Friday, July 26, 2019

The Man Behind The Seal

Following up on yesterday’s “Flipping Him The Bird” post, the Washington Post did some research.

Charles Leazott hadn’t thought about the seal in months.

The 46-year-old graphic designer threw it together after the 2016 presidential election — it was one part joke, one part catharsis. He used to be a proud Republican. He voted for George W. Bush. Twice.

But Donald J. Trump’s GOP was no longer his party. So he created a mock presidential seal to prove his point.

He substituted the arrows in the eagle’s claw for a set of golf clubs — a nod to the new president’s favorite pastime. In the other set of talons, he swapped the olive branch for a wad of cash and replaced the United States’ Latin motto with a Spanish insult. Then, his coup de grace: a two-headed imperial bird lifted straight from the Russian coat of arms, an homage to the president’s checkered history with the adversarial country.

“This is the most petty piece of art I have ever created,” the Richmond resident said in an interview with The Washington Post.

The seal wasn’t meant for a wide audience. But then, years later, it wound up stretched across a jumbo-tron screen behind an unwitting President Trump as he spoke to a conference packed with hundreds of his young supporters.

That was Tuesday. On Wednesday, The Post was the first to report that the seal was fake — and that neither the White House, nor Turning Point USA, the organizers of the star-studded Teen Student Action Summit, knew how it got there or where it came from. Leazott woke up Thursday and saw the news in a Reddit post as he drank his morning coffee. Then, a torrent of messages.

“It’s been chaos,” he said. “This is not what I expected when I woke up today.”

[…]

“I’m a graphic designer, it’s just something I tossed together,” he said. “This was just a goofy thing for some people I knew. I had no idea it would blow up like this.”

[…]

In one fell news cycle, Leazott began making money and fielding calls from papers and TV stations from across the country. People wanted to support him. But the trolls came, too.

“The worst has been Facebook,” he said, which he hadn’t checked “in like a year.”

“Holy crap at the amount of vile, hateful Facebook messages,” he said. “It’s apparently a personal affront to some people.”

But, Leazott said, it’s him who gets the last laugh. A photo of Trump in front of his seal is now his computer background, and the person who used it at the event is “either wildly incompetent or the best troll ever — either way, I love them.”

As of Thursday afternoon, Leazott’s shirts were sold out. He said he had to start working with a fulfillment center just to meet the demand. He also revived the primary website for his brand, OneTermDonnie, which includes a paean to the American Civil Liberties Union, where the site says 10 percent of all sales will be directed.

“It’s cool people are buying this, that’s great and all,” he said. “But I’ve got to be honest, I am so tickled in the most petty way possible that the president of the United States, who I despise, stood up and gave a talk in front of this graphic. Whoever put that up is my absolute hero.”

The person who found it and put it up has been fired, so finding him/her a job would be nice.