fake news
Juan Thompson created fake racist incidents at Trump rallies for the Intercept.

Juan Thompson is one strange duck but not that much stranger than many on the left. Not too long ago, he tweeted, “I’m young, gifted, black and a socialist and I’m running for mayor of St. Louis in 2017.” Arested Friday for his role in the bomb threats against Jewish centers, Thompson might just attract a few write-in votes in the upcoming St. Louis primary from those equally disaffected.

Before being arrested, Thompson made his most significant mark on the culture not through politics but by creating fake news to fit his agenda and getting caught at it.

Most recently Thompson reported for the Intercept, a semi-serious online publication affiliated with Edward Snowden and Glenn Greenwald. Before being stopped by Intercept editors, Thompson specialized in stories about police brutality and hate crimes against African Americans.

During the election cycle, Thompson zeroed in on Donald Trump, inventing characters and conversations to discredit the Trump campaign. The following exchange is indicative:

“A middle-aged man who declined to give his name initiated an exchange with me. ‘You look like a boy who’s up to no good, he said. ‘Don’t call me boy, boy,’ I replied.”

“’I knew it, you’re a racist,’ he barked. And then someone shouted, ‘Shake the man’s hand, black boy!’— a yell that was greeted with laughter and cheers from some in my vicinity.”

That the Intercept published something this preposterous suggests how deeply its editors had bought into the myth that Trump supporters were racists, recklessly overt ones at that. This kind of editorial manipulation fueled the anti-Tea Party hysteria of a few years back.

Like the New Republic’s Steven Glass and the Times’ Jayson Blair before him, Thompson lasted as long as he did at the Intercept because he was writing things the editors wanted to believe. Before catching up with him, the editors let at least six of his fabricated stories loose on the Internet where they were inevitably shared and generally believed.

One story that caught people’s attention centered on his interview with a “Scott Roof,” the presumed cousin of Charleston church shooter Dylan Roof. According to the cousin, Roof turned to white supremacy after being spurned by a love interest who chose a black man over him.

Thompson may have been doing some projecting here. His threats against at least eight different Jewish community centers evolved as part of a bizarre plot to get revenge against an “evil racist white woman” who spurned him.

Scott Roof was not real. The unidentified woman was. She has got to be hugely relieved that Thompson will no longer be able to threaten her.

 

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