Palmer Luckey, founder of Oculus and former front-man for the VR company (which is owned by Facebook), recently left the company this year. This came after a tumultuous media blitz during the 2016 election season, where the media labeled him as a racist, sexist, Trump supporter, and smeared him and his girlfriend in a concentrated attempt to cost him his job and reputation in the public sphere. It worked.
Blake Harris from UploadVR is working on a book about the resurfacing of VR in today’s culture and burgeoning growth of VR during this generation of technology. While doing research for his book about Oculus, he recounted the events that led to Palmer Luckey being ousted from Oculus, and he realized something everyone with common sense already knew: the fake news media machine spearheaded by the mainstream media cost Luckey his job through propaganda malfeasance and misinformation.
The media claimed Luckey was a supporter of Trump; Luckey actually supported Gary Johnson. The media claimed he was a racist because his girlfriend was a Trump supporter, and they claimed both Luckey and his girlfriend were sexists because she was a #GamerGate supporter. The media established a harassment campaign against Luckey and his girlfriend over her affiliations with #GameGate (a movement about establishing better ethics in media journalism), forcing her to shut down her social media accounts, and forcing her off Twitter.
According to Harris, all of this vitriol kicked up over Luckey and his girlfriend all came from the media purposefully misconstruing his funding of Nimble America, a small political action committee who made a single billboard that said “Too Big To Jail” with a picture of Hillary Clinton on it.
In doing research into the matter for his book, Harris explains…
“Nimble America was not responsible for creating or spreading any memes online.
Nimble America’s goal was to take meme-like images [like the billboard above] and put them into the real world (via billboards, t-shirts and stickers).
“There is no evidence—nor, based on my research, do I see any reason to believe—that this organization promoted any sort of racist, sexist, misogynistic, anti-Semitic or white supremacist agenda. Neither is there any evidence of Nimble America engaging in any sort of trolling, harassing or “astroturfing.”
“Milo Yiannopoulos had no affiliation with Nimble America other than to endorse the cause and, in his capacity as a moderator of the The_Donald subreddit, verify that there was indeed a wealthy backer [Luckey] who had donated to the organization [a little less than $10,000].”
That didn’t stop the media from dragging Luckey and his girlfriend through the mud, so much so even the SPJ President, Lynn Walsh, commented that such baseless invectives were “not ethical”.
However, the media managed to do exactly what they set out to do: strike fear into the hearts of anyone not willing to toe the regressive line and support the candidate of their choosing, Hillary Clinton.
Luckey was made an example of, even though all he did was financially support a political action committee that made one billboard that said “Too big for jail”.
Contrast Luckey’s anti-support of Clinton to other celebrity endorsements for Clinton, such as Joss Whedon and the Avengers coming out and badmouthing Trump and talking up Clinton in an advertisement that gets deconstructed and lambasted appropriately by YouTuber DuckSpeak.
None of the Avengers cast were dragged through the mud for openly badmouthing Trump, nor were their careers or fame put in jeopardy at the behest of the mainstream media. Instead, they received support for their actions.
The media’s response to the anti-Trump PACs were supportive and positive, saying the Avengers were assembled to “Save the Day”.
Luckey paid in less than $10,000 to an anti-Clinton ad without adding any sort of personal message, and he was labeled as a racist, sexist, Trump-supporting misogynist.
Harris was disgusted at the media’s clear bias and “fake news” propaganda, writing…
“Ars Technica’s How your Oculus Rift is secretly funding Donald Trump’s racist meme wars or Boing Boing‘s Facebook ‘near-billionaire’ Palmer Luckey secretly funding racist pro-Trump hate meme machine—as well as the social media assassination of Palmer Luckey (and his girlfriend).
“An assassination that, by the way, I’d argue would have been warranted…if what was described in those headlines had actually been true. But that’s just not the case. Not even close.”
Unfortunately, calling out the media’s lies now is too little, too late.
Journalists who should have got out in front of the news and took to task the other unethical journalists driving the smear campaign through the driveway of Palmer Luckey’s reputation. Instead, people like Blake Harris sat back and watched just until it served his own interest to fact check for his own book.
This isn’t the first or last time the media will run such smears, but don’t expect journalists like Harris to speak up until it serves their own interest. Besides, it appears the only people who care about ethics in media journalism have to fight tooth and nail to get the issue into the public sphere, only to be condemned as “sexist misogynists” and have their freedom of speech impeached by bomb threats.