On 15 July 2017, an article was published on the front page of Destructoid, an independent video gaming news website, titled “River City Ransom: Underground taken off Steam due to DMCA claim” by a one Jonathan Holmes.
To Catch an Editor
As some of you might imagine, the article was centered around former industry composer Alex Mauer. One would reasonably expect this article to include mention of their documented DMCA abuse, in which they fraudulently filed DMCA Takedown Notices in an effort to extort YouTubers into harassing developer Imagos Softworks to extract unearned payments from them, and the eventual removal of RCRU from the Steam storefront due to Alex’s further perjurious claims. In addition to these major offenses, Mauer has also issued abusive DMCA claims against an excess of one hundred YouTube videos that, even if Mauer had any legal grounds for their claims, would be still protected by fair use.
Back to Jonathan Holmes’ article on the front page of Destructoid, while it is mentioned that Alex is responsible for issuing the DMCA claims that resulted in RCRU being removed from the Steam storefront, the article fails to mention any indication of the YouTubers Alex has persecuted and extorted, the death threats that Alex issued to Don Thacker of Imagos Softworks and Leonard French, who is representing Imagos in their pending lawsuit versus Mauer, and countless other content creators, and even goes so far as to vilify the latter while painting Alex the victim:
“Unfortunately, not everyone has been so empathetic [towards Mauer]. Since word got out that Ms. Mauer had issued the DMCA orders against the two games, a sadistic feeding frenzy has formed in certain pockets of the internet, leading to Ms. Mauer receiving multiple online death threats, and ambulance chasing, opportunistic video game pundits demonizing her in long winded, fruitless Youtube rants.”
While the article itself is lousy with academic errors, poorly-researched and lacking of anything in the way of information outside of direct quotes from Alex – which, of course, fully support their victim narrative – this paragraph is particularly offensive and is clearly directed at the likes of SidAlpha and TotalBiscuit, both of whom have covered Alex’s harmful action to varying degrees, and both of whom have actually been involved in helping those affected by Alex’s unwarranted assaults.
Whether or not Holmes simply has no journalistic standards when it comes to research, or if some sort of exchange of money was involved, or if perhaps there was some sort of political motivation in their actions, the internet would regardless immediately catch on to the scent of the bullshit Holmes was peddling on the front page of Destructoid, and the comments section of the article flickered ablaze like the dumpster fire that is much of games journalism today.
As the evidence against Holmes and his pathetic attempt to portray YouTubers as nefarious characters in this scenario leaned further and further out of his favor, the comments section of the article was eventually suspended to prevent further dissemination of dissenting opinions, another move we see all too often in games journalism today, as well as on platforms such as Steam, where corrupt developers regularly scrub boards to hide complaints of shady behaviors such as asset-flipping. This isn’t necessarily the fault of gaming journalists, but when they set such a fine example on their own platforms, it isn’t hard to see where these developers might be learning this deceptive behavior of squelching free discussion from.
In an update issued to the article regarding the “ambulance chasing YouTube pundits” line, Holmes apologized to SidAlpha and to Musical Anti Hero, indicating he wasn’t referring to them directly. Holmes would fail to further specify which YouTubers he was writing with regards to, and in my opinion this is an obvious case of someone apologizing because they were caught, and not because they actually believe what they did was wrong or have any remorse for having done it. The update did at least acknowledge the threats Mauer made to Leonard French, albeit in the most minimalist way possible.
A note from the editor was also added with a further amendment, explaining:
“Destructoid is a multi-author blog. This story in particular was an opinion piece that should not have appeared on our home page, but instead on Mr. Holmes’s personal blog. We stand by Holmes in that he should always write from his gut, but that doesn’t mean Destructoid endorses any part of this editorial. There’s two sides to every story, and that’s become very apparent here as more sources come forward. This is a story that is still developing and requires more investigation.”
“…Holmes reviewed a game or gave it positive coverage without disclosing that he had financial interests or endorsements in the games – to be specific, over a dozen cases…”
How does this happen? Why did this occur the front page of Destructoid, a very-well-known video gaming news website with a history spanning over more than ten years?
From the Hacks that Brought You #GamerGate
Thankfully, the good folks over at DeepFreeze have been keeping an eye on Holmes and his zany journalist antics for quite a while now. Holmes is perhaps best-known for an article he wrote during the GamerGate controversy:
“Maybe I should give up immedietely [sic] and get back to the purported point of this ding dang post — the importance of the term “gamer”. I know a lot of people who don’t want to use it anymore. They don’t want to be associated with it anymore in any way. It’s because a lot of people who take pride in being “gamers”, be they game developers, jouranlists [sic], or players, use the term as a way to elevate themselves above others. Gamer used to mean “a former nerd who is now proud of their love of games”, but now a lot of people take it to mean “I’m cooler than you other try-hards, because videogames.””
