Right after Trump took office, BuzzFeed News reporter Charlie Warzel described counter-programming on the right as “a parallel universe that operates as a mirror image of its mainstream counterpart with its own ‘alternative facts,’ audience, and interpretation of truth.” A new website called Verrit is that nightmare coming full circle. While it may not have outlandish conspiracy theories or careless whoppers (though there’s certainly plenty of that on the left, too), Verrit is counter-counter programming to the pro-Trump media: an enclave for liberal thoughts that is proudly and explicitly for “the 65.8 million” people who voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016. It’s the blue MAGA hat of websites.
Verrit, created by Clinton stan Peter Daou, who coined the hashtag and website #HillaryMen, and took credit for creating The Huffington Post, promises “an unwavering commitment to truth and facts.” Many of those facts are just image macros with quotes from Hillary Clinton, who asked people to sign up for the website in a tweet on Sunday.
Daou claims that Verrit was hit by both a DDOS attack and a “Hillary-hating frenzy” following Clinton’s tweet. He told Recode that the site was taken down by a “pretty significant and sophisticated” cyber attack, and the site was inaccessible through Monday morning. Daou then spun the backlash to his propaganda machine as evidence of its necessity.
Within a day, a website nobody was talking about became a “Hillary-endorsed platform” that’s causing the right to lose its marbles.
Clinton and Daou referred to Verrit as a “media platform,” but it’s not really a platform in any meaningful sense. Users can’t contribute anything to the site except to comment on each page. The whole point of the site is to give people image macros that they can download or share, presumably so they can win arguments with political opponents by showing them a tweet-length statement in a picture that’s embedded in a tweet. Gizmodo categorized the site as a “link dump,” but many of the pages, like this factoid on bullying, don’t even link to their vaguely referenced source. Some “facts” on Verrit are just people insulting Republicans, like this card that says “Mike Pence is lying” with no context.
Other entries on the site include blog posts from Daou, like this “fair and honest assessment of what happened in the 2016 presidential race,” which argues that Trump got elected because of Bernie Sanders and the “mainstream media.”
The site says each of its fact cards, called a “verrit” (okay, sure), is a “verified item of information” that’s marked with a 7-digit identification code. Verrit doesn’t say who’s doing the fact checking or how it chooses and verifies information.
Like Fox News, which has long castigated mainstream media while citing the reporting it likes as credible, many of Verrit’s sources are from mainstream media, and none of it, except for Daou’s own “analysis,” seems original. That makes the site just another partisan showroom for original reporting, controlled by someone with an axe to grind, and endorsed by a major figure in American politics. To each their own “real news.”