October 05, 2006

Where It Hurts

It seems that certain liberal gossip blogs don't care who they malign or misrepresent, as long as they can turn a smear to their advantage.

I mentioned last week how obsessed UNC Law Professor Eric Muller, the gossip blog Wonkette, and its parent company Gawker Media used a photoshopped picture to attack conservative blogger and journalist Michelle Malkin for what they misrepresented as "hypocrisy." Muller has since apologized.

He is the only one.

It now turns out that even after the owner of many of the pictures stolen from various accounts pressed both Wonkette and Gawker Media to stop the smear campaign, they have thus far to refused to answer her emails or justify their continued smears.

In response, Ashley Herzog, the owner of many of the stolen photos shown on the faked photo site, has come forward to write scathing rebuke directed at those involved:

...I wrote an e-mail to Wonkette, the blog that first posted the pictures. I explained that only one picture on the page showed the real Michelle Malkin – I took it at the Conservative Political Action Conference last February, where I briefly met her. The others had been stolen from my webpage.

Three days later my letter remained unanswered, and the smear campaign against Malkin raged on. I sent a second request to Gawker, the media empire that owns Wonkette, detailing the theft of my pictures. I was optimistic that a conglomerate worth tens of millions of dollars would show some accountability toward its audience.

Two days have passed, and my inbox is still empty.

This is the brave new world of Internet media. Like many Americans, I entered it with a naïve notion of bloggers as modern-day pamphleteers, throwing the cover off stories that the establishment media won't touch. I believed that Internet blogs, being far more democratic mediums than mainstream television networks and newspapers, would show respect for the truth.

But after visiting a few popular blogs, I realized I was sadly mistaken. At best, many zero in on political gossip and absurd non-issues, such as whether a conservative author ever posed in a swimsuit. At worst, many political blogs are cesspools of racism, misogyny, and obscenity, not to mention vicious lies.

The posts and links to my pictures are still up, and I'm no longer anticipating a response from Gawker. They are a multimillion-dollar behemoth; I'm a college kid with a claim to a few stolen photographs. They have nothing to lose by ignoring me.

However, it seems the fallout from the Malkin hoax is far from over. This morning, I received an anxious message from an Ohio State student who had just discovered the fake photo page.

She identified herself as “the girl in the bikini” and explained that Malkin's face had been photoshopped onto her body. She asked what we could do to stop the pictures from being circulated.

The answer, unfortunately, is probably “nothing.” Gawker and its ilk appear willing to perpetuate bald-faced lies in order to advance an agenda. And they don't mind taking a few innocent college girls along for the ride.

Obviously, neither the staff of Wonkette nor Gawker Media gives a fig about their continued exploitation of Ashley Herzog's photos, their exploitation of Meredith Chan, the young woman in the real bikini photo used in the Photoshop.

But there is a way to make Gawker Media respond, and that by hitting them where it hurts... the wallet. Gawker Media is estimated to be worth $76 million dollars, with their primary income generated by advertising.

I suggest that those who feel strongly about this agenda-driven abuse of Malkin, Herzog and Chan should consider a boycott of Gawker Media advertisers, accompanied by an email to the companies explaining just why they will not be purchasing products advertised on Gawker Media Web sites.

One can easily visit Gawker or Wonkette to compile a list of companies to contact.

I quickly compiled of companies advertising on these sites, including BellSouth's, CarMax, Panasonic, and FSGBooks, but you can easily create your own list as well.

I'm linking them to this Malkin article called "The Gawker Smear Machine" among others, just so they know who they are spending their advertising dollars with.

I may be wrong, but I doubt this is the kind of attention they'll enjoy.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at October 5, 2006 10:59 AM | TrackBack