Jerome Corsi | Media Matters for America

Jerome Corsi

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  • Alex Jones is souring on his indicted Infowars employee Roger Stone

    Jones: "Gateway Pundit can hire Roger"

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Conspiracy theorist and Infowars head Alex Jones is frustrated with Trump confidant Roger Stone because he thinks Stone gave a rival right-wing news outlet an “exclusive” about Stone’s criminal case.

    Stone, who is a co-host of the Infowars program War Room, was arrested on January 25 and charged with seven felonies as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. The charges allege Stone lied to Congress about his dealings with WikiLeaks concerning emails hacked by Russia in the 2016 presidential election; obstructed an official proceeding; and intimidated a witness, radio host Randy Credico.  

    Following Stone’s arrest, his first media appearance was on Infowars, and he has since appeared regularly on Infowars programs, including the show, War Room, that he co-hosts, to publicly litigate his criminal proceeding and fight with his critics. Stone has expressed fear at the possibility that he will be subject to a gag order and recently described his Infowars platform as “vital” to his criminal defense strategy.

    Now Stone has another problem, as his boss, Jones, has become angered that Stone shared an “exclusive” with far-right website The Gateway Pundit.

    The dispute centers around a February 13 motion filed by Stone’s legal team requesting a hearing concerning Stone’s allegation that the special counsel’s office improperly released Stone’s indictment before it was unsealed. Gateway Pundit was the first media outlet to publish a story about that filing, posting a piece bylined by Stone associate Jacob Engels.

    Discussing the Gateway Pundit story and the motion (which Jones initially mischaracterized as a “lawsuit against Robert Mueller”), a clearly perturbed Jones said during the February 13 broadcast of his show, “I like Roger as a friend, but he doles out exclusives ... some to Fox News, some to Daily Caller, and he works here. I pay his salary. … So I guess Roger Stone’s going to go to the woodshed here pretty soon.”

    Jones went on to say -- possibly facetiously -- that Stone now works for Gateway Pundit. He said, “This is a global exclusive. In the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, filed today, Roger Stone’s motion requesting a show cause order. So it’s on Gateway Pundit. Well that’s good. Gateway Pundit can hire Roger. … In fact, Roger Stone now works for the Gateway Pundit, which is good.”

    An annoyed Jones added, “People call us to find out what Roger’s up to and I just -- I can’t tell you; I don’t know. So Roger Stone now works for the Gateway Pundit, ladies and gentlemen -- seriously, as of about 10 seconds ago. I’m like, ‘Roger, get a job with the Gateway Pundit.’ Because -- here, let me check my other phone. I don’t want to go off half-cocked. Maybe he called this other phone and gave me the exclusive. Nope, doesn’t look like it.”

    Just the day before, Stone had emphasized how important his Infowars platform was to him. During the February 12 broadcast of War Room, Stone said that “one of the main reasons” he was indicted is that he works at Infowars. He went on to say, “I’ve told you about the vital role that Infowars plays in the strategy for my defense. If I can’t come here, if I can’t come on The Alex Jones Show, if I can’t come on the morning show with David Knight, if I can’t come on the War Room, then there’s no forum where I can really go to tell people the complete story about what’s going on.”

    Stone then said, “I guess the best thing to remind everybody is that please go to the Infowars store” to support the outlet’s operation. Then he transitioned into an extended pitch for a supplement called Brain Force that Infowars sells:
     

    ROGER STONE: One of the main reasons I think I’m targeted, Rob [Dew], is because I’m on Infowars. Because I work with you and Alex Jones and [War Room co-host] Owen Shroyer and [Infowars host] David Knight and so many others to bring people the stone cold truth, the unvarnished truth about what’s going on in the struggle against the globalists. And I’ve told you about the vital role that Infowars plays in the strategy for my defense. If I can’t come here, if I can’t come on The Alex Jones Show, if I can’t come on the morning show with David Knight, if I can’t come on the War Room, then there’s no forum where I can really go to tell people the complete story about what is going on. Everywhere else you appear you’re edited, you're censored, you're limited. But here at Infowars nobody tells us what we can and cannot say, nobody tells us what we can and cannot cover. We just go for where the facts lead us. So I guess the best thing to remind everybody is that please go to the Infowars store. It is vitally important that Infowars continue to thrive.  

    On February 13, after Jones complained about Stone giving away exclusives, Stone did not appear in his regular slot on War Room.

    Jones’ attack on Stone is the latest example of infighting at Infowars over Mueller’s investigation. Previously, Jones and Stone teamed up to feud with former Infowars D.C. bureau chief Jerome Corsi. Corsi, who is also entangled in Mueller’s probe of what happened with WikiLeaks, is referenced throughout Stone’s criminal indictment. Jones and Stone have sought to discredit Corsi’s public statements about the probe and in some cases even appear to have attempted to influence how Corsi testifies under oath to Mueller’s grand jury. For his part, Corsi, who is an obvious witness for Stone’s trial, has suggested Stone is guilty of witness tampering because of Stone’s interactions with him. Most recently, Corsi filed a lawsuit against Stone alleging Stone was attempting to induce him to have a heart attack or stroke by causing “emotional distress.”

  • Here’s how Fox is downplaying Roger Stone’s indictments

    Blog ››› ››› COURTNEY HAGLE


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Following the news that Roger Stone, a longtime adviser to President Donald Trump, had been arrested and indicted on several charges related to special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian involvement in the 2016 election, Trump’s most loyal supporters at Fox News rushed to Stone’s defense.

    Early in the morning on January 25, the FBI arrested Stone on seven charges of obstruction, giving false statements, and witness tampering as part of Mueller’s investigation, which had looked into whether Stone had inside information about emails hacked by Russia and released by WikiLeaks.

    Following the news of Stone’s indictment, Fox News was quick to rush to his defense. In addition to criticizing CNN’s presence at the scene of the arrest and resorting to the tired “But Hillary!” line of defense, Fox figures declared that the indictments reveal nothing, insisted that there is no evidence of collusion, criticized the manner in which Stone was arrested, and called for investigations into former and current FBI officials, Justice Department officials, and top Democrats.

    Declaring that the indictments are meaningless, irrelevant, and prove there was no conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia

    On Fox & Friends, Fox News contributor Andrew McCarthy claimed Stone’s indictments actually rule out Trump-Russia collusion because “why would the campaign have had to turn to Roger Stone to find out what WikiLeaks had? They would've known that from Russia.” From the January 28 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends:

    BRIAN KILMEADE (CO-HOST): You just say in the big picture, there's no -- it's not -- it doesn't really touch the president yet.

