The Ghost Media

Metric Media Foundation

Supreme digital reporting into algorithmic local news imposters.

I am not a political reporter by any means, nor is this blog in a position to cover politics or media first-hand, but this is a story worth presentation and a bit of dissection. When Extratone (very) briefly published political content, I modified a WordPress plugin to change any mention of our current president - the text "Donald Trump," "President Trump," "President Donald J. Trump," etc. - to simply "Tump," and added a corresponding explanatory subhead in our Style Guide. Though none of this content is available anymore, I'd like to clarify that I have also adopted this rule into my own personal Style Guide.

What Tump says does not typically bother me, emotionally - he is a Real Shithead and I know he thrives on Tweet embeds (ahem) - but his Tweet about The Atlantic last week really Ticked Me Off. This is the beginning of my "journey" with this story. Immediately after I (rather pitifully) lashed back at Tump, I noticed The Atlantic's McKay Coppins Tweet a link to his story: "The Billion-Dollar Disinformation Campaign to Reelect the President." Here is the mother of all the hyperlinks that follow. Please forgive my following regurgitation, but you wouldn't just read the whole story, would you?


Coppins describes Brad Parscale - Digital Director of Tump's 2016 election campaign - as "a 6-foot-8 Viking of a man with a shaved head and a triangular beard." He links to ProPublica's revealing profile of the behemoth, but more interesting to myself is the absurd journey Brad undertook to get where he is today:

Parscale Media was, by most accounts, a scrappy endeavor at the outset. Hustling to drum up clients, Parscale cold-pitched shoppers in the tech aisle of a Borders bookstore. Over time, he built enough websites for plumbers and gun shops that bigger clients took notice—including the Trump Organization.

Big Brad "graduated from Trinity University in San Antonio in 1999, majoring in international business and economics," before going to work for his dad in California before his company's bankruptcy in August 2003. Brad moved back to San Antonio and incorporated Parscale Media in October 2005.

In San Antonio, Parscale built a volume business. He did fast, inexpensive work for small enterprises like Dury’s Gun Shop, Quest Plumbing and D&D Farm and Ranch. He pitched clients by day, often making cold calls, and cranked out websites at night. On the side, he sold his own software add-ons to website developers.

A "marketing consultant" who apparently worked with Big Brad for two years described him as "the type of guy who would oversell capabilities and then figure it out." Big Brad sounds like My Kind of Shithead. In 2009, he paid for two advertisements in Forbes and Texas Monthly so he could cite them as "Top 10 web designer awards," but - when Tump came around - he sold his work to the cause ridiculously cheap:

In February 2015, the Trumps asked Parscale to craft a simple landing page for the presidential exploratory committee. Parscale did it for $1,500, completing the work on his laptop at home over a weekend. He got another call in June and agreed to build the Trump presidential campaign’s website for $10,000.

I'm assuming Parscale is the reason WhiteHouse.Gov transitioned from Drupal to fucking WordPress, which is utterly hilarious.

Through the end of 2015, the Trump campaign had paid Giles-Parscale just $39,000, mostly for “website development,” according to Federal Election Commission filings. By February 2016, his firm was receiving monthly six-figure sums for “digital consulting.” In June, he was named the campaign’s digital director.

A "Republican consultant who knows Parscale" described him as "a huckster." I'll say.



Pink Slime

A mix of "journalism" and "automatic."

As a result of serious breaches of the Tribune’s journalistic standards, we have suspended indefinitely our use of Journatic as a third-party producer of editorial content for our suburban TribLocal publications.