The Left's Moderation of Conservative Media
"They are relentless and use Gestapo tactics."
“If by the liberty of the press were understood merely the liberty of discussing the propriety of public measures and political opinions, let us have as much of it as you please. But if it means the liberty of affronting, calumniating and defaming one another, I, for my part, own myself willing to part with my share of it.” —Benjamin Franklin (1789)
Sometimes I am able to plan a topic more than 48 hours ahead of my deadline. This started as one of those weeks. But as with the best-laid plans, sometimes it’s necessary to alter them. (I’ll say a bit more on that original topic at the end of this column.)
The Patriot Post has become the target of a thinly veiled effort to undermine the reach of our conservative voice. That effort was launched by one of the biggest entertainment/news tabloids on the Web, BuzzFeed, with a review claiming that we’re “the biggest mystery in conservative media” and raising questions about the team “behind one of the oldest conservative” online news organizations.
BuzzFeed’s media editor, its resident expert on “fake news” (I know, the irony is rich), has used their platform for his “investigative report” – basically a hit piece on The Patriot. Our research team noted that almost ten days after the BuzzFeed posts, there were only two comments under Sullivan’s social media reposts. Maybe most BuzzFeeders think that a “BuzzFeed Media Editor” is oxymoronic?
However, when a Leftmedia outlet with a budget hundreds of times the size of our small grassroots organization targets us — a “David versus Goliath” contest, if you will — it creates a quandary.
We have a longstanding Patriot Post policy: “Don’t swap spit with a jackass.” But when the accuser has a huge platform, as one of our editors noted, “to leave misinformation uncontested is tantamount to suggesting that it’s true.” And while it’s likely that none of you, our readers, are even aware of the BuzzFeed accusations, rebut we must.
Sometimes criticism is intended to be constructive.
Last week, for example, I wrote about the rise of a new genre of digital-media arbiters of truth, in which I mentioned a new media accountability effort, NewsGuard, and explained how it worked. I further noted that whenever humans render opinions about the world around them, they inevitably bring a bias to that perspective.
However, undergoing NewsGuard’s process of evaluation was helpful to our team. It employs a battalion of professional journalists, which we have never claimed to be, and their questions and suggestions helped us improve what we do.
On the other hand, sometimes criticism is intended to be destructive. With BuzzFeed, and the leftist academic social-media “expert” who pointed them at us with a clear agenda, their intent was something other than constructive.
The inquiries about The Patriot Post started with BuzzFeed’s “fake news expert,” Toronto-based Media Editor Craig Silverman. He seems like a decent person whose left-of-center bias is mostly the byproduct of being caught in a Leftmedia echo chamber.
The timing of Silverman’s appointment to his current position is ironic, as it came just before BuzzFeed’s Leftmedia hacks published the infamous fake “Russian Dossier,” a completely fabricated opposition-research document funded by the Democrat Party and Hillary Clinton’s campaign. That provided the fodder that mainstream-media outlets like CNN and MSNBC needed to promote as the basis for the Democrat/MSM propaganda machine’s bogus two-year Trump/Russia collusion investigation, a ruse to obstruct Trump’s MAGA agenda.
Suffice it to say that the fake dossier has since been completely debunked, but not before BuzzFeed issued yet another bombshell fabrication, prompting special prosecutor Robert Mueller to take the unusual step of calling out the BuzzFeed report as fake news. Buzzfeed will never shed the ethical malpractice for this partisan “fake news” charades. (See “Beyond BuzzFeed: The 10 Worst, Most Embarrassing U.S. Media Failures on the Trump-Russia Story.”)
For his part, Silverman now distances himself from the term “fake news,” because Donald Trump has successfully hung that moniker where it belongs: around the necks of the Leftmedia. And while it’s entirely possible that Silverman really wants to eradicate the purveyors of misinformation, he’s leading that charge from one of the most prolific propagators of misinformation on the Web.
As you may know, BuzzFeed is having serious problems.
Founded in 2006 by Left Coast native Jonah Peretti, the company had over $300 million in revenues in 2018. Notably, $84 million of that was from Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Netflix, and yet, according to The New York Times, “the company still loses money.” Amid a decline in traffic, BuzzFeed is laying off hundreds of its news staff because, as Silverman told me, the profit is on the entertainment side.
As for BuzzFeed’s collaboration with Facebook, it is notable that the latter was just issued a $5 BILLION fine for privacy violations, which is why nobody should trust such platforms with any personal information. And if you think the new “FaceApp” facial recognition software developed by a Russian company is safe, think again. Cyber security advisors warn, if you have downloaded that app, you should delete it.
