Author Page | Media Matters for America

Brendan Karet

Author ››› Brendan Karet
  • Leprosy, rabies, HIV and smallpox: Fox News is spreading evidence-free conspiracy theories of a disease infested migrant caravan

    ››› ››› BRENDAN KARET & MADELINE PELTZ

    Fox News has been actively pushing a baseless conspiracy theory that the migrant caravan heading for the Southern U.S. border is a disease infested group of people who will infect the U.S. population if allowed entry. Over the past week, Fox hosts and guests have speculated that the migrants are carrying rabies, leprosy, smallpox, and AIDS among other diseases.

  • "We want you here": Turning Point USA bans anti-Semitic YouTuber from event only because of “the optics"

    TPUSA is fine with bigotry, just not with looking like bigots

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G. , MADELINE PELTZ & BRENDAN KARET


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Turning Point USA, the pro-Trump grift masquerading as a conservative college organization, has made it clear that it doesn’t reject anti-Semitism.

    TPUSA, which raises funds off of Fox fearmongering about the liberalization of college campuses, is hosting its Young Black Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C., from October 25 to October 28. The group is leveraging the coziness between founder Charlie Kirk and the first family by having Donald Trump Jr. speak at an event and scoring participants a visit to the White House complete with an address from the president.

    Referring to the ongoing summit, Bryan Sharpe -- who is known online as “Hotep Jesus” -- claimed on October 25 that he had been banned from TPUSA events. Sharpe has a record of expressing anti-Semitic views (which didn’t keep him from appearing on Fox’s The Ingraham Angle to attack Starbucks for holding a racial bias training), and he has appeared on the explicitly white supremacist Red Ice TV. He also once said, “I’d rather align with a racist white than a cry baby Black.”

    Sharpe later posted a Periscope video in which TPUSA Director of Urban Engagement Brandon Tatum explained to him the reason he couldn’t be in TPUSA events: “the optics of the anti-Semitic rhetoric.” Tatum cited concerns that Sharpe’s record of anti-Semitic rhetoric could be reported by the press if he was in attendance. Tatum added, “You’re a grown-ass man -- I can’t force you out of here. But I want you to understand where we are coming from. You understand?” He summarized TPUSA’s position as being “between a rock and a hard place” because while “personally, none of us have a problem with you -- we want you here. It’s the optics. The media.”

    The transparently cynical concern Tatum articulated -- not with bigotry but with the appearance of bigotry, -- is consistent with TPUSA’s record of embracing extremism but rejecting accountability for it. TPUSA might have banned Sharpe from its events, but its communications director, Candace Owens, personally reached out privately to him to smooth things out, according to Sharpe. As reported by the Miami New Times, members of a TPUSA chapter were OK with racial slurs in their online chats as long as they weren’t used too often. At a different TPUSA conference, an attendee was filmed praising Nazi Germany. And when TPUSA fired an employee for writing "I HATE BLACK PEOPLE. Like fuck them all. ... I hate blacks," the organization’s replacement hire had previously said, "I love making racist jokes."

  • Mike Cernovich's far-right conspiracy theories, bigotry, and association with white supremacists

    An abundance of tweets, blog posts, and on-air appearances -- many of which he has now deleted -- reveal the conspiracy theories, rape denial, and “alt-right” shilling that brought Cernovich fame

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G. , BRENDAN KARET & JOHN KERR


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Far-right grifter and “Pizzagate” conspiracy theorist Mike Cernovich is putting his star power behind Republican Kelli Ward by joining her on a bus tour before the Arizona primary on August 28. Ward, who is competing for the GOP nomination to represent Arizona in the U.S. Senate, described Cernovich in her announcement of the bus tour as “a social media personality and the author of several books examining political and social trends,” forgivingly glossing over Cernovich’s record of peddling disgusting conspiracy theories, shilling for the “alt-right,” dismissing date rape, and endorsing misogyny.

