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  • Alex Jones has a secondary YouTube channel where he claims the New Zealand mosque shootings were a false flag

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Alex jones
    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Update (3/19/19): Following the publication of this post, the Resistance News channel was removed from YouTube, with a message now telling visitors to its page the “account has been terminated for a violation of YouTube's Terms of Service.”

    Although YouTube has banned several channels associated with conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ Infowars site, the outlet still maintains a secondary channel and is using it to claim that the the mass shootings at two New Zealand mosques were “false flag” attacks.

    While YouTube banned Jones’ primary account in August 2018 and banned some related Infowars channels in the following months, Infowars appears to still be operating a channel called Resistance News. The channel was first created in May 2015 and has amassed nearly 12 million views and more than 64,000 subscribers. Resistance News exclusively posts Infowars content, and articles embed videos hosted by the channel.

    The channel has posted several videos promoting conspiracy theories about the mass shootings carried out by a white supremacist at two New Zealand mosques on March 15. In a video posted on March 18, Jones suggested the shooting was a “false flag” and played distressing footage from the gunman’s livestreamed video of the moments leading up to his attack.

    Jones said that the gunman “has an intelligence agent cutout and he says he wants to cause a global civil war. Well, that’s the definition of a false flag is when you stage something to blame someone else or to get a desired political outcome.” He then played a clip of conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh pushing the false flag conspiracy theory.

    Soon after, Jones pivoted to attacking Muslims, asking, “Where are the Muslim groups decrying Islamic terror attacks on Christians and others? You could hear a pin drop.” The video’s description echoes this point, claiming that “the bought and paid for media is pushing an anti white American narrative while ignoring the decimation of Christians globally at a record pace.” The video concluded with advertisements for Infowars products, indicating that Infowars still hopes to profit from its videos that appear on YouTube.

    Another Resistance News video, published on March 15, carries the title “NZ Shooter Is A Leftist Communist Sympathizer” and also contains footage of the moments leading up to the attack on the first mosque.

    Additionally, the channel posted a video on March 17, titled “Podesta Labels NZ A Big Juicy Target For Weaponized Propaganda,” suggesting that former Hillary Clinton campaign Chairman John Podesta -- a main target of the Pizzagate conspiracy theory -- was somehow connected to the mosque shootings. This new conspiracy theory had been heavily promoted by followers of the QAnon conspiracy theory and other far-right trolls on social media.

    Despite YouTube’s attempt to enforce its ban against Jones and Infowars, the conspiracy theorist remains a large presence on the video-sharing platform. A February 27 appearance by Jones on Joe Rogan’s podcast has amassed over 11 million views -- and the video is monetized, meaning that YouTube is profiting from Jones’ appearance via an ad revenue-sharing agreement with Rogan. Infowars personality Kaitlin Bennett also made a recent appearance to push Infowars talking points on the podcast of Logan Paul, one of the most popular YouTubers. And longtime Infowars figure Paul Joseph Watson recently announced that he will launch an Infowars-affiliated project to "generate the next generation of YouTubers.”

    Alex Kaplan contributed research.

  • Politico hit on Elizabeth Warren attempts to turn campaign donations from employees of tech companies into a scandal

    Politico's headline misleadingly implies donations came from tech companies, while the article suggests Warren is a hypocrite for criticizing Amazon, Google, and Facebook while accepting donations from their employees

    Blog ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

    A March 12 Politico article bizarrely attempted to scandalize 2020 presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) accepting individual campaign contributions from employees of Amazon, Google, and Facebook, suggesting was hypocritical for her to accept the donations while criticizing tech companies. 

    The article, headlined “Warren took tech's money while ripping its biggest players,” clearly points out that the $90,000 in donations came “from employees of Amazon, Google and Facebook” over the course of seven years, but the headline’s sloppy and simple reference to “tech’s money” leaves the impression that the donations come from the corporations themselves -- not individuals they happen to employ. The article's lede: "While Sen. Elizabeth Warren was railing against big tech companies, she was taking their money — plenty of it." Politico went on to criticize Warren for running ads on Facebook and selling books on Amazon, saying, "At the same time, Warren hasn’t weaned herself off of tech employee money — or their services." The article failed to actually explain its argument for why it would be an issue that, "While the donations flowed to Warren’s committee, she was accusing Google, Amazon as well as Apple of using their powerful platforms to 'lock out smaller guys and newer guys,'" beyond a vague and unarticulated intimation of hypocrisy.

    This careless framing by Politico closely resembles the bad-faith accusations of hypocrisy that crop up in right-wing media. Saying that Warren takes “tech’s money while ripping its biggest players” only sounds hypocritical with the omission of critical context -- it’s not really “tech’s money,” it’s tech employees’ money.

    While the article fails to really make its case, it's the headline that is most at issue. As Media Matters’ Parker Molloy has explained, headlines are arguably the most important part of any news article because most people only read the headlines. A 2016 study estimated that 59 percent of the time someone retweets an article, they actually never clicked on it first. Molloy spoke to Upworthy co-founder Eli Pariser, who said that “the headline [of an online news article] lives separately from the content and needs to be evaluated on its own” for truth and accuracy. Politico’s Elizabeth Warren article failed that test.

