Mike Cernovich | Media Matters for America

Mike Cernovich

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  • The far-right is using the tragic Notre Dame Cathedral fire to push conspiracy theories and bigotry

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN & CRISTINA LóPEZ G.


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    As a fire consumed the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, far-right figures took to social media platforms and message boards to spread misinformation and baseless claims, such as speculating that the fire was connected to terrorism or suggesting that Muslims and ISIS were linked to the tragedy.

    As reported by The New York Times, a spokesperson for the cathedral said the fire’s cause is not yet known, and prosecutors have since ruled out arson. And yet far-right narratives and speculation have already influenced automated suggestions on social media platforms like YouTube, which scrambled as the news was breaking to contain auto-generated text linking content about the cathedral fire to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

    Here are some examples of the far-right using the Notre Dame fire to spread bigotry, misinformation, conspiracy theories, and other baseless claims on tech platforms and elsewhere:

    A popular conspiracy theorist known as Partisangirl speculated that French President Emmanuel Macron had “probably set fire to Notre Dame” as a way to deal with recent protests:

    Infowars’ Paul Joseph Watson spread a claim based on a since-deleted tweet that cited a Notre Dame Cathedral worker saying “the blaze was deliberately set":

    White nationalist Faith Goldy appeared to suggest that the fire was possible retaliation for the mosque shootings in New Zealand last month in which 50 Muslims were murdered:

    Jim Hoft’s The Gateway Pundit published a “flashback” to ISIS claims that the 2015 terrorist attack in a Paris concert house was “just the beginning”:

    A thread in Reddit’s pro-Trump forum “r/The_Donald” suggested Islam was to blame for the tragedy:

    Anti-Muslim extremist group leader Frank Gaffney baselessly suggested that the fire was part of a “Sharia-supremacist assault on Christianity.”

    Anti-Muslim blog Jihad Watch originally wrongly implied a Muslim woman arrested for an attempted car bombing was related to the attack (it later noted it was a separate story); the baseless suggestion was picked up by The Gateway Pundit and anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist Laura Loomer.

    Fox guest host Mark Steyn mentioned terrorist attacks by Muslims while discussing the fire and suggested it showed the decline of Christianity in Europe.

    Loomer, fellow anti-Muslim bigot Pamela Geller, and others on social media suggested a connection between the fire and two men smiling near it, with Geller writing, “Muslims laugh as blaze destroys Notre Dame.”

    Far-right conspiracy theorists Mike Cernovich, Stefan Molyneux, and James Woods claimed the fire meant “the West has fallen,” that it showed the “general decline in IQ throughout the West,” or that it showed “the great and glorious history of Christianity … being eradicated from the face of the ‘new’ Europe.”

    TheBlaze host Glenn Beck said that if the fire “was started by Islamists, I don't think you'll find out about it.”

    Major Twitter accounts pushing the QAnon conspiracy theory also suggested the fire was set deliberately, including Educating Liberals (run by Dylan Wheeler), an account the president's son Donald Trump Jr. follows.

    Anonymous users on far-right message boards on 4chan and 8chan blamed Muslims, suggested it was a false flag, and claimed it was retaliation from “the deep state.”

  • To attempt to make sense of QAnon, Politico turned to Pizzagate conspiracy theorists

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G.


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    In what seemed like an attempt to demonstrate the rise of the QAnon conspiracy theory movement within the right-wing establishment, Politico tweeted out a video about QAnon “true believers” filmed at the most recent Conservative Political Action Conference. Unfortunately, the outlet missed an opportunity to truly explain the oversized impact that weaponized misinformation can have over entire political movements by relying on two notorious far-right conspiracy theorists for their expertise.

    The 8chan-originated conspiracy theory that developed around anonymous posts signed by “Q,” an anonymous poster claiming to hold a high security clearance, holds that there is a behind-the-scenes scenario in which President Donald Trump is kneecapping a ring of powerful pedophiles connected to “the deep state.” The theory -- and the movement of followers it has inspired -- deserves media coverage and expert analysis to explain its influence on right-wing politics. But Politico interviewed far-right conspiracy theorists Jack Posobiec and Mike Cernovich to make sense of QAnon, taking their opinions at face value, ignoring their own involvement in uncritically amplifying the conspiracy theory during its early stages, and downplaying their involvement in promoting the “Pizzagate” conspiracy theory by noting just that they have been criticized for pushing the theory, rather than stating what they did to promote it.

