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Trump accuser is lying because she used an expression other people have used before, Trump fans claim

Trump: Hands like an octopus?
Trump: Hands like an octopus?

Most of us like to think of ourselves as originals. But when it comes to communicating with other human beings, we’re not quite as original as we think.

When we talk, and write, we not only use words; we use a wide assortment of stock phrases that we’ve picked up along the way. Some of these phrases are basic building blocks of language, more or less essential to communication; others are, as the expression goes, worn-out clichés. Some of these clichés are so burned into our brains that we almost can’t help using them — though we sometimes apologize for it afterwards (or even before).

Last week, a Manhattan woman named Jessica Leeds told the New York Times of a strange encounter with a much younger Donald Trump on an airplane in the early 80s. Seated besides him in first class, she says, she chatted with him briefly, then — following the MO he laid out in that now infamous conversation with Billy Bush — he started kissing and groping her.

“He was like an octopus,” she told the NYT. “His hands were everywhere.”

Now some Trump fans are saying that the “octopus” line is clear evidence that her claims about Trump are a “hoax.” 

Why? Because people other than Leeds have, over the course of human history, used the phrase “he was like an octopus” to describe (allegedly) gropey men. 

No, really, that’s their argument.

Take it away, Mike Cernovich:

So … if someone uses a phrase that was once used in a Velvet Underground song, they are automatically lying?

This is the sort of “logic” that only Trump fans could love. And they do: Cernovich’s tweet was retweeted thousands of times, and picked up by other credibility deficient media outlets on the fringe right, including Political Insider and Gateway Pundit.

Snopes, meanwhile, has classified this argument as “just silly,” which it is.

Indeed, Cernovich’s “logic” here is so completely ridiculous that it’s hard to even figure out what he and his fellow Octopus Hand Truthers think happened.

In their imagined scenario, I guess, Leeds is some kind of sleeper agent for the forces of Big Hillary, tasked with the job of making false groping accusations against Trump. After being triggered, Manchurian Candidate style, by Trump’s denials of groping accusations from other women, Leeds sprang into action and began fabricating her own story of being sexually assaulted by Trump.

But alas, her grope-fabrication skills were a bit rusty. Unable to come up with a convincing scenario, she poured herself a drink and put on the Velvet Underground’s White Light/White Heat album, which she has on the original vinyl. While listening to the exceedingly strange story-song The Gift, about a lovelorn weirdo named Waldo who literally mails himself in a big box to his sort-of-cheating sort-of girlfriend, she hears the phrase “My God, he was like an octopus. Hands all over the place.”

Bingo! Those phrases tie the whole fake sexual assault accusation together.

A slightly more plausible scenario is that people have been using the phrase “hands like an octopus” and variations thereof for decades. That it’s just part of the language, not some weird clue in The Hardy Boys and the Secret of The Phrase That Was Used Before in a Velvet Underground Song CHECKMATE, FEMINISTS.

And there’s certainly evidence for that. A few minutes with Google reveals that there’s an entry for “Octopus Hands” in Urban Dictionary (which was posted six years before the Year of Trump); it’s in romance novels; someone even uses it to describe a cute piece of handmade jewelry for sale on an Etsy store. This dude made a joke about it on Twitter in 2012.

It was certainly a familiar phrase to me when I read it in the New York Times story, though admittedly I’m a Velvet Underground fan.

There’s another piece of evidence that suggests “octopus hands” is simply an expression that people have been using for decades — that it’s even a bit of a cliché. And it comes from the Leeds interview itself.

If you watch the video of Leeds’ interview with the New York Times, you will see that she sort of apologizes for using the phrase even before she uses it, presumably a little embarrassed to be resorting to such a hokey cliche.

“[I]t was a real shock when all of a sudden his hands were all over me,” she told the NYT.

He started encroaching on my space. And I hesitate to use this expression but I’m going to, and that is, he was like an octopus. It was like he had six arms. He was all over the place. 

You can find the relevant portion of the interview about a minute into the NYT video.

The real question for me at this point has nothing to do with octopus hands. It’s a lot more basic.

84 replies on “Trump accuser is lying because she used an expression other people have used before, Trump fans claim”


…One of their own making, I suppose…What’s clear is that their reality is not the one the rest of us are living in. I, for one, do not wish to join them wherever they believe they are.

One of the things I find so stunning about MRAs is their ability to take clear thought and muddle it beyond all recognition.

I think this is a sort of malformed version of how Roswell incident was debunked. With that the line is usually there are no descriptions of anything resembling this in human history before the idea runs on radio & television and then with an increased frequency. With this it’s this phrase occurred frequently before in shared culture.

It’s a trend I’ve seen them use over and over and over. Their ability to use the dressing with out the back up reasoning is really fascinating to me.

My current theory is they believe that their ability to understand something is all containing. There cannot possibly be anything outside of their ability or purview, so they do not need to extend research or rigorous thought.

