Why Did So Many People Believe The President Watches A Gorilla Channel?

In light of the rumors and reports coming out of journalist Michael Wolff’s tell-all book, “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” satirical cartoonist Ben Ward, who often tweets political satire from his account @pixelatedboat, accidentally paved the way for new levels of Poe’s Law never explored.

Poe’s Law, for those who aren’t in the know, is based on a 2005 comment written on christianforums.com by an atheist man named Nathan Poe. In the thread, Poe replied to another user: “Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humor, it is utterly impossible to parody a Creationist in such a way that someone won’t mistake for the genuine article.”

Enter Ward’s Law, a term I’m perfectly happy to coin, which seems awfully similar to the right-wing meme known as “Trump Derangement Syndrome.” As staunchly conservative commentators argue, it is impossible to make jokes at the expense of the President Donald J. Trump, without clear indications of satire being at play, for they could be mistaken by the audience for the man’s own serious actions and words.

Last Thursday, as articles circulated regarding the authenticity and content of Wolff’s book, Ward took advantage of this media circus show to tweet out a fake excerpt, without those oh-so-clear indications, which described an elaborate plan Trump’s White House officials enacted to appease the new commander-in-chief, who had expressed deep frustration that his bedroom television couldn’t screen a mysterious “gorilla channel” where, for 24 hours a day, animals are filmed fighting.

“On his first night in the White House,” the fictional passage reads, “President Trump complained that the TV in his bedroom was broken, because it didn’t have ‘the gorilla channel,’” Ward’s fictional excerpt revealed. “Trump seemed to be under the impression that a TV channel existed that screened nothing but gorilla content, 24 hours a day.

To appease Trump, White House staff compiled a number of gorilla documentaries into a makeshift gorilla channel, broadcast into Trump’s bedroom from a hastily-constructed transmission tower on the South Lawn.

However, Trump was unhappy with the channel they had created, moaning that it was ‘boring’ because ‘the gorillas aren’t fighting,’” the fake excerpt continued. “Staff edited out all the parts of the documentaries where gorillas weren’t hitting each other, and at last the president was satisfied. ‘On some days he’ll watch the gorilla channel for 17 hours straight,’ an insider told me. ‘He kneels in front of the TV, with his face about four inches from the screen, and says encouraging things to the gorilla, like, ‘the way you hit that other gorilla was good.’ I think he thinks the gorillas can hear him.”

Aside from the absurdity of the passage, describing the most powerful man in the world as having a symbiotic relationship with ravaged animals on screen for hours on end, the passage was understood by most people to be fake.

Why? Well, multiple Trump associates already told The New York Times that the president spends at least eight hours a day in front of his TV watching the news (often tweeting praise and criticisms towards news programs daily).

For the commander in chief to watch this make-shift “gorilla channel” for 17 hours a day, which beams signals from some random tower on the south White House lawn to his room, he simply wouldn’t have the time to eat, sleep, watch the news, go the bathroom, shit-post on Twitter and actually command the most complex country in human history. It’s so clearly impossible.

Regardless, earlier that same day, Ward was already making disparaging comments on Twitter towards Wolff’s book. In this image, the cartoonist retitled the book to say:

“President Trump Was Eating McNuggets on the Toilet and he Dropped a McNugget in the Toilet and Fished it out and Ate the McNugget: Inside the Trump White House.”

Despite Ward’s rare tweets expressing his own genuine, serious political opinion on the issues, it’s a clear satire account that leans left. And the tiniest bit of research would show serious contradictory facts to Wolff’s fictionalized claim,  as well as indications of satire. However, enough important figures in the media and government thought it was real that it became a trending story.

Scott Dworkin, one of those verified lefty journalists who contributes to MSNBC, fell for the Gorilla story in this deleted tweet:

Actor Don Cheadle, among other prominent Twitter activists who can be seen spouting support for #TheResistance, said the story could be real, describing how they got “chills” reading the fictionalized days of a “man-baby president”:

Gorilla Channel Tweet

Among the most prominent voices was anti-Trump conspiracy theorist, Democratic “strategic intelligence analyst” Eric Garland, captured by The Hill’s Will Sommers’ before the original tweet was deleted:

As reported by Slate, Ward even had to temporarily change his Twitter display name to “the gorilla channel thing is a joke” just so people would calm down.

He then tweeted a follow up to his original passage saying:

“[That feel when] you parody a guy making up shit about Trump but people believe it so you become part of the problem.”

And he’s right. He has every right to make satire and share his opinion doing so. For journalists and political figures to have such blatant disregard for truth that satire, for even a moment, is taken seriously, forcing me to describe this sort of climate as “post-truth,” is a problem. It’s concerning that Trump’s resistance is so bad at their only job that they give legitimacy to the president’s narrative of “Fake News.”

TrigTent in the past has expressed our concern for America’s unethical media paving the way for demagogues. Whether you believe in Trump’s agenda on other issues or not is irrelevant, for the fourth estate and Democrats to engage in consistent screw-ups like this is a problem that didn’t need to exist.

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