Friday, December 27, 2019

What did Donald Trump do today?

He retweeted QAnon fan accounts, twice.

Trump had another fairly typical Friday, at least by his standards: zero scheduled work, a round of golf, and lots of tweets. 

At least two of today's tweets were from fan accounts of the conspiracy theory/troll group QAnon, best known for spreading the "Pizzagate" hoax that accused Hillary Clinton of running a child sex slavery ring out of a DC-area pizza joint. Trump campaign officials have promoted QAnon hoaxes, which led to a man shooting at employees in an attempt to "save" the nonexistent children being trapped in the restaurant's nonexistent basement.

The basic idea behind QAnon, like a lot of Trump-era viral media—including the Russian fake news posts that flooded social media in 2016 and since—seems to be to create the idea that nothing is really real. Or, as Russian dissident and chess champion Garry Kasparov put it:

Trump openly tells people not to believe their own eyes if something makes him look bad, and his political handlers have embraced the message. Kellyanne Conway famously invented the concept of "alternative facts" as a way of explaining why Trump insisted that his press secretary lie about his inaugural crowds in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

It's not clear whether Trump, a master hoaxer in his own right, knows what QAnon is or whether he believes any of their "theories." (He does retweet them a lot, though.) But he apparently liked the look of the posts he sent to his millions of Twitter followers today. One references an out-and-proud misogynist movement, and the other was a picture of a dog turd.

Why is this a bad thing?

  • It's bad if the most powerful person in the world is spending a weekday helping internet trolls and scammers go viral.
  • Facts and reality exist even if it would be better politically for Donald Trump if they didn't.