On the morning after Track Palin beat up his father, confronted Wasilla Police and eventually went to jail, his mom – former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin – was up early and hard at work, according to her Facebook page.
At 5:43 a.m., she posted a link to her 4.4 million Facebook followers alerting them to an American News Hub story about TV talk show host Chris Matthews.
“Wow. First Matt Lauer, and now another one,” she wrote. “These reports never seem to end.”
Below that comment was the headline – “Another NBC Host Was Accused Of Sexual Harassment—But The Network Made It Go Away” – to which Palin added a one-word comment, “unreal.” The story, a secondhand summary of reporting done by Fox News said that 20 years ago NBC paid $40,000 to a woman who said Matthews made inappropriate comments to her.
The story appeared on the American News Hub and was bylined “Mary Kate Knorr.” Over the course of the day, Palin would stay busy linking more American News Hub stories. There were so many it almost appeared she was working for the online startup.
At 7:11 a.m., she highlighted a story that had Treasury Secretary, Steve Mnuchin predicting the GOP tax bill would pass. “This will be big if he’s right,” Palin wrote. “All we can hope is that it’s everything they’ve promised it will be for the middle class. Fingers crossed.”
At 8:18 a.m., she linked a story about Vice-President Mike Pence meeting with an English couple whose baby died after it was taken off life support. “God bless our Vice President. What a wonderful gesture,” Palin wrote. “This family deserves so much goodness after all they’ve been through.”
This went on all day.
More posts, all linking to America News Hub, came at 9:02 a.m., 9:46 a.m., 10:32 a.m., 11:26 a.m., 12:45 p.m., 1:52 p.m., 3:07 p.m., 3:55 p.m. and 5:43 p.m. By then, Palin had put in at least 12 hours laboring away on her Facebook page.
None of the America News Hub stories Palin linked involved any real reporting. All were cribbed from other news organizations: Fox, Breitbart, USA Today, Biz Pac Review, The Daily Caller, Conservative Tribune and more.
Of the 12 stories Palin posted, seven were written by Knorr, who uses a very consistent formula. Here’s an example:
“Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Sunday that President Trump ‘has demonstrated he’s a bit of a disruptive force,’ according to BizPacReview.
“‘He does unpredictable things. He’s a dealmaker. He’s a negotiator,’ the ultra-liberal Canadian leader said.
“Check it out:”
A few paragraphs borrowed from another news organization’s reporting then follow. About all that every changes are the names in the first paragraph and the source.
Check it out:
“President Trump announced on Sunday after returning from Camp David that he has no plans to fire Russia Special Counsel Robert Mueller, according to Fox News.
“The president’s announcement came hours after a member of his legal team, Ty Cobb, addressed rumors about Mueller’s supposed dismissal this week.
“Check it out:”
New business model?
As a political force, Palin has largely been displaced on the battlefield of American partisanship by an even more aggressive Donald Trump. But with her mob of followers, Palin remains a power on Facebook.
Those Dec. 17 Facebook posts catalogued above resulted in almost 9,500 people sharing links to News Hub stories on their Facebook pages. There is no way of knowing how many eyeballs all this sharing drove to the website, but the number is certainly in the tens of thousands if not more.
The relationship between Palin and the News Hub is not clear, but Knorr is not just an American News reporter. She is also a reporter for SarahPalinNews.com or was.
“On December 6, Fox News host Laura Ingraham predicted the Democrats would use the ‘sexual allegation circus’ to take down President Trump,” Knorr reported at Sarah Palin News on Dec. 13, “and she’s already been proven correct, she pointed out in her Tuesday night monologue (via Fox News Insider).
“‘Like clockwork,’ she said. ‘”Just yesterday, complaints by the same Trump accusers that voters had already heard from.’
“Check it out:”
Palin’s Facebook page once linked mainly to SarahPalinNews.com, but recently has shifted heavily to the News Hub or other websites set up by Josh Riddle and David Rufful.
On the America News “About” page, it says this about the duo:
“American News was founded by Josh Riddle and David Rufful with a mission of reporting the truth and facts to America 24/7.
