Clickbait All the Way Down with Toe Photo


I would have considered this story beneath commentary except that the Providence Journal had to run with it, under the headline, “Nude-photo hoax to silence Ocasio-Cortez backfires when she turns up volume.”  That’s difficult to see as anything other than left-wing clickbait to elevate a political heroine.

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The summary of the story is this (and this really is all it is):

  • Somebody posted a photo on the chat board Reddit of a woman’s toes sticking up from the bathtub.  If you look very closely and are familiar with female anatomy, you can tell where the head, arm, and breasts are in a tiny, blurry reflection of the toes’ owner in the tub’s faucet.  The person who posted it claimed that it was progressive Congresswoman from New York, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
  • Another Reddit poster soon debunked the photo, and VICE’s Motherboard summarized the issue, with the photo.
  • The Daily Caller essentially summarized the Motherboard article to be even shorter, clearly phrasing it with a hope that the congresswoman’s “enemies will take a break” from foolish attacks.  The article (which has been removed, but is cached here) added the clickbaity “here’s the photo” language to its headline.
  • The editor soon changed the headline, as a misjudgment from one of his sub-editors.
  • Ocasio-Cortez spotted the opportunity and decried the Daily Caller’s headline.
  • Mainstream news outlets around the country also saw the opportunity and joined their heroine in painting this as some sort of coordinated attack.

The Providence Journal article (republished from the Washington Post) is apparently placed in the news section, rather than commentary, but is more like advocacy for the young progressive than an objective report.  Writer Abby Ohlheiser does not question Ocasio-Cortez’s assertion that anonymous Reddit users are “Republicans” and instead tries to tie it to the president:

The pro-Trump internet has become good at overwhelming its enemies with an unfiltered feed of accusations, memes and virality. That strategy has worked against, say, older politicians and many mainstream media institutions, who have struggled to catch up in a game in which winners play extremely fast and the rules are constantly changing.

No examples, no explanations, no proof that anybody connected with the president is at all involved.  The reporters and their editors are engaging in pure advocacy, because they think their side can gain political advantage.  One suspects the same journalists would be upset if anybody were to equate them with Democrat activists and suggest that they’re just as prurient, in their way, as the foot fetishists who debunked the photo.

Politics in America are truly getting stupid.