The tactics of Peggyblues

(NOTE: The quotes used in this entry have not been edited for grammar or spelling.)

The anonymous bloggers who forced Peggy Phillip to shutter her blog this week did so with that intent in mind. That’s the conclusion from reading copies of entries and comments posted on the Peggyblues blog. Poster “MemphisOptix” wrote: “It’s time for all this blog craziness to end. That’s what this is about.” Another poster, Secret13, wrote, “…peggy is just getting a taste of what she’s given everyone else. If she gets to blog so do we.”

The difference, of course, is that Peggy’s wasn’t anonymous.

There are comments about Peggy’s drinking and avoiding her general manager. One anonymous commenter wrote, “Meagle (GM Howard Meagle) is such an idiot,” and, “…Peggy gets away with what she does because he is so dumb. She even says that sometimes in meetings.”

Another poster, Peggyblues, wrote, “Piggy, you LEARNED what the breaking news e‑mail is from watching us. In fact, we might have to waltz on over there and remind you what BREAKING NEWS itself is. When your stupid ass, once-a-month, bad-spelling, delayed reaction breaking news emails start coming out as they should, then AND ONLY THEN will you be able to stand on your two pudgy legs and criticize.”

On Monday of this week, Peggyblues wrote, “We are anonymous because none of our companies would let us post a blog like this. Peggy, some of our commenters seem to think you’re special because you identify yourself on your blog. We’re not stupid. We know it’s not because you have the biggest balls or because you’re the bigger man. You are doing it because your company isn’t smart enough to recognize what you’re doing. THere’s no reason you should be the only game in town. We are the ying to your yang.”

And, “…Thank you to the two people who sent us peggy’s resume. We will protect your anonymity and we will start to take the resume apart later this week.”

Then on Tuesday, the group announced further action they’d be taking. Memphis Optix wrote, “..we’re going to start an e‑mail campaign to Raycom Media’s CEO at the end of the week to get Peggy to pull the plug or at least to tone it down.

“…When we’re done what we want is just a blank section on this blog with a submit button that will automatically send an email to Raycom’s CEO so that people can let him know what they think of Peggy’s blog.”

“…we’re trying to do it so that it will all be anonymous, no IP addresses or anything so that people aren’t scared to get involved.”

And rather than face such a threat, Peggy submitted to their wishes and removed her blog.

The local television news community in Memphis now must ask itself a question, for Peggy’s blog was a thorn in the side of her competitors. So while they’re probably happy with the result, the question is does the news community in Memphis support the means by which this took place? I know I would not be comfortable working with such cowardice, and I can’t believe it sits well with anyone in news or station management in the community. That this would happen in a newsroom or newsrooms is what truly boggles the mind. Freedom of speech isn’t absolute, and if you don’t respect others’ rights, how can you expect others to respect yours?

These anonymous, slithering sub-humans actually think they’ve done a noble deed, but they’ve aligned themselves with the worst of the scum they cover. “Gotcha” has gone to seed in the minds of these individuals.

I don’t think this is over.

Comments

  1. Terry, thanks for following up with more specifics. I am more in alignment with your views on this situation, however I wonder why she didn’t take a stand against these clowns rather than “just” fold up the tent. Easy for me to say, I know.

  2. Thanks, Terry for posting this stuff. One thing that *might* be overlooked in all this is a possible problem with Peggy as a powerful woman. As I read it, it appears that there is some need to censor a woman who is speaking her mind and punish those who allow her to do so. I don’t think that we can really deny that there are many people who *still* have a problem with women in positions of power and influence. It seems that this was a not-so-subtle way of pressuring a woman to shut her mouth.

    In trying to understand the level of vitriol, I also understand more why Peggy may have believed she had to shut things down. Language like this can make the strongest woman fear for not just her safety but the safety of others. This issue was addressed at BlogHer last year, and there was no clear answer as to how to deal with it. Words are one thing, but when you don’t know who’s saying the words or where they live, and the level of vitriol is so high as to imply an unstable mind of the author, women often prefer to err on the side of caution and back away from a cobra’s nest.

    This is so sad and so disturbing. I wonder, though, if Peggy had been a man if she and her blog would have been perceived differerntly.

  3. Some Objectivity says

    Terry, your blog is making the rounds now in memphis and I’m here working the ice storm so I thought I would write you a comment.

    The situation in Memphis is that none of the stations here allow blogs except WMC. From what I hear, Peggy used to talk a lot about how her bosses didn’t really understand blogging and how she was always waiting for the other shoe to fall.

    The truth is her blog really upset a lot of people, people in her own shop and people here. I can only assume the people at the other two stations felt a lot the same way. While she was never outright mean, she was always poking fun at the mistakes of other people and criticizing the decisions of other news directors. The news director at our station got so insulted at the criticism from Peggy that she and the corporate vp had her address banned because it was hurting morale. I’m sure you think that’s funny, but it’s not and even people who never met her grew to hate her for it. Our shop is all about spirit and team building and family, and here was someone from across town who would make fun of the new anchor who got a tease wrong. When the anchor at one of the other stations was first hired, she blogged about how he had gotten in trouble for falsely putting his name on an emmy submission. People really hated her for this blog, expecially since her own newsroom wasn’t free of problems.

