Fox News Used Fake Online Commenters to Counter Bad Publicity

Ethical? Probably not. Hilarious? Absolutely.

Apparently when they said, “We report, you decide” during the last decade or so, the folks at Fox News didn’t actually mean it. Media Matters (an admittedly left-leaning group) has the goods on how the network put its PR department to the task of pretending, in online comments sections, to be people who really love Fox News.

The story comes from a new book by NPR’s David Folkenflik, who says a Fox staffer told him the company had a hundred fake accounts to promote pro-Fox commentary:

On the blogs, the fight was particularly fierce. Fox PR staffers were expected to counter not just negative and even neutral blog postings but the anti-Fox comments beneath them. One former staffer recalled using twenty different aliases to post pro-Fox rants. Another had one hundred. Several employees had to acquire a cell phone thumb drive to provide a wireless broadband connection that could not be traced back to a Fox News or News Corp account. Another used an AOL dial-up connection, even in the age of widespread broadband access, on the rationale it would be harder to pinpoint its origins. Old laptops were distributed for these cyber operations. Even blogs with minor followings were reviewed to ensure no claim went unchecked.  [Murdoch’s World, pg. 67]

How’d you like to be the Fox News staffer who had to use AOL dial-up in order to post comments like, “Sean Hannity is soooooo awesome”? It’s weird, paranoid, and a little dishonest … and hey, Fox News chairman Roger Ailes got his start working for Richard Nixon! Probably no coincidence.


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  • KobraKai7474

    I thought this was common knowledge. Why else would minor and major progressive blogs be so infested with alleged FoxNews lovers. Yes, I am a progressiv, but I wouldn’t waste one minute of my time commenting on conservative blogs. The really funny thing is that FoxNews actually thinks they are changing minds with this silliness.

    • Emberdink Humberdittle

      Roger Aisles feeds bigoted stupid right-wing cranks propoganda that is not only divisive but dangerous. Goebbels did the same thing Roger Ailes is doing.

  • Virginian

    Hey Mathis, were you in such a rush to file this article that you forgot to proof the first graph? I’ll decide…you learn to write.

    • Emberdink Humberdittle

      How illiterate do you have to be to think that “graph” is short for “paragraph” by the way.

      • John Titor

        I thought I missed a graph of some sort.

      • lbmouse

        Illiteracy may not the problem here. Faux Noise Channel pigeons and parrots are too lazy for real news so what makes you think they are not too lazy to type a few extra characters?

      • bosser bosser

        Not to defend the idiot, but graph is short for paragraph. It’s a common term amongst newspaper reporters, authors, and editors.

  • Emberdink Humberdittle

    I do wonder if the cartoon character Cartman was inspired after this bloated bigoted pig. What a sc**bag. If you are a Netfl** subscriber, look for BOOGIE MAN: THE LEE ATWATER STORY to learn about sc**bag politics of the right-wing. Actually Lee Atwater hired Roger Ailes the things that Lee Atwater himself considered to be too disgusting – what the even the RNC wouldn’t dirty its hands with, Roger Ailes was happy to do.

    Like the Willie Horton ad. What a disgusting man. No one in his right mind or with an IQ over 80 would ever consider a news channel run by this pig to be legitimate.

  • Quixote

    It should be pointed out that in New York, this is a crime, a felony, that the Internet authorities can prosecute to the full extent of the law. If Murdoch knew about this, he can be sent to Rikers Island. See the documentation of one current case at:

    and don’t give me any of this “free speech” or “free press” baloney. See how the Attorney General opened a fake yogurt shop in Brooklyn to get those scoundrels posting fake comments on Yelp:

    So again, let’s be clear. If you use “sock puppets” or do “astroturfing” or send out deadpan “satirical confessions” in someone else’s name in the United States, you are a criminal and risk being prosecuted. This should be thoroughly investigated at once by the District Attorney of Manhattan and the perpetrators should be brought to justice.

    • Hoxie

      Are you serious? The “Internet authorities”? LOL. I really hope you are trolling here. If not, please stop huffing jenkem.

      • Yuppers

        I didn’t read “Internet authority” anywhere in their comment. Please tell me the above comment is trolling!

        • Hoxie

          “…this is a crime, a felony, that the Internet authorities can prosecute to tge full extent of the law”.”

          Can’t tell if troll or pathetic CSI “expert”

          • Quixote

            I will have at both of ye with my spear! We shall shortly, I trust, be implementing a fine surveillance system to deal with these miscreant rascals! It is crucial that all online commentators in America have their identities checked, traced, defined, catalogued. Pseudonymity is a direct path to sin and criminality. We owe thanks, above all, to New York’s capable prosecutors for their creative efforts to put an end to this “Internet freedom” sock-puppet scourge.

        • jS

          Its in the first sentence dumbass.

  • Matt

    FOXNEWS is the new boogeyman that Media matters decided to target once Bush left because they knew progressives (and probably true for cons) are more united around things they hate than what they stand for. Fox is no worse than than the other news outlets. In fact, the largest independent study by Harvard and UCLA found their news (not opinion shows) less biased than the other outlets…

    Everyone needs a boogeyman, it’s just sad how many people bite.

    • Ol’ Yeller

      Which shows are considered news and which opinion? I’d wager primetime doesn’t meet news criteria.

    • jS

      FOX shill

  • dr.zhivago

    FOX NEWS beats combined ratings of CNN, CNBC and MSLSD! I guess all these viewers are also FOX employees?! Get a life lefty goons!!

    • jS

      FOX shill, beware

  • PhillyTrue

    So MediaMatters is merely described as “left-leaning”? That’s a joke, right? ABC news is left-leaning. In actuality MediaMatters is a soros-funded tax free 501c3 pure propaganda site with little readership.

    We’re supposed to be concerned about 100 alleged fake poster accounts for a news outlet, but rather unconcerned Obama’s millions of fake Twitter followers and fake Facebook likes?

    I feel stupider for having read this nonsense.

  • shaylynnvacca321

    my Aunty Amelia got a new blue
    Land Rover LR4 only from working part time off a home computer… helpful hints