Rogan O'Handley DC Draino speaking in front of white background

BRAVE Publishing/YouTube

The Bud Light backlash is being led by a former Hollywood lawyer turned right-wing meme influencer

@DC_Draino is leading the anti-Anheuser-Busch movement.

 

Ernie Piper

Tech

Posted on Apr 27, 2023   Updated on Apr 27, 2023, 12:08 pm CDT

When news broke of the partnership between Bud Light and trans influencer Dylan Mulvaney, there was a standard round of right-wing recriminations, including a video of Kid Rock shooting cans and a new product launch, Ultra Right Beer.

But some of the first reporting on the right came from @DC_Draino, a popular conservative meme and commentary account with a following of over 2 million on Instagram and Twitter. 

On April 4, DC_Draino tweeted a scoop—that Anheuser-Busch executives were displeased with a lower-level employee’s approval of the commemorative influencer package that Mulvaney received. 

“Scoop: Anheuser Busch insider tells me execs are angry at release of Dylan Mulvaney can,” he wrote. “It wasn’t posted on any AB/BL social medias & the leading theory is that a Leftist manager secretly did it on their own to push trans agenda. New PR statement expected. Possible lawsuit…”

A week later, this earned follow-up stories from the Daily Wire and the New York Post—also quoting unnamed sources—that verified DC_Draino’s account as true, which her QTed. Anheuser-Busch has not responded specifically to those claims, but two marketing employees are on leave, and its official Twitter account put out a generic statement in response to the manufactured controversy that apologized for “dividing” people. 

DC_Draino has directed coverage of the manufactured scandal throughout, pointing followers towards a vice president of marketing and her appearance on a podcast saying she wanted to reinvent Bud Light’s image, which led to coverage on mainstream conservative media.

He also helped push the theory that the CIA was behind Bud Light’s diversity push. 

This follows more than a year of transphobic content from DC_Draino that calls LGBTQ people everything from hateful bigots to outright terrorists, an apparent change of heart from when he was listed as a prominent speaker at a Gays for Trump 2020 event organized by the Log Cabin Republicans. 

But who is this new conservative influencer?

DC_Draino’s real name is Rogan O’Handley, and he is an entertainment lawyer turned full-time poster. His content veers from borrowed memes to sardonic, unpunctuated observations with line breaks, in the manner of a reactionary Rupi Kaur. 

His narrative arc has an irresistible pull to conservatives: he grew up in a Democratic household, worked in Hollywood, and then found himself afraid to voice his conservative political views, such that he was forced to reject the coastal elite life and move to Florida. 

“I made it a point to not bring up my political beliefs, and I just had to stay quiet and hope that wouldn’t impact my career,” O’Handley explained in a PragerU video

His confrontational, outspoken style found success long ago, back in student government at Northeastern University, where he was elected president. Another board member suggested that he was “unpleasant” to the point of making fellow vice presidents cry and said that his belligerent manner was more suited to the military

After graduating from law school, he worked at a corporate law firm and then moved to Hollywood to do entertainment law, specializing in film financing. He received special thanks on Pig: The Dam Keeper Poems, an anime about a pig, and a production credit for his legal work on the thriller Hangman, according to IMDB. 

After the 2016 election, O’Handley said that he felt uncomfortable around his more liberal clients, enough to keep his political views hidden. O’Handley started the Instagram account—the name refers to “draining the D.C. swamp,” one of former President Donald Trump’s mantras—as an anonymous outlet to blow off steam. 

It amassed a following, and as his audience responded to his jokes and commentary, he seemed to realize not just that it could become a career—he could influence the national discourse.

“Memes are the most effective form of communication,” O’Handley said on the Full Send podcast in October 2022. “Memes are changing culture more than movies, more than Hollywood.”

He explained that he felt the Holy Spirit calling him to leave his job, move to Florida, and start posting memes full-time. 

“I think they’ll end up writing books about this stuff—the influencer, the social media movement that saved humanity,” O’Handley said.

