Power

Where are the #Resistance phonies now?

Catching up on the sentient Twitter bots who used liberal delusion over Trump for retweets.
Power

Where are the #Resistance phonies now?

Catching up on the sentient Twitter bots who used liberal delusion over Trump for retweets.

Just as Trump’s election victory brought a host of right-wing con men out of the shadows and into the White House Press Corps, it created a booming online market for liberal scam artists. Democrats were so distraught to see a senile TV host ascend to the presidency that they developed a willingness to believe anything, no matter the source, so long as it comforted them in their time of personal political tragedy. Opportunists materialized and began to spread white lies through the internet, and eventually through cable news: Senate Republicans are on the cusp of developing a sense of morality! Trump is about to be impeached, and then executed at dawn on the Washington Mall! James Comey has acquired the pee tape and is uploading it to PornHub! The sullen liberals who fell for these sort of fantasies should be pitied, not scorned, but the snake-oil salesmen who knowingly lied to a vulnerable population must be punished for their crimes. I will not rest until they are outed, humiliated, branded with their sins and driven from public life. Or, at the very least, made fun of online some more. Here are their names.

Rogue POTUS Staff

When the first polls came out in mid-2015 showing Trump leading the Republican primary, his opponents trusted that the GOP establishment would step in and put an end to the madness. When that didn’t happen, they moved through a series of backup deus ex machinas: the Clinton campaign being competent, rogue delegates materializing in the electoral college, Trump resigning before the inauguration, and so on. Eventually, they landed on the hope that a “deep state” of sorts, double agents in the executive branch, would destroy the Trump administration from the inside. In response, hoaxers proliferated Twitter accounts purporting to be “rogue staffers.” Fake insider accounts popped up for every federal agency from the Department of Justice to the Forest Service. A February 11 article in the New York Times seemed to imply they were legitimate: “...the concerns of federal employees are being spread across social media, on accounts with names like ‘@Rogue_DOD,’ ‘@Alt_DeptofEd’ and ‘@AngryWHStaffer.’”

@RoguePOTUSStaff, the most successful of the bunch, accumulated 851,000 followers. At first, the account attempted to predict Trump’s actions based on supposed “insider information” from the Oval Office. It didn’t go so well. On February 13, RoguePOTUSStaff tweeted “Regarding [National Security Advisor Michael] Flynn, he's not going anywhere. Pence/Priebus camps may hate him by now, but POTUS is committed.” Hours later, Flynn resigned. After that humiliation, the account’s owners all but dropped the pretense of being in the White House and limited their “leaks” to fictional dialogue between staffers and vague observations like “POTUS angry that AHCA bill imploding.” Despite numerous requests from journalists, the “staffer” has yet to provide any verification of his or her employment and/or existence.

Eric Garland

When it comes to being insufferable, prolific Twitter user Eric Garland has his bases covered. He works as a corporate keynote speaker, bills himself as a “futurist,” plays slap bass and tweets roughly 200 times a day while geeked out on Adderall. Last December, one of his speed-fueled rants — this time, a 127-tweet thread speculating wildly about Russian espionage — won the attention of Twitter’s most braindead media liberals. Clara Jeffery, editor-in-chief of Mother Jones, dubbed Garland’s tweetstorm “the single greatest thread I have ever read on Twitter. And in its way a Federalist Paper for 2016.” Vanity Fair’s Kurt Eichenwald called it a “MUST read,” and the Pulitzer-winning Washington Post reporter David Fahrenthold tweeted “damn, man, this is great writing, using a form that doesn't usually lend itself to greatness.” Anyone dumb enough to take their advice was confronted with a jumbled mess of oversimplified history, misapplied “game theory” and antiquated chatspeak like “ROFLMAO” and “HOLY F%&KING ADORABLE BATMAN!”

Oddly enough, Garland was never able to parlay his hit thread into a writing career. Though the celebrity endorsements have since dried up, Garland continues to spam Twitter with essay-length tirades. He now blames Russia for the prominence of the Democratic Socialists of America, protests in the NFL and the Las Vegas shooting. In February of this year, he made a Patreon account for an upcoming podcast titled “Transition America,” announced that it was “coming to your iTunes and on my website very shortly,” and then failed to release a single episode. The last update was in March. Incredibly, 27 users are still giving Garland a total of $184 per month, down from his July peak of $305. Altogether, Eric Garland’s marks have given him $1,661 for coming up with a podcast title. One Patreon comment reads: “Hey Eric, how about an update for your small but devoted army of Patreon supporters? It's been over two months, man!” That was four months ago.