Notably, Silverman recently wrote a column critical of the fact Facebook deactivated search features that international law enforcement agencies use to pursue “War Criminals, Child Predators, And Other Bad Actors.” However, those features also violate the privacy of all the rest of Facebook’s users. Facebook has a long history of monetizing those violations, which, as noted above, is now costing its CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and stockholders, $billions.
When Silverman considered The Patriot Post’s unusual model of accepting no advertising, he opined, “Refusing ads is a notable policy given that email lists are huge moneymakers … and The Patriot Post’s has been built up over more than 20 years.” But advertisers mine BuzzFeed user interests, just like they do Facebook users, and we are not going to subject our site users to such privacy violations, despite the loss of potential ad revenue.
As for our principled editorial rationale for refusing advertising, I referred Silverman to our About page, which explains, “Our website pages and emails are certified ‘Ad Free.’ Because we do not depend on a single penny of ad revenue, we focus solely on providing you content that is actually newsworthy — worthy of your time — rather than constantly churning the ubiquitous topics which now dominate the Leftmedia’s relentless 24/7 recycled spin.” Additionally, “We are not sustained by any political, special interest, or parent organization, and we do not accept advertising to ensure our advocacy and editorial content is not restrained by commercial influence — as is the case with all mass media outlets. Our website and email editions are free of advertising clutter.”
Silverman actually lamented that BuzzFeed’s model is built on churning news to bait “viral” clicks and ad views to generate revenue. I appreciated his candor. (I would note that, unlike BuzzFeed, our unconventional model has kept us operating in the black since our first year on the Web — a decade before the advent of BuzzFeed and its brand of entertainment media.)
Regarding Silverman’s inquiry, one of his website followers asked a good question: “What was the point … to inform us a conservative news platform uses pseudonyms and doesn’t accept ad revenue? Okay … thanks for the info?” One of his social media followers noted: “That was an extremely long article for not actually having a point, other than ‘this media outlet that I disagree with doesn’t use real names.’ And?”
To help answer those questions, I asked Silverman who first brought The Patriot Post to his attention and why. He responded, “Professor Jennifer Grygiel” of Syracuse University, a leftist colleague who “tracks partisan media” and “teaches a course about BuzzFeed. … I previously spoke to her class.” He said he promised to give her a byline if he published a story about The Patriot Post.
So this inquiry did not originate at BuzzFeed. It started when a hard-left LGBT activist, an assistant professor of communications from upstate New York, who promotes herself as a social-media expert, fed Silverman the story. He says it was because of our social-media growth. But there are thousands of social media pages that are growing, so why is Grygiel so interested in The Patriot Post, and how many others has Silverman written about?
A few weeks ago, there was a complaint lodged against our Facebook page about a meme, which correctly asserted that there are only two genders. This resulted in a takedown and penalty from Facebook. Suspiciously, following that complaint, Grygiel contacted Silverman.
Grygiel, who prefers the pronoun pseudonym “they,” identifies her areas of expertise as social media, memes, media regulation, police media, social justice, LGBTQ youth advocacy, race, and gender, but her specific expertise appears to be how to get social-media outlets to restrict content that doesn’t comport with her political and social views.
In short, Grygiel and her ilk are forming the new front against the First Amendment.
When I asked Silverman if he was aware of her political views, he responded. “I don’t know Grygiel’s political views.” Given their collaborative history, that reply seemed somewhat less than candid.
To be fair, though, I also asked him what his impression of The Patriot Post was, and he responded, “I looked at recent issues of the digest and found them to be filled with interesting information and commentary. … So when it comes to your core product my personal opinion [is that] it seems to be of pretty high quality.”
He and Grygiel clearly did, however, find other Patriot Post viral memes offensive: “One meme mocking vegans,” they (by which I actually mean the two of them) reported, “generated more than 2.9 million shares, reactions, and comments, and another chiding Parkland, Florida, shooting survivor David Hogg attracted more than 2.1 million engagements.”
My response? The vegan meme was intended as humor, but most Leftists are humorless.
But let me state emphatically, the assertion that Hogg is a “shooting survivor” does a disservice to actual survivors, like my friend and Patriot Post writer Roger Helle, who, as a Marine in Vietnam, survived being blown up, shot on two different occasions, and bayoneted — three Purple Hearts. He, not Hogg, is a real “survivor.”
When I asked about the motive for and objective of his collaboration with Grygiel, Silverman insisted “straightforwardly there is no intent to reduce your publication’s reach or undermine you.” Their next move will establish if that is true.
Another major point of contention in Silverman’s inquiry was our writers’ and editors’ use of pseudonyms, the “Publius” model from The Federalist Papers. This is another unconventional practice, like not taking advertising, which he simply could not grasp.
