Social media is a pox on humanity. It probably contributed to the election of President Donald Trump. It disregards our privacy, destroys our attention spans and makes us hate people we otherwise wouldn't. One of the few good things about social media — beyond having millions of dog and cat videos available on demand — is that it allows political leaders to show a little more of their id than they might otherwise.
Many Texans provided prime examples of this oversharing phenomenon in 2018, something that we enjoyed a great deal here at the Observer. Here are a few of our favorite social screwups of the last year:
1. Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller posts glowing tribute to Jefferson Davis on Facebook during Black History Month — Not making it up, this is a thing the most popular state-government personality on social media did earlier this year on Facebook.
2. Texas Attorney General spokesman mocks Kavanaugh accuser — In September, Marc Rylander, chief spokesman for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, retweeted a series of jokes about the sexual assault allegations made by Christine Blasey Ford against Brett Kavanaugh, then a nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court.
Among other things, Rylander equated the detailed, public allegations by Ford, a college professor, with cheating at a kindergarten game of "pin the tail on the donkey."
As penance for his making light of rape allegations, Rylander deleted his Twitter account a day after his retweets went viral, but he didn't lose his job.
3. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott mixes up his history — Seeking to capitalize on his base's antipathy for antifa, Abbott tweeted out a meme with a quote purportedly from Winston Churchill, captioned "Some insights are timeless."
"The fascists of the future will call themselves anti-fascists," Abbott's meme said.
A bit on the nose, we'd say, but the quote makes a point the governor wants to make. The only thing is, Churchill never said it. The quote came from 9gag.com, an aggressively dumb meme-farm based in Hong Kong — says so right on the meme the gov posted.
4. The Texas GOP sells Beto O'Rourke to the world — Apparently feeling a little itchy in late August, the Republican Party of Texas decided to attack Beto O'Rourke on Twitter. They posted a picture of O'Rourke in a dress on the cover of his old punk band's EP, along with videos of O'Rourke skateboarding and looking better than anyone has any right to look in a DWI mugshot.
The plot against O'Rourke backfired spectacularly, with people far and wide pausing to notice just how good O'Rourke looked in the dress and his mugshot.
Maybe Beto can’t debate Ted Cruz because he already had plans... pic.twitter.com/LdqKTh3yK4— Texas GOP (@TexasGOP) August 28, 2018
5. Arlington school administrator falls in the Avenatti trap — Butch Groves, like many people, decided this fall that he'd had about all he could stand from Michael Avenatti, the attorney who got famous representing porn actress Stormy Daniels in her civil suit against Donald Trump. When the then-head of the upper school at The Oakridge School in Arlington heard Avenatti was representing one of the women accusing Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault, he messaged Avenatti on Twitter to let the lawyer know what Groves thought of him.
"You are a fucking douche bag. You lying piece of shit," Groves wrote Avenatti.
Avenatti, internet tough guy he is, tweeted Groves' message out to the whole world, leading to his suspension and eventual firing from The Oakridge School.
Meet @butchgroves, the Head of Upper School at The Oakridge School in Arlington, TX. I have never met him before or communicated with him but here is his message to me earlier tonight. The parents of Oakridge must be so proud to have this man teaching their sons and daughters. pic.twitter.com/vnNoFMKUYI— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) September 24, 2018
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to the Observer's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Dallas's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
6. JWP doubles down on his Hitler mailer — In early October, Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price got "busted" for sending out a mailer encouraging voters to cast Democratic ballots. It compared President Donald Trump with Hitler. After the first cries of outrage went up, Price took to his personal Facebook to make absolutely sure everyone knew that he stood behind the comparison.
7. Plano City Council member calls for banning Muslims from public schools on Facebook. — Way back in February, Plano City Council member Tom Harrison shared a video calling for "Ban[ning] Islam in American Schools."
Activists and Plano Mayor Harry LaRosiliere both called for Harrison's firing, but the council member refused to step down, saying he didn't know how the video ended up being posted to his account and insisting he wasn't a bigot. A recall effort against Harrison failed due to a technicality, and he remains on the City Council.