In May 2023, “left-wing activists” looted a Target store in response to conservative Target boycotts.
On May 26, 2023, the News That Matters Twitter account garnered over a million views and a myriad of retweets by sharing a photo of a looted Target store next to the text “Left activists looting Target in protest against the right-wing boycott of Target”.
Left-wing activists loot Target in protest against right-wing boycott of Target pic.twitter.com/WTXvv68b8o
— News that Matters (@ThatmattersNews) May 26, 2023
The tweet came amid a conservative effort to protest Target over its inclusion of trans products and its collaboration with a “satanic” fashion designer in its Pride 2023 merchandise. This protest led Target to remove some items from the collection Pride, which led to a liberal reaction.
While not directly labeled as satire, the account’s pinned tweet—as well as content on its Twitter feed—strongly implies that the content is satirical, as other fact-checking bodies have stated:
A new study shows a shocking number of American adults have trouble spelling the word ‘satire’, let alone recognizing it
The image used in the tweet has no relation to the 2023 campaign against Target over the Pride collection. It was taken at a Target store in Minneapolis, Minnesota, following protests over the police killing of George Floyd, a black man, on May 25, 2020.
A variation of this “joke” was tweeted by right-wing internet pundit Ian Miles Cheong almost simultaneously with the News That Matters tweet.
His tweet took video from inside the same Target store during the same protests and sarcastically blamed the acts of destruction on conservatives, reminding them to “disavow the destruction of Target stores nationwide.”
Conservatives must disavow the destruction of Target stores across the country. It won’t be the summer of transphobia. pic.twitter.com/bdsZLwK4qf
—Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) May 26, 2023
In a later audio tweet, Cheong expressed disappointment that some people didn’t get the joke, saying:
I’m appalled, deeply appalled and disappointed that some of you can’t grasp the sarcasm. When I post a video of Black Lives Matter rioters destroying a Target store and call it conservative destruction of Target stores and call it transphobia, it’s meant to be sarcastic.
In both cases, photographs or videos of events related to the protests over Floyd’s death were repurposed to make a “satirical” or “sarcastic” point about liberal anger at Target for making concessions to political groups. of curatorial interest in the store’s Pride 2023 collection.
The claims in which these claims are taken seriously therefore have their origins in satire.
@stillgray. “Conservatives must disavow the destruction of target stores across the country. This will not be the summer of transphobia.” Twitter, https://twitter.com/stillgray/status/1662133238306062336. Accessed May 26, 2023.
—. “My disappointment is immeasurable and my day is ruined.” Twitter, https://twitter.com/stillgray/status/1662137832490799107. Accessed May 26, 2023.
Swann, Sara. “The claim that members of Congress exempted themselves from IRS audits began as satire.” Poynter, August 24, 2022, https://www.poynter.org/fact-checking/2022/claim-that-congress-members-exempted-themselves-from-irs-audits-started-as-satire/.
T, Bret. “‘Completely Ransacked’: Townhall’s Julio Rosas Takes Us Inside This Minneapolis Target That Has Been Looted.” Twitchy.Com, May 28, 2020, https://twitchy.com/brettt-3136/2020/05/28/completely-trashed-townhalls-julio-rosas-takes-us-inside-that-minneapolis-target-that- was looted/.
“Target is closing more than a dozen stores in Minneapolis ‘until further notice’ after the looting.” Yahoo Life, May 28, 2020, https://www.yahoo.com/lifestyle/target-shutting-down-more-dozen-223611736.html.
@ThatmattersNews. “A new study shows a shocking number of American adults have trouble spelling the word ‘Satire,’ let alone recognize it.” Twitter, https://twitter.com/ThatmattersNews/status/1559941238538764288. Accessed May 26, 2023.
It MattersNews. “Left activists loot Target in protest against right-wing boycott of Target.” Twitter, https://twitter.com/ThatmattersNews/status/1662133229179006976. Accessed May 26, 2023.