Good morning Austin:
Nine years ago, in November 2007, I wrote a story entitled, Hillary and the C-Word.
It began as follows:
WASHINGTON _ In the coming months, America will decide whether to elect its first female president. And amid a techno-media landscape where the wall between private vitriol and public debate has been reduced to rubble, Sen. Hillary Clinton is facing an onslaught of open misogynistic expression.
Step lightly through that thickly settled province of the Web you could call anti-Hillaryland and you are soon knee-deep in “bitch,” “slut,” “skank,” “whore” and, ultimately, what may be the most toxic four-letter word in the English language.
We have never been here before.
No woman has run quite the same gantlet. And of course, no man.
Thanks to several thousand years of phallocentric history, there is no comparable vocabulary of degradation for men, no equivalently rich trove of synonyms for a sexually sullied male. As for the word beginning with “C,” no single term for a man reduces him to his genitals to such devastating effect.
In times past, this coarser conversation would have remained mostly personal and subterranean. But now we have a blogosphere, where no holds are barred and vituperative speech is prized. We have social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace, with their limitless ability to make the personal public.
There are no rules. And so far there is little recognition in the political and media mainstream of the teeming misogyny only a mouse click away.
Remember. This was 2007. Facebook was still in its infancy and I joined only in order to report this story.
Facebook, popular with high school and college students, has dozens of anti-Hillary groups, many of which take great, sweaty delight in heaping abuse on Clinton as a woman, imagining her reduced to a subservient role, and visiting violence upon her.
One is “Hillary Clinton: Stop Running for President and Make Me a Sandwich,” with more than 23,000 members and 2,200 “wall posts” _ Internet grafitti in which discussants have fantasized about Clinton being raped by a donkey.
Eschewing the slightest wit or subtlety, some high school boys in Olathe, Kan., created “Punch her in the c—!!”. With about 200 members, this group features the discussion topics “Why we hate Hillary Clinton,” “Why you REALLY hate Hillary Clinton” and “What will we do if Hillary becomes president,” which drew two replies – “death” and “shooter in the cooter?”
Another Facebook group, more temperate in tone with about 13,000 members, is “Life’s a bitch, why vote for one? Anti-Hillary ’08.” Like several other anti-Clinton sites, this one promotes a T-shirt: “Hillary for President. She Puts the C— in Country.”
Well, I was onto something, but, at the time, I knew nothing about Twitter, which was busy being born, or, for that matter, Sid Miller, and could not have imagined how those two thing would come together yesterday afternoon with Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller sending out a tweet in which he referred to Hillary Clinton as the C-Word.
From Sean Collins Walsh in today’s Statesman.
Two days after Donald Trump praised him as an effective campaign surrogate, Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller set off a political firestorm Tuesday when his Twitter account posted a message referring to Hillary Clinton with a misogynist vulgarity.
The tweet was quickly deleted, and Miller apologized, saying an unidentified campaign staffer mistakenly sent the offensive message.
But in the frantic moments after the tweet appeared Tuesday afternoon, Miller spokesman Todd Smith initially said it had been sent by hackers. He later backtracked, saying he had assumed hackers were involved because he had no other explanation at the time.
The post, which reported the results of a Pennsylvania poll, substituted Clinton’s name with a four-letter vulgar term for the female anatomy that starts with the letter C.
“The campaign was retweeting information on Twitter today and inadvertently retweeted a tweet that they were not aware contained a derogatory term,” Smith said. “Commissioner Miller finds the term vulgar and offensive and apologizes to anyone who may have seen it.”
The post, however, wasn’t a retweet but appears to have been partially copied from a tweet by the controversial pro-Trump Twitter user @TheRickyVaughn. Vaughn, a hero of the racist “alt-right” movement, regularly uses profanity and racial epithets while propagating conspiracy theories. Miller follows his account.
Miller, a former state representative from Stephenville, sits on Trump’s agriculture advisory committee and promotes the GOP nominee in media appearances and campaign events. At rallies on Sunday, Trump told crowds that Miller was a “great guy.”
