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  • Stefan Molyneux is MAGA Twitter’s favorite white nationalist

    Molyneux has talked fondly about white nationalism. Donald Trump Jr. amplifies him on Twitter.

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G.


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Stefan Molyneux is a virulent misogynist and white supremacist with a penchant for spewing extremist talking points on YouTube and Twitter, but he has become a prominent influencer on the right thanks to the amplification he receives from certain right-wing figures and outlets.

    Last night that amplification came from Donald Trump Jr., who quoted a transphobic tweet from Molyneux to his 3.5-plus million followers.

    CRTV (now TheBlazeTV) has hosted Molyneux repeatedly, while NRATV hosts have promoted Molyneux’s content and appeared on his show to talk about scientific racism, which promotes debunked correlations between IQ scores, race, and crime statistics. On Fox’s Tucker Carlson Tonight, host Tucker Carlson has parroted Molyneux’s misogynistic talking points. And last night’s tweet wasn’t the first time Trump Jr. has amplified Molyneux by either retweeting or liking tweets of his that feature hateful content.

    Molyneux has amassed significant influence on Twitter (over 404,000 followers) and YouTube (close to a million subscribers) thanks in part to the amplification of right-wing media figures with huge followings, which suggests that his views have become more the rule than the exception on the right.

    Here’s a brief sample of Molyneux’s extremism.

    Molyneux is a white supremacist

    Molyneux often promotes scientific racism. On Twitter, Molyneux has repeatedly pushed statements that link IQ, race, and crime, a basic tenet of scientific racism. An episode of his YouTube show titled “Why Liberals are Wrong About Inequality” centered on discussing IQ differences between races, which earned him the accolades of neo-Nazi outlet The Daily Stormer.

    Molyneux was one of the most prominent promoters of false claims about “white genocide” in South Africa. On his YouTube channel, Molyneux has devoted several episodes to fearmongering about white “genocide” in South Africa, even hosting far-right troll Lauren Southern and appearing with Simon Roche, a South African agitator with ties to American white nationalist Jared Taylor.

    After a visit to Poland, Molyneux talked fondly about “white nationalism.” As reported by Angry White Men, a blog that tracks right-wing extremists, Molyneux “told viewers he was becoming much more sympathetic to white nationalism” after visiting Poland. On his YouTube channel, he recorded a video in which he waxed poetic about the country’s being “99% white” composition and relative lack of crime, and said that while he had previously “spoken out against white nationalism,” he “can’t argue with the reality.”

    Molyneux uses YouTube to promote white supremacist talking points and fearmonger about “population replacement.” The blog Angry White Men has documented Molyneux’s use of YouTube to push white supremacist talking points and racist rhetoric, including framing immigration as “population replacement,” claiming that diversity “means fewer white people,” and advocating for having “people of the same race and culture in a country” in the name of “social cohesion.” On YouTube, he also promoted white nationalist Richard Spencer’s views by calling for people to “listen to his goddamn arguments.”

    Molyneux is a virulent misogynist

    Molyneux regularly attacks feminism. Molyneux often uses his massive Twitter platform to lash out against feminism, once claiming that its purpose was “reducing white Christian birth rates.”

    Molyneux is a men’s rights activist. His YouTube content regularly features complaints about the supposed oppression of men in society, and he strongly championed James Damore, the Google employee who was fired after writing a memo contending that women’s underrepresentation in the technology field is due to biology.

    Molyneux is also an amplifier of idiotic conspiracy theories

    Molyneux once fearmongered that a new film in the Star Wars franchise was about the failure of diversity. As reported by Right Wing Watch, Molyneux devoted one of his YouTube videos to lashing out against Star Wars: The Last Jedi, claiming it was about the suffering of white men caused by increasing diversity.

    On his YouTube channel, he amplified the asinine claim that Democrats were involved in “spirit cooking” rituals. In a video that can still be found on his YouTube channel, Molyneux hosted rape apologist Mike Cernovich, who claimed that John Podesta, former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, was involved in “spirit cooking” rituals during which participants mixed “semen with breast milk” to drink.

    He has claimed “globalism” is a plot to “take money from white males.”

