South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg trended on Twitter in the United States on Tuesday morning, though not for reasons the Democratic presidential hopeful likely wanted. The trend, “Pete Buttigieg is a Lying MF,” began after an article with that headline was published that day.
The article — published by The Root author Michael Harriot — blasted Buttigieg for his record and past comments on the African American community and education. Harriot wrote about his own upbringing, admitting that despite challenges he faced he was “lucky” to have persevered and attended school throughout his youth.
In attacking Buttigieg, Harriot focused on the candidate’s past comments about discrepancies in education in white and black communities. Buttigieg suggested those discrepancies were the result of a lack of role models in African American communities to show that education yields positive results.
“There isn’t someone who they know personally who testifies to the value of education,” Buttigieg claimed about minority and low-income communities in 2011 during his campaign for mayor in South Bend.
The author narrowed in on Buttigieg’s own upbringing, which involved him attending one of the most elite private schools in the nation, Harriot claimed.
“I want to be clear: Pete Buttigieg is a lying motherf*cker,” Harriot wrote.
“This is not a misunderstanding,” he continued. “This is not a misstatement. Pete Buttigieg went to the best educational institutions America has to offer and he—more than anyone on the goddamned planet—knows that everything he just said is a baldfaced lie.”
Harriot claimed that Buttigieg — a Harvard University graduate — had never attended a school with more than a 10 percent African American population. For his part, Harriot seemed to attribute the discrepancies between communities not to a lack of role models, but to a lack of funding for schools in majority-minority areas and policies that negatively impact African American students in schools in Buttigieg’s own town and across the country.
Buttigieg has faced criticism over his low support among the African American community — it was even at the center of an argument between co-hosts of The View last week.
The article seemed to strike a cord on Twitter, as the article’s headline trended as people shared it with their followers.
The Indiana mayor released his “Douglass Plan” earlier this month, which was meant to address issues facing the black community in the United States, though the rollout of the plan was criticized. In particular, people took issue with a stock photo used in the promotion of the plan, which was of a Kenyan woman unaffiliated with the Buttigieg campaign.
Per The Intercept, the Buttigieg campaign pressured prominent black South Carolinians to support the plan, even if they themselves did not support Buttigieg’s bid for the Oval Office. The Buttigieg campaign received backlash for a press release it created related to the Douglass Plan, which vaguely implied the support of prominent individuals in the black community in South Carolina.
One of the individuals mentioned in the press release, South Carolina state Rep. Ivory Thigpen, had previously endorsed Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ bid for the presidency.
“Clearly from the number of calls I received about my endorsement, I think the way they put it out there wasn’t clear,” Columbia City Councilwoman Tameika Devine, another person mentioned in the press release, told The Intercept.
Devine said she believed that the Buttigieg campaign was “intentionally vague” in crafting the press release and said that she believed the campaign had hoped individuals wouldn’t read the “fine print” and would believe that support of Buttigieg’s plan equated to an endorsement of the Indiana mayor.
Buttigieg’s campaign has not yet responded to Tuesday’s viral op-ed.