Monday, November 29, 2010

Intro to Ulsterman

For the past several weeks, a writer who goes only by "Ulsterman" has produced a series of interviews with a nameless "White House Insider," who he claims has close access to the inner workings of the Obama Administration. Since the first appearance of the "Insider" in September, "Ulsterman" has published more than a dozen supposed interviews with his own personal Deep Throat.

Some people have completely bought into these stories, while others have been more skeptical.

And for good reason. "Ulsterman" offers no evidence that he's an actual reporter, or that he has any legitimate contacts. The websites that he submits articles to, such as Newsflavor, are for user-submitted content, and have no editorial oversight. He is an anonymous person claiming to interview a second anonymous person. And as time has gone on, more people have begun to believe that the "Insider" is nothing but an attempt at a hoax, as the "interviews" have become increasingly conversational and unprofessional, resembling bad fiction more than actual conversations with a valued asset.

The important question is: can it be proven that "Ulsterman" has made up stories? The answer is: yes. "Ulsterman" has repeatedly made up individual subjects, given them fake jobs and employers, and fabricated whole interviews with these imaginary people. With "the Washington Insider," he kept his fake person anonymous, so that his fraud couldn't be exposed directly. But in multiple other articles, he wasn't so careful, and he simply presented fiction as if it were news.

In all, "Ulsterman" has used fabricated interviews in at least seven articles he wrote and published between September and November. Four of these articles he has already scrubbed. Below, you will see each of those seven articles exposed as the lie it is.

Fiction: "University Professor Declares Conservatism 'Mental Illness'"

On November 13, 2010, "Ulsterman" published an article at Newsflavor with the title "University Professor Declares Conservatism “Mental Illness." This is an excerpt:
Canadian professor and devoted naturalist Jan Wendt of Canada’s Mount Royal College has long been perplexed by the seeming indifference self-proclaimed conservatives have toward the environment...

Wendt’s study consisted of nearly 200 surveys conducted over the course of three months. Data was compiled, assessed, and ultimately categorized. Where self described liberal particapants rated such concepts as empathy and caring as high, their conservative counterparts rated those qualities low on the overall scale.

According to Professor Wendt, “By almost any sociological scale, liberals would be viewed as far more healthy and nurturing examples while conservatives clearly show higher degrees of anger and selfishness. They appear to suffer from a form of mental illness. This then leads to the statement that conservatives are in fact emotionally unbalanced. Some might call them crazy, but I feel that is too demeaning a term. But less than emotionally sound, yes, this study appears to confirm that. Society must continue to educate and develop more empathy and awareness in our younger people so that eventually, conservatism will be a concept or state of mind that will ultimately become extinct, much like we hope to see with other highly negative emotional manifestations such as racism and greed.”

Professor Wendt’s study is scheduled for publication in the Canadian Journal of Naturalism in spring of 2011.

The full article can be seen at .

There is no Professor Jan Wendt at Mount Royal University. There is also no such publication as the Canadian Journal of Naturalism. If there was, a sociological study on partisan belief would not be published in a naturalism journal.

Jan Wendt is a fictional creation of "Ulsterman," and so are all the quotes he attributes to her. And not only is the interview with her a complete fabrication, but the photograph that "Ulsterman" attached to the "interview" was taken from a stock photo website.

This was the one article I contacted "Ulsterman" about before going public about his fabrications. He promptly scrubbed it from Newsflavor.

Fiction: "83-year Old Great-Grandmother Heading to Rally to Restore Sanity"

On October 23, 2010, “Ulsterman” published an article entitled "83-year Old Great-Grandmother Heading to Rally to Restore Sanity." This is an excerpt of that article:
Patricia Siebenaler has seen much change in the world during the course of her 83 years. World War II is still a vivid memory, when she and her friends quit school early to work full time at a factory in 1944 to help with the war effort. She married her husband Doyle Siebenaler, a WWII veteran and machinist, in 1947...

And now Patricia Siebenaler, an 83 year old widow, grandmother, and great-grandmother, is preparing to join the throngs on October 30th for the Rally to
Restore Sanity in Washington D.C.

The article includes extended quotations from "Patricia Siebenaler."

While there are real persons bearing the name "Patricia Siebenaler," no hometown is provided for the interviwee in this article by "Ulsterman." A curious and unfortunate omission for an article about a trip to D.C. The photograph attached to the article also appears to show an elderly Asian woman.

However, if mere doubt is not enough to convince you that "Ulsterman" made up Ms. Siebenaler and her comments, consider then what "Ulsterman" has done with the article. Following my communication with “Ulsterman” where I revealed that I knew he had made up “Jan Wendt,” this article was scrubbed from “Ulsterman”’s archives. Fortunately, I saved a copy of it.

Fiction: "Sociologist on Rally to Restore Sanity: Aristophanes on a National Scale"

On October 20, 2010, “Ulsterman” published an article at Socyberty entitled "Sociologist on Rally to Restore Sanity: Aristophanes on a National Scale." This is an excerpt of that article:
Sociology professor James Good of Arkansa’s Hendrix College makes no attempt to hide his enthusiasm for the
upcoming Rally to Restore Sanity event to be held on Washington DC’s National Mall on October 30th.

