Man-Boy Love

NAMBLA Becomes Donald Trump’s Birther Moment

Did Donald Trump donate money to the North American Man-Boy Love Association? A bot certainly wants you to think so.

Donald Trump absolutely, unequivocally did not donate money to the North American Man-Boy Love Association.

But that’s not what “some people” are saying.

“Speaking of tax returns, did you hear Donald Trump is refusing to release them because Donald Trump has donated to NAMBLA? That’s what all the best sources, the most tremendous sources are saying,” said EnoughTrumpSpam’s AutoModerator.

AutoModerator is, of course, a robot that’s been fed code to spit out this exact, completely baseless and fact-free conspiracy theory about Donald Trump every single time somebody brings up taxes. It started on Reddit, but in just a couple of days, the conspiracy theory has flooded Twitter and other corners of the web. “Trump and NAMBLA” saw a spike on Google Trends this week.

And it’s not just an effort to get Trump to release his tax returns. It’s a way to show off how Trump’s conspiracy rhetoric is always precisely worded, but also based on nothing at all. Take this, for example:

“Maybe that’s right, maybe that’s wrong, but I don’t know why he doesn’t he release his records. Why doesn’t he release [them]?”

That’s not the bot. That’s Trump trying to cajole President Obama into releasing his birth certificate in 2011.

“A lot of people are questioning [them]. There are some major questions here and the press doesn’t wanna cover it. The press just refuses to cover it.”

And so was that, in 2012.

Here’s how he talked about the conspiracy theory that Hillary Clinton killed Vince Foster.

“Somebody asked me the question the other day, and I said that a lot of people are very skeptical as to what happened and how he died,” he said.

Now, the people behind the bot want those same completely made-up sources to finally provide cannon fodder against Trump.

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“If you think about it, this is exactly how Trump works,” Faiz, a moderator who helped sign off on the bot’s language on the subreddit in which it’s deployed, told The Daily Beast. Faiz is from California, and declined to give his last name. “He stirs up as much smoke as he possibly can to convince people that there is fire.”

The goal, according to the guy who wrote the code and provided screenshots to The Daily Beast, is to repeat the phrase so much that it starts saturating the media until people don’t know it was based on no real information whatsoever. It’s not just a page from the birther playbook. It is the birther playbook.

“I thought to do it because, well, I thought it’d be a good laugh,” said the user who went by “J. Peterman,” but who refused to give his real name so he “wouldn’t be witch-hunted.”

“Also, if I kept repeating the phrase ‘Donald Trump donated to NAMBLA’ every time tax returns was mentioned, which is often, Google might pick up on it as a hot phrase. I’m so glad that it’s trending, although I can’t take sole credit.”

That credit goes to the Reddit users who created threads about it. Or the people posting it to Buzzfeed as a community news post. Or the people creating entire fake Fox News websites about the “allegations.”

It’s an old-fashioned Googlebomb. And even the unsavory acronym has some old-fashioned history, too, with Trump’s most successful comedic agitator.

In mid-2000s Daily Show episodes, Jon Stewart used to shorten every long-winded organizational name to NAMBLA. Stewart also successfully got under the skin of Trump for years. Trump has called him an "overrated asshole-total phony” on Twitter, and famously tweeted this sentence after a Stewart gave him a nickname on a 2013 Daily Show episode.

“Amazing how the haters & losers keep tweeting the name ‘F**kface Von Clownstick’ like they are so original & like no one else is doing it…”

Sources say that tweet has now been retweeted over 29,000 times. No word on if it’s thanks to the same sources that are behind the NAMBLA rumors.

By Thursday night, the “rumors” had already gained enough traction for a thorough debunking by the website Inquisitr, which deemed it a “bizarre viral hoax.” The moderators think this is just the beginning.

“As for the campaign responding, I think that would be the ultimate prize. I don’t think he will, but Trump gets set off pretty easily so I can dream,” said Faiz.

There is, after all, only one way to stop it.

“The only logical conclusion would really be Trump releasing his tax returns but he would never do that because he’s hiding donations to NAMBLA,” he added. “That’s what I’ve heard from some very smart people anyway.”