I do not trust this situation, at all. I’m not going to publicize the name of this person outside a court, but the reaction to the article was so quick that it deserves attention. The article I wrote
was quite negative regarding the Tea Party. I don’t have a very high opinion of the Tea Party. Nor do I have a very high opinion of the people who’ve spent the last few decades murdering the United States. What a coincidence.
This person is not directly GOP affiliated. All the other associations, however, point to a Tea Party type campus group. From there on the GOP relationship is just a matter of degrees. I’m highly suspicious of this sudden interest, particularly when the person involved is “following” over 2700 people. How does one person keep track of thousands of Tweets, particularly while Tweeting away furiously themselves? The obvious inference is that the following is done systematically, by a group, for whatever reason.
The questions in this case are:
Why are GOP related people suddenly so interested in critics?
It’s not like they debate the merits of any criticism.
Could there be a friendly reason for tracking critics?
No. Why would there be? This article wasn't friendly. The attention could only be hostile.
Am I overreacting?
Maybe, but I’ve written dozens of articles on the subject of US politics and met someone called John Paul Jones on a thread, among others. Usually they just appoint a few paid hacks to get on to forums and yell at critics. This following of critics is new. Criticism is quite unknown in the Tea Party and in conservative circles generally, particularly in America, so you can infer they don’t like critics much.
What are the possible effects of following critics?
Add to the above the fact that even well-known, highly talented journalists like David Brooks, a conservative writer on The New York Times, have been seriously hammered in the neocon media for being “too liberal”, and you can join a few dots about how following journalists works in conservative groups. Apparently slanging off critics is a real cottage industry.
Could tracking critics be a way of creating a blacklist, a la McCarthy?
If so, that new follower was good news for me, and I shouldn’t have blocked that person. There are some blacklists I really do want to be on, and that particular group’s would be one of them. I do not want to be associated in any way with supporting the people who have been mutilating and maiming the United States on a generational basis for the last 30 years. Being on their blacklists would be proof positive of where I stand. Get out your crayons and scribble my name, by all means. Just make sure you spell it right.
Does a pattern of tracking foreign critics mean anything?
It might. I don’t want to overstate this situation in any sense. It’s standard PR practice for media minders to do so. However- Doing so at a remove from the political mainstream, outside the party machine in an activist group scenario is a different ball game.
Is there a sort of GOP-related media Super PAC, ready to smear or attack critics?
That wouldn’t surprise anyone. After all, they smear everyone else, and they can’t even spell defamation, let alone use it in a sentence. This particular person also has a plug-in to FOX Nation, a hyper-conservative FOX site with as much anti-Obama material as you could ever wish to see.
Ramifications for foreign journalists
What are the solutions for any negative effects of being on a blacklist or professionally discriminated against as a journalist, blogger or other form of writer?
There are many- Damages, class actions, you name it.
If you’re a foreign journalist, you probably don’t need to be told how nutty some American political groups usually are. You may, however, need to be told that you do have a few legal options if you are targeted by them. If you earn any money at all through any sort of journalism or other types of writing, any negative effect on your income may be actionable. This also applies to publishers, if that action affects them.
If you’re writing or publishing in a foreign jurisdiction, you can probably institute action in that jurisdiction. You are, after all, writing under the laws applicable in your own country, not the United States. You’re also relating the action to income earned in other countries, not the United States. US courts do not have jurisdiction in these countries. They can’t block legal action in other countries. Media carrying any damaging information can be prosecuted if incorporated or carrying on business in those countries.
Class actions would definitely be the best option for journalists and publishers. These actions carry weight as case law. (I’m thinking of some of the UK and European publishers, in particular.)
The real problem
The problem with this situation is that a part of the world’s greatest democracy is apparently no longer acting like a democracy in terms of criticism. Foreign journalists and publishers are very strongly urged to keep an eye on this sudden infatuation with following critics on the part of GOP affiliated groups. See who’s following you and check them out. If you don’t like the look of them, block them. Also keep an eye on your business relationships. Sue to kill, on the slightest proof of active interference in your business. Democracy can be enforced.
Just one more thing-
News of the World was allegedly a very vicious, nasty organization which would go to any depths to get materials. That involved following of a different kind, but you can see the analogy and the points at which minding other people’s business becomes actionable. News of the World is now out of business, and its senior staff are being charged with criminal offenses.
Also bear in mind that most journalists and writers wouldn’t mind a few extra million dollars.… And have a nice day, buttercups.