Metro Weekly

Trolls Blame Buttigieg for Bridge Collapse

Trolls have mocked Pete Buttigieg for being gay and claimed he's bad at his job because Baltimore's Key bridge collapsed after a collision.

Transportation Secretary Buttigieg discusses Baltimore bridge collapse in Maryland – Photo: CBS News

Anti-LGBTQ trolls have blamed openly gay Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg for a bridge collapse in Baltimore believed to have killed six people after it was hit by a 95,000-ton cargo ship.

The Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsed after the Dali, a 985-foot container ship flying the Singapore flag, crashed into the bridge’s reinforced concrete support pier.

The container ship, which was traveling at about 9 miles per hour, lost both engine power and electrical power to its control and communications systems minutes before it crashed into the bridge stanchion.

According to The Washington Post, the pilot was unable to slow the vessel. A diesel backup generator kicked in, temporarily restoring the electrical system and allowing the pilot to radio an emergency message to have the bridge closed prior to the crash, which occurred at 1:28 a.m. The shock of the impact caused portions of the bridge to bow and fall into the Patapsco River below within a span of 40 seconds.

Six men who were part of a construction team working to repair potholes and masonry on the bridge at the time of the accident are presumed dead, while two others were rescued from the water, with one worker unharmed and another in “very serious condition.”

Buttigieg visited Baltimore to survey the damage, and President Joe Biden has promised that the federal government will pay to rebuild the bridge.

Even though Maryland Gov. Wes Moore said the bridge was “up to code” and simply couldn’t withstand the impact of being hit by the cargo ship, several right-wing and anti-LGBTQ social media trolls quickly seized upon the accident — already the subject of unfounded conspiracy theories — to blame the Biden administration, and specifically Pete Buttigieg, for not doing enough to prevent the accident.

Some trolls echoed right-wing talking points about how Buttigieg is unfit for his job, claiming he was only named to his position because he was a gay Democrat who checked certain “diversity” boxes in an attempt to pander to the Left.

I don’t care that Pete Buttigieg is gay, just don’t put the fcking dude in a position of power because of it… Last I checked, sucking dick has nothing to do with Transportation,” wrote a blue-check X user named “Gunther Eagleman™️”.


“The incompetence is a function of the ideology,” wrote another. “Buttigieg is smart enough to be a competent administrator. Being white but gay he was able to get into Harvard, before it became completely DEI-graded, and secure himself a place in Biden’s cabinet of horrors. Merit is not a criterion. Strict adherence to the orthodoxy is paramount.”

Others regurgitated well-worn jokes about Buttigieg’s sexual orientation, mocking him for taking paternal leave following the birth of his twin children, and sharing digitally-altered images showing the secretary wearing a breastfeeding device.

“Mayor Pete Buttigieg was asked to provide an explanation of the bridge accident in Baltimore, Maryland. He replied: ‘As a mother, I can tell you it’s hard to steer a boat while you’re nursing,'” an X user wrote.

Buttigieg has never made such a statement or cast himself as a “mother.” The assertion is derived from a Tucker Carlson rant about the secretary taking paternity leave. Such claims play into anti-LGBTQ sentiment by implying that gay men are inherently unfit parents unworthy of raising children.

Additionally, some trolls have altered the “breastfeeding” trope to “chestfeeding,” hoping to play into anti-transgender sentiment by stoking outrage among women over the term — which Buttigieg has also never used when referring to his parenting decisions — as evidence of an attempt to “erase” women from society. 

“BREAKING: Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg to address Baltimore Bridge collapse as soon as he’s done chestfeeding,” wrote a blue-check user who goes by “U.S. Ministry of Truth.”


A third line of attack involves claiming that Buttigieg has blamed “racism” for the bridge collapse, a trope based on right-wingers’ mockery a press conference Buttigieg gave in 2021 — and misrepresentations of what he said in that presser — in which the Transportation Secretary referenced claims that some of America’s roads, bridges, and tunnels were constructed or placed in certain areas to encourage “white flight” from cities or to keep certain communities segregated.

Some trolls accused Buttigieg of focusing too much on racism and failing to focus on other aspects of his job, such as transportation safety or building infrastructure.

“Baltimore’s collapsed bridge is in good hands, folks. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is ready to fight the racism of our infrastructure,” wrote “Resist the Mainstream.”

“How to be the Secretary of Transportation 101,” wrote “The United Spot.” “Job: What Are Your Qualifications? Pete: I’m Married to a Man. Job: You’re Hired.”

The user then added, “The bridge was racist, it deserved it. — Pete Buttigieg (probably).”

Progressives and LGBTQ people pushed back against the misinformation and disingenuous attacks against Buttigieg.

“No MAGA lunatics, the horrific collapse of Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore was not caused by Secretary Pete Buttigieg or immigrants, it was caused by a Cargo Container Ship colliding into it you evil despicable morons,” posted Ricky Davila.

“Republicans seem to think that Pete Buttigieg should have magically foreseen and single handedly stopped the ship crashing into that bridge. Do YOU think they’re crazy?” wrote another user.

Buttigieg — who has become an all-too-familiar target of right-wing venom — appeared not to heed the trolls, pledging federal support for the Baltimore area and the state of Maryland in a post to X.

“On the ground in Baltimore in the wake of the Key Bridge tragedy yesterday, I reiterated President Biden’s commitment to Governor Moore that we will support Maryland’s efforts to rebuild, every step of the way, for as long as it takes,” he wrote.

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