I am unreasonably fascinated by Diamond and Silk, the live-stream bloggers who became Fox News’ resident black Trump supporters back in 2016. The duo — real names Lynette Hardaway (Diamond) and Rochelle Richardson (Silk) — distinguish themselves from the hundreds of other con artists on the margins of Trumpworld by having a schtick so phony and lazily constructed that it could plausibly be an elaborate Dadaist prank. Everything about the Diamond and Silk enterprise is artificial, and obviously so. Both women were Democrats until 2015 — their first video, not yet deleted, was pro-Black Lives Matter — but switched parties, interestingly, the minute it became profitable to do so. Their contrived on-screen personas have been mocked on the left, but also by black conservatives such as Fox’s Juan Williams and CNN’s Tara Setmayer, who have both described the duo as a “minstrel show.” And for all their bluster about supposedly being censored by social media platforms during their Congressional testimony earlier this year, very little of their popularity is attributable to social media — almost every YouTube result for “Diamond and Silk” is a Fox News clip uploaded by the official Fox News account.
.@IAmSteveHarvey is so full of it! Please beware of his Dog Whistling innuendos. He is barking so hard, he's like a hound dog on the Democrat plantation searching for runaway slaves. Listen up Steve: We're keeping Texas Red for Ted!— Diamond and Silk® (@DiamondandSilk) October 31, 2018
Given that Fox News’s elderly white viewers have been incredibly receptive to Diamond and Silk’s scam so far, the obvious next step was to upsell them in a feature film. And so we get the documentary Dummycrats, which was released in theaters for one day on October 16 and is now available for rent ($9.99) or purchase ($19.99) on Vimeo. (Many of the comments on Vimeo are from senior citizens who thought they were getting a DVD and are bewildered by the concept of watching a movie on the computer, but hey — they already bought it.)
There’s really no reason not to produce one of these amateurish documentaries if you have the ability to; the peculiarities of conservative audiences make it all but impossible to disappoint them. The film’s producer, director, and writer, Kyle Olson, runs the third-string fake news website The American Mirror and is even lazier than Dinesh D’Souza when it comes to filming original content. Given that this was Olson’s first time working on a movie, I would normally be inclined to cut him some slack, but he truly pushes the limits of directorial incompetence. Dummycrats, which is 77 minutes long, opens with an astounding 27 minutes of archival footage. This lengthy segment begins with past Diamond and Silk TV spots and Trump rally appearances and then segues into a clip show of every Democratic gaffe since 1990, set to wacky circus music. You can watch all these on YouTube in higher resolutions than the deep-fried versions used in Dummycrats, but that sort of thing only matters to audiences with an average age younger than 85.
Once the clip show ends, we see Diamond and Silk engage in what must be the worst on-the-ground reporting ever filmed. The duo, who are from North Carolina, first travel to Los Angeles to find Rep. Maxine Waters, the longest-serving black woman in the House of Representatives. Pelting the 80-year-old Waters with borderline racist invective is a favorite pastime of Trump and his surrogates, but the optics of having the exclusively white men behind Diamond and Silk do this are less than ideal. One gets the sense that Diamond and Silk specifically target Waters over other, more powerful Democrats for this reason rather than one of particular ideological disagreement, and this is further implied by the laughably vague complaints they voice about her record and behavior.
Maxine Waters along with the other intolerant racist Democrats should be deemed domestic terrorist for inciting violence.— Diamond and Silk® (@DiamondandSilk) June 25, 2018
(Domestic Terrorism: The committing of terrorist acts in the perpetrator's own country against their fellow citizens.)#DUMMYCRATS
They show up unannounced at Waters’ office in California, where her staff helpfully informs them that the Congresswoman is elsewhere. After doing random street interviews with local residents who complain of homelessness and poor sanitation, they plant themselves across the street from Waters’ house in the L.A. suburbs, where she is also absent. Her grandson asks them to leave and threatens to call the police, at which point Diamond and Silk suddenly appear in Washington D.C. yelling “where are you, Maxine Waters?” at the Capitol Building from 100 yards away. This line of attack is impossibly stupid, even by the low standards of conservative gonzo stunts. Representatives are under no obligation to agree to impromptu meetings with constituents, let alone with non-constituents, and certainly not with non-constituents sitting silently in a van outside their house. If Diamond and Silk had made a clumsy attempt at meeting Reps. Devin Nunes or Kevin McCarthy, the result would have been the same. This critique might actually apply less to Waters, who has disproportionately been the target of death threats and mail bombs from incensed Trump supporters, than to anyone else in Congress.
The comical ineptitude of Diamond and Silk’s shoe-leather reporting then gives way to something much more sickening — an extended, emotional interview with the mother of Sarah Root, a Nebraska woman who died in 2016 after a collision with an undocumented drunk driver. Root’s story has been used before on Fox News and at Trump events. Through tears and surrounded by an in-home shrine (that, in an unacknowledged twist of morbid irony, resembles the traditional Dia de Muertos altar), Root gives a detailed account of the night her daughter died. To state the obvious, it is absurd to draw any connection between this singular drunk-driving incident and federal immigration policy, and blaming Root’s death on Hillary Clinton or Maxine Waters is a complete non-sequitur. A 2017 study in the American Journal of Public Health found that increased undocumented immigration actually led to an overall reduction in DUIs. Undocumented immigrants commit fewer crimes on average than the native-born, and the victims of outliers like the infamous MS-13 gang tend to be other immigrants rather than photogenic white women from Nebraska.
There simply aren’t that many examples of immigrant violence against potential Republican voters and their children. So when a white woman from Nebraska is inadvertently killed by an undocumented 19-year-old, conservative agitators have no choice but to take advantage and hope that the pathos of seeing parents weep for their dead children overwhelms the itch to ask why the Fox crowd’s best example of this supposed epidemic of immigrant crime is a car accident that happened two years ago.
Wonder if Americans can file a lawsuit against the Very Fake News for being Fake. They are truly the enemy of the people and the enemy of the Truth!— Diamond and Silk® (@DiamondandSilk) November 13, 2018
For the final segment, we see producer Olson travel to El Paso to interview Border Patrol and ICE about the dangers of illegal immigration and the failure of Democrats, who controlled zero branches of the federal government when Dummycrats was being filmed, to contain it. To have a little-known white man come out from behind the scenes to conduct interviews and perform narrations of which Diamond and Silk are perfectly capable kind of gives the game away. One gets the impression that, even in their own movie, Diamond and Silk are a sideshow to be ushered on and offstage by their white sponsors — from Olson to Lou Dobbs to Donald Trump. When their status as black women lends credibility to partisan attacks, as it does when the focus is on Maxine Waters, they are given as much screen time as possible. When the topic changes and the white man in charge can perform the partisan attacks himself just as effectively, Diamond and Silk are pushed behind the curtain.