    Similar to QAnon, “Pizzagate” is a conspiracy theory that smeared powerful Democratic figures -- in Pizzagate’s case by accusing them of hiding a child trafficking network behind a Washington, D.C., pizzeria. It turned dangerous (as QAnon could) after a man claiming he wanted to “self-investigate” opened fire with a rifle inside the restaurant. Before that, Cernovich had told his audience that “Pizzagate is real” and Posobiec had livestreamed from the D.C. restaurant, speculating that “they have a big secret to hide.”

    Because Posobiec and Cernovich are grifters focused on sustaining their careers (which include publishing books and making films attacking the media), and they have recently made efforts to sanitize their public images and pivot away from the bigoted slurs, misogyny, conspiracy theories, and alliances with extremists that allowed them to grow their platforms during the rise of the MAGA internet. Politico’s decision to feature them talking about a conspiracy theory they played a role in creating -- without mentioning that connection to the audience -- helps them continue rebranding without any accountability.

    QAnon is misinformation being weaponized for political purposes, and it absolutely merits the attention and coverage of political media. But outlets can and must seek the expertise of real journalists and social media experts who understand the conspiratorial right without having been an unrepentant part of it. Don't just give a platform to two known grifters with long histories of weaponizing misinformation themselves.

  • Stone indictment shows coordinated campaign to speculate about Hillary Clinton's health. Here's how right-wing media obliged.

    Blog ››› ››› BRENDAN KARET & NICK FERNANDEZ

    On January 25, federal authorities arrested Trump confidant Roger Stone, charging him with obstruction of an official proceeding, false statements, and witness tampering. In the indictment, prosecutors revealed that Stone had been in contact with former Infowars colleague and fellow conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi, who discussed WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange with Stone and suggested he begin to attack the health of then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton by saying she is “old,” that she has a “bad memory,” and that she has had a “stroke.”

    Shortly after Corsi sent that email to Stone, Trump’s allies in the right-wing fever swamps began pushing conspiracy theories regarding Clinton’s health, suggesting that she suffered from “seizures” or had “brain damage,” among other absurd claims.

    Stone indictment reveals confidant Corsi suggested Stone start attacking Clinton’s health

    Corsi contacted Stone to inform him of "very damaging" information coming about the Clinton campaign, adding that it "would not hurt to start suggesting [Clinton is] old, memory bad, has stroke." According to the indictment against Stone, "Person 1" -- known to be Corsi, according to Corsi’s own legal team -- contacted Stone via email to suggest attacking Clinton's health as a campaign issue, adding that Stone should "start suggesting [Clinton is] old, memory bad, has stroke." From United States of America v. Roger Jason Stone, Jr.:

    [United States of America v. Roger Jason Stone, Jr., accessed 1/25/19; Twitter, 1/25/19]

    Daily Beast: “Jerome Corsi Told Roger Stone WikiLeaks Had Dirt on Hillary’s Health. Then the Attacks Started.” The Daily Beast’s Kelly Weill reported, “Weeks before WikiLeaks released emails in 2016 implying Hillary Clinton’s health was failing, conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi emailed Trump associate Roger Stone about the forthcoming leak.” She also documented how Infowars’ promotion of conspiracy theories about Clinton's health eventually spurred other far-right media figures, including Fox’s Sean Hannity, to do the same. [The Daily Beast, 11/28/18]

    Days after Corsi sent his private advice to Stone, right-wing media boosted claims that Clinton had “brain damage”

    Mike Cernovich claims to offer “Expert Analysis of Hillary Clinton’s Physical and Mental Breakdown.” On August 6, conspiracy theorist Mike Cernovich claimed in his now-defunct blog Danger & Play that “Hillary’s health problems are well-known among the Secret Service.” Referring to a video of her speaking, he wrote, “While still FROZEN, Hillary is rescued by a male Secret Service agent, who reassures her, ‘You’ll be OK.’ Notice how Hillary’s lips are pursed? She has completely frozen, and has lost control of her executive functions/pre-frontal cortex.” From his August 6, 2016, blog post:

    Hillary Clinton recently had a breakdown on TV. The media is of course covering this up rather than having an expert medical panel on to discuss her health. Yet what happened to Hillary was obviously a sign of a head injury and stroke.

    When a protester appears, Hillary freezes. In psychology you learn that the flight-or-fight response is a myth. A stressful situation trigger a fight, flight, or freeze response.

