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by Oliver Bateman
Thursday, 12
January 2023
Profile
07:30

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

The entertainer was an influential part of the MAGA movement
by Oliver Bateman
Lynette Hardaway, flanked by Donald Trump and by her sister Rochelle. Credit: Getty.

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).


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By the time they appeared on the political scene in 2015, they had turned their attention to content creation, producing videos for their YouTube channel. When they started uploading videos in 2012, the pair were registered Democrats and posted content reflective of generic social justice concerns, though they noted in their book that incidents like the exposure of former NAACP chapter president Rachel Dolezal’s white racial identity gradually pushed them to the Right (they offered a commonsensical take on Dolezal following her outing in 2015, arguing that she should be able to identify however she wanted). 

However, it was their enthusiastic support for Trump that earned Diamond and Silk widespread notoriety. Much like Joe “the Plumber” Wurzelbacher, who campaigned with Republican nominee John McCain in 2008 after famously jousting with Barack Obama over his tax plan, the pair spoke for disaffected voters who were struggling with their prior party identification, or who simply felt that no party represented their interests. 

Although never formally affiliated with Trump — a point of contention when they testified before Congress on the censoring and “shadowbanning” practices of social media platforms — they campaigned on his behalf and received some small payments, aggressively promoting a “Ditch and Switch” outreach programme to get disgruntled Democrats to change their party affiliations so they could vote for Trump in states that limited primaries to registered Republicans. 

After Trump’s election, they remained prominent, appearing regularly on Fox News shows and hosting a streaming show for the network that ran from 2018 until March 2020, when their comments about the reporting of Covid-19 death statistics resulted in their sacking and led to their migration to the far-Right Newsmax network. 

Most notably, Diamond and Silk were early critics of the sort of social media censorship about which Matt Taibbi and other reporters have later offered concrete evidence. The sisters claimed that Facebook had taken various steps to throttle the growth of their fan page, which now has 2.4 million followers. The company repeatedly denied this, including during CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s participation in 2018 congressional hearings on social media censorship. There, Zuckerberg was asked by Louisiana Congressman Billy Long if he could identify the women in a poster supplied by his team. “I believe that’s Diamond and Silk,” he replied. “Out of two billion Facebook users, Mark Zuckerberg knew who Diamond and Silk were,” the pair wrote of the experience.

At their best, Diamond and Silk were idiosyncratic everywomen able to speak truth to power; they’d often split the difference on various social issues, such as condemning protesters on both sides at the Charlottesville riots in 2017 while also arguing that Confederate statues belonged in museums rather than public squares. At their worst, they were cornball comic relief, low-information jesters to whom the Left could point as emblematic of the Right’s clownish anti-intellectualism. 

What is undeniable is that they were a memorable part of the shambolic, anything-can-happen MAGA energy that propelled an irreverent Donald Trump through the formerly staid Republican primaries in which, at one point, a Jeb Bush triumph seemed inevitable. 

Now, with much of that establishment rallying around Ron DeSantis, the vibe is shifting and the window Diamond, Silk, and other untraditional characters forced open on behalf of Trump has begun to close. Diamond might have died only this week but it feels like a lifetime ago that she was politically relevant.

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Phillip Arundel
Phillip Arundel
8 months ago

” Diamond might have died only this week but it feels like a lifetime ago that she was politically relevant.”

What a snarky, offensive, comment from Oliver Bateman. They have 2.5 million followers! They are very politically relevant – they would get real powerful and excellent guests – they have a lot more relevance that you ever will. They just have an audience you do not respect.

Gandydancer x
Gandydancer x
8 months ago

“Now, with much of that establishment rallying around Ron DeSantis, the vibe is shifting and the window Diamond, Silk, and other untraditional characters forced open on behalf of Trump has begun to close. Diamond might have died only this week but it feels like a lifetime ago that she was politically relevant.”

I have seen only a few minutes of one of their YouTube videos, and it did not appeal to me, but this is a remarkably stupid comment. The GOP Establishment is the likes of Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy, not much changed from Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan, and Desantis’ appeal is more to former Trump voters (which ought not be confused with Ever Trumpkins since Trump was never much of an advocate for the causes that he ran on in 2016, sad to say). That divide, which this tool implies has somehow disappeared, remains as relevant as ever and had Diamond survived SHE could have been as relevant as ever as a face for pro-populist unWoke unGOP-Establishment Blacks.

Last edited 8 months ago by Gandydancer x
Matt Hindman
Matt Hindman
8 months ago

I think it is rather telling that I closely follow American politics and I have never even heard of these two.

Phillip Arundel
Phillip Arundel
8 months ago
Reply to  Matt Hindman

You have to be watching to see. Most do not try to ferret out truth but wait for the agenda to load them up with mis-information.

They were around when the early Dr Malone and Dr Mccullough interviews were showing how the vax is entirely a criminal enterprise. Try ‘Rumble’ and ‘Getter’ and places which do not totally censor Politics and truth.

Like this one with Dr Malone and his great book ‘Lies The Government Told Me’ starts after a minute, then Malone after minute 5 – Watch it, good show, has character.

https://rumble.com/v20b33a-dr-robert-malone-stops-by-to-talks-to-diamond-and-silk-about-his-new-book.html

Diamond, RIP, a Patriot.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
8 months ago

Entirely a criminal enterprise’….and there you lose any chance of rational people following your arguments.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
8 months ago
Reply to  Matt Hindman

Neither had I, but although Phillip is a tad annoyed, I think this article has shown them to be very worthy participants in the political dialogue.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
8 months ago

Never heard of them. I get all my info from print and podcasts. No TV, no social media.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
8 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Jim Twitter is good if you curate it well to avoid going down a rabbit hole. You can directly follow doctors, scientists, thought leaders etc. Also a good start is to start following some of the heavyweights who were banned and have/are coming back. You can even see the tweet that got them banned… ludicrous.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
8 months ago

Thanks for the suggestion Lesley, but at this point I have zero desire to jump down that rabbit hole. Doc told me to watch my blood pressure.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
8 months ago

The one entertainer who I would love to see in Republican politics, and who had been shunned and excluded, is ” my favourite woman” Brandi Love, in her late 40s and, amazingly, happily married… do ” look her up”?