The Facebook Comment Section Is Taking Over The GOP 

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SELMA, USA - APRIL 9: Mark Robinson speaks during former US President Donald Trump's rally sponsored by Save America with Ted Budd, Madison Cawthorn, Bo Hines, Dan Bishop, Mark Robinson and Greg Murphy in Selma, NC, ... SELMA, USA - APRIL 9: Mark Robinson speaks during former US President Donald Trump's rally sponsored by Save America with Ted Budd, Madison Cawthorn, Bo Hines, Dan Bishop, Mark Robinson and Greg Murphy in Selma, NC, on April 9, 2022. (Photo by Peter Zay/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images) MORE LESS
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Ed. Note: Where things stand will be off for Juneteenth. Nicole Lafond will be back to helming Where Things Stand after the break.

Mark Robinson, North Carolina’s current lieutenant governor and the GOP nominee in the state’s gubernatorial race, is in the headlines again for inflammatory comments he posted on Facebook. The latest national coverage came from the Washington Post and focuses on remarks Robinson made “downplaying and making light of sexual assault and domestic violence.” 

But, in a way, highlighting remarks Robinson made about any one issue really misses the point: The man has spent more than a decade writing hundreds of noxious Facebook posts that, over the span of his oeuvre, attack multiple minorities and marginalized groups. 

I know this because I spent a lot of time with Mark Robinson. I stared deep into his digital soul for an in-depth TPM story that ran in March 2023. 

At the time, local news outlets had covered a couple wild statements Robinson had made on his social media pages, in which he embraced conspiracy theories about the attack on Nancy Pelosi’s husband and posted a bizarre take filled with Yiddish slurs towards Blacks and references to Israeli currency to imply the movie “Black Panther” was part of a “satanic marxist” plot. I quickly realized there was more — so much more. 

As I dug into Robinson’s Facebook page, I found attacks on Jews, the LGBT community, and various minority groups. Robinson, who is Black, repeatedly railed against his own community. His commentaries were striking because of both their viciousness and sheer volume. 

Robinson was clearly hooked on Facebook. He often posted multiple times a day. And his output of angry political takes and attacks was stunning. There were hundreds of them stretching back to at least 2010. 

When we put together a story on this, my editors and I struggled to turn Robinson’s vast archive of extremism into a single, manageable story. I had placed all of his worst comments into a Google doc. It was 37 pages and over 9,200 words long — and I hadn’t included many posts that were either redundant or just completely incoherent. 

We ended up with a piece that characterized Robinson as a Facebook brawler who regularly indulged in conspiracy theories and took clear pleasure in making offensive comments about marginalized people. Given the sheer amount of extreme posts the man had written, we had to leave many of them on the cutting room floor. Our story also noted Robinson was poised to announce a gubernatorial campaign. He did it on April 22, 2023, exactly one month after our article appeared. 

Since Robinson threw his hat into the governor’s race, there has been a steady drumbeat of coverage from both national and local outlets highlighting his wild Facebook history. In journalism, we obviously like to have a unique angle and some stories, like the Washington Post’s, focused on Robinson’s thoughts about an individual topic in order to surface one of his many, many comments that had not been posted elsewhere. But to me, this missed the forest for the trees. 

When I look back at Robinson’s online output, I don’t see individual positions so much as I see an addiction to rage and to the internet. The man’s overall ideology seems to be shitposting. Anything that highlights his position on a given issue obscures this larger point. In fact, Robinson’s whole political career was born out of online anger. He worked in a furniture factory until a 2018 speech he gave defending guns “come hell or high water” went viral and set the stage for his first campaign. 

On balance, the slow rolling coverage of Robinson’s Facebook page reveals another larger truth. Extremist trolling is a draw for many GOP voters. Countless observers have pointed out how Donald Trump’s presidency was, in effect, the right-wing internet’s id making it all the way to the White House. Robinson is yet another example of how memes, insults, and rage are a feature, not a bug, in Trump’s party. 

In the nearly fifteen months since our story — and despite continued coverage from other media outlets — Robinson secured the GOP nomination. Polls of the governor’s race also show he has a real chance to beat the Democratic candidate, state Attorney General Josh Stein. 

Even though North Carolina is something of a swing state, Robinson has felt little need to apologize or distance himself from his social media history. His campaign responded to the latest Washington Post piece with an angry statement describing the newspaper as part of a “Democrat smear machine.”

But the world doesn’t need to believe TPM or the Washington Post to know Robinson has issues with women and various minorities or that he makes no apologies for it. Thanks to his extensive Facebook history, we can hear it from the man himself. One of the many occasions where he spelled things out was a post from April 2013 where he expressed frustration with the “recognition” given to “single mothers and gays.” After suggesting these groups were not “the ones that please GOD,” Robinson offered an all caps postscript for emphasis: 


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Notable Replies

  1. I read somewhere once that Facebook has more zombie accounts now than accounts still in use. Having read this article, I now wonder if zombie account has taken on a new meaning.

  2. Public presentation to say nothing of noise level is quite different but Mark Robinson none-the-less somehow reminds me of Stephen Warren in Django unchained; there is a viciousness united with a strong desire to deny anything good to anything or anyone other than what he serves.

  3. The red cloth that Mark Robinson is holding in the photo is his underwear after eating at Chipotle.

  4. Where Things Stand: The Comment Section Is Taking Over The GOP

    For just an instant, did anyone else reading that think somehow the Hive was in control of the GOP?

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