I explained that, since our inception, as noted on our About page, “As was the case with The Federalist (Papers) in 1787, the premier resource for understanding the Liberty and Rule of Law enshrined in our Republic’s Constitution, and from which we derive much of our constitutionally constructionist editorial inspiration, The Patriot Post is published under the pseudonym ‘Publius,’ and many of our editors and advisors are listed likewise.”
I noted that as we’ve grown over the years, I began offering new grassroots contributors the opportunity to choose a pseudonym or use their legal name. Some have chosen the latter.
Based on his fascination with pseudonyms, I asked Silverman if he’d written about how his publication’s CEO had set up fake websites under the names of real people in order to slander them, including one that attacked Second Amendment advocate John Lott (which Peretti admitted in a legal settlement, including his apology).
Silverman responded, “I’m not familiar with the examples … you cited and couldn’t comment on them without more research.”
(OK, let me make The Patriot Post research easy for the leftist inquisitors: We are actually a Russian front operated by Markovich Alexanderovich. We set up shop two decades before Trump announced his 2016 candidacy, so we could ensure he would defeat Hillary Clinton.)
Another point regarding our decision not to promote personalities… President Ronald Reagan, on his Oval Office desk, kept a small engraved plaque with the words, “There is no limit to what a man can do … if he does not mind who gets the credit.” That simple axiom defined how Reagan conducted his presidency: It was about the ideas, not about him.
That same plaque sits in front of my office computer today — where it reminds me, it’s about Liberty, not about us. That’s the “Publius” principle, the Reagan model, and our practice. But again, the MSM self-promoters can’t begin to fathom that.
Silverman also asked if I would put him in touch with some of the conservative leaders who provided favorable comments about The Patriot Post in years past. I contacted them, and predictably, nobody expressed an interest in talking with anyone associated with BuzzFeed.
However, the most widely known of those who offered praise for The Patriot, responded, “They are relentless and use Gestapo tactics.” But these speech-suppression methods are more akin to Stalinist tactics, which are also the inspiration for the “antifa movement thugs” — the self-styled anti-fascists who are actually fascists.
Indeed, the effort of leftists to silence Christians and conservatives, especially grassroots Patriots who promote Liberty, is relentless. (Ironically, Silverman recently devoted a column to the topic, “Vulnerable Groups Could Be Targeted And Silenced Online Ahead Of 2020 Election,” but was referring to “Muslim and Jewish” social media pages and made no mention of Christian pages subject to the same “silencing.”)
But as another notable stalwart advised me to tell our team, “We’re all in this together. Onward!” And onward we go.
Finally, about my original topic…
In stark contrast to Silverman, Grygiel, and their stripe, the evening their inquiries began to post across the Web, I was with friends and colleagues raising support for Honoring the Sacrifice, headed by my young friend Andrew Smith. Andrew also makes the wooden flags we sell to support OEF and OIF disabled vets.
I commend for your consideration supporting Honoring the Sacrifice.
As always, we ask your prayers for the Lord’s blessing for the protection of and provision for our uniformed Patriots and veterans and their families.
Semper Vigilans Fortis Paratus et Fidelis
Pro Deo et Libertate — 1776
Regarding the Silverman/Grygiel inquiry, this column originally contained a link to their column but we removed that link not just because of the surfeit of “misinformation” and “contextual errors of omissions,” as one might expect from tabloid media. We are not linking to their inquiry because Silverman and Grygiel maliciously doxed the names of family members even though they knew there were no financial or material connections between The Patriot Post and those family members. (While we know who the Silverman and Grygiel families are, mentioning them would be far beneath our ethical standards.) They also doxed the location of our humble storefront in Tennessee, despite the fact (or because) they knew that created risks to our staff and their families. (They have since removed that information from the article.)
Additionally, Silverman and Grygiel implied that we had misused two short quotes about The Patriot Post obtained 15 years ago without contacting the individuals who were quoted. Regarding pseudonyms, Alexander asked Silverman his opinion about journalists who have built their entire careers around unnamed sources, such as WaPo’s Woodward and Bernstein, who gave their source the pseudonym “Deep Throat,” but he did not reference that. And they implied that our use of pseudonyms is nefarious, despite the fact Mr. Alexander has always been easily identifiable through public media, which ironically, is how Silverman knew how to contact him. Likewise, the ownership of our company, Publius Press, Inc., has always been a matter of public record. Again, the “Publius principle” has never been about not revealing individuals, but about not promoting individuals.
This article contains additional edits for clarity, including references to Facebook privacy violations.