Reminds me of a guy who insisted that all the accomplishments of the Native American civilizations, including their pyramids, were all from coming into contact with shipwrecked Egyptians. Part of his evidence was that both cultures had a crescent shape in their iconography.

I mean, how could two cultures on opposite sides of the Atlantic come up with a crescent shape?

*Glances up at the night sky*



Yeah, I’ve spent enough time on /r/badhistory to be sure that this is how the majority of the alt right understands the critical process for research:

– Look for things from different people, places, and times that seem the same.
– Suggest a causal relationship between them.
– ????
– Profit!

With such a small-minded concept of journalistic and academic inquiry, it’s no wonder they think they’re the smartest guys in the room.

Hi again! Sharing some useful information for those willing to support the strike in Argentina -it’s actually spreading to Latin America, so feel free to join in as well 😉

A call through social networks to take action on October 19 grew into international strike and protests. Over 6 countries, 15 Argentinean provinces and 40 cities overall, are planning actions to demand the end of violence against women. Please support our actions by helping us spread the word! Stand with women in Latin America and everywhere!
A teenager who was drugged, sexually tortured and murdered sparked a fire across Argentina. Women all over the country have been denouncing the torture and murder of girls and women since decades ago. In 2015 the protest “Ni Una Menos” became a nation-wide movement of protests for a life without violence. The horrible details of Lucía Perez’s death, and the example of women in Poland only days ago, demanded to take actions one step further.

An anonymous picture began to be passed around, with a date and a call for a National Strike of Women, in the name of Lucía Perez. Then a few of us created a Facebook event for it and then thousands and thousands shared it. The group of journalists “Ni Una Menos”, who coordinated the protest in 2015, called for a meeting with national women leaders and independent women reached through social networks. The strike was then official, and several unions and political parties confirmed their support.

Women in Chile, México, Uruguay, Bolivia, Perú and Costa Rica -and the list keeps growing- are organizing for action. Most of our reach is through social network and independent media. Please support women throughout Latin America and everywhere! Here are some actions you can take right now. We’re counting on you!

–> Share this and any other information about our strike in social networks and any other place you might see fit
–> Confirm your assistance to the events in each city, in solidarity and to help them stay visible. Invite other people to do the same.
–> Make actions to help increase visibility in social networks: take a picture with a supportive sign, make a flyer, a meme or any shareable image/text.
–> Contact the media and provide them with this or any information about our strike.
–> Learn and discuss about the importance of organized actions in the struggle for women’s rights and in today’s world.

Thank you for reading!


I find baffling that so many people find those guys logical and inteligent. In what universe do they live?

One of the hallmarks of the conspiracy theorist is that they can believe any number of mutually contradictory theories as long as they all fit the same general theme.

@Seven of Mine

One of the hallmarks of the conspiracy theorist is that they can believe any number of mutually contradictory theories as long as they all fit the same general theme.

Another is that they’re very prone to glomming onto any new conspiracy theory that comes their way.

I am reminded of the latest brain trust report that hit my Facebooks lately. Trump’s accusers are totally lying because they support Clinton for president. Conflict of Interest, QED!

Because there’s nothing more unlikely, nay impossible then someone supporting the Major Party Candidate who didn’t sexually assault them.

they’re very prone to glomming onto any new conspiracy theory that comes their way.

Next they’ll be saying the earth is flat and NASA made up all… the….

oh, wait….

The fedora seemed to crop up at approximately the same time that Yahtzee got the Zero Punctuation gig on The Escapist.

Redhat “fedora” predates Yahtzee’s gig by years (2003 versus 2007) and it wasn’t the origin. The fedora was in vogue when I was in college already, late last millenium.

In other Trumped-up news, the Arizona Republic has been around for more than 125 years and has never endorsed a Democrat. Barry Goldwater, extreme right-wing candidate for President in 1964 — and way more sober and sensible than Trump — was from Arizona, a very conservative state.

But now the Arizona Republic has broken with tradition and endorsed Hillary Clinton. The president of Republic Media has written a column describing the ensuing death threats.

Dealing with death threats after a Clinton endorsement: Arizona Republic

My mother grew up in a dictatorship. She raised a journalist who doesn’t take free speech for granted. . . .


Thanks for linking to that piece. I’d heard about how many conservative publications were refusing to endorse Trump, but didn’t know about the threats. It’s very well written.

and i thought the official explanation of why she must be making it up was crazy (that the only planes that could have been in service with first class at that time had fixed armrests! but anyway, it doesn’t matter, because he had a private jet then so why would he even BE in first class on a mere commercial airliner!? huh? tell me THAT!)
but hey, graham clark! he’s great! and so is his podcast!

(ps what’s with the dude who claims the ONLY place he can find reference to “hands like an octopus” is from this case, a previous sexual assault case, and the VU song? i mean… there’s just no goddamn way that’s remotely true.)

