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Cockburn Internet

Mission accomplished: sunset of the Krassensteins

If grifting was the plan, it’s hard to figure out what the Krassenstein grift was

November 20, 2020

1:11 PM

20 November 2020

1:11 PM

As 2020 nears its conclusion, many things are coming to an end: Donald Trump’s presidency, America’s superpower status, Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s once-remarkable record of being alive. Now, add another one to the list: the Krassenstein family is quitting Twitter.

The Krassenstein family were humans who could only exist in the age of Donald Trump. That is, if they were really human at all; Cockburn is skeptical. Their total obsession with Donald Trump suggested that, like an ant consumed by the cordyceps fungus, their human self may have been hollowed out and wholly replaced by an id of pure anti-Trump derangement.

Anyone foolish enough to regularly read Donald Trump’s tweets has seen the Krassensteins. Often-shirtless brothers Brian and Edward appeared to lurk on Twitter all day and every day, for the sole purpose of posting rapid and hostile responses whenever the president blasted out another ill-considered thought on the platform. Whether it was 6 a.m. or 10 p.m., if the President had something to say, one the Krassensteins would have some dull #Resistance pablum to say in response. The brothers then used dark Twitter magic to elevate their denunciations and ensure they were the first seen by others with a sad addiction to the Presidential Twitter.

In 2019, Twitter banned the brothers. It turned out the secret to their spectacular success was operating a vast network of fake accounts to boost themselves. Undeterred, the brothers simply put on a metaphorical wig and began posting with the account of Brian’s wife, Heidi. The same pattern resumed: no matter what hour the President chose to tweet, Heidi was there, ready with #Resistance slop so generic it may well have been generated by an AI algorithm:


But no more. On Wednesday, Heidi announced that with Trump (probably) about to leave office, her family’s mission was complete.

…and so on. You get the feeling that they aren’t able to enjoy their victory at all. Instead of basking in the final defeat of Cheeto Hitler, Heidi spends more time defending her family’s own conduct.

The past four years have turned Trump hatred into a formidable industry, so it says something that even other leftists on Twitter found the Krassensteins irritating and suspicious. In 2016, before the brothers became full-time #Resisters, federal agents seized their computers in a raid, claiming they had spent years pushing online scams and Ponzi schemes. The brothers would hasten to point out that no charges were ever brought. Though surely, critics thought, there must be some grift, some moneymaking angle to the endless torrent of uninspired Trump hatred.

But if grifting was the plan, it’s hard to figure out what the grift was. In 2018, the Krassensteins made a bizarre and slightly sad effort to sell an anti-Trump children’s book, which depicted Robert Mueller as a muscular superhero (as opposed to real life, where he is a muscular disappointment). Besides that, they did little to monetize their following.

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So what was really happening? Cockburn thinks that Heidi’s farewell message has the answer.

‘Social media has become a drug to our society,’ she wrote, ‘with people relying on it to supply them with likes and retweets which please their dopamine receptors in the same way that drugs and alcohol do for addicts.’

Cockburn predicts that the Krassensteins’ retirement lasts two weeks, tops.


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