Full disclosure: Until a few weeks ago, I had an unpaid blog at Thatnerdshow.com. I quit in short because of much of the content of this article. I’ve made a few appearances that I now regret on their podcast. I quit because I was asked to edit the article that was posted to Thatnerdshow.com. David Herring’s poser article. I refused to edit it after reading it. I’ll go on in detail below. This is also a lengthy article with images, and several sections. If you’re wondering what it has to do with Gamergate, read on. The behavior I point out and link to both sides of Gamergate and the behavior of Marcus Blake and thatnerdshow.com shows unethical behavior, which I am a witness to, that Gamergate has legitimately railed against. The behavior as evidenced below by David Herring shows what women’s rights groups, the mainstream media and others point to when they say members of the gamer/nerd and Gamergaters community attack women and publicly shame them for not behaving how gamers want them to.
David Herring and “Opinion” articles
Although I hate to insert myself into news, and I also hate to bring attention to bad journalism and writing and give possible publicity to hate speech and attack articles, I feel the need to bring the article written by “writer” David Herring to the light of day. I hate to even link to the article in question, but here it is David Herring “article” on Liz Katz. I feel the need, and drive to post about it and expose David Herring and the owner of Thatnerdshow.com because I was asked to edit this article. I was also on the podcast where David Herring called Liz Katz a fraud and that he was going to expose her. I have an entire email thread, or two, where I point out to Marcus Blake, the owner of thatnerdshow.com, that it was poorly written, contained zero evidence, and sounded like a shaming article that was borderline liable and defamation. I was told to basically shut my mouth and quit if I didn’t like it. So, I did. I’ll add excerpts from the email threads below that I had with both Marcus and David.
I took it upon myself to reach out to David Herring before I even saw his article, because Marcus asked me to be an editor for the site, which is the only reason I stuck around, and David’s article was the first assignment. I asked David if he was using Chicago or AP style for his citations, because as he points out, this was supposed to be an expose. He was revealing how Liz Katz was cheating people out of their money and other things, so, I assumed he knew how to write an article and make accusations like he made. Before hearing back from him, I read the article and noticed the lack of anything substantial, the fact that he quoted someone calling her names, referenced her IMDB account and alleged porn background. I didn’t see an expose; I saw a cowardly and bitter attempt to use an article to pay a woman back for not acting in a way that was “legit” or nerdy enough. He also hid behind the op-ed curtain.
I wasn’t going to risk my contacts in the game and comics industry by being a part of the piece of trash Marcus Blake and David Herring were okay with putting up. I didn’t want anything to do with another “nerd” or gamer-type seeming to attack a female public figure either. Beyond that, Liz Katz is a human with feelings and a life and doesn’t deserve to be attacked for absolutely no reason whatsoever. One of the problems with articles like the one David Herring wrote is, there is no specific accusation of wrong doing. He’s accusing her of being fake. Of being a poser. She’s not a REAL nerd. Somewhere along the line, David picked up a degree in what is authentic. Liz Katz can’t possibly be real because of what? She didn’t interact with her fans in a way you and the other person you quote in your article? Because she has a porn background? What exactly did she do to be called a shyster? She’s preying on the cosplay community? How exactly?
After my back and forth with David, and Marcus, David agreed that he wouldn’t post the article, or his feelings wouldn’t be hurt if it didn’t get published. I told him he had writing ability and he should consider what he’s writing. I got on a soapbox, but I thought it was the right thing to do to warn him about posting the article. I told him I take being a writer seriously, and have it tattooed on my arm. I quit Thatnerdshow.com (I wasn’t being paid, just writing my blog) and didn’t want to continue discussing the issue with David before he wrote me back. I’d said my piece in a professional way to Marcus and I moved on from the subject. I thought the issue was dead, and then I saw the article posted to thatnerdshow.com. I’m supposed to be objective as a writer, and I admit that it startled me. So, I started to do some research and investigating into how authentic David Herring was. See what he stated himself to be. A writer? A Christian? Okay. I checked his twitter account and Facebook page, and did some digging on the internet, just like he did with Liz Katz.
What David has to understand is that, even though he wrote an “opinion piece” he still needs to use some sort of standards. Once you attack someone, and you post to the internet and claim to be a writer, you’ve become a public figure just like the one you’ve “exposed” for being an alleged fraud. You’re not popular, or liked liked like your target, but once you call someone else to account, or hold them accountable, you have set a standard, and guess what? You have to meet those same standards. So, here is David, this is your time to be held accountable as a writer and person that is holding the torch for nerds everywhere. You end your article, literally, by saying it is you, or “us” that are the victims. I have to say, I’m pretty shocked at what I found out about this person that writes and is a co-host for thatnerdshow.com. I feel bad for the other writers that have to have their content next to his. David has posted multiple homophobic, insensitive, border-line racist, anti-Muslim and other hateful, mean spirited comments. He also states he’s a Christian, and I’m pretty sure Christians aren’t supposed to act the way David Does on Facebook and Twitter. Below, I’m up what I’ve said with screenshots from his public pages. He has an abundance of pictures with women showing cleavage, has many many views on politics that are far right-wing. The political views are of course legal and not the focus of the article. But, his extreme views and insulting comments and behavior are. Let’s take a look at some of David Herring’s highlights.
Ok, this picture is clearly offensive to women, feminists and others. It’s just the tip of the iceberg. Let’s look at some more, as they get progressively worse. Again, keep in mind that this is someone that is supposedly a professional writer, and he is appearing on thatnerdshow.com’s podcast and posting reviews about comics, movies, tv shows and other things your kids might read.
Now we’re getting to who David Herring is as a person. I’m not sure if he created this image, or just posted it on his page. Hateful and just calling this anti-Muslim is an understatement. Very Christian of you David. This guy is writing about Archie Comics. Let’s see some more, because we’re not even close to being done.
I’ve blurred out the other people involved in this post David made to Facebook. It’s a screenshot that shows the time and date. It’s more than a year old, but it’s still there, and he still said it. Apparently David doesn’t appreciate being put “on blast” in public. I understand David, believe me. He clearly thinks being in the closet while being gay is an insult worthy of posting. This is likely the most horrible post by David, because it comes from his mouth and isn’t a meme, or an image reposted. I’m not sure how you play this one down. I’m sure he was upset, but it’s no excuse. He’s a professional writer and has, I assume, some sort of an audience. Even if he doesn’t, what he has written is out there to be found. Marcus Blake is clearly okay with it, or hasn’t vetted him. That’s understandable. But, what’s not understandable or forgivable is the fact that Marcus willingly allowed, and edited and posted the attack article.
So, let’s have a look at more of David’s internet comments etc. I think it’s a safe question to ask when I ask “David, how can you claim to be a professional writer, or Christian with behavior like this?” Professional writers are trained not to post what he posted. It’s early on in communications, journalism and other classes you take to learn to write. I think it’s safe to call into question his nerd credentials as well. Being so judgmental of nearly every group that isn’t his isn’t a tenet of nerd society. Now, on to more of his hateful behavior.
Here are a few of his comments from Twitter.
There are so many examples on his facebook page, and there are more that I could post here. I honestly got sick of investigating David for this article. His posts are hateful and mean spirited. Except when he’s talking about his adorable dog or sticking up for Christian’s rights, or posting the rare comment about being a Christian. The majority of his activity seems to be focused around professional wrestling, and retweeting other people’s comments on Twitter. I’ll end the section on David with this racist, pro-violence on women, copyright infringing and disgusting use of Mario characters repost by David. I’m not posting the link to the video itself, just the screenshot where David Herring reposts the link and image to it, unaccompanied with no comment. Why post this video and not denounce it? Regardless, here it is.
Ok, just a few more. David makes it a point to state that he’s a writer, and according to this posting on eLance.com, he surely is putting himself out there as a writer. But, if he would’ve proofread his posting, he’d see he made a couple of errors. I know, I’m pointing out every little mistake he makes now. I admit that. He did go really far out of his way to attack more than one person and group on his Facebook page and Twitter though. He’s targeted every group except for animal lovers and white Christian Republicans. I can state with some certainty though, most upstanding, god-fearing Republicans and Christians would stay away from the majority of what David says and posts. That’s one of the reasons I’m posting most of this; to shed light on what he says, because many of the views he expresses would shame the groups he claims to be a part of. I know I’m ashamed to know that David Herring is doing the same thing as me. I’m not talking about breathing, I’m talking about throwing letters together to form sentences, and then take those sentences and put them together and calling it writing.
Marcus and his connection to the rest of this piece may be unclear to you, but i’ll try to clear it up. There are two sections here on him: The first is his knowledge and blessing of the David Herring article. The second is not a legal, but ethical issue. I don’t have evidence outside of what he told me personally on the phone, because he was cautious enough not to put it in writing. While what I have isn’t evidence of wrong doing, it points to unethical behavior.
