Trouble in wingnut paradise
Trouble in wingnut paradise
Donald Trump has invited personalities from across the right-wing internet to the White House on Thursday for a “Social Media Summit,” but the event is causing his administration headaches even before it begins.
So far, the summit has stirred up resentments among pro-Trump personalities who were never invited to the party, and one invitee has been disinvited over an anti-Semitic cartoon—raising questions for the White House about why he was invited in the first place.
The White House hasn’t released a public list of attendees for the Thursday afternoon event, but a number of pro-Trump personalities have posted invitations on Twitter. They include Ali Alexander, a right-wing operative pushing a smear that Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Kamala Harris (CA) isn’t really “an American Black,” a pro-Trump “memesmith” who goes by the screenname “@CarpeDonktum,” and blogger Jim Hoft, whose Gateway Pundit blog frequently promotes hoaxes.
The invitee list also includes more traditional White House visitors, including Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), and representatives from campus conservative group Turning Point USA and conservative YouTube channel PragerU. In an Instagram post, Turning Point executive Benny Johnson promised to use the conference to give Trump “dank meme ideas.”
Notably, the group so far doesn’t appear to include anyone who has actually been banned from major social platforms, even though those bans have played a significant role in driving accusations on the right that the social giants are biased. Pro-Trump figures like anti-Muslim activist Laura Loomer, InfoWars conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, and Proud Boys men’s group founder Gavin McInnes, for example, don’t appear to have been invited.
That fact hasn’t been lost on fringe Trump supporters. In a livestream from Washington, D.C., InfoWars reporter and Jones lieutenant Owen Shroyer raged that no one from InfoWars was invited to the event, while people who hadn’t been banned were.
Shroyer declared that the event was an “abortion of truth” and compared the invitees to dogs getting a bone and a pat on the head.
“The people that are actually getting censored get ignored,” Shroyer said. “Isn’t that funny?”
Jones protégé Paul Joseph Watson weighed in on the summit too, asking why no figures who have faced total social media bans were invited.
White House officials such as social media director Dan Scavino, a top Trump confidant and longtime aide, have taken the lead on forming the summit’s agenda and assembling its eclectic guest list, according to two people familiar with the process. Scavino, who is adept at navigating the convoluted meme culture of the pro-Trump internet, keeps tabs on the work of many Trump-loving social media personalities, and will often flag their work directly to the president, who often reacts with an amused smirk or chuckle, the sources said.
This is pathetic. But typical.