    The worst was that people in Peggy’s own shop used to come out in the field and talk about how disturbing it was that she would ignore her staff all day and sit in her office blogging. They used to say she was always praising the wrong people at the wrong time on her web site and that she was spending too much time watching the other stations for material.

    When peggyblues came out last week, people here applauded. Not because it was anonymous or mean. But because some local journalists had realized that peggy’s strength was coming from the fact that she was the only one allowed to blog and she was using it to bully everyone else.

    Don’t get me wrong. Blogging is important and it’s an important right. But it’s one thing to blog about your own experiences and it’s another to blog about other people’s weaknesses.

    You can’t sit in front of your computers far away from here and assume that just because Peggy was blogging, she was a hero. Sometimes, her blogs were good. But most of the time, they really upset a lot of people, people who couldn’t stand up for themselves.

    This isn’t about extortion, Terry. This was inevitable. You have to think beyond the surface of this. Nobody took Peggy’s blog down but Peggy. Is it a shame that she felt she had to do this? Yes. Would Peggy have continued to blog as critically if one of the other news directors had had his or her own blog doing the same thing? Probably not. It probably would have felt childish.

    Peggy should realize that people were just reacting to being hurt. They don’t care about her family or her views on television in general. But for pete’s sake, Terry, she was writing about the competition! How could you not expect something like this to happen?

  4. Terry,

    I’m missing something I know but why didn’t she just temporarily suspend the anonymous comments and force anyone who wants to speak their mind to identify themselves.? This as you know has a way of lowering the nastiness level and limit the number of trolls. Usually the trolls go away and this seems like an example of piling on. I don’t know the specifics and have no opinion other than this. I don’t put much weight in anything that’s said anonymously. If you are looking to start trouble on your blog by first being inflammatory then allowing anonymous posting to to get attention that’s another thing. But the price of that kind of attention is pretty high. Why not just turn it off for a few weeks till things settle down?

  5. Okay I think I get it now. The Peggysblues is a separate blog setup to flame her company blog or her blog on the company website. Is that right? Now it makes sense. Sorry to be dense.

  6. Some Objectivity,

    I appreciate your comment, and I’m happy people in the Memphis news community are reading. Please understand that I’m not sitting here from a distance trying to make Peggy a hero. Her blog clearly offended some people, and she’s told me that if she had it to do over again, she would probably do things differently.

    But Peggy’s blog isn’t the issue here, as much as the authors of Peggyblues and some commenters to that blog want everybody to believe. This is entirely about a group of conspirators who hid behind an anonymous shield to do the very thing they felt was so terrible coming from somebody who was at least up front about it. And to the best of my knowledge, she never threatened an email campaign or to deconstruct somebody’s resume.

    And you support this? If people in your newsroom applauded when Peggyblues came out, you’ve got a bigger problem on your hands than you realize.

    Imagine. A newsroom in America trying to stifle somebody’s speech.

  7. Yeah, I have to side with Terry here. I don’t for a moment salute anyone who “goes negative” on the competitors. But deciding to take someone down through libel and childish insults? I am trying to approach this with objectivity and I fail to see, “Some Objectivity,” how any newsroom would applaud this moment of absolute embarassment. These people behaved in the worst possible, most anti-journalist way.

    Journalists should absolutely fight back. If we see an injustice — expose it. But for God’s sake stand behind your words with your name. And even the best of points is automatically negated the moment you resort to name-calling.

    I hope your Memphis colleagues can find a way to develop something constructive out of this mess. People already think poorly enough of journalists without us needing to give them more reasons to do so. Perhaps the city newsrooms would engage in a joint blog that could highlight each others best practices. Crazy? Probably. But a hell of a lot more productive.

    Steve

  8. while some of the comments were rude, harsh and mean, why would someone post their name loud and clear for peggy to target?

    and, yeah, that’s sad about the newsroom applauding, but the majority of some objectivity’s post was right on.

  9. Anonymous Poster says

    Terry, Let’s get off the blogging high horse for a minute.

    In a perfect world, anyone who blogs their opinion should have the guts to put their name to it. That said, we all know the horror stories of bloggers being identified and fired. That’s why so much of the blog world is anonymous. Afterall, you and Safran and a lot of other good bloggers find anonymous comments to be perfectly acceptable. Peggy certainly did, too. Plus, it’s not like people who even use a name are always using their real name.

    Blogging is often defended as a kind of leveling of the field, a democratization or free speech. And so it is in the online world as in the offline world that a group of people rose up to do something about a news director… or a news anchor… or a politician.

    Peggy made herslef an easy target and she should not be surprised about what happened. It’s not because she was a powerful woman… (what a bunch of crap)… it is because she was a bully and those come in all shapes, sizes, colors and sexes.

    She got away with the things she said on her blog, not because Raycom is some enlightened forward looking internet friendly company, but because the people who run the company weren’t sure to do about it and just burried their heads. A number of her posts were libelous. A person of lesser status at WMC would likely have been fired long ago. In fact, the blogs of a number of people on her staff suddenly dried up last year, while only her’s remained.

