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Cristina López G.

Author ››› Cristina López G.
  • Rep. Steve King elevates a neo-Nazi on Twitter

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G.

    On June 12, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) quote-tweeted an anti-immigrant tweet from British neo-Nazi Mark Collett. It's not the first time King has elevated white supremacist talking points on Twitter.

    Media Matters reported on Collett’s history when Fox News host Laura Ingraham quoted him in a tweet in January. At the time, we noted that Mark Collett is a former chairman of the youth division of the British National Party (BNP), a far-right political organization in the United Kingdom, who was eventually dismissed from the party and arrested for death threats against its leader, a political rival. Collett has repeatedly collaborated with former Ku Klux Klan leader and radio host David Duke, who has endorsed Collett’s book. Collett once expressed admiration for Adolf Hitler, has said that he considered AIDS a “friendly disease because blacks, drug users and gays have it,” and has referred to asylum seekers as “cockroaches.” Collett also campaigned in support of Brexit with his girlfriend, who has multiple Nazi tattoos.

    Angry White Men, a blog that tracks far-right people and groups, flagged King’s quote-tweet and shared a number of pieces laying out Collett’s racist extremism in a Twitter thread.

    King has a record of pushing white supremacist narratives on Twitter. He once tweeted that "we can't restore our civilization with somebody else's babies" and then doubled-down on his statement after receiving backlash. Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke praised King for his tweet:

    As Vice documented, King’s bigotry has been on display beyond Twitter as well. He’s compared undocumented immigrants to livestock, pushed the birther conspiracy theory that claims Barack Obama was born in Kenya, and referred to the former president as “very, very urban,” and said that only Europe and the U.S. have contributed to civilization.

  • Even conservative women are shredding Candace Owens' attack on the #MeToo movement

    Owens claimed #MeToo treats women as “stupid, weak & inconsequential.” Even conservatives clapped back.

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G.

    Candace Owens, communications director for Turning Points USA, attacked the #MeToo movement on Twitter on June 11, claiming that it treats women as “stupid, weak & inconsequential.” Owens, whose profile skyrocketed after rapper Kanye West promoted her brand of hot takes on Twitter,  also stated that #MeToo had “turned sexual assault into a trend,” an absurdity akin to claiming that fire alarms are turning fires into a trend.

    By elevating the voices of accusers, the #MeToo movement has been pivotal in spotlighting powerful figures who had gotten away with sexual misconduct and violence. Owens’ ignorant attack faced immediate criticism. Even conservative women, who typically espouse anti-feminist views, spoke out against it.

    Kimberly Corban, a rape survivor and an NRATV favorite due to her pro-gun advocacy, said she disagreed with Owens and suggested they “get together” to talk:

    Corban also pointed out why Owens’ words could be damaging to survivors and victims, while explaining that #MeToo “isn’t a problem with women” but rather a problem that stems from a culture that forces victims into silence.

    Amber Athey, a breaking news editor for The Daily Caller and a columnist for Catholic Vote, called Owens’ tweets “an ignorant take” and “ridiculously unfair”:

    According to Athey, Owens’ cluelessness on #MeToo comes from taking “the conservative idea of personal responsibility” and warping and twisting it to “unimaginable levels.” 

    Rita Panahi, who works for the Herald Sun, a subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp Australia, and hosts The Friday Show at conservative network Sky News, responded to Owens that “blaming the victim for being victimised isn’t helpful”:

    Cassandra Fairbanks, who writes for The Gateway Pundit, a conspiracy theory-friendly and error-filled outlet, called out Owens for her “bad tweet”:

    Some conservative men were also shocked by the ludicrous comments. Benji Backer, founder and president of the American Conservative Coalition, shared his own experiences of being subjected to sexual misconduct and called Owens’ attacks “abhorrent” as well as “asinine & cowardly”:

    Jerry Dunleavy, an alum of Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign who works for Judicial Watch, explained why Owens’ take was “exactly wrong”:

    Caleb Hull, a senior editor at Independent Journal Review, suggested Owens “will do or say anything for the attention”:

    Hull might be onto something. Owens is slated to speak at Turning Point’s upcoming Young Women’s Leadership Summit in Dallas, TX. With her tweet, she was likely attempting to exploit a sensitive topic to draw more attention to her speech, in which she has promised to explain why she hates the #MeToo movement.

