''In several of my articles, I have quoted Joel Waddell and his organization, the supposed 'Orange County Equality Project.' It has now come to my attention that this supposed organization may be the work of a one or more con artists and shouldn’t be trusted.
''I actually know Joel Waddell as an acquaintance and my initial instinct was that he was trustworthy. He isn’t. I apologize for misleading any of my readers, but that was never my original intention.
''If anyone has any more specific information about Joel Waddell or the Orange County Equality Project, please let me know.''
Possibly the final words from the bizarre writings of an Examiner.com blogger known as "Fernando Palazzo."
Whomever "Palazzo" may or may not have been, his blog was given the authoritative sounding title of "Orange County Gay Culture Examiner." However, tonight, his identity seems to have been wiped off the Examiner.com site. Some of his suspicious posts remain.
Palazzo, who reportedly began writing for the Examiner at the end of January, posted such doozy headlines as:
- Britney Spears named number one Gay icon in Southern California
- Gay activist Joel Waddell apologizes for Lady Gaga/Hitler comparison
- Lady Gaga and Madonna: The Gay Civil War officially erupts
- Gay men fantasize about James Franco and Barack Obama the most
- Will Ace of Base sue Lady Gaga?
- Orange County Gays condemn Ronald Reagan celebrations
"Last Word" never could find any correlating sources for these intriguing claims. And The South Florida Gay News reported over the weekend that they could not verify the information from "Palazzo" either. SFGN all but concluded that the Washington Post and Toronto Sun had been duped into republishing made-up information. (SouthFloridayGayNews.com)
"Palazzo" had linked to another new Wordpress blog titled "Ocean County Equality Project." Today, that blog contains only 6 posts, of which post #1 begins in the first person singular: "My mother has passed away from cancer...."
There is a new post there today reacting to South Florida Gay News' investigation. The poster (whomever he may be) had this to say about SFGN's findings:
''SouthFloridaGayNews.com has written a pathetic hit piece on my organization as well as a friend of mine, Fernando Palazzo, who writes for Examiner.com. I am meeting with a lawyer tomorrow who has successfully sued websites before. I will say that they have tried to reach me through Mr. Palazzo, but he claims the emails went into his junk box.
''There are so many lies in the article and I am not going to sit here and defend myself. The organization I have started is relatively new and we haven’t been registered yet in Orange County. Give me some time!''
The controversy began after a poll, supposedly conducted by this previously unknown "OC Equality Project," resulted in Britney Spears being named as "The Ultimate Gay Icon," with Madonna coming in second. "Palazzo" then claimed in this "hoax" article that "Waddell" said:
''Lady Gaga is a talentless scam artist. She is to the Gay community what Hitler was to Germany—completely destructive.''
In a follow up post, "Palazzo" claimed that gay and Latino groups were condemning Gaga for her latest song, and that he had been offered an apology from the mysterious "Waddell:"
''I can’t stand Lady Gaga. I think she is fake, talentless, and is nothing but a product of right-wing businessmen who are trying to make Gay people look like freaks. However, to compare her to Hitler is not only an insult to Jews, but to the Gay community as well. I was really over my head in this one.''
The Examiner is a fairly new newspaper and website company established by billionaire Philip Anschutz. In 2009, Politico reported that a conservative agenda is behind the growing media producer. Locally the Washington Examiner prints a free daily publication, handed out at subways and seen in red newspaper boxes. A sister operation launched in Baltimore but it folded rather quickly. ''Fernando Palazzo,'' however, seems to be one of the many freelance writers that Examiner.com uses to create "hyper-local" websites.
The Examiner company invites anyone to apply to become a writer and it also recruits writers on various job sites. There are some seemingly legitimate gay bloggers writing as information "specialists," but there are also many anti-gay writers on the site. One eZine claimed that Examiner.com writers were not paid much for their articles. Others have claimed they receive significantly more. It is said that revenue for contributors is driven by the number of times a page is viewed.