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The internet-ification of the 2016 election is finally complete.
On Tuesday, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton‘s campaign published an explainer article about Pepe, a cartoon frog meme that, the article says, has “been almost entirely co-opted by the white supremacists who call themselves the ‘alt-right.’”
Clinton’s Pepe explainer comes two days after an Instagram post by Donald Trump Jr., the Republican nominee’s son, of an image mocking Clinton’s recent claim that half of Donald Trump‘s supporters are a “basket of deplorables,” in reference to the faction of Trump fans who express racist, sexist, and homophobic views. (Clinton later backtracked on the statement, which was widely viewed as a gaffe.) Pepe was placed by the image’s creator directly behind Trump.
A friend sent me this. Apparently I made the cut as one of the Deplorables😂😂😂 All kidding aside I am honored to be grouped with the hard working men and women of this great nation that have supported @realdonaldtrump and know that he can fix the mess created by politicians in Washington. He’s fighting for you and won’t ever quit. Thanks for your trust! #trump2016 #maga #makeamericagreatagain #basketofdeplorables
A photo posted by Donald Trump Jr. (@donaldjtrumpjr) on
Pepe first entered the 2016 presidential election in an official capacity last October, when Trump retweeted an image of himself as the frog. It has since become a staple of the internet’s Trump faction, which uses the meme on a daily basis to brew its strange concoction of support for their candidate of choice.
While it’s true that the alt-right and white supremacists in general have taken Pepe hostage, its creator, cartoonist Matt Furie, says Pepe is not inherently racist and will soon be released from the clutches of the dark side.
“It’s just a phase, it’s not the first time Pepe has been reclaimed for evil, and no one will care about it come November,” Furie tells the Daily Dot. “I predict that his sly, lovable, and charming status will be intact as early as next week.”
Were an official statement on a frog meme by the leading candidate for the most powerful office in the world the strangest thing to happen this week, it wouldn’t be 2016.
Elsewhere in the election campaign, Green Party nominee Jill Stein tweeted Tupac Shakur lyrics, former GOP presidential candidate and Texas Gov. Rick Perry appeared on Dancing with the Stars, and Dr. Oz will “surprise” Trump with his physical exam results live on air.
Election Day is still 55 days away.
Contact the author: Andrew Couts, [email protected]
Andrew Couts is the former editor of Layer 8, a section dedicated to the intersection of the Internet and the state—and the gaps in between. Prior to the Daily Dot, Couts served as features editor and features writer for Digital Trends, associate editor of TheWeek.com, and associate editor at Maxim magazine. When he’s not working, Couts can be found hiking with his German shepherds or blasting around on motorcycles.