In addition to him giving the okay to David’s article, and actually physically posting it to his website Thatnerdshow.com he also knew about the content and I advised him I thought it could be liable. He told me that it’s an opinion piece and he’s ok with that. He also goes on to claim that he owns the news organization several times in emails to me. I think this is relevant. If there is liable, then this is evidence. I don’t know that Liz Katz will take action, but I do know that she has been made aware of the situation.
As you can see, he’s okay with attacking people as long as it reads as opinion. He attacks Michael Bay. Saying Michael Bay sucks or can’t direct or produce is one thing, and David Herring’s is another. Keep in mind, Marcus himself calls thatnerdshow.com a news organization several times, and it’s his. We know how many news organizations are okay with attack ads don’t we?
Buying followers-“No one checks that”
Marcus told me in a phone call that he was okay with the buying of Twitter followers on Twitter. Before I quit, I had been on hiatus from thatnerdshow.com for months when I moved to Seattle. Marcus had informed me months ago, in a mass email, that he couldn’t pay freelance rates anymore, even though he never really did. He probably paid me around 60-70 bucks over six months and over 40 articles. I decided to stay on because I wanted experience and wanted to keep my skills sharp, and I thought the show had potential. It really did. Marcus, although abrasive, moderately socially awkward and jerky sometimes, is intelligent. Co-host Brendan Smith is bright, well read and can be engaging. They both seemed to go out of their way to criticize a lot in my opinion, but I thought we had a chance to do something good with game/comics/nerd stuff. I was getting into some conventions and the site hired Alex Moore, another good writer personality. I decided to stay on. Back on point, I decided to help utilize our enormous twitter following. We had thousands of followers and I thought there was no reason not to promote our product to them. I sent out some tweets about the podcasts and my own blog. I waited, and I saw zero results. I mean, none. Surely some of those people would visit the site and my blog from my twitters postings. I mean, with over 40,000 followers you’d expect someone to accidentally click on the blog. That wasn’t the case. So, I decided to do some digging.
I went through all of the followers for @thatnerdshow, and I noticed something strange. There were thousands and thousands of followers with just that little place holder image, the egg. Thousands. They seemed to never end. There were a couple legitimate followers, but it seemed all of them were fake. I set to checking with Marcus about the issue. In the meantime, I took to reporting the followers to twitter for SPAM because I thought some of them could be malicious. I honestly assumed that Marcus had hired someone to help promote the show, and they were using black-hat methods. While waiting for Marcus to respond to my issue, I took to the Twitter airwaves and set out to start a dialogue. I wanted to make genuine connections. I started tweeting to people, and sending links, and asking questions. I offered to do reviews on games if developers sent me their copies. I wanted to talk to people that were fans, or potential fans of the show. That’s what Twitter is for, I thought. We started to see some genuine activity again. I’d done this earlier this year and was able to add followers then too. I wanted That Nerd Show to be successful, and I wanted to be proud of working for it.
I started writing some again, this is around the beginning of August, and I kept up the interactions. Marcus contacted me one day in October to discuss my own comic book, which for nearly a year has pledged to help produce, and about being the Editor at large for Games with That Nerd Show. Wow I thought, it’s a promotion. Even though I’m not being paid, I can have some bright young writers working with me, I can create good content. That in turn will turn into some money through advertising. I guess that’s how it works. Or, Marcus will get money from advertising and that will trickle down to me. We talked about hiring in Seattle and giving me my own game podcast. I put things into work in my mind. Then he told me that he wanted to talk about the Twitter issue. This was a little while later, weeks or so maybe, from when I’d brought it up. He went on to tell me that he felt it was needed to compete and get some of the bigger companies, advertisers and others to pay attention to us. And besides, “No one checks that anyway” He said. That’s a direct quote on the record. Now, I wasn’t interviewing him, but I’m a writer and he didn’t say that was off of the record. He told me it was needed. I told him that people do check that stuff, and an indie game company brought it up to me. It really happened, and I told him that. I am genuinely trying to look out for this company, this entity that I’m trying to help grow. He told me he understood in essence, and that we will stop since we have so many. We can start adding real followers soon. Or, that I could do it. I agreed to keep going and that once we got going with me as the editor, I’d go through and phase out those followers. I should’ve quit then, but, I didn’t until days later. I thought I was helping. Even though I wasn’t involved, I still feel bad about not quitting then.
I can be a bit over anxious sometimes, and I’ve been accused of being a diva. I consider it having high standards, or scruples. Marcus said I was overreaching, and I’m smug or arrogant. My issue is with when people like Marcus, or David, say you’re overreaching or getting on a soapbox. I try not to go with the flow, and right is right. Wrong is wrong. I understand that there are areas that are grey, believe me. I don’t like compromising my morals and standards though. I don’t believe in cheating. That’s where the Gamergate aspect of this comes in, in my opinion.
