Early Sunday morning, Donald Trump fired off a retweet that contained a close paraphrase of a quote from famed fascist, Italian dictator, and Hitler ally Benito Mussolini:
“Il Duce” means “the leader,” and was Mussolini’s nickname. The original quote, replacing “one” with an “a,” was cited in a 1942 Time article about the famous dictator.
When asked by Chuck Todd about retweeting the fascist’s line on Meet the Press Sunday morning, Trump insisted that it was all according to plan:
Trump: It’s okay to know it’s Mussolini. Look, Mussolini was Mussolini. It’s a very good quote. It’s a very interesting quote. And I saw it. I know who said it. But what difference does it make whether it’s Mussolini or somebody else. It’s certainly a very interesting quote. … That’s probably why I have, between Facebook and Twitter, 14 million people and a lot of people don’t. It’s a very interesting quote and people can talk about it.
Todd: You want to be associated with a fascist?
Trump: No, I want to be associated with very interesting quotes. … Hey, it got your attention didn’t it?
But as it turns out, in this case there’s another thing Trump gets to be associated with, and that’s the fact that he fell into a trap — set just for him — by Gawker. Here’s editor Alex Pareene’s explanation of the prank:
Last year, we set a trap for Trump. We came up with the idea for that Mussolini bot under the assumption that Trump would retweet just about anything, no matter how dubious or vile the source, as long as it sounded like praise for himself. (It helps that that a number of Mussolini’s quotes sound plausibly like lines from Trump’s myriad books.) The account, @ilduce2016, was created by Gawker senior writer Ashley Feinberg and Gawker Media Editorial Labs director Adam Pash. It has tweeted solely at Donald Trump, multiple times a day, since December 2015.
Our Fascist bot was anything but subtle. It was, after all, directly named after Mussolini. The New York Times today swiftly recognized that it was a parody account. At the time of the account’s creation, Gawker Media Executive Editor John Cook expressed some concern that the joke behind the account was far too obvious, and wouldn’t trick anyone but a complete idiot.
And here’s the video of Trump discussing the irresistible tweet and his love of interesting quotes, regardless of their source:
And, for reference, here’s a video comparing the facial tics of Mussolini and Trump: