Oh those nutty thin-skinned Fox News people. When faced with criticism, PR flacks went through elaborate motions to create fake accounts to rebut.
I don't think this comes as a surprise to any regular reader of the C&L comments. I do not doubt that there are Fox sock puppets amid the comments.
In a chapter focusing on how Fox utilized its notoriously ruthless public relations department in the mid-to-late 00's, [NPR Media Critic David] Folkenflik reports that Fox's PR staffers would "post pro-Fox rants" in the comments sections of "negative and even neutral" blog posts written about the network. According to Folkenflik, the staffers used various tactics to cover their tracks, including setting up wireless broadband connections that "could not be traced back" to the network.
A former staffer told Folkenflik that they had personally used "one hundred" fake accounts to plant Fox-friendly commentary.
Folkenflik cannot say whether the practice is still being used, but I think it's safe to say it is. Nor is this atypical for the thin-skinned conservative set, who collectively have a hard time dealing with criticism. Breitbart used sock puppets, as have the Koch brothers. McCain and Romney campaigners used them during the election. Astroturfed teabagger trolls go on liberal blogs, down rate liberal political books on Amazon and collude to game online polls (a practice known as "freeping" after the site Free Republic, which is notorious for encouraging readers to overwhelm online polls). Of course, Fox News would join in.
And I would normally just shrug it off as yet another example of how pathetic Fox News is, but truly, this has dangerous undertones. This gaming of the system makes it look like we are a center-right, or right-leaning country. But we're not. Look at polls about gun control, marriage equality, the desire for Congress to focus on jobs and infrastructure and to not cut social safety nets. But this small and still diminishing segment of the population make themselves seem much larger, not only by volume but by creating fake people to parrot their propaganda to make their numbers seem more significant than they truly are.
And sadly, this is the propaganda that we have catapult over to convince Beltway insiders that the numbers are with us, not sad, little thin-skinned Fox News executives.