As an influencer, he’s drifted from gig to gig, depending on where the currents of right-wing outrage flow, using his social media accounts as anchors. He had a brief stint as a host on OANN, wrote a Brave Book about self-censorship, and has made the rounds on Tucker Carlson. His agent notes that he’s been retweeted several times by Trump. 

Content-wise, he’s fixated on a few main topics, including COVID, the slurry of narratives about Biden and Ukraine, and election denial. He was so prolific as a Stop the Steal poster that the Jan. 6 Committee subpoenaed him and his fellow influencers about any communication they might have had with Trump.

In O’Handley’s case, no communication was found.

His election-denier content got his account banned when the California Secretary of State’s office flagged it to Twitter. O’Handley took that as an opportunity to make content, and he launched a lawsuit, alleging government censorship.

O’Handley hired Harmeet Dhillon to sue the government of California, claiming that it had censored him. 

Dhillon is a Republican party official for California, served as a legal advisor to the Trump 2020 campaign, and has a long track record of culture war clients, from far-right provocateur Andy Ngo to ex-Googler James Damore. 

Although it scored O’Handley and Dhillon some appearances on Carlson’s Fox show, the suit was dismissed on the grounds that Twitter is not, in fact, the government

In a melodramatic March 13 Instagram reel, he said that he had massive news—that he was filing at the Supreme Court since the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit had dismissed the case. The news was a flop. His followers voiced their disappointment at the windup:

“You are all hyped up over nothing. I have no respect for you, you are pro-Putin. I am a strong conservative but you are a divisive man [who] makes cheap click bait”

“So this was the kraken? Boring”

“Geez man, the way you set up this supposedly gigantic news, you probably should’ve dialed it down a notch.”

O’Handley’s Twitter account was reinstated in late 2022 after Elon Musk launched a mass unbanning of previously “censored” accounts. 

His current obsession though, is the same anti-trans panic that’s sweeping the nation

He said that LGBTQ rights groups should bear responsibility for “making” the Nashville, Tennessee shooter that killed six last month.

He also regularly boosts content from members of the anti-trans Gays against Groomers. 

When it came to Bud Light, O’Handley immediately pivoted to the most inflammatory narrative: linking the use of a trans influencer to the Nashville mass shooting.

O’Handley tweeted that Anheuser-Busch had lost $4 billion in market cap—and while it is true that their share price has taken a hit, financial analysts point to market forces rather than a bad ad campaign. 

O’Handley also claimed that because the CEO of Anheuser-Busch used to work for the CIA, he’s an asset used to infiltrate corporate America to spread a progressive agenda, echoing a key narrative found in the Twitter files about “woke” feds. 

Similarly, he’s written that DEI initiatives from Bud Light’s marketing executive led to disaster, mocking her for having pronouns in her bio and listing herself as the first woman marketing executive for Anheuser-Busch.

He pushed the same claim in the wake of the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank.

dc draino tweet
DC_Draino/Twitter

The Bud Light content has been successful online, netting him an additional 75,000 followers on Twitter and 18,000 on Instagram over the past month.

A month after the controversy, O’Handley is still amped up about Bud Light, but he hasn’t stopped posting about everything else in the conservative world. His newest theory: That private equity firm Blackrock was behind Tucker Carlson’s firing. 

The frenetic pace of changes in subjects makes sense, as conservative influencers like O’Handley play a vital role in the rightwing information ecosystem—by constantly remixing the latest news for various local audiences, they can circulate whatever version of a narrative is most likely to make their followers react. 

Their lasting influence is questionable, though. Although O’Handley and others have claimed that Bud Light has alienated their core customers, the effects of the boycott are likely to be minimal—Vox estimates that they rarely last beyond a news cycle. 

But in the world of conservative influencers, there’s always something new to get worked up about.

web_crawlr
We crawl the web so you don’t have to.
Sign up for the Daily Dot newsletter to get the best and worst of the internet in your inbox every day.
Sign up now for free
Share this article
*First Published: Apr 27, 2023, 9:03 am CDT