A little while ago, after Andrea Tantaros’s lawsuit was made public, your humble correspondent was approached by Mediaite for an interview on the subject of Fox News ‘sock puppet’ twitter accounts. I said yes; Lindsey Ellefson submitted the questions via email and I responded. But the contemplated Mediaite post didn’t pan out, and Ms Ellefson agreed that we could publish the Q&A here, at J$P.
24 August 2016
Q: I am reaching out, per our DM conversation, to ask you about recent allegations that were made against Fox News’ PR department concerning “sock puppet” accounts on Twitter. First, have you ever heard of such a thing? Is there veracity to the claim that the publicity department operates Twitter accounts meant to “promote or tarnish” individuals or shows on the network?
J$: I have heard this claim for years, but have never seen any actual documentation or proof. There is a person on twitter who has fingered several (maybe a half dozen) twitter accounts and declared them to be ‘sock puppets’ of Fox. The problem is one of them is me, and another (the name escapes me) I know to about 98.7% certainty is not affiliated with Fox. So that makes his other identifications suspect. I can’t prove sock puppets don’t exist (proving a negative is never easy) but on the other hand I’ve never seen it proven either.
Q: Next, there was a tweet described in detail in section 50 of the formal complaint of Andrea Tantaros that matches a tweet on your account, @JohnnyDollar01. The complaint states:
On January 14, 2016, actor Dean Cain (“Cain”) appeared on Outnumbered and proceeded to inappropriately hug Tantaros (but no other woman) on the set during the Outnumbered live webcast. On information and belief, Briganti arranged for a picture of the hug to be tweeted from one of Fox News’s “sock puppet” Twitter accounts with the caption: “Things Heating Up Between Andrea Tantaros and Dean Cain.” This was plainly designed to further sexualize Tantaros’s image.”
Q: On January 14, 2016, you tweeted a photo of Tantaros and Cain hugging, captioned “Things heating up on Out# OT between @RealDeanCain and @AndreaTantaros.” My questions are, then, do you believe that the suit refers to you?
J$: No question that paragraph refers to me.
Q: If so, how do you respond to the implication that the account you maintain is one of the alleged “sock puppet” Twitters?
J$: As I wrote yesterday, they may have a ‘belief’ that I am some sort of ’sock puppet’ (though I doubt that they really do believe that) but it’s impossible for them to have ‘information’ as claimed in the filing because I’m not, which makes this paragraph in the pleadings arguably a fraud on the court. Not something I would have done when practicing. I have never tweeted out a picture at anyone’s request. The notion that it was designed to ‘sexualize’ her image is ludicrous if you think back to the images she used to post on twitter, let alone the cover of her book. What’s more, if my intent was to ‘sexualize’ her then why did my next tweet immediately point out that it was just a goodbye gesture because Dean Cain had to leave early? It was a fun tweet about a fun moment, and I’ll fess up to my other motive for tweeting it: I wanted to get some RTs and maybe a few new followers out of it.
Q: Did you receive the photo of the hug from PR? Do you often post photos of interactions like that between Fox hosts and guests?
J$: I can’t recall ever receiving a photo of anything from PR, be it Fox, CNN, or MSNBC (and yes, all have sent me stuff though FNC is the most prolific in that dept). I get screen grabs from the online stream; the one-hour buffer makes it easy to scroll back and grab an image that just happened to catch your eye. Here are a couple of examples. I even do it for pics of interest on other news channels.
Q: Do you have anything else to add on the topic of the so-called “sock puppets”?
J$: Only that if you’re looking for one, it ain’t me. I am exactly who I say I am on my website.
Q: Thank you for your time!
J$: You’re welcome!
Remarks: The twitter user referenced above who purports to finger Fox ‘sock puppet’ twitter accounts has, since this interview, fingered another one…who turned out to have been no fan of Fox but a detractor who wrote some obviously sarcastic tweets. So it’s apparent our sock-puppet slayer is fraudulent, and not overly bright.
I might never have caught the Dean Cain image at all because I’m not usually at the computer when the Outnumbered Overtime webcast comes on. But I arranged to be there that day because I thought Cain might discuss his role on Supergirl.
Finally, regarding that photo, at the time I tweeted it I was following Andrea Tantaros on twitter…and she was following me. There was no reaction from her whatsoever about that pic. After she was removed from Outnumbered she made her tweets private, but I could still read them because, as before, we followed each other. Just recently, out of the blue, she stopped following me. I didn’t know why at the time, but shortly thereafter the news broke that she was filing a harassment lawsuit.
And that’s my Fox News ‘sock puppet’ story.
Yours truly, johnny dollar.