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.
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.
8. Perez Hilton has publicly cheered on Cheng’s work.
9. Cheng wrote a post on Jan. 1, 2014, reporting rumors that Billboard editorial director Bill Werde was about to be fired.
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.
11. Werde dismissed Cheng’s report on Twitter:
@Anthagiox hah. A certain subset of ppl will never let logic or reason interfere with an opinion.
13. And although her post has since been removed, Cheng took the announcement of Min’s hiring as a vindication:
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:
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.”
19. After seeing that her articles had been removed, Cheng announced on Twitter that she had plans for a new site:
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.”
21. BuzzFeed then asked Cheng, in an email, about this January tweet, where she seemingly outed herself as a fictional person:
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.
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)