The Online candidate (derogatory)

Read to the end for a truly mortifying Glastonbury clip

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Critic Score Vs. Audience Score

The presidential debate last week was bad, folks. CNN’s moderators basically let former President Donald Trump spew insane lies for 90-minutes uninterrupted, occasionally cutting to President Joe Biden doing his best impression of that animated GIF where a dog sees cupcakes for the first time.

About midway through, moderator Jake Tapper asked Trump about the rising cost of childcare. And, obviously, Trump did not answer the question at all and instead launched into a meandering rant about how Biden is the worst president in history.

“If he wins this election, our country doesn’t have a chance,” Trump sorta-kinda concluded. “Not even a chance of coming out of this rut. We probably won’t have a country left anymore. That’s how bad it is. He is the worst in history by far.”

But when the moderators threw the child care question to Biden, instead of just ignoring what Trump said, like any serious person would have, like he would have in 2020, Biden spent the majority of his allotted time trying to remember a thing he read online about how Trump, actually, was the worst president of all time. (He did eventually say that we should increase the child care tax credit.)

“Look it up. Go online. 159 or 58, don’t hold me to the exact number, presidential historians. They’ve had meetings and they voted who’s the worst president in American history,” Biden said. “They said he was the worst in all of American history.”

As The Washington Post’s Gene Park wrote on X last week, “They were debating Metacritic scores.” And you could summarize the entire debate as “Critic Score vs. Audience Score”.

The debate was the first time Biden and Trump have shared a stage in four years. Making it a culmination of America’s great post-pandemic info divide. On one side there was Biden, the glitching avatar of the DC-Silicon Valley revolving door, where conspiracy theories can still be moderated, where sentiment can still be accurately measured, where the right brand-safe viral stunt can Break The Internet and capture the hearts and minds of America. And on the other side was Trump, pure vibes and bile, the king of “Hawk Tuah” America, what writer Max Read recently dubbed “the Zynternet,” where the only thing that matters is what’s catchy enough to shout at a tailgate party.

Though, Trump was never actually a very sophisticated internet user. I spent years writing stories trying to trace his talking points back to various far-right corners of the web and I feel pretty confident in saying that he was not using powerful memetics to launder 4chan talking points into the mainstream or whatever. Trump was just an opportunistic Twitter power user at a moment when Twitter mattered to the people who mattered. But he was banned from the app in January 2021, reinstated at the end of 2022 after Elon Musk bought the site, and has only posted once since. It was a picture of mugshot with a link to his website. Instead, Trump spent the majority of Biden’s presidency posting into the ether over on Truth Social, shuffling in and out of courtrooms, and, most crucially, attending his own rallies.

Meanwhile, Biden spent the 2020 campaign and initial years of his presidency in a COVID bubble, which he replaced with an ideological one last year once Americans — and his own staffers — began protesting the conflict in Israel and Palestine. And all the while he has continued to rely on the social media playbook the Obama administration cooked up in the 2000s. Would you prefer a Kamala Harris pantsuit bi flag or trans flag coffee cup? Both go well with your Dark Brandon T-shirt, which you can wear while you watch Dark Brandon video edits his team is panic-posting to TikTok, the video app he’s already signed a law banning.

All of this led to a debate on Thursday night where, bizarrely, Trump didn’t feel like the Online Candidate. Biden did. And not in a good way. Biden was the one clearly trying for the viral sound bites — which he botched every time. He’s the one trying to turn his one-liners into catchphrases at a rally the next day, which of course is hurriedly clipped for social. He’s the one whose famous friends are playing defense for him online. And he’s the one that, come November, won’t understand why none of this mattered.

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A Good Post

Paranoid Spotify Summer

I wrote about this in Friday’s Weekend issue, but there’s a new pop girlie conspiracy theory. Various feral stan armies are now claiming that singer-songwriter Gracie Abrams is an industry plant.

She is not. Or rather, she has had a fairly traditional pop musician career thus far. Well, except for the fact she’s JJ Abrams’ daughter. But, once again, pop music is a machine and nepo babies fit very neatly inside of it. She’s been signed to Interscope since 2019, opened for Olivia Rodrigo in 2022, appeared on a Noah Kahan remix back in December, and is blowing up right now because she put out a new album. She’s also possibly now dating actor Paul Mescal.

I’ve written this before, but a lot of this paranoia is directly related to how powerful Spotify has become over the last few years. Which I don’t think is actually connected to anything tangible Spotify has done as much as it is connected to just the passage of time. Every day we get further and further from a world where people remember what life was like before Spotify and I think a lot of young adults are actually freaked out that one company and one algorithm are responsible for all the music they listen to.

Speaking of conspiracy theories…

The Dr Disrespect Conspiracy Theories Are Here

Andrew Esquire, an attorney and the host of the YouTube channel Legal Mindset, shared a conspiracy theory about disgraced livestreamer Guy Beahm, also known as Dr Disrepect, that’s getting some traction on his subreddit.


To summarize, in case you see references to this online over the next few weeks, the conspiracy theory is that a Twitch employee “baited” Beahm by pretending to be an underaged girl and “illegally recorded” him to, I guess, get out of their contract with Beahm?

There is nothing of any substance to back this up. Also, let’s say it was a Chris Hansen-style setup, Beahm still admitted to communicating inappropriately with a minor. So uh…?

The reason anti-Twitch conspiracies about Beahm are surfacing right now is because there is another Gamergate movement happening at the moment, centered around games consultancy firm Sweet Baby Inc. It’s much more anemic and pitiful than Gamergate 1.0, but it has reached the point where supporters are trying to use it to undermine moderation on platforms like Reddit and Twitch. So while the majority of gamers do seem to think Beahm deserved to get dropped by Twitch, they aren’t above using the scandal as a cudgel.

Boogie2988’s New Crypto Adventure


Infamous YouTuber Boogie2988, real name Steven Jason Williams, posted and deleted a bunch of posts on X advertising a crypto coin after he was accused of rugging his followers. (Rugging is a crypto pump and dump scheme.) Another X user, SubToOptimus, screenshot a lot of Williams’ posts before he could delete them.

The coin was called $Faddy and it dropped 90% in 24 hours last week, right after Williams promoted it to his followers, and right before Williams deleted all his posts about it.

If you aren’t familiar with Steven Jason Williams, he’s been on YouTube a long time. He used to play an angry gamer character called Francis and went viral back in 2014 for making Doritos-flavored Mountain Dew. The years have not been good to Williams, however, he’s admitted to losing much of his life savings on crypto and was the subject of a, frankly, hard to watch documentary last year that focused on how he was never able to turn mid-sized internet fame into a sustainable career.

TikTok Can’t Get Enough Of This Weird Little Gnome


Poor knights 😡 Next time I’ll bring my squad ⚔️

The little gnome wizard thing is named Crawly, which is also the name of the TikToker that came up with the idea. If the videos look familiar, they’re made by the same user behind the “group crawl cult” that went viral on the app late last year.

Right-Wing YouTubers Vs. A Furry

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. You can’t out-internet a furry. The above clip comes from a channel called bodittle, one of your classic “it’s just a joke” prank channels loved by little 12-year-old fascists on YouTube. They harass queer people and people of color.

While shooting a video at Nashville Pride, they ended up interviewing a furry named Skye The Firefox, who did not take the bait at all. The result is gloriously embarrassing, and not for Skye.

As one X user wrote, “This is such a bizarrely awkward video because any sense of the bit just crumbles into pieces the moment the person being interviewed isn’t one of those ‘screaming SJW’ types these people prey on. A type of person that barely even exists.”

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