  • A QAnon-linked conspiracy theory about Tom Hanks reached Twitter's and Google's search suggestions

    On YouTube, a user pushing the conspiracy theory made money off of the outrageous accusation

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

    A conspiracy theory accusing actor Tom Hanks of being involved in the death of a known conspiracy theorist has spread on social media platforms, affecting search suggestions about Hanks on Twitter and Google.

    On May 13, Isaac Kappy, an actor known for pushing conspiracy theories such as QAnon and “Doughnutgate,” reportedly died by suicide in Arizona. Kappy had previously helped manipulate search results for Hanks when he baselessly accused him of pedophila. The day after Kappy's death, an anonymous user on 8chan’s QAnon-themed message board “/qresearch/” accused Hanks of being involved in Kappy’s death because Hanks had posted a photo on social media in April showing a glove on the ground with the caption “Historic Route 66. Roadkill? I hope not! Hanx.” The user claimed that Hanks posted the picture from New Mexico, that Kappy was "based" there as well, and that Kappy died near Route 66.

    Later, a QAnon-focused Twitter account posted the same message as the 8chan post along with 8chan reactions to it. In the following days, the conspiracy theory spread on Twitter.

    YouTube conspiracy theorists also pushed the absurd claim, and at least one of them made money off of it through the use of the platform’s “super chats” feature.

    Because of the conspiracy theory, Hanks' social media posts have been bombarded with suggestions that he killed Kappy, accusations of pedophilia, and references to other conspiracy theories.

  • YouTube apologizes after suggesting that viewers of Notre Dame fire livestreams read about 9/11

    Blog ››› ››› JOHN WHITEHOUSE

    YouTube apologized after auto-generated text beneath livestreams of the (still ongoing) fire at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France, suggested that viewers read about the terrorist attacks of 9/11.

    Some far-right figures and accounts have invoked comparisons between the cathedral fire and 9/11 and other instances of terrorism. As of publishing time, there is no confirmed evidence suggesting that the fire is the result of terrorism.

    YouTube blamed the errors on an algorithm.

    A recent Bloomberg exposé reported that YouTube executives ignored numerous warnings about the spread of misinformation on the platform to focus instead on engagement; as a result, extremism and conspiracy theories ran rampant and YouTube ultimately became a radicalization tool for the far right.

  • The Joe Rogan Experience disproportionately hosts men

    Over 91% of the guest appearances on one of Apple’s most popular podcasts are made by men

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G.


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    The Joe Rogan Experience, a podcast hosted by comedian Joe Rogan, is consistently topping the charts in terms of popularity. It was the second most downloaded show on Apple Podcasts in both 2017 and 2018, consistently tops the popularity charts on podcast app Stitcher, and the episodes reach over 5 million subscribers on Rogan's YouTube channel.

    The format is simple enough: a freewheeling, hours-long conversation between Rogan and his guests. As Justin Peters explained on Slate:

    I have listened to a lot of Rogan episodes over the past few months in order to try to understand why the show is so popular. It is a bizarro Fresh Air, a rambling, profane interview program in which the host is often high, loves to talk about cage fighting—Rogan has long worked as a UFC commentator—and never lets his guests go home. (Episodes can stretch past three hours.) His interviewees are an esoteric lot spanning Rogan’s wide range of interests: stand-up comedy, mixed martial arts, evolutionary psychology, alternative medicine, music, acting, business, and the excesses of leftist identity politics.

    Rogan’s guests are also mostly men. Media Matters tracked guest appearances on 142 episodes of his podcast aired between June 26, 2018, and April 3, 2019, and found that out of 161 total guest appearances, only 14 were by women.

    Methodology

    Media Matters tracked guest appearances on The Joe Rogan Experience podcast and coded appearances by men and women in 142 episodes that aired between June 26, 2018, and April 3, 2019. The analysis focused on guest appearances as opposed to individuals, as some guests appeared more than one time during the time frame analyzed.

    Nikki McCann Ramírez and Alex Kaplan contributed research to this piece.

  • How an Austrian Identitarian leader with a financial link to the New Zealand shooter profits from YouTube

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G.


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    On March 27, Austria’s chancellor confirmed that the man who allegedly shot and killed at least 50 Muslims in a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, made a donation to the Austrian Identitarian Movement. According to Reuters, the movement’s leader Martin Sellner received roughly $1,690 last year from a man with the same name as the suspect, which prompted Austrian law enforcement to raid Sellner’s house on March 25. Sellner is a prolific YouTuber with a wide-reaching digital presence who asks for monetary support for his anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant messaging and collects donations through his YouTube videos and via Paypal and Bitcoin.

