I checked my email Saturday afternoon and found a note asking, “Cat - surely you did not write this comment?” accompanied by a screenshot of an outrageous and factually incorrect comment posted to WyoFile in response to an Angus M. Thuermer Jr. article about the corner crossing case.
The post is attributed to me. These were my words, according to the WyoFile website.
Hell no, I didn’t write it. But WyoFile allowed someone to impersonate me to inflame the public about ranching and public lands. Holy smokes, I know some of the WyoFile reporters and surely even they would know this kind of crap isn’t anything I would write.
As I was reading some of the nasty comments posted in response to the Cat Urbigkit impersonator, I realized the screenshot that had been emailed to me had a different date than the post on the WyoFile website.
So I had a look around and found my impersonator had also posted a similar inflammatory and factually incorrect comment on May 1 in response to another Angus M. Thuermer Jr. article. That means this bullshit has been out there all week with my name associated with it.
I found Angus’s cell number and left him a message, but suspect he’s out enjoying the great outdoors this weekend. WyoFile doesn’t have a publicly listed phone number for the staff or any of their board members, so I sent a couple of furious emails to Matthew Copeland, WyoFile’s chief executive and editor.
In part, I wrote: “What this person is saying, pretending to be me, is insane and harmful to my reputation as both a rancher and a writer about public lands issues. I am getting slammed in other comments on both articles.
“WyoFile needs to fix this. I want it publicly acknowledged that these comments were by an impersonator and was not me. I want every comment responding to the impersonator to have a reply from WyoFile that it was not me.
“And I want WyoFile to explain how this has happened – repeatedly now – and what exactly you intend to do to make sure this can’t ever happen again.”
For the record, I don’t post comments to WyoFile. I write about public lands and natural resource issues for Cowboy State Daily. This impersonator set out to harm my reputation, and that of public lands ranchers, and somehow WyoFile’s moderation (or lack thereof) allowed it to happen.
As for the keyboard troll who is my impersonator, you are a coward. I always put my name out there for the public when I write. I’m no coward.
P.S. Matthew Copeland just called me, and I ended up yelling at him. I thought surely this news organization would want to correct the record, but Matthew wanted me to submit a comment on the WyoFile website explaining what had happened. He was unwilling to have WyoFile take responsibility for correcting the record, or to even clarify to its readers that WyoFile had been duped by an impersonator.
All WyoFile was willing to do was to take down the posts. When I asked him about WyoFile’s responsibility for content on its site, in what sounded like mansplaining, Copeland said, “Cat, it’s the internet.” At which point I yelled at him and hung up.
This isn’t my first rodeo with WyoFile, but the last time, at least they ended up doing the right thing.
Cat Urbigkit is an author and rancher who lives on the range in Sublette County, Wyoming. Her column, Range Writing, appears weekly in Cowboy State Daily.