“Five days in a row” people cheered, as Jon-Bernard Kairouz has seemingly “predicted” the number of local covid infections that would be announced each morning.
How was he doing it? People needed to know.
They followed in swarms to determine whether it was complex mathematics, a leak in the Government, or if he was just taking his info from the failed Government app that most of us had forgotten even existed.
Jon-Bernard’s following increased rapidly and his ‘predictions’ spurred questions on the validity of the NSW health system.
Were they lying about the numbers? Were they using general maths to falsify the numbers?
The media now needed to know and asked questions in press conferences as to how he was ‘predicting’ and the Premier was asked if her department had a leak. From interviews to news reports, “Tiktok guy” rose to fame overnight. The question being asked was ‘Will he be able to do it 6 days in a row?’
The answer was no.
His predictions were wrong.
His audience exhaled with disappointment.
Questions were asked.
Did they find the leak in the Government?
The predictable conspiracies began.
Did NSW health deliberately give someone the wrong information to help find the leak?
While people across social media argued over conspiracy and reason, another story was playing out.
The story of Jon-Bernard’s racism.
In what would be incorrectly referred to as “Milshake Ducking” or “Tall Poppy Syndrome” by some people, and more rather it being an example of Australian’s refusal to listen to First Nations voices and the seeming ease to move on from racist controversy, Jon Bernard’s racist humour was put on display.
Through a series of Instagram posts, user Balaluke called out Jon-Bernard by posting a video in which “TikTok Guy” joked that the problem with Redfern, and the wider community, was Aboriginal People. In the video, he corrects himself and says adolescents on the second clip, possibly in a way to avoid direct controversy. However, doubled down on this racism by liking racist comments, with some simply stating “Abos.”
This video had already been shared earlier in the year as well as Jon-Bernard being called out for this unapologetic display of racism. This reflects back on the larger situation that Jon-Bernard was platformed by many people, including media outlets, even though his racism was readily available to anyone who cared to look, including those media outlets who rushed to put him on air and who have a responsibility to vet talent they allow onto their programs.
In no surprise to anyone, it wouldn’t be Jon-Bernard’s racism that would deplatform him. It wouldn’t be the unapologetic interaction with racists either that would cause his fall from grace. Despite so many First Nations voices coming together and requesting people to listen, many Australians would show that Jon-Bernard could be excused of that racism, but not of going to an anti-lockdown protest.
We witnessed protests of thousands of people including from alt-right circles, white supremacist groups, self-declared anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers, in which people were demanding that the lockdowns would end. Present among them was Jon-Bernard who was laughing alongside them and declaring himself the ‘People’s Premier.’
— Adella Beaini (@adellabeaini) July 24, 2021
For a lot of people, this would be the straw that broke the camel’s back.
@nichrichieWhat a surprising turn of events #australia♬ original sound – Nich
No surprises here. TikTok guy at the #SydneyLockdown protest giving a speech at Town Hall, calling himself the people’s premier and demanding freedom. Makes me feel sick thinking how many people now follow him and the platform he’s built. #COVID19nsw pic.twitter.com/PKjD94C3Da
— Chelsea Hetherington (@chelsea_hetho) July 24, 2021
Jon-Bernard gaslit a nation. He built his platform, manipulating and playing on the emotions of the frustrated and disenfranchised. He used media appearances to further push this persona of a “funny bloke” that people could have a laugh with. Therefore, it was a kick in the gut for everyone when their “legend” showed that he had no care for their wellbeing. Despite all of that, he got exactly what he wanted. He built a community of people sympathetic to him. He gathered conspiracy theorists who were distrusting of the Government. He was escalated onto a national stage so that when he walked with the alt-right, those very same people would see him and declare him the “People’s Premier.”
But from the very beginning, he was known by First Nations voices as the man who said “the problem with Australia were the Aboriginals”.
Since this incident, Jon-Bernard’s following has started to dramatically decrease and he has gone quiet on social media.
Also, with Crime Stoppers requesting information and identifying evidence of anyone attending the protest, his stunt was not without consequence.
Due to the protest yesterday, we are experiencing higher than normal call volumes.
Please report your information about the protests and identity of the protesters online at https://t.co/VTw661pv3D You can include uploads of imagery with your report. @nswpolice pic.twitter.com/JW2SVGKarJ
— Crime Stoppers NSW (@crime_nsw) July 25, 2021
It’s important to note that initially Jon-Bernard was proudly posting on his social channels of his participation at the protests but has since deleted them. Whether it was due to backlash or the consequence of being charged, it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that Jon-Bernard’s platform he built, meant that all eyes were on him, and it meant that so many were ready to repost his posts.
Alongside the reports of Jon-Bernard to Crimestoppers, the NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller stated that they had received over 10,000 calls in relation to the protest.
It was not long before the police issued him with a penalty infringement notice.
#BREAKING: NSW Police have issued Jon-Bernard Kairouz (aka TikTok guy) with a penalty infringement notice after he uploaded (and then deleted) a video of himself speaking at yesterday's anti-lockdown protests in Sydney. pic.twitter.com/YXOdTEg9So
— Eden Gillespie (@edengillespie) July 25, 2021
In a statement by the police, they confirm he had been issued with a court attendance notice for two counts of ‘not comply with noticed direction – Covid 19’ and ‘encourage the commission of crime.’
He is set to appear at Bankstown Local Court on the 14th of September and whether or not he escapes a fine, he will be remembered as the man who gaslit a nation and hopefully people will think twice before platforming people like him ever again.
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