Yes, on its face, it is pathetic and entertaining that the once-relevant, 37-year-old far-right troll Milo Yiannopoulos has been hired as an UNPAID intern for Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) several years after he was sort of but not really pushed out of his gig at Steve Bannon’s Breitbart for appearing to defend pedophilia.
Yiannopoulos confirmed his hiring on his Telegram account Monday:
“I’ve finally been persuaded out of retirement,” he wrote with the usual flair crypticness. “But my skills are a bit rusty, so the best role I could land was an unpaid internship with a friend. Pray for me!”
“Mummy always said I’d end up in government,” he added.
Greene confirmed the news to The Daily Beast in a similarly cringe and problematic statement that grossly equated sexual abuse with LGBTQ+ identity and nodded at another staple of Yiannopoulos’ trolling — that he now identifies as a born-again Christian who cured himself of his self-described sins as a gay man and who now believes in the dangerous and debunked controversial practice of conversion therapy.
But, it’s a fine line to walk — covering politicians who are Trump-style provocateurs.
Jared Holt, who has worked as a journalist and reporter covering extremism and far-right fringe groups for some time, grappled with this gray area well today in this piece on Substack, commenting on a point the “@LOLGOP” Twitter account made in a recent post about Greene: “Her job is to say something terrible every day so we do all her viral marketing for her.”
The cruelty is the point. The shit-posting and the unintelligible language mix-ups (“gazpacho police,” “peach tree dish”) and the outlandish remarks and the racist scapegoating and the offensive legislating are all the point. And collective outrage about said remarks or policy points help fuel people like Greene and Trump and their bombastic self-serving skill sets.
It keeps them in the headlines. AND it does the work necessary for riling up the most far-right extreme members of the Republican base so fanatically over non-existent issues (think: outrage over banned books and trans rights) that it makes a Republican vote at the polls a practice equivalent to and centered solely upon owning the libs.
Holt summed up the line-walking journalists in this era face, once again, well here:
I steadily advocate for covering the fringes of society, as you might expect a political extremism researcher to. Oftentimes we learn a lot about the underbelly of organizing. Extremism reporting can serve as an effective alarm system against danger coming down the pike, too. …
I’m on a bit of an existential kick of late, if my most recent newsletter didn’t make that clear. As midterms approach, and god forbid we start to think of what 2024 will look like, it would behoove us to re-address questions like these and maybe even to audit ourselves. Even if it all seems tedious or basic.
Did we learn anything? Is what we’re doing helping? Are we part of this pernicious cycle, inviting ourselves to get dragged by the undertow? Are we prepared to swim in this contaminated sea, or are we dooming ourselves to drown beneath the next big wave?
The Yiannopoulos hiring, and the attention we give it, serves as another example of how delicately and intentionally the media must learn to walk that plank.
The Best Of TPM Today
Here’s what you should read this evening:
First, check out this guest essay from our Josh Marshall in the New York Times today: Democrats Can Win This Fall if They Make One Key Promise
New today in pathetic Trump groveling: Mo Brooks Pleads For Trump To Re-Endorse Him
As we head into Jan. 6 committee hearings beginning Thursday: Raskin Previews What To Expect From Jan. 6 Hearings’ Debut
Yesterday’s Most Read Story
Schiff: DOJ’s Decision On Trump Aides May Set Up ‘Dangerous Precedent’ — Summer Concepcion
What We Are Reading
The Supreme Court’s June of Doom Is Upon Us — Matt Ford
NY governor signs law raising age to own semiautomatic rifle — Maysoon Khan, Associated Press