Success Kid’s latest success? Shutting down Steve King

A screenshot of Steve King’s Facebook page, in which the “Success Kid” meme is used in a fundraising link — much to the chagrin of the kid’s mother and photographer, Laney Griner.

Steve King hasn’t had much success lately.

Last January, the nine-term western Iowa congressman was stripped of all his committee assignments by the Republican Steering Committee in the House of Representatives, after national Republican leaders decided King’s white nationalist rhetoric had become too embarrassing to tolerate any longer. Following that, Iowa Republicans such as Gov. Kim Reynolds, Sen. Chuck Grassley and Sen. Joni Ernst began to distance themselves from King, despite embracing him and ignoring his white nationalist statements, his loudly professed belief in white nationalist conspiracy theories and his endorsement of white nationalist political candidates, until he was repudiated by their out-of-state colleagues.

Now, King can’t even use the “Success Kid” meme. Not just because of his ongoing failures, but because attorneys representing Laney Griner, the mother of the kid in the meme, sent a cease-and-desist letter to King and his reelection campaign, after the meme was used in a fundraising post on King’s campaign posted on its Facebook page.

Griner tweeted on Monday that she recently learned King was using the image of her son Samuel, which is copyrighted, to raise money.

The meme “is about positivity and celebrates achievement,” she wrote. “Neither I, my son, nor ‘Success Kid’ have any affiliation with Representative King, nor would we have ever agreed to this use. I do not endorse Representative King and, like most people, I strongly disagree with his views.”

In response to the letter, the King campaign’s Facebook page, the content of which is mostly rightwing memes, took down the Success Kid post and apologized.

We previously posted the “success kid” internet meme to solicit funds for our campaign. Evidently the meme is…

Posted by Steve King on Wednesday, January 29, 2020

King himself has never apologized for the white nationalist comments that finally led to him being disciplined by the Republican Steering Committee.

Speaking to a New York Times reporter in January 2018, King wondered aloud, “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive? Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?”

Three months before the Times story, the National Republican Congressional Committee had cut off support for King’s 2018 reelection campaign. Explaining the committee’s decision, Rep. Steve Stivers of Ohio said, “We must stand up against white supremacy and hate in all forms, and I strongly condemn [King’s] behavior.”

At the time, Grassley, Ernst and Reynolds continued to actively support King. The night before the November general election, King was a featured speaker at Reynolds’ final election rally.


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King, of course, was reelected by the people of Iowa’s 4th District. But since then, he hasn’t had much success.

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