If the presidential election wasn’t muddy enough, this new internet age has added players whose single contribution is to muddy the waters further. WC will offer a couple of illustrations in support of his point.
The Macedonia Connection. It turns out that a small town in Macedonia is the site of more than 100 virulently pro-Trump web sites. It’s true; the town of Veles, in central Macedonia, has an economic based grounded in Facebook advertising revenues. It’s all about mouse clicks, and the young internet entrepreneurs in Veles have discovered a small digital gold mine in web sites that have vaguely American-sounding domain names. WorldPoliticus.com, TrumpVision365.com, USConservativeToday.com, DonaldTrumpNews.co, and USADailyPolitics.com; they publish pro-Trump content aimed at Trumpster supporters in the US.
According to Buzzfeed,1 the young Macedonians who run these sites don’t give a damn about Donald Trump. They’re in it for the money. Facebook is all about advertising, and value is measured by the number of clicks on advertising – “sponsored content” – links. In terms of ad revenue, a U.S. citizen’s click is about four times as valuable as anyone else’s. As Facebook regularly reveals in earnings reports, a US Facebook user is worth about four times a user outside the US. It’s only a fraction of a penny per click, but in the chronically depressed economy of Veles ad revenues goes a long way.
So the web businesses of Veles create sites that are click bait. And the click bait that works best, they have found, are the pro-Trump, sensationalist stuff. Truth doesn’t enter into it. They aggregate stuff from other sides, give the story and over-the-top headline, and watch the hits come in. It doesn’t speak well for Trump supporters that they click on those headlines, but to the folks in Veles, it’s money in the bank. For those of us who still care about the truth, about accuracy and sourced news, it’s more mud in already muddy waters.
Only in It for the Ego. New Yorker magazine has a feature story on Mike Cernovich, an alt-right internet troll whose support for the Donald is all about his personal ego-gratification, measured by Twitter followers, trending memes and an absolute obsession with self-aggrandizement. The story is worth a read, but what struck WC is this clown’s utter obliviousness. Some examples: he’s married to the daughter of secular Iranian immigrants, people his candidate wants to ban. He doesn’t originate content, even the hash tags he uses are mined from his followers, yet he claims entitlement to a Pultizer. He judges internet content not by the quality of writing, or the thoroughness of research, but rather by the popularity of whatever he posts.
The amoral web admins in Veles at least have the excuse of poverty. Cernovich spews his garbage content purely and simply for self-gratification. It’s the most repugnant kind of intellectual masturbation. Cernovich’s first wife made a bucket of money as a lawyer and investor; when they divorced, half of it became Cenovich’s and it props up his “Cernovich Media” and self-published book sales. A convicted sex offender2 and unabashed misogynist, he lives in a world where facts and truth are a secondary consideration, if they matter at all. This clown contributes volumes to the fog of distortion surrounding the presidential election, too. He adds as much mud as he can. To stroke his own ego.
The result of this relentless stirring of mud, slinging of mud and creation of mud, especially by The Donald, has been an election in which every possible logical fallacy has been used and re-used to exhaustion. From the Big Lie to ad hominem attacks to straw man arguments. WC doesn’t believe there has been a more logically flawed, non-factual political campaign in his lifetime.
And these folks are just making it worse.