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Kavanaugh Hearings! Part Deux.
Welcome to hell. As I’m putting together this week’s newsletter, I’m also watching Dr. Christine Blasey Ford testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee — well technically she’s testifying before half of it. Republicans on the committee have opted not to question Ford directly and hired a female prosecutor to do it for them. The Senators aren’t brave enough to put Ford on trial themselves and they didn’t want footage of them questioning her to live forever on YouTube. So they’ve outsourced their shame to someone else.
The Kavanaugh hearings are a prime example of how the Republican party has been swallowed whole by the so-called alt-right. What once seemed like a shaky alliance with some glaring cracks has morphed into an authoritarian, white supremacist, misogynist coalition. We’ve seen evidence of this congealing online but the accusations against Brett Kavanaugh have brought them together in real time.
Misogyny, along with white supremacy, unites the Republican party with the extremists. We saw the alliance in full view this week. The trolls were going all in creating and spreading disinformation and conspiracy theories via 4chan, 8chan, and right-wing Facebook groups. Pro-Trump right-wing figures, media, and TMZ (yes really!) who refused to believe Dr. Chistine Blasey Ford, Julie Swetnick, and Deborah Ramirez had no trouble finding the “information” spread by anonymous trolls credible. As I’ve pointed out before, Russian trolls can be considered a part of this coalition too. Jonathon Morgan tweeted that his company New Knowledge AI is tracking a large Russian disinformation network that’s focused on Kavanaugh this week as well, pivoting from the disinformation about Iran and Syria that the network usually focuses on.
Anecdotally my Twitter mentions were chock full of trolls this week, at levels I haven’t experienced since the height of the 2016 election. Troll and bot accounts with few followers and nothing better to do than berate me and other progressives online. The trolls are annoying but they don’t rattle me anymore. And now I recognize that they only come out when things are going badly for Trump, which of course they are this week as Kavanaugh’s nomination is on life support.
Whether or not Kavanaugh is confirmed, there’s no question that the misogyny of online forums combined with the traditional misogyny of the GOP is a toxic combination, terrible for American politics and culture. You could see this in action when Kavanaugh gave his round of testimony. Clearly auditioning to be America’s next top #MAGA star was his primary goal. Pro-Trump media and trolls loved Kavanaugh’s defiant, fiery, entitled performance. Theirs is a coalition that wants to break norms and institutions. They’ve clearly succeeded.
CARD game: where the cards are all losers
Between now and election day Ctrl Alt-Right Delete is highlighting the candidates you need to know about — as trading cards. We’ll feature at least one candidate card per week. This week’s card features Russell Walker, a Republican House candidate running for election in North Carolina.
- A new study from the University of Alabama at Birmingham found that the “anti-Semitism trend in alt-right communities influenced web communities in mainstream ecosystems like Twitter and Reddit […] as early as the months preceding the 2016 election.”
- Twitter recently announced that they are “developing a new policy to address dehumanizing language on Twitter” and have a survey open until Tuesday 9 October.
- Facebook Fail: A Brigade of Bikers Hasn’t Descended on D.C. to Save Kavanaugh (The Daily Beast)
- Here’s proof that Russian-backed accounts pushed the Nike boycott (Wired)
- Google, Facebook and Twitter Agree to Fight Fake News in the EU (Bloomberg)
- On Reddit, Russian propagandists try new tricks (NBC News)
- How YouTube facilitates right-wing radicalization (Media Matters)
- Facebook Has Removed More Than A Dozen Big Conservative And Liberal Political Pages (Buzzfeed)
- Watch: John Oliver explains how Facebook is wreaking havoc overseas (Vox)
- Facebook Is Reviewing its Policy on White Nationalism After Motherboard Investigation, Civil Rights Backlash (Vice)
- The Chinese Left Who Support Trump and the American Alt-Right (SupChina)
I greatly enjoyed doing this interview with Nathaniel Pearlman for his Great Battlefield podcast. It’s a wide ranging conversation covering everything from how I got into politics, to my current work including this newsletter.
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