This week the Trump Administration invited far-right trolls for a social media summit held at the White House. Media Matters has compiled a list of known attendees, reporting that “Some of these figures have ties to white nationalists and far-right figures, and others have pushed extremism and conspiracy theories themselves, such as the “QAnon” conspiracy theory, anti-Semitic attacks on George Soros, and smears targeting multiple Democratic presidential candidates.”
President Trump inadvertently summed up the social media summit perfectly when he made his remarks, saying “The crap you think of is unbelievable.”
Trump’s social media summit has received loads of negative press attention but no one has called the event out for what it is: a campaign event.
For all the praise that the traditional media love to fawn on Trump’s use of social media, they consistently miss what I think is the Trump political organization’s greatest strength, their digital outreach operation. Trump’s staff (and his son, Don Jr.) actively cultivate relationships with far-right and pro-Trump communities, sharing messaging and talking points with influencers, and amplifying their content to a broader audience.
But as Vice News’ Tess Owen noted this week, there’s trouble in paradise and Trump’s support from the so-called alt-right might not materialize in 2020, explaining:
“Extremism experts say their apparent lack of interest in Trump is partly because the heyday of the “alt-right” as a coordinated bloc is over — and partly because they feel betrayed by Trump, who, by operating in the political mainstream, is now tainted by the very swamp he promised to drain. Many also feel like he has failed to deliver on the sweeping immigration enforcement he promised during the campaign.”
There’s no guarantee that Trump’s Army will show up for him in 2020, and even if they do the trolls’ ability to behave any way they like without consequence has been somewhat curbed by de-platforming and changing policies on the platforms. The social media summit is a way for Trump to reconnect with his online supporters early in his reelection campaign, all at the taxpayers expense.