Columbia Journalism Review

The Junk Cycle

AT 1:15PM EASTERN ON Wednesday, May 22, a Trump supporter named Shawn Brooks posted a video on Facebook called “Is Nancy Pelosi drunk?” It suggested that Pelosi, the Speaker of the House, was slurring her words. Later that day, another video featuring Pelosi, slowed so she sounded drunk or incapacitated, appeared on two pro-Trump Facebook pages; later, it moved to Twitter and YouTube.

In its first few hours online, the doctored video was viewed about three hundred times on Twitter. On Facebook, it was shared 18,881 times—which put it on the same scale as a recent video of a mysterious sea creature someone caught in Alaska. The American far right, fixated on the notion of strength, often attacks its enemies with the idea that they are weak or sick, and the

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