The article “Could It Be Time To Deny White Men The Franchise?” caused quite a stir. It was supposedly written by a white female named Shelley Garland, a philosophy major studying at UTC who lived in South Africa. Except, Shelley Garland doesn’t actually exist.
The pseudonym behind one of the Huffington Post’s most controversial and explosive articles covering the topic of removing the ability to give white males voting power in South Africa was actually cooked up by a white male living in South Africa…a certain Nick Shannow.
The object of the ruse was to prove that mainstream media outlets are ethically bankrupt. The ruse was designed to expose the fact that mainstream media outlets will publish anything that fits within their agenda, and that they have no intention of being honest or fact-checking material, so long as it toes the line. The ruse seemed successful in that endeavor.
HuffPo writer argues white men shouldn't be allowed to vote and liberalism is bad. Every word of this is nonsense: https://t.co/IJt6JwfTCs
— Dave Rubin (@RubinReport) April 14, 2017
The process of pulling off said ruse was outlined in an article on the Renegade Report, which detailed how Shannow pulled a fast one on the Huffington Post by pitching them an anti-white editorial that was too good to pass up. And it worked… the Huffington Post bit hook, line and sinker.
But the real kicker is that Nick Shannow doesn’t actually exist, either.
The name is a pen name attached to the real person behind the elaborate ruse. We don’t know who the real “Nick Shannow” puppeteer is, but he’s supposedly good friends with those working at the Renegade Report at Cliff Central.
According to Cliff Central’s Roman Cabanac, the real face behind the account is actually a “close” friend of his. Roman explained via e-mail that “Nick” was afraid of the blowback, so he doesn’t have a social media presence, nor does he wish to have his personal details outed. Roman explained in the e-mail…
“He sent it to numerous publications, all rejected it save for Huffington Post. The reason for doing so was to troll but also to see if journalistic standards failed in pursuit of ideological imperative.”
The gullible Huffington Post published and defended a hoax calling for white men to have their voting rights removed https://t.co/rFctxtP7RT
— Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) April 17, 2017
So why go through all this trouble and not bask in the 15 minutes of fame? Because according to Roman this whole exercise was about outlining the media’s agenda-driven narrative, where ideological directives are put ahead of basic ethical principles such as fact checking and citing proper sources.
The Renegade Report’s deep delve into the situation is still up for viewing on Cliff Central, complete with the e-mail exchanges between “Nick” and the Huffington Post. It goes through the process of how the article was published on the popular mainstream media outlet.
The article first appeared on April 13th, 2017, and due to all the blowback it was defended a day later by Huffington Post South African editor-in-chief, Verashni Pillay. Pillay defended the piece under the assumption that Shelley Garland was real and that the article espousing racism against white males was legitimate. It was not.
After Pillay realized that it was a ruse, the article was deleted, and the defense of the racist piece was changed into an apology, as well as a brief discussion about the ethical standards and practices of the Huffington Post. This all happened over the course of just a couple of days. We covered the whole ordeal in an article outlining the events that triggered the controversy.
In the outreach e-mail, “Nick” wrote the letter to the Huffington Post as Shelley Garland, a copy of the e-mail shows that the initial pitch was essentially anti-Trump, anti-Brexit and anti-white. Instead of an automated message – one that usually tells you it could take up to a week to get back with you – the Huffington Post quickly wrote back saying…
“Thank you for your pitch, we would love to run a piece like that.”
“[…] Basically just send through your first piece, a profile photo and a bio when you’re ready. I’ve attached the blogger terms document and FAQ for your perusal.”
The Renegade Report details how the FAQ and blogger guidelines points out that pieces are not supposed to be objectionable and inaccurate, nor defamatory or inflammatory, it stats in section (3)…
“[the blog post] is not objectionable, inaccurate or inflammatory; is not obscene, defamatory, threatening, pornographic, harassing, hateful, racially or ethnically offensive, […] is not otherwise against the interests of Huffington Post or our users as a whole.”
And yet the piece was specifically designed to be racially charged to offend white males.
But “Nick” did this on purpose. In fact, in an e-mail shared with the Renegade Report, he explains…
“Recently the Huffington Post published a blog post (which has gone viral) by Shelley Garland, an MA philosophy student and self-styled activist and feminist, on whether it is time to deny white men around the globe the vote, and at the same time redistribute their assets globally. There was some speculation on social media that Garland, who claims to not be a fan of South Africa’s ‘rainbow politics’ and is thinking of ways to smash the patriarchy, was not real. Those who thought that Garland is not real were correct. For she is a pseudonym used by myself, a white South African male, to show that one can write absurd racist and sexist hogwash, as long as the target is the right one.”
It’s essentially “MovieBob” Chipman’s maxim of “No bad tactics, only bad targets”.
“Nick” explains that he shopped the piece around to a couple of outlets, and to the credit of Branko Brikic from the Daily Maverick, he saw through the ruse and refused to deal with the article. The Huffington Post, however, was not above such lowly machinations to spur racial tensions.
According to “Nick”…
“The piece was accepted without question by the Huffington Post even though – as others have pointed out on social media and elsewhere – the piece is riddled with factual errors, logical fallacies, and is not something that an MA student could possible write.”
“[…] Huffington Post did not fact check any of my ludicrous claims in the article, nor, as far as I can tell, was the piece edited. After the piece was published I saw that I had entered one of the hyperlinks wrong for one of my ‘sources’, and this had clearly not been check.”
“Nick” sums up the experiences as something akin to the Sokal Affair, stating that if it looks good and sounds good from an ideological perspective, then it’s a-okay in the eyes of the media.
He ends the letter by writing…
“Let this be a lesson to publications like the Huffington Post (and others) to fact check articles, thoroughly investigate contributors (especially those sending through unsolicited work), and not publish absolute poppycock, just because it fits into a certain ideological narrative.”
We’ve seen this kind of mentality from the media, especially since 2014 where they fabricated lies and published half-truths about #GamerGate, claiming it was a harassment campaign and a movement about misogyny, when in reality it was about the very topic that this article is about: ethics in media journalism.
#GamerGate rightfully spotted out how ideological biases led many journalists to abandoning proper ethical protocols, giving their friends a platform to spout their political ideologies, as well as promoting games that also adhered to those same ideologies. Many of these journalists did so without disclosure, and then attacked their own audience when it was brought to their attention. #GamerGate went over their heads and contacted advertisers and the FTC in an attempt to get things sorted and for ethical standards to be enforced.
Nevertheless, this is an ideological disease spread far and wide throughout media journalism, and the lack of fact-checking and disclosure is just a symptom of a much larger agenda-driven problem, as evidenced in the fact that the Huffington Post was willing to post a racist, sexist propaganda piece even when it clearly went against the South African’s Constitutional standards set in place for media outlets to abide by.
What’s scarier yet, is that if “Nick” and others hadn’t pointed out that Shelley Garland wasn’t real and the whole thing was a ruse, it seems unlikely that the article would have been removed from the Huffington Post.
I did reach out multiple times for comment from the Huffington Post’s South African staff, but they mentioned it could take up to a week for them to address the questions.