This article documents the fact that HuffPost:1) Falsely manipulated a news story headline in a way that could only serve to incite and reinforce anti-Semitic stereotypes and hatred
2) Decided to publish explicitly anti-Semitic hate comments in response to this incitement
3) Protected the perpetrators of such comments, while at the same time, continuing its pattern of banning non-violating users, and those who stand against such users (see a special report on this issue here)
HuffPost has repeated claimed that it is nonpartisan in both its news coverage and its user comment moderation policy. Via this article, and these archives (1, 2), we've demonstrated the falseness of these claims --- particularly as they relate to Israel and Jews.
On January 26, the AP (the news source HuffPost most often utilizes) published a story concerning criminal allegations against a defense technology executive. You'll note that all of the following news sources, chosen at random from a basic Google search, ran this AP story under almost identical headlines:
YahooNews (the world's largest news portal):
Breitbart (Note: Andrew Breitbart was a co-developer of HuffPost, and its first News Editor --- who later became one of its most vocal critics 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
NBC26 (Green Bay, WI):
KESQ (Palm Desert CA):
So how did HuffPost decide to play this story, on January 27 --- after having seen how other news sources played it?
Take a look for yourself --- here is how HuffPost ran the story on its front page:
The HuffPost story page is here, and below. Note that like the teaser headline on the front page, the story page also makes the explicit claim that the firm's owner, David Brooks, "spent $10 million on daughter's bat mitzvah."
Q) So why did HuffPost make this allegation, whereas none of the other news sources did?
A) That's a question that only HuffPost can answer --- because it is not true.
First, there is nothing in the article that says Mr. Brooks "spent $10 million on daughter's bat mitzvah." Zero. Where HuffPost got this number, and why it assigned it to these alleged expenditures, is anyone's guess.
The story is 635 words long. 544 words in --- almost at the end of the article (see graphic below) --- one gets to the only sentence about bar and bat mitzvahs:
"Prosecutors say he threw lavish bar and bat mitzvahs for his children in which entertainers such as Tom Petty, Aerosmith and the Eagles performed."
Whatever one thinks of Mr. Brooks having spent the money required to get such big-name acts to play at his childrens' bar and bat matzvahs, the fact is that this is not the focus of the story. The focus, rather, is the charges against Mr. Brooks, centering around the allegation that he manipulated the stock price of his company in order to obtain financial benefits for himself.
But even if his expenditures with the allegedly ill-gotten gains were the focus of the story, why did HuffPost focus entirely on his childrens' bar and bat mitzvahs in the headline --- when so many other examples of Mr. Brooks' extravagance were mentioned in the article, before any reference to his childrens' bar and bat mitzvahs?
Prosecutors say Brooks splurged on six-figure parties and other extravagances, including a diamond encrusted belt buckle and a Bentley. Brooks also allegedly spent millions of company funds on his horse racing hobby and allowed his daughter to use the company jet to travel to a Halloween party in Wisconsin.
Brooks also is accused of using DHB funds to buy or lease luxury vehicles for himself and family members, and to pay for vacations, jewelry, cosmetic surgery, country club bills and family celebrations.
So why would HuffPost make the decision to create such a blaring headline focusing on an aspect of this story that is of so little relevance, and one that it must have known --- given the long history of anti-Semitism on HuffPost --- could incite and reinforce hate-filled user comments?
That's a question that only HuffPost can answer. Perhaps one day, someone in a position of influence will ask it to do so.
So what kinds of comments did HuffPost review, approve and decide to publish on this story thread? Need you ask?
As a reminder, HuffPost has been pre-moderating user comments on its news story threads since at least March 2008 --- meaning that only those comments it had reviewed and approved would be published. This is documented in extensive detail here. Since that time, and to the present day, HuffPost has placed a status indicator bar (below) atop each of its news story threads, showing how many comments were "pending" its review, and decision on whether to publish or reject:
Also note that beneath this status bar, HuffPost claims that the only comments that appear are those that it has "approved" (pre-moderation):
“Want to reply to a comment? Hint: Click "Reply" at the bottom of the comment; after being approved your comment will appear directly underneath the comment you replied to”
Here is a sampling of the comments that HuffPost reviewed, approved and decided to publish on this thread, in response to the incitement it provided. You'll note that the first two commenters are clearly not "trolls" (hit-and-run users whom Ms. Huffington blames for comments that violate its policies); each has ten or more "fans," meaning that they've been there for some time:
T4 I'm a Fan of T4 I'm a fan of this user 10 fans permalink
Brooks, goldman, paulson, Bernake, Geinther, et al -- need i say more or is the total destruction of the american ecnomy necessary before we get the picture of who's in charge of the cash register.
Posted 01:41 PM on 1/27/2010CaptainQueeg I'm a Fan of CaptainQueeg I'm a fan of this user 16 fans permalink
Getting sick and tired of all of the Heebe's in this world.
Reply Favorite Flag as abusive Posted 02:33 PM on 1/27/2010tibu I'm a Fan of tibu I'm a fan of this user permalink
Reply Favorite Flag as abusive Posted 03:26 PM on 1/27/2010
Q) So, did HuffPost immediately ban "CaptainQueeg"?
A) Not only did HuffPost not ban him, it went into his comment archive and surgically removed this comment, and others --- including explicit calls to violence --- and left him free to continue commenting.
Ms. Huffington and other HuffPost representatives have insisted that such hate comments only "accidentally... slip through" (see Section 1 here, and here). Furthermore, as is documented in Sections 6 & 7 in this special report, HuffPost routinely bans non-violating users after as few as six comments, for daring to challenge or mock the most egregious violators of its "comment policy" --- including anti-Semites.
Here's what happened in the case of "CaptainQueeg":
1) On January 27, "CaptainQueeg" had 415 comments in his archive, the last of which was his statement that there are "too many Heebs in the world."
Further, a review of the PDF of the first page of his archive from January 27 indicates that the above was not the first policy-violating comment of his that HuffPost reviewed, approved and decided to publish. Here are some more examples:
"Time to grab a Baseball bat and start caving Repubs heads in" (Jan. 27)
"Get the Baseball Bats ready. A few Supreme Court heads need bashing in." (Jan. 23)
"Two Heebs" (Jan. 12)
2) Yet on January 28, "CaptainQueeg's" comment archive contained only 410 comments:
What happened? Well, as the following PDF of page 1 of his profile shows, HuffPost surgically removed "CaptainQueeg's" anti-Semitic hate comment, along with all of his explicit calls to violence, cited above.
And as you can see from the above screencap, it left him free to continue commenting.
Why would HuffPost do such a thing? Why would it go to such lengths to surgically remove the evidence of one user's anti-Semitic hatred and calls to violence --- both of which are supposedly egregious violations of its "comment policy," and leave him free to continue --- while at the same time, banning non-violating users after as few as six comments?
Again, perhaps one day, someone in a position of influence will ask HuffPost to explain itself. Hopefully, that someone will not accept HuffPost's continuing, false statements as to how such comments "accidentally slip through," and how it works so hard to maintain a civil online environment.