Tis the Season For Blog Trolling … Fa la la la la la la la Bah!

Conservatives say if you don’t give the rich more money, they will lose their incentive to invest. As for the poor, they tell us they’ve lost all incentive because we’ve given them too much money. — George Carlin

Well, it was just a matter of time before the trolls got the marching orders.  You know, it’s folks who love those memes, canards, and dog whistles more than thinking.  They try to way lay a conversation by spewing objectionable stuff. Every one from ALEC to Karl Rove seems to be in on it these days. Any one who lived through the 2008 election on-line should be well prepared for the invasion. Some of the blogosphere’s more spurious troll dens are so obvious about the planning it’s right there in their conversation threads.  Others are getting their orders from political pundits, Super PACs and nefarious corporate interest groups like ALEC so some one has to get hold of their secret memos before the attacks begin.

To push back, ALEC has turned to the conservative blogosphere for help. As PR Watch reported, Caitlyn Korb, ALEC’s director of external relations, told attendees at a Heritage Foundation “Bloggers Briefing” on Tuesday that the campaign against ALEC was “part of a wider effort to shut all of us down.” She asked the bloggers for “any and all institutional support” in ALEC’s fight against progressive groups, especially when it came to social media. “We’re getting absolutely killed in social media venues—Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest,” she said. “Any and all new media support you guys can provide would be so helpful, not just to us but to average people who don’t know much about this fight but are seeing us really get heavily attacked with very little opposition.”

Korb educated the bloggers with a handout listing ALEC’s positions on a range of issues. PR Watch, one of ALEC’s loudest critics, described the handout as “riddled with errors.” Here’s a list of ALEC statements followed by PR Watch’s responses in italics:

“The potential solutions discussed at ALEC focus on free markets, limited government, and constitutional division of powers between the federal and state governments.” It is hard to discern what voter suppression bills, tax breaks for big tobacco, bans on unionization, protections for companies whose products injure or kill, and “Stand Your Ground/Kill at Will” laws have to do with free markets.

“The organization respects diversity of thought; it is a non-partisan resource for its members, which include more than 2,000 Republican and Democratic state legislators.” Diversity of thought apparently refers to Republicans talking to Republicans. Although touted as “nonpartisan,” when CMD launched ALEC Exposed, out of 104 legislators in leadership positions in ALEC, only one was a Democrat. It’s hard to believe that ALEC phone briefs on redistricting are totally nonpartisan.

“Unlike in many private sector groups that offer model legislation, elected state legislators fully control ALEC’s model legislation process.” As ALEC’s public Task Force Operating Procedures” (PDF, p. 8) and other documents reveal, corporate members vote alongside legislators in ALEC task forces.

“Each state legislator and their constituents then decide which solutions are best for them and their states.” For the most part, constituents have no way of knowing that corporations wrote or approved ALEC legislation behind closed doors.

Here’s a link I got from Susie Madrak who finds that Karl Rove is out training a Troll Army.  It comes from a link to diary from Young Turks that’s not referenced but sounds like Rovish tactics.

They will be unable to spread numerous points on numerous blogs if you have them occupied. Allowing a Liberal to post a web link is too quick and efficient for them. Tie them up. We are going for delay of game here. Demoralize Dismiss their narrative as rubbish immediately.

Do not even read it. Once the Liberal goes through the trouble to research, gather, collate, compose and write their narrative your job is to discredit it. Make it obvious you tossed their labor-intensive narrative aside like garbage. This will have the effect of demoralizing the Liberal poster.

It will make them unwilling to expend the effort again, and for us, that is a net win.

Attack Attack the source. Any Liberal website or information source must be marginalized, trivialized and discounted. Let the blogosphere know that Truthout.org, thinkprogress.org, the nation and moveon.org are Liberal rubbish propaganda. Discredit Liberal sources of information whenever possible. Confuse Challenge the Liberal position with questions, always questions. The questions need not be relevant. The goal is to knock the Liberal poster off their game, and seize control of the narrative.

Once you have control you can direct the narrative to where you want it to go, which is always away from letting the Liberal make their point. Conversely, do not respond to their leading questions. Don’t rise to their bait. Contain Your job is to prevent the presentation and spread of Liberal viewpoints.