The Gamgergate connection
For all that’s been said about Gamergate, I genuinely believe that they have points. I believe they really do care about nepotism or cronyism and favoritism in games. I believe that the community of Gamergate felt attacked by a few journalists and the media in general. The problem with the media’s reaction to Gamergate is, the people that were being criticized are the people reporting about the issue. That’s a conflict of interest. The outside, or more mainstream media quickly jumped on some comments made by some crazies, once the mainstream media actually caught up to the story, and it discredited the movement. And believe me, it is a movement. At first I thought it wasn’t that important. We’re talking about video games here! Right, but it’s deeper than that because video games are a billion dollar industry. The other arms of entertainment certainly have their own media problems, but I can say that they are much more harsh and pay closer attention to the industry. 21 billion dollars or so to be exact. (Source Theconsumerist.com) Have a look at this article on ‘The Consumerist’ for more statistics and citations, it’s a more in depth read and outline with some great stats. Article by Kate Cox. (Also, David Herring, this is one way to use a citation.)
I’m not trying to derail this article by focusing on Gamergate and I do believe some of the people in Gamergate went way way too far and their behavior is beyond horrible. It shouldn’t be excused.
But, I do know that the type of behavior displayed by That Nerd Show and David Herring is what Gamergate was talking about in the beginning, before their ideas were highjacked. At least that i what I’ve seen. Deception in the industry. Thatnerdshow.com doesn’t really focus that much on games, but MSNBC doesn’t focus on world events as much as politics. That doesn’t mean they aren’t a news organization. And According to Marcus Blake, his site is a news organization. The issue is about deception and fooling not only gamers and fans, but also trying to manipulate the system. If a game fan, or someone that is looking for comics news, or movies and commentary runs across your Twitter page, they see 64,000 followers. They may think, “Oh, this is a reputable source. How else would they get all of these followers?” That’s the issue. It is to me anyway. I talked with a few people in the game industry, especially a few indie game developers, and this made them pretty angry. I started to get some flack on Twitter because I was asking for opinions first. I wanted to get the pulse on the issue. I’m writing, I’m putting things out there so I’m ok with catching some unintended shrapnel so to speak. People are passionate about this kind of thing.
A long track record of deception
The deception doesn’t stop with Twitter. After finding so much detestable content on David Herring’s pages, I decided to look into my former bosses’ background. Marcus Blake is also an author, podcaster, blogger, former co-host of ‘Dualing Patriots’ podcast, a songwriter/musician, a comedian apparently, and according to multiple postings, including his own website, an award winning writer. We will get to the award winning part later. Knowing Marcus is a writer, I decided to look at several sources where his books were sold including Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads.com and others. I’m including links and have several screenshots to support my belief, or opinion, that Marcus has himself engaged in deceptive practices with false reviews. False reviews and fraudulent ratings are in fact against FTC guidelines in addition to being unethical. Here is a more in-depth article on a lawyer’s website. (Source http://kbhilferlaw.com) Especially when you’re a writer and owner of a news organization. It’s called “astroturfing” because it’s not grass roots, it’s false and it’s fake. I believe what was done on Twitter, which he admitted to, is the same thing. If you’re interested, go to @thatnerdshow on Twitter and have a look at their followers. Scroll down a bit and you’ll see the sea of fakes.
The first example of fake reviews is his Amazon.com reviews. Each book only has 1 review at the time this was written, it’s pretty indicative of what’s going on.
Look closely at the name of the reviewer. On first inspection, it doesn’t appear to be off. When you look closer, you see the deception. And again, this isn’t direct proof, but circumstantial and the clues are there, and it’s why I say it’s my opinion, but I’m certain that Amazon can track these reviews back to Marcus Blake. The reviewer is from Chicago, Marcus’s home town. He even wrote book about “Return to Wrigley” with that title. Let’s have another look at a screenshot and go to the included link to see where I’m going.
I could only fit in four of his reviews in this screenshot, but follow the link. You’ll see that the Chicago Bookworm has six reviews. All of them are for products created by Marcus Blake. Five books and, “ahem” a ‘song’ written and recorded by Marcus. I hate to use those quotes and italics so much, but I use them to show that those terms and uses are suspect at best.
Ok, so we have those reviews from the Chicago Bookworm, and all of them are on those Marcus Blake products. Suspicious, but not really concrete proof. Just some more smoke signals.
