The Profound, Unforgiving Stupidity of Donald Trump’s Social Media Summit

It was the culmination of several very unfortunate timelines.

Former Trump adviser Sebastian Gorka yells at journalist Brian Karem in the Rose Garden at the White House following the President's social media summit.Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

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Consider a few important, but seemingly unrelated moments from history: The creation of the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States; the rise of Twitter and social media; the election of Donald Trump; the rise of the alt-right; 4Chan and 8Chan; the Republican party.

All of these timelines converged today at the White House with President Donald Trump’s official social media summit, where right-wing trolls were invited to complain about alleged-censorship and media bias. For nearly an hour, Trump spoke to a room of very paranoid and very online conservatives, including memesmith Carpe Dunktum, the double felon who disseminated the “Kamala Harris isn’t black” hoax, Ali Alexander, and QAnon conspiracy amplifier Bill Mitchell. During the event,  the President complained that Twitter and other social media platforms conspire against him, accused Democrats of being communists, and tried to fight a fly

It was the latest charge in a long-running conservative campaign to frame technology companies as biased against Republicans. There isn’t firm data to suggest this is true—in fact many of the claims are so patently ridiculous and obviously untrue that they betray a profound misunderstanding of how these platforms even work—but that has not stopped right-wingers from spinning unverifiable anecdotes into vast conspiracies. 

The event was riddled with controversy before it even began. Earlier in the day, the White House had to disinvite one participant who created a cartoon that Anti-Defamation League called “blatantly anti-Semitic.”

At the event, attendees were greeted by large posters of misspelled words.

The absurdity continued well into the festivities.

In attendance was Charlie Kirk, whose organization Turning Points USA has a recurring problem with racist personnel.

 

Finally the main event began, with Trump complaining about how he doesn’t have enough followers.

Donald Trump Jr. was into it.

But a fly was not.

Trump also offered some very incoherent but worrisome thoughts on free speech.

He returned again to his main obsession: being mad about Twitter.

The event’s ending didn’t quell any of its absurdity; it exacerbated it. After Trump left without taking questions, former Trump adviser Sebastian Gorka created his own grande finale by yelling at Playboy’s White House reporter Brian Karem. “You’re threatening me in the Rose Garden,” Gorka yelled before walking away as Trump supporters chanted “Gorka,” before one said, “just for the record, he’d kick your punk ass.”

On Tuesday, Sen., Cruz’s office said that he would hold a hearing next week on Google’s supposed conservative bias, ensuring that that the messy grandstanding will only continue.

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This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

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