Fake news, fake people, real outrage.

This week, one of our guests was Nick Sylvester, who talked about his experiences being the center of controversy. He wrote for notable publications, including the Village Voice, and it was revealed that some of the interviews he had published were in fact made up. Although they were indeed satirical to the astute eye, this fact was not as apparent as it is on, say teh Colbert Report or the Daily Show, and people got quite angry. The Gawker apparently developed quite a fixation on him.

The discussion about the controvers leapt from the wiki’s single page for that week’s video and notes, and launched into a seperate discussion page. I will admit, I have no burning desire to rehash that conversation, nor do I have any particularly unique thoughts about it. However, I did discover a similar, but distinguishable controversy, posted on that same page:

Wal-Marting Across America

LT: Let’s change the context a little, and see how it affects our analysis.

This couple ran a popular blog about their travels across America in an RV; staying in Wal-Mart parking lots. When it was discovered that Wal-Mart was the actual impetus (and funding) behind their trip, controversy erupted.

  • What is the “moral weight” of their failure to disclose the true nature of their trip? Does the fact that it was being done for profit, for commercial reasons, make that situation somehow more offensive – or for those who saw no problem with the above – does it make the behavior cross some line into offensive?

Of course, the situation is distinct in other ways. The blog was not per se fabricated – the couple alleges that they were entirely truthful. However, this assertion is undermined by the fact that the blog was unfailingly positive – and had frequent citations of how wonderful all the Wal-Mart employees were.

Keep in mind that Wal-Mart took down the blog after the information got out that it was their doing – now all that remains are two defensive posts.

  • Is this otherwise offensive because it was an attempt at “GoogleWashing” the pejorative use of the new verb Walmarting?
  • Is it offensive because it is Wal-Mart – because it is being done b a company that is already known for using its bulk to conform the world around it to its wishes?

This I find even more intriguing. Since noone has taken the bait and added their comments, and since I’m not about to reply to my own questions on the discussion site, I thought this might be a more appropriate place to hash them out. However since 1. it is now past midnight and 2. I have not yet formulated actual opinions, I will save this discussion for a later post. I just wanted to invite comments rom nyone reading, and honestly to set this up as a spur and reminder to myself to revisit the subject.


Business Week Article

Blog’s Remnants

Consumerist posts Banned Pics

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