Dan Bongino—former NRATV blowhard, Fox News whackjob, and wannabe social media magnate—said he’d be quitting Twitter forever. Like many other obsessively online conservatives, Bongino claimed a round of censorship was coming and Republicans needed to evacuate to safe spaces like Parler, the far-right site he’s allegedly invested in.
After his temporary January 2021 ban for posting a video of rioters storming the Capitol on Jan. 6, Bongino told Twitter “fuck you” and tweeted, “This will be my final post on this anti-American platform. The greatest threats to liberty are the destructive tech tyrants who have acted as publishers. You can find me on Parler.” Just a few months later, you can once again find him on Twitter too: as noticed by Salon, Bongino has come crawling back and deleted the tweet in which he made the promise in the first place.
According to Salon, isolated retweets of other conservatives began popping back up on Bongino’s Twitter feed in May, indicating he (or his staff) were using it regularly. As of June, Bongino is now tweeting or retweeting content numerous times per day, including podcast episodes, articles from his website, and the occasional brag about the size of his audience.
It’s easy (not to mention very funny) to speculate about why Bongino may have been cowed. He has 2.4 million followers on Twitter, which is a prime slice of social media real estate that would be hard for any relentlessly self-promoting narcissist to actually walk away from. Meanwhile, his pet project Parler hasn’t been doing so well. After it was pinpointed as a major organizing tool for the rioters that hit the Capitol on Jan. 6, Parler was blacklisted from Google and Apple’s app stores, and its Amazon Web Services hosting was revoked.
In subsequent power battles, chair of the board and GOP mega-donor Rebekah Mercer reportedly tightened her iron grip on the site, forcing out founder and CEO John Matze and replacing him with a Tea Party activist. Matze later claimed in a lawsuit that Mercer had screwed him out of his share in the company, also saying that she had quietly deep-sixed Bongino by fooling him into believing he owned shares at all. (Bongino told Salon at the time that he remained an equity stakeholder in Parler but was no longer very involved with day-to-day operations.)
Parler’s honeymoon period, where millions of users angry over Donald Trump’s Facebook and Twitter suspensions signed up at the behest of conservative personalities like Bongino, has long since ended. That puts it in the position of having to worry as much about retaining current users than recruiting new ones. Meanwhile, Parler continued to experience major technical problems such as outages in May 2021 that were infuriating users. Apple has since let Parler’s app back onto the App Store. But as of Monday, AppAnnie doesn’t have it ranked within the top 50 apps in the iOS social networking category. Traffic data from Alexa and Similarweb suggest that the site has experienced a precipitous drop in overall activity, hinting that Parler may be nearing the end of its flash in the pan status.
This all seems to have put Bongino with a bit of an awkward choice: whether to show his ass or not. Of course, there was never really any mystery as to which way his one-bit brain would flip. Have fun tripping over your own pants legs, bro.