4 Cynical Political Stunts That Backfired Hilariously
It would appear that modern politics consists mostly of doing spiteful shit on the internet in hopes of going viral for owning the other side. It's petty, illogical, and incredibly ineffective at changing minds, but there is a silver lining. Sometimes provocateurs will attempt a stunt that backfires so hard that it actually proves their enemies right. When it happens, it almost makes it all worth it ...
A Scam Artist Accidentally Proves Journalists Have Integrity
Remember when, several hundred sordid scandals ago, a candidate for a Senate seat in Alabama was accused of having sexual contact with a 14-year-old girl? In fact, multiple women came forward with accusations against Roy Moore. He, of course, responded by continuing his bid unabated. But for some, that wasn't enough. Conservatives had to prove that all of those "accusers" who went to The Washington Post with their stories were lying. So James O'Keefe, founder of Project Veritas (an organization that's basically devoted to trying to get liberals to admit that they eat babies via deceptive editing) came up with a plan.
O'Keefe would arrange for a fake Moore accuser to go to The Post with a made-up story. The woman, who went by the name Jaime Phillips, would say that Moore got her pregnant when she was 15 and helped pay for her to get an abortion. Once they published said piece, O'Keefe would jump out of the closet and announce that the woman had never met Moore. And if The Post would publish one false story about Moore being an alleged sex fiend, surely that proved that all the other women were making up their stories too! It was a plan as solid as a fart.
But O'Keefe, living in a world in which all journalists are lying shills for one side or another (like him), never counted on someone following up to make sure the story was, you know, true. Journalists from The Washington Post called the place "Jaime" listed as an employer, and the company said they had no record of her, so that's strike one right there. They also discovered a GoFundMe page the woman set up to move to New York in which she claimed, "I've accepted a job to work in the conservative media movement to combat the lies and [deceit] of the liberal MSM." Oh, and they also saw her walking into Project Veritas' New York offices.
While it's clear O'Keefe's goal was to prove The Washington Post was fake news, he instead demonstrated how much work goes into competent journalism. But then he made one final, futile attempt: He claimed he had a video of a Post reporter stating that the publication has a liberal agenda (it turned out to just be a reporter stating the difference between a news report and an editorial). James O'Keefe is like Ed, Edd, and Eddy all rolled into one. No matter what he does, his schemes have a way of blowing up in his face.
A Woman Tries To Show How Easy It Is To Commit Voter Fraud, Gets Arrested
The idea of rampant voter fraud is a myth on the same scale as Bigfoot or the Red Hot Chili Peppers ever being any good, with one study finding that only 31 cases of it occurred between 2000 and 2014, out of over one billion ballots. But that didn't stop Republican casino worker Roxanne Rubin from wanting to prove she could absolutely vote twice, demonstrating in turn that every liberal ever elected has definitely gotten there via fraud. She even went on record as saying, "I just feel the system is flawed ... If we're showing ID for everything else, why wouldn't we show our ID in order to vote?"
Of course, any voting system with no safeguards against fraud would indeed be stupid as hell. But you'd have to have shockingly little faith in society to think you're the first person to realize that. Still, during the 2012 presidential election, Rubin's master plan was set in motion. She voted at her regular polling place, and then later that day, tried to vote again at a location in Las Vegas.
She must have been feeling good about herself, until the people working there conducted a records search. This routine check revealed Rubin had already voted in the election. Instead of going back home with the knowledge that the system does in fact work, Rubin went with Plan B. (Spoilers: Plan B was also stupid.)
Rubin confronted the poll workers, who refused her the chance to vote twice. They then sent her information to the county registrar's office. A few days later, Rubin got a visit from FBI agents, who arrested her for attempting to vote more than once. She ultimately took a plea deal, which involved 100 hours of community service and a fine of $2,481 to reimburse the cost of the investigation. She may have had to pay nearly $2,500, but surely it was worth it for the knowledge that our voting systems are secure. Congratulations, Roxanne! You did it!
A "Free Speech" Activist Tries To Show London's Mayor Is A Hypocrite, Fails
To protest Donald Trump's visit to the United Kingdom, one group created a giant balloon of a baby Trump wearing a diaper. But you can't just fly any old balloon around willy-nilly. That's why the protesters got permission from London Mayor Sadiq Khan to fly it. This didn't sit well with some Trump supporters across the pond, who thought Khan only allowed the balloon to be flown because he's a left-wing Trump-hater. And so Yanny Bruere, who you may remember from *checks notes* nothing, wanted to show how hypocritical Khan was being.
Bruere crowdfunded a bikini-clad caricature balloon that would similarly mock Khan, stating that the goal of the balloon was to "see if FREE SPEECH applies to all." Bruere clearly thought he could whip up a firestorm among right-wing media by having the permit to fly his own balloon rejected. Not only are leftists unprincipled, he assumed, but they're too dumb to see through even the most transparent of stunts.
Unfortunately for Bruere, not only did Khan give permission for Bruere to fly his balloon, but he even had a good sense of humor about it, stating, "If people want to spend their Saturday looking at me in a yellow bikini, they're welcome to do so. I don't really think yellow's my color though."
All Bruere proved was that Khan does indeed support free speech for all, even when that speech portrays him sexily. And while Bruere may have inadvertently proved the opposite of what he intended about Khan, at least he could still have a good ol'-fashioned protest, with people coming out by the individuals to show their support.
Oh, and did we mention Bruere quit his job to make this balloon a reality? OK, this is starting to get depressing.
A YouTuber Tries To Prove How Hated She Is, Finds Out No One Knows Her Or Cares
Lauren Southern is a far-right internet personality whose YouTube channel has over 600,000 subscribers. Many outlets describe her as a "social media provocateur," which basically means she likes posting pictures of herself holding guns and frequently confuses journalism with trolling. To further sow the seeds of her brand of conservatism, Southern, along with "greatest philosopher of all time" Stefan Molyneux planned a visit to Melbourne, Australia, where she explicitly stated, "I can tell you I hope to cause chaos in a good way as I have every other country I've gone to."
To help the "chaos" along, she made a video in which she went around asking Australians whether Lauren Southern should be killed. Before going any further, it's important to point out that she does this just looking like herself. There's not even an attempt to wear any kind of wacky costume, which is kind of the whole point of this genre of video. Even Drake has the courtesy to put on a beard when he's doing a bit on Jimmy Kimmel.
So the thing about internet fame is that it's really easy to overestimate how many people even give a single shit about you. If she had any grasp on reality, Southern should have anticipated the outcome: The vast majority of the people interviewed had no idea who in the hell she even was.
When she explained Southern was a Nazi (weird thing to admit about yourself), everyone had pretty calm responses. One woman said, "I'm not sure if we should kill her, but I don't think we should be listening to what she's saying." There are a few people who do say Southern should be killed, but they're laughing and obviously not taking her seriously in the slightest, perhaps sensing that it's a really weird thing to run up to someone on the street and ask.
You can decide for yourself whether or not bored indifference is the right reaction to YouTube bigots, but you have to admit, it's the one they clearly hate the most.
Mike Bedard is on Twitter, and you could be following him there if you like.
That dude in London totally missed the opportunity for an itsy-bitsy teeny-weeny yellow polka dot bikini. Come on.
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