Devin Nunes, Republican congressman from California and Trump lapdog, is suing Twitter for a deeply hilarious reason.
The thrust of the Nunes' lawsuit is that two parody accounts — @DevinNunesMom and @DevinCow — defamed Nunes with the assistance of the third defendant, strategist Liz Mair. Twitter is also named in the suit for just letting it happen. It also mentions "shadow banning," a false claim frequently made by conservatives on Twitter that the platform suppresses their tweets.
The entire filing is about 40 pages and can be read here, but below is a selection of the parts that made us el oh el the most.
The accounts in question
Credit to @DevinNunesMom for breathing new life into the "your mom" category of jokes. The account, now suspended, had the word "parody" in its Twitter bio, but that wasn't enough to keep it off the chopping block. Still, it's fun to imagine Nunes being triggered by such a schoolyard-style taunt.
More imaginative is @DevinCow, playing off of Nunes' early life growing up on a farm. One hilarious point of fallout: @DevinCow has picked up thousands of Twitter followers thanks to the lawsuit. Probably not the effect Nunes was hoping for.
It's also worth noting that while Liz Mair is named in the suit, the defamation claim against her is mostly separate from that of the parody accounts. The only thing that connects the two is a 2018 tweet from Mair that shouted out @DevinCow.
— BrandValue$4B (@LizMair) July 12, 2018
The lawsuit ultimately accuses the accounts of a "concerted defamation campaign... to cause immense pain, intimidate, interfere with and divert Nunes’ attention from his investigation of corruption and Russian involvement in the 2016 Presidential Election."
If the investigation referred to here is actually the now-infamous Nunes Memo, that makes the argument even more laughable given that the memo wound up contradicting itself and ultimately being a self-aggrandizing nothing burger.
The suit mainly focuses on the now-deleted @DevinNunesMom account and, boy, does it not disappoint. The tweets quoted in the lawsuit include a few real doozies, like:
"Devin Nunes’ Mom stated that Nunes had turned out worse than Jacob Wohl"
"falsely stated that Nunes would probably join the 'Proud Boys' if it weren’t for that unfortunate ‘nomasturbating’ rule”
"and even falsely stated that Nunes has "herp-face'"
But that's nothing compared to some of the screenshots they put in the lawsuit:
Image: Twitter/Nunes complaint
But even that was no match for the tweet that played the Human Centipede card.
Image: Twitter/nunes complaint
As for @DevinCow, the lawsuit focuses in on critical tweets that are far more offensive for the puns.
Devin’s boots are full of manure. He’s udder-ly worthless and it’s pasture time to mooove him to prison. The herd supports @JanzforCongress: Valley resident, anti-crime prosecutor. #CA22 needs a representative who works for us, full time 🐄 https://t.co/SizKWRN9kx
— Devin Nunes’ cow (@DevinCow) October 12, 2018
These tweets are pretty ridiculous as is, but they sound even more absurd in the context of a multi-million dollar lawsuit. Yes, some cross the line into being mean-spirited. But it's hard to be sympathetic to Nunes here, since he has remained silent on many of the far more pervasive examples of Twitter harassment.
It's as if Nunes was shocked to learn that people would say nasty things about elected officials, which has pretty much been an American tradition going back to its beginning.
In describing the defamation claim against Mair, the suit points out the nickname that Mair gave Nunes: "Mair’s tweets about Nunes, for example, referred to the Congressman with disdain as 'Dirty Devin'." Oh, the horror.
This, on my read, violates congressional ethics rules and probably also creates an FEC issue for him. Just another reason why we now routinely refer to him as "Dirty Devin." https://t.co/PwfXAoR747
— BrandValue$4B (@LizMair) July 19, 2018
Much like with the "mean tweets" the lawsuit cites, Nunes' complaint ignores the fact that much of the same behavior is exhibited by President Trump, of whom Nunes has been quite an ardent supporter.
This one complaint about Twitter
At one point, while discussing the lack of action from Twitter with regards to his complaint, the lawsuit emphasizes, in bold, "Twitter did absolutely nothing." To that, everyone who has ever been threatened or harassed on the platform can respond, "No kidding."
It's as if Nunes and his team are just now discovering that Twitter is a problematic tool.
The "shadow ban" scam
The lawsuit also regurgitates the claim that Twitter suppresses conservative voices. Except this isn't true. As we detailed in 2018, the incidents that led to the claims from conservatives actually had everything to do with alt-right Pizzagate trolls and nothing to do with actual suppression of free speech.
Twitter is also largely protected from the defamation charges Nunes has leveled against it thanks to the Communications Decency Act that shields platforms from lawsuits based on what its users say.
Not that any of this really deeply matters to Nunes. Sure, maybe his feelings are really hurt, but given the fact that Trump and others have brought up strengthening libel laws multiple times — the old "you can't take what you dish out" syndrome — it could be setting up more nefarious actions to come.
And a whole hell of a lot of fundraising off the backs of these silly tweets from a fake cow.