Saturday, October 27, 2018

The latest on the latest

Regarding the #MAGAbomber: briefly a Seminole (no), mentally disturbed (momentarily plausible if you believe Trumpism is a mental disorder, though no professional diagnosis exists), but ultimately just an angry Southern white male who got ripped off on his house and then foreclosed on by Steve Mnuchin's bank during the Great Depression ten years ago.

Cesar Sayoc, the Donald Trump-loving Floridian who was taken into custody in relation to pipe bombs mailed to prominent Democrats, was foreclosed on in 2009 by a bank whose principal owner and chair is now Trump’s treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin.

The documents used to enact the foreclosure were signed by a prominent robo-signer and seemingly backdated. Nonetheless, the evidence was good enough for the famously inattentive Florida foreclosure courts to wave the case through. Years later, Sayoc became a supporter of Trump, who came into office and appointed a treasury secretary who ran the bank that snatched Sayoc’s house.


In yet another irony, (billionaire Democratic donor and first pipe bomb target George) Soros was one of the investors in the bank that executed the foreclosure on Sayoc’s home.

Details quickly emerged about Sayoc and his apparent devotion to Trump. He drove a van covered in pro-Trump messages. He apparently hadn’t registered to vote until March 2016, pulled off the sidelines by Trump’s messaging. He was a “celebrity” at “Make American Great Again” rallies and protests in South Florida.

Earlier in his life, Sayoc went through a difficult period, and the experience intersects with people allied with his political idol — and some on the other side as well.

I'll leave the rest at that top link to your leisure-time reading.

Sayoc had to declare bankruptcy in 2012, move in with his mother.  That is, when he wasn't living in his van.  The one the FBI hauled off yesterday.

-- Let's not forget to marvel once more at the deftness (or maybe it's daftness) of the conservative agitprop.  Republicans moved the Overton window all the way around to the other side of the house in less than 12 hours -- on the strength of the White House press secretary's statement, mind you -- from #FalseFlags and #FakeBombs to Bernie Sanders, Congressional softball practice shootings, and false equivalencies.  Let's catch this Verge excerpt at the point where Sayoc's exceptional social media trolling becomes the narrative.  (Note that the article was written before confirmation of Sayoc as the pipe bomb mailer, and as such hasn't caught up with the Bernie diversion yet.)

One researcher, Jonathan Albright, counted the number of times that Sayoc replied on Twitter to celebrities and figures with a meme about a Parkland shooting survivor being a “crisis actor” paid by George Soros: 59.

It’s a disturbing irony. Because as authorities continued to discover new mail-bomb targets on Friday, the right wing flooded media channels with suggestions that the bombs themselves were part of a Democratic hoax. It’s a toxic circle: Man falsely enraged by crisis actors allegedly sends bombs; conservative media falsely describes bomb targets as crisis actors.

In a Twitter thread, Albright chronicled how conservatives were able to reach a much wider audience with their hoax claims on Instagram, using various features of the platform. The right wing adopted the hashtag #Soros to share many of these memes, and Instagram helpfully organized the most-engaged posts algorithmically. It auto-populated suggested searches for anyone who began to search for Soros: “soros caravan,” “soros bomb,” “soros jew,” all of which could lead users to further misinformation.

Instagram search results also auto-populated with a bunch of obviously fake Soros accounts, although many of them appear to have been taken down overnight.

On Twitter, a similar phenomenon played out, as Blake Montgomery charted at BuzzFeed. Hashtags, as usual, raced ahead of the truth:

But people on Twitter, including right-wing commentators with name recognition like Ann Coulter, James Woods, and Candace Owens, tweeted that the devices, described as being similar to pipe bombs, were a scheme concocted by Democrats to boost sympathy and turnout before the midterm elections in November. However, there is no evidence to support their claims. And neither the identity nor political affiliation of the perpetrators are known.

Still, #FAKEBOMBSCARE, #FakeBombs, and #FalseFlag — all dedicated to the conspiracy theory — trended alongside #BombScare. Many used #BombScare to tweet the theory as well, but the hashtag itself is not blatantly false like the others. #MAGABOMBER, a hashtag devoted to the idea that the bomber was a right-winger attacking the president’s nemeses, also trended, again with no proof.

In part, this is a now-old story about how social media spreads misinformation in the immediate wake of the crisis. But if Sayoc is indeed the bomber, and these social media accounts belong to him, it suggests something even more disturbing: a person steeped in conservative media, radicalized into violent action — at the same time the same echo chamber, all evidence to the contrary, dismisses a series of attempted assassinations as a hoax.

The platforms have their part to play in reducing the polarization that now consumes us. But as Albright wrote earlier in the week, in a piece about how a false meme spread alleging that Soros had funded the caravan of refugees coming to America, the infrastructure that promotes this misinformation is quite powerful. Whatever captures our attention, if we simply stare at it long enough, becomes real.

-- As to Trump ... well, he's whining about lost momentum for the GOP in the looming midterms.

The would-be terrorist who failed to harm CNN and George Soros did succeed at one thing: ruining President Donald Trump’s week.

Trump had hoped to capitalize on growing Republican enthusiasm in the final weeks of the midterm campaign — stoking fears of a Central American migrant caravan and hoping his Thursday unveiling of a plan to lower prescription drug prices would hold the news media’s attention heading into the weekend.

But even Trump can’t shape the media narrative to his will amid an attempt at mass political assassination and a nationwide manhunt.

“It didn’t get the kind of coverage it should have,” Trump complained on Friday, speaking of his prescription drug proposal. “We’re competing with this story that took place, our law enforcement’s done such a good job, so maybe that can start to disappear rapidly.”

For Trump, the story could not have appeared at a worse time. “The pendulum was swinging back toward the Republicans thanks to the migrant caravan story,” a person close to Trump said. “This story definitely interrupts that positive news cycle for them [and] most definitely favors the Democrats politically.”

One former Trump administration official said the White House is expecting wall-to-wall coverage of the bombing story for three to four more days.

Trump had already vented his frustration on Friday morning, tweeting, “Republicans are doing so well in early voting, and at the polls, and now this ‘Bomb’ stuff happens and the momentum greatly slows - news not talking politics. Very unfortunate, what is going on. Republicans, go out and vote!”

What’s worse, Trump’s allies had been speculating without evidence that the failed bombings — which exclusively targeted Trump antagonists — were actually part of a “false flag” leftist plot to make Republicans look unhinged.


The prospect of right-wing political violence muddies an argument made by Trump and other Republican leaders in recent weeks, ever since demonstrations against Brett Kavanaugh created images of impassioned protesters over-running the Capitol: that Democrats are the party of mob rule, and Republicans the party of law and order.

A former senior White House official predicted right-wing political violence would now become a top campaign issue. “The Democrats now have a message going into Election Day,” the former official said.

Only if they can figure out how to use it to their advantage.  For some reason I'm getting an image of a group of chimpanzees trying to fuck a football.

1 comment:

Gadfly said...

Twitter gave me a 12-hour timeout for the way I responded to Coulter and her fake boobs with her fake bombs comment.

Meanwhile, Sayoc? Or a real "false flag" of a aged-out George Zimmerman?