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Texas Observer | October 2, 2018 | 4:00am
The Observer’s Facebook page, thanks to our thoughtful, engaged readers, is one of the last bastions of civility on the internet. The same can’t be said for the rest of the social network, which remains today, as it ever was, a cesspool.
Between the posts from former classmates who, in better, simpler times, you’d have forgotten five minutes after you graduated, the baby pictures and the data breaches, it’s hard to even get to the steady stream of political content from dubious sources for which the Facebook is known.
There’s a high enough volume of that stuff however, that when a big event happens, it gets through in waves. The fight over Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court’s been no exception thanks to a confluence of what Facebook does worst — conflicting allegations and denials, identity politics and conspiracy theories. Despite all the noise, however, a noble voice from Texas’ Republican leadership rose above the crowd over the weekend, making sure that as many people as possible got their fill of pro-Kavanaugh memes and cheerleading.
That leader, as it has been so often when Texas sticks out on the worldwide social media stage, was Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller.
According to information from CrowdTangle compiled by New York Times tech reporter Kevin Roose on Monday, Miller had one of the five best performing Facebook posts about Kavanaugh over 24 hours spanning from Sunday to Monday afternoon.
That’s right, right there between Fox News, the progressive provocateurs at Occupy Democrats and conservative provocateur Ben Shapiro, is Miller, Texas’ 63-year-old agriculture commissioner.
Roose tells the Observer that it was a post urging prayer for Ashley Kavanaugh, Brett Kavanaugh’s wife, that got Miller near the top of the list.
Miller, who has about three-quarters of a million followers on Facebook, got 33,000 reactions and 14,000 shares on that message alone. While it may have been his highest performing post of the weekend, it was part of a larger pattern. Whatever Miller is selling about Kavanaugh, conservatives around the country are buying it.
There’s the garden variety stuff about the accusations against Kavanaugh being part of a Democratic plot.
Of course, there’s praise for Lindsey Graham, after Graham’s impassioned defense of Kavanaugh in a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.
There’s scorn for Democrat Cory Booker, who took on Republicans over limitations they placed on who could and couldn’t testify at the hearing at which Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who says Kavanaugh tried to rape her in 1982, made her allegations in public. Jeff Flake, despite being a Republican, isn’t spared, because he said that he wouldn’t vote for Kavanaugh on the floor until the FBI was allowed to investigate Ford’s allegations further.
Then there are the cartoons and memes mocking the MeToo movement.
It would all be kind off funny if Miller wasn’t getting so much traction off of these posts. Miller has 2.5 times the Facebook likes as Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and is gaining on Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who has 1.3 million. He gets more engagement, as well — Abbott’s posts from the weekend topped out at 2,300 reactions, a number that Miller would sneeze at.
The agriculture commissioner’s social media pages are a direct portal to the Texas GOP’s id. Enter at your own risk.