Anatomy of a Fake Attack
And the politicians who ran with it.
Hundreds of students at Hillcrest High School in New York’s neighborhood of Jamaica, Queens, “rampaged through the halls” of their school for nearly two hours last week after they discovered that a teacher had participated in a pro-Israel rally…
The unrest began when students discovered that the teacher’s profile photo on Facebook depicted her at an October 9 demonstration mourning the victims of Hamas's massacre of Israeli civilians two days prior. The teacher was holding a poster that read, “I stand with Israel.”
Anti-Israel students then created a group chat, according to a senior at the school quoted in the report. “Hundreds of kids” then “flooded into hallways,...chanting, jumping, shouting, and waving Palestinian flags or banners.”
The Bulwark is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
Fake threats. And real ones.
ICYMI: A tragic car accident last Wednesday near a bridge on the Canadian-American border became a case study in disinformation, ideologically motivated opportunism, and all manner of demagogic bullsh*t. And, of course, it all started with Fox News.
Fox baselessly began employing the term 'Islamic terrorism,' describing hypothetical scenarios regarding potential casualties if the vehicle had advanced. They continued to tell their audience that the vehicle contained explosives. Fox Host John Roberts even speculated that the premature detonation of the vehicle might be attributed to the driver's insufficient expertise in handling explosives…
The conversation predictably turned to questions about the identities of the people in the car.
Roberts: We don't know how long the people who perpetrated this attack have been in this country. Did they recently come across? Did they come into the country legally? Did they come across illegally and claim asylum? Were they some of the nearly 1 million got-aways who come into this country? Were they radicalized in this country? Were they radicalized at all? Did they come into the country that way? There are so many questions yet to be answered...
Uh, no. The driver was not an immigrant, an asylum seeker, a radicalized lone-wolf, a jihadi, or one of the “nearly 1 million got-aways who come into this country.”
Instead, the driver was a 56-year-old man from an upscale nearby area. He had intended to attend a KISS concert but, when the event was canceled, opted to visit a casino instead. The individual was driving a Bentley and was accompanied by his wife. CNN added that the incident was beginning to look like a tragic accident.
But the facts did not catch up with the Fox bungle before it was seized upon by the usual suspects, who leapt at the early reports to score points, strike poses, and stoke outrage.
MAGA fluffer Benny Johnson enthusiastically amplified Fox’s fake report of a “terrorist attack”.
TPUSA’s Charlie Kirk theorized that the plot ran much deeper. And all Biden’s fault.
GOP politicians heard their masters’ voices:
Texas Senator Ted Cruz eagerly rushed to Xitter to declare: "This confirms our worst fear: the explosion at Rainbow Bridge was a terrorist attack. Both attackers are dead, and one law enforcement officer is injured.”
Vivek Ramaswamy raced to Fox News and then to social media to declare a “crisis” at the northern border:
"One month ago, Christie ridiculed me for demanding more security on the Northern Border: 'I don't think you've heard anyone who knows anything ask for that.' Well, it's radio silence from him today.”
In response, Christie said Ramaswamy had labeled the incident a terrorist attack "without any definitive proof" which is why he would be "such an awful president."
"Here's a hint for you: wait for the evidence and then make judgments. That's what any experienced leader would do," Christie said.
Election fabulist and Senate candidate Kari Lake demonstrated that she desperately needs a better spell-check:
And then there was Elise Stefanik. Because, of course:
Donald Trump Jr. shared his own deep thoughts: “How bad will it have to get in our country before even Democrats decide it's probably not a great idea to import terrorists?"
Florida Senator Rick Scott offered thoughts, prayers, and faux analysis: "This is terrible, and Ann and I are praying for the law enforcement and CBP agents responding to this attack… We know that threats against America are on the rise."
Trumpist Rep. Byron Donalds explained why the incident proved we needed more Trump. "Today's apparent terrorist attack must be a wake-up call to all Americans. Now—more than ever—we need a change in leadership in our nation.”
MAGA flake Anna Paulina Luna used the accident to demand “full deportation”. "So it begins. We need to lock down the borders immediately. Full deportation efforts need to begin. The US does not need to be the world's hospitality suite any longer."
None of this actually happened. There was no terrorist attack. No immigrants were involved.
This, however, did happen: “Threats against judge and law clerk in Trump civil fraud trial detailed in new court filing.”
In a filing that supported ending a temporary pause on the gag order, an officer with the New York state court system’s Department of Public Safety said the judge presiding over the case, Arthur Engoron, had already been the subject of harassment and threats on social media that were deemed “credible” before the trial started in early October.
Those threats prompted court officials to work with "the FBI and Homeland Security to devise the appropriate security measures that would be implemented in order to protect the judge, his chambers staff, and those closely associated around him, including his family," Charles Hollon, who works in the Public Safety Department’s Judicial Threats Assessment Unit, said in the filing.
Make sure you read Kim Wehle in today’s Bulwark: “Four Things to Know About the Trump ‘Gag Order’ Clash.”
Classy to the end.
Exit take: You can safely assume that he’s probably lying. Because that’s his thing.
1. Putin’s Re-Election Campaign and Other Modern Myths
IN THE MIDST OF ALL THIS MADNESS, Vladimir Putin is about to announce his campaign for re-election. The outcome of the March 2024 vote is as predictable as Putin’s run, with sudden death the only alternative to victory; nonetheless, the campaign could introduce some wild cards into the seeming stability of his rule.
2. Mike Johnson's Rise to Speaker Cements Far-Right Takeover of GOP
The roots of the Republican crackup this fall that paralyzed the House, fueled the unexpected rise of Speaker Mike Johnson and now threatens to force a government shutdown crisis early next year lie in a fateful choice the party made more than a decade ago that has come back to haunt its leaders.
In early 2009, congressional Republicans were staring down a long exile in the political wilderness. Barack Obama was about to assume the presidency, and Democrats were within reach of a filibuster-proof, 60-vote supermajority in the Senate and the largest House majority in more than 20 years after the economic crisis of 2008.
But Republicans saw a glimmer of hope in the energized far-right populist movement that emerged out of a backlash to Mr. Obama — the first Black president — and his party’s aggressive economic and social agenda, which included a federal health care plan. Republicans seized on the Tea Party and associated groups, with their nativist leanings and vehemently anti-establishment impulses, as their ticket back to power.
3. Matt Gaetz Is Miraculously More Hated Than Ever in Congress
In this unsettled moment on Capitol Hill, truth is relative, chaos reigns, and virtually nothing is for certain.
Except one thing: No member walking the halls of Congress is more hated than Matt Gaetz.
Over a month after he orchestrated the rebellion that ousted Kevin McCarthy from the speakership—and nearly three years after the FBI began investigating him for allegedly sex-trafficking a 17-year-old—the Republican congressman from Florida has become so much more among his colleagues than merely persona non grata.
To many, Gaetz—in one cunning, crass, and crocodile-booted package—is a walking embodiment of everything that is wrong in the GOP today and in American politics more broadly.
We have a winner for the weekend’s worst take.