Censureship and Impaired Integrity at The Huffington Post
The Huffington Post, one of the most widely read, politically influential websites, banned one of its writers after he discovered that a seemingly anonymous person who was posting critical comments to his articles was actually The Post’s technology manager. In a Huffington Post posting, Peter Rost, M.D., exposed the identity of the heckler, known as a “troll” in the world of bloggers, which prompted The Post to temporarily block his access.
He has recounted the incident of on-line censorship on a new blog site he created, separate from the one co-founded by journalist Arianna Huffington:
This is a sad day for online journalism. I was terminated without any investigation of the statements in my article, all of which were referenced using independent sources. I presented facts and made no allegations. Arianna Huffington’s newspaper decided to shut down the whistleblower and proved that her online magazine is no more ethical than the people and organisations she criticises on a daily basis.
Dr. Rost, a former vice-president of the pharmaceutical company Pfizer, became suspicious after his articles were persistently attacked by a poster called yacomink. One comment by yacomink that scoffed at the quality of his writing, “This thing reads like a sixth grader’s first attempt at a research paper,” was mysteriosly voted a “readers’ favorite comment” within a half-hour of its posting, the speed of which aroused Dr. Rost’s suspicions.
Dr. Rost had been writing at The Huffington Postfor about three months and written over 60 articles. He was also suspicious of the incident because, out of 1,278 responses, only 18 comments had ever been popular enough to be voted a “readers’ favorite”. He foundyacomink’s IP address and, after a further search, found a web page for Andy Yaco-Mink that included the following: “Andy Yaco-Mink is The Huffington Post’s technology manager. He lives in Brooklyn.” Dr. Rost wrote a Huffington Post reply that exposed Andy Yaco-Mink as the troll, suggesting that he had manipulated The Post’s systems in order to get his comments rated as one of the readers’ favorite comments. He wrote: “In order for The Huffington Post to maintain its credibility, the site needs to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest or rigged rankings.”
This prompted the Post to censure him and ban his access to the website in order to write any further articles. “You have not been ‘fired’ but rather asked to refrain from posting as our editorial staff felt that your recent blogs were not in line with the mission of our site,” The Huffington Post wrote in a letter to Dr. Rost. “This was not an Arianna call. Ultimately, the decision was an editorial one, not one person to be held responsible….,” concluded the letter. Dr. Rost was later reinstated to The Huffington Post (click here to read his blog). However, readers should certainly visit that blog to see the other strange things that happened or were done to to him after exposing the manipulations going on at the Post.
This peculiar incident involving Dr. Rost has come very shortly after a Huffington Post controversy involving forgery, when The Post was forced to admit faking an article alleged to have been written by actor George Clooney. The Oscar-winner Clooney forced Huffington to retract the article that had been deceitfully published as his own work, when his comments actually had been “lifted” from other interviews. Clooney released a statement calling Huffington’s methods “purposefully misleading,” and she then admitted that his “so-called article” was in fact comprised of nothing but compilations from recent interviews by Clooney with The Guardian and CNN’s Larry King Live.