Corey Lewandowski, Never Go Full 'Work Sets You Free'
Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski made a big damn fool of himself on the internet, recording a video in which he said the phrase "work sets you free" either without realizing how familiar that sounded, or just not giving a damn.
Whatever Lewandowski's actual fascist proclivities (factcheck: being a senior Trump adviser is plenty), he didn't just come up with the line himself. Instead, he fell for a very basic prank by some YouTube trolls who perform as "The Serfs." They paid Lewandowski 70 bucks to record the message on Cameo, then posted an edited version of the video to Twitter, with a logo for a nonexistent but vaguely patriotic sounding group, "Alpha Freedom Friends." Here's the tweet:
If you actually type in that "Alphafreedomfriends.com" URL, you're immediately redirected to the donation page for Planned Parenthood, which should be a giveaway that the whole Lewandowschwitz thing is a gag.
Cameo, in case you're fortunate enough to not be Extremely Online, is a website where people can pay celebrities (however loosely the term may be defined) to record customized messages. For $500 you can get a birthday message from Fran Drescher, and for $70, you could get Corey Lewandowski to read a statement that sounds like boilerplate Trumpist nonsense, if it weren't the slogan posted at the entrance to Auschwitz and other Nazi death camps.
Hey, this is a message for the Alpha Freedom Friends. This is Corey Lewandowski. You know me as President Trump's 2016 campaign manager and his current 2020 senior adviser. Look, I want to say freedom only for the members of the government or only for the members of the party is no freedom at all. We need to end the China virus lockdown, and only work sets you free. Let's get everyone back to work, let's get our economy growing again, let's send Donald Trump and Mike Pence back to the White House for four more years
Not surprisingly, Twitter was soon full of decent people condemning Lewandowski for either not knowing the hideous meaning of the phrase, or more likely, knowing exactly what he was saying and saying it anyway. Several pointed out the weird phenomenon of people carrying "work makes you free" or even "Arbeit Macht Frei" signs at anti-lockdown rallies.
By late Thursday night, the original video had been scrubbed from Lewandowski's Cameo page, so we sure are glad we recorded a copy of it earlier.
Other pols have similarly been trolled by paying Cameo customers; earlier this year, former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio ($30) recorded a video wishing well to furries, although he clearly had no idea what furries are. The customer asked what animal Arpaio would like to be, and he said he was "kind of partial to dogs."
Have you had your day ruined yet? https://t.co/3DSuYES77F— 🦒 Espo (@🦒 Espo) 1599619791.0
And earlier this week, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie ($200, proceeds to charity) recorded a video apparently urging Greg Gianforte, the Republican congressman now running for governor of Montana, to "come back" to New Jersey, because of all the neat stuff the Garden State has to offer. In reality, Christie was tricked by a Cameo user posing as a New Jersey resident who wanted Christie to urge "my buddy Greg" (first name only) to return to New Jersey. The video ended up making its way to the Twitter account of Mike Cooney, the Democrat running against Gianforte:
a special message for @gregformontana https://t.co/YEWM0dEi2S— Mike Cooney (@Mike Cooney) 1603976520.0
Christie didn't appreciate the trick, and posted his own angry tweet condemning Cooney, reproducing the sneaky dishonest order form, and reaffirming his support for Gianforte.
Shame on @CooneyforMT. Same to @DemGovs. I am doing Cameo to benefit a NJ charity that shelters & treats drug & alc… https://t.co/obJJTd5QjL— Governor Christie (@Governor Christie) 1603985765.0
The best part of that little caper is this note from NorthJersey.com:
The Cooney campaign did not offer any insight into the prank, responding to a message seeking comment only with a shoulder-shrug emoji.
Now that's journalism.
In a more sinister vein, in Cameo's early days, there was also a spate of incidents in which white supremacists requested celebrities like Brett Favre and Soulja Boy to read messages filled with coded anti-Semitic dogwhistles, which is just one more reason we can't have nice — or even irrelevant — things.
This isn't the first time Lewandowski has fallen for a troll; in 2018, Sacha Baron Cohen, faking a Foghorn Leghorn accent and pretending to be "Billy Wayne Ruddick Jr., Ph.D.," chatted with Lewandowski for his Showtime show. Cohen tried to bait Lewandowski into agreeing that Donald Trump did nothing wrong after Charlottesville, asking, "Why should the president pick a side between anti-fascists and fascists? He's the president of all people."
10pm #whoisamerica #charlottesville https://t.co/aJ1rHXcu4R— Sacha Baron Cohen (@Sacha Baron Cohen) 1534108713.0
Lewandowski had enough political sense to only partly take the bait, which was bad enough:
Lewandowski: There is a place and a time to disagree with people everywhere, OK? You don't have to agree with people. You have to respect them, and you can't be attacking them.
Cohen: Exactly! You can't be attacking honest, fascist people who just want to express their right to start a genocide. That is their right!
The video ends there, but USA Today duly notes that in the actual broadcast, Lewandowski backed away a little bit from the genocide bit, while explaining all Americans' right to be fascists who call for genocide:
Look, I don't know about that, but what I do know is this: If the law says that people can do a peaceful protest, they should be allowed to do that.
His commitment to not attacking people merely because they're fascists is certainly principled, to be sure.
In conclusion, people need to be a little less gullible. Take it from me, Edward R. Murrow. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
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