A bronze-finish sculpture titled Mount Trumpmore, with the visage of the 45th president to the immediate right of the first president, lists for $195.
“This depiction of DJT stands handsomely among some of our greatest American Presidents,” says a pitch for the item. “Makes a wonderful, commemorative display or paperweight.”
Meanwhile, a coffee mug emblazoned with a photo of the former POTUS and FLOTUS (“The Best Is Yet To Come”) is only $25. And there is a limited edition President Trump gold-and-black $1 billion commemorative bill — a recent item that sells for a mere $11.95.
These items and more, many of them in homage to Donald J. Trump (“All products purchased are donations. Thank you for supporting President Trump and Beach Broadcast”), can be found at a website called Beach Broadcast.
It also prominently features YouTube clips voiced by a cheery-sounding narrator who identifies herself as Santa Surfing and who hawks the Trump merchandise, talks about current events tinged with conspiracy theories (e.g., Mike Pence is a traitor, JKF Jr. is still alive, Joe Biden will build the wall, the container ship stuck in the Suez Canal is tied to Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama) and extolls love for self and a higher power.
Where does Beach Broadcast originate, you may ask? Maybe from the redder regions of Florida or conservative pockets in Southern California or in Texas?
Nope: Kihei, Maui.
Since the November election I’ve written two columns looking at the modest growth of conservative websites that have cropped up in Hawaii in recent months. They include six so-called pay-to-play sites with local-sounding names (e.g., Aloha State News) but with mainland sponsorship, and Barefoot News Hawaii, which is operated locally out of Kapolei.
I am not quite sure how to categorize Beach Broadcast — it’s sort of a video podcast — but I do think it is important to be aware of Trump’s devoted base in Blue Hawaii.
As Civil Beat reported after the election, Trump won more votes in Hawaii than any other Republican presidential candidate since statehood in 1959. As of this writing, he is reported to be considering a 2024 rematch against Joe Biden. (More on that later.)
The only reason I learned about Beach Broadcast is because it is suing YouTube and its parent companies Google and Alphabet. The lawsuit alleges that the online sites took down Beach Broadcast videos that claimed the George Floyd killing last year and the mass shootings in Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012 and in El Paso, Texas, in 2019 were planned events staged by actors.
The lawsuit says that YouTube labeled the plaintiff’s website as “hate speech.”
“Expressing an opinion that recent shootings were planned events by individuals does not incite viewers to violence,” the suit explains. “Further, there are many other controversial content creators that post about antifa or Black Lives Matter that take similarly controversial positions and yet are not censored by YouTube.”
The lawsuit, filed last month in the 2nd Circuit Court on Maui, is on behalf of M.E.O.W.I.E. Foundation doing business as Beach Broadcast. The foundation’s Facebook page says it’s a nonprofit seeking justice for abused and abandoned cats. Both entities are registered with the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs to Carroll Hall, who lists a Kihei address. Hall is also identified in the lawsuit as the plaintiff.
A person who answered the phone number listed for Hall last week said media inquiries should be directed to the Maui law firm Cain & Herren (“Hawaii’s Leading Bankruptcy, Family Law and Criminal Defense Law Firm”). Attorney Michael Collins told me via email, “I spoke with my client and at this time, because the lawsuit is pending, we will withhold from making a formal statement.”
For its part, Google promptly sent me an email stating, “If you are a member of the press or a Google employee, we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.” That was last Tuesday and I am still waiting.
As for the lawsuit, it alleges that Hall had an agreement to be a content generator and produce and post videos on YouTube. In turn, YouTube agreed to pay Hall revenue based on viewer traffic.
“Plaintiff has been relying almost exclusively on this RPM income and sale of products relating to its YouTube channel to finance the owner’s lifestyle and pay monthly personal and business expenses,” the suit alleges, adding, “For months, the Parties relationship was mutually beneficial and lucrative to both Plaintiff and YouTube.”
But, due to YouTube’s “campaign of censorship” that appears to have begun in October and included temporary suspensions of Beach Broadcast, the lawsuit contends that Hall has experienced “extreme financial loss” — estimated to be between $3,000 and $29,000 a month.
Hall demands of YouTube that it restore her YouTube channel and its monetization ratio to “pre-censorship” levels and remove “any false hate speech labels on file with it.”
She also wants money and cites a section of the Hawaii Revised Statutes that addresses unfair and deceptive trade practices.
Beach Broadcast makes clear that all the information and videos on the website “are opinions only.” And I support its position, as stated in the lawsuit, that there is an audience hungry for conservative alternative views of current events “that are not entertained by media and most social media.”
But what mystifies me is that a lot of this stuff is batshit cra-cra and many of her viewers — nearly 44,000 on a March 24 episode, for example — are eating this stuff up.
“Santa that ship is screaming false flag to me call me paranoid,” TJ Nash commented on the site. “Every Democrat and Rhino should be charged for allowing our border to get in to the shape it is.”
“We miss Trump so much too,” posted Linda Wigelsworth. “Thank you Santa for your kindness and your up lifting news.”
All this comes as the trial of George Floyd’s accused killer continues, as more shootings occur, as Republicans in states like Georgia move to disenfranchise non-GOP voters and as the former president of the United States continues to say that the election was “stolen” (it wasn’t), that his former VP failed to stop the Electoral College certification (he couldn’t), and that Mitch McConnell is a “dumb son of a bitch” (no Republican did more for the Trump administration than the former Senate majority leader).
The country needs to have an opposition party to challenge the Biden administration on legitimate concerns including the crises at the border, proposed tax increases to pay for a $2 trillion infrastructure plan and a study on whether the Supreme Court should be expanded, to name just three pressing issues.
But wallowing in lies and spewing QAnon-esque crap will not help the Grand Old Party take back the White House and Senate let alone the House of Representatives, no matter how many mini Mount Trumpmores you sell.
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