Montana Politics

The Hardliner: Montana’s Newest Sad Excuse for a Conservative Blog

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Everyone who starts a blog faces the same difficulty, at least initially: How do I get readers to visit my site and commenters to add to it? The world of the web 2.0 suggests that for every hundred people who visit a site, less than a handful will comment or contribute. It's an issue here, where we've built a nice, small but steadily growing base of readers, very few of whom seem inclined to contribute or comment.

So I'll admit I wondered how a site like The Hardliner, could emerge in Montana, and within just a few posts, have a nice steady stream of contributors. Was it a passion for conservative issues in a state with a proliferation of liberal blogs? Was it the pent-up voice of conservatives, desperately trying to be heard in a world whose media who shuts out conservative voices?

No…it's one person or a couple of people, making a bunch of comments under different names.

The site tracks the IP addresses of anonymous users who leave comments so I created a spreadsheet of usernames and IP addresses, discovering that most of the traffic on the site is generated by a few IP addresses. 

The details below… 

Even without the IP addresses, the site is fishy. It's author is
anonymous, it's very professional looking, and the domain name is
hidden by proxy to prevent anyone from knowing who is behind it. The
names of the alleged liberal contributors are ridiculous, and limited
by typical conservative creativity. Seriously, does anyone other than
Rush Limbaugh or Faux News contributors refer to people as "libs"? 

When you look at the IP addresses, it becomes really clear what is happening on the site. 

216.14.243.167
is an IP address registered to the Blackfoot Telephone Cooperative and
its users include the following commenters on The Hardliner:

  • Lenny the Lib
  • Jobs
  • All Hat

Using the IP address 216.14.242.203 also registered to the Blackfoot Telephone Cooperative, we find these commenters:

  • Lenny the Lib
  • Montna_Right
  • Will C
  • MT RED
  • The Govenor
  • Tester, Tester…
  • Jim F
  • Jobs
  • No Surprise

The site has all the hallmarks of a faked up site desperate to generate
traffic. It's got fake spats between characters at the same IP address,
stereotypical liberal posts, and a consistency in signing in and
writing not often seen by anonymous posters.

It's transparent, and it's sad. What conservatives largely don't get about blogs is that they aren't about being mouthpieces for the party. They're about individual voices who sometimes disagree and deviate from the party's position. This site is nothing more than a sad, little astroturfed platform for GOP press releases and points of view.

I may never have Will C, MT RED or No Suprise post comments on my site. At least I'll have my integrity. 

Update. Even the commenters who might be real people are fun. I'm reasonably sure that it isn't in Conservative's state job description to post partisan political commentary using a state computer and network resources. (hlndoacache1.mt.gov/161.7.2.160)

About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is a seventeen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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