Yesterday, I saw this meme floating around several conservative sites and decided to investigate.
It turns out that, yes, Ryan Clayton of the Huffington Post (and other activist Jason Charter) did in fact pass out Russian flags with Trump’s name on them at CPAC. For those that don’t know, CPAC is the Conservative Political Action Conference that took place on February 24.
However, the stunt was not done in order for to create a “fake news story.” Clayton is part of a Left Wing activist group called Americans Take Action whose goals, according to their website, are “restoring free and fair elections, creating a purpose-driven economy, and maintaining an open internet.”
Clayton and Charter “wouldn’t call it a false-flag operation. “’It’s true-flag operation,’” Clayton told me over the phone, in a thick, mock Russian accent. “’It show how Trump and Russia are so connected, they like peas in pod!’” The CPAC stunt comes after a report from February 14 suggesting that Trump aides were in contact with Russian intelligence officials in the year before the U.S. presidential election,” reported The Atlantic.
Whether or not you are part of the group that believes Russia interfered with the election in Trump’s favor, it seems that Clayton’s actions were not simply to create a fake story. His purpose was 1) to prank Trump supporters and 2) to emphasize the ideologies of their activist group.
If you’d like to read more, here’s Clayton’s article detailing why he pulled the prank.