Bizarre Alt Right Cartoon of Trump as 9/11 Plane and CNN as Twin Towers Confuses Twitter

Updated | The American right frequently delights in its mockery of CNN, dutifully following in the footsteps of President Trump, who spent much of the last week maligning the cable news network.

Sometimes, however, that glee can seem misplaced.

Lucian B. Wintrich, the White House correspondent for right-wing news site Gateway Pundit, decided to express his disdain for the network's alleged desire to stifle the Trump administration by depicting President Trump as one of the hijacked 9/11 airliners crashing into the World Trade Center. The tweet — since deleted — was clearly intended as a slight at CNN and recent controversies surrounding its reporting. Perhaps unintentionally, Wintrich approvingly conflated Trump with Al Qaeda while casting CNN in the role of the 3,000 innocents who were killed that morning.

The image shows Trump's head crudely superimposed onto the fuselage of United Airlines Flight 175, which terrorists slammed into the south tower of the World Trade Center. Sixty people died aboard the airplane. Six hundred fourteen died in the explosion of the tower, the resulting fire and the building's ensuing collapse.

Wintrich is a young Bard College graduate who gained notoriety for Twinks4Trump, which the liberal site Mic once described as a portfolio of  "gay men in various states of undress sporting Make America Great Again hats." Wintrich is an ally of Milo Yiannopoulos, another openly gay member of the alt-right. Both men are fond of calling Trump "daddy."

This winter, Gateway Pundit received White House credentials and announced that Wintrich would serve as its White House correspondent. Many critics of Trump saw this as further evidence that he would afford a platform to alt-right outlets that would, in exchange, eagerly promulgate his distorted version of reality. Media Matters for America, the left-leaning watchdog group, called Wintrich a "dangerous troll," citing what it called his misogynistic, homophobic and transphobic comments. 

Several weeks later, Wintrich was denounced in the White House briefing room by Jon Decker of Fox Radio. "They hate blacks, Jews, Hispanics," Decker reportedly said of Gateway Pundit, and of Wintrich in particular. Wintrich had his own version of the encounter: "He really aggressively grabbed me, not to the point where I was bruised, but close to it.”  

Wintrich has been busy, in recent days, sending out tweets mocking CNN. These have been in line with the president's own attacks, which came as Trump was preparing to meet with Russian leader Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, deciding how to best confront an emboldened North Korea and awaiting Senate action on the American Health Care Act.

In an exchange with another Twitter user who confronted him with the 9/11-themed tweet, Wintrich claimed it was sent to him by a friend in the U.S. Marines, saying that he later deleted the tweet because numerous people asked him to. He maintained that the tweet was funny.

Asked by Newsweek Friday how he would explain what he meant by the tweet, Wintrich replied in an email: "Memes, as a new media art form, are open to interpretation. How would you explain it?"

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Confronted with Wintrich's tweet, Gateway Pundit founder Jim Hoft had a simple message: "I hope CNN won't dox him." The reference is to CNN's tracking down of the Reddit user who created the professional wrestling image tweeted by Trump a week ago. Since CNN report did not identify that individual by name, it did not technically "dox" him. 

This article has been updated to reflect Wintrich's reply to Newsweek's request for comment. 

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