The Conservative Treehouse, a political publication hosted on WordPress.com for the past 10 years, is moving to a new host after receiving a notice from Automattic regarding violations of its Terms of Service. The site’s owner, previously identified as Florida resident Mark Bradman, claims to have a 500,000 – 1,000,000 unique readers per day. He has been ordered to find a new hosting provider and migrate the site away from WordPress.com by December 2, 2020.
Bradman followed up with Automattic to inquire about the specific infractions that put the site in violation of Automattic Ads Terms of Service. A representative from WordPress.com referred him to Section 5’s guidelines on “Prohibited Content,” and the prohibition against calls to violence in WordPress.com’s User Guidelines.
The Conservative Treehouse was characterized by The Daily Beast as “Patient Zero for a number of hoaxes that have percolated through [the] right-wing media ecosystem” after President Trump tweeted a conspiracy theory that originated on the site. Trump referenced an incident in Buffalo where police officers shoved an elderly protestor during the anti-police brutality protests that happened in June. The notion that the protester was an “ANTIFA provacateur” was originally seeded by an article on The Conservative Treehouse.
A cursory review of the past several months of posts on the anonymous blog shows it is home to a steady stream of misinformation. NewsGuard, an organization that assigns trust ratings based on transparent criteria, recommends readers proceed with caution because the website “severely violates basic journalistic standards.” The Conservative Treehouse gets a rating of 30/100 due to publishing false information and unsubstantiated conspiracy theories on numerous topics:
Because The Conservative Treehouse has published false and misleading claims, including about the COVID-19 pandemic, NewsGuard has determined that the website repeatedly publishes false content and does not gather and present information responsibly.
Bradman said he received the notification about the website being removed after publishing his post on what he calls “the COVID-19 agenda.” The conclusion of the article includes an image of a knife with the word “resist” written on it, followed by the words “whatever it takes.” The site’s comments are home to a “Rag Tag Bunch of Conservative Misfits,” as the tagline suggests, and there are more than 1,800 comments on the post announcing its upcoming move to a new host.
Despite the publication’s poor reputation, the site ranks #3,294 in the US, according to Alexa, with a largely American audience. Its owner claims to have more than 200,000 subscribers.
“We will take this challenge head-on and we will use this attack against our freedom as fuel to launch CTH 2.0, a new version of The Conservative Treehouse,” Bradman said.