The article continues with extended quotations from "Professor James Good."

There is no "sociology professor James Good" at Hendrix College. He, and the extensive quotations attributed to him, appear to be nothing more than fabrications by "Ulsterman." The photo accompanying the article, depicting a relatively young man staring at a computer, has no specific details indicating that it is of a college professor, and instead appears to be a fairly generic stock photo of a young man at a computer.

Following my communication with “Ulsterman” where I revealed that I knew he had made up “Jan Wendt,” this article was scrubbed from “Ulsterman”’s archives. Fortunately, I saved a copy of it.

Fiction: "Stewart’s Rally to Restore Sanity Losing Interest Fast"

On October 18, 2010, “Ulsterman” published an article entitled "Stewart’s Rally to Restore Sanity Losing Interest Fast." This is an excerpt of that article:
Still, while Glenn Beck’s Washington D.C. rally drew
hundreds of thousands, it is quite plausible to see the
Stewart/Colbert rally draw a still-respectable crowd in the
tens of thousands. According to Jan Wilcox, a founding
member of the Media Sciences Institute at Columbia, such a
number is probable, though the resulting impacts of the rally
will most likely prove minimal.

The article continues with extended quotations from “Jan Wilcox.”

There is no Jan Wilcox at Columbia. Nor is there a “Media Sciences Institute” at Columbia. This “interview” has every appearance of being completely fabricated.
I am not the first person to note this, either. A commenter at Reddit noted the fictitious Wilcox and the fictitious Institute over a month ago.

Unfortunately, following my communication with “Ulsterman” where I revealed that I knew he had made up “Jan Wendt,” this article was scrubbed from “Ulsterman”’s archives. Fortunately, I saved a copy of it.

Fiction: "Record Breaking Snow Coming This Winter"

On October 12, 2010, at Socyberty, "Ulsterman" published an article titled "Record Breaking Snow Coming This Winter". This is an excerpt:
With much of North America now facing a strong La Nina event that will likely remain well into 2011, regions such as the Midwest will be particularly hit hard. "I have been making the call for a few months now," said James Meaks, a longtime member of the weather sciences division at WCS. "The 2010-2011 winter patterns that have been forming for North America show us experiencing a colder than normal winter weather cycle, with substantially more snowfall in areas such as the Midwest, Atlantic coast, and Pacific Northwest. I won’t go so far as to say the winter temps will prove as unprecedented as has been the call for parts of the European continent, we are going to experience a pretty tough winter this year in the States."

There is no identifiable "James Meaks" with any weather-related organization. Nor is there any identifiable weather-related organization using the acronym "WCS," an abbreviation that "Ulsterman" oddly chooses not to explain to his reader. The quotes "Ulsterman" provides appear nowhere else on the web apart from his own article.

Once again, "Ulsterman" manufactured a fake "interview" with a completely fictitious person, and passed it off as real news.

Fiction: "Foreclosure Nation"

On October 8, 2010, "Ulsterman" published a story at Socyberty titled "Foreclosure Nation". This is an excerpt:
“The moratorium on foreclosures is among the very worst political stunts to come out of Washington D.C. in some time – and that’s saying a lot given the political stunt cycle we have been seeing for the last few years. This idea is very dangerous to the U.S. economy.” So says Larry Davidson CEO of the Allied Essence Investment Group based out of San Diego. Davidson has been an economic adviser for nearly 30 years, including advising both local and state governments, and is making clear his attitudes regarding the foreclosure moratorium.

There is no such company as "Allied Essence Investment Group." A Google search for the name produces only this article by "Ulsterman." There is, accordingly, no CEO Larry Davidson. The quotes "Ulsterman" provides appear nowhere else on the web apart from his own article.

Once again, "Ulsterman" manufactured a fake "interview" with a completely fictitious person, and passed it off as real news.

Fiction: "Msnbc Going Down-down-down.."

On September 28, 2010, at Telewatcher, "Ulsterman" published an article titled "Msnbc Going Down-down-down..". This is an excerpt:
Industry insiders now speculate that it was NBC’s decision to make MSNBC a far-left news network that ultimately proved its undoing. "When Bush was president, MSNBC enjoyed higher ratings simply because mainstream Americans had grown angry toward the then president. Since Bush has left office, these same viewers have lost interest in MSNBC’s brand of angry liberalism. Personalities like Keith Olbermann and Ed Schultz in particular have become, for a lack of a better term, played out in the current political climate. Sponsors are stepping away from MSNBC because it simply lacks the audience or prestige to give a good bang for buck regarding advertising dollars." Said Lance Blegorn, media consultant for the Atlanta based advertising firm MediaMotek.

There is no such person as "Lance Blegorn." Nor is there any real organization named "MediaMotek," either in Atlanta or anywhere else. Google searches for either produce only links to this article by "Ulsterman."

Once again, "Ulsterman" manufactured a fake "interview" with a completely fictitious person, and passed it off as real news.