Miller has a history of controversial posts on social media and has been criticized for Facebook posts referring to Syrian refugees as rattlesnakes and for suggesting that the U.S. use nuclear weapons on “the Muslim world.”
Sid Miller is what is known as a piece of work. His heroic efforts as Agriculture Commissioner to make sure that Texas school kids have access to a diet rich in fried foods and soda only takes up so much of his time, and so he plays on a larger stage, and takes great pride in his edgy, popular social media presence.
In February, I was part of a RealClear Politics panel in advance of a Republican presidential debate at the University of Houston. Miller and his wife were in the audience, and afterward I went up to him and told him my theory that Trump wears an ear piece into which Miller whispers instructions – the instruction always being, “Go ahead Donald, say it. Just say it.”
But, it seems, Trump raised, or lowered, the bar for political incorrectness.
I mean how could Miller compete with Trump’s “grab them by the pussy” comments recorded in 2005, and revealed only a few weeks ago.
With that Trump, normalized pussy.
So, to keep his political incorrect edge, Miller needed to up his game.
Yesterday’s supposedly errant tweet came a made a storm of odd Trump-boosting tweets.
But it does seem hard to believe that he or anyone in his office would intentionally tweet the C-word.
But this doesn’t make much sense easier.
It wasn’t a retweet. it was a cut and paste, apparently of a tweet by Ricky Vaughn, who reported a number of polls results with the C-word in place of Clinton’s name. And yet, Miller’s digital guy, maybe to make it look original and not simply a cut and paste, changed#UpLikeTrump to Go Trump Go!
If digital guy could do all that and not notice the C-word, well, maybe he’s not in the right job.
And, it is not like Miller – or his digital media team – isn’t familiar with @TheRickyVaughn, aka Publius Gaius.
He’s giving him shout-outs in his tweets all the time.
Who is Ricky Vaughn?
Hmmm. Little creepy image there.
I don’t begin to understand what this all means. But you’ve got a swastika. You’ve got a god or goddess being with Pepe the alt-right mascot’s smile, holding an image Mel Gibson in one of its right hands and The Unabomber Manifesto in one of its left hands.
There’s Austin own Alex Jones – who I recently wrote about as “the voice in Donald Trump’s head,” in the lower right, and a checked Trump ballot, in the lower left.
And, in the being’s lower left hand, a bottle of Trenbolone–Acetate, one of the most powerful anabolic steroids
But who is Ricky Vaughn?
Here from a January Q and A with him in the white nationalist journal Radix.
We here at Radix are happy to present an interview with notorious alt-right Twitter personality Ricky Vaughn. His exploits with the medium have been featured everywhere from the New York Times to the Daily Beast and even the print cover of the Scottish Sun. Here, the man behind the handle speaks with Radix’s Hannibal Bateman about how he got into the alt-right, Donald Trump, that Rick Wilson interview, the nature of Twitter and more.
Hannibal Bateman: How did you come to what has come to be known as the “alt-right” intellectually?
Ricky Vaughn: Great question. First of all, thanks for having me. I’ve enjoyed reading what Radix has to offer over the last year or so.
HB: Thanks. We’re glad you’ve enjoyed it.
RV: I began as sort of a deracinated libertarian before the start of the first Ron Paul for president campaign. From there, I started consuming the anti-feminist blogs of the manosphere. I never really bought into feminism. From there, around the time of the Trayvon incident, I was linked to My Posting Career from Chateau Heartiste. At that time I realized what a con job the media was playing on all of us, and how the mainstream race propaganda was all bullshit. So from there I began to explore the different facets of cultural Marxism. The Jewish role in subversion, homosexuality, et cetera.
HB: Were you engaging on these forums and comment sections then? And was the use of Twitter a sort of natural outgrowth of that?
RV: In the beginning I was engaging in Disqus comment sections, and then I joined Twitter to follow some of the interesting people on it. I didn’t post much. I also lurked My Posting Career for a long time and didn’t post. But I was also consuming a lot of blogs. Steve Sailer’s blog, for one, was very influential.
HB: Do you find the anonymity it offers freeing for discussions it wouldn’t be possible to have otherwise?