    “Freeze” is what we mean by saying someone has a “deer in the head lights look.” A prey animal freezes when it senses danger it cannot overcome and thus does not risk running away from. By freezing the deer hopes to not be seen. [Danger & Play, 8/6/16]

    Gateway Pundit: “Expert Analysis finds Hillary Clinton’s Recent Seizures a Sign of Brain Damage.” On August 6, 2016, The Gateway Pundit’s Jim Hoft wrote that “THE PRESSURE IS TOO MUCH” and that “recent videos call Hillary Clinton’s physical and mental stability is in question.” He then quoted from Cernovich’s blog post. [The Gateway Pundit, 8/6/16]

    Cernovich: Clinton had a “seizure” and “suffered a brain injury during a fall.” From a August 7, 2016, post on Danger & Play:

    Michael Jackson, Prince, and Elvis would travel with a personal doctor who could administer needed life-saving drugs and attention during a crisis. Remember when you thought famous people like Michael Jackson and Elvis had good medical care? What’s Clinton on?

    Hillary appears to travel with her own Michael Jackson/Elvis style doctor. Who is he?

    We saw this first “doctor” or handler during Hillary’s recent freeze-up. You can see Hillary’s handler, who at first glance would not be considered the alpha male of the group, reassure Hillary, speak to her using hypnotic language, and then move the Secret Service Agents out of the way. This handler is not an ordinary SS agent.

    Hillary tries playing off the seizure by acting as if she had a “brain freeze.” As my medical experts explained to me, patients who suffer seizures become experts at playing it off.

    Hillary has suffered a brain injury during a fall. She either had a stroke, causing her to fall, or the fall caused her stroke. (Doctors were unsure whether the fall was the cause or effect of the stroke.) [Danger & Play, 8/7/16]

    Gateway Pundit: “IT’S WORSE THAN WE THOUGHT=> Photos of Hillary’s Handler Lead to More Questions about her Health – UPDATE: More Pics!” On August 7, 2016, Joe Hoft claimed that Clinton was accompanied by a “handler,” writing, “This man is still unknown although the web has now reported pictures of him at several outings with Hillary – assisting the weak and tired candidate. The fact that the man gets on stage, touches Hillary and then tells her what to do next, is very questionable.” [The Gateway Pundit, 8/7/16]

    Gateway Pundit: “PHOTOS=> Hillary’s Handler Carries DIAZEPAM Pen for Patients Who Experience Recurrent Seizures!” [The Gateway Pundit, 8/7/16]

    Breitbart: “Internet Melts Down over Photos of Hillary Clinton Getting Helped Up the Stairs.” In an August 7 blog post for Breitbart.com, Patrick Howley wrote that “Hillary Clinton needed to be physically helped up a moderate flight of stairs by her team of staffers and handlers” and that “Reuters and Getty photographs captured Hillary Clinton, 68, struggling to make it up the stairs, either as a result of her fragile body or perhaps because her well-documented brain injuries make it harder for her to transport herself through daily life activities.” [Breitbart, 8/7/16]

    Hannity hosts doctors to speculate on Clinton’s health, claims, “Some said it's like a mini-seizure. … Is there a possibility she had a mini-stroke, a TIA?” From the August 8, 2016, edition of Fox News’ Hannity:

    SEAN HANNITY (HOST): Welcome back to Hannity. So an image of Hillary Clinton recently posted to the website The American Mirror is sparking new controversy for the Clinton campaign. Now, the picture, which shows Hillary Clinton apparently needing assistance to climb a flight of stairs at a campaign stop back in February, was picked up by The Drudge Report, which posted this headline over the weekend detailing Hillary Clinton's history with falls and speculating that the former secretary of state could be experiencing a serious undisclosed medical condition.

    Joining us now with analysis, from the Fox News medical A-team we have Fox News medical correspondent Dr. Marc Siegel, and Dr. David Samadi is with us. All right. By the way, it's in The Daily Mail, "Are Hillary Clinton's health problems more severe than thought?" A new book is coming out that claims that. The Gateway Pundit had today, "Hillary's handler carrying a Diazepam pen for patients who experience recurrent seizures.” When you look at her history, Dr. Siegel, of falling, concussions, the blood clots, et cetera, and then this other video that has emerged, what are your thoughts?

    HANNITY: Just out of fairness, I don't want to show the video, but I've asked both of you to look at the video where she seems to, like -- some have said it's like a mini-seizure. What does it look like to you?

