Here are some of the highlights from the gathering of far-right propagandists, conspiracy theorists and YouTube agitators

Donald Trumps so-called social media summit on Thursday was off to an inauspicious start before it even began.

Just as a rogues gallery of Trumpist lawmakers, far-right propagandists, conspiracy theorists and YouTube agitators gathered at the White House for a collective airing of grievances, Twitter experienced a sudden outage.

It was entirely unrelated, of course, but the hour-long respite served as a foreboding introduction to the already uncanny proceedings, which were, supposed to focus on Trump and the rights imagined slights and suppression they believe is engineered by social media companies.

Here are some of the highlights of one of the most unusual gatherings ever at the White House:

The guest list

The guest list itself was enough to alarm most observers.

Alongside Trump loyalist politicians like Matt Gaetz, Dan Crenshaw and Josh Hawley was a whos who of social media weirdos and villains. Among them were James OKeefe, the video-manipulating propagandist, a memesmith known as Carpe Donktum, and Bill Mitchell, who advocates the mind-bending Q-Anon conspiracy theory that holds among other things that Trump is poised to arrest a swathe of high-profile Democrats for sex crimes.

Bringing these groups together is beyond irresponsible; it is essentially conducting a hate summit at the White House, the Southern Poverty Law Center said in a statement before the event.

Trump was nonetheless impressed with the talents of those assembled, for the most part. Some of you are extraordinary, he said. Not all of you. But some of you are extraordinary.

The crap you think of is unbelievable, he said, in one of the few unimpeachably true statements of the day.

Trumps rambling speech

In an hour-long rambling speech Trump ping-ponged through a series of lies and bizarre rants about social media companies disgraceful and terrible bias, made outlandish false claims about the census, Democrats positions on the border wall, Antifa, Chinese tariffs, the Golan Heights, the authenticity of his hair and other reliable Trump standards.

At one point, complaining that he should be able to include a citizenship question on the census, Trump described how he imagines the census-taking transpires.

They go through houses, they go up, they ring doorbells, they talk to people. How many toilets do they have? How many desks do they have? How many beds? Whats their roof made of? Trump said. The only thing we cant ask is Are you a citizen of the United States?

A fight!

In keeping with the real purpose of social media, which is unending, exasperating argument and confrontation, the day naturally ended with a blow-out. Wearing an American flag dress, Joy Villa lectured a group of assembled traditional media in the Rose Garden on the ins and outs of journalist ethics.

fake nick ramsey (@nick_ramsey)

… in the rose garden of the @whitehouse, @sebgorka just screamed at journalist @briankarem calling him a “punk.” then someone remarked that gorka could “kick your punk ass.”

again, this happened… in the rose garden.
vid from @katierogers

July 11, 2019

Around the same time Sebastian Gorka, a former adviser to the president with white nationalist sympathies, got into a shouting match with the Playboy reporter Brian Karem. After exchanging words, Gorka stormed over to Karem as if a fight was about to break out. Youre not a journalist, youre a punk! he shouted. The Secret Service intervened.

Twitters bias

Daniel Dale (@ddale8)

The president is in the middle of a long monologue about how he is not gaining as many social media followers as he used to. He is baselessly suggesting that there is a conspiracy.

July 11, 2019

Eventually wending his way to the actual topic at hand, Trump complained at length about an alleged plot by Twitter to reduce engagement on his posts, a common refrain from social media users on the right.

People come up to me: Sir, we want to follow you; they dont let us on, he said.

I have millions of people, so many people I wouldnt believe it, but I know that weve been blocked.

When I put out something, a good one that people like, right? A good tweet. It goes up, Trump said. It used to go up, it would say: 7,000; 7,008; 7,017; 7,024; 7,032; 7,044. Right? Now it goes: 7,000; 7,008; 6,998. Then they go: 7,009; 6,074. I said, whats going on? It never did that before. It goes up, and then they take it down. Then it goes up. I never had it. Does anyone know what Im talking about with this?

Its a good question.

Arnold Schwarzeneggers death

Arnold (@Schwarzenegger)

Im still here. Want to compare tax returns, @realDonaldTrump?

July 11, 2019

During what was, again, a social media summit, the president meandered back to an old bit of personal pique, complaining about how Arnold Schwarzenegger had replaced him on The Celebrity Apprentice.

Big movie star, Trump said. Well you know what? He died. He died, he said of Schwarzenegger, who is in fact among the living (though it is likely Trump was referring to ratings plummeting after Schwarzenegger took over).

I was there 12 years, 14 seasons, then they pick a movie actor and he dies on us, he said.

The fly

At one point during Trumps remarks a fly appeared to buzz by his head. Momentarily unnerved, the president swatted away the insect before recovering. How did a fly get into the White House? he joked. I dont like flies.



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