On May 15, a man named Eoin Lenihan posted a Twitter thread that promised to reveal the results of a bombshell new study. Presenting himself as an “online extremism researcher,” he invoked two of the right wing’s favorite bogeymen—antifa and “the media”—and claimed he could prove that one was in bed with the other. The right-wing media sat up and took notice—and then things quickly got out of hand.
According to Lenihan, “We mapped the social interactions of 58,254 Antifa affiliated accounts on Twitter based on an initial seed of 16 self-identifying and verifiable Antifa accounts.” This tweet was accompanied by a graph showing a web of connections between various antifascist Twitter accounts and a number of journalists and academics who are verified by Twitter (via the dreaded blue check). He went on to note that he and his team (whoever they may be) had analyzed articles by the 15 most-connected journalists, and found them to be, in Lenihan’s opinion, inadequately critical of antifascism.
In one close-up graph, those 15 accounts were highlighted in green. Mine was one of them.
This “discovery” inspired a smugly delighted reaction from various right-wing outlets like Breitbart, RedState, RT, and Human Events, which licked their lips and posted alarmist articles about Lenihan’s “findings” and his subsequent Twitter suspension. Perhaps that was to be expected. Of particular interest, though, was that Quillette, a magazine that has been dubbed the voice of the so-called intellectual dark web, also joined the pile-on. Others have pointed out that Quillette, which strives to be a serious journal of opinion, is merely another reactionary outlet on the right. But its embrace of Lenihan, a discredited far-right troll who formerly operated an account under the name “Progdad” that was suspended by Twitter in 2018, shows that it is reactionary to the point of recklessness endangerment.