We can move on to Barnes and Noble and other sources now.
Then there are the reviews on Barnes and Noble’s website, where the only reviews are by anonymous, and are eerily similar to one another. So similar in fact, that many of those anonymous users only activity was rating other books written by Marcus. There is one other review, and that is by the user name “texaspublican”. Yep.
Here is the link to his Barnes and Noble page. It show’s 24 reviews, all anonymous except for the one by Texaspublican. Marcus Blake Barnes and Noble page.
I was unable to find any reviews of his books on iTunes. He’s told me that he hates MAC and Apple though.
Let’s move on to other aspects of Marcus and his writing and career.
On his personal website, as well as other postings, he claims to have won the following awards. All of which I was unable to verify, or even find the awards. The only references to these awards are through Marcus’s own self promotion. In fact, the only place the phrase “American book choice awards” appears on the internet, is in relation to Marcus Blake and his web content. Anywhere on the entire internet. I thought it could’ve been spelled wrong, and I tried every possible variation when it comes to those awards he said he won, but found none. The closest was the STIFF awards, but those are for Seattle film makers.
- 2008 American Book Choice for Fiction Award Winner for my book Returning Home
- 2008 S.T.I.F. Award Winner for my book Sex Game
- National Literary Awards sponsored by the National Literary Foundation in Chicago
Again, I was unable to verify these awards via the internet. If someone is able to find proof of these awards, I’d be happy to see it. If they can’t be found, is this deceptive?
Here’s another little nugget. It’s not illegal, and it’s not unethical, it’s just hilarious because he has a stand-up routine on his website. He’s not standing up and he added laugh tracks to the routine. Oh, and it’s not even remotely funny. I know, it’s adding insult to injury, and it’s likely not adding to my case. I’m going Hunter S. Thompson on this thing and going a little Gonzo. These fiends have to be stopped!!
Are you a published author, if you own the publishing company?
The company that publishes his books, TM publishers, its website returns with a page not found. I suspect that TM publishers is Truesourcq media. That’s speculation, right now, but more hair brained schemes have been thrown out there as conspiracy theories, actually, by Marcus Blake’s own people. So, connecting the dots, the physical mailing address listed for TM publishing, is the same address listed for Truesourcq media, which is actually a residence. The address is given on Marcus’s website here. I’m using it as a citation. It’s listed as a company, which is public knowledge.
Same address as Truesource media, which is the company he works for. I have his email address from an email from him there. That company creates physical print products, among other things and apparently, that is the address for a construction company as well. So, the same company that publishes his books, is the same company that prints his books, which is the same company that Marcus at least works for, and I suspect he is at least part owner. The contact listed for Truesourcq is Clint Stutts, who Marcus also did a political podcast with not long ago called ‘Dueling patriots. Ok, he writes, or well, he doesn’t write much, his “news organization” does a podcast about nerd stuff and has people that work for free and posts reviews, or hatchet attacks like the one by David Herring. What is of note is the deception, the awards that can’t be tracked, the fact that he basically prints his own books, purchases his twitter followers and rates his own books. In fact, outside of goodreads.com, the only reviews of his books are by either anonymous, or an amazon.com account that appears to be him.
This links shows him rating his own books without concern about being noticed. Not sure if he didn’t care or know they would show up that way, but his name is there with a 5 star rating. His book “Atlantis: Revelations” does actually have some genuine reviews, or seemingly. That is the only location where his books have been reviewed, that I have found anyway. I guess it’s not against any rules to rate your own book, but the fact that he is rating his own books on Goodreads, makes me think he is rating them other places as well.
All of these things aren’t hard evidence. A lot of it may not hold up in court. But, a lot of what thatnerdshow.com and Marcus Blake is doing, and allowing to be done isn’t illegal, it’s just unethical. Although some of the evidence I present may not hold up in court, hypothetically, it might. We’d be able to trace his IP address and connect him or whomever did it. We’d also be able to find out more about his Twitter by following the paper trail to the shady company he hired to get those followers. The only evidence (other than the smell test and common sense) I have for him paying for those twitter followers is what he told me himself, that I would swear to in court. Twitter of course will investigate the amount of dummy accounts that are following @thatnerdshow.com. They’ll see that another company and IP is logging into the account, trace that account back to where it is, see the name of that company and what it does and it will hopefully shut down the Twitter.
That is if they’re looking, and they notice. Let’s hope they do. Because people like Marcus Blake and David Herring count on the rest of you to not look, to not check. To take what they’re spitting out at face value. They don’t expect you to look and read. Start looking.