Look no further than the rollout of Thursday’s summit. The White House declined to release a guest list, leaving the influencers to tweet their invites to their substantial followings — a slow and steady drip of content. Pro-Trump media without an invitation sniped to reporters, and one member was disinvited over an anti-Semitic cartoon. The event, initially closed to the news media, magically opened up on Thursday morning. Once inside, press and attendees were treated to Twitter-ready posters, defining online terms like deplatforming and demonetization.
It was a meme fever dream of questionable newsworthiness — all tailor made for reporters with Twitter accounts. And the media is caught in the middle, unsure how to cover a group who, time and again, dupe them into amplifying their propaganda and nonsense. At least we ended up with Mr. Trump’s working definition of the First Amendment. “To me free speech is not when you see something good and then you purposely write bad,” he said from the podium. “To me that’s very dangerous speech, and you become angry at it. But that’s not free speech.”
And yet what happened on Thursday is newsworthy. The president has an election to win. Thursday’s summit was a public embrace of a group he thinks are powerful allies. The summit suggests that 2016’s meme army was just proof of concept for an information war in 2020.