Paris Wade, left, and Ben Goldman, right. Photo courtesy of Stuart Palley. Edited by Brian Addison.
Long Beach is home to two of the most dangerous men in online publishing—Paris Wade and Ben Goldman—each of whom make tens of thousands of dollars monthly peddling fake news (i.e. propaganda) to millions of fascistic followers.
In fact, they brag about being the “new yellow journalists,” saying they cater to an audience in which “violence and chaos and aggressive wording is what people are attracted to.”
This was the main story on the Washington Post‘s Sunday edition, the paper whose own Editor-in-Chief, Martin Baron, declared to a group of graduates at Trinity College that we live in a post-factual world—one which Wade (who writes by the alias Paris Swade) and Goldman (who writes by the alias Danny Gold) not only foster and fuel but make exorbitant amounts of money off of.
Just last week, we ourselves said we recognize this post-factual world,
…a world where it doesn’t matter how much reasonable evidence we can provide you; if it doesn’t cater to your perspective, you will dismiss it through a series of either misguided notions—”Typical leftist liberal media pandering to fundamentalist terrorists”—or through a basically-impossible-to-prove-or-disprove conspiracy theory—”This was written by so-and-so, who works for This Paper, which is owned by This Company, whose largest stockholder funded This Organization, which was the largest donator to This Politician and that is why they are writing this.”
We are in a post-truth reality, if that’s a reality at all.
This pseudo-reality has dire consequences—and it is why we must be cognizant of it. Many felt the accessibility and popularity of propaganda is what led to the election results we saw: the top 20 propaganda stories on the election on Facebook garnered more reach, more attention, more likes, more shares, and more comments than the top 20 real news stories. How much more? We’re talking 8,711,000 shares, reactions, and comments on Facebook.
And the people sharing it aren’t solely linked to the conspiracy theory-ed out tinfoil hats meandering the digisphere. Republican Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska recently tweeted about people who have been paid to riot against Mr. Trump, an idea propagated by fake news and eviscerated by the Washington Post.
Wade and Goldman, who were living in a bare bones apartment in Long Beach where they head their operation before having millions of visitors heading to LibertyWritersNews.com to read stories busted out in less than 10 minutes, usually fall short of a few hundred words, and lead with innuendo, little fact, and even less care for the consequences of their digital opportunism.
Included in each article is a call-to-action: “***Share this patriots!! The Washington Post tells lies but Liberty Writers wants to make America great again by fighting against the establishment.”
Of course, it goes beyond the simple fact that people believe this as news; the social numbers they boast make even the most underground of folks feel like their stance is normalized—and that is precisely why they site solely shows off a number-of-people-have-seen-this icon at the top of each “article,” each one noting hundreds of thousands of “supporters.”
And their individual Facebook “author” pages? Each have well over a 100K likes a piece, where Wade ironically denounces supposed fake news from sources like NBC and continues Obama birther conspiracies while Goldman links a supposed drop in revenues for the Clinton Foundation to the (heavily disproven) “crimes” the Clintons have been involved in.
This isn’t new—just more widespread because of the ease of dispensing the bogus stories. Radio and cable news have long spun typically right-wing-centric opinions that are based more on innuendo and fear than substantiation and intellectual rigor.
Texan oil baron H.L. Hunt dominated radio waves in the 1950s with his conspiracy theories about water fluoridation and Communist takeovers, also leading him to publish books, create conferences, and use public access television to spread his message. Carl McIntire used WXUR out of Philadelphia and his own weekly publication, The Christian Beacon, to attack everything from the NAACP to the Anti-Defamation League beginning in the 1970s.
The result? According to Heather Hendershot’s What’s Fair on the Air, these men laid the foundation for contemporary racist propaganda generators like Breitbart and sensationalized publications like Drudge Report while fueling religious or right-wing personalities like Jerry Falwell and Rush Limbaugh.
Wade and Goldman are no different—and that is perturbing to the extent of being frightening.