    ANDREW MCCARTHY (FOX CONTRIBUTOR): Well, I don't think not just yet, Brian. I don't see how it could because, here to make it real easy, if Trump and his campaign were in a criminal conspiracy of espionage with Russia, if they had colluded with Russia, why would the campaign have had to turn to Roger Stone to find out what WikiLeaks had? They would've known that from Russia. They wouldn't've needed people like Roger Stone. It's been obvious from a long time, even if you go back to Mueller's indictment to the two Russian entities, the troll farm case and the hacking case. There's no reason to think that Russia in its operations looked for any cooperation from anyone on the American side, not just President Trump. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 1/28/19]

    On Fox & Friends, Fox contributor Dan Bongino claimed that the Stone indictment "proves" that there is "zero evidence" of Russian collusion. From the January 28 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends:

    DAN BONGINO (FOX CONTRIBUTOR): Yes, we found crimes, no question. But [former Trump campaign chair Paul] Manafort has pled guilty to them -- they're not allegations anymore. But the problem is we were all told that Mueller was investigating some grand collusion conspiracy with the Russians, of which it is not in dispute anymore, there is to this day zero evidence any of that happened, and the Stone indictment, at this point, proves it. Can we just move on and indicate what you just said, Brian? Some people were involved in some shady stuff, some admitted criminality, it had nothing to do with the Russians, very little, if anything to do with Trump other than the fact that he intersected with some of these people. And can we finally move on? Mueller needs to tell the American people, do you have collusion or not? And if not, it is time to move on. This has thrown a monkey wrench into the country's mechanics. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 1/28/19]

    On Fox & Friends Weekend, the three co-hosts complained about Mueller’s investigation, with co-host Pete Hegseth saying “absolutely nobody cares” and asking viewers, “Have you ever been to Russia? Can you speak Russian?” From the January 27 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends Weekend:

    PETE HEGSETH (CO-HOST): Absolutely nobody cares. No, really. I mean, this town here cares a lot because they're invested; they’ve looked like fools for being invested in the narrative and they want it to work. But no one watching this program cares. Email us. ... Do you care about Russia? Have you ever been to Russia? Can you speak Russian? Do you care about any of that at all, because you definitely don’t. Here’s the thing: I think while Bob Mueller is supposed to be an independent investigator, he's playing into the hands in this country that there are two forms of justice. Roger Stone gets his door kicked in at 4 in the morning, a 68-year-old guy who’s got no -- no physical threat to anybody. Yet Hillary Clinton bleach-bits her server, lies to Congress, and gets her lawyers there, nothing happens to her, nothing happens to Huma Abedin, any of these people. I couldn't even pronounce it. Sorry. No, but people get the sense that there are two forms of justice. [Fox News, Fox & Friends Weekend, 1/27/19]
     

    On Fox & Friends Weekend, frequent Fox guest Alan Dershowitz minimized Stone’s indictments by claiming “they’re not crimes of substance.” From the January 26 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends Saturday:

    ALAN DERSHOWITZ (HARVARD LAW PROFESSOR): Look, as Judge Ellis, who presided over the Manafort case, said about Manafort, the government isn’t interested in Manafort -- Mueller isn’t interested in going after this guy for his bank fraud. They're interested in squeezing him, they’re interested in getting information from him about the real target, and that's Donald Trump. And that’s a very disturbing way of using the criminal justice process. Also, this shows another disturbing trend, and that is Mueller has hardly indicted anybody for crimes that occurred before he started the investigation. Almost all of these crimes, like this one, occurred during the investigation, they’re process crimes, they're not crimes of substance. Now, in the indictment, Mueller tells an interesting story about WikiLeaks but he doesn't charge him with anything like that. He can't defend himself against that at trial. At trial, he's only charged with lying and tampering with witnesses and obstruction of justice, all of which occurred after Mueller was appointed. So far, Mueller has come up relatively empty on crimes that occurred before he was appointed, which was his mandate. [Fox News, Fox & Friends Weekend, 1/26/19]

    Complaining about the way the FBI arrested Stone

    On Justice with Judge Jeanine, host Jeanine Pirro ripped into the FBI’s treatment of Stone, characterizing the raid as “Gestapo tactics.” From the January 26 edition of Fox News’ Justice with Judge Jeanine:

    JEANINE PIRRO (HOST): Not a great weekend for Roger Stone, whose over-the-top arrest yesterday morning is the subject of my second opening statement tonight. So the Mueller team gets an indictment against Roger Stone, who is represented by an attorney. But instead of notifying the attorney and requesting he bring his client in for arraignment -- standard protocol in cases like Stone’s -- the Mueller team decides instead on Gestapo tactics. [Fox News, Justice with Judge Jeanine, 1/26/19]

    Later on Pirro’s show, Fox contributor and former Trump official Sebastian Gorka said the Stone arrest was like something that would happen under “a communist dictatorship.” From the January 26 edition of Fox News’ Justice with Judge Jeanine:

    SEBASTIAN GORKA (FOX CONTRIBUTOR): My parents lived under a communist dictatorship, a police state. And back then there was the phrase “Watch out for the 2 a.m. knock on the door.” In Roger Stone’s case, it was 5 a.m., but it’s the same thing. The idea that you’ve got a man who’s a senior citizen, who’s charged with -- what? Perjury? -- and you send 29 agents wearing body armor and carrying AR-15s to bang down his door. Sorry -- you know, judge, better than anybody, before a warrant is served, before somebody’s arrested in their home, there’s a commander of the operation, a threat assessment is made, and in a white collar crime this is not how you do it. This is rank intimidation, this is the corruption that Obama left over in the DOJ, and this is on Robert Mueller’s doorstep. [Fox News, Justice with Judge Jeanine, 1/26/19]

    On Fox & Friends Weekend, Fox News legal analyst Gregg Jarrett attacked the raid, saying that Stone “is a white-collar suspect” and “not MS-13.” From the January 26 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends Weekend:

    GREGG JARRETT (FOX NEWS LEGAL ANALYST): It was an abusive, ridiculous, and embarrassing excessive use of force by the FBI. [FBI Director] Christopher Wray really ought to be embarrassed and ashamed that he allowed his agents to be exploited like that by Robert Mueller. Twenty-nine agents with repeat firing weapons in a pre-dawn raid, storming into a suspect's house. This is a white-collar suspect of process crimes. He is not MS-13. He is not a mass murderer.

    PETE HEGSETH (CO-HOST): So why did they do it?

    JARRETT: This was thuggish tactics to intimidate the witness. I doubt he will be intimidated by it. But this is what Robert Mueller's investigation has come to -- no principled crimes, only process crimes, which are offenses against the legal process. So these crimes against Roger Stone are actually generated or created by the special counsel. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 1/26/19]

    On Hannity, host Sean Hannity complained that Stone is “being treated like Pablo Escobar” and that the investigation is “the biggest abuse of power scandal in modern American history.” From the January 25 edition of Fox News’ Hannity:

    SEAN HANNITY (HOST): We are witnessing the biggest abuse-of-power scandal in modern American history. It's playing out right before your eyes. More corruption than we've ever seen. Really, a pre-dawn raid? Seventeen vehicles move in, 27 FBI agents in full SWAT gear, guns drawn, home surrounded? For what? Roger Stone is not being charged with any violent crime here. He isn't charged with colluding with a foreign government at all. He's never posed any security threat of any kind. Instead he was indicted on a series of process crimes that never would have happened, yet Robert Mueller started an investigation. This is, in other words, created by the fact that Mueller had an investigation. Why is he being treated like Pablo Escobar? [Fox News, Hannity, 1/25/19]

    Jerome Corsi, who is also wrapped up in Mueller’s investigation, appeared on Hannity to criticize the raid as “Gestapo-like tactics,” complaining that the Mueller team is “determined to terrorize people and criminalize politics.” From the January 25 edition of Fox News’ Hannity:

    JEROME CORSI (FORMER WASHINGTON, D.C., BUREAU CHIEF, INFOWARS): I was shocked. I mean, I think this is Gestapo-like tactics. I mean, what's the point in having all these armed police with riot gear bursting into a house at 7 a.m. Wife and Roger in bed. I mean, this is not America. This is not the way we treat people in America who are basically trying just to be political operatives who are earning a living and, I mean, it frightens me to think what the FBI could do bursting into my home with my wife asleep and the family asleep. There is no need for it. And I think increasingly that we're seeing an out-of-control Mueller operation that is determined to terrorize people and criminalize politics. I think it's very frightening for the direction of America. [Fox News, Hannity, 1/25/19; Media Matters, 11/13/18]

