Oprah vs. the Internet

Oprah may have startled a beast.

On May 14th, auditions opened for a contest to get your own show on The Oprah Winfrey Network. Zach Anner, a young man with cerebral palsy (which he believes is "the sexiest of the palsies"), uploaded his own humorous audition tape and it took off:



John Mayer summoned the Internet "rally machine" after seeing the video on the meme-spreading blog The Daily What (which we've covered here and here) and the rabble-rousers (who probably don't follow Mayer's blog) at 4chan's /b/ imageboard launched a campaign to vote the video up.

But now there are allegations of vote-rigging, as my colleague John Hudson reports:

For the last week, Anner was blowing away the competition. Then Tuesday came and another contestant, Doctor Phyllis, soared ahead. But many allege that the [Winfrey] network artificially increased Phyllis's votes, which has led to accusations of discrimination. Is there reason to believe the contest was rigged?

Anonymous--the ragtag group of individuals closely tied to places like 4chan--even started a counter-campaign called Operation SyPhyllis to swing votes back in Anner's favor. Who will win the contest: Anner or Dr. Phyllis? That may be less important than whether the Internet can beat the Queen of Media.

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Niraj Chokshi is a former staff editor at TheAtlantic.com, where he wrote about technology. He is currently freelancing and can be reached through his personal website, NirajC.com. More

Niraj previously reported on the business of the nation's largest law firms for The Recorder, a San Francisco legal newspaper. He has also been published in The Hartford Courant, The Seattle Times and The Age, in Melbourne, Australia. He's also a longtime programmer and sometimes website designer.

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