Union Carbide — Country Gentleman magazine, 1922. CC BY 2.0.

Mo Brooks — A Case Study in Twitter Propaganda

A short commentary about four dangerous tweets designed to gaslight the world.

January 7, 2021 — One day after a mob of white nationalist terrorists incited by Donald Trump and his sycophants stormed the halls of the Capitol, threatening America’s democracy at its core. The nation awakes in shock as Congresspeople and members of the administration voice their support for impeaching or invoking the 25th Amendment against the “president.”

A few lawmakers, neck-deep in their conspiracy, refuse to admit that what happened is an act of terrorism. In pure Trumpian fashion, they are now actively working to shift the blame on “Antifa” and the supposed “radical left.” Matt Gaetz said it out loud in the House chamber during the certification proceedings. Mo Brooks has taken to Twitter to voice his nonsense.

Here is a short analysis of propaganda as it happens.

The Twitter thread (that you can see here) starts with what could be read as a “call to reason”.

“Don’t rush to judgement… Wait for investigation.” This part of the message is designed to make him sound like a proper government official exercising restraint. It primes its readers to think of him as a reasonable man who tries to act cool-headed in the face of danger and who wants to let the authorities do their job.

“Don’t be like #FakeNewsMedia” is an unequivocal call to the Trump base, using a popular hashtag of theirs against the rules of grammar to ensure maximum distribution on the social network.

“All may not be (and likely is not) what appears.” Classis claim of every conspiracy theorist ever. What you see is not what you see—another clear message to the QAnon fanbase.

The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command. — Orwell, 1984.

“Evidence growing that fascist ANTIFA orchestrated Capitol attack with clever mob control tactics.” It would be hilarious if it weren’t that dramatic. Fascist Antifa? Does he know what Antifa means? Let’s spell it out: fascist anti-fascists…

It’s interesting how he tries to claim that the mob that stormed the capitol used “clever mob control tactics.” It sounds like technocratic jargon, so I guess it’s yet another attempt to look like he’s in the know. Many of his supporters will be militia/gun nuts, so mastering law enforcement vernacular is probably a great asset when they assess their representatives' performance.

Like for the 50+ lawsuits that Trump and his allies have already lost, the evidence is “growing” but cannot be presented now, of course, but rest assured, “Evidence follows.”

I’m willing to bet my first unborn child that the first evidence will be “A lot of people say that it was so.” Let’s see!

OK, that’s close enough, I get to keep my unborn child (you’re safe, Henry, don’t worry).

“A congressman warned me on MONDAY.” Of course, Mo, you were warned on Monday and decide to way until Thursday to warn your Twitter followers instead of, let’s say, the FBI?

“Of a growing ANTIFA threat. What is it with conspiracy nuts and capitalised words? Antifa isn’t an acronym. Neither is Monday. Unless they are for the Trump/QAnon cultists? However, what’s known for sure is that the Proud Boys and other far-right terrorist organisations have been planning this coup for weeks on Parler.

“I have slept on office floor for 4 straight nights.” Wow, that’s a double whammy. Victimisation and posturing as a good, dedicated civil servant in fewer than 10 words. Good job Mo, but I’m sorry, we’re not buying it. Anyway, I’m sure your Capitol Hill office is more comfortably suited than most people’s apartment.

“Congressman told me he was warned on TUESDAY by Capitol Police that intelligence suggested fascist ANTIFA was going to try to infiltrate the Trump rally by dressing like Trump supporters.” OK, we have a lot of bullshit to unpack here. The same vigilante congressman who shall not be named told Mo that someone “suggested to” him that the fascist anti-fascists would pose as Trump supporters.

Like everything Trump, Hawley, Cruz, Gaetz, Gohmert, or Giuliani always claim, they “heard someone say.” We never see actual proof, but by God, many people are aware of it! Why they’re remaining silent, no one knows though.

It’s part of a self-reinforcing propaganda loop that has proved its efficiency over the past years:

  • Start a rumour / Tell a lie.
  • Have your media apparatus spread it (TV, Radio, Internet)
  • People retweet, share, comment, discuss it.
  • Claim that “everybody knows it true; everybody talks about it.”
  • Congratulations, you’ve created an alternate reality.

“Capitol Police advised… not to leave Capitol complex.” So you knew days in advance? The police did not prepare for an assault they knew was coming? OK, I’ll let this one stand on the ground that not only did the police not prepare, but they also appear to have been complicit.

“Evidence, much public, surfacing that many Capitol assaulters were fascist ANTIFAs, not Trump supporters. If the evidence is “much public”, Mo, why don’t you share a link to it? There are two reasons for that.

First, the obvious one, there is no evidence. I can say without a shadow of a doubt that he is lying.

Second, it makes him look important. Being privy to classified information is a privilege of the ruling class. By asserting that he knows when the world doesn’t, he reinforces his status. He also gets his supporters to think, once again, that the truth is not what they see.

It’s the third time he has talked about fascist Antifas, and it now appears obvious that this is a slogan the GOP is trying to etch in their supporters’ minds. To quote an expert on the topic:

All effective propaganda must be limited to a very few points and must harp on these in slogans until the last member of the public understands what you want him to understand by your slogan. — A. Hitler.

“Again, time will reveal truth” It’s like with all the QAnon nonsense. The day of reckoning will soon be upon us. The truth will out, as the muggles say. It reinforces the conspiracy theory aspect of the narrative and once again hammers the point that what we saw is not what happened.

“Don’t rush to judgement.” He could have added, “unless you’re me because that’s what I’m doing in this very tweet.”

“Don’t be fooled by #FakeNewsMedia whose political judgement drives their reporting.” A little bit of projection never harmed anyone, did it? Their political agenda bias the media, don’t trust them. Trust OANN, Newsmax and what you read on Parler.

“My view: fully prosecute all!” I thought you said not to rush to judgement, Mo. What you truly meant was: “don’t rush to judgement when it comes to Trump supporters. On the other hand, please go ahead and fully prosecute all the fascist Antifas, they should get life in prison!”

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