    Deflecting to attack former FBI officials

    On Fox’s Justice with Judge Jeanine, Pirro suggested the FBI should indict top former FBI and Department of Justice officials. From the January 26 edition of Fox News’ Justice with Judge Jeanine:

    JEANINE PIRRO (HOST): Stone lying to Congress? Jim Comey lied to Congress. John Brennan lied to Congress. [James] Clapper. And dear Hillary [Clinton] -- that woman lied every time she opened her mouth. Need I go on? [Fox News, Justice with Judge Jeanine, 1/26/19]

    Hannity ripped into top Justice Department and FBI officials, naming a slew of former and current officials before asking, “When will they get the pre-dawn raid treatment?” From the January 25 edition of Fox News’ Hannity:

    SEAN HANNITY (HOST): Five counts of lying to Congress and not once lying about emails. Oh, and text messages. All of these crimes occurring after the start of the Mueller investigation. Now, this is nothing more than a political persecution. Now, let's not forget James Comey, he lied to Congress. John Brennan lied to Congress. James Clapper lied to Congress on multiple occasions. Are they going to be charged? When will they get the pre-dawn raid treatment? What about former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, fired for lying to the FBI? When is he going to get the pre-dawn raid? Comey's general counsel, James Baker, well he leaked sensitive information. When is his pre-dawn raid? James Comey leaked bureau memos to the press via a close professor friend -- is he going to get charged with that? Now the biggest of all, we have Hillary Clinton. She mishandled top-secret classified material on an unsecured private server and then -- want to talk about obstruction of justice, not handing over emails, not handing over text messages. Oh, that's what they just charged Roger Stone with. But Hillary destroyed subpoenaed emails, 33,000 of them. Oh, and then she washed her computer hard drive with BleachBit and then they busted up the devices. Where is Hillary Clinton's pre-dawn raid? James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Sally Yates, Rod Rosenstein -- they all lied to a FISA court. They never checked the veracity of the charges in the Clinton bought-and-paid-for phony Russian dossier. Are they going to be charged for those blatant crimes? This is sad and this is now going to be the end of real justice in America because this is a two-tiered system of justice. And today after posting bail, Roger Stone, he remained defiant. [Fox News, Hannity, 1/25/19]

    On Fox’s The Ingraham Angle, guest Victor Davis Hanson tore into former FBI officials, saying that Mueller’s “legacy is now there are now two codes of justice.” From the January 25 edition of Fox News’ The Ingraham Angle:

    VICTOR DAVIS HANSON (GUEST): Yeah, well I think what gets everybody -- I don't know Roger Stone what he did or he did not do, whether he’s a provocateur or raconteur. It doesn't matter, the questions, the quality under the law. Cut to the quick, Laura, had he been James Comey and he had gone into a sworn testimony before Congress and then 245 times said he didn't know or he couldn’t remember, he wouldn't be indicted. If he had been the deputy director, Andrew Mccabe, and said he was misunderstood when he lied he wouldn't have been indicted. Had he been James Clapper and said he gave the least untruthful answers, he lied under oath to Congress, he wouldn't have been indicted. Had he been John Brennan, who’s very ubiquitous today, on two occasions lied under oath to Congress and then said the CIA doesn't lie, he wouldn't have been indicted. So what -- Robert Mueller, whether he knows it or not, his legacy is now there are now two codes of justice. There’s for people who are connected and there's people who are not connected but useful for a prosecutor's agenda. I don't think any of us want to live in a America like that. It's Orwellian and it’s third world and it’s disgusting. [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 1/25/19]

  • Fox Business Network has spent months legitimizing toxic conspiracy theorist and Mueller target Jerome Corsi

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Fox Business Network has given disreputable conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi a prime-time platform to make bizarre and uncorroborated attacks against special counsel Robert Mueller as Mueller’s team investigates whether Corsi had inside information about the release of emails hacked by Russia during the 2016 presidential election.

    Starting in November 2018, when Corsi's legal troubles worsened, Fox Business has hosted Corsi ten times for softball interviews, giving his wild claims a veneer of legitimacy by allowing him to make them on a mainstream conservative network. (Prior to November, the last Corsi appearance on the channel listed in Nexis was in 2011; during that interview he was ridiculed over his book Where's the Birth Certificate?) Corsi and Fox Business hosts have also used his recent appearances to promote a new book he wrote.

    Corsi is a conspiracy theorist best known for serving as the driving force behind the racist “birther” conspiracy theory that targeted former President Barack Obama. He has also pushed other conspiracy theories, including the “Pizzagate” claim and those about the murder of DNC staffer Seth Rich (even though he knew his claims about Rich were untrue). After working at conspiracy theory outlet WND for years, Corsi became the Washington, D.C., bureau chief for Alex Jones’ Infowars in January 2017. Infowars is best known for pushing the conspiracy theories that the 9/11 terror attacks were an “inside job” and that the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting was a hoax. According to Infowars, Corsi was fired for poor performance in June 2018.

    In September 2018, news broke that Corsi had been subpoenaed to testify before Mueller’s grand jury. According to documents he later released himself, Corsi is under investigation over whether he had prior knowledge that WikiLeaks had hacked emails before they were released during the 2016 presidential election. In November, Corsi revealed that Mueller’s team had offered him a deal to plead guilty to lying to the FBI about his WikiLeaks contacts. Corsi said he would reject the plea agreement, and he has since increasingly litigated his case through conservative media.

    Roger Stone, an associate of Corsi’s, was indicted by the special counsel’s office on January 25 on five counts of making false statements and single counts of obstructing an official proceeding and witness tampering. Corsi, who is referred to as “Person 1” in the indictment, is referenced throughout the charging document, which describes his and Stone’s efforts to work with WikiLeaks.

    Since November, Fox Business has been promoting Corsi’s outlandish public efforts to fight back against Mueller. In December, Corsi filed an ethics complaint against Mueller, and later that month, he filed a lawsuit accusing Mueller and several government agencies of violating his civil rights. On January 21, Corsi added The Washington Post to his lawsuit. Corsi is seeking more than $1 billion in damages. As his suit stands currently, Corsi is alleging that Mueller, the Post, the Department of Justice, the CIA, the FBI, and the National Security Agency are all conspiring together to bankrupt him in order to force him to submit false testimony in the Mueller probe.

    Corsi has appeared during prime time on Fox Business ten times since November 2018, according to a search of Nexis. Nine of the appearances have occurred on Trish Regan Primetime, a major platform that has hosted Vice President Mike Pence. The other appearance was on Lou Dobbs Tonight.

    Corsi has used the appearances, all of which were friendly interviews, as a personal soap box, discussing his claims that he wasn’t involved in the WikiLeaks matter, his ethics complaint and lawsuit against Mueller and subsequent addition of The Washington Post to his lawsuit, the allegation that he was involved in a fraudulent cancer fundraising scheme, his unsubstantiated claim that he is being targeted by the Mueller probe because he believes in Jesus Christ, his unsubstantiated allegation that he is under Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) surveillance, his complaints about Mueller’s team subpoenaing his stepson, his ongoing dispute with his former employer Infowars, and to again proclaim his innocence following Stone's arrest.

    Regan often teases Corsi’s appearances as “exclusives” and Corsi has, in turn, thanked her for giving him such a big platform, saying during the December 14 edition of Trish Regan Primetime, “Your show has been of great assistance. I can't thank you enough.”

