Did you know that today is your last opportunity to sign up for Donald Trump’s new social network?
Well then you must not be receiving the critical, exclusive updates from the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC).
Last week the New York Times dropped a bombshell report detailing the extent to which the Trump campaign had scammed its own supporters into providing them a nine-figure, interest-free loan. The crux of the grift was the Trump campaign’s deceptive email practices which, among other things, chose to make recurring donations the default setting for supporters who were lured in by the campaign’s hyperbolic and conspiratorial fundraising pitches.
As a result, elderly Trump supporters on fixed incomes had their bank accounts depleted, causing their rent and utilities checks to bounce. Altogether the Trump campaign had to refund $122 million in online donations from their own supporters who had been duped.
Score another one for the party of the working man.
The NRCC was admirably undeterred by this revelation.
On Tuesday afternoon the committee sent me the following text message:
Ominous. But literally every single word in the text is untrue. (Except “Timothy.”)
Let’s break it down:
For starters, Donald Trump has not started a new social media site yet, he’s just talked about it. And if we learned anything from Infrastructure Week, the Trump healthcare plan, The Great, Beautiful Wall That Mexico Paid For, and his sacred landslide re-election victory, it’s that vaporware is Trump’s primary product.
But even if Trump Social does come into existence, the NRCC—which is a Republican party committee not affiliated with Donald Trump—would have no operating control or ability to sign people up for this private enterprise.
Which creates an ontological conundrum: Can an offer that doesn’t exist expire in 10 minutes? And finally: I promise you that the NRCC will in fact ask for my money again with another limited-time offer.
So the NRCC is offering early access to a product that you have to presume there will be a lot of demand for and just pocketing the cash for themselves while the user, who you have to assume was excited about Trump Twitter—not supporting some random House Republican’s re-election campaign—gets nothing but the bill.
Once you click on the link in this text spam, you’re taken to a landing page where you’re asked to make a contribution in order to be “the first to join” this nonexistent social media site—over which the NRCC has no control.
Here, the NRCC now claims that it will match the contribution “5x.” Think about that for a moment: The NRCC says that if you give them $1, they’ll add another $5. But if you don’t give them a dollar, what are they going to with their $5? So this is a lie, too (a common one in political fundraising.)
But let’s keep going.
Next up we’re presented with two boxes that are pre-checked. The first makes the donation monthly recurring—the same gimmick that the Times exposed the Trump campaign for running to disastrous results. The second pre-checked box doubles your donation in order to grant you “Trump Patriot Status.”
And if you can believe it, there’s an even worse version of this running on the NRCC’s fundraising page, where they threaten to tell Trump that the reader is a “DEFECTOR” if they uncheck the box for recurring donations:
I’m sure there’s some formal legal difference between the NRCC tricking someone into signing up for a nonexistent social media site—and then having a default box opting them in to both double their pledged amount and make it recurring—and the criminal advance-fee scams made famous by the imaginary Nigerian princes.
But as a moral matter, the difference is awfully hard to suss out.
Update April 7, 2021 12:13 p.m.: The piece has been updated with the wording from the NRCC’s fundraising page which claims that by unchecking the box (and thus not giving them a recurring donation) that they will tell Trump that you are a “DEFECTOR.” This image has been added to the piece.