    Owens’ skyrocketing ascent to conservative fame has, after all, always rested on wildly inaccurate assertions. She has claimed that police brutality is not an issue the Black community faces, blatantly dismissed the threats that white supremacy presents, and volleyed toxic, inaccurate attacks at the immigrant community, including claiming that undocumented immigrants are voting illegally and that they are “directly harming the black community” by taking jobs.

    Kennedy Copeland, an advancement associate at Owens’ own Turning Points USA, attempted to distance the organization from Owens’ views after she tweeted about #MeToo, claiming to “respectfully disagree” with her statement. But given that TPUSA considers “grab them by the pussy” apologist Jeanine Pirro and enforced-monogamy supporter Jordan Peterson worthy ambassadors for its young women’s leadership summit, TPUSA’s views on women and victims of sexual violence and misconduct may actually be in lockstep with Owens’.

    UPDATE: Following backlash, Candace Owens took to Periscope, calling #MeToo "a witch hunt on men" and blaming it for causing the men she speaks to refusing to hire women.

    UPDATE (7:15 PM): On Twitter, Mediaite's Caleb Ecarma shared a leaked message in which TPUSA's executive director and founder Charlie Kirk asked fellow conservatives to refrain from critizising Owens or the organisation and to backchannel their disagreements to avoid hurting the group's image.

  • Far-right figures spew toxic and dangerous bullshit after Anthony Bourdain's death

    Members of the far-right fever swamp spread conspiracy theories, blamed “political correctness” for spikes in suicide rates, personally attacked Bourdain, and blamed women 

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G.

    Anthony Bourdain stood for everything that far-right figures and online message boards hate. Following the tragic news of the CNN host and legendary chef’s death by suicide, these fever swamps went into overdrive with absurd conspiracy theories and toxic hot takes that personally attacked Bourdain and women with whom he had relationships. Instead of discussing the importance of mental health and guiding audiences to anti-suicide resources, these figures tried to use suicide to win a news cycle for some amorphous culture war benefit.

    Alex Jones, a host for conspiracy theory site Infowars, dismissed the reports of suicide to claim without evidence that Bourdain was murdered. Jones, who has never missed a chance to irresponsibly insert absurd conspiracy theories into the news, said Bourdain was “planning to go public against the deep state" and someone wanted to stop him from doing “a Kanye West”:

    Jones also implied Bourdain’s death was a result of his criticism of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton over her response to the numerous reports of sexual assault and sexual harassment committed by movie mogul and former Democratic donor Harvey Weinstein. Jones’ claim echoed posts found on 4chan, which also attempted to connect the tragedy of Bourdain’s death to the “Pizzagate” conspiracy theory. That theory holds that powerful celebrities and Democratic politicians are linked to a pedophilia ring housed in the basement of a Washington, D.C., pizza parlor; it spurred one believer, who was trying to self-investigate the claim, to open fire inside the restaurant.

    The conspiracy theory linking Bourdain’s death to Clinton also spread through several YouTube channels and appeared on Twitter accounts and fake news-peddling websites like True Pundit, Liberty One News, and YourNewsWire.

    Others in the far-right fever swamp displayed, at best, tone deafness and staggering ignorance about suicide as a public health issue, and at worst callous and dangerous disregard for the harm their words could do. Jacob Wohl, self-appointed editor-in-chief of the pro-Trump Washington Reporter, called Bourdain “soft.” Wohl’s tweets echo sentiments that can also be found in the “politically incorrect” board on 4chan, and they reach more than 150,000 followers.

