The release of Michael Wolff's scathing new book about the inner-workings of the Trump White House, Fire and Fury, has set the year off to a fun start with tales of bizarre behind-the-scenes chaos of the current presidential administration. And because no one actually has TIME to read an ENTIRE BOOK, many have just been dependent on journalists and popular online people posting juicy excerpts from the book to be laughed over. But already-very-popular joke-maker @pixelatedboat has inadvertently pranked a good portion of the internet into believing the most clearly fake story imaginable - that Trump squats in front of the TV for 17 hours a day and watches gorillas fight each other on a faux "gorilla channel" whipped together by his staff.
Wow, this extract from Wolff's book is a shocking insight into Trump's mind: pic.twitter.com/1ZecclggSa-- the gorilla channel thing is a joke (@pixelatedboat) January 5, 2018
Granted, given how the past year has gone (and how wild some of the stories from inside the White House have been), this might seem SLIGHTLY plausible to some. But even if you think Trump is a swiss cheese-brained moron with no sense of right or wrong and his tenuous grasp on reality has long since slipped, this still seems pretty ridiculous. I mean, does anyone on the White House staff have the video editing skills to cut down that many gorilla documentaries into just the fights? Seems doubtful.
But still - lots of people have fallen for this. And not just random types - genuinely respected online personalities have been going ALL IN on beliving the "gorilla channel" story.
Eric Garland, famed conspiracy-theorist and obsessive-tweet-threader (and all-around paranoiac weirdo), fell HARD for the story. How hard? Not only did he retweet someone reposting the story AND make a tweet himself delighting over the idea of Trump's "gorilla channel" finally being exposed, he even went so far as to add gorilla channel jokes into his Twitter bio (he was betting big that this would be the new covfefe):
Of course, eventually all of his followers telling him it was a joke made him delete the tweets, but weirdly he (as of this writing) still has the bio:
Dammit guys, I got totally punked on the Gorilla Channel thing - but when you've already gotten to "eating KFC in bed," I mean, we're through the looking glass.-- Eric Garland (@ericgarland) January 5, 2018
Thanks to all who called me out. We keep it clean and Deza-free at Game Theory HQ. 😀
Shadi Hamid is a well-known author, contributor at The Atlantic, and a fellow at the Brookings Institute think tank - and, as of this writing, has still not deleted the above tweet. Frankly - I'm kinda baffled!
Scott Dworkin has nearly 300k followers on Twitter and mostly defines himself as an aggressive Trump critic (his bio reads "I help lead #TheResistance"), so it's not necessarily SURPRISING that he would jump onto any semi-plausible story that paints Trump in a bad light, but you would think (by now) people would know to be a tad bit more skeptical about stuff they read online - particularly from an account called @pixelatedboat (that is already VERY FAMOUS for goofy parodies).
And not just verified accounts were falling for "gorilla channel" - seemingly tons of people who came across the excerpt fell for it, including followers of @pixelatedboat who SHOULD HAVE KNOWN BETTER BY NOW (and it's gotten so bad that pixelatedboat has adjusted his username to inform people on the fence that YES GORILLA CHANNEL IS A JOKE):
Donald thought-- Unite Alberta (@UniteAlbertans) January 5, 2018
there was a
To appease Trump, WH Staff compiled many gorilla documentaries into a make shift channel and broadcast it into his room‼️
He complained 'The gorillas aren't fighting' & often talked to the channel
Gorilla Channel = Fox News pic.twitter.com/OWM4cMUHVL
This is scarier than shit knowing this human being has the capability to use nuclear weapons. I shuddered and got chills. OMG OMG OMG-- Cheri DelBrocco (@cdelbrocco) January 5, 2018
What the F*CK did I just read?! 👀👀🤔😨 pic.twitter.com/ZW6XHVnhoG-- 👸🏽✨Nicola✨👸🏽 (@nikangel39) January 5, 2018
I'm officially I'm the Twilight Zone.... i mean seriously WTF!!!-- MartinB323 (@MartinB323) January 5, 2018
That's some scary sh^t there.He's living in another state of mind.-- christi b athans (@AthansChristi) January 5, 2018
And, again, what makes this even more absurd is that @pixelatedboat is already SO well-known for good-looking parodies like this - anyone remember the time he faked a passage from George Orwell's 1984 (aka the "Tiny Train World" prank)...and The Guardian picked it up as the real thing, even though it was the most insane quote possible?
Chilling. This passage from Orwell's 1984 perfectly predicted the Trump era: pic.twitter.com/869PtRSRUW-- the gorilla channel thing is a joke (@pixelatedboat) January 24, 2017