    During his appearances, Regan has taken Corsi’s unsubstantiated claims at face value and has effusively praised him, including wishing him luck in his legal travails; calling Corsi “a brave man” who is experiencing “everyone’s worst nightmare”; claiming he was targeted by Mueller because he “dared to fight back”; telling him, “You keep fighting. Dr. Corsi, keep fighting” and claiming, “Dr. Jerome Corsi is fighting back harder than ever”; and saying Corsi has “been through a lot” and has “a really amazing story of what has happened to [him] in all of this.”

    Fox Business has also served as a venue for Corsi to hawk his latest book, with Corsi and hosts encouraging viewers to buy it. During his appearance on Lou Dobbs Tonight, host Lou Dobbs closed the segment by saying, “And again, his e-book is coming out next week. The book's title is Silent No More: How I Became a Political Prisoner of Mueller's Witch Hunt. Now, it's coming out next week as any book on Amazon. You can go to Amazon and preorder it now. We encourage you do so. We recommend it to you highly. It is quite a story.”

    Regan promoted Corsi’s book in eight out of nine of his appearances on her show. An exchange during the December 26 broadcast of Trish Regan Primetime encapsulates how Corsi is using the platform. Prompted by Regan’s suggestion that Corsi is under scrutiny because he “dared to fight back” on his Mueller lawsuit, Corsi went on a rambling diatribe about the suit and his claim that he is under FISA surveillance. Regan then prompted him to promote his book, and he was happy to oblige while assisted by an on-screen graphic:

    Fox Business -- and its sister network Fox News Channel -- previously attempted to legitimize Corsi by hosting him to push his birther conspiracy theory and related book.

  • Mueller target Jerome Corsi was allegedly being paid $15,000 a month by Alex Jones’ Infowars until last week

    Corsi claims special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating payments he received from Infowars

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Jerome Corsi, a conspiracy theorist who has become entangled in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, was earning $15,000 a month from Alex Jones’ Infowars outlet until last week, according to a legal complaint filed by Corsi.

    In recent weeks, Corsi has been in a protracted battle with Infowars, which employed him as the outlet’s Washington, D.C., bureau chief between January 2017 and June 2018. Beginning in September 2018, after Corsi was subpoenaed to testify before Mueller’s grand jury, Infowars took several actions that appeared to be attempts to influence Corsi’s testimony in a way favorable to Infowars host and Trump confidante Roger Stone. (Stone, like Corsi, is under investigation over whether he had foreknowledge of emails hacked by Russia and then released by WikiLeaks in the 2016 election cycle.) Then in November, as Corsi’s legal troubles worsened, Infowars turned on him, with Stone and Infowars head Alex Jones using the outlet to viciously attack Corsi as a traitor.

    To read more about the dispute between Corsi and Infowars, how Infowars suggested Corsi testify before Mueller’s grand jury, Infowars’ subsequent attacks, and how Stone and Corsi garnered Mueller’s attention in the first place, click here.

    The latest flare-up in the Infowars-Corsi dispute occurred on January 18, when Infowars.com published an article stating, “The Washington Post is set to publish a false story claiming that Jerome Corsi was hired by Infowars at the behest of Roger Stone as part of a ‘hush money’ operation and that this is a line of inquiry for the Mueller investigation into Russian collusion.” The Infowars article claimed that the outlet fired Corsi in June 2018 for poor performance and gave him six months of severance pay.

    Corsi subsequently also claimed that the money he was receiving from Infowars wasn’t a hush payment, though he alleged that he was fired just last week. Corsi’s claims came via a legal filing in which he added The Washington Post as an additional defendant in a lawsuit he filed in December against Mueller and various federal agencies; he is claiming Mueller is violating his Fourth Amendment rights and attempting to force him to lie about Trump. (Corsi is being represented in the lawsuit by crackpot attorney Larry Klayman.)

    In Corsi’s January 21 amended complaint, he says a Washington Post reporter called “to question him about information that Defendant WaPo had obtained from unspecified sources in the Office of the Special Counsel that Defendant Mueller was investigating monthly payments, which were characterized falsely and maliciously published as hush payments to Dr. Corsi so he would not provide ‘incriminating evidence,’ about Alex Jones, InfoWars and Roger Stone before Defendant Mueller and the grand jury.”

    Corsi’s complaint alleges that rather than being hush money, the payments were legitimate, but that after the Post began investigating them, “the very next day Plaintiff Corsi learned from [Alex Jones’ father and Infowars employee] Dr. David Jones that he was being terminated and would no longer be receiving $15,000 per month.” Corsi’s claim that he was terminated only last week is at odds with Infowars’ claim he was fired in June 2018 and was then paid a severance:

    The complaint goes on to allege that the defendants -- The Washington Post, Mueller, the Department of Justice, the FBI, the NSA, and the CIA -- are attempting to bankrupt Corsi in order to force him into giving false testimony to Mueller’s team:
     

    In November, Corsi shared a plea agreement from Mueller’s office that would have had Corsi plead guilty to lying to the FBI while being questioned about the WikiLeaks matter. Corsi said he rejected the agreement. On January 15, it was reported that several Corsi associates, including his stepson, had also been subpoenaed by Mueller’s team.

    Corsi, Stone, and Alex Jones are all inveterate liars and conspiracy theorists, so it is difficult to evaluate the veracity of their claims in the ongoing dispute, but the fact that Corsi is alleging in federal court that Mueller is investigating Infowars payments is an eye-popping development.

  • In an apparent bid to protect Roger Stone, Infowars has been waging a war on former employee Jerome Corsi

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Alex Jones’ Infowars outlet is waging a public relations campaign against its own former Washington, D.C., bureau chief Jerome Corsi, who appears to be increasingly entangled in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

    After reports surfaced on September 5 that Corsi had been subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury convened by Mueller, Infowars used its website and social media account to signal how Corsi should testify. The since-suspended Infowars Twitter account tweeted on September 5, “Want to know what former InfoWars DC bureau Cheif (sic) Jerry Corsi will tell Mueller’s grand jury?” The tweet linked a 2017 Infowars article authored by Corsi that attempted to defend Donald Trump confidant and Infowars host Roger Stone -- who is also embroiled in the Mueller investigation -- against accusations that Stone was involved in the release of emails that Russian intelligence officers stole from Clinton campaign chair John Podesta. The implicit suggestion of the tweet was that Corsi, a former Infowars employee, should give testimony absolving Stone, a current Infowars employee, of any wrongdoing.

    The Infowars tweet presaging Corsi’s testimony echoed a tactic employed by President Donald Trump during Mueller’s investigation. On December 3, Trump tweeted: “‘I will never testify against Trump.’ This statement was recently made by Roger Stone, essentially stating that he will not be forced by a rogue and out of control prosecutor to make up lies and stories about ‘President Trump.’ Nice to know that some people still have ‘guts!’”

    Trump’s public coercion of Stone raised questions about whether the tweet constituted criminal witness tampering.

    Later, as Corsi’s legal woes increased -- beginning in November when Corsi said he expected to be indicted -- Infowars turned on him and labeled him a traitor, with Stone driving the majority of attacks.

    In evaluating the conflict between Infowars and Corsi, it’s hard to know whose claims about the hacked emails to believe -- if any -- because the major players are all inveterate liars. But it's clear that after trying to play nice with Corsi, Infowars has taken out its knives.

