On Monday night, just hours after he had, finally, condemned in harsh terms the neo-Nazis and white supremacists involved in violent protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, President Donald Trump took to Twitter. And he retweeted this from a man named Jack Posobiec:
“Meanwhile: 39 shootings in Chicago this weekend, 9 deaths. No national media outrage. Why is that?”
It’s true, there were many shootings in Chicago over the weekend. It was 30, not 39, according to a report in the Chicago Sun-Times. Nine people died. But this is more about who Trump chose to retweet.
Posobiec is a well-known figure on Twitter – he has more than 181,000 followers – thanks to his vociferous defenses of Trump and his willingness to promote conspiracy theories.
He is, to put it kindly, an unreliable source. He peddles falsehoods. He is a provocateur, more interested in making headlines than adhering to established facts.
Posobiec has helped push the false idea that Seth Rich, a former Democratic National Committee staffer, was murdered because he was somehow tied into the WikiLeaks releases during the campaign. Posobiec also pushed the so-called “Pizzagate” conspiracy that held that Hillary Clinton was running a child sex ring out of a pizza shop in northwest Washington, DC. That conspiracy theory led a man to drive from North Carolina with a gun to “investigate” the allegation.
So why the hell would Trump retweet Posobiec?
It’s possible that Trump didn’t know who Posobiec was/is and simply liked the point about high number of murders in Chicago that he was making. That seems unlikely, however, given that Posobiec was a major advocate for Trump during the campaign and has kept a high profile since Trump entered the White House. (Worth noting: Posobiec was given access to the White House press briefing by the Trump administration, suggesting they were aware of him.)
What’s FAR more likely is that Trump knew Posobiec was an ally and liked the counter-narrative to Charlottesville offered by the murders in Chicago.
Remember this: In Trump’s world, there isn’t really right and wrong. There are people who love him/work for his interest and people who hate him/work against his interests. There is no gray area between those two poles.
If you are in the love category, you are, by definition, good. The reverse is true for those Trump puts in the hate column.
Posobiec likes Trump and supports Trump. That’s all Trump cares about. That Posobiec has pushed conspiracy theories and is a card-carrying member of the alt-right doesn’t matter to Trump. Those are Posobiec’s issues! Not Trump’s! All Trump is doing is retweeting someone making a good point!
Of course, Trump himself saw his candidacy born in a conspiracy theory – Barack Obama wasn’t born in the United States – and has continued to peddle false conspiracy theories (Ted Cruz’s father was involved in the JFK assassination, Muslims were celebrating on New Jersey roofs on 9/11, Barack Obama wiretapped phones in Trump Tower) throughout his candidacy and presidency.
There’s one other piece of this Posobiec retweet. Not only does Trump divide the world between those who love him and those who hate him, he loves the people that love him.
I always come back to Trump’s quote about Russian president Vladimir Putin during an interview with NBC’s Matt Lauer in September 2016. “If he says great things about me, I’m going to say great things about him,” Trump told Lauer of Putin. “I’ve already said, he is really very much of a leader.”
If you are nice to Trump, Trump will be nice to you. It’s as simple as that. That’s why Trump retweeted something from a known conspiracy theorist. And why he’ll do it again. And again.
UPDATE: This post has been updated to add context about the shootings in Chicago.