The idea of the "paid protester" is one Donald Trump floated while he campaigned for President. Trump maintained anyone opposing him at his rallies were simply paid to be there.
It is a narrative adapted from conspiracy theorists who dismiss events that do not fit into their world view—like school shootings—as the work of paid actors. Rather than admit considerable numbers of people vocally opposing him, the President accuses them of being paid to protest.
The GOP adopted their party leader's coping mechanism as well. When protesters demonstrate against their policies or actions, Republican members of Congress and the Trump administration try to delegitimize their constituents' grievances by claiming they were paid protesters.
On Saturday, when the GOP pushed through the confirmation of Trump's SCOTUS nominee to a lifetime seat on the bench, many people protested in Washington DC and around the country. Senate Judiciary Committee member, Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas, tried to use the familiar tactic to dismiss the protests as not representing the views of millions of United States voters.
He took to Twitter and posted:
"Rollcall: 101 people were arrested at the Capitol, many paid and orchestrated to intimidate Senators and their staff."
But Chief Strategist/co-founder of A March for Our Lives, journalist and documentary filmmaker Matt Deitsch responded to Cornyn's tweet with a few facts of his own. He posted:
“Rollcall: Senator Cornyn is owned by…
AT&T - $137,000+
Exxon Mobile - $137,000+
JP Morgan - $116,000+
Goldman Sachs - $92,000+
NRA - $58,000+
Fossil Fuel Lobby - $3,000,000+
John, the only person paid and orchestrated to spread fear is you.”
Deitsch's tweet refers to some of the lobbyists and corporate donors that contributed money to Senator Cornyn. Deitsch was not alone in his feedback for Cornyn.
Many people responded directly to Cornyn's tweet. Many called out his message for what it was.
While others echoed Deitsch.
The March for Our Lives cofounder was not alone in looking at Cornyn's own payments received data.
Some of those who protested also had a message for the Senior Senator from Texas.
And more than a few of Cornyn's constituents had a message for their Senator too.
Senator Cornyn has yet to respond to Deitsch or any of his other critics regarding his claim.