    How Corsi and Stone got tangled in Mueller's investigation

    Corsi and Stone are both reportedly under investigation by Mueller’s team for the same reason. On October 7, 2016, WikiLeaks released emails stolen from Podesta just hours after news broke of a 2005 recording in which Trump bragged about sexually assaulting women. According to U.S. intelligence agencies, the emails were hacked by individuals working on behalf of the Kremlin. Part of Mueller’s investigation is to determine if Trump associates colluded with Russia, and Corsi and Stone’s contacts with WikiLeaks in 2016 have brought them both under scrutiny. Stone, who testified about WikiLeaks before a closed session of the House Intelligence Committee in September 2017, has denied having knowledge of the hacked emails before they were released, but he has also offered an ever-changing story in public remarks about what happened in 2016. Corsi is under investigation because Mueller reportedly has emails suggesting that he served as an intermediary between Stone and Wikileaks.

    Background: Jerome Corsi and Infowars

    Corsi, a conspiracy theorist best known for driving the “birther” smear about President Barack Obama that Trump later championed, joined Infowars as the outlet’s Washington, D.C., bureau chief on January 30, 2017. Corsi had spent years working at conspiracy website WND, and he was friendly with Infowars prior to joining the outlet. (For example, a July 2015 Infowars article references an appearance Corsi made on The Alex Jones Show in support of then-candidate Trump.)

    Corsi’s role with Infowars helped the fringe outlet gain additional access within the Trump administration. In May 2017, Infowars announced that Corsi had been granted temporary credentials to attend press briefings at the White House, and controversy quickly erupted because of the outlet’s history of pushing conspiracy theories about the 2012 Sandy Hook mass shooting and numerous other tragedies. Sure enough, on May 22, 2017, Corsi broadcast live from an empty James S. Brady Press Briefing Room and discussed his hopes of obtaining a permanent pass. Infowars founder Alex Jones, clearly pleased with the imbroglio, told his listeners that the press pass wasn’t that important because “most of the meetings don’t happen at briefings, they happen at dinners, like he was at one with the vice president a few nights ago,” adding, “Oop, maybe I’m not supposed to say that.”

    In March 2018, when Corsi still worked at Infowars, he threw a major on-air tantrum about Mueller. Corsi was upset about reports that the FBI had recently detained and questioned Ted Malloch at the direction of Mueller’s team. Malloch, an informal Trump campaign adviser and frequent Infowars guest, was reportedly questioned about Stone and about WikiLeaks’ release of the hacked Podesta emails. (When Malloch was detained, Infowars called him an “Infowars Correspondent” in an article.)   

    Corsi repeatedly tweeted about the detention on March 28 and 29, writing that he was going to “POUND” Mueller, claiming, “MUELLER in PANIC MODE grabs Ted Malloc (sic),” and writing that he was joining an “EMERGENCY BROADCAST” on Infowars to talk about the detention. In an appearance on the March 29 broadcast of The Alex Jones Show, Corsi challenged Mueller to a fistfight, saying, “I'm fed up with this. I want to say to Mueller, let's go out in the backyard of the Justice Department. You got to have some -- let's duke it out. I mean, you want to behave like a thug? … Well this is what you deserve.”

    Perhaps it was Corsi who was in “PANIC MODE.” In November, it was revealed that Mueller is in possession of emails that suggest Corsi and Stone knew that WikiLeaks had Podesta’s stolen emails before they were released. Stone emailed Corsi in 2016 telling him to “get to” WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, and Corsi forwarded the message to Malloch before later reporting back to Stone to share what he said Assange’s future plans were.

    A January 17 Infowars article claimed that Corsi was dismissed by the outlet in June 2018 “because of his failure to adequately establish a Washington bureau, his failure to maintain White House press credentials, and his generally poor work performance.” The article further claimed that “The Washington Post is set to publish a false story claiming that Jerome Corsi was hired by Infowars at the behest of Roger Stone as part of a ‘hush money’ operation and that this is a line of inquiry for the Mueller investigation into Russian collusion.”

    Did Infowars attempt to influence Corsi’s testimony before Mueller’s grand jury?

    Infowars’ response to the September 5 report that Corsi had been compelled to testify could easily be interpreted as an attempt to influence Corsi’s dealings with Mueller’s team. The since-suspended Infowars Twitter account tweeted on September 5:

    The tweet linked to an Infowars.com article authored by Corsi and published in March 2017, which denied that Stone had anything to do with WikiLeaks’ release of hacked emails.

    Then on September 12, Infowars published a video with the headline “What Will Jerome Corsi Tell Mueller’s Grand Jury?” that teased Stone’s appearance with “Alex Jones live via Skype to discuss former Infowars Bureau Chief Dr. Jerome Corsi’s upcoming testimony before Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s grand jury.” In the video, both Jones and Stone claimed that they had not spoken to Corsi since Mueller subpoenaed him. Stone went on to say that if Corsi testified “truthfully,” it would be “entirely exculpatory” for him “because you see it was Dr. Corsi who educated me to the fact that Tony Podesta along with his brother John were deeply involved in Ukraine.” Stone’s reference to Podesta and Ukraine is an attempt to argue that his infamous August 2016 tweet that “it will soon the Podesta’s time in the barrel” was not a reference to having foreknowledge of the hacked emails, but instead referred to a different matter. As with the September 5 Infowars tweet, the article and video appear to pressure Corsi to testify in a certain way about Stone.

    Infowars turns on Corsi

    As Corsi’s legal troubles worsened over the following months -- on November 26, Corsi said he would reject a plea deal from Mueller, and in January, it was reported that several Corsi associates, including his stepson, had also been subpoenaed -- Infowars turned on its former Washington, D.C., bureau chief. A search of Infowars.com shows headlines about Corsi began to take on a more negative tone in November (i.e., “Explosive! Roger Stone Responds To Corsi’s Flip-Flop Concerning Working With Assange”).

    In January, Infowars has turned up the heat even more. On January 2, it published an article with the headline “Roger Stone Believes Jerome Corsi Works for Mueller,” and on January 17, it posted an article titled “Roger Stone Explains His Beef With Jerome Corsi and Larry Klayman.” The outlet also promoted a video where “Roger Stone calls out Jerome Corsi for lying about fabricating a cover story together to hide foreknowledge of Wikileaks publishing of the Podesta emails.”

    Here’s a list of all the Infowars headlines and subheads mentioning Corsi since September:

    September 2018

    [9/5/18]

    [9/12/18]

    November 2018

    [11/26/18]

    [11/27/18]

    [11/27/18]

    [11/27/18]

    [11/28/18]

    [11/28/18]

    [11/29/18]

    [11/30/18]

    January 2019

    [1/2/19]

    [1/17/19]

    Infowars broadcasts have followed a similar pattern; the January 2 broadcast of The Alex Jones Show was advertised with the tagline: “Joining today’s broadcast is Roger Stone breaking down what he calls the ‘treachery’ of Dr. Jerome Corsi.”

    Jones set up Stone’s appearance by making a number of very personal attacks on his former employee Corsi. He began by claiming that “I don’t go after Corsi with any pleasure” before saying that he fired Corsi after encountering him at a Washington, D.C., restaurant “drunk off his ass.” Jones also said that Corsi started “talking massive crap about me, Roger, everybody” at the restaurant, that Corsi is a “lunatic,” that he is “like fruit, his expiration date has hit,” and that he has no respect for Corsi.

    For his part, Stone said that Corsi “was perfectly willing to bear false witness against me on multiple points that are complete fabrications.” Jones ended the segment with a rant, screaming, “I will not sit there and watch some piece of crap Russian agent like Mueller accuse [Stone] and me of being goddamn -- I said I wouldn’t do it, lord, I apologize -- accuse me of something I haven’t done. I’m sick of it.”