This article was written shortly after a flurry of other similar fluff pieces claiming the term “gamer” to be dead, and while it’s mostly composed of mental diarrhea, it does show that Holmes is happy to latch onto whatever the rest of the industry is doing and go with the flow, rather than construct any original thoughts or opinions. It’s also worth pointing out that Holmes is one of the journalists that gave positive coverage to Zoe Quinn, the queen of Five Guys Burgers and Fries herself, without disclosing his relationship with her. Among these offenses are a countless myriad of other cases in which Holmes reviewed a game or gave it positive coverage without disclosing that he had financial interests or endorsements in the games – to be specific, over a dozen cases according to DeepFreeze.
Destructoid: Fake News?
“…Destructoid continues to promote, empower, and enable Holmes to deceive and attack gamers – the very people that are their core audience.”
While Destructoid as a whole certainly are not responsible for what Holmes may write in any individual article, the question still begs to be asked: why, despite his countless egregious and anti-consumer behaviors, is Jonathan Holmes still to this day not held accountable in any meaningful way by his employers? Destructoid may not have written the article, but Destructoid continues to promote, empower, and enable Holmes to deceive and attack gamers – the very people that are their core audience. Destructoid is free to disrespect their readership in whatever manner they please, but they will never be free from criticisms of this behavior.
Leonard French later disclosed that he was directly told that Destructoid would not report the threats that Alex Mauer had been sending to him and others. [I think that answers the titular question.] If you invest just a little bit of time into researching French, you’ll learn he is a very rational and pragmatic person who wants the best outcome for everyone and stands to yield no benefit from dishonesty, not to mention that an unwarranted public lie would be extraordinarily out-of-character for the transparent attorney. In the face of this evidence, I can only further condemn Destructoid for this awful reporting, for this awful omission, and for the awful fact that Holmes’ piece has still not been taken down despite the obvious bias in favor of Mauer and their attempts to squelch the public discussion in the comments.
Holmes stated publicly on Twitter that he wanted to clarify and rectify all mistakes in the article literally fifteen minutes before announcing a week-long hiatus from the social media platform, and I suspect that if even one hundredth of what was wrong with his article made it through to him per his request, it will take far longer than a week for him to process his utter failure.
Despite this hiatus it was quickly learned that Holmes was still attacking YouTubers on Twitter, claiming the YouTube pundits did not care about RCRU being taken down, but only other YouTubers, and saying that showed “their obvious bias”. This is, however, patently false – as many YouTubers (including smaller ones such as myself) covered the RCRU takedown in and of its own merit as one of the many atrocities which Alex has committed, and the very same atrocities which Holmes has clearly demonstrated he is unaware of and unwilling to investigate.
“…I think we’re confronted with the following as more a fact than just a mere opinion: Jonathan Holmes and Destructoid are promoting and disseminating fake news…”
Holmes Adopts Mauer’s Tactics
Following two strongly-worded critical tweets that I tagged Holmes in, he would accuse me of stalking and immediately block me. This is a common tactic for those who cannot handle dissenting opinions, as their narratives are too malnourished and incorrect to hold any water against even intentionally passive-aggressive criticisms. The “stalker” accusation allows Holmes to paint me as an assailant and themselves as a victim, and while it’s baseless, it is telling of just how close Holmes’ house of bullshit cards is to collapsing around him, and has allowed him to disengage from my criticisms in a very ungraceful manner.
I find it especially hilarious that Holmes did this to me, shortly after moaning about Mauer having done the same to him.
In an age where “fake news” has become a term used to describe journalists manipulating context to their narrative, I think we’re confronted with the following as more a fact than just a mere opinion: Jonathan Holmes and Destructoid are promoting and disseminating fake news. I do not have any proof that this behavior services a particular agenda, but I think it goes without saying that there is some sort of agenda, possibly political or monetary, influencing their journalism. And it isn’t ethical.
UPDATE: When reached out to for comment, Holmes had the following to say. Note that he calls my article factually inaccurate despite clearly not having read it nor my message to him. I genuinely wasn’t going to publish these until he accused me of not saying that was my intent in the first place. At a later date I’ll dissect this bullshit more carefully.