Marius Roodt is the real name behind the pseudonym Shelley Garland, a fake philosophy student who the Huffington Post gave a platform to in order to publish the piece “Could It Be Time To Deny White Men The Franchise?”. The piece was about denying whites the right to vote, and advocating for racism against white men; Roodt used it as a way to showcase how media journalism doesn’t care about facts so long as it fits the media’s agenda.
The Huffington Post had real journalists track down Roodt through a digital e-mail trace and facial recognition technology. They found out that Roodt worked as a researcher for Centre for Development and Enterprise in Parktown, Johannesburg. Following being outed by the Huffington Post, Roodt had to resign from his job at the CDE.
Heat Street picked up the article from the Huffington Post, who did a follow-up after they suffered a humiliating weekend where Roodt had taken them on the ruse cruise, posing as Shelley Garland, writing an inflammatory piece and then admitting to it under anonymity to a site called the Renegade Report.
After publishing the article without fact-checking it, the Huffington Post’s South African editor-in-chief, Verashni Pillay, originally defended the piece because it advocated for the removal of white men from power. However, after they couldn’t verify the identity of the author, they had to begrudgingly delete the article and issue an apology for violating the ethical standards of the South African Constitution for press outlets.
Roodt’s original plan was to expose the lack of ethics in media journalism, and in particular South African journalism, where fact-checking has been pushed aside for ideological preferences.
When the Huffington Post tracked down Roodt to his place of work and confronted him about the information, he apologized repeatedly and confessed to the ruse, saying…
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean for it to go where it did, there was no intention to go after Verashni (Pillay, HuffPost’s editor-in-chief). I sent it to Daily Maverick first. It had nothing to do with Verashni or the fact that she’s a woman or anything like that.
“I just thought you can say almost anything you want . . . not necessarily attacking white men. I think there is a lack of fact-checking in South African journalism. I thought, would it work? And it worked. In hindsight I wouldn’t have done it, I didn’t think it would get this big,”
Following the interview, Roodt handed in his resignation. Heat Street states in their article that the company issued a statement about the matter, saying…
“This kind of activity contradicts everything we stand for, is completely contrary to CDE’s media policy and our ethos as an organization.”
A lot of the commenters on Heat Street were angered that someone who pointed out that a mainstream media publication was willing to publish a misinformative, racist screed, without fact-checking and that the person being punished for it is the man who exposed the media’s fraud.
The Huffington Post nor Heat Street say what has become of the South African editor-in-chief at Huffington Post, Verashni Pillay. She originally a-okayed the piece that Roodt submitted under the pseudonym of Shelley Garland because Pillay was under the impression that Garland was a South African feminist woman, thus making it okay to make racist remarks against white males and advocating for the denial of white males to have access to voting.
Originally, before the piece was deleted, Villay wrote a blog defending the article, claiming that it angered the right sort of people, and furthermore…
“It would appear that perhaps much of the outcry derives from a very poor reading of the article — or perhaps none at all. Dismantling the patriarchal systems that have brought us to where we are today, a world where power is wielded to dangerous and destructive ends by men, and in particular white men, necessarily means a loss of power to those who hold it. A loss of oppressive power. Those who have held undue power granted to them by patriarchy must lose it for us to be truly equal. This seems blindingly obvious to us.”
Villay’s advocating racism against white males did not sit well with the general public. Later the defense piece was altered into an apology, and the original article was deleted after it was discovered that Shelley Garland didn’t exist.
A lot of people also expressed anger toward Huffington Post for clearly having an agenda in publishing a piece designed to divide and raise racial tensions without fact-checking it first. In the video interview Huffington Post editor-at-large, Ferial Haffajee, actually had the gall to ask…
“What makes you say that there is an absence of fact-checking in South African journalism?”
Roodt responded by pointing out some of the sources he linked to in the original blog post under the Shelley Garland pseudonym were from South African news outlets. Those outlets published pieces touting incorrect facts about racial ownership in South Africa. Neither Pieter du Toit nor Ferial Haffajee had a response to Roodt’s citations.
It’s also very telling that the Huffington Post had three of their staff perform a thorough investigation into Marius Roodt in order to discover where he worked and delve into fairly minute details of his personal life in order to expose it to the world, all following on the heels of Roodt having exposed how poor the Huffington Post’s ethical standards really are.
Regardless, Roodt stood by his claim that he didn’t do it as part of some alt-Right troll or as a white nationalist, but simply because he valued ethics in journalism, saying…
“I’m not part of the alt-right and I don’t like Milo [Yiannopoulos] and I don’t believe there’s a white genocide in South Africa, and I’m certainly not a racist. I don’t believe white men are under attack”,
Roodt’s apology still doesn’t erase the fact that the Huffington Post was willing to publish objectionable, racially charged material in order to further their regressive agenda. The issue of lack of fact-checking, agenda pushing, and extremist ideologies being used in mainstream media is still as apparent as ever, even after it first gained widespread attention from #GamerGate back in 2014.