It hasn’t been hard for the FBI to locate and arrest the thousands of Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol last week: Many of them gleefully posted clear evidence of them committing illegal acts over social media. Among them was “Baked Alaska,” aka Anthime Joseph Gionet, a former BuzzFeed staffer-turned-far-right personality. Now, according to AP News, Gionet become one of the many involved who have been nabbed by the feds.
Gionet livestreamed himself inside the trashed office of Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon, among other places inside the federal building. He was ecstatic about the mayhem, which ultimately resulted in five deaths. “We’ve got over 10,000 people live, watching, let’s go!” he said during the video. “Hit that follow button — I appreciate you guys.” A week-and-a-half later, Gionet was arrested by FBI agents in Houston.
In a piece for The New York Times published last week, former BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith recounted his experiences working with Gionet. He arrived in 2015, and he quickly made a name for himself making eye-catching Vines, the short-form videos that enjoyed a brief popularity before being destroyed by Instagram and SnapChat in 2017. Smith says Gionet’s politics took a sharp turn rightward in 2016, and by the end of the year he had gone to work as the “tour manager” for the soon-to-be dethroned far right instigator Milo Yiannopoulos.
But Smith argues that Gionet’s real beliefs may not be sincere, that it could stem from his combative nature, or even just an addiction to clicks and online interatction. “Still, it’s not clear what Mr. Gionet actually believes, if anything,” Smith writes. “And really, I’m not sure I care.”