    During the June 8 edition of his show CRTV Tonight, Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes used Bourdain’s suicide to make disrespectful word plays around the word “hanged” and baselessly speculated that cocaine had played a part in both Bourdain’s and fashion designer Kate Spade’s recent death, also by suicide. McInnes followed with a rant about the spike in the suicide rate, blaming “political correctness:”

    The women-hating site Return of Kings, founded by a misogynist who has blamed the pattern of violence by incels (short for “involuntary celibates”) on the women who don’t sleep with them, used the news of the tragedy to blame women, mirroring sentiments also found on 4chan.

    This is only the most recent episode of far-right figures injecting a tragic news cycle with toxic, poisonous bullshit. In pushing lies about the deceased, they cowardly exploit the fact that their subjects can no longer set the record straight while cynically profiting by gaining attention or clicks. Like clockwork, they do it after reports of mass shootings or news of celebrities dying by suicide.

    This news cycle should be centered around celebrating Bourdain’s legacy, life, and contributions, and reporting on suicide as a public health issue. But far-right figures and users of toxic message boards like 4chan have no qualms about co-opting the story to attack him and insert their own agendas.

    Notably, Bourdain had a history of using his platform to advocate for issues like protesting violence against women, standing with the population of the Gaza strip, calling out the crimes of Henry Kissinger, documenting the repression of dictators like Vladimir Putin, and advocating for Hispanic restaurant workers.

    Bourdain was the opposite of these far-right figures because the issues were never about him. It is particularly despicable for these people to attack Bourdain after his death because he stood tall for everything they hate -- and he did so by listening to the voices of others.

    To get help for suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

    Natalie Martinez contributed research to this piece.

  • A day before Parkland survivor David Hogg got "swatted," trolls shared his address on 4chan and 8chan

    As a “graduation present” for Hogg, trolls on 4chan and 8chan shared his contact information and called for targeted harassment

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G.


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    As a "graduation present" for Parkland shooting survivor David Hogg, trolls on 4chan and 8chan shared his contact information -- including his home address and multiple phone numbers connected to his family -- and called for his harassment. A day later, a prank call claiming there was a hostage situation in his house led to an armed police team being deployed there. The practice, known as “swatting,” is a harassment tool online trolls use to attack their victims, and it has proved fatal on at least one occasion.

    The now-archived 4chan thread is a response to Hogg teasing the announcement of the activism “Road to Change” bus tour, a gun violence prevention tour he and some of his fellow Parkland shooting survivors just kicked off. In a June 3 post, a troll references Hogg having a “surprise for us” adding a link to the announcement of the bus tour, and posts contact information that includes home address and phone numbers linked to the Hogg family, saying it’s a “graduation present.”

    After the post and subsequent replies were apparently deleted from 4chan, trolls took to 8chan (a message board launched in response to perceived censorship on 4chan that has since became more anarchic) to continue the “doxxing,” or the publication of a victim’s contact information with malicious intent. In the 8chan thread, trolls complained that 4chan (which they refer to as “cuckchan”) had deleted the original post, plotted to send “large usps boxes” to the Hoggs’ home address, and schemed about “looking into” a patent under Hogg’s father’s name. After the news broke that Hogg had been swatted, at least one troll on the thread also complained that “unfortunately he survived.”

    The doxxing and subsequent targeted harassment of Hogg follow months of right-wing media attacking and floating absurd conspiracy theories about him in reaction to his gun violence prevention activism. Online, trolls are mirroring the attacks that right-wing media figures and the gun lobby are waging on Parkland shooting survivors, or vice versa.

    And in taking to message boards like 4chan and 8chan to plot hits on their victims, they’re continuing what is becoming a terrifying pattern: During the 2016 presidential campaign, 8chan launched a harassment campaign against journalist David Cay Johnston after he published an excerpt from President Donald Trump’s 2005 tax documents. After a judge upheld existing regulations to assault weapons, trolls shared his contact information on 8chan in clear efforts to target him for harassment. After he profiled an anti-Muslim Twitter crusader, a HuffPost reporter got doxxed on 4chan, followed by numerous colleagues. In 2014, 4chan trolls organized “Operation Lollipop,” an effort to infiltrate feminist Twitter and sow dissent. These message boards have proven to be ideal hubs for far-right trolls to organize harassment campaigns aimed at silencing, threatening, and hurting those they oppose politically, with little to no consequences.

