With headlines such as “Trump renounces U.S. citizenship, moves to Russia," the political satire website hillarybeattrump.org is making waves.
The website imagines an alternate universe in which Hillary Clinton defeated Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election. Its tagline—"news from the real America, where the majority rules"—refers to Clinton having won the popular vote, even though Trump won the electoral college.
Brendan McCartney, Trinity '16 and a former columnist for The Chronicle, is a senior writer for the website.
McCartney—who worked as a field organizer for the Clinton campaign in Palm Beach, Florida prior to the election—said he came across the website when his old manager sent him a link. When McCartney started reading the posts, he decided he wanted to contribute.
He explained that he had written political satire in the past, so he sent in a note and some of his old headlines through the website’s “contact” page.
Until McCartney joined, he said the founder of the website worked on the website alone. But the team is now a group of freelancers and remote marketers who work on the website "as a side project."
The website's founder and other members have opted to remain anonymous both for security reasons and to keep the audience's focus on the content, McCartney noted. When the website went viral, they received hundreds of letters of hate mail each day.
Although McCartney has not gone on the record about his contributions before, he has been actively sharing the website's content via social media.
“Honestly, it’s been an open secret on my Facebook profile,” he said.
For McCartney, writing for the website is a way to question the legitimacy of the Trump presidency while also advocating for electoral reform. He said it is also a platform through which he can engage with other voters who, like him, were devastated by the election results.
Conservative news outlets—such as Breitbart, Fox News and The Daily Caller—have criticized the website as being "fake news" and a liberal escape from reality. In a Washington Post article, the founder said it was meant to be a "joyful middle finger" to Republicans.
Such reactions to the website, McCartney argued, highlight the hypocrisy of “people from political ideologies that call all their opponents snowflakes."
“They either have no idea that it is satire or they acknowledge it as satire but are just so offended by the idea of this alternate universe,” McCartney said.
Despite some negative press, there has also been a steady rise in their fan base on Facebook and Twitter. The website has received more than one million hits since its inception, McCartney said.
McCartney said he believes the project is the first of its kind in creating an alternative timeline—which he referred to as "universe-building." And the website hopes to keep growing, for example by expanding to media platforms such as YouTube.
Last week, they even sent a correspondent to Trump’s rally in Nashville to ask people in line what they thought of "President Clinton's" health care plans.
The website also has a donation page, and contributions cover the marketing and advertising costs of running the website. But McCartney and his colleagues are not paid for their work, he said.
"We've gotten donations but nothing in terms of something that could even come close to paying us for the amount of hours we have been putting in," McCartney said.