By Michael Sainato
Hedge-fund billionaire Tom Steyer has launched himself into the Trump Resistance, pouring millions of dollars into advertisements and a website urging the impeachment of Donald Trump. He’s spent over $20 million so far on a nationwide ad campaign, starring himself, as the DNC and several grassroots organizations struggle to compete in fundraising against the billionaires backing Trump and the Republican Party.
Despite the self-serving promotion of Steyer’s efforts, dozens of mainstream media outlets have rewarded Steyer with positive news coverage and ample airtime to promote his ‘Impeach Trump’ campaign. And he’s building an extensive email list and fundraising database as he ramps up his political career (though he claims he isn’t planning to run for office). Splinter News reported, “ For just $20 million, Steyer has collected nearly four million email addresses, simply by promising that the act of giving him your email address will, in some fashion, help make the impeachment of Donald Trump more likely, which is not true.”
On Jan. 8, Steyer held a press conference to formally announce his political ambitions, just days after his publicity stunt to purchase and deliver copies of Michael Wolff’s book “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” to every member of Congress. (Dworkin, whose posts on social media regularly push conspiracies and fake stories, recently tweeted about the Trump ‘Gorilla Channel’ parody—a satirical “excerpt” from Wolff’s book– as if it were real.)
Steyer said during the press conference that he plans to pour more money into his ‘Impeach Trump’ campaign, and use his Super PAC, Next Generation Climate, to flip the House to Democrats, though he provided no specifics on how he plans to do that.
Steyer may be one of the more shameless self-promoters of the Trump Resistance, but he isn’t the only figure to use the Resistance for personal gain. Democratic fundraiser Scott Dworkin, who leads a PAC called the Democratic Coalition Against Trump, has come under criticism recently as FEC filings show nearly a third of the money raised by the PAC has been funneled to his own consulting firm, the Bulldog Finance Group. The PAC brands itself as “the nation’s largest grassroots resistance organization,” but hasn’t produced anything of note that actually contributed to that resistance, nor has it spent money on activists, individuals, or candidates who have.
When pressed to answer questions about what the Democratic Coalition PAC actually does, Dworkin reduced the criticism to Russian propaganda while converting it into a pitch to his followers on social media to retweet his content.
Dworkin and several others have built large followings and monetized them by touting that they have insider information or claiming that they’re going to blow open the Russia investigation. In fact, they’ve managed to build a lucrative business by selling false promises to followers while MSNBC’s Joy Reid and other mainstream media outlets signal-boost these grifters’ platforms, legitimizing them as credible experts. At the same time, activists, grassroots organizations, and more concrete, policy-focused forms of opposition to Trump and the GOP are eclipsed by the self-adulation and sensationalism of this retweet-addicted grifter crowd.