Trolls. They have been around for centuries. The day that Benjamin Franklin invented the Newspaper his headline read “Jefferson, Adams, others Sign Declaration: Colonies Declare Independence from King.” And the very next day the Troll was born as a competing tabloid paper wrote “No Wonder Washington’s So Stiff – He’s Got Wooden Teeth!”
People think that the Troll is a new phenomenon, born of the internet age but the Troll was actually born from a need to sell newspapers. Most sensationalist headlines are just Trolls. In the old days they sold papers, now days they get clicks.
Check out any of the tabloid papers in the UK – the Daily Mail, Daily Express, Daily Mirror, Daily Star, Daily Record, Sunday Mail, or The Sun – virtually every headline is a Troll, and nearly every article is simply click bait. The more sensationalist, the more than can get people to click on their articles, the more that writer gets work. I checked the Daily Mail today. The two leads are “Muslim gang rape” and “Bill Clinton accused of sexual assault.”
The day before the North London Derby the Daily Mail asked all of its journalists to make a “combined Arsenal-Tottenham starting XI.” They obliged and almost all of them picked 9-10 Spurs players over Arsenal players.
If you go to Whoscored.com and use their objective metrics (using players with 4 or more apps) the actual combined starting XI would be:
Mustafi – Koscielny – Vertonghen
Trippier – Ramsey – Dier – Davies
Eriksen – Kane – Alexis
This is still a very Spurs heavy lineup, just four Arsenal players make the cut, but it’s not 11 for 11 Spurs players, because that’s ridiculous. And while you might not like the Whoscored.com metrics (because they are clouded in secrecy) there is a high level of correlation between the player scores on Whoscored.com and team performances. I use their metrics to help predict which team is going to win or lose a game and it’s been pretty effective. It predicted an Arsenal win over Tottenham on Saturday!
But the Trolls aren’t interested in objective anything. Objectivism is boring! So, when the Daily Mail asked their writers to come up with a combined starting XI most of their writer opted for 10 Spurs players plus Alexis. But one guy, Adam Crafton, selected all 11 Spurs players. Unlike most of the other writers on that post, who at least tried to soften the troll by selecting a token Arsenal player, Crafton went full troll and even picked Danny Rose as his left back, a guy who is injured and has played one match this season. Then to complete the trolling, he tweeted out a link to his prediction with glee before the match.
As we all know now, Arsenal beat the pants off Spurs. And after the match, the official Arsenal account latched on to Crafton’s tweet and retweeted it with a gif of Mesut Ozil sipping a cup of tea.
The one thing that the British tabloid press hate is when you pull the covers off and expose their trolling. And so, suddenly, after the tweet went out we were subjected to a bunch of moralizing from tabloid writers about how it’s unfair for a “big account” with 12 million followers to respond in this specific way to a writer. Crafton claimed to receive anti-semitic abuse and death threats. He claimed he was innocent in all this and “just picked a starting XI” and then hid behind the cloak of “Journalism”.
Many prominent writers lept at the chance to have a go at Arsenal for the tweet and suddenly Arsenal are being painted as lacking class or as bullying this writer. Which is truly incredible.
Exposing Trolls is exactly what we have to do. I do it all the time on Twitter. If you @ me with some abuse, I’m retweeting you to my followers so that they all know that you’re just a jerk.
I have no problem with Arsenal’s official twitter account exposing this writer as a Troll. He wrote a sensationalist piece, gleefully tweeted it out, and when the game was over, he looked quite silly. The official Arsenal twitter account didn’t make him look silly, he make himself look silly! He made his bed and then complained when the covers weren’t quite to his liking.
Now, obviously no one deserves death threats or hate speech. Crafton claims to have received both and Arsenal issued a response “No offence was intended and we are disappointed that the journalist has been subject to abuse which we would condemn in the strongest terms.” I probably wouldn’t have used the word journalist because he’s just a writer, a Trolling, click-bait, sports writer, but it is obvious that the club didn’t mean to harm this guy.
But the response from the press is pretty funny. They have taken to Twitter to moralize about how “no other big club” would do such a thing and one writer even called it “punching down.” But they look silly backing him up as a journalist. He’s not a journalist. He’s a paid professional Troll for the Daily Mail. And as such he should be exposed and mocked.
I expect that reaction from the tabloid writers but even the real journalists are now out there moralizing, which is ironic. The definition of tabloid journalism is focusing on sensational topics and standing up for the so-called “little man”. Meaning that this entire controversy is literally tabloid – a troll.