    The alleged Christchurch shooter was clearly steeped in the far-right internet culture, which is known for disseminating anti-immigrant memes, videos, and conspiracy theories on various platforms, including anonymous message boards and YouTube. Sellner, who has over 91,000 subscribers to his YouTube channel, gained notoriety beyond Austria for promoting anti-immigrant stunts meant to grab attention online, like the failed “Defend Europe” mission in which his group planned to disrupt search and rescue missions in the Mediterranean Sea and force stranded refugees back to North Africa.

    After Sellner’s anti-Muslim activism led the U.K. to refuse him entry into the country, Fox’s Tucker Carlson passionately defended him, his romantic partner Brittany Pettibone, and others who were refused entry on similar grounds, claiming the U.K.’s actions were evidence that the country “hates itself, its heritage, [and] its own people.”

    Like its American copycat Identity Evropa (which recently rebranded as the American Identity Movement after chat logs displaying its users’ extremism were made public), Sellner’s group is a white supremacist organization focused on sanitizing its image to maintain mainstream appeal. Aided by glossy media coverage and a wide-reaching network of YouTube influencers, Sellner has been able to get donations by spreading anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim messaging to a global far-right audience.

    On a March 26 YouTube livestream, Sellner addressed the Christchurch shooter’s donation and claimed that media coverage was smearing him unfairly despite his group’s claimed opposition to violence. While addressing the matter, Sellner collected donations using YouTube’s “super chats” feature, which has allowed other extremists to also profit from the content they upload to the platform. (Super chats allow viewers to pay to have their comments featured prominently in a bar at the top of the chat.)

    On his YouTube channel, Sellner asks for financial support from his audience by linking to the donations sections of his personal website, in which he writes (in German) that his political work is financed by these donations and that in gratitude for such support, he feels it is his obligation to continue his commitment to his ideas. These ideas include his fearmongering about “demographic replacement” of Europeans and the “rapid Islamization” of Europe, pushing “the great replacement” as a “very important term” to describe that “all populations are being completely replaced within a few decades by massive immigration.” (Before he perpetrated the Christchurch massacre, the alleged shooter posted a manifesto online that he titled “The Great Replacement.”) On a YouTube video where he appears with Pettibone, Sellner has also suggested that eating croissants and drinking coffee is a way to mock Islam.

    In 2016, Sellner admitted that he had started creating English language content to “create a network of information” by reaching English-speaking audiences; in the same video, he complained that his involvement in hanging an anti-Muslim banner that read “Islamization kills” led to him and others being charged with hate speech. In a conversation with the New York Times, Sellner acknowledged that he had pointed the New Zealand shooter to his English-language YouTube videos after receiving praise for his work.

    While Sellner claims that his movement is nonviolent, his anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim messaging reaches far-right audiences around the globe, including violent extremists. And the donations he gets from spreading this message allows him to continue producing more work. As The Daily Beast’s Kelly Weil explained, “A bright line connects the fascist movement’s leaders, and the murderers who keep putting the movement’s ideas into practice.” The content they put out on social media platforms is that bright line.

  • Despite ban, Alex Jones’ Infowars appears to be operating yet another YouTube channel

    The channel has numerous Infowars videos attacking survivors of the Parkland school shooting, including comparing David Hogg to Hitler

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Update (3/25/19): Following the publication of this post, the The Free Speech Channel channel was removed from YouTube, with a message 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, his Infowars outlet still appears to be able to spread its message on the video platform on a channel called The Free Speech Channel.

    On March 19, YouTube banned a channel that exclusively shared Infowars content under the name Resistance News following reporting by Media Matters. The Free Speech Channel, previously dormant for the last seven months, has now come back to life to share Infowars content.

    The channel was created on March 3, 2018, and exclusively posts videos from Infowars broadcasts. Notably, a March 3, 2018, Infowars.com article tells readers to “support these two new channels in the fight for free speech” before listing The Free Speech Channel and Infowars Censored. The Infowars Censored channel’s account was previously terminated by YouTube.