If this doesn’t make conservative voters think twice about death threats, nothing will. I don’t condone death threats period, and this just further points out the fringe right ingroup outgroup mentality. Not only that but it also proves the point that Trump is pretty much alienating everyone not completely devoted to him and speeding up the process of him getting eliminated.

Trump “performing” Mahna Mahna.
Hopefully not too frivolous for current context :\

ETA: finally, it works *mutter, mutter*

To be honest, I’m not sure those accusations are going to damage Trump. For those sort of people, women are just a commodity which show how much power they have, like a Ferrari, a yacht, or such.
Do you remember Italy´s Berlusconi? He had the same attitude towards women, and people voted him under two decades. 20 years! A lot of people, inclusive many women, seems to think that’s completely legit; the arguments used to defend Trump are jawdropping, but I recognize them from the time when Berlusconi was head of the Italian government.
That’s miserable and makes me feel that thre’s no hope for humanity.

EJ, yes we did eventually get the visa, but I had to take it to the immigration tribunal. Like I said at the time, technically “I love you” is in fact a cliché!

… and I can never go back to those happy and innocent times when fedora was only a Linux distro for me.


Well, it is strange that 4Chanelers did not come yet with “tentacle porn rape jokes” yet, to “protect” and “defend” their stallion with “irony” and “humor”.

On the other way, i was thinking that Trump being a financial shark and a gropping octopus, that gives a new insight to the “Sharktopus” (bad) movie…

Have a nice day.

A lot of very tedious people have a lot of very tedious opinions about the names of hats. Funny thing – while any dictionary will tell you that “fedora” and “trilby” both date to the late 19th century, and seem to be inspired by the heroines of the plays of the same names, I can’t find the terms actually being used to describe hats terribly often in sources earlier than the 40s. Actual contemporary sources seem to simply use descriptions like “soft hat”. My conclusion: fussing about hat classification is a chiefly modern pursuit.

@occasional reader

My god, you’re right. Where are the tentacle rape “jokes”? I mean, this even occurred to me when I read the story :O

@Kat: indeed. Let’s say, I was hoping that Trump would have been much more damaged, instead he’s still very close.
In a CNN article, I read: “However, just 32% say the video disqualified Trump from being president and that he should drop out of the race, while 53% disagree.” It is that 53% which worries me.

Sure Italy (or Europe) is not USA, but there’re a lot of similarities between their right wings. Right wings parties in Europe are celebrating Trump as the best candidate, which doesn’t really sound promising.

I’ll be less worried the day I’ll see Hillary Clinton confirmed as president.

I am reminded of the latest brain trust report that hit my Facebooks lately. Trump’s accusers are totally lying because they support Clinton for president. Conflict of Interest, QED! – Schnookums von Fancypants

The same would of course apply to the women accusing Bill Clinton of rape or sexual assault, and the one complaining about Hillary Clinton doing her job as public defender, all of whom Trump presented at a press conference before the second debate.

Morgaine le Fée,

I don’t want Trump to drop out! It would just fuel his supporters’ narratives of evil conspiracies to rob them of their democratic rights. I want him thrashed at the polls. So some of the 53% may have felt the same.

Incidentally, the fallout for Trump may now be affecting the Senate contests as well. The fivethirtyeight site is now showing a 68.5% probability of the Democrats controlling the Senate, which is the highest I recall seeing.

@Nick G
Damn, I looked just a few days ago (or maybe a week?) and it was 49% Dems predicted in the Senate. Trump’s been great for us!

Last week we went for a gorgeous walk in rain and sunshine, over fields and heath and through the woods, ending up in a pub overlooking the sea in our favourite seaside town. And yay, my damaged foot didn’t hurt!

Afterwards I told the beloved that it was a perfect day.

Dang, I must have been lying!

The sexual assault reports are alienating the more principled conservative voters, who are either switching to Clinton (the more moderate ones) or Gary Johnson (the smaller uber-conservative-libertarian fringe). Trump’s support comes more from the right-wing and fascists, which is less about conservative ideas and more about opposition to humanitarian progress in society. They probably wouldn’t care even if they thought he was guilty of sexual assault.

@History Nerd

Trump’s support comes more from the right-wing and fascists, which is less about conservative ideas and more about opposition to humanitarian progress in society.

This is a distinction without a difference. Conservatism seeks to conserve existing patterns of privilege and oppression; this means it is intrinsically opposed to humanitarian progress of society, the latter being mostly about breaking down existing patterns of privilege and oppression.

Any Brit Mammotheers watching Jeremy Paxman’s thing about the election?

Paxman is a fan of Mencken so this is his starting point.

Some people may not like his language

“You’re voting for Trump? We have a word for people like you, mad”

But I particularly like

“He’s trying a charm offensive but without the charm and just the offensive”


“He was the rank outsider, with emphasis on the rank”

and i thought the official explanation of why she must be making it up was crazy


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