GOP Officials Persist In Promoting Lies To Incite “Base”
Given the announced list of speakers, this year’s Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) gathering in Orlando, Fla., promises to be a mask-less “lie-a-palooza.” Twice-impeached Donald Trump, Matt Schlapp, Mike Pompeo, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and others all will have a turn at the microphone to say things that aren’t true before the curtains come down on Sunday.
But every day GOP officials throughout the country at the local, county and state levels are promoting lies, misinformation and conspiracy theories that very closely echo those that motivated the insurrectionist mob of rioters that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Those Republican officials are using online tools, fueled by algorithms that boost extreme content, to spread their messaging throughout party ranks.
The Associated Press reviewed public and private social media accounts of nearly 1,000 federal, state, and local elected and appointed Republican officials nationwide, many of whom have voiced support for the Jan. 6 insurrection or demanded that the 2020 presidential election be overturned, sometimes in deleted posts or now-removed online forums.
“Sham-peachment,” they say, and warn that “corporate America helped rig the election.” They call Trump a “savior” who was robbed of a second term — despite no evidence — and President Joe Biden, a “thief.” “Patriots want answers,” they declare.
The AP found that the aggressive, combative rhetoric is helping the officials grow their constituencies on social media and gain outsized influence in their communities, city councils, county boards and state assemblies.
Working with Deep Discovery, an artificial intelligence company, the news agency also helped build a classification algorithm that matched officials to accounts on the right-wing aligned Parler, a social media platform that recently returned after being taken offline for several weeks. AP also surveyed officials’ use of alternate social media sites such as Gab and Telegram, whose active users have soared in recent weeks since Twitter and Facebook barred people from posting extremist content and disinformation.
Today, more than a month after the deadly riot and Biden’s swearing in, Republicans persist in trying to delegitimize the Biden administration. Just yesterday, the acting chief of the Capitol Police told a congressional committee that online chatter shows that far-right extremist groups have expressed a desire to blow up the Capitol and kill as many lawmakers as possible when the president addresses a joint session of Congress.
Brian Michael Jenkins, a terrorism expert and adviser at the RAND Corp. think tank, recently told Congress, “We still have people in this country talking about civil war. I’m talking about high-ranking officials in state governments and elsewhere, talking about civil war, talking about secession, talking about loading up with ammunition.”