Unfortunately, the most popular tweeters on Twitter are not generally the most noble or accomplished human beings.
Among the more depressing news tidbits I recently ran into informed me that Georgia Republican congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene has 1.1 million Twitter followers.
It’s true. I checked.
By comparison, I have, uh, 170 followers (.00001545% of Greene’s), which may or may not be a function of never using it.
And virtually everything Greene says is pure baloney, while everything I say is mostly true.
For example: Greene generally proclaims easily debunkable nonsense such as that forest fires are ignited by lasers “beamed from space and controlled by a prominent Jewish banking family with connections to powerful Democrats,” The New York Times reported.
I would never say such a thing.
So where’s the justice in our gaping popularity imbalance?
I bumped into this surprising Twitter popularity stat about Greene in David French’s always enlightening e-newsletter in The Atlantic, “The Third Rail.” French’s latest essay—“The Alex Jones verdict exposed an important legal truth”—was hooked on the nearly $1 billion judgment awarded by a Connecticut jury October 11 against criminal online “shock jock” provocateur Jones for his years of pernicious public lying about the infamous 2012 Sandy Hook tragedy. Unrepentant, Jones called the judgment a “joke” and vowed no one would ever see a penny it.
In that terrifying and profoundly sad incident a decade ago, a deranged young gunman, utilizing an AR-15-style rifle, slaughtered 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, including six adult staff and 20 first-graders.
Among other inventions, Jones has repeatedly said publicly ad nauseum (and earned tens of millions of dollars doing it on his uber-popular right-wing conspiracy radio show, Infowars) that the mass shooting was a “hoax” and that families of Sandy Hook victims were “actors” who were “lying” and “manipulating” public opinion.
That’s far beyond the pot calling the kettle black because, in this case, there’s no kettle.
Eight families of Sandy Hook victims called BS on Jones in this latest of several lawsuits against the professional liar involving the Newtown massacre. Juries in this case and an earlier one agreed with the aggrieved plaintiffs: Jones is ignoble scum and must be held accountable. In the first trial, Jones was ordered to pay $49.3 million to Scarlett Lewis and Neil Heslin, the parents of Sandy Hook victim Jesse Lewis. At the trial, Lewis and Heslin said they had received death threats from Jones’ followers who believed his lies. Speaking directly to Jones at the trial, they said,
“When you say those things, there’s a fringe of society that believe you, that are actually dangerous.”
French writes that right-wing antagonists are starting to lose court cases calling out the painful results of their dishonest skulduggery, including one in which Fox News agreed to a multi-million-dollar settlement after it broadcast false claims that slain Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich was involved in hacking and leaking DNC emails during the 2016 campaign.
That kind of stuff is Jones’ stock-in-trade.
And, by the way, although Jones doesn’t have Rep. Greene’s 1.1 million followers on Twitter, he did have 900,000 before the platform permanently banned him in September for weaponizing disinformation.
Among his conspiracy-laced fabulisms, Jones has proclaimed that the shooting of Arizona congresswoman Gabby Gifford was a “government mind-control operation,” the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing was staged by the FBI, and the 9/11 attacks was an “inside job” by the George W. Bush administration.
Turns out—surprise!—lying can be extremely profitable.
Testimony in Jones’ latest trial revealed that Infowars’ ad revenue and profits from the sale of health supplements, survivalist gear and other products he peddles brought him a combined $64 million in 2021. Plaintiff data from Jones’ own cell phone showed he was making as much as $800,000 a day from Infowars alone in 2018.
The combined net worth of Jones and Infowars is between $135 million and $270 million, NPR reported. From June through August this year, Infowars averaged 8.3 million visits per month, according to Similarweb.
By comparison, Donald Trump had nearly 89 million followers on Twitter in late 2020 before he was banned from the platform for violence-inciting disinformation, according to a Forbes magazine report. Joe Biden, by contrast, only had a bit more than 30 million as of June—about a third of Trump’s adoring throngs in his Twitter heyday.
Why are these dangerous dissemblers so wildly popular, when so many others are clearly far more substantive and deserving?
Are half of Americans really that stupid and gullible?
The good news is that all is not lost. Barack Obama, who isn’t even president anymore, has about 133 million followers, dwarfing everyone else on the platform, Forbes reported.
But there’s a fly in the ointment: vacuous pop singer Justin Bieber is No. 2 at 114 million.
Which goes to show you that Americans like singers much better than they do most politicians and charlatans.
That’s good. I guess.
I mean, we don’t want Marjorie Taylor Greene to get any more kudos than she deserves, which is zero.