Saturday, April 30, 2016

Why I Left Forward Progressives

Over three years ago when I was writing solely on this blog and had just a few hundred followers, I was approached by the editor and web manager for what is now Forward Progressives. I was asked if I would like to be a "co-founder" of a website that would be the answer to the clickbait bullshit from sites like Addicting Info and others.

As an amateur writer, I was excited about this new opportunity, especially after running into a dead end and very brief unpaid stint at Politicususa, which told me they were dumping all revenue into further building their site. At that time, my contact "Thomas Barr" and his business partners were running a number of pages like One Million Strong Against Mitt Romney in 2012, or unofficial fan pages for Rachel Maddow, Jon Stewart and others which they apparently used to post links for Politicususa for kickbacks.

This opportunity seemed like the great break I was hoping for. I was honestly honored that sources I naively bought into considered me to be qualified to graduate from a lowly blog site about punk rock, politics, fraud and whiskey to what I thought was the big time in liberal journalism.

One of the factors that I believe made me a candidate for their website was my utter distaste for Addicting Info and Being Liberal - as their owners and I had repeatedly clashed over reuse of my content without proper attribution. My friend John Henry was also offered a position writing for Forward Progressives, but only if he wrote under a pseudonym so as not draw unwanted attention to our website, which he declined to do.

At first, things went fairly smoothly and I was awestruck at the amount of traffic my articles were attracting. Before long, we had amassed a respectable squad of potential writers, and things were looking great. There were articles that went viral, our pages were booming, and we reached the front page of Reddit once. When I received my paycheck after the first month of writing that was enough to buy a new laptop, I really thought that this was amazing venture I could finally believe in.

Things started changing when we appeared on the radar of political blogging. While the website had a very large reach, priority was only given to "Allen Clifton" - and some of my articles while our other writers were put on the back burner, often for days. Even when their stories were finally published by "Thomas Barr," they were given little promotion and one by one, nearly every one of those writers quit in disgust.

Eventually, almost nobody wanted to write for us, and the few people I managed to recruit didn't last long. This venture was supposed to be a collaboration of writers that were the progressive answer to the clickbait headlines that littered Facebook, but we rapidly became everything that I hated. There was almost zero collaboration or discussion among writers, and "Allen Clifton" did very little to promote others on our team, myself included. Only Arik Bjorn and his delightfully esoteric Sunday column remained, much to the ire of "Allen Clifton" who had asked me to help him force Arik (and others) out.

Within the first couple of months of Forward Progressives, I had also been informed by the website manager, "Thomas Barr" that the site had come under attack from individuals he believed to be connected to our alleged competition, Addicting Info, among others. I was asked to do what I could to take them down, which I was more than happy to do.

At his instruction, I employed a number of techniques that he suggested, including reporting their racier articles to Google AdSense for any violation we could find. A couple of years ago, Addicting Info went silent for a couple of days with no new material as their founder flew from Santa Rosa, California to Chicago to apparently meet with a buyer.

I can only conclude that we reported the Addicting Info organization so hard that they lost all of their advertising revenue sources due to the complaints, and were bought out by a guy calling himself Icarus Verum, who has the real name of Daniel Gouldman. Daniel seems to also hold partial or complete control of a number of liberal websites like If You Only News, Winning Democrats, Reverb Press, Groopspeak and others.

After almost 3 years of battling this juggernaut and letting me take most of the heat, "Thomas Barr" claimed he didn't want to fight this battle anymore. While I was the one who had been relentlessly cyberstalked and reported into 30 day Facebook bans, he told me that people from the Addicting Info cabal had supposedly gotten too close to finding out things about him and his family in Minnesota - and that it was time to shut up.

Before my relationship with Forward Progressives ended with a group chat in January, the website had descended into clickbait stories, far away from the original mission I had signed up for. Articles I had written fell on the back burner, priority was given to Allen Clifton's latest recap of Sarah Palin's pleas for attention, and nobody else wanted to work with us.

What I found strange through this entire experience is that I was almost always the focus of the attacks by the Addicting Info army of trolls, and not Thomas Barr, Allen Clifton, or the site's owner, Logan. Things like my occasional donations to people in need were made the focus of Facebook pages like The Adventures of Beefaroni Tits or Whiskey Dick & The Most Ethical Blog.

Imagine having a group of Facebook pages devoted to harassing you and your friends, or even making fun of your dog? Thomas Clay Jr who commented on that picture was one of the people that worked with Addicting Info and others to relentlessly bully or even attempt to extort individuals into cooperating with them. He is currently the owner of the website American News X, an organization that includes a former admin of my page, Steve Ahearn who was booted after continually begging for money and harassing people.

This is what I continually dealt with since confronting the owners of Addicting Info and Being Liberal back in 2012, although I have enjoyed a brief respite since ending my relationship with Forward Progressives. While "Matthew Desmond" has repeatedly told me that neither he, nor any of his associates have had anything to do with the harassment, the evidence I've seen shows that isn't true.

Anyhow, back to Forward Progressives. Despite the fact that we were supposed to be politically "objective," Allen Clifton insisted on writing one condescending article about Bernie Sanders after another. At the same time, he also created Facebook pages like "Being Progressive" which were intended as an outlet for other links that appeared to be supportive of Bernie. I was instructed, after Thomas Barr gained access to a large pro-Bernie Facebook page run by Annabel Park, to write links specifically tailored for that audience.

