Rupert Murdoch-Owned Tabloid Retracts Article That Shamed NY Paramedic For Selling Nude Photos During Pandemic

“HEARTS RACING: Paramedic is ‘making ends meet’ by sharing XXX-rated pics on OnlyFans,” read the now-deleted Dec. 12 headline, published on The Sun’s website.

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The article, by reporter Danielle Cinone, detailed the online exploits of 23-year-old Lauren Caitlyn Kwei, a paramedic from New York who began selling nude photos on subscription content website OnlyFans to supplement her income during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Sun deleted its article — a re-reporting of an equally salacious New York Post story — after the Post was accused of shaming Kwei for (her words) “just trying to make ends meet.” Per my Atlanta, GA reporter friend Peter M. Heimlich, Britain’s independent press regulator IPSO allows member publishers, including The Sun, to pull content without explanation.

Here’s what you’ll see if you try to access the article on the U.K. version of The Sun’s website:

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And here’s what you’ll see if you try to access the same on the U.S. version of the site. Note that the words “legal removal” appear in the URL, suggesting the article was removed for legal reasons:

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The Post and The Sun are owned by News Corp, a U.S. media conglomerate founded in 2012 by Australian media mogul Rupert Murdoch.

Both publications used titillating language to sensationalise Kwei’s story, while failing to properly address the larger story identified by New York congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in this tweet reflecting the broad response to the article:

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If you can’t read Ocasio-Cortez’s tweet, it says:

“Leave her alone. The actual scandalous headline here is ‘Medics in the United States need two jobs to survive.'”

On Sunday, Kwei accused Post staff reporter Dean Balsamini of jeopardising her job, an allegation bolstered by the Post’s own reporting. The gory details are included in a message posted by Kwei on fundraising website GoFundMe:

Most of the quotes in that article are me defending myself to this reporter. He did not include that I begged him to remain anonymous (which was never agreed to) and that I told him my safety and job were going to be at risk if he posted this article. He truly did not care. He went on to call my employer and my mother. As some of you may know, I’ve been home with my family in WV following my father going into cardiac arrest last week. I have not been able to speak with my employer because of this and I still do not know what they are going to do. As of right now, I do still have a job but I will probably find out tomorrow if I don’t.”

As of publication, the Post’s version of the story is still available online.

I’ve asked The Sun for comment.

Update, December 18, 2020: This story got some pick-up.

Via “NY Post Won’t Pull Story About Paramedic With OnlyFans Account – But Murdoch’s UK Sun Just Did” by Lindsey Ellefson, The Wrap, December 14, 2020:

On Monday, the Sun, a U.K.-based tabloid owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, pulled its version of a controversial story about a New York City paramedic with an OnlyFans account. The story originally ran on Saturday in the New York Post, also a News Corp property.

As of Monday evening, the story was still up on the Post’s site, while Sun readers were met with a generic landing page where the story once was, as first noted by the Shooting the Messenger blog. The landing page reads, “Sorry, page unavailable. We can’t seem to find what you’re looking for. Try our search below or return to our homepage.”

A representative for the Post did not immediately respond when asked if the American tabloid will follow suit, and a representative for the Sun did not respond to a request for elaboration on the story’s deletion. Investigative blogger Peter Heimlich — whose reporting revealed that Britain’s independent press regulator IPSO allows member publishers to pull content without explanation — pointed TheWrap to his previous comments that the practice “puts the authority of editors above the public’s right to know” and “leaves open the door to countless opportunities for misconduct.”

Via “Murdoch-Owned Tabloid The Sun Silently Deletes New York City Medic OnlyFans Story From Site” by Zachary Petrizzo, Mediaite, December 15, 2020:

The UK-based tabloid owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, The Sun U.K., silently deleted an article from their website on Monday. The now-deleted story was an aggregation of a New York Post article which revealed that a New York City paramedic also worked as an OnlyFans model to supplement her income…

Journalist Dean Sterling Jones of the blog Shooting the Messenger first noticed the now-deleted post from The Sun.

Twitter and Reddit Suspend Accounts Run by U.S.-Sanctioned Russian Propaganda Site

Russian troll factory-linked news site USA Really is struggling to connect with American voters ahead of 2020 election

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For the second year in a row, Twitter and Reddit have suspended accounts belonging to sanctioned Russian propaganda website USA Really, one of a number of shady news outlets allegedly funded by Robert Mueller-indicted catering oligarch, Yevgeny Prigozhin aka “Putin’s Cook.”