    Media Matters confirmed the veracity of the address and has edited the images from the message boards to blur all sensitive information.

  • After HuffPost profile of anti-Muslim Twitter crusader, 4chan trolls begin organizing database of “leftist journos”

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G.


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    After HuffPost’s Luke O’Brien published an investigative piece profiling the woman behind a prolific Twitter account that regularly spews anti-Muslim vitriol, MAGA trolls reacted by falsely claiming the piece published the women’s personal information and by singling out O’Brien for harassment. On 4chan, trolls even suggested creating a database containing personal details of “leftist journalists” to facilitate harassment against them.

    Much of the backlash was led by the subject of the piece herself, who goes on Twitter by Amy Mek, short for her name, Amy Mekelburg, and uses a real photo of herself.

    Prominent Pizzagate conspiracy theorist and One America News Network correspondent Jack Posobiec and opportunistic MAGA troll Mike Cernovich also helped spread the false narrative that O’Brien had doxxed the woman, with anti-Muslim troll Pamela Geller presenting her as merely a “patriot who tweets” while ignoring the vitriolic hatred against Muslims she regularly spreads on her prominent platform.

    As the New York Times reported, doxxing -- or making an individual’s identifying or contact information public with malicious intent -- “has emerged from subculture websites like 4Chan and Reddit to become something of a mainstream phenomenon.” Trolls are arguing O’Brien’s investigative journalism was equivalent to doxxing, but he didn’t provide a phone number, address or email address for her (the usual approach to doxxing), and the story’s supposed outing wasn’t much of a stretch given that her real photo was attached to her Twitter account, which uses a name similar to her legal one. As Right Wing Watch’s Jared Holt -- who used to work for Media Matters -- explained, O’Brien’s piece is “different from what is commonly thought of as ‘doxing’ because “he did not publish personally identifiable information such as an address, which could put Mekelburg in potential danger.”

    Also, Mekelburg is hardly an unassuming private individual of no interest to the public. She has become extremely prominent on Twitter, and she has done so by posting vitriol that poses a real threat to entire communities.

    Nevertheless, on 4chan, trolls are reacting to O’Brien’s piece by proposing the creation of a database housing the personal information of those they deem “leftist journalists”.

    Within the forum, suggested tactics include targeting “national rag journos” with “reach and audience”:

    A member suggested using Wikipedia as a model:


    Another member pushed the idea of adding activists to the list, pre-emptively gathering their information to deploy “when they do something” and including information that could help locate them outside of social media:

    Online message boards have proven to be hubs that house conspiracy theories, hoaxes, and harassment campaigns against individuals the far-right dislikes. Targeting journalists could have a chilling effect on the coverage of extremism and hate.

  • Roseanne has been channeling 4chan's racism, anti-Semitism, and conspiracy theories on Twitter

    On 4chan, users call her "our girl." She tweets screenshots of content from the message board

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G.


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Roseanne Barr, star of the now-canceled ABC sitcom Roseanne and prominent supporter of President Donald Trump, took to Twitter on Monday to make the racist suggestion that Valerie Jarrett, former adviser of President Barack Obama, was a product of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Planet of the Apes. Her tweet prompted celebrations among right-wing trolls, in part because she has become a useful amplifier of the extremism, conspiracy theorizing, and racism that can be found in certain online platforms.

