Just days after Michael Flynn stepped down as national security adviser, his son, Michael Flynn Jr., discovered calls to kill his father had spread like wildfire on Twitter.
"Kill Mike Flynn" began trending around 6 a.m. Thursday, and has by 8 a.m. amassedhundreds of tweets and retweets.
Flynn's son tweeted at about 6:15 a.m.: "So ... allowing 'kill mike flynn' 2 trend/Rgrdless of origin/assumng ur not trying 2 promte my father getting assassinated, right?"
Less than a month into his new position Flynn resigned after he reportedlydiscussed U.S. sanctions on Russiawith the Russian ambassador to the U.S. before President Donald Trump took office, and misled Vice President Mike Pence about the conversations.
But reading through the hawkish social-media messages reveals a different intent: Most Twitter users are spreading "Kill Mike Flynn"to express their incredulity that it's spreading, or to blame others for disseminating the phrase:
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How is " Kill Mike Flynn " trending on twitter... the Dems have gone crazy and lost all sense of morality. Sad!— Toni Ann (@TrumpTheHate45) February 16, 2017
how is Kill Mike Flynn even allowed to be trending!!!— Sally J (@Jennosal) February 16, 2017
@Support I see a trending Tweet line-Kill Mike Flynn. Why does Twitter allow people threaten others? This should be reported to the FBI.— SKD123 (@dogzrule321) February 16, 2017
Metro traced the origins of the phrase back to the Daily Caller, a prominent news site co-founded by Fox News host Tucker Carlson, and a podium for conservative voices.
According to nonprofit media research group MediaMatters.org, the Daily Caller was founded by a financial investor with ties to the Koch brothers who has donated "at least $1 million to conservative causes that the Kochs support."
The Daily Caller has "functioned more as an outlet for opposition research paid for by the donor class," Media Matters wrote, quoting investigative journalist Jane Mayer's book "Dark Money."
The Caller published a story late Wednesday, "Exclusive: How the nation's spooks played the game 'Kill Mike Flynn,'" which alleges with little evidence that Flynn's resignation was orchestrated by appointees from former President Barack Obama's cabinet to undermine Trump's new administration.
The irony — a conservative group spreading a phrase that enrages conservatives — wasn't lost on many:
Earth to Trump Supporters: We're aware "Kill Mike Flynn" is trending only because you read a Daily Caller Article and are talking about it.— Jacob A. Hollander (@JacobaHollander) February 16, 2017