breaking news from the world of ideas

by Oliver Bateman
Tuesday, 24
January 2023

Can Donald Trump regain his Twitter touch?

The former president was once the undisputed master of the medium

A little over two years after Donald Trump was banned from Twitter and Facebook, the ex-president is now back on the former — Elon Musk reinstated his account on November 19 — and in the process of returning to the latter. Though his Facebook reboot may take longer due to political pressure from House Democrats to keep him off the platform, that was never Trump’s primary home. However, the man who was once the unofficial king of Twitter has not posted there since his reinstatement, instead focusing his attention on longer-form writings via Truth Social, the platform he founded. 

Reports have surfaced that Trump and his team are working on their first tweet, which may or may not be WWE-themed. If so, this is an ominous sign, as Trump’s prior success on the platform stemmed from off-the-cuff lines, not carefully considered, focus group-authored rejoinders like Hillary Clinton’s June 2016 “delete your account” clapback directed at Trump. Golden age Trump bestrode the platform like a colossus, firing off bangers ranging from the comedic to the inscrutable. He was the undisputed master of the medium. ...  Continue reading

by Oliver Bateman
Thursday, 12
January 2023

Lynette ‘Diamond’ Hardaway represented the best and worst of Trump

The entertainer was an influential part of the MAGA movement

Lynette “Diamond” Hardaway, sister of Rochelle “Silk” Richardson, died earlier this week. As entertainers and online political influencers Diamond and Silk, the siblings — born 10 months apart in 1971 — saw their fame grow as they lent their support to Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.

The children of small-time evangelical pastors from Fayetteville, North Carolina, the pair grew up in poverty and describe the experience in their autobiography, an unusual work written in a call-and-response style, with Silk’s dialogue, often merely a “that’s right” or “mm-hmm,” appearing in italics in response to Diamond’s plain-text narration, which mirrors their real-life dynamic (Diamond was the more loquacious of the two). ...  Continue reading

by Oliver Bateman
Wednesday, 4
January 2023

Damar Hamlin’s cardiac arrest becomes vaccine talking point

The NFL incident has been weaponised by both sides of the Covid divide

During the Monday Night game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Buffalo Bills — two of the biggest teams in the NFL — 24-year-old Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapsed after making a seemingly routine tackle of Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins. Hamlin, an unheralded 2021 draft pick out of the University of Pittsburgh, had emerged as an important player for the Bills in his second season, so initial commentary focused on the injury’s impact to his team.

However, as the minutes passed and Hamlin was administered CPR prior to being transported to a hospital, concern shifted to the player’s well-being. After hours of delay, the game was suspended — a first for the NFL, where prior injuries, including the career-ending cervical vertebrae breakages that paralysed stars Darryl Stingley and Dennis Byrd, had only briefly interrupted the state of play.  ...  Continue reading

by Oliver Bateman
Friday, 30
December 2022

Libs of TikTok enters the mainstream

Chaya Raichik's Tucker Carlson slot may inspire other anons to go public

After software developer Travis Brown and Washington Post writer Taylor Lorenz combined to reveal the identity of — or “doxx” — Libs of TikTok account owner Chaya Raichik in April 2022, Raichik, an Orthodox Jew who worked in real estate in Brooklyn, found herself at a career crossroads. The account, which contextualised various oddball TikTok clips in the service of assorted Right-wing talking points, and which had already been promoted by the likes of Glenn Greenwald and Joe Rogan, saw both its fame and infamy increase exponentially, gaining 200,000 followers on Twitter in the 24-hour period after Lorenz published her exposé.  ...  Continue reading

by Oliver Bateman
Wednesday, 28
December 2022

Why Whoopi Goldberg won’t be cancelled

This isn't the first time she has got away with anti-Semitic remarks

Whoopi Goldberg, a two-time Oscar winner and co-host of the daytime talk show The View, ended the year much as she began it: defending her claim that the Holocaust was white-on-white violence, a clash of white ethnic groups that resulted in the deaths of millions of Jewish people in Central and Eastern Europe. Back in January, Goldberg earned a suspension from The View after arguing that “these are two white groups of people” and “everybody eats each other” during a discussion about a Tennessee school district’s decision to remove Art Spiegelman’s Holocaust-themed graphic novel Maus from its curriculum.  ...  Continue reading

by Oliver Bateman
Monday, 19
December 2022

Is Elon Musk just another Silicon Valley CEO?

The Twitter boss perfectly embodies Ayn Rand's rational egoism

Elon Musk, who last night turned to a Twitter poll to ask his followers if he should step down as head of the social media company he now runs, has had a busy couple of weeks. He has halved the size of Twitter’s workforce, continually tinkered with its verification and subscription programmes, suggested he might develop his own phone if Apple threatened to pull the Twitter app from its OS storefront, and alleged that the company’s former head of trust and safety Yoel Roth (whose Ph.D. dissertation involved participatory Grindr research) was endangering child safety

Along the way, he tweeted nearly a thousand times in November alone, on subjects both profound and irreverent, and handed big-name independent journalists Bari Weiss and Matt Taibbi an exclusive look at the previous regime’s approach to moderation. He also restored a number of previously banned accounts, including that of former president Donald Trump, offering more than lip service to past statements about being a “free speech absolutist.”  ...  Continue reading

by Oliver Bateman
Friday, 2
December 2022

It’s time to leave Kanye West alone

The music artist needs help, not attention

Ye, the artist formerly known as Kanye West, used yesterday’s 3-hour interview with InfoWars host Alex Jones to continue building hype for what was once thought of as a 2024 presidential run, and now feels more like a piece of performance art or a cry for help. Flanked by Nick Fuenteshis recent dinner companion at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Largo estate and possible campaign advisor — and wearing a black, eyeless mask over his face, Ye expatiated about the “Jewish mafia” and the merits of Adolf Hitler. 

He then engaged in a bit of prop comedy involving a small fishing net and a bottle of Yoo-hoo chocolate drink and took a phone call from far-Right internet personality and erstwhile congressional candidate Laura Loomer. To cap off a banner day, he tweeted an unflattering photo of Elon Musk, noting that this could be last tweet — then promptly earned a suspension and a “FAFO” (fuck around and find out) rejoinder from Musk.  ...  Continue reading

by Oliver Bateman
Wednesday, 30
November 2022

The secret to Liver King’s success? Steroids

A leaked email reveals the dark side of the fitness industry

Over the course of the past year, an “ancestral fitness” personality named Brian “Liver King” Johnson has become a ubiquitous presence on the internet. Skyrocketing from relative obscurity to become an influencer with millions of followers, this short, thickly-bearded, heavily-tanned, and always-shirtless man cuts an impressive figure who belies his 45 years. 

He attributes his eye-catching physique to the consumption of raw organ meats and testicles in conjunction with an “ancestral lifestyle” built on nine tenets (“wins,” “primals,” “move,” “eat,” “cold,” and so on). Even as his fame grew and high-profile people in the sports and fitness world, like podcaster Joe Rogan, accused him of steroid use, the Liver King merely said he was glad famous people were talking about him. At the same time, he adamantly maintained that performance-enhancing drugs played no role in the development of his physique — which he claimed to have been building since he was a teenager. ...  Continue reading