Anyone watching Infowars long enough would notice host Alex Jones’ remarkable obsession with a very specific subset of the global population: lesbians. Jones’ unhinged tirades about innumerable topics have rightfully made him a target for online mockery and the protagonist of numerous internet memes. But there’s something more sinister than funny in the way that Jones and some of his guest co-hosts depict, mock, and dissociate from lesbians to Infowars’ hundreds of thousands of viewers.
On his Fox News show, Tucker Carlson spent Women’s History Month parroting some of the grossest views of YouTube’s fringe right-wing anti-feminists in a series of segments about “Men in America,” mainstreaming their misogyny on prime-time cable news. Here’s some background on the men Carlson has been promoting:
Following the deadly high school shooting that claimed 17 lives in Parkland, FL, news sites and outlets scrambled to report details about the shooter’s identity and motive in a timely manner. Some of those details were manipulated by far-right trolls in efforts to plant misinformation and sow chaos, along the way creating a PR crisis for known white supremacists. It also created a lesson for media to not take attention-seeking extremists at their word.
As a response to the unveiling of former President Barack Obama’s official portrait, pro-Trump trolls launched a smear campaign against artist Kehinde Wiley, claiming a painting of his symbolizes an attack against white people and that the artist “seems racist.”
In October, a notorious right-wing troll quietly launched an "operation" aimed at suspending progressive voices from Twitter. The plan was to use the platform’s mechanisms for reporting abuse in order to silence those he perceived as attempting to censor right-wing voices. With Twitter’s cooperation, and by taking out-of-context tweets that could have been made in sarcasm, the project has now become another successful entry in the playbook online trolls are using to silence progressives.
The video troupe at NBC Left Field has created a glossy short documentary about the self-described “Western chauvinist” organization Proud Boys, uncritically presenting the group as an all-male “fraternal society of nationalists” aggrieved that men are supposedly under attack in America. The short documentary took statements from Proud Boys members at face value without giving audiences the complete picture of this violent-prone organization, which is actually a gateway to extremism like white supremacy.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the Trump administration’s decision to rescind Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), an Obama-era immigration policy that protects around 800,000 undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children from immediate deportation while allowing them to work legally. Sessions’ announcement was full of familiar anti-immigrant lies, previously spewed by nativists and right-wing media outlets.
Sean Hannity Is Promoting a Twisted New Smear Campaign, and This Time He's Targeting a Fellow Conservative
During his Fox News show on August 29, host Sean Hannity elevated a smear campaign targeting Republican CNN contributor Ana Navarro. Hannity’s smears came from a report citing publicly available information showing Navarro has donated to Democratic candidates, which pro-Trump troll Jack Posobiec distributed on Twitter under the hashtag #AnaGate to rally his followers to harass the contributor. This is not the first time Hannity has elevated a narrative that comes from pro-Trump trolls and fringe far-right message boards.
President Donald Trump’s Twitter habits help shape the media and public narrative about his administration, which is why his record of retweeting and quote-tweeting accounts with suspicious bot or sock-puppet activity raises concerns.
Spend enough time on the comments sections of the right-wing internet, and the significant number of people who hold beliefs based on completely false premises will become all too apparent. In this world, fact checks and hard evidence are all too easily flicked away with accusations of liberal bias, making civil discourse increasingly hostile and polarized at the expense of truth.