Manchester Attack Brings Out the Worst of Social Media: David Leavitt, Onision, Clara Jeffery and More

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By Ian Miles Cheong | 6:20 am, May 23, 2017
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Whenever tragedy strikes, opportunists, ideologues and clowns take to social media to share their hot takes in a sordid attempt to gain fame or notoriety.

David Leavitt, unemployable clown

Just minutes after the breaking news that close to two dozen people had been killed in what appeared at the time to be an explosion at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, freelance journalist David Leavitt tweeted a series of cruel remarks to poke fun at the victims of the terror attack.

Leavitt, a proud male feminist ally with a BA in Humanities and Social Sciences from University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, has tweeted multiple times to condemn #GamerGate. He even penned an article (now deleted by the publisher) in support of Brianna Wu during her “fight” with the movement for ethics in games journalism.

Leavitt’s tweets were quickly inundated by a torrent of anger from across the political spectrum. Clearly reveling in the attention, he doubled down with even worse tweets until his former employers at CBS Local and AXS issued statements distancing their companies from him. Both CBS and AXS deleted Leavitt’s work from their websites, although a trace of it remains in archive.

Leavitt’s Starbucks joke was even one he’s made multiple times over the past few years. No points for creativity, there.

He eventually followed it up with a half-baked apology but returned to making bad jokes as soon as he realized no one bought his excuse.


Not content with seeing someone else earn more notoriety than him, creepy YouTuber Onision decided to weigh in with a take on how no one cares about the thousands of people who die from cancer every week. Onision, whose real name is Greg Jackson, hosts a forum where young teenage girls post pictures of themselves in their underwear to be rated by him.


He posted other tweets condemning anyone who shared their condolences with the families of the victims, accusing their sympathy of being “a lie.” We’re not all psychopaths like you, Greg.

The responses were not simply confined to callous jokes and apathy. Mother Jones editor-in-chief Clara Jeffery used David Leavitt’s inane remarks to push her narrative about video game players, pointing out how Leavitt was a gaming journalist. It’s anyone’s guess what video games have in relation with Leavitt’s online conduct, given that he was overwhelmingly condemned by gamers and game journalists alike.

Tragedy also has a habit of bringing conspiracy theorists out of the woodwork. Steve Brookstein, an English jazz and soul singer who won the first season of TV show The X Factor, forwarded a baseless conspiracy theory about how the Manchester bombing was a “false flag” attack by the Conservative Party.

It also brought out the racebaiters like alt-right personality Lana Lokteff, who very inanely pointed out that Ariana Grande and her backup dancers were not white. Thanks, Captain Obvious. Clearly all of the race-mixing and miscegenation going on should’ve tipped off the victims to the possibility of a terrorist strike.

Social media has the ability to bring millions of people together in solidarity for the victims of a tragedy, but it also brings out the dregs of humanity.

Ian Miles Cheong is a journalist and outspoken media critic. You can reach him through social media at @stillgray on Twitter and on Facebook.