Team Sarah Infiltrated
9:35 AM, Jan 7, 2009 • By KEVIN VANCE
Administrators of Team Sarah have uncovered evidence on a left-wing online thread that some Internet trolls sought to discredit the organization by posing as conservative racists on Team Sarah's forums.
Team Sarah, an online community supportive of Gov. Sarah Palin, claims over 60,000 members and is affiliated with the Susan B. Anthony List, a PAC that supports pro-life women for public office.
Apparently, about 90 left-wing participants on a thread at somethingawful.com pretended to be conservatives who loved Sarah Palin before writing racist or otherwise deranged rants against Barack Obama on the Team Sarah forums. Said one interloper on the somethingawful.com thread: "What I hope is that the fake posters eventually number the actual posters so it would be impossible to tell who is real and who is fake."
While other threads have been discovered in previous months at other websites that planned to go after Team Sarah, those attacks were more conventional and overt. Typically, posters would try to flood the site with anti-Palin comments. This new group wanted to be secretive. One of them posted a suggestion on the somethingawful.com thread (which is no longer accessible or doesn't exist) that the group "just encourage the crazy members [of Team Sarah] until it reaches the point where they drive away any sane members ... Make sure you bump any particularly crazy threads you see with a message of vague support for the original post, ensuring anything sane will be quickly relegated to the 2nd or 3rd page of the forum, and the crazy threads will appear to be the most popular ideas."
Margorie Dannenfelser of Team Sarah told me the plot was "to bring down the site by turning it into a place of bigotry and hatred." She thinks they wanted to destroy the site to embarrass Sarah Palin by way of extension. They disguised themselves with names such as "Palinin2012" and "PALINITE"
To an extent, their deceitful effort succeeded. On December 21, Geoffrey Dunn posted an article at the Huffington Post, which called attention to racist posts at Team Sarah. Even though the offending posts were taken down as soon as members of Team Sarah alerted the moderators, Dunn tried to link the thoughts of a few right-wing crazies to an entire political movement. Needless to say, Dunn's article received some attention in the lefty blogosphere.
It turns out that at least one of the supposed right-wingers Dunn cited is actually a left-winger associated with the somethingawful.com thread.
Shortly after "Johnny's" post was removed, a participant on the somethingawful.com thread wrote:
While this kerfuffle doesn't matter much in the big scheme of things, it does reveal a vulnerability of the conservative grassroots. "We always say that the left is so much better at working the Internet--and that's true!" Dannenfelser told me.