RV: Oh, absolutely. The anonymity is very freeing because now everyone wants to get everyone else fired for espousing their views. But I feel that Donald Trump has sort of broken a spell, the spell of political correctness that was hanging over everyone’s heads, and I’ve been much more frank with my views in meatspace in the last three months, and it’s very liberating. And people agree more often than not, except for the extremely cucked liberals who are really operating with their amygdala on a hair trigger.
HB: Oh yes. How would you say alt-right Twitter, in particular, has helped bring attention to news that the more “mainstream” outlets have not covered, or have taken a certain spin on? (I’m thinking of the rape of Cologne in particular.)
RV: Well, first of all, we are setting the tone ideologically and forcing mainstream conservatism to respond. So many in mainstream conservatism see the alt-right as a serious force and they are consuming the material and it is affecting their coverage. Now, of course, there is also the “neocohenservative” faction who are having a bit of a meltdown.
They are the ones screaming about Nazis, about mapping the topology of the alt-right, about how horrible this nativism is, and how they are going to take their ball and go home. But there are stirrings in conservatism, where they are waking up to the fact that they are going to have to fight political correctness or be left behind ideologically. And still others are seeing this growing divide between globalism and nationalism, and the good people are siding with nationalism and the Shabbos goyim shills and the neocohens are siding with the globalists.
HB: What do you think of the sort of GOP party apparatchiks and consultant class that have recently gotten in an uproar over twitter “trolls” and the alt-right? (I’m thinking of people like Rick Wilson.)
RV: One of the problems of mainline conservatism is undoubtedly their consultants. These include mostly lesbians or closeted homosexuals who signed up for Vine and thus are able to fool aging hedge fund billionaires into thinking they are social media magicians. For example, Liz Mair and Rick Wilson, who are working with the Rubio campaign, have never helped a candidate win an election in their respective political lives if I’m not mistaken. Imagine a fat, low testosterone boomer grinning and rubbing his hands together at the thought of making a video “do the viral.” These idiots are the sea lampreys of the political biosphere, attaching themselves parasitically to large SuperPACs. Even if their candidate fails, they will likely escape blame and live another day to leech off the next candidate’s SuperPAC.
HB: I’m sure that the alt-right functions as a sort of intellectual pornography for some of the Beltway right as well. But it seems some just can’t get over the idea of “Democrats being the real racists” or the alt-right being Democrat plants. Do you think this type of conservatism will have to be overstepped completely?
RV: Yes, I think it will have to be. At first, we will just see the politicians and pundits drop the “demonrats are the real racists!” rhetoric completely, and they aren’t going to be totally explicit about race, they’re going to treat it like Donald Trump has. As for electoral politics, the alt-right is going to have an influence starting at the local levels, they’re going to run for office and win, sort of like we saw the Tea Party do post-2008, where they had some success in electoral politics.
So there is going to be this groundswell, and White people and White politicians are going to be more assertive and refuse to bow down to the other racial lobbies, and we are going to see White people act more coherently politically. Now, the question is, how is the establishment, which is committed to an anti-White ideology, going to handle this? They will likely continue trying to split Whites into two factions by portraying the White working classes and its intellectual allies as terrible, gun-loving Nazi KKK members.
HB: So do you see Donald Trump as a beginning of a White identity politics rather than the end of the sort of patriotic American conservatism of the past?
RV: Sure, so what I think is going to happen is a weird merger of White identity politics and patriotic American conservatism. So it is going to be a White-dominated coalition but there are going to be blue-collar minorities, and other minorities who identify with historic America and its ideals and its symbols who want in on that coalition, and we’ll see how that plays out.
I would like to introduce ideas of racial consciousness into the mix so that patriotic American conservatives don’t feel bad about creating all-White communities and shunning mixed-marriages and that sort of thing, because we need racial separatism in order to maintain our unique culture and racial heritage, which I believe contains within it the light of civilization, art, beauty, truth, justice, et cetera.
Well, no wonder Twitter just killed off Vine.
Here are some recent Ricky Vaughn tweets.
And some Vaughn retweets of Sid Miller.
