Bloomberg Throws Money at Meme Accounts as Past Racist Policies Resurface

Bloomberg is paying popular influencers to run campaign memes as he faces criticism over his record on stop-and-frisk and his comments on redlining.

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The seemingly endless flow of money that billionaire Michael Bloomberg is dedicating to his Democratic presidential run has now crossed over into meme culture. 

Accounts with huge followings on social media started posting staged direct message conversations with the former New York City mayor Wednesday night, tagging them as real sponsored ads paid for by the candidate. @KaleSalad, which has 3.5 million followers, and @FuckJerry, with 14.9 million followers, are among some of the massive accounts being paid by Bloomberg’s campaign. In the captions, both accounts wrote “and yes this is really #sponsored by @mikebloomberg.” 

Bloomberg’s newest tactic of using comedians, influencers, and meme accounts comes at the same time as his tenure as mayor is being scrutinized. An audio recording from 2015 of the candidate was recently resurfaced, in which he defends stop and frisk and racial profiling techniques used by cops. 

Bloomberg claimed he inherited the NYPD’s policy of harassing minorities from his predecessor, Rudy Giuliani, but data provided by the New York Civil Liberties Union shows that the number of stops actually increased during his tenure as mayor by “more than seven-fold.”

Another clip resurfaced this week of Bloomberg suggesting the end of redlining caused the 2008 financial crisis. Redlining is the discriminatory practice wherein banks deny mortgages and loans to low-income and minority communities. In response, Sen. Elizabeth Warren tweeted, “I'm surprised that someone running for the Democratic nomination thinks the economy would be better off if we just let banks be more overtly racist. We need to confront the shameful legacy of discrimination, not lie about it like Mike Bloomberg has done.” She also posted a video to explain redlining.

The Fat Jewish, another popular (and controversial) meme personality, weighed in as a native New Yorker, saying, “From the subjugation of minorities through stop and frisk policies to his hardline anti-marijuana stance, dude is a total hoe.” He rejected Bloomberg’s request to post an ad on his meme account(s).

The New York Times reported that a new company run by Jerry Media called Meme 2020 is behind the campaign. Jerry Media, owner of the @FuckJerry account and others, has faced its fair share of controversies— from plagiarism accusations, to being exposed as a key player in the Fyre Festival debacle. 

The influencer accounts involved in Meme 2020, according to the Times, include: @MyTherapistSays, @FuckJerry, @WhitePeopleHumor, @TheFunnyIntrovert, @KaleSalad, @Sonny5ideUp, @Tank.Sinatra, @ShitheadSteve, @adam.the.creator, @moistbudda, @MrsDowJones, @TrashCanPaul, @cohmedy, @NeatDad, @FourTwenty, @GolfersDoingThings, @DrGrayFang, @MiddleClassFancy and @DoYouEvenLift. 

Bloomberg’s presidential campaign, which is not accepting donations, has been spending astronomical amounts of money— especially compared to his fellow candidates. In the first quarter of his campaign, the former Republican-turned-Democrat spent $188 million, hired thousands of people as staff, and opened 125 office locations across the country. His spending is more than all other candidates combined. Staff members are reportedly receiving entry-level salaries of $72,000 a year, whereas staffers for other candidates make around $42,000. 

Some people are questioning Bloomberg’s use of his billions to sway his campaign, calling on his history of being able to “manipulate” political elections. 

Campaign spokesperson Sabrina Singh said that while the new meme technique “may be new to presidential politics, we’re betting it will be an effective component to reach people where they are and compete with President Trump’s powerful digital operation.”

Bloomberg is estimated to be worth nearly $62 billion, according to Forbes.