Over the years, I’ve gotten a lot of emails from Trump supporters who stumble upon the site via Google, decide they hate my guts and send me an email screed. I have scheduled a lot of those emails to reappear in my inbox on November 4th, and the idea is to reply to them all on that morning (it will either be incredibly satisfying or incredibly depressing).
Anyway, I got an email last night from someone responding to a recent Trumpdate, and it contains links to around 26 YouTube videos (and not a goddamn one of them is under 10 minutes). Here’s a screenshot:
The videos are largely about how Obama is Muslim, but also, how can liberals align with Muslims because Muslims are so conservative; about the deleterious health effects of homosexuality; stuff about how euthanasia is evil; and how Judaism fits into Christian plans; the regrets of trans people who have had sex changes, etc. etc. It’s some crazy sh*t, and the woman who sent them to me is clearly delusional and troubled and spends way too much time on YouTube. It’s affected her mind.
Without some serious deprogramming, this woman — and thousands and thousands like her — are basically lost causes. They’re never likely again to be functional members of a sane society. It’s unfortunate, but their minds have been warped by algorithms (I understand that this is what The Social Dilemma is about, although we’ve been writing about the dangers of the YouTube algorithm for years).
Anyway, there’s not much we can do for her, but it really got me thinking not about the viewers of these YouTube videos, but the people who post these videos to YouTube, exploit those algorithms and make a fortune. There is a huge, full-blown grifter economy that feeds off of people like Solange, the woman who sent me those videos (a couple of which, I should note, had already been pulled by YouTube by the time I could click on them). For instance, there is something called PragerU, a YouTube channel created by right-wing nutjob Dennis Prager, with 2.8 million subscribers, whose videos have been seen over 2 billion times. It’s all just grift.
As it turns out, however, there are no bigger grifters than The Lincoln Project, the Never Trumpers who have been creating viral, anti-Trump ads all year long. We love those viral videos, because they effectively dunk on Trump (using low-hanging fruit), even if they don’t move the needle very much. However, the Lincoln Project in and of itself is its own kind of grift, one that exploits liberals (including myself!) and Democrats who want to believe that there are good Republicans. Pfft.
Right after Trump came into office, there was a very small number of anti-Trump Republicans, and I remember specifically Evan McMullin, a Republican who ran against Trump as an Independent in 2016. I liked him because he wasn’t hypocritical about his belief. That dude is a Mormon and a man of faith, and while I do not agree with his politics, at least his disdain for Trump was authentic.
McMullin became a popular figure on liberal Twitter after the election, and soon thereafter, a few others joined the fray, like scumbag conservative talk show host and deadbeat dad Joe Walsh, who tried to turn his anti-Trump feelings into a Presidential run built around the fact that a bunch of liberals had started retweeting him when he shat on the President.
As it turns out, while McMullin may have gotten into it for the right reasons, it’s also a good racket and a lucrative one at that. Never Trumpers have never been more popular. Rick Wilson — who proudly posted a Confederate flag to Instagram in 2012, and who once won a GOP campaign in Georgia by tying the Democrat (a disabled veteran) to Osama bin Laden is one of the major figures of the organization. It was former McCain campaign manager, Steve Schmidt, who chose to pick Sarah Palin as John McCain’s running mate, and she arguably paved the way for Trump. John Weaver signed a $350,000 contract in 2019 to lobby on behalf of a Russian state corporation. George Conway? I don’t know what the hell is up with that guy, except that he’s worked with Ann Coulter and Matt Drudge; and he seemed to be fine with Trump up until 2017 after Trump declined to name him as Solicitor General of the United States, a job for which he was on the shortlist. I guess that Conway was fine with everything in Trump’s 2016 campaign and conveniently turned against Trump at the same time that he was rejected for a job, or maybe Conway — like his wife — is just an extreme opportunist. They’re all just less outwardly sleazy Anthony Scaramuccis, arguably the most sycophantic Trumper in the last four years, who pivoted to anti-Trumper when it suited his pocketbook.
Meanwhile, the Lincoln Project itself is just a huge money-making scheme.
The Lincoln Project convinced Democratic donors to part with $39,384,397 in Q3. It burned a staggering $13 million on operating expenditures, made $23.9M of IEs (mostly routed into its founders firms), and ended with $13.2M on hand. https://t.co/wvOXUYp7ed— Rob Pyers (@rpyers) October 14, 2020
Look how much money they are pocketing for themselves and their foundations.
“Those guys are monsters,” Marc Maron said of the Lincoln Project members on WTF with Maron this morning. “It seems like they’re doing a good thing, but they’re just triangulating. As soon as they get rid of this guy, they’re all just jockeying for position to be c*nts again.”
It’s true. They played a long game, and if Trump loses in three weeks, those Never Trumpers will come out of it in the best position to move ahead. They won’t be tainted by Trump, and they can rebuild the party in their own image. It’s a grift, and it’s a wildly successful one.
Header Image Source: Getty Images