In the weeks since the 2016 presidential election, Palmer Report has received widespread praise for its timely and detailed coverage of shifting vote totals and recount efforts across various states. We’ve been the first, or among the first, to report most of the major developments in the recount effort, and our audience has continued to grow accordingly. But positive attention naturally attracts those individuals who want a share of that attention for themselves – and in one darkly comical instance, that came last night from someone with a knitting blog.
Palmer Report began reporting on the shifting vote totals in Pennsylvania several days before any major news outlets got around to reporting it. There were several other instances in the Wisconsin recount in which we were the first to report information, because by this time the designated recount observers on the ground had figured out we were the news outlet to talk to – and were in direct communication with us. Palmer Report was also the first to report on the Florida recount effort four days ago, a topic which the likes of USA Today and Time Magazine are just now getting around to covering today.
It’s not difficult to see why Palmer Report has built up the reputation that it has. It’s not that we’re doing anything special, it’s just that we’re diligently reporting on the recount effort, while for some reason the larger news outlets are hesitant to touch the recount story. I was flattered, but not shocked, to see that everyone from Governor Jennifer Granholm to Governor Howard Dean to MSNBC host Joy-Ann Reid has posted links to Palmer Report’s coverage of the recounts. In this age of tabloid political reporting by so many major news outlets, serious people are hungry for serious political journalism. And yet now we’re suddenly facing supposed controversy because of some random individual on a knitting blog.
There’s nothing wrong with knitting whatsoever. But one wouldn’t look to get credible political information from a knitting blog, in much the same manner they wouldn’t get look to get credible knitting tips on political news site. And yet some random woman posted a blog entry on her knitting blog last night, which she gave the blatantly clickbait-y headline of “Palmer Report is not a Credible Source of Information.” Her article more or less consisted of thirty paragraphs of generically whining about how Palmer Report shouldn’t be as popular as it is, and little more. Her site doesn’t include her last name. And yet last night some people fell for her stunt and began circulating this page from her knitting blog on their Facebook pages, thinking they had discovered legitimate evidence that Palmer Report isn’t a legitimate news outlet – before wiser heads began stepping in and pointing out to them the foolishness of what they had fallen for.
The woman with the knitting blog claims to have been a paralegal for twenty years, which raises the question of why she isn’t writing this on a legal blog. She claims to have a particular set of skills when it comes to investigating people, yet the only information she “uncovered” on me is the kind you’d find on my Facebook page. Her thirty paragraphs of rambling are primarily focused on insisting that I’m a “blogger” and not a “journalist,” as if that kind of widely debated nomenclature would have any impact on the quality or accuracy of what I’m reporting. She also seems particularly enraged at how I manage a particular Facebook group; perhaps she’s merely upset because she was denied entry into the group. I wouldn’t know, though, because she’s so non-credible that she’s even hiding her last name – so that no one involved has any way of figuring out who she is. That way no one can scrutinize her. Anonymous sniping at its best.
I’m only writing about this incident because this woman unwittingly proved her own point, and it’s something we can learn from. She tried to make the case that my reporting on Palmer Report isn’t “credible” simply because anyone can create a website and post things on it. She swung and missed in that regard, because she made no argument against the legitimacy of my political reporting, even as those with stature and respect in the political world have continued to vouch for my work. But by posting an anonymous semi-coherent screed about me on her knitting blog, which some people actually confused for being a legitimate news article, she did indeed prove that any random nobody with a website can crap out anything they like and get a few people to fall for it.
The public should scrutinize the articles they find on Palmer Report. In fact, when dealing with any news article on any site big or small, readers should follow the supporting source links and confirm the facts for themselves. They should also note the fact that we generally report these things days before the major media outlets get around to them, raising the question of who the real journalists are. And if someone suddenly burps out a bizarre attack on a respected independent political news outlet, make sure it’s not merely an anonymous woman on a knitting blog. She unwittingly proved her point with her own comically non-credible blog post: some people will post links to anything without scrutinizing it first.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report