Last week, representative Blake Farenthold of Texas lamented on the radio that some “female senators from the Northeast” stood in the way of repealing the Affordable Care Act. “If it was a guy from south Texas,” he said, “I might ask him to step outside and settle this Aaron Burr-style,” suggesting he’d love to duel, say, Susan Collins of Maine. But who really is Blake Farenthold (besides a man who jokes about shooting his colleagues and an actual pajama boy)? Based on his early internet Usenet messages, Farenthold is a man who cares deeply about the accuracy of Die Hard 2‘s telecom tech, and also that Jimmy Buffet videos be full of boobs.
It’s not too surprising that Farenthold was big on BBS in the internet’s early days, considering his history. He received a bachelor’s degree in Radio, Television, and Film in 1985, and even ran a computer consulting and web design firm before entering politics.
So it makes sense that on July 9, 1990, Farenthold wrote the following in the comp.dcom.telecom newsgroup under the title “Die Hard 2 Dies on Telecom“:
He may be the Neil deGrasse Tyson of the early 1990s telecom BBS community, but honestly, inane but glaring and wholly avoidable mistakes ruining a movie is perhaps the most sympathetic position Farenthold’s early postings stake out .
A spokesperson for Farenthold’s office confirmed this is indeed the same Blake Farenthold, noting that “he has been using the internet since the 1980s.” And boy, has he ever!
In that same telecom newsgroup, Farenthold—the one-time owner of Blow-me.org—also revealed his strategy for dealing with his apparent “possessive woman” problem:
It’s worth noting that, in 2014, Farenthold’s former communications director sued him for sexual harassment . Farenthold eventually settled out of court, denying any wrongdoing.
But the Corpus Christi congressman didn’t just use the boards to talk telecom. As an apparent “Parrothead,” fond of sharing margarita recipes, Farenthold participated in the alt.fan.jimmy-buffett newsgroup, writing at one point in 1996 that he’d “planned on partying in the parking lot for about an hour or so” before a Jimmy Buffet show in Austin. He then noted that “the location video in Austin was, however better than the one in Dallas, several women bared their chests for the video camera in Austin. The Debutaunts [sic] in Dallas are a little too stuck up to do that :-).”
Back in October, when The Washington Post published a tape of Donald Trump bragging about sexual assault, MSNBC host Chris Hayes asked Farenthold if he’d unendorse Trump if Farenthold heard him talking about raping women. Farenthold responded, “Again, I — I — that would be bad. I would have to consider — I’d consider it.” He later took to Twitter to apologize for his “failure to immediately condemn anyone who would say something as outrageous as they like raping women.” This, of course, has nothing to do with BBS newsgroups in the 90s. Though it does continue to astound.
Clear History is WIRED’s occasional deep dives into the lesser-known internet lives of the rich and powerful. Think you found someone’s online identity? Let us know here.