    As was the case with the Resistance News channel, Infowars websites embed videos posted to The Free Speech Channel in articles. Videos posted to the channel that are more than seven months old include the description, “Help us spread the word about the liberty movement, we're reaching millions help us reach millions more,” and feature links to Infowars-operated websites and Alex Jones’ social media accounts.

    The videos posted to The Free Speech Channel reflect the toxic conspiracy theories found at Infowars.com. For example, the channel is currently hosting numerous videos attacking David Hogg and other student survivors of the 2018 Parkland, FL, school shooting.

    The channel also hosts a video of Jones interviewing NRA board member Ted Nugent. In the interview, Nugent advocates for Democrats to be shot on sight like “rabid coyotes.”

    Channels that violate YouTube’s rules by exclusively sharing Infowars content are easily found on YouTube, but the video platform doesn’t appear to be devoting many resources to enforcing its own rules.

  • Right-wing trolls are sharing a hoax version of the Green New Deal

    The hoax has spread enough to reach Google's search suggestions, and people are falling for it

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Far-right trolls are attacking the Green New Deal by sharing a fake version of the proposal that includes a suggestion to use recycled urine.

    The Green New Deal is a comprehensive plan to fight climate change that has been championed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). She and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) introduced a nonbinding resolution on February 7 that outlines policies for the U.S. to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions within 10 years, including transitioning from fossil fuels to clean energy and revamping transportation, agriculture, buildings, and other infrastructure.

    As the Twitter account Unfakery pointed out, right-wing trolls are parodying the contents of the Green New Deal in an attempt to fool people into believing it actually includes a proposal to recycle urine.

    Google’s search engine also picked up the disinformation: The hoax currently comes up as a suggestion when one types in “recycling urine.” (Media Matters searched for the term via an incognito browser.)

    Here’s how far-right trolls spread the hoax:

    YouTube conspiracy theorist Mark Dice posted the hoax on both Twitter and Facebook and admitted that he made up the language, urging his followers to “spread it around,” make it “go viral,” and “don’t give away the joke.”

    A YouTube user posted a video about the Green New Deal that mentioned Dice’s hoax as if it were a real point in the proposal. Dice wrote a comment under the video saying that he created the hoax as “satire,” again urging people to spread it:

    Reddit forum “r/The_Donald”:

    4chan’s “politically incorrect” message board known as “/pol/” (an earlier 4chan thread also pushed the hoax, but it has since been deleted):

    Reddit’s “r/The_Donald”:

    Far-right troll and One America News Network host Jack Posobiec (who later wrote that it was “obvious satire”):

    Even though Posobiec noted that it wasn’t real, other far-right trolls continued to spread the hoax, including on /pol/:

  • Far-right figures push conspiracy theory blaming Obama for mass journalism layoffs

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Far-right figures on social media, message boards, and fringe websites have been pushing a conspiracy theory that claims former President Barack Obama is behind the recent mass layoffs at media outlets. These figures include conservative actor James Woods and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.

    The conspiracy theory seems to have started on Gab, a social media platform favored by white nationalists, where a user falsely claimed that the Obama administration had been funding journalists to push its propaganda via the Countering Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Act and that the layoffs were due to the funding drying up. In fact, Obama signed the measure as part of a defense authorization bill, and it specifically aimed to fight foreign propaganda. The new conspiracy theory builds off of previous far-right hysteria that the 2016 law would target “alternative media.”

    The recent media layoffs -- which have hit numerous news outlets including HuffPost, BuzzFeed, McClatchy, and Vice Media -- are due to multiple factors, including their dependence on Facebook for page clicks (which decreased after Facebook made changes to its news feed) and struggles with ad revenue. Far-right trolls on 4chan’s “politically incorrect” message board known as “/pol/” have helped coordinate a harassment campaign against those journalists based on a false claim that reporters in the past had flippantly urged working-class Americans to start new careers in tech. The 4chan campaign targeted journalists on social media with messages telling them to “learn to code” -- language that was repeated by some users pushing the new conspiracy theory.

    Here’s how the false claim spread from Gab through the right-wing fever swamps:

    QAnon believer Amber Merkel on Gab:

    QAnon believer Neon Revolt on Gab:

    Twitter account @outlawjw, which has also pushed the QAnon conspiracy theory, tweeted the false claim from Gab:

    Reddit forum “r/The_Donald”:

    4chan’s “politically incorrect” message board known as “/pol/”:

    8chan’s "/pol/":

    Far-right website DC Whispers:

    Actor James Woods:

    Neon Revolt touted the important role Gab played in amplifying the conspiracy theory:

    Fake news site NewsPunch (formerly known as YourNewsWire):

    Conspiracy theory outlet Infowars posted on its website a video featuring Alex Jones pushing the false claim, and the video then spread on Facebook and YouTube:

    The false claim continued to spread online, such as on conspiracy theory site Natural News:

  • PragerU YouTube video features bigoted conspiracy theorist Owen Benjamin

    Benjamin says racial and homophobic slurs are “hilarious” and got kicked off of Twitter after going on a weird rant about the genitals of a Parkland shooting survivor

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G.


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    PragerU, the online operation peppering the internet with viral far-right propaganda, featured bigoted Owen Benjamin in its latest video. Benjamin was kicked off of Twitter permanently in 2018 following a bizarre rant about Parkland shooting survivor David Hogg’s genitals.

    In his February 4 video, Benjamin attempted to dissuade PragerU’s audience from arguing with leftists by calling “raising kids without a gender identity” “a form of child abuse” and by baselessly claiming white people are being demonized “for the world’s problems.”

    Benjamin is a right-wing comedian whose brand of “criminally unfunny” comedy includes using the N-word and homophobic slurs and calling it “hilarious.” He’s also a conspiracy theorist who has claimed to hundreds of thousands of viewers on his YouTube channel that the moon landing never happened.

    PragerU has a history of using its massive, wide-reaching platform to push misinformation and extremism. It has blamed racial disparities on "black culture," and on Columbus Day, it featured a video that showed a racist depiction of indigenous people as cannibals wielding salt-and-pepper shakers. On Facebook, the PragerU Brasil page has posted a Russia Today article to its over 14,000 followers falsely claiming that the American Psychological Association had stated it was “bad to be a man.” PragerU’s founder, Dennis Prager, has waged a dangerous, yearslong campaign against basic facts about AIDS, once calling heterosexual AIDS an “entirely manufactured” myth.

    And yet, PragerU’s propaganda and misinformation are being inserted directly into schools, as the company provides “content directly to teachers and students” and is “developing relationships with educators ‘in college, high school, middle school and homeschools.’”

    (H/t to @eyesontheright and @jaredlholt.)

  • Newsmax host elevates far-right conspiracy theory accusing two Democratic presidential candidates of staging a hate crime

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Editor’s note (2/21): Following the publication of this post, Smollett was arrested on February 21 by Chicago police “on suspicion of filing a false report about” the alleged assault.

    Newsmax TV and Rebel Media host John Cardillo amplified a far-right conspiracy theory that originated from message boards and social media accounts and accuses Democratic presidential candidates Sens. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) of staging the alleged anti-queer and racist attack against actor Jussie Smollett. The conspiracy theory contends that the senators' intent in drawing attention to a case like Smollet's was to help pass their proposed anti-lynching legislation. The baseless claim connects with the far-right narrative that Smollett's alleged attack -- which reportedly included the attackers wrapping a rope around the Empire star’s neck -- was a hoax in efforts to minimize the importance of anti-lynching legislation.

    Harris and Booker, both of whom recently announced their 2020 presidential candidacies, introduced the Justice for Victims of Lynching Act of 2018 with Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) last summer. The bill, which unanimously passed in the Senate, would classify lynching as a federal hate crime. Earlier attempts to pass anti-lynching legislation in Congress failed repeatedly during the 19th and 20th centuries when the act of racial terrorism was widespread across the country. Both Harris and Booker have called the attack on Smollett a “modern-day lynching.”

    Here’s how the conspiracy theory bubbled up from the fever swamps to Cardillo’s Twitter feed:

    Twitter account @hankentwhistle:

    4chan’s “politically incorrect” message board known as /pol/:

    YouTube:

    Reddit’s “r/conspiracy” forum:

    4chan’s /pol/:

    Reddit’s “r/The_Donald”:

    Voat, a Reddit clone populated mostly by alt-right trolls:

    Gab:

    Multiple Twitter accounts:

    Newsmax TV host John Cardillo:

  • Twitter search suggestions promoted right-wing smear that attack against Jussie Smollett was a hoax

    Hoax allegations also neared top of YouTube search

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN


    CBS This Morning / YouTube

    Editor’s note (2/21): Following the publication of this post, Smollett was arrested on February 21 by Chicago police “on suspicion of filing a false report about” the alleged assault.

    Twitter’s search feature prominently suggested the right-wing smear that the alleged anti-gay and racist attack on actor Jussie Smollett was faked; it also featured a hashtag campaign that pushed the attack as a hoax.

    On January 29, TMZ reported that Smollett was attacked by two men in ski masks who allegedly put him in a noose while spewing racist and homophobic slurs. According to TMZ, the attackers also reportedly yelled, “This is MAGA country” during the assault. The Chicago Police Department originally denied the “MAGA country” remark, but later said Smollett did tell them about the comment in a follow-up interview.

    Anti-queer violence has been rising considerably, and the most recent FBI data shows that Black people are the most frequent victims of hate crimes. However, soon after TMZ’s initial report of Smollett’s attack, some right-wing media figures immediately started pushing that it was a hoax, before any further details were known. Far-right social media accounts and message boards also claimed that the “MAGA country” remark never happened or that the entire attack was a hoax, including Reddit’s r/The_Donald subreddit and 4chan’s “politically incorrect” message board /pol/.

    During the morning and early afternoon of January 30, Twitter users trying to search for Smollett’s name were met with suggested results like “smollett hoax,” “smollett fake,” “smollett fake news,” and “smollett lying.

    At one point, the search feature suggested the hashtag #SmollettHoax, even though that Twitter campaign only featured a handful of accounts pushing it.

    Two of the top six YouTube results for “Smollett” in an incognito search featured hoax allegations as well.

    Far-right social media accounts in the past have been able to manipulate algorithms on social media platforms like YouTube by acting in coordination to inauthentically game the results.

  • This is how a birther smear about Oakland-born Kamala Harris spread online

    QAnon followers and an Obama-era birther are behind the false claims about Harris' eligibility for the presidency

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Far-right and QAnon trolls have used Twitter, YouTube, and other online platforms to spread the baseless claim that presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris’ (D-CA) heritage makes her ineligible to be president even though she was born in Oakland, CA. The false claim, which has since been picked up by far-right troll Jacob Wohl, was first amplified by a birther who has previously challenged former President Barack Obama’s citizenship.

    As early as July 2017, a user behind an anonymous Twitter account falsely claimed that Harris is ineligible to run for president because her parents were “foreign-born.”

    Charles Kerchner, a former military officer who unsuccessfully appealed a challenge to Obama’s citizenship status to the Supreme Court in 2010, published a blog and a document on Scribd pushing the absurd smear against Harris in August 2018. Soon after, fellow birther Sharon Rondeau wrote a blog post that cited Kerchner to suggest that Harris was not eligible for the presidency.

    In the following months, far-right accounts on Twitter and users of the white supremacist hotspot Gab amplified both Kerchner’s PDF and Rondeau's blog. The false claim was picked up by YouTube users and posters on the anonymous message board 4chan, and a discussion on Reddit’s “r/The_Donald” subreddit cited Rondeau’s blog explicitly.

    Followers of the QAnon conspiracy theory have also played a significant role in amplifying the baseless smear. In December, an online radio host picked up one QAnon believer’s Twitter thread citing Rondeau. And in the hours following Harris’ announcement of her candidacy on January 21, widely followed QAnon account @WeAreOne_Q tweeted the baseless claim, which "r/The_Donald” users also picked up. Another major QAnon account tweeted the false claim and linked to Kershner’s PDF later that day. And on the morning of January 22, Wohl -- the QAnon-amplifying troll behind a sloppy scheme to smear special counsel Robert Mueller -- tweeted the false claim using similar language to @WeAreOne_Q’s tweet.

    BuzzFeed’s Molly Hensley-Clancy, noting Wohl’s tweet, pointed out that the smear had been sent to her previously in what appears to be a clear effort to give it oxygen:

    Making birther attacks on Obama with the aid of Fox News was key to President Donald Trump’s political rise. Media should now be ready to nip similar smears in the bud. But CNN’s Chris Cuomo used the opportunity presented by the smear against Harris to tweet, "The longer there is no proof either way, the deeper the effect.” Cuomo subsequently deleted his original tweet and clarified that Harris “has no duty to justify any such accusation.”