    Update (1/22/19): Corsi sued The Washington Post on January 21 and alleged in a civil complaint that he had remained on the Infowars payroll until January 18, earning $15,000 a month. He claims that the payments were terminated after a Washington Post reporter made inquiries about them at Infowars.

  • Updated: A guide to discredited conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi

    ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    Special prosecutor Robert Mueller has reportedly been questioning right-wing writer and conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi as part of his Russia investigation. Corsi has a long history of producing false research, and he was instrumental in pushing the lie that former President Barack Obama supposedly has a fake birth certificate.

  • A list of the right-wing amplifiers of the QAnon conspiracy theory

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G. , NATALIE MARTINEZ, TALIA LAVIN & ALEX KAPLAN

    While the unhinged conspiracy theory known as “QAnon,” or “The Storm,” has been gaining traction online among President Donald Trump’s supporters since October 2017, it was Tuesday night when it finally jumped to the mainstream in the form of shirts and signs that were prominently visible at a Trump campaign rally in Tampa, FL. Supporters of QAnon believe “a high-level government insider with Q clearance” is anonymously posting clues informing the public of Trump’s master plan to undermine the “deep state” and dismantle pedophilia rings supposedly linked to powerful celebrities and politicians.

    While the theory has its murky origins on 4chan and 8chan -- message boards best known for serving as the source of hoaxes and organized harassment campaigns -- many prominent right-wing figures, websites, and social media accounts have helped amplify QAnon. And the consequences of its unfettered growth could be dangerous. A man is facing terrorism charges in Arizona for using an armored vehicle to stop traffic on a bridge near the Hoover Dam with demands and letters clearly inspired by QAanon. Similarly, “Pizzagate,” a pedophilia-focused conspiracy theory fueled by Trump supporters during the 2016 presidential election, inspired a man to open fire inside a Washington, D.C., pizzeria.

    Below is a growing list of right-wing media figures, politicians, websites, and social media accounts that have carelessly amplified QAnon by either evangelizing its tenets to their followers or neutrally presenting the conspiracy theory through their influential platforms without clarifying to their audiences that the whole thing is a baseless canard.

    Amplifiers include:

    Right-wing media figures

    Alex Jones, founder of conspiracy theory site Infowars

    Jones went all in on QAnon, even claiming “the White House directly asked” Infowars correspondent Jerome Corsi to be on the “8chan beat” covering QAnon. After QAnon followers began criticizing Corsi and Jones’ opportunistic hijacking of the conspiracy theory, Jones attempted to backpedal his initial enthusiasm, justifying his distancing by claiming that the identity of the anonymous poster who goes by Q had been “compromised.”

    Mike Tokes, co-founder of NewRightUS

    Rodney Howard-Browne, right-wing Christian preacher and evangelist

    James Woods, actor

    Roseanne Barr, actress

    As documented by The Daily Beast’s Will Sommer, Barr was among QAnon’s early high-profile supporters. Barr often tweets about the conspiracy theory and has also focused on its pedophilia-related offshoot known as “Pedogate” (derived from Pizzagate) and she recently asked a skeptical follower “what exactly” about Q “is doofus”?

    Roger Stone, notorious right-wing dirty trickster

    Stone promoted a QAnon video on his Facebook page.

    Curt Schilling, former baseball player and Breitbart podcast host

    Schilling has repeatedly tweeted about QAnon, claiming to be “proud” to provide a platform to amplify the conspiracy theory, which he did during his Breitbart show, The Curt Schilling Podcast.

    Jerome Corsi, Infowars correspondent and prominent “birther” conspiracy theorist

    Corsi repeatedly amplified QAnon, both from his platform at Infowars and from his Twitter account. Infowars claimed that Corsi was “working directly” with the moderators of 8chan’s The Storm forum.

    Sean Hannity, Fox News host

    On January 9, Fox’s Sean Hannity tweeted from his account that his followers should “watch @wikileaks closely! Tick tock.” The tweet quoted another tweet that claimed that “out of nowhere, Ecuador suddenly offers to mediate a resolution for #JulianAssange,” with the hashtag “#QAnon.”

    Bill Mitchell, Trump sycophant and host of Your Voice America

    Jack Posobiec, One America News Network correspondent and prominent pusher of the Pizzagate conspiracy theory

    While Posobiec has referred to the conspiracy theory in neutral terms, it isn’t clear if his hundreds of thousands of Twitter followers know how he feels about it. Is he serious about the conspiracy theory or just trying to surf its popularity while remaining neutral to claim plausible deniability when inevitably, the consequences become dangerous?

    Liz Crokin, pro-Trump troll and conspiracy theorist

    Pro-Trump troll and self-appointed “citizen journalist” Liz Crokin has expanded on the QAnon conspiracy theory to speculate that “The Storm” includes a crackdown on elite pedophiles. Crokin has gone on to accuse model Chrissy Teigen and her husband, singer John Legend, of pedophilia. Recently, she also claimed John F. Kennedy Jr. had faked his death and is behind the Q posts.

    Charlie Kirk, executive director of Turning Point USA

    On a now-deleted tweet, Kirk spread bogus statistics that seemingly originated in the QAnon universe.

    Mike Cernovich, pro-Trump troll and notorious Pizzagate pusher

    Like Posobiec, Cernovich has made neutral mentions of the conspiracy theory on his Twitter account without clarifying to his followers that it’s baseless.

    Political figures

    Eric Trump, son of President Trump

    Eric Trump liked a tweet of a slogan linked to the QAnon conspiracy theory.

    The official Twitter account for the Hillsborough County Republican Executive Committee

    On July 4, a Twitter account that identifies itself as belonging to the Hillsborough County Republican Executive Committee of Florida tweeted out (and later deleted) a YouTube explanatory video of QAnon.

    Paul Nehlen, candidate in the Republican primary for Wisconsin’s 1st congressional district

    Social media accounts

    Facebook

    RT America

    Conservative Post

    The American Patriot

    National Conservative News Network Canada

    YouTube: Channels extensively covering Q

    The following are channels YouTube has allowed to proliferate that cover and interpret every post Q signs (ordered by number of subscribers):

    Websites

    YourNewsWire

    Fake news site YourNewsWire took the QAnon pedophile conspiracy theory to Facebook with baseless accusations targeting celebrities Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg.

    The Blacksphere

    Freedom Outpost

    The Trump Times

    The Deplorable Army

    Neon Nettle

    From an archived version of a since-deleted post that appeared on Neon Nettle, a fake news site that has also pushed the conspiracy theory on Twitter:

    WorldTruth.TV

    Neon Revolt

    The site features a tag devoted to QAnon-related content.

    Exopolitics.org

  • How a fake news lie blaming China instead of Russia for election hacking went viral

    Far-right media figures pushed the claim, and multiple radio stations ran with it

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

    A made-up story claiming that former FBI attorney Lisa Page told Congress that China, not Russia, was responsible for hacking during the 2016 election spread throughout far-right online spaces and fake news sites and onto radio. Page’s attorney has rebutted the claim.

    True Pundit is a site known for posting false stories and pushing Pizzagate. On July 17, the site wrote that Page said, in “classified House testimony,” that there is secret evidence that “China hacked [Hillary Clinton’s] top secret emails.”

    There is no evidence that Clinton’s emails were ever hacked. Rather, emails account of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, and the networks of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) were all hacked. A recent indictment from special counsel Robert Mueller linked 12 Russian military officers to the hacks of the DNC and DCCC.