    Questioned about the decision, Ward hilariously claimed to not know what Cernovich’s views are. Ward, along with her husband, is an administrator of a Facebook group that traffics in some of the same conspiracy theories that Cernovich pushes. Ward has also been an ally of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, and Cernovich has done frequent work with Jones’ Infowars in recent years.

    Despite running with Cernovich’s crowd for years, Ward can try to get away with claiming to not know who he is perhaps because of his attempts to scrub a lot of his caustic record from his online portfolio. However, an abundance of deleted tweets, blog posts, and videos reveal him for the unhinged conspiracy theorist, rape denier, and “alt-right” shill that he became famous for being.

    Cernovich repeatedly pushed the “Pizzagate” conspiracy theory

    Cernovich has pushed conspiracy theories about pedophilia, Satanism, “spirit cooking,” and more

    Cernovich pushed forged documents and propaganda

    Cernovich spread a conspiracy theory about murdered DNC staffer Seth Rich

    Cernovich falsely claimed a Roy Moore accuser forged his signature in a yearbook

    Cernovich pushed conspiracy theories about mass shootings

    Cernovich has made journalists a target of many attacks

    Cernovich has repeatedly pushed bigotry, and shilled for white supremacists and the “alt-right”

    Cernovich repeatedly pushed rape denial and misogyny

    Cernovich repeatedly pushed the “Pizzagate” conspiracy theory

    During the 2016 presidential election, some supporters of President Donald Trump baselessly claimed Democrats and powerful celebrities were tied to a pedophilia ring hiding in a Washington, D.C., pizzeria. As a consequence, a man went to the restaurant to “self-investigate” and opened fire inside.

    Cernovich said, “Pizzagate is real. There are pedophiles at the highest level of media, Hollywood, and in government.”

    Cernovich has attempted to scrub his wide-ranging “Pizzagate” record to obscure his role in propagating it. But since-deleted tweets show evidence of his responsibility.

    In one video, Cernovich said, “If you want to have the real power, they force you to rape children and they record it. And that does two things. One is you are now blackmailed forever. ... And then two is only someone depraved enough to rape a child is going to be allowed in the shadow government.”

    Cernovich has pushed conspiracy theories about pedophilia, Satanism, “spirit cooking,” and more

    In a video that can still be found on far-right misogynist Stefan Molyneux’s YouTube channel, Cernovich claimed John Podesta, chairman of the campaign of former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, was involved in “spirit cooking” rituals, during which he claimed participants mixed “semen with breast milk” to drink.

    Besides pushing the baseless claims on his website, Cernovich also suggested that then-candidate Donald Trump should have addressed the conspiracy theory during one of his rallies and accused the Clinton family of “100 percent” being connected to pedophile rings. On another occasion, he also suggested a visit to Haiti was evidence that the Clintons were trafficking children.

    Cernovich also accused former President Barack Obama of giving children to human traffickers.

    Cernovich also claimed to have heard that Obama’s children are not actually his children.

    In another video, Cernovich said, “We have to purge the satanists from the FBI,” noting that he thought former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe was a satanist, while he was unsure about former FBI special agent Peter Strzok.

    As reported by The New Yorker, Cernovich was “among the first” to falsely claim that Hillary Clinton “had a grave neurological condition.”

    Cernovich has also tried to smear all of his protesters and critics as pedophiles. And while he has avoided to outright endorse it, he is one of the far-right figures who amplified the QAnon conspiracy theory on their social media platforms.

    Cernovich pushed forged documents and propaganda

    Cernovich promoted a forged document that accused Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) of sexually harassing a former staffer, then quickly walked back the claim when the document was reported to police as a forgery.

    He also promoted forged documents about Emanuel Macron before he was elected president of France.

    Cernovich has also reportedly help spread pro-Assad propaganda. Cernovich declared that he was “not buying” that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad carried out chemical attacks against Syrians.

    Cernovich spread a conspiracy theory about murdered DNC staffer Seth Rich

    Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich was murdered in Washington, D.C., on July 10, 2016. On August 9, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange brought up Rich unprompted on a Dutch TV program, implying (but refusing to confirm) that Rich was his source for the DNC emails Wikileaks made public before the presidential election. Cernovich promoted the interview while questioning point-blank if Rich was Assange’s source.

