Ammon Bundy is the leader of a ragtag group of patriots who are defending our constitutional rights by preventing anyone from visiting a bird sanctuary in Oregon. Rosa Parks is an icon of the civil-rights movement. One’s white, the other’s black; one is a delusional cattle rancher who will soon be forgotten, the other an immortal heroine of African-American liberation. But there’s one crucial thing that Bundy and Parks have in common: Neither is active on Twitter.
Unfortunately, this point was missed by most of the mainstream media. In the past 24 hours, the Washington Post, the New York Daily News, the Los Angeles Sun Times, and even the Indian Republic mistook a parody account for the actual social-media platform of Ammon Bundy. (If not for the timely fact-checking of Gizmodo, many others — though never Daily Intelligencer, of course — might have joined this list.)
The account @Ammon_Bundy has been credulously quoted by mainstream outlets since it was created on January 3, when Bundy’s occupation of the bird sanctuary/news cycle began. But the handle achieved its greatest exposure, literally and figuratively, when it likened Bundy’s struggle to Parks’s in a tweet late Tuesday night.
That analogy proved irresistible for the outrage-baiters. A thousand think pieces bloomed. The sound of all that typing proved loud enough to rouse the suspicions of MSNBC’s Tony Dokoupil, who was standing right next to Bundy when the tweet was published. He was thus able to confirm that, unless the rancher has a social-media intern, he had nothing to do with those 140 characters.
Credit the prankster behind @Ammon_Bundy, who built credibility for 48 hours through a series of mostly mundane tweets that spoke in a voice fairly similar to that of the real-life Bundy. Few trolls play the long(ish) game, and by doing so, @Ammon_Bundy achieved the unprecedented: convincing an Indian newspaper to cover what the fake social-media account of an Oregon rancher said about a dead American civil-rights leader. One might say that @Ammon_Bundy is to trolling what Parks was to civil rights — but then one would be an idiot.