On Friday, the Wall Street Journal was accused of using their influence to intimidate the St. Jude’s charity foundation into returning donations totaling $27,000 due to their disagreement with the politics of the donator, Ethan Ralph.

Ethan Ralph is a provocative blogger who came to prominence by promoting an anti-SJW, pro-GamerGate stance through his website, The Ralph Retort (Ralph is considered by many to be one of the founders of the GamerGate movment). Ralph and his website have since grown to focusing on a wider range of social and political subjects, such as E-Celebrities or the Syrian Chemical attacks from earlier this year, which has earned Ralph the ire of many who disagree with his viewpoints. One of Ralph’s main productions is a regularly hosted livestream called the Killstream. On these streams Ralph, sometimes along with special guests, discuss numerous topics and engage in numerous debates for the entertainment of the viewer.  Though the show is sometimes accused of being intentionally controversial and offensive, Ralph and his audience assert that the Killstream is focused solely on being a free speech centered show.

On September 29th, Ralph hosted a charity edition of his stream, appropriately named the Healstream, and announced that all donations received via YouTube’s Super Chat function would be donated to St. Jude’s Hospital, a charity which focuses on fighting and treating childhood cancer. The stream featured numerous guests including author Jay Dyer, podcast host Dick Masterson, and popular YouTuber and streamer Mr. Metokur. Ultimately, the Healstream and its viewers raised over $27,000 in donations for St. Jude’s Hospital, which were then presented to and accepted by the charity.

Over a month later on November 2nd, many people began to notice they were receiving refunds for their donations to the Healstream:

As hundreds of fans stood shocked that their charitable contributions were being refunded, many looking for answers amid all the confusion. Ralph responded to the confusion on his Twitter, directly linking the refunds to the machinations of The Wall Street Journal

A few days before these refunds began, Ralph noted that the Killstream had found itself in the crosshairs of WSJ and that a hit piece was forthcoming:

He also posted communications received before the refunds began indicating that his channel had been met with punishment for violating YouTube’s community guidelines:

He even provided Nick Monroe, an independent reporter, with a copy of the e-mail sent to Ralph by the WSJ reporter responsible for the piece, Yoree Koh, which indicated that the Healstream was a specific item of importance to her article:

Following these revelations, a Twitter hashtag began to circulate to draw attention to WSJ’s actions. The hashtag, #WSJkillskids, quickly became a trending topic and continues to see rapid use as of the time of this article’s writing. Users have been using the hashtag in tweets sent to popular pundits, news outlets, and in response to any article posted by WSJ.

Despite the widespread and visible outrage, WSJ still went forward and published Koh’s article, Hate Speech on Live ‘Super Chats’ Tests Youtube (archive link provided). Following publication of this article, readers took significant issue with many of the claims presented by Koh. These readers asserted that many of her claims were either contradictory or outright lies:

Following the attention brought upon Ralph by the WSJ article, he announced that he had been forcibly removed from the YouTube platform:

This is not the first time that WSJ has led an attack on a prominent internet personality due to assumptions of their character. Last year, WSJ went after Felix Kjellberg, AKA PewDiePie, attempting to smear him for a moment, classified by WSJ as ‘anti-Semitic’, taken out of context from one of his videos. The misrepresentation of Kjellberg’s actions and content led to Disney severing their partnership with the popular YouTuber, as well as YouTube immediately demonetizing the nine articles featured in WSJ’s initial report. In covering Kjellberg’s response to this fallout, WSJ continued to attempt to paint him as an anti-Semite.

This heavy crackdown of content by large tech companies and the establishment media has been a contentious point of 2018. Events such as the deplatforming of Info Wars and Alex Jones, the misrepresentation of Gab as a hate platform (which led to their deplatforming), or Rebecca Lewis’ hit piece that attempted to label many non-left personalities as Alt-Right serve as continual reminders to general audiences that any narrative can easily be weaponized and used to silence dissidents. The issue has become so concerning that the US Supreme Court will be hearing a case, Manhattan Community Access Corp v. Halleck, concerning the power of users to challenge social media platforms on 1st Amendment grounds.

To deny that hateful or highly offensive comments popped up during Healstream would be an intentionally ignorant statement. However, these Super Chats do not invalidate the members of the audience who don’t hold these views, nor does it invalidate Ralph’s goal of providing aid to sick children. A dollar is a dollar, and even if the source can be interpreted by some as ‘bad’, it does not change the fact that a month after the donations went to a good cause, The Wall Street Journal had a hand in removing them from St. Jude’s, which almost assuredly had plans to use such a sizable and generous gift.

 

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