    Following Cernovich’s tweet, Fox’s Sean Hannity picked up the baseless story.

    Cernovich falsely claimed a Roy Moore accuser forged his signature in a yearbook

    Cernovich falsely claimed that Beverly Young Nelson, who has reported that former Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore sexually assaulted her when she was 16, admitted that she forged Moore’s signature in her high school yearbook. Nelson actually said she added some notes next to the signature but that it was Moore’s signature. In fact, Cernovich cast doubt on all of the reports made against Moore.

    Cernovich pushed conspiracy theories about mass shootings

    In a since-deleted blog post, Cernovich claimed that “there was more than one shooter at Pulse in Orlando,” referring to the 2016 mass shotting at Pulse nightclub in Florida. Cernovich wrote, “As you follow the story, look for” certain “evidence.” He added, “If we don’t see all of this, then there was a second shooter.”

    He also attempted to blame a mass shooting in New Mexico on anti-fascist protesters and made similar comments following a series of bombings in Austin, TX.

    After a suicide bomber killed 22 people, including children, who were leaving an Ariana Grande concert in England, Cernovich attacked the pop star for liberal and “anti-American” statements that she made while reacting to a tray of donuts years prior.

    Cernovich has made journalists a target of many attacks

    Cernovich lashed out at a HuffPost journalist for reporting on a notorious anti-Muslim social media account. He also once planned a website to harass journalists and since then has set out to get some journalists fired by weaponizing fake outrage over past tweets taken out of context, unleashing his followers on harassment campaigns against targeted journalists on the way. He has said, “Most people in journalism are pedophiles.”

    After Republican congressional candidate Greg Gianforte assaulted Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs, Cernovich told Alex Jones that it was “a total set up.”

    He also implied on Twitter that Jacobs may have had the assault coming.

    Cernovich has repeatedly pushed bigotry, and shilled for white supremacists and the “alt-right”

    Before rebranding away from the term when it became unpopular, Cernovich was among the main online proponents of the “alt-right,” rallying against diversity and going on the record to represent the movement’s views while declaring himself to be “alt-right friendly.” He also used to promote some of its figures, including “Baked Alaska” (who is white supremacist and serial-self owner Tim Gionet), Nazi sympathizer Milo Yiannopoulos (whose handle was @Nero before he got permanently banned from Twitter), and white supremacist Ricky Vaughn.

    One of his tweets supportive of the “alt-right” even gave credence to the idea of “white genocide,” a common white supremacist trope.

    In one video, Cernovich trivially used the n-word:

    He also complained about “thugs” attacking “me and my kind,” and he admitted that he was “happy” that a white supporter of Black Lives Matter was stabbed to death, saying he wouldn’t be stabbed because “I’m a … man.”

    During one of his broadcasts to his followers, Cernovich repeatedly used a homophobic slur.

    He has said, “Anywhere Muslims go, they’re blowing things up.” He also said that Muslims in America may want to “kill all women.” In another video, Cernovich warned transgender Americans that if refugees in Germany “find out about you, they’ll rape you and kill you.”

    Cernovich called the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) “anti-America” and said that it is “extorting Jews.” He also replied “exactly” when Alex Jones said ADL has “always been the group that feeds on the Jews working with the Nazis.”

    Cernovich repeatedly pushed rape denial and misogyny

    Cernovich has tried to hide his misogynistic musings, which the self-declared former “total hottie” used to post on his site Danger and Play. That site was a blog “about how to pick up women” and featured posts like “Misogyny Gets You Laid.”

    One of his posts featured statements that minimized rape, including, “If you believe in rape culture, I understand a lot about you: you’re a gullible fool who believes feminists.” In a now-archived post, Cernovich denied the existence of date rape:

    Additionally, in a post offering advice on “how to choke a woman” he claimed, “Women only want to have consensual sex with men they know could rape them,” and confessed to having “choked women unconscious” on occasion. He also advocated for choking women “when standing around,” saying to do it when she “acts up.” He’s on the record offering similar advice:

    Cernovich once presented consent as a burden, saying, “If you as a man read a signal wrong, you’re a rapist.” In one video, Cernovich complained, “If your son, or you, … has sex with your girlfriend while she is sleeping … that’s technically rape.”

