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.
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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.