But, perhaps the most intriguing tweet was this one from Miller at the Trumpian time of 1:43 a.m. Tuesday morning.
Milo is Milo Yiannopoulos.
Twitter has banned one of its most notoriously contentious voices. On Tuesday evening, the microblogging service permanently suspended the account of conservative commentator Milo Yiannopoulos, a day after he incited his followers to bombard Ghostbusters star Leslie Jones with racist and demeaning tweets.
“People should be able to express diverse opinions and beliefs on Twitter,” a company spokesperson said in a statement provided to BuzzFeed News. “But no one deserves to be subjected to targeted abuse online, and our rules prohibit inciting or engaging in the targeted abuse or harassment of others.”
Yiannopoulos, who currently serves as Breitbart’s tech editor, has been hailed as a voice of the new “alt-right” movement. As such, he has made a living as a provocateur, continually inflaming tensions between progressive branches of the internet focused on identity politics and the fervently anti-PC segment that constantly trolls it. For years, Yiannopoulous has used Twitter not only to voice his controversial opinions, but to direct his legion of followers (388,042 at the time of this writing) toward his opponents. As a result, he’s been temporarily banned from Twitter a number of times for violating its terms of service and stripped of his verified status.
But this week he went too far. According to Twitter, it was Yiannopoulos who led the harassment campaign against Ghostbusters actor Leslie Jones — an effort that inspired the SNL cast member to leave Twitter. The barrage of tweets, many of which decried Jones for being black and a woman, were the final straw for Twitter, which is working to try to solve its harassment problem.
So, who, aside from Ricky Vaugh, who are the other confederates who Miller is enlisting in the campaign to bring Yiannopoulos back to Twitter.
There is @rooshv.
Here is RooshV on October 17 in a piece entitled, The 3 Purposes of Women:
When it comes to women, nature bestowed only three roles upon them: reproductive sex, child rearing, and homemaking. A woman who engages in behaviors outside of those three roles is going against her biology and will experience suffering as a result.
The primary function of sex is to reproduce. The secondary function of sex is to experience pleasure. Through universal abortion and birth control, we have demoted the function of sex to one solely of pleasure. Sex is now a sterile act between two individuals who are often under the influence of alcohol or drugs and who were paired based on emotional short-term reasons that often come down to entertainment or boredom.
The reason that women excel in child rearing is because their brains are similar to that of a young child. For proof of this, you only need to witness an adult woman interacting with children. While a man may be stiff and awkward with the creature, a woman instantly adopts a child-like personality and voice to create a genuine bond. It’s through this bond that a woman can better sense a child’s needs and communicate with it.
Women have a unique taste and aesthetic that transforms any dwelling from a functional unit to a “home.” They add comfort, warmth, and cleanliness while men tend to focus on more utilitarian and practical aspects of living. A family home that has been touched by feminine hands is one where its occupants will be more comfortable.
A woman who is engaging in sex with a multitude of partners without any concern for reproduction, and who has less interest in child rearing than in surrogate activities like working in an office, dancing in nightclubs, or playing trivia games on her electronic device, and who is unwilling or unable to make a home comfortable for her family is going against her purpose. This may remind you of women you know.
But who is RooshV?
From Neezan Zimmerman in an October 2013 piece in Gawker (which was killed off by billionaire tech investor, and Trump supporter, Peter Thiel.)
Controversial globe-trotting sex tourist Daryush Valizadeh, better known by his by-the-hour motel pseudonym Roosh V, is the only pickup artist to date to have had the honor of being labeled a misogynist by none other than the venerable Southern Poverty Law Center.
His books on how to “bang” women in different counties have been called “rape guides” and denounced by every nation he’s targeted, but they’ve also earned him a significant following of would-be PUAs who have come together in a circle around the Roosh V forum to share their personal “travel tips” for different cities around the world.
It is with the help of these tips that one forum member, an aspiring PUA who has authored such insta-classic e-books as Understanding Sexual Attraction: What Makes A Woman Want You and The 9 Laws of Attractive Body Language for Men (law #1: Be attractive; law #2: Don’t be unattractive. laws #3-9: TBD), put together a world map rating the “easiness of girls by country.”