    He has also said that “there is probably 10 men enslaved to every one woman enslaved.”

    Similarly, in a now-deleted article titled “When In Doubt, Whip It Out,” Cernovich wrote about exposing himself to a date who refused his sexual advances, saying she “wasn’t freaked out” by him masturbating in the backseat of her car and suggesting his readers to not “settle for the make out. If possible, at least pull out your dick. If you can get her to touch it, even better.”

    A 2016 Mediaite report rounded up a sample of Cernovich’s misogynistic tweets, which included “Have you guys ever tried ‘raping’ a girl without using force? Try it. It’s basically impossible. Date rape does not exist,” as well as “Not being a slut is the only proven way to avoid AIDS. If you love black women, slut shame them.” Mediaite additionally noted Cernovich had tweeted and deleted: “A whore will let her friend ruin your life with a false rape case. So why should I care when women are raped?”

  • MSNBC sides with rape apologist Mike Cernovich, fires contributor for 2009 tweet mocking rape apologists

    Pizzagate conspiracy theorist Cernovich once said, “A whore will let her friend ruin your life with a false rape case. So why should I care when women are raped?”

    Blog ››› ››› BRENDAN KARET


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Update (12/7/17): Ryan Grim reports that MSNBC will be re-hiring Seder.

    MSNBC reportedly cut ties with contributor Sam Seder after far-right date rape apologist Mike Cernovich spread a 2009 tweet in which Seder mocked defenders of Roman Polański, a film director charged with raping a 13-year-old girl in 1977. MSNBC’s decision to fire Seder comes on the one year anniversary of the shooting at Comet Ping Pong, which Cernovich helped spark by relentlessly pushing the “alt-right”-fueled “pizzagate” conspiracy.

    According to a December 4 report by The Wrap, MSNBC “has decided not to renew its contract with contributor Sam Seder after an old tweet emerged … brought to wide attention last month by the pro-Trump journalist and activist Mike Cernovich.”

    Seder explained Cernovich’s “smear involves the willful misinterpretation of a tweet that I posted in 2009” that was criticizing rape apologists, but MSNBC sided with Cernovich, who previously asked “Have you guys ever tried ‘raping’ a girl without using force? Try it. It’s basically impossible. Date rape does not exist,” and claimed “A whore will let her friend ruin your life with a false rape case. So why should I care when women are raped?”

    In a tweet, Media Matters Senior Fellow Matt Gertz added that the attacks against Seder ignored that when Seder made the satirical joke in 2009, he may have been responding to the media outlets and personalities that were inappropriately defending Polanski at the time.

    The reported termination of MSNBC’s relationship with Seder comes one year after a gunman walked into Comet Ping Pong, a popular family pizza restaurant, to investigate a fringe right-wing conspiracy theory that the restaurant was a cover for a pedophilia ring. Cernovich repeatedly promoted the false claim on Twitter.

    By severing ties with Seder, MSNBC has now made the same mistake that former New York Times Public Editor Liz Spayd made when she legitimized Cernovich’s harassment campaign against New York Times reporter Sopan Deb.

    MSNBC and The New York Times’ willingness to affirm a conspiratorial right-wing troll’s campaign to smear journalists and media figures sets a dangerous precedent. It threatens the credibility of serious media outlets when they choose to side with personalities like Cernovich who have a long track record of racism, misogyny, conspiracy theories, and misinformation.

    Language has been updated for clarity.

  • Hannity turns to white supremacists to help him spite Keurig for pulling ads from his show

    Associations further prove that Hannity is volatile and bad for business

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G. & BRENDAN KARET


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    As advertisers continue to drop Sean Hannity’s Fox News show, most recently in response to his defense of the Republican Alabama senatorial candidate accused of molesting a 14-year-old, Hannity has decided to fuel and help organize a boycott of Keurig, one of his former advertisers. But he may be digging himself into a deeper hole, as he is now promoting the boycott efforts of known white supremacists and extremists.