    Furthermore, Page’s attorney, Amy Jeffress, told FactCheck.org that the story was “completely false,” adding that Page, in “nearly ten hours of testimony before the Committees, … did not say a single word about China hacking the DNC server, and this conspiracy theory about the FBI instructing her to cover up such a story is nonsense.” Jeffress also said Page’s testimony confirmed the intelligence community’s analysis that Russia interfered in the 2016 election.

    Nonetheless, True Pundit’s article spread throughout far-right media, with the following sites and actors playing a role:

    Multiple radio hosts subsequently shared True Pundit’s article on air:

    • On Tennessee talk station WWTN-FM, a host said it showed Page “getting ready to turn state’s evidence” against government officials. Before he read out True Pundit’s article, he told his listeners, “You make a determination as to whether this is accurate or not.”

    • On California talk station KNZR-FM, hosts called the article “earth-shattering” and “huge.”

    • On Florida talk station WEBY-AM, a host said it showed that Page was “a woman scorned” and that Clinton had been “setting up the narrative” about Russian interference.

    • On Louisiana talk station WBRP-FM’s Fletch Nation, a host suggested that the claim explained Trump’s July 17 statement that “other people” besides Russia could have interfered in the election.

    • And on Maryland talk station WCBM-AM, a host directly cited YourNewsWire while saying that Page said “it was the Chinese that hacked the DNC server and not the Russians,” which he added “makes sense to me.”

  • Pro-Trump media use FBI IG report to bring back Pizzagate

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Far-right media figures, message boards, and fake news sites are using the Department of Justice inspector general report on the Hillary Clinton email probe to bring back the debunked Pizzagate conspiracy theory. The false claim reviving the conspiracy theory has since made its way to some radio stations, where the hosts have entertained it as real.

    On June 14, the Justice Department’s inspector general released the findings of his review into how the FBI handled the probe into former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server. The report criticized the handling of the probe and former FBI Director James Comey’s conduct, but it did not disagree with the agency’s decision to not call for charges against Clinton.

    Since the report was released, far-right message boards and figures and fake news sites have falsely claimed that two pages in the report proved that Clinton was involved in child sex trafficking because they had the phrases “Hillary Clinton & Foundation,” “Crime Against Children,” and “sexual exploitation of children” mentioned, even though there is no indication that the phrases are related in the report. The claim is a clear reference to the debunked conspiracy theory known as Pizzagate, which claimed that Clinton was using a Washington, D.C. pizzeria as a front for a peodphila ring and which eventually caused a gunman to open fire inside that restaurant. Some of those using the report to push that false claim played a major role in initially spreading the conspiracy theory in 2016.

    True Pundit -- a dubious site known for numerous false stories that counts Donald Trump Jr. as a fan and played a major role in spreading Pizzagate -- published a piece with the headline “IG Report Confirms True Pundit BOMBSHELL on Hillary’s Emails; Details Comey Was Briefed on Clinton-Linked ‘Sex Crimes Against Children’ Evidence on Weiner Laptop.” The article claimed the report vindicated the site’s November 2016 piece that spread the hoax (former national security adviser Michael Flynn shared that piece on Twitter in 2016). True Pundit’s latest piece has been promoted on social media by various people including prominent conspiracy theorist Liz Crokin, with the hashtags “Pizzagate” and “QAnon”; Matt Crouch, a far-right figure who is being sued by the former family spokesperson of slain Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich; Marco Gutierrez, who ran “Latinos for Trump” during the 2016 campaign and is a former Republican congressional candidate; veteran and author Boone Cutler; and Infowars’ Jerome Corsi, despite Infowars previously apologizing for spreading Pizzagate. The article was also promoted on the Pizzagate forum of far-right message board Voat.

    YourNewsWire, a fake news site that also prominently pushed Pizzagate in 2016, published a piece headlined “IG Report: Hillary Clinton Ran Child Sex Ring,” which was spread by at least one YouTube video that had ads, meaning the account was able to make money off of the fake story. Another fake news site, Neon Nettle, also published a piece headlined “IG Report: Hillary Clinton Has Committed 'Sexual Crimes Against Children,'” which was shared in Facebook groups dedicated to Pizzagate and “QAnon” conspiracy theories. Another fake news site, Conservative Daily Post, also claimed the report “confirms Clinton links to ‘crime against children.’” Those stories carried ads, meaning they were making money off of the false claim.

    Additionally, the false claim has been spreading on a “QAnon” subreddit, where it was cited as proof that “Pedogate is real,” and 4chan's “politically incorrect” message board (common known as /pol/). Followers of the “QAnon” conspiracy theory on Twitter also shared it, some of whom also connected it to Pizzagate. Radio host and white nationalist Hal Turner also posted it on his website.

    The false claim also made its way from the internet to some radio stations, where hosts entertained it as real. On California talk station KSCO-AM, hosts responded to a caller pushing it by saying, “That hasn’t been discussed in the mainstream media,” and that “all of that is starting to maybe surface.” The hosts told the caller that he had made a “tremendous contribution.” The caller urged the hosts to check out Before It’s News, a site that also pushed Pizzagate, to which one of the hosts said she knew the site and would “check it out.” On Texas talk station KCRS-AM, hosts also responded to a caller pushing it by saying, “Oh, and they’re not going to say anything about that,” later adding that the IG report was “damning for FBI, for liberals, for so many folks” due in part to “saying something about the Clinton Foundation and how they were abusing children.” And on Massachusetts talk station WRKO-AM, a host responded to a caller saying the IG report showed “evidence that the Clinton Foundation committed crimes against children” by saying the caller was “on fire.”

  • 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.

  • USA Today published an op-ed from a conspiracy theorist who works for Alex Jones

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    USA Today published an op-ed by Jerome Corsi that argued for arming more teachers in schools. No serious outlet should elevate Corsi's opinion: He is a widely discredited writer who has pushed countless conspiracy theories, including "Pizzagate" and about former President Barack Obama's birth certificate. He now works for Alex Jones, who has pushed toxic and false conspiracy theories about school shootings in Newtown, CT, and Parkland, FL.

    USA Today published Corsi’s “opposing view” op-ed in which he argued that “in cases where teachers and school staff are predisposed to be comfortable with concealed carry, as could well be the case with military veterans or retired law enforcement who make education their second career, allowing them the right to carry weapons provides the possibility of a near instant response.” The op-ed appeared both online and in the paper's U.S. print edition (via PressReader). In reality, there’s no evidence that arming school teachers would deter school shootings.

    Corsi has no credibility because of his long history of pushing smears and conspiracy theories -- exactly why a national publication like USA Today should have avoided him. 

    Corsi is the head of the Washington, D.C., bureau for Alex Jones’ Infowars outlet. Infowars and Jones have repeatedly pushed conspiracy theories about mass shootings, including those at Sandy Hook Elementary School and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Family members of people who died in that shooting have heavily criticized Jones and those who have helped legitimize him.

    Corsi’s outlet has also pushed numerous other conspiracy theories, including “Pizzagate,” and about 9/11 and the Oklahoma City bombing.

    Corsi’s prior books include Where's The Birth Certificate?: The Case That Barack Obama Is Not Eligible To Be President, Unfit for Command -- which Corsi co-wrote and included attacks on then-presidential candidate John Kerry’s war record -- and Hunting Hitler, which claimed that Hitler escaped Germany with American help.

