CNN just got Bart Simpsoned.
A Twitter troll, armed with a small collection of fake accounts with ridiculously stupid names, managed to get CNN to fill its screen’s ticker on New Year’s Eve with tweets from “Ben Dover,” “Mike Oxlong” and “Dixie Normus.”
Meanwhile, what may be two other trolls got airtime for messages from “Anita Blackman” and “Deeko Giganto.”
CNN aired the tweets as scrolling text at the bottom of the screen during its live countdown to the end of 2021, which was hosted by journalist Anderson Cooper and TV personality Andy Cohen.
“Another shot @Andy,” said a 10 p.m. tweet from @DixieNormussss.
The sophomoric stunt started picking up attention after a Tik-Tok user’s commentary went viral, with a post that picked up 3.5 million views by 2:45 p.m. the next day.
A quick review by The Daily Beast shows that most of the accounts described above are connected, sharing what cybersecurity investigators typically refer to as “shared infrastructure.” For example, the seven Twitter accounts Anita Dump, Ben Dover, Dixie Normus, Harry Cox, Hugh Jass, Mike Oxlong and Seymour Butts each follow very few accounts—but nearly all follow one another. All of them bombarded Twitter with the hashtag #CNNNYE to get noticed by CNN and seemed created solely for that purpose. All but one account only tweeted last night, and only toward CNN.
The master account appears to be @MikeOxLong625, as it was created back in February 2021, while all the others were started in December. It also has the largest number of connections and tweets all kinds of random subjects.
In fact, the account describes itself as “The real king of CNN Twitter and #CNNNYE.” It did not reply to questions from this reporter.
CNN did not immediately respond for comment on Saturday.
Dozens who caught the messages in the ticker scroll called out CNN for not closely monitoring its incoming feed from social media—although most seemed to enjoy the added levity. The denouement of the night, though, was reserved for Cohen’s epic drunken rant bidding good riddance to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.