    On November 11, Keurig, a coffee-maker brand, announced it was dropping Fox’s Hannity in response to Hannity’s irresponsible defense of Roy Moore and attacks on victims who come forward with their stories of sexual harassment and abuse. After Hannity ginned up outrage that evening, his supporters responded with a #BoycottKeurig campaign, which apparently entails angry fans destroying their Keurig coffee makers, filming the process, and uploading the result to the internet. Hannity gleefully egged on and encouraged the boycott against his former advertiser (which remains a Fox News advertiser) by promising giveaways to the best #BoycottKeurig videos and by retweeting and amplifying his Keurig-smashing supporters, including one that promoted actual white supremacist Angelo John Gage.

    As documented by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), Gage is a white nationalist known for “making YouTube videos warning of ‘white genocide’ [and] leading his youthful band of white nationalists on college campuses to protest the Marxist takeover of American higher education.” In 2015, Gage served as the chairman of the “youth wing of the radical-right … American Freedom Party." Gage has also appeared on Radio 3Fourteen, a production of Red Ice TV, a white supremacist and anti-Semitic online media outlet that promotes Holocaust denial. On his own YouTube channel, Gage has passionately defended the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, VA, saying, “I don’t care if Hitler was at the rally.”

    In his feverish promotion of the Keurig boycott, Hannity also amplified a piece of content from the far-right website The Red Elephants, characterizing it as “so so funny!” The piece was written by Vincent James (also known as Vincent James Foxx), who appeared in a video that features threats of killing left-wing protesters.

    The Red Elephants’ Twitter account habitually traffics in white supremacist memes (like the promotion of the message board-originated “it’s OK to be white” campaign that supposedly seeks to expose anti-white racism) and racist tropes like claiming “race and IQ correlate.” @TheRedElephants also engages with known white nationalists like Timothy Gionet -- known online as Baked Alaska -- and dabbles in conspiracy theories, like promoting the false claims that Democratic operatives ran a pedophilia ring under a family restaurant in D.C.

    All in all, Hannity might not be making the best case for himself that he’s a commercially stable and reliable person to advertise with.

  • Tucker Carlson forced to issue correction after Mandalay Bay shuts down conspiracy theory that injured guard worked under false Social Security number

    Blog ››› ››› BRENDAN KARET

    Fox host Tucker Carlson was forced to issue a correction after parroting far-right internet troll and conspiracy theorist Laura Loomer, who baselessly claimed Mandalay Bay security guard Jesus Campos worked under someone else’s Social Security number.

    Carlson promoted the baseless conspiracy theory during the October 17 edition of his show, claiming Mandalay Bay security guard Jesus Campos had worked under “someone else's Social Security number.” One day later, Carlson admitted “MGM reached out” to him, and verified that Campos used had his own Social Security card when MGM verified his employment in 2015:

    TUCKER CARLSON (HOST): Meanwhile, MGM reached out to us after a report came out suggesting that Jesus Campos was using someone else's Social Security number.

    MGM Company claims they verified his employment eligibility back in 2015, and it was his Social Security card.

    Conspiracy theorist and far-right troll Laura Loomer first promoted the claim, tweeting, “EXCLUSIVE: #JesusCampos intel report reveals he shared SSN w/ Jesus Quintero. Is #JesusCampos an illegal alien?” Loomer’s unsubstantiated conspiracy theory was subsequently promoted by Jim Hoft’s conspiracy theory-driven website, The Gateway Pundit.

  • Daily Caller publishes, then deletes anti-Semitic video

    Blog ››› ››› BRENDAN KARET

    Right-wing website the Daily Caller posted a video titled “New York Times’ Glenn Thrush Has KHOUTSPA” set to the Jewish folk song Hava Nagila.

