It’s giving crazy Facebook uncle.
Time to Log Off is a weekly series documenting the many ways our political figures show their whole asses online.
One of the more unfortunate side effects of Donald Trump’s political ascendency (aside from all the racism and fascism and the like) has been the proliferation of candidates and politicians who think that they, too, can say absolutely unhinged, insane, psycho shit online and it will not be an immediate career killer. Often they’re right.
Still, even many of those lunatic posters usually have the good sense to keep their spiciest takes to themselves in the immediate aftermath of a monstrous national tragedy like, say, a horrifying elementary school massacre in which 19 small children were killed with an assault rifle. Even the most deranged take-havers with just a modicum of public relations understanding know that they’d better stick to the comparatively shallow waters of “blame doors” instead of telling the world how they truly feel right off the bat. Well, all except for Republican congressional candidate Carl Paladino.
Just days before announcing his run to represent New York’s 23th District in the House, Paladino — a longtime fixture in New York Republican circles who was beat nearly 2-1 by Andrew Cuomo in the 2010 governor’s race — reportedly posted a lengthy screed to his Facebook page which alleged both the Uvalde, Texas, and Buffalo, New York, mass shootings were false flag operations designed to engineer the confiscation of America’s private firearms. He also linked them to a nebulous conspiracy theory involving John Lennon, CIA mind control, and the infamous Mexican drug lord El Chapo.
Shortly after his announcing his candidacy, and after Media Matters drew attention to the post, Paladino locked down his Facebook account entirely.
Now, to be clear, Carl Paladino is no stranger to saying absolutely insane things. In 2016, while serving as New York co-chair of then-candidate Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, Paladino rose to national prominence after joking (??) that he wanted to see Michelle Obama “return to being a male and let loose in the outback of Zimbabwe where she lives comfortable in a cave with Maxie, the gorilla.” He later bragged to a local newspaper that “of course” he’d made the remarks, and added that the paper’s staff should all “go fuck themselves” for inquiring. And this week, just days after his latest Facebook screed pushed him into the headlines once again, Media Matters reported that Paladino had appeared on a local Buffalo radio program in 2021, where he’d unreservedly praised Adolf Hitler in response to a question about how to “rouse” the electorate.
“I was thinking the other day about somebody had mentioned on the radio Adolf Hitler and how he aroused the crowds,” Paladino replied. “He would get up there screaming these epithets and these people were just ... they were hypnotized by him. That’s the kind of leader we need today. We need somebody inspirational. We need somebody that is a doer, has been there and done it, so that it’s not a strange new world to him.”
He later denied any personal support for the Nazi leader, and in a vitriolic statement attacking the press for reporting on his comments, pointed to a more than decade-old comment of his denouncing the atrocities of the Holocaust. “Any implication that I support Hitler or any of the sick and disgusting actions of the Nazi regime is a new low for the media,” he said in a statement Thursday, per HuffPost, also noting that in 2010 he said: “There are some things in this world that we must all be angry about. During World War II, all decent people were angry at Hitler’s extermination of 6 million Jews in the gas chambers of Auschwitz.”
Now, all of this would be largely a local nothing-burger except for the fact that not only does Paladino have a fairly good shot at winning his congressional race in a largely Republican-friendly district, but he is also personally endorsed by New York Rep. Elise Stefanik, the No. 3 Republican in Congress, who defended Paladino’s Hitler comments as simply having been taken out of context. Taken together, sure, Carl posts like your crazy uncle who uses Facebook to send you racist cartoons and requests for Facebook games that haven’t been updated since Obama’s first term. But he’s also someone with enough juice in GOP politics to potentially join the likes of Marjorie Taylor Greene and Paul Gosar in the U.S. House of Representatives. And, just like your crazy Facebook uncle, he’s someone in sore need of being told that now more than ever, it’s time to log off.