May 6, 2019

Truth and integrity are not the tools of the alt-right's gamesmanship.

Mayor Pete Buttigieg is a rising star in Democratic Party circles, with his groundbreaking run for the Democratic nomination in 2020, and so therefore, to entitled little trust fund punks like Jacob Wohl, he must be taken down.

CNN's Brian Stelter and Sara Murray breakdown Wohl and his co-conspirator Jack Burkman's slimy attempt to smear Buttigieg.

This is a story about how political operatives tried to take down a presidential candidate, and ended up just humiliating themselves.It's also a story about how a smear was spread by right-wing websites -- and was cleaned up by newsrooms that took some time to check the facts.

On April 29 someone shared a post titled "Pete Buttigieg Sexually Assaulted Me" on Medium, a site that lets anyone upload stories, essays and any other bit of text. It was attributed to a college student named Hunter Kelly.

Within hours, the fake allegation against the South Bend, Indiana mayor and Democratic presidential candidate would begin to crumble, and the real story -- the story of the smear campaign -- would emerge.

But by then, the Medium post already had 12,000 Facebook interactions. It ricocheted around the right-wing internet, thanks to sites like Big League Politics, InfoWars, NewsWars and The Gateway Pundit, potentially reaching millions of readers, according to a media analysis from Ben Decker, CEO of the digital investigations firm Memetica.

While Facebook has made a big show of banning some of the most extreme of the conspiracists, it's these low-grade, self-important amoral jerks who can do a lot of damage. This is exactly the kind of sick scheme that sent an angry armed man to a pizza place in DC, because he foolishly believed there was a child sex ring in its non-existent basement. Who knows how this kind of sexual assault charge against Buttigieg might foment violence elsewhere. Let's hope that Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman find themselves without a platform very, very soon.

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