    After receiving criticism on Twitter, Barr tried the defense right-wing media figures often attempt following racist remarks: claiming it was a joke. When that didn’t stop the backlash, Barr attempted another apology:

    However, the apology feels empty, not only because Barr has tweeted racist comparisons of black people to apes before, but also because of Barr’s record of using Twitter to amplify far-right conspiracy theories, including Pizzagate and the pro-Trump fake narrative known as #QAnon. The #QAnon narrative claims Trump has a master plan in motion to kneecap members of the “deep state” and dismantle pedophilia rings with links to powerful politicians and celebrities. And #QAnon and Pizzagate aren’t the only insane right-wing talking points Barr is recycling. As recently as this morning, she broadcast a false, anti-Semitic attack on George Soros in an attempt to smear Chelsea Clinton, a “heinous lie” that earned her a retweet from one of the president’s sons, Donald Trump Jr.  

    Right-wing trolls on the 4chan message board /pol/ (known as “politically incorrect”) are in the habit of calling people who they feel represent their values “/our guy/” or “/our girl/,” and a 4chan member celebrated Barr’s anti-Semitic tweet, referring to her as “our girl” (and not for the first time).

    Barr’s tweets have proven she is “our girl” to 4chan trolls, not only because her tweets are reflective of the kind of content that can be found on these sites at all times, but also because she sometimes amplifies users’ narratives by literally disseminating the screen captures of actual 4chan posts. On a now-archived 4chan thread from May 15, users pointed out that Barr has tweeted screenshots clearly obtained from the message board:

    And Barr’s Twitter feed isn’t the only pipeline to the mainstream for conspiracy theories and extremist and racist content from sites like 4chan. Fox’s Tucker Carlson has dedicated airtime during his prime-time show Tucker Carlson Tonight to defending a racist campaign that originated on 4chan. Trump Jr. also has a history of amplifying content linked to 4chan. And whether wittingly or not, de facto presidential advisor Sean Hannity has also amplified #QAnon content on his Twitter. The content of fringe message boards like 4chan and 8chan is seeping into mainstream narratives, and right-wing figures are to blame.

  • Gab's new "groups" feature makes it easier to categorize racists

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G.

    Gab, a social media platform created to cater to those who find Twitter’s terms of service oppressive, recently announced the launch of a new “groups” feature. A cursory look at the groups created so far helps confirm that the platform deserves its reputation as a “haven for white nationalists” since it is helping extremists get organized and share hateful rhetoric.

    Alongside harmless groups on Gab related to gardening and “doggos,” anyone can find the following enclaves of extremism:

    • A group for the fans of George Lincoln Rockwell, the founder of the American Nazi party, known for his blatant racism, homophobia, and anti-Semitism.

    • A group for the admirer’s of the literary work of James Mason, an American neo-Nazi. Mason, an admirer of criminal cult leader Charles Manson, started a newsletter by the name of Siege, with which he wanted to spread “Manson’s views as a continuation of [Adolf] Hitler’s philosophy.”

    • A group for the listeners of Radical Agenda, a “live-streamed call-in show” hosted by Christopher Cantwell, also known as “the crying Nazi.” The group is a repository of anti-Semitic content and calls to “downvote” certain YouTube content, a ploy members of the “alt-right” use to game YouTube algorithms and “boost hate videos and bury information they don’t like.” Incidentally, the banner picture for the group currently depicts a scene from the NBC Left Field episode “A mother turns to hate,” which featured white supremacist Jacob Goodwin and his mother, who appear in the picture. Goodwin is currently imprisoned for attacking a counter protester in the “Unite the Right” white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, VA.

    • The group “Manosphere” for misogynists and other varieties of men’s rights activists. The group especially welcomes those who “loathe feminists.”

    • This anti-Muslim group with a very obvious mission:

    • This group for Nazis and fascists to gather in:

    These group and their content are perfectly normal for Gab where posts on any given day include homophobic statements and defenses of white supremacy. But they contradict the platform’s often-repeated claims -- which it makes via tweets that are routinely deleted -- that it’s “not alt-right” or white supremacist:

  • White supremacists praise John Kelly's disparaging of undocumented immigrants

    The hosts of the white supremacist show Fash the Nation also claimed that appointing Kris Kobach as Secretary of Homeland Security "sounds like a good plan"

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G.

