Golden Showers and Gaslighting

This week Buzzfeed showed the country that our next Commander-In-Chief likes golden showers, but no one talked about the 4Chan conspiracy that should be rocking world right now.

There is no doubt that these days leading up to Trump’s inauguration have left us with a whirlwind of news. So much in fact that it has been difficult to digest. This week we have seen President Obama give his farewell address, a myriad of nomination hearings in Congress, and several news stories about Donald J. Trump. Surely most of the mainstream media has been focused on a variety of stories regarding the President-Elect. For instance, Buzzfeed famously published the so-called “Dirty Dossier” which details, in part, how Russian intelligence services had spied on Trump during a 2013 trip to Moscow. The document claims that while at the Ritz Carlton Hotel he hosted several prostitutes in his hotel room and had them perform a golden shower. For those of you who are unaware, this is a sexual practice wherein the participants urinate on one another. This potential scandal has come to be referred to as #Pissgate. Meanwhile, CNN has ignored the contents of this dossier and instead pursued the story of whether or not Trump was personally briefed on this Intel. With so many different narratives saturating our feeds and taking up our time it is easy to ingest this news piecemeal and fail to encapsulate it within a broader narrative. Nevertheless, how this story has played out turns out to be more interesting than the scandal itself.
 
 The alternative narrative has been kicking around some of the darker corners of the internet for some time. This week a story about 4Chan’s involvement in the scandal began to break through the noise. You remember 4Chan, right? The internet’s quirky hangout for trolls, deviants and self-proclaimed /b/tards. In the last year or so much of the 4Chan politically incorrect board, or /pol/, has become overrun by a number of alt-right, neo-fascist shitposters with nothing better to do but shill for our next dearly beloved leader.
 
 Several /pol/acks, as they identify, began to attribute credit to Anons on their board for concocting the Dirty Dossier. The narrative that they have produced goes something like this:
 
 On Wednesday, October 26 Anon began posting under ID: jiZmntq3 on this thread. In it they claimed to be running what they called a “Yiddler” account or fake Pro-Hillary Twitter account used to disseminate misleading information. They went on to say that using this account they had managed to convince many Hillary supporters and journalists that that there would be a so-called October surprise that Friday. On the 31st, Mother Jones published an article which was the first to allude to the document that we have now come to call the Dirty Dossier. In the article they explore the notion that Russian intelligence may have been developing Trump as an asset to serve their interests based on the data provided by the MI6 spy we now know to be Christopher Steele
 
 By November 1st, Anon, who is presumed to be the same as in the previous post, is posting under user ID: zNaYmBg5 in this thread. They claim that they provided information to Rick Wilson (a conservative, anti-Trump political operative) and that a “Russian spy angle” was added to it. They are asked if it is the “sex-tape orgy thing” and how anyone would believe that and go on to respond that they sourced it from those inside the GOP coup.
 
 If this narrative is to be believed, the fanfiction that was written by this Anon was filtered up to the highest levels of the U.S. intelligence community, improperly vetted, and subsequently provided to the highest ranking officials in our nation. Given what we know it must also be believed that the 52 year old Christopher Steele who created the opposition research is posting on 4chan. This is obviously an absurd narrative to believe and it forces us to beg another question — what are the alternative explanations for these posts?

It could be the case that these posts are mere coincidence. After all, there is no reason to believe that the Anon is the same in both threads. Perhaps the first poster was simply trying to claim credit for something that might or might not happen. Or maybe the second poster was blowing smoke in order to liven up the thread for kicks, or in 4Chan parlance “keks”. At any rate, there could be nothing to the claim that 4Chan is responsible for #Pissgate.

The other possibility is the one that I believe at this time and is perhaps the most troubling. It is possible that the Trump staff made the posts to hedge against the reporting that we are seeing now. If the Trump team had become aware that this document was circulating and was about to be published in full, it makes sense that they would try to discredit its content. All they would have to do is make a few posts like the ones that we see on 4Chan, and when the time is right use communities like 4Chan and Reddit to call attention to them. From there the propaganda machine that was brought to life during the election can keep grinding away with its own momentum. The end result of such a strategy would no doubt be mass confusion over the validity of the underlying claims — that Trump likes Golden Showers, that the FSB successfully spied on him, that FSB may have coopted him, etc. After all, people don’t get their opinions from respected media outlets, they get them from whatever respective bubble they find themselves in online.
 
What we know now is that FBI Director James Comey personally briefed Trump on this document and the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper issued a press release stating that he did discuss the document with the President-Elect. There is no doubt that this document has been taken seriously by the highest echelons of the intelligence community, regardless of its reliability. There is no doubt that Donald Trump was made aware of its existence. What we still don’t know is whether these 4Chan posters just got lucky by cooking up some false story on /pol/ or if those Anon(s) were our first glimpse at the incoming administrations propaganda machine. If the latter is true we had better brace ourselves, because with enough confusion in the air people will believe whatever they want to believe — and that is recipe for disaster.

If the Trump administration is able to contest, obfuscate, or flat out ignore undeniable facts published by mainstream media they will have opened the door to unbridled power in this country. Our democracy is predicated on having an informed electorate influence our elected representatives in government accordingly, not the other way around. The fourth estate, regardless of its own problems, must continue to function as a check against abuse of power. A propaganda machine like the one we may have witnessed will signal the first step on our way to a more authoritarian nation.

Welcome to Trump’s America where we have golden showers and gaslighting.

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