Right-wing radio host and former Trump aide Sebastian Gorka, the self-styled "Dragon of Budapest" who drives around the nation's capital in his 2.3L EcoBoost Mustang, was duped by a fake Twitter account on Tuesday — which in a bizarre turn of events led to a former MSNBC intern being the recipient of an outpouring of online hate instigated by Gorka.
On Tuesday morning, Hajah Bah, a USC Annenberg journalism student, and former MSNBC intern, woke up to numerous Twitter notifications. Many of those notifications stemmed from Gorka's tweet accusing her of being a "bigoted ableist."
The former Trump adviser had clearly been duped by a fake account pretending to be the journalism student. As of Wednesday morning, after Salon had reached out to Twitter, the social media company suspended the spurious Bah account, which appeared to have been operated by a troll who frequently retweeted right-wing content, such as tweets from Fox News host Dan Bongino.
"This person works for NBC12. Why is MSNBC OK with their employee calling someone she politically disagrees with a 'retard?'" Gorka posted, implying that the fake account actually belonged to Bah. "What protects foul-mouthed bigoted ableists like @Hajahbahh?"
That tweet sent out to Gorka's over 1 million followers tagged a profile page of a troll account that used a picture of Bah, a former MSNBC and NBC12 Richmond newsroom intern. Then, as too often happens on Twitter, Bah's real account was rolled into the drama.
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In a phone interview with Salon, Bah said the incorrect Gorka tweet had provoked hatred from his followers and tarnished her reputation in the industry.
"Wow, this is not what I said to him," Bah explained, citing messages that the dubious account had sent Gorka pretending to be her. "I don't even know who he is. So I'm like, what is going on!"
Neither Gorka nor a spokesperson for Salem Radio Network, the conservative radio empire that employs him, returned a Salon request for comment.
Speaking to the impact this incident has had on her young career, Bah said that Gorka's irresponsible tweet had "tarnished MSNBC and NBC 12, which are amazing companies." As to how and what needs to be done to correct the situation, Bah suggested the nattily attired but notably hot-tempered former Trump associate, who has built a subsequent radio career on his iconic baritone voice, should retract his tweet and issue a public apology.
"He should at least acknowledge, 'Oh, this is not her,'" Bah said, noting that she is "a young journalist trying to break into the industry, it's just really wrong. I would like an apology."
Bah said that she and some of her friends had attempted to make Gorka aware of the error via Twitter, but that Gorka had rapidly blocked them.
In 2019, Gorka, a self-proclaimed free-speech warrior, told a reporter at the White House that he had blocked thousands of users on Twitter. "I block whoever I want to," Gorka said. "I block 16,000 people because they're asshats."
Gorka holds a somewhat dubious doctorate from a university in Budapest, and has been long criticized as a "fake terrorism expert." According to established national security experts who spoke to CNN, he "lacks practical experience in government, is not an expert on terrorism, and has never served in a diplomatic agency."
Highlighting a persistent problem in the right-wing media ecosystem, Bah noted that the hate directed at her was genuinely horrific for no apparent reason. "It's really ridiculous," she said. "I have been receiving a lot of hate because of the tweet, and it's not a reflection of my character at all."