There’s document floating around from a some journalism and communications professors in Missouri on how to discern and fight the Karl Rove tactics.  This handbook is for pols and campaigns facing heat from the Rove SuperPac.  This is a document that dissected Rove based on the Bush campaigns. Specific actics are identified from that campaign as well as poor and more ideal responses to attacks like ‘swiftboating’.  There are quite a few examples given on how certain words have been completely co-opted and redefined.  This is one of my personal pet peeves.

The Republican political machine uses language to frame issues in a fashion that benefits them. One technique involves the use of Newspeak, a term that originated in George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty Four. Newspeak refers to words that mean the opposite of its original meaning. This Orwell envisioned a totalitarian world in which newspeak was employed to control people’s thoughts and behaviors:

The example used in the paper is Bush’s “Clear Skies” label for a basically anti-environment agenda.  Other examples include continually linking the word “compassionate” with conservative, and demonizing the label liberal.  This is an interesting paper and really provides some interesting examples of how Rove used consistent tactics aimed at demonizing opponents and keeping them on the defensive.

Bob Cesca has an example of an ad looking specifically for right wing trolls to comment on Facebook, twitter, and liberal blogs.

    Writers needed to post right-wing comments to social media and news outlets.

    We are a social media company working for a political organization, hired to help balance the left-wing bias of the major media outlets by supplying a team of writers who will post to newspaper comments, media forums, Facebook pages, etc.

    Your writing must be strong, right-wing and use the supplied talking points without being bogged down in too much detail. You are creating an online persona with a consistent tone. Ideally you can find or construct facts and statistics to stir controversey. Where suited humour is welcome.

    You are a news junky who is able to log on to news forums and Facebook pages several times a day. You are able to write comments tailored to new topics while repating key talking points.

    Compensation: TBD, hourly rate and volume of online activity. Bonuses for controversial postings that heat up a topic or forums thread.

Any one who has read a number of political outlets does see a variety of different “sock puppets” around leaving the same comments.  It’s undoubtedly going to happen as this election season wears on.  Breithbart’s organization (Big Journalism) appears to have an army of them.  One evidently went after Wesley Crusher (Wil Wheaton) at a Comicon.  At least our 2008 trolls stayed in their mother’s basements.

Here’s one liberal blogger’s answer to the Troll Patrol.

Her comment and those of her cohorts have only one purpose: To taunt and annoy people. Those of you who have ever visited extremist right-wing blogs are familiar with these phrases: Annoy a liberal!  Make their heads EXPLODE!

So far, Sky Dancing has not seen the knee-jerk Obama supporters that most of us endured in 2007-2008 as supporters for Hillary in the primary.  It could be because a lot of us around here are decidedly anti-Romney.  We’re still not keen on the President, but maybe it’s enough that our attacks are on his policies and positions and not from out right derangement–like other blogs we could name but prefer not to–so we’re not that high on the priority list.  I’m assuming the Axelrove and Plouffe will be getting their game on shortly.  So we will see.  It could also be that our demographics are such and the gender gap is such that they’re not worried about us right now.

So, what do you suppose we can expect this year?  Which group of trolls will be gnashing their teeth at sky dancing and trying to change the subject?  We do have a policy of putting all first time comments directly into moderation, so hopefully that will mean the worst of it never makes it to the comment section.  We tend to let comments through as long as there’s no name calling or outright bigoted or hateful comments.  Still, after our experience in 2008, your friendly troop of frontpagers are a little on the anxious side.

19 Comments on “Tis the Season For Blog Trolling … Fa la la la la la la la Bah!”

  1. ecocatwoman says:

    So, do you think Rove read 1984 and thought it was a How To book? It really is no wonder that the Right wrapped their arms around the evangelical community. They needed an audience that was susceptible to propaganda, who didn’t need or want proof of anything & who were pre-programmed to follow, even over the edge of a cliff. Not that Rove, Cheney, O’Reilly, Armey, Rush, the Koch Bros, Coulter or the other standard bearers believe any of the bull they spout – pure & simple, it’s a gravy train for them. And we know that there is more money on the Right than on the Left because lying, cheating & stealing are perfectly acceptable to them. The forces of Darkness are upon us. We need Gandalf & we have Obama instead.

  2. dakinikat says:

    I’m hope you don’t see the same kinds of things that we used to get in the moderation filter. Some of them were really nasty. I guess we’ll see how much of a fight there will be over women because that’s a demographic we have here!

