As the House Judiciary Committee convened Friday to approve articles of impeachment against President Trump, a watch party got underway in a private Facebook group that rallies its more than 75,000 members around the banner, “THE TRUMP DEPLORABLES.”
The comments that streamed forth in the group illustrate how Trump’s most ardent supporters have fashioned alternative realities for themselves — as well as for Republican lawmakers aiming to turn the charge of corruption back on those investigating the president.
The feed — from Fox News, a major source of news for the president’s supporters — showed the same scene available to viewers tuning in on various networks all over the country. But in the online enclave where the self-described “deplorables” had gathered to watch the committee vote, Democrats are the lawbreakers who “should be impeached,” as one viewer wrote. Trump’s word is truth. And the federal employees who question his version of events are not just mistaken, they are “scum,” as Trump labeled members of the intelligence community at a rally this week in Hershey, Pa.
The decision by the committee’s Republicans to close ranks around the president, as Democrats in a party-line vote approved two articles of impeachment, may have prompted head-scratching among Americans who learned on the nightly news or read on mainstream websites or in the morning paper how Trump had turned American policy in Ukraine toward his own ends. But the defense mounted by Trump’s allies made perfect sense to those following live on social media, in groups sealed off from general scrutiny, where facts are established by volume, and confirmation comes from likes.
“They themselves should be arrested,” one viewer wrote of witnesses called by Democrats. “Agree,” another user affirmed seconds later.
The echo chambers that take hold on social media reach beyond the effects of media coverage partial to the president, which he promotes to counter fact-based reporting.