( note: PUA is a pickup artist)
What? What? What?
From the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Roosh Vörek is a Maryland-raised PUA (“pick up artist”) whose specialty is sex with foreign women; his blog is a sales vehicle for his books like Bang: The Pick Up Bible and Bang Iceland: How to Sleep With Icelandic Women in Iceland, which one Icelandic feminist group described as a “rape guide.” Vörek likes to talk about his many “notches” (seductions) and such things as “American cunts who I want to hate f*ck.” He adds: “I’ll be the first to admit that many of my bangs in the United States were hate f*cks. The masculine attitude and lack of care these women put into their style or hair irritated me, so I made it a point to f*ck them and never call again.”
OK. The next member of Miller’s posse is @jackposobiec.
Posobiec is special projects director of Citizens4Trump Jack Posobiec, and he explains here how the release of the Access Hollywood pussy tape was part of a failed coup by House Speaker Paul Ryan and other GOP elites to try to force Trump off the ticket and replace him with running mate Mike Pence.
And last, but hardly least, is @cernovich.
From the Oct. 31 New Yorker: Trolls for Trump Meet. Mike Cernovich, the meme mastermind of the alt-right,an astonishing report from Andrew Marantz.
In late August, Hillary Clinton announced that she would soon give a speech, in Reno, Nevada, linking Donald J. Trump to what has become known as the alt-right—a loose online affiliation of white nationalists, neo-monarchists, masculinists, conspiracists, belligerent nihilists, and social-media trolls. The alt-right has no consistent ideology; it is a label, like “snob” or “hipster,” that is often disavowed by people who exemplify it. The term typically applies to conservatives and reactionaries who are active on the Internet and too anti-establishment to feel at home in the Republican Party. Bizarrely, this category includes the Republican nominee for President. It also includes extremist commentators, long belittled or ignored by the media, whom mainstream pundits are now starting to take seriously.
The afternoon before Clinton’s speech, Mike Cernovich, a thick-chested white man in his late thirties, sitting on a veranda in Southern California, opened the live-streaming app Periscope on his iPad and filmed a video called “How to fight back against Sick Hillary and the #ClintonNewsNetwork.” By “Clinton News Network,” he meant CNN and other corporate media outlets. The word “sick” described Clinton morally and physically: Cernovich was among the first to insinuate publicly that Clinton had a grave neurological condition, and that the media was covering it up. By “fight back,” he meant, basically, tweeting. Internet activism is sometimes derided as “slacktivism”—a fair characterization when an online campaign tries to, say, cure AIDS or end child labor. When the goal is to seed social media with misinformation, though, online organizing can be shockingly effective.
“Tomorrow, everybody’s going to be Googling the alt-right,” Cernovich said. He has an adenoidal tenor and a lisp, but when he is indignant he can be an impassioned orator. “The narrative is being written, and you’d better get off your f*cking asses and write your own.” His feed filled with real-time comments. (@beelman_matt: “PC is for PUSSIES”; @ciswhitemale: “Mike is a bosss.”)
Cernovich wore a plaid shirt, partially unbuttoned to display his chest hair. Visible behind him were a swimming pool, trimmed boxwoods, and a mountain glowing in the afternoon sun. (@CanadaUncuck: “nice pool.”) Cernovich often blogs about fitness, and he publishes self-help books for men. He also writes about how to build a personal brand online; his maxims include “Conflict is attention” and “Attention is influence.” Although he doesn’t appear on Fox News or syndicated radio shows, he is an expert at using social media to drive alt-right ideas into the heart of American political discourse.
Clinton did not mention Cernovich, but she attacked Alex Jones, the paranoiac Texas radio host, and Breitbart.com, the Pravda of the alt-right. She listed some recent Breitbart headlines, including “Would You Rather Have Feminism or Cancer?,” which were written by Milo Yiannopoulos, the fame-seeking troll. Cernovich calls Yiannopoulos “one of the only guys, other than me, who’s doing social media right.” Before the current election, Cernovich and Yiannopoulos were known primarily as Internet misogynists. Cernovich was drawn to political commentary after recognizing a kindred spirit in Donald Trump.