This is when I knew that Forward Progressives had jumped the shark. Despite being told I was joining a site that was going to be the answer to the clickbait bullshit that I hated, we had become just like the rest. Logan and the others even claimed that FP was based in San Francisco, CA despite being a registered LLC in Ohio.

When that day in January came that I began writing for my new website and the first article was published, I received a Facebook message from the others that I was being let go. In exchange, I would not talk about the operations of Forward Progressives, and I would continue to receive payments for the traffic that led to my articles, and the site overall.

Those promises were broken, and the sites I helped to build were taken away from me. I have repeatedly tried to rectify these issues, only to be ignored. So now I am releasing this story, and I have recorded all of the conversations with these individuals in case they want to state this story is false.

Let the chips fall where they may.


  1. Good for you Manny. Stand on your principle's always. It's good to stand up to the wrongs we face in today's crazy mixed up politics. I too have been victimized by supporters from one candidate's fans on the Democratic side and often times feel like throwing in the towel. I know good things are on the horizon for you and you'll be back writing for a media outlet soon and if not, we'll enjoy reading your words of liberal wisdom here!

  2. Sending you love and ((hugs)). I have missed you.

  3. As someone who's followed you for many years, long before you began writing for Forward Progressives, I have to say I'm a bit disappointed by this article. My inner skeptic is usually triggered whenever I see a spill the beans story where the person writing it seems to be doing so out of spite while painting themselves as a completely innocent and noble victim. You bring up some rather interesting points that I am sure are completely valid, but this came off sounding like a scorned employee who was let go or fired from somewhere whose attempt at what sounds kind of like blackmail didn't go how they planned and this article was the result. Otherwise I don't get the point of saving conversations or saying things like "let the chips fall where they may." That's the definition of a passive aggressive threat. Also where you making threats when you were let go? If not that's rather odd a company would seemingly offer indefinite compensation for your silence. Not saying they might not have offered that, but it seems a part of the story is missing relating to what triggered that offer. Just my observations from what I read. Still a big fan though!

    1. Do you really think his name is Manny Schewitz? Listen to your gut, it's more than correct on this count.

    2. We have a real Sherlock Holmes here!

    3. Do people really think your name is unknown?
      All I can say being an outsider ,not knowing Manny, but have read all those sites over the years, they are truly garbage,clickbait, fake news 3rd grade level journalism.
      I said that many times on all those sites over the years. Don't read them anymore. But sure they're the same

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  5. Liberal dictatorship? Has Ron Paul been playing Tropico? But really, a liberal dictatorship would look like a worker's paradise compared to the crony corporatism we have now ... ;-)

  6. We're all very impressed. You apparently don't know about the things for which you write. You have half of half of half of the truth and you call it legit. Sad!

  7. Well, feel free to enlighten us then.

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  9. They made fun of peanut? The bastards. -_- This post makes so much sense, in retrospect. I helped you report and harass. :D

  10. It's really bizarre, Manny, how much energy you put into this campaign of hate against Addicting Info and others, including me who you started a fight with when I didn't even know who you were. Imagine if you put this energy into something fruitful like furthering your writing career with legit stories that aren't hit stories about other websites. Furthermore, you are so uninformed about so many of these "facts" you share. Weird since everyone knows the real story (and it's not a mysterious one) of how Matt ended up partnering with Icarus. I can't tell if you genuinely just do not know the truth or you're deliberately spreading falsehoods for some unknown motive. Also, half the pages on your other lists do NOT have an affiliation with Addicting Info et al. And it's common knowledge who owns what. Again, just really bizarre how misinformed you are. Don't waste your life on this BS. Go do something great.
    Tiffany Willis, CEO of Liberal America

    1. Don't know how, but some reason got on this 'whiskey....'blog today.
      Reading all this stuff about addictorg, occupydemocrats, liberal america,etc..
      Knew nothing about all this behind the scenes, and have no idea who manny shewitz is.
      All I can say is over the years, I've been on all those sites.
      And can honestly say they're trash. Occupydemocrats and bipartisan report being the worse, addictorg being pretty close ,with liberalamerica following.
      It's trash news. It's poor writing, horrible journalistic writing.
      After a few years I would tell others about these sites,that they're ,well, maybe not fake, but definitely lowgrade journalism.
      And it's funny this guy mentions Allen Clifton.
      He was the worst. I used to rip apart his lowgrade articles. A few times he would comment on my comments. It was funny as he couldn't hold up a healthy discourse ,with any substance.
      And the worse was exactly like this guy, Manny ,said, Clifton constantly would trash Bernie Sanders.
      But it wasn't just 'I disagree,and people should back Hillary', it was lies, playing dirty with b.s. about Bernie (and his followers) the same way liberals whine about repubs.
      That is when I really saw these were all sites that give liberals a bad name.
      Clifton's writings , especially about Sanders ,were embarrassing. All he did was show his colors, he showed his obvious bias, and he did so in such a childish, illiterate, uneducated way.
      So to you Tiffany Willis, I don't know Manny Schewitz, I can only say from my own experience reading all those sites, it's like 4th grade ,poor journalism.
      And please 'CEO liberal America'.
      I get a kick out of this generation saying they're professional journalists, writers or business people, just because they have a blog or a site.
      A monkey can start a site or blog. It means nothing.
      Keep pretending that using the title CEO has any meaning.