There are many ways to describe Rush Limbaugh - conservative radio behemoth, Viagra smuggler, Warrior on Women, Apologizer to Tommy Christopher - but Award-Winning Children's Book Author was never one of them, until now.
Limbaugh's Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims has netted him the coveted Children's Choice Author of the Year Award, placing him alongside the creators of the Harry Potter, Twilight, Hunger Games, and Diary of a Wimpy Kid book series'. The award was based on an online vote that couldn't possibly have been gamed by Dittoheads, right?
The nomination of Limbaugh's book was controversial from the start, as people in the "children's literature community" (or "LIBERALS" as Breitbart.com calls them) expressed concern over selecting Author of the Year nominees from bestseller lists, because of the potential for manipulation. Not only are online votes susceptible to gaming, but so are bestseller lists. Through bulk purchases and book giveaways, an author can inflate early sales to get on bestseller lists. In December, Limbaugh did announce on his radio show that he was giving books away to a "huge number" of schools, but would not say how many.
"We can take this into consideration going forward, but cannot change our procedure for selecting finalists after the fact," the Children's Book Council said in a letter addressing the concerns, but added that "We have procedures in place to eliminate duplicate, fake, and adult votes during the voting period as much as possible."
The operative phrase there is "as much as possible," which, according to the group's executive director, isn't that much:
But executive director Robin Adelson of the Children's Book Council and Every Child a Reader, nonprofit organizations that co-founded the awards seven years ago, acknowledged Thursday that adults could easily vote and vote multiple times, a problem not uncommon for Internet competitions.
"Every one of our finalists gets fake votes every year," Adelson told The Associated Press. "We like to think that's the enthusiasm of adults who love children's books."
...Adelson said she doubted that parents or other grown-ups were voting through Poptropica, but acknowledged the awards site was more likely to be manipulated. An individual voter can vote multiple times and does not need to provide a verifiable email address or proof of his or her age.
Adelson also told the Associated Press that Limbaugh jumped out to an early lead that closed as the contest wore on, while quite coincidentally, Limbaugh pushed his listeners to vote, without mentioning any age restriction, in the first days of the contest, even humblebragging about how his website overwhelmed the voting site with traffic.
The total votes cast this year increased by about 100,000 votes, Adelson told the AP, from a record-setting 1.1 million votes last year to 1.2 million this year. If the final results were as close as Adelson suggests, though, even a modest early surge could have affected the outcome.
On the other hand, maybe kids just finally got tired of giving the award to Diary of a Wimpy Kid author Jeff Kinney every year, or to any of the other wildly popular children's book authors who were nominated. It only stands to reason that, after years of broadcasting a radio show for children, this would be the next logical step.