NPR reporter David Folkenflik’s new book Murdoch’s World accuses Fox News’ PR department of using scores of fake commenter accounts to challenge negative – even neutral – articles in the blogosphere on Fox News. Employees were even expected to challenge other negative comments on the same posts, a tactic shared with unhinged stalkers, trolls and basement dwellers the world over.
On the blogs, the fight was particularly fierce. Fox PR staffers were expected to counter not just negative and even neutral blog postings but the anti-Fox comments beneath them. One former staffer recalled using twenty different aliases to post pro-Fox rants. Another had one hundred. Several employees had to acquire a cell phone thumb drive to provide a wireless broadband connection that could not be traced back to a Fox News or News Corp account. Another used an AOL dial-up connection, even in the age of widespread broadband access, on the rationale it would be harder to pinpoint its origins. Old laptops were distributed for these cyber operations. Even blogs with minor followings were reviewed to ensure no claim went unchecked. [Murdoch’s World, pg. 67]