    HANNITY: Is there a possibility she had a mini-stroke, a TIA? [Fox News, Hannity, 8/8/16]

    National Enquirer photo gallery of “Hillary Clinton’s Secret Health Crisis” suggests she had multiple sclerosis and had “endured a series of strokes.” In a series of captioned photos, the National Enquirer claimed that a “political insider” said, “Hillary’s past health problems are down to MS,” and that “other sources claimed that Hillary’s also suffered three secret strokes.” The captions also suggested that Clinton was fatigued, confused, incontinent, had a history of blackouts and memory loss, and that she had a traumatic brain injury. [National Enquirer, 8/8/16]

    Gateway Pundit: “New Questions on Hillary’s Health=> What is She Hiding Under Her Duster Jacket?” In an August 9, 2016, blog post, Jim Hoft wrote, “The Drudge Report highlighted poor Hillary’s health issues this weekend. This all started after Mike Cernovich’s post on Hillary’s delicate condition.” [Gateway Pundit, 8/9/16]

    Hannity: “I’ve talked to more doctors [who tell me that] by all appearances, she has a major, major health issue.” From the August 9, 2016, edition of Premiere Radio Networks’ The Sean Hannity Show:

    SEAN HANNITY (HOST): Now, she hasn't had a press conference, maybe because of health issues. I don't know if you watched the Fox medical A-team last night analyzing all these issues involving Clinton's health. I've talked to more doctors that have gotten in contact with me and tell me, you know, by all appearances, she has a major, major health issue. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show, 8/9/16]

    Hannity: “One doctor friend of mine was really convinced she had a stroke,” and “a mini-stroke or a TIA may not show up the same way on an MRI.” From the August 9, 2016, edition of Premiere Radio Networks’ The Sean Hannity Show:

    SEAN HANNITY (HOST): We had our Fox medical A-team on last night and I got to tell you, they're saying we really need to see the real records. We need to see her Wall Street speeches where she got $250 grand from all the big insurance companies, all the big banks, all the people that are buying her influence. Let's see the speeches and let's see the medical records. She keeps talking about Donald Trump's tax returns; let's talk about that.

    ...

    You know the one thing that one doctor friend of mine was really convinced she had a stroke. And that some of her reactions are indicative that that’s coming from the part of the brain where some damage happened. Now as I understand it, a mini-stroke or a TIA may not show up the same way on an MRI. I remember my brother-in-law, a radiologist, would literally -- he was at home, and they'd send him pictures -- we'd be at family dinners and he would have to go in and look at pictures, and he'd say, "See this is where the stroke took place, right here." And I'd say, "What does it means for this person?" And with perfect pinpoint accuracy and detail, he would describe what impact it would have on that portion of the brain in terms of the people's function.

    ...

    So, I don’t think it’s unfair to ask for her medical records. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show, 8/9/16]

    Hannity: “Is it possible she had a stroke, or do you really believe it was a head injury, traumatic brain injury?” From the August 9, 2016, edition of Fox News’ Hannity:

    SEAN HANNITY (HOST): Should Hillary have to reveal her medical condition as well as give us maybe those Wall Street speeches and big bank speeches? And joining us now with reaction is board-certified neurologist and headache specialist Dr. Daniel Kassicieh and from the Fox News Medical A-team is Dr. Mark Seigel. Dr. Siegel, good to see you again.

    All right, Daniel, let me start with you. Doctor, let me ask you, what do you see in her condition and some of these images where she keeps getting flustered or the coughing fits or you hear about the blood clots. What is your interpretation?

    HANNITY: Is it possible she had a stroke, or do you really believe it was a head injury, traumatic brain injury?

    HANNITY: What about some of the weird pauses she has, the coughing fits she has? There are moments when I'm literally watching her and I'm thinking, OK, the facial expressions are odd. They seem off.

    HANNITY: Could that be impacted by a stroke or a TIA? [Fox News, Hannity, 8/9/16]

    Breitbart: “Physician: Mainstream Media ‘Strangely Silent’ About Hillary Clinton’s Health” On August 10, Breitbart’s Dr. Susan Berry wrote, “The executive director of a physicians’ organization questions how the mainstream media can ignore signs of what could be a traumatic brain injury in the Democrat nominee for president.” She added that Dr. Jane “Orient explains that serious concussions can often cause traumatic brain injury that is not always detected on standard medical tests such as a CT or MRI.” [Breitbart, 8/10/16]

    Hannity: “Hillary had another mental brain fart,” and they are “happening a lot lately.” From the August 10, 2016, edition of Premiere Radio Networks’ The Sean Hannity Show:

    SEAN HANNITY (HOST): It’s been the lead most of the day on the Drudge Report, actually fairly interesting story, I don’t think it’s going to impact the election a whole lot, but this whole comment of Julian Assange, actually raising questions about why this DNC staffer died and other things as well. So, we’ll get to all of that.

    Now, before we get to that -- all right, so, Hillary had another mental brain fart, hiccup, whatever you want to call it today. And these seem to be happening with more and more -- I don’t know, just happened more and more frequently. Listen to this one.

