I really shouldn’t have been surprised by this article in The Washington Post. After all, we’ve all encountered the sorts of people who have continued to support Donald Trump, and –to put it as kindly as possible–maturity, mental health and measured analysis are not among their most obvious characteristics.
The far-right firebrands and conspiracy theorists of the pro-Trump Internet have a new enemy: each other.
QAnon devotees are livid at their former hero Michael Flynn for accurately calling their jumbled credo “total nonsense.” Donald Trump superfans have voiced a sense of betrayal because the former president, booed for getting a coronavirus immunization booster, has become a “vaccine salesman.” And attorney Lin Wood seems mad at pretty much everyone, including former allies on the scattered “elite strike-force team” investigating nonexistent mass voter fraud.
After months of failing to disprove the reality of Trump’s 2020 presidential election loss, some of the Internet’s most popular right-wing provocateurs are grappling with the pressures of restless audiences, saturated markets, ongoing investigations and millions of dollars in legal bills.
The article characterizes the current state of affairs as a “chaotic melodrama,” and notes that it is being conducted–childishly, as you might suspect–through “secretly recorded phone calls, personal attacks in podcasts, and a seemingly endless stream of posts on Twitter, Gab and Telegram calling their rivals Satanists, communists, pedophiles or “pay-triots” — money-grubbing grifters exploiting the cause.”
I’m sure “snowflake” is in there somewhere too……
Our old catch-phrase–“follow the money”–is apt. The article notes that the infighting reflects the “diminishing financial rewards” for the individuals and groups peddling right-wing disinformation. They are fighting over a limited pool of viewer donations and subscriptions, over fees for appearances at rallies and conferences, and over sales of books and merchandise.
In addition, tensions have evidently been exacerbated by the sudden, mysterious silence of QAnon’s faceless wacko, Q. Without Q, who should they follow? It’s a puzzlement!
The cage match kicked off late in November when Kyle Rittenhouse, acquitted of all charges after fatally shooting two men at a protest last year in Kenosha, Wis., told Fox News host Tucker Carlson that his former attorneys, including Wood, had exploited his jail time to boost their fundraising “for their own benefit, not trying to set me free.”
Wood has since snapped back at his 18-year-old former client, wondering aloud in recent messages on the chat service Telegram: “Could his life be “literally under the supervision and control of a ‘director?’ Whoever ‘Kyle’ is, pray for him.”
The article reports on the insults each faction is lobbing at the others: betraying the pro-Trump cause, or–much more serious–misusing the millions of dollars in funds that have gone to Pro-Trump groups.
Wood has posted recordings of his phone calls with Byrne, who can be heard saying that Wood is “a little kooky,” and Flynn, a QAnon icon who can be heard telling Wood that QAnon’s mix of extremist conspiracy theories was actually bogus “nonsense” or a “CIA operation.”
Best of all–at least from my perspective– the various groups are looking at massive financial liability.
Beyond the infighting, both sides are also staring down the potential for major financial damage in court. A federal judge last month ordered Wood and Powell to pay roughly $175,000 in legal fees for their “historic and profound abuse of the judicial process” in suing to overturn the 2020 presidential election. And Powell and others face potentially billions of dollars in damages as a result of defamation lawsuits filed by Dominion Voting Systems, which they falsely accused of helping to rig the 2020 race.
If you want to help them cover their legal bills and likely losses, you can buy a four-pack set of “Release the Kraken: Defending the Republic” from Powell’s website, which also offers drink tumblers at $80. Or you can visit Flynn’s newly launched website and buy #FightLikeAFlynn” women’s racerback tank tops–a “steal” (but not the “Big” one) at only $30. Wood’s online store is selling $64.99 “#FightBack” unisex hoodies.
Evidently, the merchandising theory is that the “base” likes to wear items that advertise its politics. (Well, there are those red MAGA hats…)
A researcher of conspiracy theories is quoted as saying the arguments “increasingly resemble the performative clashes of pro wrestling.” (He also points out that there is a limited number of people susceptible to being fleeced.)
There’s a lot more in the linked story, and it is all pretty much what you’d expect when people who are different kinds of crazy go after each other. As a friend told me back in 2016, she was counting on the Trumpers’ sheer incompetence to save us…
What’s that definition of schadenfreude– Pleasure derived from another person’s misfortune.
I plead so guilty.