The finest meltdowns of 2017

It was a banner year for tantrums, online and off.

The finest meltdowns of 2017

It was a banner year for tantrums, online and off.

People got very angry this year. Fortunately for you, my reader, many of them had the courtesy to do so online or in the presence of recording equipment so their freakouts would be recorded for posterity. Here, presented in chronological order, are the highlights.

January 5 | Dan Nainan

So-called “millennial comedian” Dan Nainan is a living, breathing meltdown, which has made him a legendary figure among East Coast funnypeople. His sins are many. He steals gigs from other comics, threatens to fight his critics, and in 2013 he was arrested for punching a Daily Beast reporter in the face. He also claims to be 20 years younger than he really is, and often to major news outlets through the website “Help A Reporter Out.” In January, a since-deleted Forbes article titled “Millennial Dan Nainan Left Intel To Make His Millions Entertaining Others With Comedy” drew mockery from social media and elevated Nainan’s personal defects to a point where they merited press attention.

Ben Collins of The Daily Beast (not the reporter he punched) set out to investigate why Nainan insisted on passing himself off as a millennial when government documents, including the 2013 arrest report, list his birth year as 1961. In a phone interview, Collins repeatedly asked Nainan his real age. Each time, Nainan dodged the question and offered definitely-not-mad rejoinders like “It’s really amusing to me to have all this going on. It’s quite amusing.” Eventually, Nainan decided to stick with his original story:

“Finally, I laid it all out. I have official state documents with his real age on them. They’re public records. His timeline with Intel doesn’t make any sense. He gives different ages at different times depending on which publication he’s talking to. It’s all over. It’s OK. The jig is up.

So tell me, are you 35 or 55?

Then a pause.

‘I’m 35,” he said. “The mistake is in my birth record.’”

Nainan, who mostly performs overseas and at corporate events, seems to have suffered no damage to his career. Naturally, he remains as delusional as ever. Because 2017 was the year of the unrepentant asshole, Nainan was rewarded with a gig at Trump’s Inaugural Ball.

May 24 | Greg Gianforte

Greg Gianforte, a former tech CEO who uses his fortune (net worth: $315 million) to fund creation museums and anti-LGBT hate groups, was probably the third or fourth worst congressional candidate offered by Republicans this year. During a press briefing a day before the election, Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs asked Gianforte a question about health care policy and received a rather unconventional answer, in the form of Gianforte grabbing him by the neck with both hands and slamming him into the ground.

Gianforte’s campaign initially claimed that Jacobs initiated physical contact and blamed the brawl on “aggressive behavior from a liberal journalist.” This was an obvious lie, but it didn’t matter — enough early ballots were in by the night of the 24th to ensure Gianforte’s victory. He ended up pleading guilty to misdemeanor assault in June and was ordered to undergo anger management.

June 8 | Kurt Eichenwald

If this year taught us anything, it’s that some people are just not cut out for Twitter. Newsweek journalist Kurt Eichenwald is one of these people. On June 8, while tweeting about an anti-Semitic flyer he received, he inadvertently photographed the tabs he had open on his computer. One of these was “B-Chiku,” a particularly graphic hentai manga about a virile schoolboy and his teacher that most of the alt-right seemed to recognize instantly. The revelation that Eichenwald had similar taste in pornography as his tormentors sent Twitter into a frenzy and “Kurt Eichenwald” became a trending topic. For some reason, Eichenwald felt he needed a cover story.

His explanation for having the tab open? That he wanted to prove the existence of “tentacle porn” to his wife and children. This only created more questions. Not only is discussing fetish pornography with one’s children even weirder than viewing it in private, but the hentai in question doesn’t even contain tentacles. A genuine curious search for “tentacle porn” would have brought up a comparatively safe-for-work Wikipedia article. Eichenwald invented a scenario that was readily falsifiable and significantly more bizarre than his original predicament. He is a hero among men.

August 2 | Laura Loomer

Former Project Veritas employee Laura Loomer has bad luck when it comes to getting herself around town. Both Uber and Lyft have banned her for being too racist, and in August she claimed the tire of her own car was slashed.

As nearly every reply to Loomer’s tweet pointed out, her tire was completely stripped of tread and had a classic case of dry rot. The hubcap was also severely scratched, indicating that she had driven on a blown-out tire or smashed into a curb. The serial number dated the tire to 2011, meaning it was nearing the end of its life. Loomer was unfazed by this new information, instead choosing to foist her story on AAA, the police and a local repair shop. Her confidence that left-wing vigilantes slashed her rotting 6-year-old tire led her to compose one of the year’s most ridiculous tweets. Thank you, Laura.

