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The third annual Shittiest Account on Twitter Tournament came to a dramatic close Friday, with angry centrist political columnist Kurt Eichenwald narrowly edging out alt-right self-help author Mike Cernovich to win the championship.
The tournament was down to the wire, with Eichenwald edging past in the final hours of voting and ultimately claiming 51 percent of the 8,563 votes cast.
Eichenwald, the Newsweek writer who started as a relatively unknown 12th seed before busting everyone’s brackets, is the sort of centrist Shit Account voters despise. He’s known of late for the time he bragged about telling a third-party voter, “You’re lucky it’s illegal for me to punch you in the face,” and for an incident involving alleged threats against a young journalist.
It also didn’t hurt that his account was a spectacular fireworks display of crap throughout the tournament, ensuring he was never off of voters’ radars.
Earlier this week, Eichenwald made the unprecedented play of quitting Twitter during the final rounds of tournament, claiming a troll gave him a seizure with a flashing GIF.
This was described by Shit Account commentators as a “breathtaking” meltdown:
Ultimately, the play paid off, pushing Eichenwald past No. 1 seed Arthur Chu, the performatively woke Jeopardy! guy, and into the finals against Cernovich, another No. 1 seed.
Cernovich doesn’t self-identify as alt-right, but the white supremacist movement has clung to him as a leading figure ever since he took up the banner of Gamergate in 2014. Since then, Cernovich has built his brand as a vocal Trump supporter and manosphere figure, and used it to promote his book, Gorilla Mindset.
His Trump boosterism didn’t hurt him with the overwhelmingly leftist Shit Account voters, but a couple of incidents in the final week of the tournament made this an impossibly tight race. First, he tweeted in support of the alt-right’s Rogue One boycott, claiming it was a success that cost Disney money.
Rogue One didn’t open as big as the last Star Wars, which was part of the main film series and the first new installment in seven years, and also cost $100 million more to make. The whole boycott is pretty silly.
Berger has made fun of Cernovich in the past, but now, as New York Magazine reported,
Cernovich has responded by escalating their insult war into accusations of horrible crimes, and weaponizing his hundreds of thousands of followers into a sustained campaign of harassment and threats. This is the 2016 internet.
The incident has provoked discussion about the role of libel laws in the Twittersphere of 2016, where anyone can claim they were just joking or trying to raise questions. Meanwhile, Berger says he’s quitting Twitter while he evaluates his legal options against Cernovich, who is himself a lawyer.
Twitter has, thus far, not suspended Cernovich’s account, although it previously banned alleged alt-right harassers like Milo Yiannopoulos.
Cernovich’s innovation of what appeared to be a bulletproof campaign of speculation and innuendo against someone who annoyed him made him an early favorite against his final Shit Account opponent, Eichenwald.
But ultimately Eichenwald’s “Shitterella Story” proved too much to overcome for Cernovich, dubbed “the thinking man’s cuck” by tournament organizers.
Congratulations to Kurt Eichenwald, who joins execrable past winners like conservative journo-troll Chuck Johnson (now banned from Twitter) and bad joke account The Tweet of God (now retired) and receives the coveted Chuck Johnson Memorial Trophy, a .jpg of Chuck Johnson’s head Photoshopped onto a toilet brush.
Here’s a look back at the full tournament:
Jay Hathaway is a former senior writer who specialized in internet memes and weird online culture. He previously served as the Daily Dot’s news editor, was a staff writer at Gawker, and edited the classic websites Urlesque and Download Squad. His work has also appeared on nymag.com, suicidegirls.com, and the Morning News.