  • Infowars’ Paul Joseph Watson is launching a new project to "generate the next generation of YouTubers”

    Infowars is banned from YouTube, but the outlet is finding new ways to reach an audience on the platform

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Far-right conspiracy theorist and Infowars personality Paul Joseph Watson announced the launch “probably within the next two weeks” of a new project that aims to “generate the next generation of YouTubers, of young political commentators.”

    While appearing on Infowars program The Alex Jones Show on March 5, Watson said that his project will still involve “working together” with Infowars and that the two entities are “still going to be affiliated.” While host Alex Jones and many of his primary Infowars channels are banned from YouTube, Watson currently maintains a YouTube page with more than 1.5 million subscribers.

    During Watson’s appearance, Jones said that he had been working with Watson for 18-19 years and that he was “excited” about the new project, saying, “That’s what successful operations do is they spawn new things, and I think in time you will also spawn apprentices as well.” Attempting to dismiss speculation of infighting between Jones and Watson, Jones said that the project was “pretty much my idea.”

    Watson described his project as “an exciting new operation, it’s going to be where all my material is housed, and hopefully longer term we’re going to get more writers on board and organically grow it into a larger news org,” adding that he is “hoping to, you know, generate the next generation of YouTubers, of young political commentators.”

    While for a time Watson was best known for being a conspiracy theorist and source of sometimes hilariously incorrect information, his commentary has taken a darker turn in recent years. In a 2018 interview with The Daily Beast, Alex Jones’ ex-wife Kelly Jones said of Infowars, “They’ve transmogrified into little white supremacists which is alarming crap,” and “Paul’s white supremacy is growing -- I know it’s a difficult issue, this refugee crisis -- but they are actively encouraging white supremacy.” Indeed, months before the deadly 2017 white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, VA, Watson interviewed the event’s organizer, Jason Kessler, about “anti-white racism."

    Watson’s new project appears to be the latest effort of Infowars to get its brand of toxic commentary before a younger audience on a platform where the outlet is largely banned. On February 27, Jones made a nearly five-hour appearance on Joe Rogan’s show The Joe Rogan Experience during which he ranted and pushed outlandish conspiracy theories. The appearance has drawn more than 10 million views and Rogan’s channel is monetized, meaning YouTube is profiting off of the video through ad revenue sharing. Likewise, newly hired Infowars personality Kaitlin Bennett made a February 25 appearance on massive YouTube star Logan Paul’s podcast. Like Rogan’s show, Paul’s podcast is monetized. Recapping her appearance with Jones on his program, Bennett gloated about sharing with Paul’s audience a “perspective on gun rights and the Second Amendment that they probably didn’t think they were ever going to watch.” Jones said he was “glad” Bennett appeared on the show because of its large audience and because it’s hosted by the “college kids that the tweenies and 13-year-olds look up to.” Jones also said he would like to appear on the show himself.

  • Former Fox executive Bill Shine quits White House after Trump reportedly complained that he was misled about Shine by Sean Hannity

    Trump reportedly “feels he was sold a bill of goods by Hannity” about Shine’s abilities, “but Trump needs Hannity and so he will never attack him publicly”

    Blog ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Former Fox News executive and Roger Ailes’ “right-hand man” Bill Shine has left his job as White House communications director to join President Donald Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign as a senior adviser -- despite reported complaints from the president about Shine’s poor performance.

    A former Fox executive quoted in a March 8 report by The Daily Beast said that Shine’s exit comes partly because Trump “feels he was sold a bill of goods” by Fox News host and close adviser Sean Hannity, who may have over-promised Shine’s ability to get positive press attention. However, the former Fox executive added that “Trump needs Hannity and so he will never attack him publicly.” From the March 8 article:

    White House communications chief Bill Shine resigned from his position Thursday, after only eight months, and will serve as a “senior adviser” on President Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign.

    “Serving President Trump and this country has been the most rewarding experience of my entire life,” Shine said in a statement. “To be a small part of all this president has done for the American people has truly been an honor. I’m looking forward to working on President Trump’s re-election campaign and spending more time with my family.”

    Trump echoed Shine’s comments in his own statement.

    “Bill Shine has done an outstanding job working for me and the administration,” Trump said. “We will miss him in the White House, but look forward to working together on the 2020 presidential campaign, where he will be totally involved. Thank you to Bill and his wonderful family!”

    But behind the amicable statements, sources said, there lies the usual discontent between both parties.

    One former Fox executive told The Daily Beast that Trump had complained in recent months about Shine’s seeming inability to get more positive press coverage for his administration. “Trump loves a yes-man,” the source said, “but he loves good press more.”

    The former exec added: “He feels he was sold a bill of goods by Hannity,” referring to how Shine was introduced to the president via the Fox News primetime star who has long acted as an unofficial Trump adviser. “But Trump needs Hannity and so he will never attack him publicly.”

    Trump’s need to keep Hannity placated is yet another instance of the extraordinarily close relationship between Fox -- including its “news” team -- and the White House. Few Fox figures seem to be as influential on the president as Hannity, who has been described by White House insiders as a “‘shadow’ chief of staff.” The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer explored in-depth the influence that Hannity and the rest of Fox enjoy over the president, concluding that the battle for the network’s direction after co-founder Ailes left ended when “the opinion side of Fox News, which Shine had run, … won out,” as did “his friend Sean Hannity.”