Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday tweeted — and then deleted — a fake quote from Winston Churchill about fascists and then used the episode to rail against anti-fascist activists known as antifa.
The Republican governor’s tweet, which came in the early morning hours, featured a graphic reading: “Churchill on the Leftwing: ‘The fascists of the future will call themselves anti-fascists.’” Abbott added a few words of commentary atop the image: “Some insights are timeless.”
As reports spread later Tuesday morning that Churchill, a former British prime minister, had never said the quote, the tweet disappeared from Abbott’s Twitter page. Then, as the governor was preparing to leave an unrelated news conference late Tuesday morning in Waco, he paused to answer a question about the tweet.
“Listen, what I tweeted was a sentiment that I have, and that is antifa is dangerous to society and antifa is the antithesis of safety and security, and they are antagonists to law enforcement as well as to other people,” Abbott said, surrounded by law enforcement officers for an announcement about bail system reforms.
“It was irrelevant to me who may or may not have said that in the past,” Abbott added. “I didn’t want to be accused of plagiarism for saying it. If no one else said it, attribute the quote to me because it’s what I believe in.”
Antifa has become well-known during the Donald Trump presidency for confrontations — sometimes violent — with neo-Nazis and white supremacists at protests and other events.
Tuesday wasn’t the first time Abbott has used his Twitter account to promote less-than-reliable information. Last year, Abbott shared an article falsely claiming Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones had vowed to kick players off the team if they did not stand for the National Anthem. When he was later told in a media appearance that the story was not true, Abbott said he wished it was because he supported the sentiment.