Two Sides to Every Story: The Truth...and Everything Else

As the strike continues and things heat up around the DGA negotiations, apparently the multi-national media mega-corps and their $100K a month crisis management flaks are ramping up their online psy-ops and misinformation campaigns.

Deadline Hollywood Daily, in a post detailing a range of less than savory actions taken by AMPTP members against WGA supporters, reported that "AMPTP staffers, consultants and members (especially corporate publicity departments) are busily posting comments on WGA-friendly websites and blogs that Hollywood visits regularly and filling them with hate-filled rants against the WGA leadership, the A-list actors, and the companies who've made WGA side deals. The goal is to turn off readers and drive traffic away and in the process spread pro-AMPTP propaganda and make it look as if the strike is breaking apart."

Well, we at UH.com can certainly confirm the hate-filled rants. How bad has it gotten? Well, what are the most vile things you can imagine? Did you include references to Hitler, comparisons to the 9/11 terrorists, the "C-word" and every conceivable variation of the F-bomb? Okay, now imagine someone posting that, oh... 40 or 50 times a day, sometimes 10 times in the span of 10 minutes. In fact, it's that kind of stuff - not the obvious trolls - that caused us to turn on comment moderation.

And now we can add a new tactic: pretending to be WGA members in online comment sections.

DHD had a post last week reporting on a Fox employee instigating an altercation with Law & Order showrunner Rene Balcer (and by "instigate," we mean trying to hit him with his SUV). There were witnesses galore confirming the despicable actions of the Fox employee, pictures taken, and a formal police report. Pretty black and white, right?

Apparently not for several "commenters" on DHD, including one "Ben Tramer" who said "there are two sides to every story." Including this one.

Now, usually when a person driving an SUV pushes a person legally walking in a crosswalk with the fender of his vehicle, that is the side of the story. But not to this commenter. According to him, the pedestrian "had it coming" from the SUV and "deliberately stepped in front of cars."

Just one problem with "Ben Tramer's" comment: UH.com talked to Ben Tramer, and he didn't write it.

The real Ben/Bennett Tramer is a WGA member and a strike captain who pickets at Fox. And he was quite surprised - and pissed - to start hearing from friends who read a comment using his name to "advance views the exact opposite of [his] own."

Coincidence? Maybe. John Carpenter, a friend of the real Mr. Tramer, named a character after him in "Halloween II." So maybe the person who left that comment just happened to be a huge "Halloween II" fan... and just happens to work at Fox... and just happens to be intimately familiar with the incident outside the gates... at the exact same place where the real Mr. Tramer just happens to be a WGA strike captain. So we're trying to do a little Internet detective work to track down the person who put up the comment.

But if somebody out there is using names of WGA members to post anti-WGA comments, the real Mr. Tramer said, "It's a sad comment on the strength of their position if they have to use identity theft to make their point."


Becca said...

This post compels me to state that no amount of hate filled crapola from the AMPTP camp will turn the public away from the WGA. Most of us who frequent strike friendly sites are pretty aware of the trolls and shrills.

We love the WGA, we are loyally dedicated to our show's writers and we strongly advocate for fair pay for work done. No troll or shrill can sway that.

BTS Buzz said...

While I think it sucks that there are people out there that would go the Godwin's Law route on this (or any other) issue, one can't blame the AMPTP and the studios they represent for every dim-witted wacko commenter out there. You only need to look as far as the forums at Television Without Pity to see that the general public will whip out the Nazi accusation card at every chance they get.

However, I absolutely agree that to represent yourself as someone you are not is b.s. If you don't want to reveal your identity (as I don't) then make something up. Don't play it off that you are someone you're not. That's chickensh*t.

Unless, maybe that person really WAS a huge fan of Halloween II????

makomk said...

You obviously haven't spent enough time on the Internet. Comparisons to Hitler and 9/11? Massive amounts of gratuitous swearing? Both, alas, totally inevitable in anything larger than a small, mostly-closed internet community.

You really don't have to assume these nasty comments are AMPTP attacks. A common-or-garden Internet troll would be a more likely explanation - this is certainly high-profile enough to attract them, and they'd probably be very amused to be mistaken for the AMPTP.

(They may even be from real people who are angry at the WGA. Some people just get behind a keyboard and lose all semblance of politeness...)

The posting under false names, on the other hand, is more suspicious.

buzzearl said...

Actually, I think that one should presume that the majority of hostile anti-WGA/anti-Writer comments are from AMPTP trolls.

As it is, the Fib & Liar employees of the AMPTP are being paid to fill these sections with their comments. And Fib & Liar needs to earn that 100k per month . . .


Phill said...

It is a well known fact (or should be) that there are firms that specialize in "astroturfing" (as it is fake "grass roots") comment boards and social media sites to specifically counter mass perception. Many of these posters reside in foreign locales to take advantage of cheap labor. I would sincerly hope that WGA members (and the reading public) not take the bait, and realize that many things said on the internet should not be taken at face value.
I find it somewhat astonishing that if the "internet does not matter" as the AMTP would lead us to believe, then they would let this strike drag on. The AMTP also needs to realize that I am leaving my TV off more and more, as I and others find different ways to use our time. Maybe it's TV "that doesn't matter."