It looked very real. Every detail about it was authentic. The “tweet” from the Forty-Fifth White House Occupant used his actual Twitter handle. It had a realistic date and time stamp. It listed thousands of retweets and likes, and even had several icons representing his followers who supposedly gave it a thumbs up. It sounded just like him, and even used characteristically poor spelling and punctuation. But the tweet was a fake.
It was circulated by a lot of well-meaning people, and it’s quite understandable that they would take it for real. (I initially did myself.) In fact, only a couple of days after this fake tweet started making the rounds (again), this very real one came out of the White House Occupant’s fevered phone:
But faithful members of the MAGA cult did not care one whit about the many, many, many rambling, ignorant, petulant outbursts like this. All they cared about was that on one occasion, some people circulated a fake (though entirely realistic) quote. And this, they declared, was proof that “the left” has no legitimate basis whatsoever to criticize him, and thus have to rely on lies and “fake news”.
I don’t know what the motives were of the person who created this fake quote. Most likely, it was intended to be satirical. But satire only works when it can be reasonably identified as satire. In order to be effective, satire needs to combine realistic premises and observations with outlandish twists that underscore how absurd the reality is. In this case, there was absolutely nothing to suggest that this quote could not have been uttered by the person to whom it was attributed — bear in mind that we’ve been living in a Bizarro dimension for more than three years now.
Bottom line: if you ever feel tempted to create such a meme and distribute it, please, please don’t. Nothing good can possibly come of it. And most likely, you’ll just help promote a malignant cause.
What is that “law” about not being able to outcrazy the crazies as satire because they are crazier that you can ever be.
It is Poe’s Law.
That’s a good one to remember.