    Following White House Chief of Staff John Kelly's disparaging comments against undocumented immigrants, the white supremacist hosts of the podcast Fash the Nation praised his remarks, and added that Kelly referred to people who give their kids "made up bullshit names."

    During an interview with NPR, Kelly claimed that undocumented immigrants are "not people that would easily assimilate into the United States, into our modern society. They’re overwhelmingly rural people. In the countries they come from, fourth-, fifth-, sixth-grade educations are kind of the norm. They don’t speak English; obviously, that’s a big thing. ... They don’t integrate well; they don’t have skills." On the latest episode of the racist podcast Fash the Nation -- produced by white nationalist podcast hub The Right Stuff -- the hosts (who go by the names Jazzhands McFeels and Marcus Halberstram) agreed with Kelly's remarks and claimed that counterarguments pointing to Kelly's Irish immigrant heritage should be discounted, as "the Irish are European. We're not talking about Europeans. We're talking about third-world primitives who basically are still practicing human sacrifice in many ways."     

    From the May 12 edition of The Right Stuff's Fash the Nation:

    MARCUS HALBERSTRAM (HOST): Reading ahead a little bit, I see this article: "John Kelly says undocumented immigrants don't have skills to assimilate into U.S. society." Now this is obviously true and should be [a] completely uncontroversial statement but -- I'm surprised I didn't hear about this, some screeching about this on like Raw Story or whatever.  

    JAZZHANDS MCFEELS (HOST): Oh, well, this has been at least all of Friday and possibly part of Thursday. This and the White House staffer saying that, "well, McCain is dying anyway," have been like -- have been the premier stories on cable news. MSNBC, Bloomberg, CNN, everything has been wall to wall John Kelly. And of course, they're doing the usual bit of "well, John Kelly's Irish immigrant ancestors weren't welcome here either" and all that, the usual nonsense. And of course, The Washington Post tried to roll out this story. Of course, the headline was "John Kelly disparages rural people in America, Trump's base." That's not who he was talking about, at all. But of course, they run with that to make it seem like, you know -- low info voters will buy into that and think that Kelly's turning his back on white ruralites but that's just not the case, he's talking about --

    HALBERSTRAM: Dude, if anyone ever busts out the "mah Irish" argument, you just respond by saying, "yeah and if the Irish still -- didn't speak the correct language and wore garish, outlandish clothing, and gave made up bullshit names to their children, and bastardized the language completely when they did learn it, everybody would still hate them.”

    MCFEELS: Yeah.

    HALBERSTRAM: End of story.

    MCFEELS: Yeah. and the Irish are European. So, we're not talking about Europeans. We're talking about third-world primitives who basically are still practicing human sacrifice in many ways, heads on spikes on the border and stuff like that.

    HALBERSTRAM: People who never achieved any sort of civilization. It's the most like -- if society weren't all so like Jew-deized, this is just common sense, like people who can't form the basis of civilization on their own, it's like yeah, sure, they can come here, perform some sort of function and perhaps even flourish in the system that we have built, but you can't have too many of these people here because then their civilizational inability starts to manifest itself.

    MCFEELS: Yeah and with the way that the judicial system has been set up and the legal system, and the laws and legislation, you can't have any of them here because you get one in here and then that's like the anchor to get like all the rest of them with chain migration and everything else. And it's just a terrible thing, and of course, the other thing is and the argument we've made many times and others have made this argument as well, is that not only are these people not compatible with modern society, is that they're about to be made obsolete by automation. So the last thing, and this is looking far down the road but, 20 years from now when a lot of this stuff, farming and everything else becoming automated ... These people are gonna be -- what is their purpose here?

    HALBERSTRAM: One more scheme to get a little cheap labor and then you end up with this seething underclass of like, alien peoples. Gee, why does this sound so familiar?