“Josh and David started building websites as freshmen roommates at Dartmouth College in May 2009. They both also played college basketball and edited for the preeminent college newspaper, The Dartmouth Review. Prior to Dartmouth, Josh and David both studied at Northfield Mount Hermon School in Massachusetts.”
Beneath that is a glam photo of the two young businessmen, a claim they have “built several of the largest websites in the world,” and a long list of television shows on which they say they have appeared.
The exact same photo and an almost identical bio appears on the “About” page of DigitalNewsAlerts.com, and the “About” page of DigitialPoliticsDaily.com. These are among other websites to which Palin has been linking on her Facebook page.
Andrew Mark Miller and Nick Arama appear to do most of the reporting for Digital News and Digital Politics, and they are regulars at the America News Hub where they are joined by Knorr and a couple of others.
Traffic, traffic, traffic
When Palin was linking her Facebook page to stories at SarahPalinNews.com, a good day at driving traffic to the website saw shares in the multiple hundreds. Since she began to shift to the News Hub – which sounds more like a news site and less like the website of an aging politician – shares in the multiple hundreds have marked a slow day.
Good days are in the multiple thousands. Those shares drive traffic, and with that traffic comes money, money, money.
Traffic is how those now legendary teenagers in a “small city in Macedonia” allegedly got rich.
“Goran – not his real name by the way, he’s not confident enough to reveal that – is one of scores, or probably hundreds of Macedonian teenagers who are behind a cottage industry in the small city of Veles which churned out fake pro-Trump news during the US election campaign,” Emma Jane Kirby reported for the BBC in December 2016.
“Goran began putting up sensationalist stories, usually plagiarised from right-wing American sites, last summer.
“Goran says he worked on the fakery for only a month and earned about 1,800 euros ($2,100) – but his mates, he claims, have been earning thousands of euros a day. When I ask him if he worries that his false news might have unfairly influenced voters in America, he scoffs.”
“So it’s not a dude in Lithuania, it’s a couple of guys from Dartmouth and some blogger in Chicago,” an Alaska editor observed when queried about thoughts on Palin’s Facebook page Friday. “These people have all just figured out ways to cash in on the distribution of the kind of viral pseudo news that we’re drowning in. What a f—–g bizarre state of affairs.”
The editor, speaking on background, also confessed that if former governor Palin, who was a staunch advocate of “Alaska hire” while in office, was offering employment in the 49th state, a “pseudo news” job might be worth considering. The editor, like most journalists in Alaska, feels overworked and under appreciated and is, without a doubt, underpaid.
Pay for journalists in Alaska is now so low that most news organization looking to hire don’t mention it. The website paysa.com doesn’t report salaries for the Anchorage Daily News, but lists an average of $42,000 per year at KTUU.com, although the median appears closer to $35,000. The “living wage” for a couple in an Anchorage with only one of them working is put at $40,700.
Reporters at KTVA.com reportedly do better than others in the state’s largest city. Paysa puts the average there at $80,000 with the median appearing to be close to $70,000. The average is inflated by salaries that climb to $184,000.
On air commentator John Tracy, the former anchor at KTUU, could be underpaid at the reported $130,000 per year he collects to present “Reality Check” once a week. Elsewhere journalists aren’t doing so well.
As for quasi-journalist Palin, once paid a reported $3 million to work as a commentator for Fox News and now pushing copy for the America News Hub, who knows.
New York Magazine this summer got a whiff of what Palin was up to but no one in the media seems to have really caught on to her attempt to make a full-on shift from politician to pseudo news pusher in cooperation with the former Dartmouth basketball players.
But then again, the NY Mag story was written before SarahPalin.com morphed into SarahPalinNews.com and long before another shift began toward the News Hub.
Still, NYMag reporter sarahpalin.com is not the kind of website typical of former politicians or even political has-beens who retain a lingering hope that they will hold office again.did observe that “iconography aside,
“Palin’s…is something else entirely: a right-wing content farm.”
