In the web world it’s called “sock puppetry” — that is, posting favorable comments under a fake name or without fully identifying yourself in order to bolster your cause. And apparently one of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences governors got caught doing precisely that on Twitter, where he sought to tamp down the criticism in a message thread titled #emmysfail.
Brian Seth Hurst is a governor representing the academy’s interactive media branch and runs a new-media consulting firm. But he seemingly took it upon himself to join in the conversation about changes in the Emmy presentation — the ones that would have pretaped (or “time-shifted”) eight awards — to put a more positive spin on the discussion.
Unfortunately for Hurst, he was outed as a member of the TV academy leadership (though wrongly accused of overseeing its PR efforts) and chided for disseminating “Emmys propaganda.”
Of course, with Wednesday’s announcement that the Emmys would retreat from the proposed changes, the whole situation has been pretty well rendered moot. But there is a cautionary note here about the pitfalls of such campaigning. Journalists, after all, have been reprimanded and worse for using pseudonyms, including Los Angeles Times business columnist Michael Hiltzik, who was temporarily suspended for the practice in 2006.
Hurst didn’t respond to emails seeking comment, despite the fact that I would have happily given him more than 140 characters to do so.