Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Interview: Joe Gandelman on 'The Moderate Voice' being hacked in an era of polarized politics

This is the second of  four articles spanning my discussion with Joe Gandelman, chief editor of The Moderate Voice. Read the first piece here. 
Story by Joseph Ford Cotto
Tolerance -- at least as far as opposing views are concerned -- is no virtue in contemporary American politics. Perhaps one could stretch this to cover society itself (Read more here)


Joseph Ford Cotto: Recently, The Moderate Voice has faced an onslaught of hacking issues. Might this be a symptom of an era in which centrist politics are maligned not only with words, but dangerous assaults?

Joe Gandelman: It has been terrible. The Moderate Voice is a small to medium blog that has no corporate backers. It has some ads and has gotten donations from people all over the country. The blog started in 2003 BUT we have been hacked now SEVERAL TIMES and the site almost destroyed. It usually comes during an election year when we run a lot of posts by writers who criticize one party, which I won't say but it begins with R. One year we had to totally redesign the site since it was decimated.

This covers a lot of it.

More hacking and big problems since then:

The worst hack came about a month or so ago when some anti-Trump, anti-Russia posts were hacked by someone who left "HACKED BY MUHAMMAD" and deleted the actual posts with "F--- ISIS" on it. I got in again and put the posts back and he/she/it got in again and removed a column critical of Russia and RT. Our site administrator had all of us change our passwords and he has had to do some more changes to the site and may even do some more design changes.

In reality, you cannot prove WHO is doing it -- but even though we are normally attacked (hacking or DoS attempts which damage the site) around election years, it has been WAY WAY WORSE since October. Hits were going up then you could them drop line on the rule. The attacks disrupt the site and readership.

YES it IS a new era. Democratic Underground was down for several weeks due to hackers they strongly suspected were Trump supporters .... There are many other cases.

So there is some political intent and moderates are seen as "the enemy" by some in both parties, but the hatred really seems much greater among conservative Republicans.

Add to that mix, people who TMV's site administrator says may not have a political motive -- they just hack for the "fun" of it.

Cotto: For many rightists, religion plays a tremendous role in political philosophy. This led to the moral majority-oriented politics of George W. Bush and many Republican politicos in down-ballot races. Donald Trump, though, generally appealed to non-theistic populist ethos, and Christian conservatives -- whose numbers are dwindling on account of secularization -- were enthusiastic; even though several of their leaders did not share this sentiment. Recently, perhaps due to the Democratic ascendancy of Muslims and practicing Christians who are ethnoracial minorities, the religious left has found stronger footing. Do you think that our present political atmosphere, polarized as it is, will give way to an even more contentious scenario in which mostly white, irreligious Republicans and nonwhite, openly religious Democrats oppose each other?

Gandelman: Yes I do. Although I'm a veteran journalist (freelanced overseas in Spain, India Bangladesh for the Chicago Daily News, Christian Science Monitor and other papers... staff reporter for the Wichita Eagle-Beacon and then reporter for the San Diego Union covering beats such as Reagan's immigration reform, Tijuana,  Baja California) and I do the blog, I have an entertainment incarnation.

One of my friends I met as an entertainer is in San Antonio and married to a prominent Democrat. He is very religious and says on the web he goes mostly to The Moderate Voice and also to a site he recommended to me: The Christian Left.

I have met some Democrats who are quite religious but simply don't buy what the religious right is selling. 

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