“Most prominent on the website…are short articles that are presented as news,” Nuzzi wrote. “Many of the posts are just bad aggregation, condensed and rewritten versions of reports from other publications — like the Daily Caller, Fox News, and Politico, as well as less well-known sites such as Weasel Zippers — that shape and distribute news so that it confirms a conservative worldview. You might call it fake news or propaganda, with headlines like, ‘YES! Trump Fulfills Campaign Promise to Help the Coal Industry’ (approximately 70 jobs were created, by a private company, at a coal mine in Pennsylvania) or ‘EVIDENCE FOUND! Trump Was Right on Voter Fraud …’ (12 people in Indiana were charged with submitting fraudulent voter-registration applications, while Trump claimed that ‘millions’ of undocumented immigrants had voted illegally in the 2016 election).”
This pretty well describes the kind of stories now running at the Hub. Friday’s fare?
“Ultra Liberal Cenk Uygur Finds Himself In Hot Water For Newly Revealed Sexist Past,” a Miller compilation of commentary from The Daily Caller, reporting from The Daily Wire, and a YouTube video of a debate between Uygur and conservative radio personality Ben Shapiro.
How all of this is being monetized is unclear. But if the Hub has the 8 million subscribers it claims, the website’s ad revenue alone might be enough to support the few people who appear to be involved.
The connection between Palin, a woman who avoids the Alaska media like the plague, and all of this is unclear. It could be that the woman who enjoyed an exceedingly short career as a TV sports reporter before becoming governor is just a huge fan of the Hub and various Riddle-Rufful websites, and it could be she has a piece of the action.
She probably could use a new source of income. She had been riding along on the income of SarahPAC, her political action committee, but that shut down early this year with costs going up and contributions going down.
The only thing crystal clear here is that it’s impossible to miss the difference between the Palin Facebook posts of today and those of only a couple of years ago.
The Palin of the here and now was Friday writing – “This is a big deal. We’ve got to keep an eye on this” – above a link to yet another Hub story, this one about a Department of Justice “Review That Will Have Obama Terrified.”
“@realDonaldTrump – Mr. Trump should know he’s doing something right when the malcontents go ballistic in the press! There is no denying Donald J. Trump‘s accomplishments and drive to create opportunity for every willing American to succeed. His own success is testament to the job-creating achievements made possible when one applies the courageous and tenacious pro-private sector precepts we need to fire up the economy. Trump joins a competitive field of GOP candidates that will duke it out in the arena of ideas and track records, a field representing diverse achievements. This, in contrast with the pro-big government party’s practice of merely anointing a chosen one, thus robbing voters of healthy debate.
“Key to conservative’s victory is to do our own vetting of each candidate, focus on their ability to unleash America’s entrepreneurial spirit and dramatically shrink government in order to prioritize our nation’s security. That means we ignore the media’s participation in the liberals’ Pantsuit Politics of Personal Destruction. THEN, on an even playing field, in 2016 we charge forward after the radical left hears America shout, ‘You’re fired!’
“- Sarah Palin”
If you didn’t know better, you’d almost think there was a different Palin posting now than in 2015.
The only posts on Palin’s FB page this week that looked at all personal were a congratulations montage to newly engaged daughter Willow, and a photo of Sarah’s snowy yard along Wasilla’s Lake Lucille with the comment that “Our beautiful 2017 winter solstice morning outside my window. New fallen snow blankets a dry gray ground, representing the fresh start God gives us each new day. Clean slate. Beautiful possibilities. Snow angels await. – SP”
Palin has yet to say a thing on Facebook about the attack by Track, her oldest son, on her husband, Todd, which sent the latter in search of medical attention and the former to jail. That story has gone global, but there has been nary a mention of the incident on Sarah’s Facebook page, let alone a link to a story.
And the Hub, interestingly enough, appears to be one of the few news outlets that hasn’t picked up the story. Not even Sarah’s old employers at Fox News could ignore the Palin family assault.
Update: This is a slightly edited version of a story that first appeared on Dec. 22, 2017.