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  • Right-wing conspiracy theorists now claim Christine Blasey Ford is “deeply tied to the CIA”

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Conservative radio host and conspiracy theorist Michael Savage is promoting a rapidly spreading conspiracy theory that professor Christine Blasey Ford, who says Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were in high school, has “deep” connections to the Central Intelligence Agency.

    Savage has pushed incredibly bizarre conspiracy theories and hateful rhetoric, and he has been closely connected to President Donald Trump and the White House. He pushed the latest conspiracy theory on Twitter and his website:

    Savage’s conspiracy theory makes three claims about Ford’s connections to the CIA, all of which are false or baseless:

    1. The post claims that Ford “happens to head up the CIA undergraduate internship program at Stanford University.” This claim seems to originate from a conspiracy theory website, brassballs.blog, that drew this conclusion because Stanford does have an undergraduate CIA internship program, and Ford, who is a psychology professor at nearby Palo Alto University, is also listed as an “affiliate” in the “psychiatry and behavioral sciences” department at Stanford. The blog post argues that it is suspicious that Ford’s contact information has been deleted from her Stanford profile page, although the more likely explanation is that it has been removed due to the threats and harassment that Ford has received since coming forward.

    2. The theory draws another connection between Ford and the CIA via her brother’s previous work for law firm BakerHostetler. A previous Ford-related conspiracy theory connected her brother’s work at BakerHostetler to Fusion GPS, a research firm involved in the ongoing Russian collusion investigation. However, Ford’s brother left BakerHostetler six years before Fusion GPS was ever founded. Savage’s conspiracy theory repeats this false claim and goes even further, claiming that three CIA-controlled businesses are located in the same building as BakerHostetler. There is no evidence these businesses are connected to the CIA -- in fact, one, Red Coats, Inc., is a janitorial company that does not even share office space with BakerHostetler.

    3. Savage’s post also claims that Ford is the granddaughter of Nicholas Deak, who worked with the CIA during the Cold War. According to his 1985 Washington Post obituary, Deak only had one child, a son named R. Leslie Deak. But as the conspiracy theory’s second claim also notes, Ford’s father is actually Ralph Blasey Jr.

    Savage’s false claim is rapidly spreading, and was promoted during Alex Jones’ September 28 broadcast. The conspiracy theory is also indicative of how search platforms like Google amplify such clear falsehoods. A Google search for “Christine Ford CIA” done in a private browsing window aggregated YouTube videos pushing the conspiracy theory and Savage’s website as the top results:

    The CIA conspiracy theory is just one of several false narratives related to Ford’s brother. A claim that he also worked with former FBI agent Peter Strzok’s sister-in-law has been spreading on voat and 4chan, and has turned into a meme spreading on Twitter and Facebook.

  • Far-right sites falsely link Christine Blasey Ford to a so-called "abortion pill"

    Ford has done work for a drug intended to combat Cushing's syndrome

    Blog ››› ››› JULIE TULBERT & SHARON KANN


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Far-right websites The Gateway Pundit and Natural News attempted to discredit Christine Blasey Ford by claiming her report that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh assaulted her was politically motivated because of Ford’s previous work for a pharmaceutical company that manufactures a so-called “abortion pill.” In reality, the pill that the company makes is not approved for that use and cannot be prescribed for people who are pregnant.

    On September 20, Gateway Pundit’s Jim Hoft published a blog post attacking Ford, claiming that Ford was “affiliated with Corcept Therapeutics (2006 – 2011)” and citing “her new Wikipedia page” as evidence. Corcept Therapeutics, Hoft said, “has only one product: Korlym (mifepristone),” which he characterized as “the ‘abortion pill.'” In addition to working for a company that produced this pill, Hoft argued that Ford had also “participated in 8 published studies, which researched uses for the ‘abortion pill’ or mifepristone. In five of these studies, Professor Ford is listed as affiliated with Corcept Therapeutics.” Based on this, Hoft implied that Ford’s decision to share her story was politically motivated, writing, “Liberals and feminists are very worried that Judge Brett Kavanaugh may participate in reversing Roe v. Wade. Christine Blasey wants to stop Kavanaugh from reaching the country’s highest court.”

    This false claim was then picked up by another fake news purveyor, Natural News, run by Mike Adams, a far-right blogger who also created a site to smear Parkland shooting survivor David Hogg as a so-called crisis actor and member of the “Hitler Youth.” Adams made an even less compelling case for Ford’s supposed motivations, writing, “Christine Blasey clearly fabricated the false allegations against Kavanaugh in order to protect her own income and profits coming from an abortion pill drug company whose future may be impacted by Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the court.”

    A September 17 San Francisco Chronicle article about Ford noted, “According to her faculty biography in a course catalog, she worked as director of biostatistics for Corcept Therapeutics in Menlo Park.” Corcept Therapeutics does manufacture Korlym, also known as mifepristone, but the company’s website notes that the drug is intended “to control hyperglycemia associated with Cushing's syndrome, a rare, debilitating endocrine disorder.” Hoft and Adams both acknowledged that this is the medication’s intended use.

    However, Hoft argued without evidence that Korlym “is widely available online as an ‘abortion pill’ or ‘Emergency Contraceptive and Abortifacient.’” Adams wrote, also without proof, that “it is well known throughout the medical industry that doctors routinely prescribe this drug to terminate unwanted pregnancies. It is a covert ‘abortion drug,’ in other words.”

    Corcept’s website includes an explicit warning not to prescribe the medication if someone is pregnant:

    Pregnancy must therefore be excluded before the initiation of treatment with Korlym and prevented during treatment and for one month after stopping treatment by the use of a non-hormonal medically acceptable method of contraception unless the patient has had a surgical sterilization, in which case no additional contraception is needed. Pregnancy must also be excluded if treatment is interrupted for more than 14 days in females of reproductive potential.

    Adams said this disclaimer only serves as “a wink, wink message to doctors that this is actually an abortion pill,” enabling them to secretly prescribe Korlym to patients seeking an abortion. How exactly this would work -- given the litany of restrictions on abortion access and even some limits on what doctors are allowed to tell patients about various procedure -- is unclear.

    In April 2018, The Washington Post described how a pill used in medication abortions, Mifeprex, is priced and prescribed differently than Korlym, the pill made for Cushing’s syndrome:

    The difference in price between Korlym and Mifeprex is striking, even though the ingredients are the same: One 200-milligram pill to prompt an abortion costs about $80. In contrast, a 300-milligram pill prescribed for Cushing’s runs about $550 before discounts. (Patients wanting an abortion take only one pill. People with Cushing’s often take up to three pills a day for months or years.)

    Even if people were secretly purchasing Korlym to perform abortions, Ford’s role as “director of biostatistics” would still be irrelevant. Studies that she co-wrote for Corcept have no apparent connection to abortion, with titles such as “Mifepristone treatment of olanzapine-induced weight gain in healthy men” and “Selective glucocorticoid receptor (type II) antagonists prevent weight gain caused by olanzapine in rats.”

    Despite the total lack of evidence supporting Adams’ characterization of Ford's report, the right-wing outlet One America News Network repeated his smear during a September 21 segment, including footage of Adams himself explaining his allegations. Prominent conspiracy theorist Alex Jones also cited Adams’ post to attack Ford, saying that Ford was not only a “huge lobbyist” for the pill in question, but that she “pushes for it, she’s written a whole bunch of papers trying to get it approved, she’s on the payroll of it.” He wildly concluded that Ford’s account was actually an attempt to push “population reduction” through abortion. This was far from Jones’ only attack on Ford: Previously, Jones falsely claimed that her high school yearbooks undermined her account, saying that her attire in some of the photos made her a “hussy” and “captain of the sluts.”

    Anti-abortion group Operation Rescue -- which has not been shy to attack Ford or voice support for Kavanaugh -- also shared a link to a truly bizarre blog post calling her an "Abortion Pimp” because of her work with Corcept.

    Right-wing and far-right media have relentlessly attacked and harassed Ford since she went public with her account. This latest smear about Ford’s promotion of a so-called “abortion pill” looks like more of the same.

  • Right-wing fever swamps are now smearing Christine Blasey Ford over her high school yearbooks

    Alex Jones baselessly identified a yearbook picture of a girl in a miniskirt as Ford in order to call her “captain of the sluts”

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    An emerging attack on Christine Blasey Ford falsely claims that her high school yearbooks undermine her account of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulting her while they were in high school.

    The yearbook pages in question don’t include any information that reflects negatively on Ford or contradicts any part of her account, but she is now being smeared over their contents. Those launching the attack include prominent conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, who baselessly identified a photo of a girl wearing a skirt as Ford in order to claim she was promiscuous in high school -- as though such a claim would in any way excuse or negate sexual assault.

    According to Jones and Infowars, excerpts from the yearbooks were first published by a blog called Cult of the First Amendment. A September 19 post on that blog appears to show scanned pages of yearbooks from Holton-Arms School, Ford’s high school.

    The yearbook excerpts describe underage drinking and, in two cases, racially insensitive outfits worn by several Holton-Arms students. But Ford is pictured only once in the images, sitting with two friends at a Halloween party.

    While Ford’s face was shown, the vast majority of the other faces shown in the pictures are covered by a black bar, with the blog noting, “In this report, last names have been redacted and faces obscured, other than the picture of Chrissy Blasey seen below.” Infowars shared the blog post in a September 20 article that suggested that the material somehow undermines Ford’s account.

    Jones also covered the article during the September 20 broadcast of The Alex Jones Show, in which he repeatedly defamed Ford.

    Jones seized on a picture from the yearbook that shows a girl posing in a skirt. The girl pictured has a black bar covering her face, and neither the Infowars aggregation nor Cult of the First Amendment identified the individual as Ford (nor did the original yearbook page, as shown on either site). Still, Jones not only repeatedly said it was her in the photo but also suggested that the person’s decision to wear a miniskirt -- which, to be clear, is innocuous in its own right and not probative of anything -- made her a “hussy” and “captain of the sluts.”

    Jones said, “We need Judge Kavanaugh to still testify next week and to have big blown-up poster boards with Christine Blasey Ford spreading her legs in the high school yearbooks,” and he said she was pictured “in stockings up to her knees and miniskirts, provocatively putting her hand behind her head and showing everything but her panties.”

    He also said of the photo, “That means, ‘I want you to climb on top of me right now,’”before claiming she “appears to be a hussy” and that she is “the definition of a trainwreck fraud.”

    Jones also mischaracterized other material in the yearbooks, falsely claiming they described “how much Chrissy loved passing out and how Chrissy couldn’t remember anything, and that was good because then she would have plausible deniability.”

    Later in the broadcast, Jones returned to the yearbook smear to call a high school-aged Ford “captain of the sluts.”

    This smear has spread to fake news website True Pundit and far-right Twitter accounts, following a similar path to previous bogus attacks on Ford.

  • Right-wing media go all-out to denigrate Christine Blasey Ford, who says Kavanaugh assaulted her

    Ford said Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh attempted to rape her when they were high school students, but many media conservatives attacked her or say Kavanaugh should be confirmed anyway

    Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    The Washington Post reported on Sunday that Christine Blasey Ford had written a letter this summer to a Democratic lawmaker saying that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were both high school students. Soon after Ford’s account was published, right-wing media figures and outlets began attacking her credibility, publicly discounting her story, or calling on Kavanaugh to be confirmed by Republicans anyway.

    Details from the letter, which she wrote to Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), leaked out several days earlier, and then Ford “decided that if her story is going to be told, she wants to be the one to tell it.” From the Post’s story:

    Speaking publicly for the first time, Ford said that one summer in the early 1980s, Kavanaugh and a friend — both “stumbling drunk,” Ford alleges — corralled her into a bedroom during a gathering of teenagers at a house in Montgomery County.

    While his friend watched, she said, Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed on her back and groped her over her clothes, grinding his body against hers and clumsily attempting to pull off her one-piece bathing suit and the clothing she wore over it. When she tried to scream, she said, he put his hand over her mouth.

    “I thought he might inadvertently kill me,” said Ford, now a 51-year-old research psychologist in northern California. “He was trying to attack me and remove my clothing.”

    Ford said she was able to escape when Kavanaugh’s friend and classmate at Georgetown Preparatory School, Mark Judge, jumped on top of them, sending all three tumbling. She said she ran from the room, briefly locked herself in a bathroom and then fled the house.

    Ford said she told no one of the incident in any detail until 2012, when she was in couples therapy with her husband. The therapist’s notes, portions of which were provided by Ford and reviewed by The Washington Post, do not mention Kavanaugh’s name but say she reported that she was attacked by students “from an elitist boys’ school” who went on to become “highly respected and high-ranking members of society in Washington.” The notes say four boys were involved, a discrepancy Ford says was an error on the therapist’s part. Ford said there were four boys at the party but only two in the room.

    Notes from an individual therapy session the following year, when she was being treated for what she says have been long-term effects of the incident, show Ford described a “rape attempt” in her late teens.

    Kavanaugh has denied the report after Ford went public, calling it “a completely false allegation.” He previously said, “I categorically and unequivocally deny this allegation.” The immediate reaction from many conservative media figures was terrible: Many cast doubt on her account, others suggested they might believe her but said Kavanaugh should be confirmed as a Supreme Court justice anyway, and others impugned her motives, suggesting a political or personal grudge.

    Conservatives who cast doubt on Ford’s account

    FoxNews.com’s Stephen Miller: “This was not a sexual assault. … Hold the vote. Confirm him. … It was drunk teenagers playing seven minutes of heaven.”

    Breitbart’s John Nolte: “GOP blows Kavanaugh, falls for this, they will be massacred in November.”

    Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones mocked Ford’s accusation: “Brett Kavanaugh in 1986 came to Dallas, TX, and I was in high school, and he raped me.”

    Trump ally and conservative political operator Roger Stone: “This is a woman looking for her Anita Hill moment. This is her 15 minutes.”

    Turning Point USA’s Candace Owens: “Nothing to see here, folks,” Ford is “just another woman who conveniently tripped and fell out of amnesia.”

    Conservative radio host Erick Erickson: “If the GOP does not stand up to this character assassination attempt on Kavanaugh, every judicial nominee moving forward is going to suffer last minute sexual assault allegations.”

    Erick Erickson: “I do not believe Brett Kavanaugh’s accuser. I do believe there is a Democrat PR firm working this story.”

    Erick Erickson: “People who want to keep killing kids really shouldn’t be throwing Jesus in the face of those who don’t believe the accusation against Kavanaugh.”

    Fox News’ Tomi Lahren: “Decades-old allegations against Kavanaugh come out just days before a vote….victim or opportunist?”

    Tomi Lahren: "Female empowerment is NOT using sexual assault allegations to torpedo someone you disagree with politically."

    Fox contributor Tammy Bruce: Report of assault by Kavanaugh is “an attempt at a political assassination.”

    Newsmax’s John Cardillo: “No, 35+ year old dubious allegations about a non-crime made by a left-wing activist … do not hold water.”

    NRATV’s Grant Stinchfield: “I have no idea if Judge Kavanaugh pushed this woman down on a bed at a high school house party where she wriggled free and ran away or not. What I do know is in the 35 years since, not one other woman has raised such an allegation. Sixty-five other women have, in fact, now come to his defense.”

    Fox Business host Dagen McDowell: “You have to press [Ford] on any potential bias that’s there” against Republicans.

    Fake news site TruthFeed: Ford’s story has “more holes than a slice of swiss cheese.”

    The despicable Democrats are pulling out all the stops to try and derail the Judge Kavanaugh vote for SCOTUS.

    They’re now claiming that Judge Kavanaugh attacked a woman in high school, nearly killing her. The woman, whose story has more holes than a slice of swiss cheese, claims there was a man in the room who witnessed the entire thing.

    One big problem. That man, says it never happened.

    Facebook page Silence is Consent posted a meme misleadingly claiming Ford was “so ‘devastated’” by incident “she contacted Feinstein 35 years later.”

    Fox Business host Bob Massi:The thing that’s remarkable to me” is that someone “with amazing credentials, amazing resumes, and an allegation like this comes out … and their entire career credibility is gone. … That’s the trouble with this.”

    Sean Hannity radio show guest David Schoen: "The real crime here that happened" is Sen. Dianne Feinstein "presenting this thing under ... this veil of mystery."

    Fox News host Sean Hannity cast doubt on Ford's accusation because of "everything else you see about Judge Kavanaugh's life ... this is a guy that spends a lot of time feeding the homeless."

    CRTV's Gavin McInnes: Ford is "clearly full of crap." 

    CRTV's Mark Levin on Ford's accusation: "This whole thing to me sounds like a sham and a setup. ... This is an entire political scam and sham as far as I'm concerned."

    Ethics and Public Policy Center Lance Morrow's Wall Street Journal op-ed likened Ford's accusation to Salem Witch Trials, diminished alleged rape attempt: "No clothes were removed, and no sexual penetration occurred."

    The Salem witch trials turned on what was called “spectral evidence.” That was testimony from witnesses—either malicious or hysterical—who claimed the accused had assumed the form of a black cat or some other devilish creature and had come visiting in the night in order to torment the witness with bites and scratches, or to rearrange the bedroom furniture, or to send the baby into paroxysms.

    ...

    Three hundred twenty-six years later, an anonymous woman—a spectral and possibly nonexistent woman, for all that one knew when the story emerged—accused Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her 36 years ago, when he was a high-school student. It seemed as if the American constitutional process might be drawn back to the neighborhood of Salem, Mass. According to this phantom testimony, 17-year-old Brett held the girl down, pawed her and tried to force himself upon her, and held his hand over her mouth when she screamed, until a second prep-school devil piled on top, they all tumbled to the floor, and the girl managed to slip away. The boys were “stumbling drunk,” according to the account.

    ...

    The thing happened—if it happened—an awfully long time ago, back in Ronald Reagan’s time, when the actors in the drama were minors and (the boys, anyway) under the blurring influence of alcohol and adolescent hormones. No clothes were removed, and no sexual penetration occurred. The sin, if there was one, was not one of those that Catholic theology calls peccata clamantia—sins that cry to heaven for vengeance.

    The offense alleged is not nothing, by any means. It is ugly, and stupid more than evil, one might think, but trauma is subjective and hard to parse legally. Common sense is a little hard put to know what to make of the episode, if it happened. The dust of 36 years has settled over the memory. The passage of time sometimes causes people to forget; sometimes it causes them to invent or embellish. Invention takes on bright energies when its muse is politics, which is the Olympics of illusion. 

    Conservatives who indicated that whether or not they believe Ford, Kavanaugh should be confirmed

    Federalist contributor Tom Nichols: “I’m good with the story being true,” but it shouldn’t “derail [his] nomination.”

    Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh: Ford’s report can’t be proven, “so he should be confirmed.”

    Cato Institute’s Ilya Shapiro: “The Senate should just vote” on Kavanaugh.

    The Federalist: Kavanaugh “should be confirmed” despite Ford’s report.

    Townhall.com editor Guy Benson: “Absent additional evidence, I don’t know how it would be remotely just to derail the nomination” of Kavanaugh.

    The Wall Street Journal editorial board suggested Ford possibly misremembered "in the cauldron of a therapy session to rescue a marriage," and stated that letting Ford's accusation "stop Mr. Kavanaugh's confirmation would ratify what has all the earmarks of a calculated political ambush."

    The woman accusing Brett Kavanaugh of a drunken assault when both were teenagers has now come forward publicly, and on Monday it caused Republicans to delay a confirmation vote and schedule another public hearing. Yet there is no way to confirm her story after 36 years, and to let it stop Mr. Kavanaugh’s confirmation would ratify what has all the earmarks of a calculated political ambush.

    ...

    Mr. Kavanaugh denies all this “categorically and unequivocally,” and there is simply no way to prove it. The only witness to the event is Mr. Kavanaugh’s high school male friend, Mark Judge, who also says he recalls no such event. Ms. Ford concedes she told no one about it—not even a high school girl friend or family member—until 2012 when she told the story as part of couples therapy with her husband.

    The vagaries of memory are well known, all the more so when they emerge in the cauldron of a therapy session to rescue a marriage. Experts know that human beings can come to believe firmly over the years that something happened when it never did or is based on partial truth. Mistaken identity is also possible.

    ...

    This is simply too distant and uncorroborated a story to warrant a new hearing or to delay a vote. We’ve heard from all three principals, and there are no other witnesses to call. Democrats will use Monday’s hearing as a political spectacle to coax Mr. Kavanaugh into looking defensive or angry, and to portray Republicans as anti-women. Odds are it will be a circus.

    ...

    Letting an accusation that is this old, this unsubstantiated and this procedurally irregular defeat Mr. Kavanaugh would also mean weaponizing every sexual assault allegation no matter the evidence. It will tarnish the #MeToo cause with the smear of partisanship, and it will unleash even greater polarizing furies.

    Conservatives who attacked Ford’s motives

    Mike Cernovich: “Christine Blasey is a far left wing activist. ... this is straight activism on her part.”

    The Gateway Pundit: Ford is a “far-left activist.”

    Gateway Pundit’s Jim Hoft: Ford is an “unhinged liberal professor who former students describe as dark, mad, scary and troubled.”

    Fox News host Laura Ingraham: “Apparently this accuser was fine with leaving Brett Kavanaugh on the second highest court of the land. … But it was when he was up for the Supreme Court that suddenly the stakes got higher.”

    Laura Ingraham: "This all has the whiff of a political smear masquerading as a sexual assault allegation."

    Fake news site RedstateWatcher: Ford is a "registered Democrat and Democrat activist.”

    Conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh: Ford is "a political activist. She's an angry political activist. She's much more than just a victim of alleged attempted rape."

    Fox News host Tucker Carlson: "Does anyone really believe this story would have surfaced if Brett Kavanaugh had pledged allegiance to Roe v. Wade? Of course it wouldn't have."​

    Right-wing Facebook meme pages and groups engaged in a smear campaign against Ford

    Many right-wing meme pages attacking Ford falsely painted her as a Democratic political operative. [1, 2, 3, 4]

    Some pages tried to undermine Ford’s allegations by questioning her timing in coming forward and her memory of the incident. [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]

    A woman from a Shuttershock photo of an anti-Trump protest in New York City was falsely attributed as Ford. [1, 2]

    Alex Kaplan and Natalie Martinez contributed research to this post.

  • Trump ally Eric Bolling goes on The Alex Jones Show

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G.


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Eric Bolling joined conspiracy theorist Alex Jones as a guest on the September 12 edition of his Infowars show. Bolling is a former Fox News host who was fired for reportedly sending an “unsolicited photo of male genitalia” to co-workers.

    Despite his alleged sexual misconduct and his history of bigotry and conspiracy theorizing, Bolling was given a show on Fox host Mark Levin’s CRTV, home of like-minded bigot and misogynist Gavin McInnes. Bolling, who is close to President Donald Trump, has made promotional appearances on MSNBC’s Morning Joe and other mainstream news shows.

    Infowars was recently removed from several digital platforms including Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter for violating community guidelines. On the same episode that featured Bolling, Jones also hosted Roosh Valizadeh. Valizadeh, known online as Roosh, is a misogynist who wrote nine books that have been banned from Amazon and gained fame online as a “pickup artist” by pushing suggestions including that women should fund sex workers’ services for frustrated “incels” (involuntary celibates) to prevent them from killing people.

    Bolling’s appearance on Infowars was devoted to debating Jones about the circumstances surrounding the 9/11 terrorist attacks:

    Bolling has a close relationship with Trump, something he has often reminded audiences of, boasting about the longevity of their relationship, publicizing the instances in which Trump has called his cell phone, and using the connection to promote his business ventures (his CRTV show and his book, which Trump tweeted about). He has periodically visited the White House, both in an official capacity as an advisor to Trump on the administration’s anti-opioid initiative and in a social capacity during French President Emmanuel Macron’s official visit. And he has also leveraged his “high level” access for scoops and on-site appearances for his CRTV show.

    Bolling currently uses the limited reach of his program to shill for Trump and provide a platform to the president’s hype people, but for years at Fox, he promoted extremist conspiracy theories including the claim that former President Barack Obama wasn’t born in the United States.

    More recently, Bolling endorsed far-right Arizona Senate candidate Kelli Ward, who lost her race. Ward has been an administrator of a racist Facebook group that promoted conspiracy theories, and she associated with “Pizzagate” conspiracy theorist and date rape denialist Mike Cernovich during her campaign.

  • GOP-backed House candidate in California has campaigned on chemtrails conspiracy theory and cited Alex Jones

    House candidate Dale Mensing said “dealing with chemtrails is one of the three primary issues of my campaign”

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Dale Mensing, a congressional candidate who’s backed by the California Republican Party, wrote that the chemtrails conspiracy theory "is one of the three primary issues” of his campaign and used a video from conspiracy theorist Alex Jones as evidence.

    Mensing is challenging incumbent Democratic Rep. Jared Huffman in the general election for California’s 2nd District for the third time. Mensing has the endorsement of the California Republican Party; additionally, he states on his website that he has endorsements from “the Del Norte County Republican Central Committee, the Marin County Republican Central committee, the Sonoma​ County Republican Central Committee and the Mendocino County Republican Central Committee.” (Those county campaign committees mention and/or link to Mensing’s website on their respective websites.)

    Republican committees in California have backed Mensing even though he's stated that one of the “primary issues” of his campaign is chemtrails, referring to a conspiracy theory that’s been pushed by media personalities including Alex Jones.

    Some references to chemtrails on Mensing’s website have been removed this week for unclear reasons. His main page previously featured “chemtrails” on his main page; that mention has since been removed (though his “chemtrails” subpage is still available). He also had a page about the California primary titled “June 5, 2018 Endorsements and Primary Campaign Points,” which stated that a “primary” point of his campaign was to “expose and eliminate chemtrails”; that page was up until recently but is now no longer available.

    Mensing’s attention to the issue has been briefly noted outside of his website; for example, a May 8 article about the GOP primary in the Marin Independent Journal mentioned that Mensing “has a host of issues,” including “eliminating airplane chemtrails.”

    The New York Times wrote in 2016 of chemtrails: “One persistent belief in some quarters is that the government -- or business, perhaps -- is deploying a fleet of jet aircraft to spray chemicals into the sky to control the population, food supply or other things. As evidence, they point to what they call ‘chemtrails,’ which are more commonly known as contrails, or condensation trails, produced at high altitudes as water vapor in jet engine exhaust condenses and freezes.” Scientists have repeatedly stated that there’s no evidence to support the chemtrails conspiracy theory.

    Mensing has a page dedicated to chemtrails that states of the issue: “I have many questions and I know a few things. I know enough [to] tell the reader that dealing with chemtrails is one of the three primary issues of my campaign for the house of representatives. As I post these paragraphs, I plan to add more in the days and weeks to come.”

    He also directed readers and potential voters to several videos related to chemtrails, including an August 2014 video on Alex Jones' YouTube channel. That video -- which is no longer available in its original location because YouTube has banned Jones’ channel, though an unofficial Infowars fan account has reposted it -- was titled “Government Weather Manipulation Exposed” and featured Jones pushing the chemtrails conspiracy theory (the video has been reposted to YouTube by an unofficial Infowars fan account).

    In the Mensing-backed video, Jones said that “the globalists” are “playing God” and “they’re doing it with jet trails, with the chemicals, they’re doing it with these different microwave systems and relay towers that then resonate with it. They’ve got over-the-horizon radar, [that] is one reason they’re spraying this stuff. The point is, we need to know.”

    Mensing did not respond to a request for comment by posting time.

  • Infowars uses 9/11 anniversary to promote conspiracy theories about the attacks, sell products on Facebook

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Alex Jones’ Infowars outlet marked the 17th anniversary of 9/11 by posting a video to Facebook that pushed conspiracy theories about the terror attacks while urging listeners to buy Infowars brand nutritional supplements.

    While Facebook banned four pages associated with Jones in August for repeatedly violating the website’s hate speech and bullying policies, it took no action against a page operated by the Infowars show War Room. During the evening of September 10, War Room posted a video with the title “Do American’s (sic) Still Believe the Official 9/11 Story” to its page. The 15-minute video is a clip from that day’s edition of War Room, which is broadcast on Facebook, among other places.

    During the video, War Room co-host Owen Shroyer pushed a panoply of conspiracy theories about the 9/11 attack. (Infowars founder Alex Jones calls himself one of the “founding fathers of the 9/11 truth movement.”)

    The discussion of 9/11 began when a caller claimed that the hijackers who carried out the attack were “patsies.” Shroyer then called on the “Infowars army” to do man-on-the-street interviews to ask people, “Do you believe the official narrative of 9/11? Did you know about Building 7? Do you know about [World Trade Center leaseholder] Larry Silverstein taking out an insurance program just a week before? Did you know [then-national security advisor] Condoleezza Rice was warned not to get on an airplane that day?”

    9/11 conspiracy theorists often claim that Building 7, a property adjacent to the Twin Towers that collapsed following the attacks, was actually brought down by a controlled demolition. Silverstein was required to buy insurance for the World Trade Center, although conspiracy theorists such as Shroyer use the purchase of the policy to claim he had advance knowledge of the attacks. Likewise, conspiracy theorists have also claimed that Rice had pre-knowledge of the attacks due to the unsubstantiated claim that she warned then-San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown not to fly on that day.

    Later in the video, while showing video of one of the World Trade Center plane strikes, Shroyer said that “some people” say that footage of the attacks was a “projected image.”

    The 9/11 conspiracy theories Shroyer pushed were sandwiched in between two promotional segments for Infowars products that accounted for about five minutes of the 15-minute video. During the first pitch, Shroyer said that people should buy the products because Infowars’ situation is “desperate.”  If Infowars is actually in financial peril, at least it can still count on using Facebook to help fund the operation and line Alex Jones’ pockets.

  • While Twitter's taking action on Alex Jones is good, the process raises serious questions

    Angelo Carusone: "It wasn’t until Jones came face-to-face with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey that Jones was permanently banned from the platform"

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Moments ago, Twitter permanently banned Alex Jones and Infowars from its platform. Earlier this summer, Jones and Infowars were removed by other major tech companies like Apple, Facebook and YouTube. According to Twitter, the ban comes after Alex Jones and Infowars repeatedly violated the company’s abusive behavior policies. Shortly after being banned today, Jones appeared on an Infowars show on Twitter’s Periscope.

    In reaction to the announcement, Media Matters President Angelo Carusone issued the following statement:

    Media Matters has monitored Alex Jones longer than anyone and has dozens of documented incidents of him violating the rules on with impunity, so the most important thing to be said about his removal from Twitter is: Good. It’s about time.

    But, Alex Jones has pushed dangerous conspiracy theories with real life consequences for years and in recent weeks Twitter took measly half measures to limit his actions platform. Twitter was the last major tech platform to see what is obvious -- Jones used Twitter in clear violation of the rules to perpetuate hate speech and harassment.

    Alex Jones’ harrassment of CNN’s Oliver Darcy was par for the course for Jones’ behavior -- Twitter is using it to save face and ban him now. It wasn’t until Jones came face-to-face with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey that Jones was permanently banned from the platform, raising serious questions about when and how Twitter is willing to enforce its terms of service.

    There are already troubling signs that Twitter does not understand the full scope of Infowars’ accounts on it’s platforms.

    Previously:

    Twitter and Periscope finally ban Alex Jones and Infowars

    Twitter’s half measures against Alex Jones don’t make much sense unless he’s getting special treatment

    Despite bans, Alex Jones appears on Facebook and Periscope broadcasts to rant about “false flag” attacks

  • Twitter and Periscope finally ban Alex Jones and Infowars

    A day after Jones harassed Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and numerous others on Capitol Hill, the social media platform finally enforces its policies against the conspiracy theorist and his outlet

    Blog ››› ››› JOHN WHITEHOUSE


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Twitter finally did what it should have done a month ago. The platform announced that it was removing Alex Jones and Infowars, citing a video posted to Twitter attacking CNN reporter Oliver Darcy.

    This permanent suspension comes weeks after Twitter had failed to enforce its standards after Darcy previously identified more than a dozen examples of Infowars content on the platform that appeared to violate the rules. Twitter told Darcy at the time that the content did in fact violate the rules -- but that because the tweets were deleted by Infowars, no action would be taken.

    During the evening of August 14, Twitter took action against Jones’ primary account after it sent a tweet that linked to a video on Periscope in which Jones called on his supporters to get their “battle rifles” ready:

    Twitter limited Jones' primary accounts for one week following that incident. Under the terms of the action, Jones was forced to delete the tweet linking to the Periscope video in order to start the countdown on a seven-day period in which the account was prohibited from tweeting. Jones found ways around that limitation and he was active on his @Infowars and @RealAlexJones accounts following their suspension until they were banned today.

    There are already troubling signs that Twitter does not understand the full scope of Infowars’ accounts on the platform. An account associated with Paul Joseph Watson, Infowars' editor-at-large, tweeted the same video about Darcy that Twitter cited in banning Jones, but it remains active and is currently tweeting about Jones' and Infowars' supposed ban from the platform. Since the ban was announced, Jones has already shown up on the Periscope for Infowars' show War Room, which was not banned either.

    Update: Via Jared Holt, War Room's Periscope page is no longer active.