Tuesday, June 9, 2020

What did Donald Trump do today?

He spread a dumber-than-usual conspiracy theory about 75-year-old anarchists with imaginary technology.

Martin Gugino is the 75-year-old protestor who was knocked to the ground last Thursday by Buffalo, New York police officers during a peaceful demonstration. Gugino, who began bleeding profusely from the head as soon as it hit the ground, was just discharged from the ICU and remains in the hospital. Video of the incident led to two police officers being charged with assault.

Today, Trump tweeted a bizarre conspiracy theory about it. He called Gugino an "ANTIFA provocateur" and said the elderly man was trying to use a "scanner" to "black out" police radios. He also accused Gugino of faking his fall, ignoring the extensive stay in the ICU that resulted. (Trump, who is only a year younger, has noticeable balance issues.)

This is absurd, although that doesn't mean Trump doesn't believe it. To be clear: there is no such thing as a magical device or app that would allow a protestor to "scan" or "black out" police equipment. 

There's also no "ANTIFA" to use such imaginary technology. Most Americans are politically opposed to fascism, but there's no connection between that belief and violence at recent protests, as Trump's own Justice Department and FBI have found. 

Trump got the idea third-hand, after a conspiracy site that flatters Trump reported on an anonymous blog post. The "reporter" involved also writes for Sputnik, a Russian state media outlet.

Asked for comment, Gugino responded from his hospital bed: “No comment other than Black lives matter.”

Why should I care about this?

  • Even for Trump, this is pretty shocking.
  • It's extremely bad if a president can be this easily swayed by internet nonsense.
  • It's even worse if a president circulates this kind of thing knowing it's internet nonsense.
  • This is literal fake news.