Earlier I posted about the Trump dossier and the controversy surrounding it. The dossier and the claims within it about the president-elect are still unverified, but for a while there remained the possibility — however remote — that the whole thing was concocted in the Internet’s black hole of decency known as 4chan’s /pol/ board. Indeed, The Daily Beast had published an article about that very possibility, after it was directed to a post on the forum from November 1, 2016.
Since then it has become apparent that the evidence that 4chan concocted this story and fed it to Rick Wilson, who fed it to Republican congressmen, who fed it to the CIA — as they later claimed — was flimsy at best. The forum post used as proof only said: “So they took what I told [Republican strategist] Rick Wilson and added a Russian spy angle to it. They still believe it. Guys, they’re truly fucking desperate – there’s no remaining Trump scandal that’s credible.” That’s all.
Rick Wilson also denied being the source of BuzzFeed‘s information, and the information contained within predates the November 1 post. It was later revealed that one source of the information in the dossier is an ex-British intelligence officer, whom a BBC correspondent claimed was “not the only source.” In other words, the damning claims about Trump’s sexual “perversions” may not be true — again, the information is unverified — but it appears that 4chan is almost certainly not the culprit.
Trump’s supporters, on the other hand, have jumped aboard the “4chan pranked the mainstream media and CIA” bandwagon, giving the message board’s claim an unusual level of deference. After all these are often the same people who tout bogus claims on race and IQ, believed that some three million votes cast in the last election were fraudulent, and that an obscure D.C. pizza parlor was harboring a secret child sex trafficking ring in its nonexistent basement.
One such individual is right-wing talk show host Michael Savage, himself a purveyor of conspiracies and hateful rhetoric. On his January 12, 2016 episode of The Savage Nation, Savage interviewed an anonymous member of 4chan’s /pol/ who calls himself “John.” In his uncritical interview, Savage allowed John to use the same talking points to try and prove the whole thing really was a 4chan hoax. He cited the November 1 message as evidence and once again claimed that their “fanfiction” was given to Rick Wilson — a vociferous critic of the alt-right.
Savage, who possesses nothing close to journalistic integrity, just sits back and lets John make his claims without pressing him in any way. In fact, Savage seems to take a liking to John and his fellow channers, and is apparently interested in buying them a round of beers. Such is the state of right-wing media in the age of Trumpism.
Savage: We also have with us, in a moment — and I told you this man would be on — John from 4chan. Now this is the site, the chat site, that claims it planted the fake story. Then the Investor’s Business Daily said they didn’t. Well, we have John with us from 4chan. Let’s go to him right away. I don’t see line ten lit, by the way. I don’t know where he went. I guess the board op’s busy doing something else, but I’ll try line ten. Line ten, John are you there?
John: Hi, yes I’m here.
Savage: John, you know, yesterday we had you on, or someone from 4chan who said that you did plant the story. And then it was debunked later on. Investor’s Business Daily said you didn’t. What’s the truth from your point of view?
John: So, the truth from my point of view is they’re really desperate to be picking up stories from us. We have archived — I mean, it’s there — well, just, I’m sorry. To give some context, 4chan, when you’re having a conversation on 4chan it quickly disappears. So there’s no real paper trail. Nobody can really see what was said yesterday or the day before.
Savage: Alright, so you’re a chat site and you send messages that disappear instantly, right?
John: Within about 24 hours.
Savage: Okay, fine. So you created a story about Trump and his alleged fooling around with women in Russia. Are you saying you created it?
Savage: And you made up a story about salacious activities that led to these accusations run as far as CNN. Did you ever expect it to be picked up by the CIA?
John: No. No, sir. We did not. We expected some garbage outlet like BuzzFeed to pick it up. Or maybe New York Times. We didn’t expect government entities to take interest in our fanfictions.
Savage: No, no, this is a very serious deal here. I mean, because they haven’t let it go to this day. Yet the media’s now saying Trump overreacted by screaming at CNN yesterday, calling them a garbage outlet. But fundamentally we all know they are.
John: Right. And I can send a link. It’s a very long link, but it’s a link to an archive of when the chat started. And the first I can find, when we first started talking about it, was back Tuesday, November 1.
Savage: Okay. Well I think you’re making news on the show right now, John. And it’s not about me. This is about the truth. That’s what this show attempts to achieve — or let’s say arrive at, I’ll put it to ya that way. A better statement is we try to arrive at the truth, because the truth is often fuzzy. I’m gonna ask you a loaded question. And maybe you can’t answer it or won’t answer it. Did you vote for Trump or Hillary?
Savage: Okay, fine. So, could we say, then, that you’re pro-Trump and you did this in order to embarrass the Left?
John: Yes, and just something I wanna get out there. There’s been a [kind of] invisible — especially to people who don’t use Internet — there’s been an invisible war online between Leftists and — well, not even Leftists, they’re hired — you know how they hire protesters?
Savage: Yes. You know there was Al Sharpton’s busing in — the rent-a-mob thing that Sharpton and Jesse Jackson were famous for. Then [it] morphed into hired hands on the Internet.
John: Right. And they were paid to come disrupt our forums and our chat boards and, I mean, these boards are private. They’re like a bar. They’re like a locker room. They’re not meant to be something to be consumed by a family audience. You know, this is a bunch of guys in their mid-twenties to mid-thirties getting drunk in the middle of the night and posting —
Savage: Whoa, I wanna go out with you guys. Are you in the San Francisco area?
John: I’m not, I’m not.
Savage: Oh darn. I would take you all out for a bunch of drinks. You’re my kinda guys. I wanna go out in the middle of the night and get drunk with you.