Reality show star-turned-president-elect Donald Trump finally got his Twitter account back last night, and right away he set the tone for his conspiracy theory-driven term in office.
Just had a very open and successful presidential election. Now professional protesters, incited by the media, are protesting. Very unfair!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 11, 2016
Of course, the message is absurd. Which is it, paid protesters or media incitement? Be specific, President Trump! But Donald is actually yapping about a story which had developed inside the right wing online echo chamber yesterday, passing from blog to blog via Facebook disinformation channels. The narrative is actually pretty old. As you might expect, George Soros figures large. But now it’s been recycled through three primary sources: a Free Republic.com blogger, the flamboyant alt-right troll Milo Yiannopoulos, and a website with the hilarious Orwellian URL “Truthfeed.”
At Free Republic, a Mr. Eric Tucker uploaded photos of a line of buses near a protest and a screenshot of a Craigslist ad in which a news organization seems to be looking for Clinton supporters to interview. However, the bus passengers were not protesters at all — they were attending a software conference in Austin, Texas. Note the differential in how many retweets and likes the lie and truth have each received:
— erictucker (@erictucker) November 10, 2016
— Will Johnson (@willjgames) November 10, 2016
Speaking of bad information: here is the second data point that leads Mr. Tucker’s comment crew to conclude spontaneous protests against the looming Trump presidency are all being manufactured by sinister forces. Note that this says nothing about staging protests, just that a European news organization wants to interview a protester who is passionate about Hillary Clinton. That’s a pretty normal source for a foreign journalist to seek out on a big news story involving protests against the election result. Now, I don’t know how many reporters have successfully used Craigslist for this sort of thing, but I’ve used Facebook and Twitter, so how is this evidence of anything nefarious?
At Truthfeed, a staff writer has posted screenshots of an actual Soros-affiliated professional activist (they do exist) using Craigslist to cast a high-profile traffic disruption in Hollywood today. So that’s exactly one staged protest in the most media-savvy location on the planet, but not busloads of paid professional protesters walking block after block in Manhattan, Chicago, Nashville, etc. Despite the tantalizing Soros connection, this activist is clearly glomming on to a trend. She’s not setting it.
The aforementioned Breitbart writer Milo Yiannopoulos is easily the most plugged-in popular source of disinformation, as his terrifying former boss Steve Bannon is now being floated for White House Chief of Staff. At Milo’s name website, a staff writer is very offended that CNN anchor Don Lemon was completely transparent after a former CNN cameraman spoke to a ‘street beat’ reporting team. In fact, if Lemon hadn’t mentioned the man’s former relationship to the network, the video would never have gained such notoriety. That it has trended on Facebook is a primary example of what I mean by ‘weaponized transparency.’
Lemon was perhaps not transparent in explaining the “former” part of the man’s backstory, but we can guess from a certain halting frustration that the interviewee might not have been his own best spokesman. And that’s not evidence the interview has been “staged.” Quite the opposite, really. Words have meanings: if CNN “staged” a man-in-the-street interview, producers would surely have found a better actor for their “stage.” There would be a script instead of his half-formed idea that Clinton should sue over the election results.
Nevertheless, the fact that Lemon’s clarification was cut from the YouTube version of the video is positive proof that…well, maybe CNN didn’t want any social media trolls to figure out who this poor schmuck is and dox him for the LULZ. Oh, who am I kidding? It’s a conspiracy, of course!
Confirmation bias fills in the gaps for consumers of this bunk web reporting. Writers and editors and readers simply don’t comprehend, or don’t care, that all these protesters are really angry about white students chanting “build the wall” in schools and bullying classmates. We’ve heard so much about why we should listen to Trump voters, but now it’s a mystery to them that anyone could be angry at the way they are transforming America.
Random white people suddenly feel permission to assault and harass people of color, but so what? If spray paint swastikas show up next to Trump’s name on burned out buildings, isn’t it harmless fun? A little bit of fascist youth violence never hurt anyone. Y U MAD BRO?
A week ago, these same people were threatening insurrection if the election didn’t go their way.
And there you have it. Unrelated buses, a foreign news service covering news, one professional activist crowdsourcing a street blockade, and Don Lemon telling viewers that a person speaking on camera used to work for the network — which is somehow a scandal whereas CNN paying Corey Lewandowski to be Trump’s paid surrogate on their air was somehow not. Zero plus zero plus one plus zero somehow equals tens of thousands of Americans in the streets. This is already the settled conventional wisdom inside the minds of Trump supporters. Expect it to become White House gospel.
We can be dead certain there will be protests outside the White House during the next four years. I have covered a couple of them during the Obama era, and there were many more besides. So who knows how our thin-skinned commander in chief will react to, say, Native Americans angry about the Dakota pipeline, or a huge crowd of women defending Roe v Wade and Planned Parenthood, or Veterans For Peace? We’re definitely going to find out.
And no matter what, I bet every one of them will be the fault of George Soros.Click here for reuse options!
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