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Reddit Finally Bans Pro-Trump Forum After Multiple Threats Of Violence

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

Reddit has finally banned the notorious subreddit "r/The_Donald," following its users and moderators repeatedly violating the platform's rules. The ban comes a year after Reddit quarantined the subreddit following Media Matters' reporting on its users issuing calls to violence, and months after they had abandoned the subreddit for their own backup site.

The subreddit, dedicated to supporting President Donald Trump, had hundreds of thousands of users and helped spread narratives and content used by Trump himself. Trump's social media director, Dan Scavino, was known to monitor the subreddit, and Trump did an "Ask Me Anything" question-and-answer session on the forum in 2016.

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#EndorseThis: Colbert Slices Up Pizzagate, Mike Flynn, And Alex Jones

Stephen Colbert, perhaps the nation’s most skillful satirist of news as entertainment, is fed up with fake news – especially in the wake of the Pizzagate hoax that resulted in a shooting incident at Comet Ping Pong in Washington, D.C. He quotes Pope Francis comparing “media that…spread fake news to…people who have a morbid fascination with excrement.”

Noting that among the “uninformed gullible people” who appeared to be taken in by the Pizzagate hoax were Michael Flynn, the retired general nominated as Donald Trump’s national security adviser. That may not be the right job for “a guy who spreads this bullshit.”

Thanks to a Wikileaks email, conspiracy kooks like Alex Jones have come after Colbert as well. Gently but firmly, the Late Show host schools that fulminating impresario of idiocy. He concludes with a pointed message for Jones, Wikileaks, and all of the “subReddit sub-geniuses.”.

Sump Trump: Looking For Votes In Reddit’s Basement

Published with permission from The Washington Spectator

Donald Trump’s presidential campaign draws energy from its rowdy, often racist, internet fans. On Wednesday evening, it embraced the unhinged shitposters who make up the candidate’s loudest fan base in all their meme-tastic glory.

Trump—who we now know can use a computer (or at least pose with it)—took to Reddit, or more exactly, to the alt-right-loving subreddit, /r/The_Donald for his first AMA (ask me anything). While AMAs have become one of the network’s more popular offerings, even among infrequent users, they’re usually coordinated by moderators from a subreddit that deals exclusively with these sorts of events. Anyone can ask anything. Your question may not be answered if, say, President Barack Obama is the featured guest, although in a lot of cases, the issue is the volume, not necessarily the content.

Trump, however, went his own way, accepting an invitation from an online community that, along with 4Chan and 8Chan, has been largely associated with the recent boom in white nationalist activity online. /r/The_Donald is, as one user told Wired, “like a 24/7 Trump rally.” And as in a real-life Trump rally, the candidate’s appeal to Reddit’s denizens was repetitive and dull. It showed, though, the campaign’s desire to use these self-governed online communities to amplify its message.

“Trump,” and presumably the big names affiliated with him, “cares about his people, and we are his people.”

That’s not to say any of this new media experimentation comes naturally for Trump. Despite apparently being seated in front of an actual laptop, his answers were brief and slow coming. Chicken pecking is a tedious process, and we can only imagine that Trump—like most businessmen who rely on personal assistants to do even the most basic of tasks—has been slow to adopt new technologies. (“New” obviously has a loose meaning here, as the PC has been around for decades.) Indeed, a close look at the photo verifying Trump was the one answering Redditors’ questions indicates that, while the computer is turned on, the man himself appears absolutely befuddled by the presence of this alien technology. He isn’t touching the keyboard; his expression is one of frustrated bemusement.

Aside from a few attempts to woo libertarian-leaning independents and former Bernie Sanders supporters into voting for him in November, Trump’s outreach was oddly devoid of substantive campaign pitches. Of the few questions Trump managed to hammer out a response to, two were on undecided voters, one was on whether he got sick of “winning,” and the rest were on issues the campaign has been forcing down voters’ throats for the past year—with the notable exception of an answer on NASA’s role in “Making America Great Again.” Although Trump hasn’t said much about space travel, it turns out the federal agency, which celebrated its 58th birthday this week, does have a role in returning the country to greatness.

Instead, Trump focused on lackadaisical base-building, pressing his views on immigration (“I have put forward a detailed plan for H-1B reform to protect American workers which can viewed on the immigration paper on my website”); money in politics (“[Keep] Crooked Hillary Clinton out of the White House!”); and the press’s dishonesty. For an added bonus, the phrase “crooked Hillary” made enough appearances that it’s tempting to wonder if Trump has access to a thesaurus. (May we suggest: “Duplicitous Hillary,” “Unscrupulous Hillary,” “Treacherous Hillary”?)

Meanwhile, unfriendly members of the media and anti-Trumpers found their questions either deleted—or their account permanently banned. One question on Donald Trump’s tax returns, which was posted by Daily Beast reporters, was deleted within 15 minutes.

Despite the low-energy performance, the Trump persona was certainly present, and was in keeping with the fact-free fun-fest that’s been the campaign since the beginning. Trump’s “big tent” approach doesn’t differ much from the subreddit’s freewheeling experimentation with alt-right ideals. Plus, these are the same people his campaign has drawn upon—directly or indirectly—to craft its message online. It’s no accident that some of the more questionable memes used by Trump on Twitter have come from places like Reddit, 4Chan, and the even more virulently racist 8Chan.

