of it isn’t the only motivator for me. I do enjoy making a mess of the people that share the content that comes out of our site. It’s not just the financial incentive for me. I still enjoy the game I guess.

Would you do this all over again?

Well, I guess it came to a head here and we’re talking about it. It’ll be interesting to see what happens moving forward. If I had to, if I knew specifically the “Denver Guardian” situation, that would have been handled differently. But everything else, as far as the work I’ve done with National Report, I’m very proud of, and I’m going to continue doing it.

Please Donate

Please Donate


The election has brought us many diverse looks and opinions. I am still confused as to why so many smart people cannot see this election clearly. We have two damaged contenders but still one (1) is a better choice regardless of party backing. So many are complaining about change in Government but when that opportunity was available not enough supported the changes. We were so caught up (and still are) in buzzwords, sound bites and catch phrases to see what the real issues were (and are). Our long serving Congress and the well-known pundits decried the Affordable Care Act (Obama care) and scared people away from it, now the system is failing from lack of participation while damaging the people who are covered. There is always the “We” in speeches and conversation but the “We” is actually “I” in most cases. We have been subverted by the very people we follow and trust to be honest. While we have been busy hearing the correct sounding phrases and speeches the real information is hidden like  old clothes in an attic. It is time to clean out the attic and decide which of these less than perfect candidates has the ability to do the job. My personal choice is H and not T primarily because she is better equipped to do it because of a relationship with the rest of the world. Keep in mind that Europe and Asia is watching and a T presidency will hurt us for years to came. It is well to remember that you have an opportunity to make changes in the Congress which is more critical than the Presidency (since the Congress will set the tone for any future progress on anything the country does). To be a better voter clean out the clutter and find the real facts

btn_donateCC_LG

Please Donate

.


Short article about Rush Limbaugh makes the point of ” who is the bigger fool , the fool or the people who follow them”. There is a short audio clip which is not linked here but is available on the Huff post website.

Rush Limbaugh Has Quite A Conspiracy Theory About Obama And The Internet

“It’s total control.”

06/20/2016 07:13 am ET

Rush Limbaugh has attacked President Barack Obama before, but the conservative chat host took a particularly, er, creative route on his June 17 radio show.

MediaMatters.org caught this gem in which Limbaugh accused Obama of exclusively blaming the internet for homegrown terror during a speech to the families of Orlando massacre victims, and claimed the president and fellow Democrats would use that rationale to “control the internet.”

“Obama’s takeover of the internet will not be to prevent these kinds of things from happening,” Limbaugh said. “He’s got an entirely different agenda. All the Democrats do. It’s total control. It’s limiting access to information. It’s about shutting down opposition. That’s why they want control of the internet.”

Limbaugh, host of Premier Radio Networks’ “The Rush Limbaugh Show,” has previously claimed that Obama was jealous of Donald Trump and compared the commander-in-chief to Adolf Hitler.

Please Donate

Please Donate


Just a little laugh- The Dupublican pundits ( Rush, Ann & Charles) have pounded Governor Nikki Haley for her reasonable rebuttal to the State of the Union address, just shows how irrational the Dupublicans and their backers are and have no good plans for us all. Stay independent. My political leanings: I have no particular attachment to the Scamocrats or Dupublicans as they both have failings that have and can hurt us.  The party’s themselves have great aspirations but their members do not. If they (the party’s) had our best interests in mind then why gave we not made more progress at home in Race relations, earning parity and true cohesiveness as a nation?  In writing I look to point out what I see with as much information and introspection as I can . The real power here is with the voters but to vote correctly requires carefully listening and reading as the media just shows a portion of the real story while the truth lies elsewhere.  We  view the debates as a  way to make decisions  and in  my  opinion  these debates are no more than schoolyard fights televised for entertainment. The pundits who so readily weigh in on all things political are out to sell themselves and their publications while often obscuring the truth with their blankets of innuendo and half truths. A recent conversation with one of the Koch brothers points out that he is not a big fan of either party but he is a Conservative and leans towards the Dupublican agenda  (the overall party line). That being said some mad lib pundits do no service to the Dupublican party or anyone else for that matter.

