Sunday, December 9, 2012

Finding Mobutu

Most people reading this are probably familiar with Gawker Media properties.  They're the collection of news and gossip sites run by Nick Denton.

Recently they've positioned themselves as the morality police of the web.  If you say something deemed racist or sexist, or if you act like a troll, they'll plaster your personal information online for everyone to see, and generally make you look bad on any future Google searches.  They even did this with the Horse_ebooks guy, even though his only infraction was having a popular twitter account.

Now mothers everywhere are telling their little kids, "Eat your vegetables, or else Gawker is going to expose you."

Well I'm not the least bit intimidated by Gawker.  Their "morality" is corrupt.  And I want to give them a taste of their own medicine.

The only Gawker writer who avoids revealing his true name is Mobutu Sese Seko.  Mobutu runs the website Et tu, Mr. Destructo?.  He has operated it for four years, and back in February he was hired to be Gawker's "screaming conscience," which means he's their main political columnist.

Mobutu, if you're reading this, prepare to get--as the trolls like to say--butthurt.

I went to Mobutu's blog, and looked at who'd left the earliest comments beginning in 2008.  Two of the earliest comments were left by Cory Harris and Christian Lund.  As luck would have it, Cory Harris and Christian Lund both have public Facebook profiles and their friends lists are visible.  They aren't friends with each other, but they share a mutual friend:  Jeb Tennyson Lund.

Mobutu mentions that he is married (Jeb Lund is married) and that he attended a small liberal arts college in Florida (Jeb Lund attended New College of Florida).  What sealed the deal was a 2008 interview from Metal Hammer with Robert Schober, who at the time had just directed a music video for Metallica.  In it, Schober says:  "I was able to create an entire viral campaign with a blog about the cold war and propaganda films (written by Mr Destructo author Jeb Lund), produce fake news stories, and even had Kirk do a vlog on youtube about ‘finding’ these films when they were touring in Russia."

I'm not surprised a Gawker writer made his start by producing fake news stories.

So...What sort of writer was Jeb Lund before becoming Mobutu?  It turns out he was a professional wrestling columnist.  He wrote extensively for the wrestling website Online Onslaught, providing Raw and Smackdown recaps and PPV predictions.  Above all, Jeb enjoyed unloading his screaming conscience onto WWE's youngest star, Randy Orton.  He would call Orton an "effete water-headed mutant shit-heel," and a "human toadstool," among other things.  (Bear in mind, Jeb was around 27 then.)

I actually have nothing against professional wrestling; it's kind of like a ballet in which the performers occasionally fall onto thumbtacks.  But quite a few commenters on Gawker have wondered whether "Mobutu" was the pseudonym for some established celebrity, and the answer is clearly no.  If Nick Denton truly wants to create a society where everyone's secrets are known--as he explained in a recent panel--then he should welcome having Mobutu Sese Seko's identity be known.  For him to claim anything else would be a double-standard.


  1. Nice work? I mean, are you confusing Gawker stories that refer to the tumblrs that specialize in dox'ing people that post racist or predatory things on the internet? Because as a pretty heavy Gawker reader I never think to myself, "wow that Gawker sure is the enemy of anonymity on the internet."

    Or is this just all about that asshole Reddit guy?

    I mean, I guess I never thought Mobutu's posts were all that interesting or that they were made more interesting by his pseudonym. I guess it's cool that you found his real name with some detective work.

  2. Well done! Can you find out who singer Chris Gaines is next?

    1. Chris Gaines is the musical alter ego of either Jeff Bridges or Russell Crowe. I forget which one.

    2. Jeff Bridges or Russell Crowe?? LOL

      (It's actually the alt-rock alter ego of country singer Garth Brooks.)

  3. Stellar work here. You've beaten the entire internet to this story, which is no small feat in this day and age.

  4. He came out today, officially. You didn't get near enough credit for this.

  5. I hear the Lindberg's baby is missing. Looks like your sleuthing skills could come in handy.

    1. You can tell the President I'm on the case.