April 22, 2014 1:48 pm -

Caitlin Dewey at WaPo does the dirty work:

Many of these professional hoaxers are, for good reason, anonymous. (The shadowy figure behind, genesis of the recent desert-island-rescue-by-Google story, said he wouldn’t speak to The Post “unless there is money involved.”) But last week, after I included Robert Winland’s totally made-up story about the death of professional wrestler the Undertaker in my weekly Internet debunk, Winland reached out to me on Twitter — eager, it would seem, to “get [his] name out there” in any way possible.

Winland is, as you might imagine, a piece of work. A 24-year-old New Jersey native and college dropout, he’s written 10 articles for the nascent Empire Sports since it launched in January. On four of those stories alone, he says, he got more than 8 million pageviews. (By comparison, this post will maybe — if I’m lucky! — do about 20,000 pageviews.) That means that, in this weird Internet clickonomy, Winland isn’t just some nameless blogger. He’s a voice that people listen to.

There’s only one problem with Winland’s wildly, unusually popular work: It’s 100-percent untrue. As in his recent story on the Undertaker dying. Or two other homophobia-tinged posts on fictional relationships between Tony Romo and Jason Witten, and Jeff Gordon and Stephen Rhodes.

Not that this bothers Winland — or, apparently, Aaron Smith, the Louisville, Ky.-based wedding photographer to whom Empire Sports is registered.

Winland says that’s his real name and also says:

  • My real life if very boring and basic. Im not a fan of people. People in general are just very gullible as you can see. They believe in the new “hot” thing to believe in or just believe because they cannot comprehend anything past what they are taught as a child. People live without questioning why or what is going on. Is there more to this? They just live and never wonder or think outside their perfect realm of simplistic views.
  • My reasoning for what I do it because people need to wake up and realize they are being lied to and being taught lessons in life that are useless. Your worlds aren’t perfect and there is more than just work, bills and family…
  • I want to be known by everyone. I enjoy being a villain to people. Thats why I write. I will get the people to buy into my works just to rip their hearts out. No one can play that role better than me.
  • Personally I am the nicest and most genuine person you will ever meet. I love helping people and animals and I never give up on anyone. Ive spent 4 years trying to help an ex girlfriend get off drugs and get her life in order.=
  • I write because I know the sheep will look at it. I know how to exploit people. Thats how you get ahead in life. Its a cut throat world and you need to step on some people to do anything big. You get ahead by being aggressive not kissing up to people and being their lackey.
D.B. Hirsch
D.B. Hirsch is a political activist, news junkie, and retired ad copy writer and spin doctor. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.