It’s the latest setback in a series of misplaced attempts by the site to cultivate an American audience.

Launched in May last year as a U.S.-facing adjunct of Russia’s Federal News Agency, the site initially presented itself as a homegrown, independent news and storytelling platform. However, the site quickly gained notoriety when its calamitous efforts to stage a flash mob at the White House fell flat.

In December, the site, its parent company, and its founder, bumbling Kremlin policy adviser Alexander Malkevich, were sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department in connection with Project Lakhta, a massive social media influence campaign that allegedly sought to “sow discord” in the lead-up to the 2016 election.

Alexander Malkevich (source)

Under Malkevich’s leadership, USA Really “engaged in efforts to post content focused on divisive political issues but is generally ridden with inaccuracies,” the Treasury Department said in an accompanying statement, which mirrored reporting first published by this blog.

In February, as U.S. tech companies severed ties with USA Really and the site’s American contributors fled, Malkevich resigned his editorship. Under current editor Leonid Savin — who previously edited the pro-Putin think tank Katehon — the site has continued to publish politically contentious content.

Leonid Savin (source)

In July, the site quietly registered new Twitter and Reddit accounts in a seeming attempt to mount a second social media influence campaign ahead of the upcoming 2020 election. The site’s reappearance highlights how propagandists and other bad actors are easily able to thwart even the most vigilant of social media platforms.

Asked to comment, Twitter quickly suspended the new account, which USA Really had been using primarily to post links back to its site.

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After multiple inquiries, Reddit also removed USA Really from its platform, putting an end to a racist, sexist, and homophobic commenting campaign that appeared to follow Russian troll factory directives for posting online.

“The account in question has been banned in accordance with our site-wide policies,” a Reddit spokesperson said in a statement.

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The intentionally offensive comments were posted across at least 25 different hot-button subreddits, including r/progun, r/republicans, r/SandersForPresident, r/conspiracy, r/WikiLeaks, r/Feminism, r/MensRights, and even r/gaybros, a support group for “those of us who are gay and trying to leave the parTy scene.”

In other words, exactly what you might expect from a Russian troll account.

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Equally unsurprising was the site’s targeting of Democratic congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, known for her advocacy of progressive policies such as the Green New Deal.

In July, someone posted a video of Tlaib heckling Donald Trump on the r/republicans subreddit. The video soon caught the attention of USA Really, who, using the handle “usaUNreally,” wasted no time firing off a disparaging comment.

“She need a better bra,” wrote usaUNreally, in perhaps one of the most childish examples of professional trolling ever published to the Internet.

Last month, usaUNreally struck again when a commenter on the r/Conservative subreddit asked why the House of Representatives had not opened a sexual misconduct investigation into Tlaib’s friend and colleague, Somali-American congresswoman Ilhan Omar.

“[It’s] because she is only capable of incest,” replied usaUNreally, alluding to an unfounded rumour that she’d married her brother.

Ilhan Omar (source)

On the r/Conspiracy subreddit, usaUNreally turned to the topic of immigration, playing up xenophobic claims that illegal immigrants had secretly invaded a Californian town on a fleet of buses.

“Democrats,” wrote usaUNreally, “buy votes, but insolently bring ‘electorate’ from abroad. What we have in line … Reparations, bribery of Jewish communities, satisfaction of other ethnic minorities, gay voices will be valued twice as much as a heterosexual white man. Welcome aboard!”

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In a race-baiting rant on the r/PublicFreakout subreddit, usaUNreally just stopped short of using a racist expletive.

“the question is as old as the sea,” usaUNreally pontificated. “but explain why white people shouldn’t call African-Americans a n-word (they always say this to each other), but black can use the word “white” (snow white)?”

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Elsewhere, usaUNreally defended using violence against women.

“I’m not protecting this exact guy,” explained usaUNreally, referring to a video in which an alleged batterer gets his comeuppance. “But sometimes women behave as men, so if they demands the same attitude to themselves they should handle what they deserve.”

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DivestTrump, an online disinformation researcher who outed USA Really’s attempts to infiltrate r/The_Donald subreddit last year (as reported by Newsweek, BuzzFeed News, and NBC News), said that despite the site’s lack of success this time around, the end goal remained the same.

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“Their traffic plummeted after the previous bans and they’re clearly trying to rebuild an audience,” DivestTrump tweeted from an undisclosed location. “Their endgame hasn’t changed. They exist to heighten divisions, sow distrust in our own government, and push a Russian agenda in America.”

USA Really’s editor did not reply to a request for comment.