    Corsi was a leading figure in the birther movement. He claimed that Obama posted a “false, fake birth certificate” on his website and he should be impeached because of his supposedly doctored birth certificate. He has also repeatedly pushed conspiracy theories claiming that Obama and his family lied about the identity of the former president’s “real” father.

    Corsi claimed that the recent accident that involved a train carrying Republican members of Congress was a “false flag terror attack.”

    Corsi pushed an element of the Pizzagate conspiracy theory by claiming that Tony and John Podesta are tied to the “Madeleine McCann child abduction case.” From a previous piece about Corsi: 

    The New York Times wrote of fake Pizzagate rumors that “Another part of the conspiracy theory was a supposed link between the Podesta brothers and the child abduction case of Madeleine McCann on May 3, 2007. Two e-fit (electronic facial identification technique) photos released by British detectives were repeatedly used as evidence. However, the two e-fits were based on descriptions of a single suspect by two witnesses, not two different suspects, a crucial detail that was left out. According to The Guardian, the witnesses described the man as ‘white, aged between 20 and 40, with short brown hair, of medium build, medium height and clean shaven.’ In 2007, Tony Podesta was 64 and John Podesta was 58.” Corsi tweeted in November:

    Corsi has fully embraced “The Storm” conspiracy theory, which claims that an anonymous government insider known as “Q” or “QAnon” has been posting on message boards to, as New York’s Paris Martineau wrote, “covertly inform the public about POTUS’s master plan to stage a countercoup against members of the deep state. It was, in short, absolutely insane.”

    Corsi has pushed numerous other conspiracy theories and easily debunkable claims.

    Right Wing Watch’s Jared Holt, who previously worked at Media Matters, documented numerous other conspiracy theories from Corsi and noted that USA Today’s short bio for Corsi omitted his discrediting employment history:

    What this short bio of Corsi conveniently omits, however, is Corsi’s employment with an outlet poised to be banned from YouTube after smearing Parkland shooting survivors as “crisis actors” and which achieved national infamy for conspiracy theories surrounding the mass shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school. USA Today also fails to mention Corsi’s extensive history of making insane claims as a “journalist” with no proof whatsoever. Like his employer, Corsi has received a personal suspension from live streaming on YouTube and is one strike away from being banned for his reckless creation and promotion of conspiracy theories.

    UPDATE: In a statement sent to outlets including Media Matters, Editorial Page Editor Bill Sternberg wrote: “USA TODAY’s Opposing View shows readers more than one point of view on an issue. Our signature debate format reinforces our reputation for fairness, which is one of our core values. Today’s Opposing View issue and author have caused much debate and feedback. The Opposing View on arming teachers has been updated with more information about author Jerome R. Corsi.”

    The online version of Corsi’s op-ed now includes the added sentence in his bio: “He heads the Washington bureau of Alex Jones' InfoWars.”

  • How a fake story about Uranium One and a Russian plane crash spread from message boards to talk radio

    Followers of "The Storm" conspiracy theory pushed a lie and it spread like wildfire on Twitter, 4chan, Reddit, YouTube, fake news websites, and talk radio

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    A false claim suggesting that a Russian plane crash was linked to the Uranium One conspiracy theory and the Christopher Steele Trump/Russia dossier spread from followers of a 4chan and 8chan-based conspiracy theory to fake news sites and on to multiple talk radio stations.

    On February 11, a plane carrying 71 people crashed near Moscow, killing everyone on board. Investigators believe that “the pilots' failure to activate heating for pressure measurement equipment” may have resulted in flawed speed data, leading to the crash.

    Following the plane crash, multiple Twitter accounts started speculating about the accident using the hashtag #QAnon, a reference to a conspiracy theory known as “The Storm” that originated on 4chan and 8chan message boards late last year. The conspiracy theory claims that a person known as “Q,” who claims to be a “high-level government insider” has been writing posts, or “crumbs,” to “covertly inform the public about POTUS’s master plan to stage a countercoup against members of the deep state.”

    As BuzzFeed News noted, several of these Twitter users falsely claimed that two specific men were on the plane when it crashed, one allegedly linked to Uranium One and one allegedly linked to the dossier.

    According to the theory, a man named Vyacheslav Ivanov who was the CFO of Russia’s nuclear energy company Rosatom was on the plane. Rosatom has been linked to the Uranium One conspiracy theory, a thoroughly debunked story which alleges that then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton approved the sale of uranium to a Russian company in exchange for donations to the Clinton Foundation. There was, in fact, a Vyacheslav Ivanov on the plane, but he was not the same man as the Vyacheslav Ivanov who formerly worked at Rosatom (and who was not the CFO there).

    Twitter followers of The Storm also claimed that a man named Sergei Millian, a possible source behind the dossier, was killed on the plane. There was no Sergei Millian on the passenger list.

    Nonetheless, the conspiracy theory spread:

    • On 4chan's “politically incorrect” message board (commonly referred to as /pol/), users referred to tweets that directly cited 4chan posts from “Q” to claim the crash was “a hit” on Ivanov.

    • Multiple YouTube videos also popped up that directly cited QAnon to push the claim, with one saying “Q put out” “a clue” linking the event to Uranium One.

    • Reddit users cited the YouTube videos on the subreddit The_Donald and on another subreddit dedicated to conspiracy theories, both of which had already been trying to connect the crash to Uranium One.

    Another subreddit called “CBTS” (Calm Before The Storm), which is established around The Storm conspiracy theory, also pushed the false claim.

    Multiple highly dubious websites also began pushing the new conspiracy theory. Some websites and figures who pushed the claim, such as Puppet String News and white nationalist Hal Turner (who previously published a made-up story about Hurricane Irma), did not reference The Storm. But fake news website Neon Nettle cited a tweet that referenced The Storm conspiracy theory. Fake news website YourNewsWire also published multiple pieces pushing the false claim.

    Jerome Corsi of conspiracy theory website Infowars subsequently picked up the claim, likely thanks to the followers of The Storm. Corsi, who Infowars had announced in January would be tracking The Storm, said that the allegation had “broke earlier this morning” and “QAnon picked up on it very quickly.” Corsi’s claim was in turn shared on Reddit.

    The conspiracy theory then moved past the fringes of the internet into more mainstream venues. Multiple talk radio stations picked up the claim on January 12. A conservative New Hampshire host on WNTK-FM, Keith Hanson, asked another person on the air if he had “heard about” the Ivanov allegation that was “showing up on certain websites” and that it “wouldn’t surprise” him if the claim was accurate, later adding that although the claim was “not vetted,” “a number of people … have sent me little snippets on this thing,” so he wanted to share it. A conservative South Carolina host on WYRD-FM, Bob McLain, also said that the crash “apparently killed a CFO of Uranium One.” On February 13, a conservative host on New York’s WNYM-AM, Joe Piscopo (who used to be a cast member on Saturday Night Live), supported a caller citing “the passenger manifest that I’ve seen online” before a co-host jumped in to note that Corsi reported the claim and it had been “completely discredited.” And on the same day, conservative North Dakota host Dennis Lindahl on KTGO-AM’s The Morning Lowdown said there were “conversations on the backchannels that I’m reading that a few executives that had interaction on Uranium One were on that plane.”

    The speed with which the false claim has spread shows the potency of The Storm conspiracy theory, which has already been invoked to push false claims around all kinds of events, such as the fire at Trump Tower in early January and a fire at the estate of Bill and Hillary Clinton that same month. Even if people pushing the false narrative around the plane crash don’t mention The Storm conspiracy theory directly, the content of their claims show that the conspiracy theory’s followers are breaking through the internet’s fringes into more mainstream discourse.