Ben Sasse

In February 2016, the Republican Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska posted an open letter on his Facebook page. “A presidential candidate who boasts about what he'll do during his ‘reign’ and refuses to condemn the KKK cannot lead a conservative movement in America,” he wrote. Sasse’s bold statements against Trump won him accolades in the liberal press. The Washington Post wrote that “Only Sasse, among Senate Republicans, has not budged and maintains he never will. If there will be a moral high ground to claim after 2016, he may be standing on it by himself.” In October 2016, Mother Jones published a lengthy profile of Sasse titled “If the Republican Party Can Be Saved From Its Trumpocalypse, This Senator Could Be the Key,” which included several unintentionally hilarious quotes like “his state is as reliably crimson as his ubiquitous Cornhuskers polo shirt.” Even after the “Trumpocalypse” came to pass, Sasse continued to market his trademark moralism (and brutally unfunny Nickelback jokes) to liberals and moderates. Like David Frum, Sasse deftly took advantage of the liberal desire to believe in an imaginary conservative opposition to Trump.

Reader, it was a PR stunt. Aside from his terrible tweets, Sasse has done nothing to stand in the way of Trump’s agenda. Since the election, Sasse has voted with Trump 92 percent of the time — more than FiveThirtyEight’s algorithms predicted he would based on Trump’s margins in Nebraska. He voted for every Trump cabinet nominee, every attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act, to continue arming Saudi Arabia and to allow coal companies to dump waste into waterways. Sasse has only voted against Trump-backed legislation twice — in both instances because Trump was insufficiently conservative. Unlike Trump, he supported pointless sanctions on Iran, North Korea and Russia. Also unlike Trump, he valiantly opposed federal relief for Hurricane Harvey. If Ben Sasse is the future of the Republican Party, we can expect more of the same.

Louise Mensch and Claude Taylor

Louise Mensch’s time as a romance novelist and conservative politician taught her the art of appealing to the public’s worst impulses. She put those skills to use peddling optimistic conspiracy theories to dismayed liberals in the wake of the 2016 election, and for several months she did a remarkably good job. She appeared on MSNBC twice earlier this year, and in March she was interviewed on Real Time with Bill Maher and given an op-ed in the New York Times. Once she had her foot in the door with the liberal press, however, she upped the ante and began pushing the limits of their credulity. In April, she claimed the 2014 unrest in Ferguson, Missouri was a Russian plot and accused Bernie Sanders of being a Russian agent. In May, Mensch and frequent collaborator Claude Taylor, a freelance photographer who tweets under the handle @TrueFactsStated, reported that the Supreme Court was preparing “Articles of Impeachment” against Trump and covertly replacing him with Senator Orrin Hatch. In July, Mensch tweeted that the government was considering executing Trump and Steve Bannon.

Needless to say, the vast majority of Mensch’s and Taylor’s allegations were untrue. An August report in the Guardian showed that several of the duo’s stories came directly from a hoaxer claiming to work for the New York Attorney General’s office. According to that hoaxer, Taylor “did no vetting whatsoever” and “asked leading questions to support his various theories.” Based on this faulty information, Mensch and Taylor claimed that Trump’s modeling agency was the subject of several “sealed indictments” for sex trafficking, and that Bill Clinton and Rudy Giuliani were set to testify for the prosecution. In response to being outed as frauds, Mensch and Taylor dug in their heels. “I don’t claim to be a journalist-I am offering a feed of raw, often unfiltered, human intelligence,” Taylor tweeted. For her part, Mensch claimed her scoops on the attorney general’s office were “accurate in every particular” and accused the Guardian of being a front for Russia’s Federal Security Service. By this time, the mainstream liberal press had become wise to their grift and stopped allowing Mensch and Taylor a national platform, but the damage was done. Desperate to hurt Trump at any cost, MSNBC and the Times ended up legitimizing his accusations of media dishonesty. Thanks a lot.

Power

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Alex Nichols is a contributing writer at The Outline.
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