    MCFEELs: Yeah, obsolete farm equipment is not what we need. Now, this is the quote from John Kelly. Now, he sounds "cucky" at first but you'll see what he really means here. … [reads quote of John Kelly] ... I mean, you can't really argue with that, and actually, a high number of them are criminals. Even if they're not in MS13, they're stealing identities, they're doing all manners of things before they even get to the United States. And by virtue of the fact that they're not sending their best, we're getting the worst people. So the ones that Mexico wants to keep are the ones that work hard and that pay their taxes and that don't commit crimes, so most of those people, whatever number there are of them, are staying in Mexico. The worst ones are coming here.

    [...]

    HALBERSTRAM: Yeah, I'm not on Twitter right now, otherwise I'd track that dude [Christopher Ingraham of The Washington Post] down and have juxtaposed like, a normal looking guy in a plaid shirt and a trucker hat versus some like squat Indian, like, this is what we're talking about bro, and you know it as well as I do.

    During the show, the white supremacist hosts floated making Secretary of State of Kansas Kris Kobach Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. Kobach, an anti-immigration activist who is also a Breitbart columnist, has a history of criminalizing immigrants and has ties to white supremacy.

  • Infowars’ attempt to hijack and exploit the wild conspiracy theory that is QAnon is backfiring

    Alex Jones fed a growing monster. Now the monster is trying to eat him.

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G.


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Alex Jones’ attempt to hijack and exploit the crackpot pro-President Donald Trump conspiracy theory known as #QAnon or #TheStorm in order to capture its audience has backfired, as its followers turned on Jones, his QAnon correspondent Jerome Corsi, and his media enterprise Infowars.

    The QAnon conspiracy theory holds that Trump’s cryptic October 2017 comment about the “calm before the storm” was a hint at a master plan he is setting in motion to kneecap members of the “deep state” and dismantle pedophilia rings supposedly tied to powerful celebrities and politicians. The name refers to an anonymous poster who goes by “Q,” who is credited with setting “The Storm” in motion and who claims to be, as New York magazine put it, a “high-level government insider with Q clearance.” “Q” began posting on online message board 8chan “intel drops” that the pro-Trump crowd claim are clues informing the public of Trump’s plan, shared this way in order to circumvent what they believe is mainstream media’s anti-Trump agenda.

    The posts quickly captured the imagination of the pro-Trump internet, including celebrity Trump supporter Roseanne Barr. It spread more from there.

    Speculation and attempts to “decode” what “Q” means by connecting the cryptic posts to current events have become a YouTube genre all their own, with videos on the topic garnering hundreds of thousands of views. There are 4chan and 8chan boards devoted to conversations around the cryptic “crumbs” that “Q” leaves (a compilation of all posts signed by “Q” can be found here) and a subreddit with thousands of subscribers dedicated to the defense of what they call the “Q Movement.” The “movement” has also transcended online boards by showing up in the streets of Washington, D.C., in April in an effort to show real-life support for “Q” and on a billboard in Oklahoma in May.

    Alex Jones, being the “unwavering professional conspiracy theorist” that he is, hopped on the QAnon train. He decided to go all in, assigning Infowars Washington correspondent and notorious nutjob Jerome Corsi to the QAnon beat and claiming later that “the White House [had] directly asked” for coverage of QAnon.

    Corsi got to work immediately, writing unhinged analyses of “Q’”s messages and uploading to his YouTube channel hours of livestreams dedicated to the beat. His channel’s popularity (as measured by views) skyrocketed, undoubtedly helped by his guest appearances on other YouTube channels popular with the QAnon crowd. As his star grew, so did his ability to make an income from the QAnon audience. His videos, which earn money by displaying ads, always linked to his Paypal account, and through YouTube’s Super Chat feature during livestreams, viewers could pay for their messages to stand out in the live chat. Corsi’s ability to profit seemed threatened when, on March 1, YouTube terminated his account for violating terms of service, but the platform later reinstated Corsi’s account -- providing no explanation -- after he appealed and made a move to “white nationalist havenGab. Throughout the entire saga, Corsi never failed to plug his widely advertised book on the “deep state” threatening the Trump administration:

    However, after Trump’s decision to intervene militarily in Syria triggered a profanity-laced meltdown from Alex Jones, the Trump-loyalist QAnon crowd started souring on Infowars for having “flipped sides.” For his part, Corsi started criticizing “Q” on social media, claiming “the identity of #QAnon was changed”:

    Increasingly, QAnon devotees began attacking Corsi by enumerating what they saw as “red flags” and calling him out as a “blatant profiteer.” A damning post on the main subreddit for The Storm threw Corsi under the bus, and another one “exposed” Jones and Corsi for waging an “info war” against QAnon and for exploiting “the movement” by joining it opportunistically, comparing them to a Trojan horse:

    Jones decided to confront the attacks head-on on May 11. He claimed “Q” had been compromised and said  he had talked by phone with “folks who were out playing golf with people that have been involved in QAnon” and say “that’s been taken over.” He also said he had personally “talked to QAnon” and that it’s “no longer QAnon.” Corsi appeared to say that while “the White House for a long time did support QAnon,” the identity was “now completely hijacked,” and bemoaned his attackers as trolls.

    “Q,” who followers for some reason assume is male, responded to Jones and Corsi in the usual cryptical fashion, perhaps effectively ending Jones’ ability to profit from the batshit conspiracy theory.

    The cryptic nature of the message board posts are acting as a catchall to explain away the news cycle and the failures of the Trump administration as the fault of  the “deep state.” Along the way, they are providing an avenue for YouTube profits to countless homemade pundits. Not even pro-Trump Alex Jones can stand in the way.

  • Alex Jones and his co-hosts have a misogynistic obsession with lesbians

    Alex Jones: “All they want is for us to submit to them”

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G.


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Anyone watching Infowars long enough would notice host Alex Jones’ remarkable obsession with a very specific subset of the global population: lesbians. Jones’ unhinged tirades about innumerable topics have rightfully made him a target for online mockery and the protagonist of numerous internet memes. But there’s something more sinister than funny in the way that Jones and some of his guest co-hosts depict, mock, and dissociate from lesbians to Infowars’ hundreds of thousands of viewers.

    Jones’ guest co-hosts -- including Gavin McInnes, founder of the chauvinistic fraternal organization Proud Boys, Infowars contributor Owen Shroyer, and anti-feminist troll Milo Yiannopoulos -- mimic his hateful rhetoric. That treatment ranges from sexist, sophomoric mocking of lesbians for their supposed appearance to the dangerous perpetuation of the absurd idea that lesbians are depressed because they need a man or have turned to women after having a “bad experience with men in their life.”

    Jones shows no qualms about trivializing traumatic issues like child abuse when he asserts that women become lesbians because “daddy beat her up.” He has also used violent imagery to describe romantic and sexual relationships between women, including saying, “If they can’t find a man to smack them around, well, they found them a girl going to do it real good, knock them upside their head.” Jones has even openly suggested he could be personally violent against lesbians too:

    ALEX JONES (HOST): We could take on 500 of you in physical combat, but see, that isn’t what matters -- they’ve got the media and they’ve got our good will and they’re gonna program us. All they want is for us to submit to them.

    Beneath his rhetoric lie toxic elements of misogyny and male supremacy. Jones claims that lesbians “want all the women for themselves,” which both implies that men are entitled to women and that women are not autonomous beings with the capacity to make their own decisions about which individuals they choose as partners. He also claims lesbians “want to be the guy smacking the hot chick around,” reinforcing erroneous assumptions that lesbian relationships follow heterosexual gender roles while trivializing violence against women by saying “some women like it.”  

    Jones’ rhetoric could have the effect of poisoning his audiences’ perceptions of the queer female community, by directly pushing for the further marginalization of a minority that continues to fight for equality under the law.

    Video by John Kerr.​