In spite of its Comment Policy's prohibition of comments containing vulgar, racist, personal attacks, HuffPost has made it a practice of reviewing, approving and deciding to publish such comments when they're directed at Sarah Palin and her children.
Most often, these comments appear on HuffPost "news" threads that have nothing whatsoever to do with her. And in a fair number of these cases, the users posting them have been allowed by HuffPost to rack up 10,000 or more comments --- while it routinely bans non-violating users who dare to speak up against them (documented here).
So we decided to run a little test, to document answers to the following questions:
(1) What would happen if another user copied and pasted these exact comments that HuffPost approved and published regarding Sarah Palin --- but reworded them to target Michelle Obama?
(2) Would HuffPost decide to publish them?
(3) And if so, would it allow the submitting user to remain active?
Read this article to discover the reality of HuffPost's comment moderation practices.
(1) Introduction & background
On July 25, 2009, Gov. Sarah Palin held her annual picnic in her hometown of Wasilla, Alaska, at which an estimated 1,000 of her supporters were in attendance. This event occurred one day before she resigned her office.
HuffPost had this story as the splash headline on its main page for the entire day:
Palin's Annual Picnic In Hometown Draws Big Crowd
The story was prominently positioned, similar to this one, which HuffPost ran two days later (July 27):
By midnight, the thread had nearly 4,700 comments. We estimate that 40-50% of these comments constituted clear to egregious violations of HuffPost's Comment Policy and Terms of Service. The most salient parts of these documents to take note of are HuffPost's claims that:
- It prohibits users from posting any comments that contain "falsehoods or misrepresentations that could damage... any third party;" or are "defamatory, libelous, hateful, racially or ethnically offensive," or that "include ad hominem attacks," or those that "contain racist, sexist... and other slurs"
- "We never censor comments based on political or ideological point of view."
You'll note that these documents also claim, as they have for years, that HuffPost only "post-moderates" user comments on its news threads, meaning that it automatically publishes all comments as and when they are submitted, only removing the "bad" ones after-the-fact. The reality, as is documented here, is that since at least March 2008, HuffPost has been pre-moderating comments on its news threads. This means that the only comments that appear on HuffPost's news threads are those that it has reviewed, approved and decided to publish.
A brief background on HuffPost's cultivation and tolerance of hatred and libels against Sarah Palin
User comments containing ad hominem attacks and vulgar libels against Sarah Palin and her children have been routinely showing up on practically every HuffPost "news" thread, no matter the topic, since the fall of 2008. Some of these lies are based on propaganda that HuffPost itself promoted about her.
A prime example was documented here, in which the splash headline on HuffPost's main page falsely announced that Palin "had a direct role in charging rape victims for exams." This lie has been a staple attack by HuffPost's radical leftists ever since. Other examples of HuffPost's propaganda-based "reporting" on Palin are located here and here. (Note: Examples of HuffPost's relentless, falsehood-based "news" reports on Sen. McCain and his wife are located here, here, here and here. HuffPost also called Cindy McCain a "dick;" screencap here.)
A significant number of the most serious, hateful attacks on Palin were not submitted by "trolls," as Ms. Huffington has claimed in prior instances. To the contrary, most were submitted by some of HuffPost's longest-term, pathologically-violating radical leftists, whom it has been protecting for years (examples here, here, here, elsewhere).
(2) Select quotes from Arianna Huffington on acceptable user conduct, and HuffPost standards
"If you're looking for the usual flame-throwing, name-calling, and simplistic attack dog rhetoric ... don't bother coming to the Huffington Post."
Newsweek, May 6, 2005
"(A) few ugly - and anonymously posted -- comments appear(ed) on HuffPost, which were removed as soon as we become aware of them..."
Portfolio, May 28, 2008
"We have a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to abusive or hateful language or comments – such comments are taken down as quickly as they come to the attention of our moderators. And we are constantly working to develop new technologies -- and backing them up with more and more 24/7 moderators -- which will allow us to more effectively filter out objectionable comments. But no system is perfect and offensive comments occasionally slip through."
The Huffington Post, March 20, 2008
(3) A sampling of the user comments that HuffPost reviewed, approved and decided to publish concerning Sarah Palin:
Question to righties...Is Sarah a mother figure, or a whore Figure to y'all ?
[Sarah Palin is] White tr@sh.
God made Sarah for the sole puprose of reproduction.
So, there is NEVER a time in a man's life when he is too mature to respond to the towntrampsarahpalin look? [...]
Live and let live?
Not when her goal is to turn America into some kind of theocracy with leaders who have no clue how to govern.
She doesn't know anything because she thinks it's all about jeebus!
Plus she's an eff'n r@cist!
Will [Palin] get a Fox show??
A reality show "The day in the life of a tr@iler park qu een"
(4) So what was, and is the status of these users?
Why is Piper always attached to her mother's hip? [...] Is Palin so intent on raising another generation of political quacks that she won't let the child be a child? [...]
Not only did HuffPost review, approve and decide to publish all the comments contained in Section 3 (and innumerable, similarly hateful ones on this thread and others), most of these users:
- Have spent a great portion or the bulk of their lives on HuffPost over the past year or more, and are well-known as being among the most vicious, long-term, pathological violators of HuffPost's (supposed) policies
- Remain active to this day, under the same screen names (they've either never been banned, or were "temporarily" banned, then quickly and fully reinstated)
- Have tens of thousands of (approved) comments in their archives
"LorneJL" - (Sarah Palin is "a whore figure") - At the time, HuffPost had allowed him to amass more than 35,000 comments since September 2006, under the same screen name. Currently, he is up to nearly 45,000 comments (right).
"HumeSkeptic" - (Sarah Palin is "white trash") - At the time, HuffPost had allowed him to amass nearly 62,000 comments since December 2005, under the same screen name. Currently, he is up to nearly 75,000 comments. We've produced a special analysis of this user, and HuffPost's long history of protecting, enabling and emboldening his pathological, egregious violations of its policies, here. Example: "Are you done f*cking your mother, or are you just getting started?"
"adey" - ("Town tramp Sarah Palin look") - At the time, HuffPost had permitted her to amass nearly 7,500 comments, the bulk of which were egregious violations of its policies. She has since been banned, but only after thousands more violating comments.
"ladynaga" - (Sarah Palin is "a trailer park queen") - At the time, HuffPost had permitted her to amass more than 20,000 comments since December 2008. As shown at right, she has now been allowed to reach more than 35,000 comments.
You get the picture. These were not "one-offs" --- one time occasions in which these users deviated from observing HuffPost's Comment Policies. Rather, these and the bulk of their other comments are reflective of their knowledge that no matter how egregiously they violate these (supposed) policies, they will be protected by HuffPost, whereas other users often meet with swift bannings, for daring to speak out against them.
(5) Description of "The Test"
On July 26, 2009, a Huff-Watch operative established a new account on HuffPost, under the screen name "MirrorMirror," to perform a test.
In this test, "MirrorMirror" submitted carbon-copies of the comments that HuffPost approved from its resident radical leftists against Sarah Palin --- but with Michelle Obama as the target, and the wording of said comments changed only to be applicable to her.
What happened? Go to Part 2 of this report to find out.