Please Donate

Please Donate


In a country with less freedom of speech and expression, the following people would be in jail for life:

Ann Coulter, Bill O’Reilly, Charles Krauthammer, Rush Limbaugh and a few others.

We have as many “terrorist” type groups in America as anyone else, some have the potential to do as much harm  as any others but fortunately a lot more people have no desire to broadly embrace them and their ideals (?). If we look at religion, we have as many sects and sub sects as the middle east fortunately we are not killing one another off because of the assorted interpretations of the known religious texts. The Middle east has within the Muslin umbrella of religion has alewites, Sunnis, Sufis, Shi’as, Wahhabis, Ibadan and these are just a few of the subsets which vary from country to country. To express an idea that does not mesh with the Government line  in many other parts of the world puts ones life in danger. In America that is not the case but sometimes the talking heads need a reality check and their forums reduced to a smaller audience. The freedoms of America allows for these diverse opinions and ideas which opens the door for more investigation in the basis of these ideas and opinions which in turn lets us see that the real basis is: notoriety with no foundation in truth. The worst thing about this is we have “conservative  Christians  who want to deny the rights of others because of their personal beliefs and often the misreading or interpretation of the Bible. These Christians  are no more than religious bigots with enough backing to gain the attention of like  minded followers who are for all intents and purposes terrorists with the same zest for punishment as any Radical Muslim cleric. In My Opinion!

Please Donate

Please Donate


Why is it that so many folks attack, tweet and otherwise vilify Fox News? If you do not agree with them why waste time viewing them? The best way to deal with “Faux” news is to not look at them. It is common knowledge that the media “giant” is not a valid presenter of real news and an ardent purveyor of  “check out stand “style information. This station has long been an outlet that values misinformation above real journalism. Look at its luminaries ”

Bill O’Reilly-History teacher out to sell books at any cost

Glenn Beck- Ultra Conservative newsman who was a darling of the Republican party until he wasn’t

Elizabeth Hasselback- Semi knowledgeable presenter- error prone-

Ann Coulter- Racist incarnate , has one aim sell book that denigrate whoever it takes to sell a book and play to the insecurities,  racial hatred of certain segments of the population (who if they knew her would hate her).

We as hopefully rational people need to proceed cautiously in our support of incorrect and misapplied  information, while your personal beliefs are your own, they should be supported by truth rather than speculation and again misapplied information. It is entirely possible that failing to look at all sides of an issue will result in a poor judgment in electing our representatives. Anyone can present information that you like but not many present what you don’t like.


In the past 10 years it has become evident that America is not as progressive as Europe in spite of our industrial development. Britain has “socialized Medicine” where everyone has healthcare, the British Parliament discusses and resolves issues relating to the proper administering of the country’s needs rather than who marries who, who can live where or even what flag flies where. This Congress and the associated media has spent valuable time on innuendo, misconception and out right lies in some case to get their way with the voters. Shame on us voters for believing them. When a political “leader(?)” has to resort to subterfuge and disingenuous statements to keep or gain an office, then we need to provide a quick exit for them. Why does it take millions of dollars to gain election to a position that pays a lot less than the money spent to get it? There is an inherent flaw in the messages offered as truth and honesty to get to a high government (Local, State or federal) office. It is a failing on behalf of the voters to ascribe to the opinions of a heavily biased media who employ spokespersons who have a smattering of understanding about what real journalism is. These spokespersons are no more than sensationalists masquerading as experts. These people are as radical as any terrorist but using words as weapons. Their under and uninformed comments serve to inflame rather inform. WE as voters need to look behind the curtain of misinformation and  strip them of an audience for the illusory presentations  they assail us with on a daily basis. These are the times when the world bullies are on the move and using the same tactics  to spread THEIR propaganda. We  do not have a failure to communicate but more a failure to inform.

Please Donate

Please Donate

%d bloggers like this: