A Yahoo article profiling criticism of Hollywood A-lister Chris Pratt for allegedly wearing a racist and "white supremacist" t-shirt has triggered a social media meltdown on Twitter, but not for the reason you think.
Chris Pratt Wears Gadsden Flag Shirt, 'Controversy' Ensues
It all started when Pratt, best known for his roles in Marvel's "Guardians of the Galaxy" and NBC's "Parks and Recreation," wore a t-shirt featuring the Gadsden flag and the familiar warning: "Don't Tread on Me."
The Gadsden flag was first used during the Revolutionary War and remains a symbol of individual rights and political independence.
— hunter harris (@hunteryharris) July 15, 2019
After scouring the most inane corners of Twitter, Yahoo managed to find a handful of tweets from users with virtually no followers accusing Pratt of such crimes as blowing a "white supremacist dogwhistle" to his racist fans. That gave them all the proof they needed to publish the following article on the "controversy":
"Chris Pratt criticised for 'white supremacist' T-shirt"
It wasn't long before the article triggered backlash on Twitter, but - perhaps contrary to Yahoo's expectations - the anger wasn't directed at Chris Pratt.
Rather, fans and pundits from all corners of the political spectrum raked Yahoo over the coals for manufacturing a controversy to generate clicks - all at the actor's expense.
Conservatives and Liberals Alike Rake Yahoo Over the Coals
Conservative firebrand Ben Shapiro eviscerated the article as "pure idiocy" in a withering response. "Not every symbol of the early republic is a white supremacist symbol, unless you are a moron," he said.
Los Angeles Times columnist and American Enterprise Institute fellow Jonah Goldberg was somehow even more critical than Shaprio, slamming Yahoo as "click-baiting parasites" for targeting Chris Pratt.
"Shame on @Yahoo for this trash. A handful of dumb twitter comments isn’t a news story you click-baiting parasites. There nothing white supremacist about that T-shirt," he said. "It’s like everyone wants to be stupid and make everything worse."
Shame on @Yahoo for this trash. A handful of dumb twitter comments isn’t a news story you click-baiting parasites. There nothing white supremacist about that T-shirt.
It’s like everyone wants to be stupid and make everything worse. https://t.co/TVNeLUGUAc
— Jonah Goldberg (@JonahNRO) July 17, 2019
But it wasn't just conservatives bashing Yahoo for its lazy reporting.
Vox co-founder and self-described "Chief Neoliberal Shill" Matthew Yglesias thundered that in a country with 330 million people, media outlets should not run "news" articles that could be summarized as "a couple of dozen people made a dumb criticism of someone."
Part of how the internet has broken people’s brains is that 700 people screaming at you feels like a lot of people, but in the low-friction vastness of digital space it’s actually almost nobody.
— Matthew Yglesias (@mattyglesias) July 17, 2019
Yglesias' rebuke is particularly striking given that he had no qualms about labeling Donald Trump a racist in an article published just two days ago.
Washington Post senior reporter Aaron Blake piled on, saying that Yahoo is "making all of our jobs harder."
The implication is that faux controversies like Chris Pratt's "racist" and "white supremacist" shirt distract from issues that actually matter.
Thanks for making all of our jobs harder, Yahoo. https://t.co/MfTW1YjA4A
— Aaron Blake (@AaronBlake) July 17, 2019
Yahoo later quietly edited its headline to read "Chris Pratt criticised for T-shirt choice," but the article remains live as of the time of writing.