Unlike the latter two platforms—which are more or less free-for-alls—moderators have made the occasional attempt to rid /r/The_Donald of overt racism and anti-Semitism. Unsurprisingly, they rely on a different interpretation of proper behavior than your average internet user—frequent use of the term “cuck,” short for “cuckservative,” wouldn’t be tolerated in a number of internet subcultures. Coded racism—think “I’m not a racist but a race realist”—is abundant, however, and it doesn’t take a ton of digging to find instances of it.

That semblance of order has made it easier for public figures to associate themselves with /r/The_Donald: the subreddit’s third rule, “no racism/anti-semitism,” lends a little plausible deniability. As a result, the network has been able to rope in some big names, including the Nixon-branded former campaign adviser Roger Stone, Breitbart tech columnist Milo Yiannopoulos, former MLB player Curt Schilling, Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams, and—of course—writer and pundit Ann Coulter. With the exception of Yiannopoulos, who became a moderator two months ago, most have kept enough distance to separate themselves from the more controversial happenings.

Keeping that buffer as thin as possible is in the interest of all parties. After all, as Andrew Anglin, publisher of the white nationalist site Daily Stormer, wrote: “Trump,” and presumably the big names affiliated with him, “cares about his people, and we are his people.”

Even if Trump doesn’t, he’s not going to make that fact known, now is he?

 

Hannah Gais is The Washington Spectator’s associate digital editor.

Photo Credit: Darron Birgenheier

The Greatest Moments From The Bernie Sanders AMA

Senator and presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders (D-VT) ran an AMA (Ask Me Anything) — a kind of open-source mass interview — on the popular social site reddit.com Tuesday.

Highlights included discussions about election reform, funding higher education and research, federal wiretapping, and even marijuana legalization. Despite a long career in Washington, DC, Sanders was not overtly cynical, and offered a message of hope for the future of politics in America, openly stating his goals for system-wide change.

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When asked about election reform, the senator focused on campaign financing. He mentioned the increasing importance of corporations and mega-wealthy in political races, stating:

Right now, we are at a moment in history where the Koch brothers and other billionaires are in the process of buying politicians and elections. We need to overturn Citizens United with a constitutional amendment. We need to pass disclosure legislation. We need to move toward public funding of elections.

He later went on to say how critical he believes voter engagement is, citing that a voting rate of just 40 percent will need to double to truly create change. In the short term, Sanders encouraged contacting elected officials to make public opinion heard, as well as grassroots organizing.

When asked about controversial security measures such as the PATRIOT Act and federal wiretapping, Sanders said he understands the threats from both sides of the issue. While acknowledging the serious dangers posed by terrorist groups, he followed up with:

I believe strongly that we can protect our people without undermining our constitutional rights and I worry very very much about the huge attacks on privacy that we have seen in recent years — both from the government and from the private sector.

Unafraid to defend what has proven to be an unpopular opinion in the Senate, Sanders also stood by his anti-war record. As a statesman who has voted against almost every war since Vietnam, Sanders resolutely argued that the United States needs to change its aggressive stance on international relations and work with the global community to “not only [try] to create peaceful resolutions to conflict, but to address the underlying causes of war.”

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In the same vein, Sanders opposed sending U.S. soldiers to combat the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Instead, he said that he believes peace will only come to the Middle East when Muslim countries unite to fully engage with and defeat ISIS. Western nations, he added, cannot lead the efforts. Unfortunately, he also said, he believes that a number of Republicans do not want to see a calm Middle East, but “perpetual warfare.”

Turning towards domestic issues, Sanders addressed the much-debated Affordable Care Act and the broader Social Security system. Though he admits the Act is far from perfect, he explains: “I voted for the Affordable Care Act, not because I think it is the end place as to where we should be, but because I was able to get a major provision in it that greatly expanded primary health care — which is helping many millions of people today.” He also cited earlier legislation he co-wrote, saying it was the most comprehensive legislation for helping veterans passed in years.

Continuing with his views on health care, Sanders also agreed that further investment in medical research is necessary to confront the serious health challenges facing the American population, including Alzheimer’s Disease, diabetes, and cancer.

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In terms of job creation and economic growth, Sanders said that America needs workers to rebuild a crumbling infrastructure, as well as preschool educators and medical personnel. To address these needs, and to raise overall living standards, he advised, “We have to move toward universal health care, making higher education available to all, a social safety net which is strong and a tax system which is progressive.”

Overall, the open interview was a bold move for a presidential candidate. The general tone of the responses seemed positive and grateful for the chance to directly engage with a national political player. Sanders, despite a challenging race ahead, appeared optimistic and enthusiastic about the change he believes his candidacy can bring for the American people.

A fitting final quote: “The truth is that we are in a very difficult political moment. But despair of giving up is just not an option. My strong belief is that it is imperative that we maintain our vision of what American can be, and that we fight hard to make that happen. DO NOT GIVE UP.”

Photo: truthout.org via Flickr