Music Writers’ Identities Challenged After Anti-Gaga Campaign

A former scribe for user-generated media outlet Examiner with a penchant for penning less-than-friendly articles about Lady Gaga is at the centre of a new investigation by BuzzFeed, who allege that she and several other Examiner writers are hoax personas created by the same internet troll.

As BuzzFeed writes, Angela Cheng and Sabrina O’Connor were contributors to Examiner (not to be confused with Tasmanian newspaper The Examiner) from 2012 till early 2014. Both purported to be “recent” journalism graduates and both wrote mainly disparaging articles about the G.U.Y. singer.

Cheng came to particular notoriety, receiving memes in her honour and praise from blogger Perez Hilton, after several prestigious outlets, including New York Magazine, parroted an false quote from one of her articles in which she alleged that Gaga’s latest album, Artpop, lost her label $25 million.

Yet more notoriety came when on 1st January 2014, Cheng “reported” rumours that Billboard Editorial Director Bill Werde was about to be fired. Cheng also alleged that Werde was manipulating the Billboard charts to his liking, in particular to mask lacklustre sales of Gaga’s Artpop album. Both Werde and Billboard parent company Guggenheim Media Entertainment Group denied the report.

Meanwhile, in November 2013, fans discovered that Cheng’s author photo was in fact taken from someone’s Flickr account and was most likely not her. Fans soon noticed similarities between Cheng, Sabrina O’Connor, and several other Examiner writers, who all wrote about Lady Gaga.

Werde decided to dig into Angela Cheng’s identity himself, discovering, as he writes in a personal blog post, that claims Cheng made in her writer bio — that she recently graduated from the University of Oklahoma and wrote for the school newspaper, The Oklahoma Daily — were all false.

Cheng has now launched her own website and her and O’Connor’s Examiner archives have both been wiped. However, an Iranian contributor calling herself Amira Hasan, writing with a style similar to Cheng and O’Connor, has taken the reigns on Cheng’s anti-Gaga campaign on Examiner.

In January, Cheng tweeted, “Preventing someone from taking their life last evening made my career as ‘Angela Cheng’ worth every bit,” though she has denied that she and Sabrina O’Connor are the same person. Some Gaga fans have speculated that Cheng is in fact a hoax by Perez Hilton.

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