Yiannopoulos, writing on Breitbart the next day, called Clinton’s speech “a drive-by shooting with a water pistol fired from a mobility scooter.” Alex Jones recorded a video in which he stood in his back yard, wiping sweat from his brow, as he muttered about the Rockefellers and the Rothschilds. “People say, ‘Oh, my God, you’ve hit the big time—Hillary Clinton talked about you,’ ” he scoffed. “Give me a break. Hillary Clinton’s average YouTubes, on her own channel, have, like, five thousand views. Our average one has hundreds of thousands.” His video was viewed more times than the official upload of Clinton’s speech.
Cernovich’s blog is Danger and Play.
Back to the New Yorker.
Nowadays, the blog is mostly a platform for pro-Trump spin, but at first it was about how to pick up women. Its name comes from Nietzsche. (“The true man wants two things: danger and play. For that reason he wants woman, as the most dangerous plaything.”) Early posts included “Misogyny Gets You Laid” and “When Should You Compliment a Woman?” (Answer: “During or after sex.”)
Early in Shauna’s relationship with Mike (Shauna is his second wife), she read Danger and Play, including such posts as “How to Cheat on Your Girlfriend.” She said, “I would come home from work crying—‘How can you write such rude things?’ He’d go, ‘You don’t understand, babe, this is just how guys talk.’ ” (Advice from the blog: “Always call your girl ‘babe,’ ” to avoid mixing up names.) Shauna, who has stopped working, continued, “I was still upset, though, and he eventually deleted some older posts.”
“I rewrote some of the wording,” Mike insisted. “I never disavow things I’ve said.” Throughout our September conversations, he referred to his more misogynist remarks as “locker-room talk.”
His political analysis was nearly as crass as his dating advice. In March, he tweeted, “Hillary’s face looks like melting candle wax. Imagine what her brain looks like.” Next, he tweeted a picture of Clinton winking, which he interpreted as “a mild stroke.” By August, he was declaring that she had both a seizure disorder and Parkinson’s disease.
“There are a million things wrong with Hillary,” Cernovich told me. “She’s a documented liar. She’s massively corrupt. She wants to let in more so-called refugees, which makes her an existential threat to the West.” (He calls the Syrian refugee crisis a “media lie.”) “But I was looking at the conversation online—what was getting through to people and what wasn’t—and none of that was sticking. It’s too complex. I thought that the health stuff would be more visceral, more resonant from a persuasion standpoint, and so I pushed that.”
Cernovich says that during college, at the University of Illinois, he was socialized to be submissive. “I was friends with a lot of girls who had crushes on me, but I was too polite to f*ck them,” he said. After his divorce, he reinvented himself as an alpha male. His self-published 2015 book, “Gorilla Mindset,” is a manual for men who want to “unleash the animal” within them. The book is filed under Gender Studies in the Amazon Kindle store. Until recently, it was the top seller in that category, ahead of “We Should All Be Feminists,” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
On his blog, Cernovich developed a theory of white-male identity politics: men were oppressed by feminism, and political correctness prevented the discussion of obvious truths, such as the criminal proclivities of certain ethnic groups. His opponents were beta males, losers, or “cucks”—alt-right slang for “cuckolds.” “To beat a person, you lower his or her social status,” he wrote on Danger and Play. “Logic is pointless.”
Although he disdained electoral politics (“No thinking man buys into this two-party political system”), he was in an ideal position to foresee Trump’s rise. In July, 2015, he tweeted, “I said if a Republican acted like me and ran for office, it’d be a movement. Donald Trump has proven me right. People are tired of pussies.” Politics is a blood sport, but, during the primaries, Jeb Bush and the rest of Trump’s “cuckservative” opponents preferred to be genteel. “What are Trump’s policies? I don’t particularly care,” Cernovich wrote on Danger and Play. And, in another post: “If Trump offends you, it’s because you live in a cucked world where no one speaks their minds.”
