Just when you thought 2016 couldn’t get any stupider, a Twitter user who describes himself as “the cool and chill guy of online” inadvertently punked two of the most powerful figures in conservative media.
And it shows just how easy it is to goad credulous Trump-loving media figures into distributing absurdly bad information to their massive audiences.
A little after 4 p.m. on Sunday afternoon, Twitter user @randygdub—whose previous two tweets made fun of Breitbart and Trump acolyte Bill Mitchell—tweeted:
You don’t have to be a great intellect to get that this is obviously a joke. For starters, @randygdub’s Twitter bio says he’s from California. And it takes about 60 seconds to go through his timeline and see that many of the tweets there are, well, not meant to be taken literally.
But Jim Hoft, the sage political mind behind the GatewayPundit blog, didn’t do that. Instead, at 9:17 a.m. on Monday morning, he wrote a blog post about RandyGDub’s tweet with this headline: “POSTAL WORKER Brags Online About Destroying Trump Ballots”
Reached for comment Monday afternoon—when it was obvious he had fallen for a joke—Hoft told The Daily Beast he didn't find the situation amusing. And he suggested Twitter might consider banning @randyGDub.
"I find it concerning that far left buffoons think voter fraud is a joke,” Hoft said. “‘Raandy’ may think destroying votes is funny but many Americans still believe in the sanctity of the ballot box even after eight years of Obama. To joke about rigging an election is not a laughing matter. I've seen others get banned from Twitter for far less than this.’
Hoft's original post (which he has since updated) was both completely incorrect and extremely funny, but that didn’t stop the Drudge Report from linking to it.
“Postal Worker Brags About Destroying Trump Ballots,” read the Drudge headline linking to Hoft’s blog post, which stayed on the top of the site for several hours.
Drudge is one of the most-trafficked websites in the U.S., out ranking all but 107 other websites, according to Alexa, a company that tracks internet traffic. SimilarWeb, which also tracks online publishers, found that Drudge got more than 1 billion page-views in May of this year.
And Drudge readers weren’t the only ones to whom this joke was credulously regurgitated. Rush Limbaugh also thought it sounded legit, referred to RandyGDub’s workplace as the “Post Orifice,” and posited that the story wasn’t getting more traction because of liberal media bias.
“Let me ask you this,” Limbaugh said. “If a postal worker went on social media—I don’t care what it was, Facebook Twitter, LinkedIn, Reddit, you name it—and was bragging about destroying Hillary absentee ballots, do you think they’d be trying to hunt this guy down and put him in jail with the guy who made the video about the started Benghazi. They wouldn’t be stopping. They’d find this guy, they’d hunt him down, they’d give him to Marilyn Mosby and say ‘Have at it.’”
Limbaugh then mulled over the complexity of RandyGDub’s nefarious activity. What would happen, Limbaugh wondered, if RandyGDub opened an absentee ballot marked for Clinton?
“What happens when he opens one for Hillary?” Limbaugh queried. “He’s gotta reseal it, make it—I guess they don’t care, it doesn’t matter, as long as it says Hillary on it, the Democrats don’t care. Could be postmarked from Mars, they’ll take it.”
Then Limbaugh sighed heavily.
Talkers magazine, a talk radio trade publication, estimates Limbaugh has 13.25 million weekly listeners.
The story got so much traction that the U.S. Postal Service’s Twitter handle, @USPSHelp, had to push back against it. It tweeted out this statement to a host of angry Trump supporters questioning it about the story:
“The Postal Service has completed an initial investigation of the mentioned tweets and does not believe these tweets were made by a postal employee. However, the Postal Service will continue to monitor this situation and if it is determined that the individual making the tweets is a postal employee and there is substantiated evidence of mail being tampered with or destroyed, then the Postal Service will take appropriate corrective action to address the situation.”
For goodness sake.
And for what it’s worth, to cover our bases, The Daily Beast asked @randygdubs via DM whether or not he actually works at an Ohio post office.
“lol no” he replied.
—Andrew Kirell contributed to this report.
Updated 3:30pm to add comment from Hoft.