    If you’re going to put yourself out there, you have to be prepared for what comes back, even if it is not fair. Peggy did not have to stop bloggng. Peggyblues didn’t cause that.

    I used to read her blog everyday because I just saw it as free insight into the mind of one of our competitors. She gave away more to the competiton than she ever knew.

  10. Again — it’s not the business of posting anonymously that is troubling. These jokers hosted an entire blog anonymously AND wrote a vicious, threatening screed. If they decided to fight back with real information that dissected her stuff point by point, and did it in a constructive way, I suppose that would have been one thing. But are you honestly defending the act of anonymous hate-blogging?

    It is not up to us to make policy for other companies. We may not like company policy (or even lack of policy) but we don’t own the cpmany. And even if we protest the policy, we sure as hell don’t do any good by blogging an anonymous bit of foul-mouthed childishness. Does anyone think that will change policy?

    It’s not the act of anonymity that bothers me. It’s the act of anonymous _hatred_. That’s cowardice. Peggy would have been prepared for “what comes back.” But this wasn’t simply a case of “don’t dish it out if you can’t take it.” These are bullies who wanted to hide behind a wall while throwing sucker punches. Does anyone get that?

    Have a fair fight if you want. Otherwise — as Terry wrote above — you’re trying to silence free speech because you don’t like it. Very bad idea.

  11. “Our shop is all about spirit and team building and family, and here was someone from across town who would make fun of the new anchor who got a tease wrong.”

    If your shop is all about those things, what Peggy had to say shouldn’t have meant a damn thing to you. I’m guessing that phrase is some management dogma?

    As for Peggy “ignor(ing) her staff all day and sit in her office blogging”, she didn’t post nearly often enough for that to be true.

    She had comments, and they were open to anyone, yet most times I saw someone complain about what she wrote, it was written like a 12-year-old, with lines like “You suck”.

    No newsroom, and certainly no journalist, should be happy to see someone’s speech stifled. If you are, do us all a favor and get out of the business, because you’re tainting it for all of us.

  12. The Broiler says

    I have to admit I’m sorry to see Peggy’s blog shut down — it provided 10 minutes of entertainment each morning. I do think that Peggyblues crossed the line with its personal attacks — but its genuine criticism of Peggy’s comments on her blog is fair game.

    With the departure of Tom Walter from the Commercial Appeal, Memphis now has no real independent “media watchdog.” Not that Tom employed such a critical eye. I’m hopeful that someone will fill that void as Memphis media continues to blur the lines between news and infotainment as the race for ratings heats up.

    We can’t ignore the impact that the media can have on our people, our city, our government, etc. Yes, even our local television stations wield that power. It’s only fair that someone point in their direction once and a while — just to keep them honest.

    The blogs, while fun to read, just don’t do the job.

  13. In true Peggy fashion she should have continued to blog anyway and given that site the olé’ flip of the finger. I have enjoyed reading her blog for years and learn important life lessons from it. There are ways to find out whos behind the blog in situations like this. Blogspot could have been contacted. I feel for Peggy, and hope she reconsiders blogging again.

  14. My name means nothing to any of you, but I’ll put it on my post. If you’re going to criticize someone else, that’s what you should do. That’s what Peggy did. Of course being critical is going to irritate people, but the right way to respond is to either improve or prove that you’re better than the critic. Since Peggy’s such a bad ND according to some of you, how hard could doing that have been? Instead, you went on a menacing slander campaign.

    People bragging about intimidating and threatening Peggy anonymously should be ashamed of what they’ve become. It makes me sad that a mindset like this can exist in the biz. Who’ll be the next target? A reporter you think is getting unfair advantages on stories? Someone who gets more attention than you at a public function? Once the bitterness and jealousy flares about someone else, we can all look forward to the next coward crusade.

  15. Safran said it better than I might, but I can’t help adding that I’m amazed at the great lengths some people will go to justify callous, cruel and juvenile behavior.

  16. In a perfect world, anyone who blogs their opinion should have the guts to put their name to it. That said, we all know the horror stories of bloggers being identified and fired. That’s why so much of the blog world is anonymous

    this is the same old saw that’s been going around ever since Heather Armstrong got dooce’d. Please! And “so much” of the blogosphere isn’t anonymous–unless you’re trolling MySpace and LiveJournal too.

    There is a time and a place for anonymity–if you know for sure your job will be threatened (then again, should you be blogging at all?), if you have a lifestyle that could threaten your job or family, or if you live in a country where you could surely be persecuted for speaking your mind. Even some “anonymous” bloggers, big and small names, are actually pseudonymous, which is different from being anonymous.

    But in this case was there a good reason for anonymity? I doubt it. If the people involved really wanted to change things, they would have been up front and challenged the status quo face to face. When you do that, sure, you court trouble, but if you are righteous in what you are doing, then you bear with the flames. The anonymous attacks on Peggy Phillip read as personal and hostile–they don’t sound like any form of whistle-blowing nor do they read like a challenging of the status quo.

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