The Twitter mobbing of the Covington kids: how high profile individuals call for violence

Reza Aslan, Wheeler Walker Jr & others chose to spearhead hate

A viral video of Nathan Phillips, a Native American man surrounded by teenagers at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., created a furor on Friday. The students were in Washington DC from suburban Kentucky for the March for Life, a pro-life march. Many of the teenagers were wearing MAGA hats. Just before the encounter with Phillips, a group of four African-American “activists” (later determined to be members of Black Hebrew Israelites) can be heard taunting the Covington group. They called the students “dogs,” “hyenas” and “crackers.” They called a black kid among the Covington crowd the n-word. It didn’t escalate.

As The New York Times later revealed, the Native American man, Nathan Phillips, told two different versions of what happened:

He told The Washington Post that he was singing a traditional song when the teenagers swarmed around him, some chanting, “Build that wall, build that wall.” He decided the right thing to do was to get away. “I’ve got to find myself an exit out of this situation.”
He told The Detroit Free Press that the incident started when the boys started attacking four African-Americans. So he decided to intervene. “There was that moment when I realized I’ve put myself between beast and prey. These young men were beastly and these old black individuals was their prey.”
Many news organizations ran one of these accounts.

But the outrage exploded after multiple high profile individuals (journalists, agitators, activists, comedians, writers, etc), with large social-media followings, instigated and massively amplified the calls for harassment against the Convington kids. Here are some examples:

  1. Reza Aslan

Sources: Link 1, Link 2, Link 3, Link 4

2. Kara Swisher

The New York Times journalist was among the first to join the digital-mob bandwagon and described the Covington teens as “Nazi Youth 2019.”

3. Wheeler Walker, Jr. (comedian Ben Hoffman) offered a reward for punching the youth who smiled:

Sources: Link 5

In the meantime Twitter has suspended Wheeler Walker Jr.’s account.

4 & 5 Others that really skirted the lines were author Kurt Eichenwald and filmmaker Arlen Parsa. These were remarkable because they made sure to inflame anger and spread enough information to get people clued in on exactly who these kids were — while stopping JUST SHORT of calling for violence. This is precisely how Louis Farrakhan manages to maintain his credibility despite everyone knowing he’s whipping hate.

Eichenwald released close-up photographs of each youth at the gathering. He then put out this series of tweets. The images he has shared have being used in a collage under the hashtag #covingtonshame for doxxing.

Arlen Parsa released the most self-congratulatory “I’m not calling for mobbing — but here’s all the information you need to mob these people and why you should hate them.. just to *right here* “ tweet storm I’ve ever seen. And in the end he absolved himself of responsibility when the student’s identities became known.

He also released photographs of the teachers, and their names, and “covered” the initial part of their email “for privacy” — but released the principal’s email, so anyone can see what format the school uses. He then made all sorts of accusations about bullying, homophobia, and racism, specific to this school. He praised the protesters who had confronted the students — wholly ignoring the racist taunts that had been thrown at the teenagers, or the way they’d handled them without returning any racist taunt; or the way they’d defended against homophobic taunts.

6. Kathy Griffin

Griffin went even further and claimed the Covington basketball team had displayed Nazi-symbols at one of their games. The tweet, which was later deleted, showed the players on the team’s bench celebrating and using their hands to make the “OK” sign. The hand signal in basketball is often used after a player hits a 3-point shot.

Griffin was later ridiculed for her inflammatory tweets by other high profile users & journalists.

7. Michael Buchanan (aka DJ House Shoes, aka Uncle Shoes)

Probably one of the most aggressive in inciting violence against the kids was music producer Michael Buchanan:

8. Jack Morrissey

Jack co-produced the 2017 Disney “Beauty and the Beast”. He later apologized for and deleted his tweet.


Several other journalists & activists who had engaged in amplifying the outrage have been deleting compromising tweets in recent hours. Some examples:

The New Republic’s Jeet Heer deleted a tweet arguing the Trump-supporting students were “racist.”

CNN’s Bakari Sellers deleted a tweet suggesting the kids should be “punched in the face.”

CNN’s Ana Navarro deleted a tweet denouncing the “asswipe” parents of the students for teaching them “bigotry” and “racism.”

Brian Krassenstein, deleted a post after insulting the Covington students and calling them bigots, to his 600k followers:

On Medium, several authors have reported on the initial story, then retracted or included updates as more information became available. Few (for example Candice Aiston) have decided to double-down on the original, discredited story and push their fake-news narratives, smears, disinformation and whataboutery for the sake of scoring cheap, ideological, talking points.