    The Daily Caller’s video received immediate backlash for its anti-Semitic theme. Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt tweeted, “Calling out @dailycaller for this anti-Semitic video/attack on a Jewish journalist. Take it down. Apologize to @glennthrush,” and The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin wrote, “The Daily Caller is lower than Breitbart these days.” The video was eventually deleted after the backlash, but not before the Daily Caller editor-in-chief, Geoffrey Ingersoll, defended the video.

    The Daily Caller has a long history of publishing content with anti-Semitic undertones, including headlines like “Kill All The Jews And When That Is Done Kill Those That Refused To Defend Them,” and “FINALLY! The First Poop Swastika Of 2017 Appears On An American College Campus,” as well as using a Holocaust denier to falsely smear former President Bill Clinton.

  • Fox Business hosts far-right troll who yelled Seth Rich conspiracies at a Hillary Clinton book signing

    Fox Business cut away from video before Seth Rich attacks the network was forced to retract

    Blog ››› ››› BRENDAN KARET

    Fox Business host Liz MacDonald invited far-right, Seth Rich conspiracy theorist Laura Loomer on to the network to promote her ambush video attacking Hillary Clinton at a book signing event. MacDonald hosted Loomer, who has pushed the conspiracy theory that Clinton was involved in the murder of a Democratic National Committee (DNC) staffer, even after the network’s sister company, Fox News, was forced to retract a Seth Rich conspiracy story.

    MacDonald introduced her September 14 segment with Loomer by highlighting footage from Loomer criticizing Clinton during a book signing where she attacked the former presidential candidate over emails and relief money to Haiti. But the video abruptly stops before the footage shows Loomer asking Hillary Clinton “What happened to Seth Rich?,” referring to the debunked conspiracy theory that Fox was forced to retract. From the September 14 edition of Fox Business’ Risk & Reward with Deirdre Bolton:

    LIZ MACDONALD (HOST): Conservative activist Laura Loomer confronted Hillary Clinton about the missing emails at her book signing.

    [VIDEO BEGINS]

    LAURA LOOMER: Hi, it's so great to see you.

    HILLARY CLINTON: Well, it's great for you to be here.

    LOOMER: Thanks for having me.

    CLINTON: Thank you for coming.

    LOOMER: Thanks for having me. So, the American people would really like to know what happened to your 33,000 emails? What happened in Benghazi?

    CLINTON: Go read the book, you want to find --

    LOOMER: What happened to the millions of dollars that was supposed to go to the people in Haiti?

    CLINTON: You know what? I'm so sorry you believe things that are untrue.

    [VIDEO ENDS]

    MACDONALD: Laura Loomer, from Rebel Media. Laura took those -- the footage right there, is with me now. What was it like to confront Hillary Clinton?

    LOOMER: You know, it's always a good time. I've done it a couple times in the past before, which is why I was surprised that she hasn't recognized me. But, you know, it's -- it's definitely an adrenaline rush because this is probably the most hated woman in America and, you know, to be asking her questions that so many --

    MACDONALD: To some. Not to everybody. She got 55 million people who voted for her.

    LOOMER: Yeah, to many, but to ask her questions that one, the mainstream media refused to ask her, and two, that so many Americans want answers about, it was great that I was able to do that.

    Fox News heavily promoted the Seth Rich conspiracy theory and even after the network conceded that the story was completely false, personalities like Sean Hannity continued. Hannity promoted the story after Fox retractions and media criticism and even pushed the conspiracy theory after Seth Rich’s family demanded he stop his disgraceful campaign.

    Loomer also has a long history of promoting Seth Rich conspiracy theories on Twitter, claiming Seth Rich was murdered for “testifying against Hillary.

  • Fringe media and Fox News push conspiracy theories regarding arrested former House IT staffer

    ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN & BRENDAN KARET

    Following the arrest of former Democratic information technology staffer Imran Awan, far-right media and Fox News pushed multiple conspiracy theories about him, suggesting he was behind WikiLeaks getting hacked Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails, that he had damaging information on House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and that the Clintons were somehow involved in the situation.