People have always expressed extreme views online, but for many years there was no easy way for such opinions to spread. The Internet was a vast landscape dotted with isolated viruses. The rise of social networks was like the advent of air travel: a virus can now conquer the world in a day. Instead of picking up a newspaper or visiting its home page, people scan their social-media accounts, where myriad information sources—the Daily Mail, links posted by Steph Curry, a distant relative’s Facebook rants—compete for their attention.
The term “meme” was coined by Richard Dawkins, in his 1976 book, “The Selfish Gene”; he defined it as any “unit of cultural transmission” that stays alive by “leaping from brain to brain.” In a footnote to the 1989 edition, he wrote, “Computers are increasingly tied together. Many of them are literally wired up together in electronic mail exchange. . . . It is a perfect milieu for self-replicating programs to flourish.” Dawkins was worried about computer viruses. He couldn’t have predicted Guccifer 2.0 or #ZombieHillary.
“We may be at a threshold,” Dawkins told me recently. “In the past, I would’ve been tempted to say, about the Internet, that although everybody has a megaphone, in many cases it’s a quiet one. You can put up a YouTube video, but who’s going to watch it? Now, however ridiculous what you’re saying is, if you make it memetically successful, something really bad can spread through the culture.”
Cernovich realized that a meme could reach more people than a newspaper story, without having to cross an editor’s desk. With savvy framing, an alternative voice could seem as authoritative as the nightly news. He decided to become one of those voices.
He had already insinuated himself into public conflicts in order to gain followers. (“Conflict is attention.”) And in 2014 he became a champion of GamerGate, a vicious campaign against feminists in the video-game industry. He goaded his opponents on Twitter: “Who cares about breast cancer and rape? Not me.” Cernovich’s affiliation with GamerGate made him, he said, “toxic in the eyes of a lot of people,” but he calculated that the exposure was worth it.
He picked fights with celebrities on Twitter. (Seth Rogen took the bait; Cernovich called him “Cuck Rogen.”) “I’m not a pure troll,” Cernovich told me. “Pure trolls are amoral”—they post swastikas, he suggested, not out of an allegiance to Nazism but because they enjoy riling people. “I use trolling tactics to build my brand.”
Pro-Trump activism channelled several of Cernovich’s interests: he could hurt a feminist’s chances of becoming President, associate himself with the year’s top story, and deploy brawler methods on behalf of someone who is even more ruthless online than he is. In mid-October, Cernovich released another book, “MAGA Mindset,” about Trump’s “unapologetically masculine” persona.
Ever since the advent of the mass media, professional journalists have been a bulwark against seditious or far-fetched theories. One might attribute this fact to their paternalism, their myopia, or their rectitude. In any case, their work tended to have a homogenizing effect. Newscasters told us that the world was more or less as we expected it to be, and we more or less believed them. This system had its faults: after all, far-fetched theories are sometimes true. In 1922, Walter Lippmann, in his book “Public Opinion,” warned of “the manufacture of consent,” a power that media gatekeepers could use for good or for ill.
That was a twentieth-century problem. The media no longer has the ability to manufacture consent. Walter Cronkite was once the most trusted man in America; in 2013, according to a Reader’s Digest survey, the most trusted person was Tom Hanks. “Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that Walter Cronkite lied about everything,” Cernovich said. “Before Twitter, how would you have known? Look, I read postmodernist theory in college. If everything is a narrative, then we need alternatives to the dominant narrative.” He smiled. “I don’t seem like a guy who reads Lacan, do I?”
One way to propel a story into the mainstream is to get it linked by the Drudge Report. “If it’s on Drudge, then it’s on ‘Hannity,’ ” Cernovich said. “If it’s on ‘Hannity,’ then Brian Stelter’s talking about it on CNN.” The Drudge Report favors big newspapers and established right-wing blogs; Danger and Play is not on the list. “If I have a really hot story, I might leak it to someone at Breitbart, or to someone else who can get the Drudge link.” That journalist usually returns the favor by embedding a Cernovich tweet in the story.
Twitter is Cernovich’s favorite medium for promoting memes.
And, it seems, Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller’s.