  3. janicen says:

    Pass the popcorn. It should be entertaining to watch the Rovester trolls go up against the Obot trolls. I wonder what they hope to accomplish since people who frequent the interwebs are pretty dug in, but I’ll enjoy the show.

  4. HT says:

    One thing I have noticed lately at the other blogs where I lurk – the sockpuppets come in with agreement in order to get past moderation, then as they begin to be accepted, they slowly introduce their memes and attempts to poison the discussion. Both sides do it, unfortunately. IF all these “brain trusts” put their considerable money and talents into helping the country recover rather than the unbalanced pursuit of power and money, the world would be a better place. One wonders how much the sockpuppets are paid to attack their fellow citizens.

    • “One wonders how much the sockpuppets are paid to attack their fellow citizens.” There’s one way to find out. Go undercover and apply for the gig — just to see how things work. After awhile, you can tell the pubic all about how it works. Is that morally permissible?

  5. Dakinkat, I learned a lot from this post. It came at just the right time for me.

    Just now, I received something I haven’t seen in along time — a drive-by from a 2008-style troll, accusing me of being a Hillary “deadender” involved in some sort of conspiracy with my alleged PUMA friends. It felt infuriating to receive a guilt-by-association claim, since I go out of my way to avoid associations.

    I spent far too much time writing a response…


    …and then I came here. Suddenly, all became clear: My correspondent was simply one of those creeps who are paid to annoy us. It’s not personal. It’s not deeply felt. They simply are looking for buttons to push, for ways to create divisions and rancor.

    There are other factors at work. The NYT did a piece recently on trolls who simply hate bloggers of all sorts, and constantly look for ways to get under their skins. These oddballs enjoy the psychodrama for its own sake.

    The BBC recently did an amazingly good documentary on trolls. There are psychotics who enjoy posting rude and disgusting insults on tribute pages to the recently deceased. And, of course, there are the stalkers.

    As you know, much of the swag offered to bloggers — free books, free movie tickets — comes from people who want to make sure that harassers have access to your home address and other personal info. Make no mistake: Even if you are a third-tier blogger, they will compile a dossier on you. It’s tough to say no to freebies, but safety comes first.

    We have no choice but to be tough comment moderators. Banning anonymous comments seems to help.

    The days when blogs allowed truly free discussion are over. The trolls killed the fun.

    • dakinikat says:

      It’ll be interesting to see who gets on whose radar this season. I’m really disappointed at a lot of old Hillary supporters that seem to have gone over the edge from anger. I’m expecting grief from them because I simply will not support Romney under any circumstances and I’ll vote Obama to block him. We’ve been lucky to miss a lot of the worst trolls that I used to see elseblog. But the, we don’t have any one here that goes out of their way to attract them either.

      • RalphB says:

        Could be, I hope, they know we’re just a lost cause. I know I fit that category.

      • NW Luna says:

        Well, this old Hillary supporter is still p-o’d at Obama and his supporters but there’s no way that translates into support for Romney. I do have the luxury of being in a safe state though. I hate to reward Obama at all. Third party is a tempting option.

  6. My mouth fell open when reading this Dak, some of the language is word for word what I have seen organizing at some of the blogs you speak of. I need to go back and read your links, but I have to admit, a sigh of relief. I thought my concerns about trolls was bordering on paranoid, maybe my gut feeling was actually right.

    • dakinikat says:

      well, your email inspired me … some people just seem to be natural born sociopaths and its easier to stalk people from your basement these days

      • Reminds me of the episode from South Park, the dude playing World of Warcraft…this guy must have no life…which is something to think about because some of the troll organization is that involved that to carry it out, you really must have “no life.”

        And that link about the right-wing hiring trolls, I remember that from last year. Again Kat, fabulous article, wow.

      • RalphB says:

        Your mallet is greatly appreciated. If I wanted to read that crap, I’d read it on the other side.

  7. ANonOMouse says:

    “I’m expecting grief from them because I simply will not support Romney under any circumstances and I’ll vote Obama to block him.”

    The more I see of the current wave of ODS, where the rightwing-talkers-bloggers-commenters-pols, cover the hatred spectrum, with everything from “secret muslim” to “anti-american” to “foreigner” to the in-your-face Dog Whistling, the more I feel that I should, as a gesture of standing against the concerted hatred, cast my FU & KMA vote for Obama. Even if he isn’t competing in my redstate. What a difference 4 years make. 🙂