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Lady Gaga’s Biggest Haters Won’t Reveal Who They Are, Or Go Away

A mysterious writer and an army of sound-alike trolls are making Gaga’s Little Monsters lose their minds.

1. Meet “Angela Cheng” and “Sabrina O’Connor.”

 

2. They were writers for Examiner.com, a news and entertainment website that says it has “100,000 contributors,” from 2012 to early 2014. They mainly wrote negative stuff about pop divas:

3. Lots of takedowns, particularly about Lady Gaga:

4. Tons of mean stuff about Lady Gaga.

Some of the Cheng stories were cited by credible outlets, including the New York Post, Business Insider, and New York Magazine.

5. Cheng once said the “top reason to dislike Madonna” was because “she helped encourage the spread of AIDS.”

6. With her outrageous headlines, questionable data, and harsh tone, Cheng in particular soon became a object of fascination for online fan communities like ONTD and ATRL.

7. And she’s become a meme of sorts.

 

9. Cheng wrote a post on Jan. 1, 2014, reporting rumors that Billboard editorial director Bill Werde was about to be fired.

Mike Coppola / Getty Images

In the post, which has since been deleted from Examiner.com but lives on in full on ONTD, Cheng alleged that changes to the Billboard chart were carried out to help mask Lady Gaga’s lackluster sales. Cheng quoted a “music industry insider” who told her, “The charts are not based on actual success anymore; they are allegedly based on how much Bill Werde likes the song.”

10. A week later it was announced that Janice Min, the editor credited with turning Billboard’s sister publication The Hollywood Reporter around, would be in charge of Billboard, starting immediately.

Kevork Djansezian / Reuters

14. On March 31, a spokesperson for Billboard parent company Guggenheim Media Entertainment Group issued a statement to BuzzFeed, confirming that Werde had not in fact been fired.


“Bill has not been fired, he continues to work at Guggenheim Media. The accusations are false and untrue.”

15. It’s worth nothing that in November 2013, fans revealed that Cheng’s author photo was from this Flickr account and most likely not actually her. It soon changed to the image above. One commenter also alleged that O’Connor and Cheng are the same person:

The other names on this list are all bylines from Examiner.com, and all show a similar writing style and range of topics — they all do a lot of Gaga hating.

16. On Jan. 8, 2014, BuzzFeed requested a comment from Examiner.com about the work of these two writers. That afternoon, both of their archives were completely removed:

Justin Jimenez from Examiner.com told BuzzFeed that the two writers are “no longer are affiliated with Examiner.com, as of January 3” — one day after O’Connor’s last post. With regards to their accounts being cleared, Jimenez said that it’s against company policy to talk about relationships with individual writers, but did say that account removals are most likely due to a “terms of use violation” which could include “false or defamatory statements, abusive language, or plagiarism.”

18. As he explains in a Tumblr post he published after being contacted by BuzzFeed, Werde himself tried to verify Cheng’s identity and asked his friends at Examiner’s parent company to look into her posts.

“In Cheng’s bio on Examiner.com, which I can no longer find on site, she listed herself as ‘a recent Communication Media Studies graduate of the University of Oklahoma,’ and ‘the school newspaper’s pop music writer,’” he wrote. “But a University of Oklahoma representative told me on the phone in January that there had been no “Angela Cheng” to enroll or graduate within any timeframe that could reasonably be construed as “recent.” Similarly, no one at the school paper, The Oklahoma Daily, could find any record of an Angela Cheng contributing.”

20. BuzzFeed requested comment from Cheng several times though Twitter and then email. Before the launch of her new site, she responded.


She denied being the same person as Sabrina O’Connor outright: “LOL — I am not Sabrina O’Connor. I did use a Flickr picture at first because I am afraid of crazy people recognizing or stalking me. However, I was forced to take that one down and put the current one up.” She added that her new site would be a place for more “positive articles.”

22. The email was returned by an automated message, saying her Gmail account had been shut down.

23. Cheng’s new site, launched a week later and called PopMusicGadfly, has posted more of the same negative Gaga coverage that ran on the Examiner.

24. In the meantime, a new Examiner critic named Amira Hassan has popped up to fill the Gaga-hating void left by Cheng.

The articles in tone and diction sound a lot like ones written by Cheng, and Hasan’s backstory or being a jailed Iranian pop music critic is bizarre.

25. Another Examiner columnist, Jim Strzalkowski, also sounds a lot a lot like Cheng.

But in an email, he denied being involved in the Cheng persona: “It really is not me.”

26. It’s been rumored that Perez Hilton is the person behind Angela Cheng.

Carlo Allegri / Reuters

But Perez denies this. “I’m already busy enough being Perez,” he said in an email. “Don’t have time for any other alter egos. I’m not Angela. Sorry to burst any conspiracy theory bubbles.”

CORRECTION: The parent company of Billboard is Guggenheim Media Entertainment Group. An earlier version of this item misstated the company’s name. (3/31/14)

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