September 3 | Peter Daou

Nearly a year after Hillary Clinton’s political career cratered, political consultant and Clinton remora Peter Daou had the bright idea to launch a website devoted to singing her praises. The result was Verrit, a platform whose purpose is to disseminate ugly gray image macros of center-left talking points. On September 3, Hillary Clinton tweeted a link to Daou’s brainchild. The site quickly went offline, purportedly due to a “cyber attack,” and when it came back the media pounced. Verrit was roundly mocked in mainstream liberal outlets like Politico and The Washington Post for its bizarre web design and editorial focus on relitigating the 2016 Democratic primary. Daou was very unhappy about this, and he proceeded to melt down for several days.

In an oddly Trumpian fashion, Daou called out “HATERS,” lashed out at critical media outlets and accused his detractors of being “triggered.” He started a public feud with The New York Times writer Sopan Deb after Deb (accidentally?) liked an image lampooning Verrit. Most notably, he called out yours truly for writing about his fascinating life story, the contents of which include being conscripted into a right-wing militia and writing a concept album of sex jams based on a memoir by his aunt. Unfortunately for Daou, my article is still the third Google result for his name.

October 29 | Roger Stone

Abusive, typo-filled replies to CNN anchors comprise a good 75 percent or so of Conservative Twitter. However, the culprits are usually retirees named “DeplorableLinda” or “Doug3917654,” not high-level campaign operatives. Former Trump advisor Roger Stone broke new ground in October when he got very mad at the TV and used his verified account to brand network anchor Don Lemon a “covksucker.” Stone wrote that CNN’s staff “must be confronted, humiliated, mocked and punished,” leading Twitter’s moderation team to permanently suspend his account and leaving the rest of us wondering why we have to see tweets from Nazis all the time.

December 23 | Eric Garland

By now you’re probably familiar with Eric Garland, and if you’re not, I envy you. Since Trump’s election Garland, a corporate consultant, has become a notable author of amphetaminic tweetstorms. One particular storm from December 2016 that purported to use “game theory” to analyze the government’s relationship with Russia went viral and briefly hoodwinked liberals into thinking he was insightful. A year later, anyone with an ounce of common sense has unfollowed him, and the only media attention he gets anymore is harshly critical. He is unhappy about this, and just before Christmas he began lashing out at the media for undervaluing his unhinged Twitter rants. He started with those publications that mentioned him recently. Fast Company drew his ire, as did Vanity Fair and Business Insider. Not yet satisfied, he began addressing every mention of his name from the past year. Garland claimed that a Vox article from May was “defamatory” toward him, and that every publication that linked to it (“Buzzfeed, Daily Wire, Free Republic, The Intercept, National Review, New York Post, Ron Paul Institute, Salon, Slate, Town Hall, Vocativ”) was guilty by association. He then theorized that Russian agents planted these stories at a cost of over $1 million in order to smear him. On day four of the meltdown — several hundred tweets in — he described all this as “the campaign to make me look insane.”

December 27 | The #Resistance

Animated children’s movies often feature a post-credits sequence in which the entire cast comes together for a giant dance party. That was essentially what happened on Twitter this week in the lull between Christmas and New Year’s. On December 23, Vanity Fair produced a short clip of writers giving Hillary Clinton sarcastic New Year’s resolutions, including that she take up hobbies like "volunteer work, knitting, improv comedy — literally anything that will keep you from running again." Three days later, all the biggest names in freaking out online discovered it, deemed it sexist and demanded that everyone involved be summarily executed.

Peter Daou was there, and Eric Garland too. Both spent over a day obsessing over the video in public view, sending waves of woke dads and vodka aunts at the people responsible. Minor meltdown artists also joined in. Adam Parkhomenko, a former Hillary Clinton staffer who openly refers to the former secretary of state as Mother, threw the November issue of Vanity Fair into his fireplace and took a picture.

Eventually, this manufactured outrage by a relatively small group of Clinton diehards became so conspicuous that Donald Trump noticed. His soup-brain managed to congeal long enough to fire off a gossipy tweet about it, ensuring mainstream media coverage of what had previously been confined to Twitter. This whole episode was inarguably the dumbest thing ever to happen, but it is oddly comforting to end 2017 the way we ended 2016 — attempting to decipher Trump tweets in order to stave off a near-overpowering sense of dread.

Alex Nichols is a contributing writer at The Outline.