Trump is having what the White House has self-humiliatingly dubbed a “social media summit” with select denizens of the internet far-right today. Publicly, it is being billed by Trump as an opportunity for himself and the collected malcontents to grouse about how social media companies are being very, very mean to them, as numerous of Trump’s far-right worsties find themselves banned from platforms such as Facebook and Twitter for racism, calls to violence, or other behavior so egregious that not even multibillion-dollar tech companies are able to look the other way.
The guest list, however, does not quite match the stated rationale. None of the high-profile figures who have actually been barred from those platforms (Alex Jones, Laura Loomer, et al.) will be in attendance, which is causing predictable fury in those quarters. So who is attending?
Serial hoax-peddler James O’Keefe will be there. He is infamous for video “stings” in which he has pieced together highly edited videos intended to “reveal” secret conspiracies by nonconservative groups; once influential, he has largely fallen out of relevance after a series of botched “stings” shredded all remaining credibility. Also in the room: Carpe Donktum, most infamous for creating a hoax video of potential Trump opponent Joe Biden. The pusher of a conspiracy theory positing that potential Trump opponent Kamala Harris is not really an “American black” is invited.
While Alex Jones has been passed over, notorious Gateway Pundit founder Jim Hoft will be attending—he, too, is known primarily for peddling hoaxes, conspiracy theories, and other false information in the guise of conservative “news.” The similarly unwedded-to-facts Charlie Kirk has earned a chair; his college-focused, trolling-heavy Turning Points USA group has emerged as one of the loudest in shameless, often-nonsensical pro-Trump advocacy. Bill Mitchell, promoter of bizarre and ultra-trolling “Q” conspiracy theories on Democratic pedophilia and/or cannibalism, claims he also has an invite.
So no actual banned-from-Facebook conservatives appear to be attending this White House meeting. The social media figures that will be, however, are among the most notorious and unscrupulous hoax-peddlers in the movement, individuals who are known for targeting conservatives’ enemies and—most critically—Trump’s own potential 2020 reelection opponents.
Also attending this White House “summit”: Brad Parscale, who holds no White House role. He is instead the campaign manager for Donald Trump’s 2020 reelection effort.
Some of the media coverage of this event appears to be somewhat perplexed as to just why Trump’s White House settled on this particular scattering of fringe conservatives for a summit on alleged social media unfairness. Neither Trump nor the White House’s guest list, though, is making much effort to conceal the focused nature of the meetup.
A collection of the most infamous producers of hoax videos, doctored interviews, conspiracy theories, false claims, and outright internet trolling is meeting with Donald Trump, his 2020 campaign manager, several of Trump’s top House allies, and the administration’s own social media director in private today to discuss how to better evade or remove social media company rules that threaten to harm their ability to promote their anti-Democratic, pro-Trump content.
It is not a White House meeting. It is a Trump campaign meeting being hosted in the White House. And the focus is not on combatting “Fake News,” but on promoting it.