    Happening a lot lately, between that and coughing fits. So, I’m just thinking -- now what -- if I were to imagine what was actually going through Hillary’s mind at that moment, this would probably be what we would hear. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show, 8/10/16]

    Hannity: Clinton’s reaction to a question from a reporter was “seizure-esque.” From the August 10, 2016, edition of Fox News’ Hannity

    SEAN HANNITY (HOST): What’s your take?

    FIONA GATA: It's just so hard to speculate based on snippets of the clips that, you know, what is going on without having a full examination and workup.

    HANNITY: Look at this video right here -- watch her reaction. Because it’s -- I'm not -- it almost seems seizure-esque to me. Is that?

    GATA: I mean, there are types of seizures, like focal seizures, that sometimes can cause just one body part, but it would be very rare. I mean, typically seizures will generalize, so I can't say that's a seizure. It could be distress.

    HANNITY: Are there many seizures like that, Dr. Siegel?

    MARC SIEGEL: Well I’m not a neurologist, and I don't think that that necessarily looks like a seizure, but I will say this --

    HANNITY: Let's rerack that. What do you think this is?

    SIEGEL: I’ll tell you what I think it is. I think that we've seen enough there, especially in someone who has a long medical history and who's approaching 70 years old, for me to be able to say here that both of our candidates need to release their medical information. Sean, the whole idea --

    HANNITY: This looks like violent, out-of-control movements on her part.

    SIEGEL: And it could be, and I say could be, related to previous head trauma she had. It's possible. That's why I need to see the records. That's why a neurologist needs to come forward and give a press conference and say this is what is going on with her. She may very well be completely fit, but we want to know. [Fox News, Hannity, 8/10/16]

    Breitbart: “Bizarre Behavior, Seizure Allegations Raise Doubts About Hillary Clinton’s Health.” On August 11, 2016, Breitbart linked to the conspiratorial website Zero Hedge’s claim that “as the presidential campaign enters its final stages, probing questions have emerged about the health condition of Hillary Clinton.” [Breitbart, 8/11/16]

    Breitbart: “Hated Pharma Exec Martin Shkreli: ‘I Believe Hillary Clinton Has Parkinson’s Disease.’” In an August 11, 2016, piece, Breitbart’s Charlie Nash promoted Martin Shkreli’s claim that Hillary Clinton may have “early onset Parkinson’s disease,” and linked to a Periscope livestream video in which Shkreli speculated on the status of Clinton’s physical health. [Breitbart, 8/11/16]

    Hannity: “What’s wrong with her? … Was there a neurological event of some kind?” From the August 11, 2016, edition of Premiere Radio Networks’ The Sean Hannity Show:

    SEAN HANNITY (HOST): So, all of these questions are now coming up about Hillary Clinton, what happened when she was having these blood clots, the many times she’s falling. She seemed to go into, like, a mini-seizure the other day, when answering a reporter’s question. We showed you the video last night -- it’s very bizarre.

    And the fact that she continues to have these coughing fits, now ... and it goes on forever. These are not just like -- “OK, I need a second, let me get my breath.” This goes on forever.

    So, the question is -- OK, what’s wrong with her? What -- what actually happened? Was there a neurological event of some kind? What is causing all of this? Do the American people have a right to know her health issues before she were ever to be elected president of the United States?

    What do you think of the issues involving the falls, the blood clot, the many instances where she’s -- appears to be propped up by other people?

    Have you seen the video where she kind of is twitching and twitching and twitching? [Premiere Radio Network, The Sean Hannity Show, 8/11/16]

    Hannity: "What do you make of this twitching thing that she keeps doing? … Is that video we're showing a seizure, maybe?" From the August 11, 2016, edition of Fox News’ Hannity:

    SEAN HANNITY (HOST): Dr. Carson, I'll show you the different examples. She's falling, you've got this sort of twitching thing that she does in front of reporters that was really bad. There's been a number of incidents and reports that she fell, and then she had this really long incident where she was out of commission for quite a while, recovering, her husband said. She's on anticoagulants. Number one, do we have a right to know? And, number two, what do you make of this twitching thing that she keeps doing? I'll run it again.

    BEN CARSON: Well, you know --

    HANNITY: Why are you laughing? You're the brain surgeon here. I'm just a humble little host.

    CARSON: It just looks funny. You know, certainly as a person gets older, you know, the number of medical conditions that we have to watch for increases, which is one of the reasons that we strongly suggest, as you get older, that you have at least a annual examination. If you're going into a very important position like this, it's critical.

    ...

    HANNITY:  Let me go back to this video, Dr. Siegel, that's on the screen now. We'll put it up again. I mean, it's a violent, violent, repetitive jerking of the head here. Now, you know -- you can see it's uncontrollable, watch the reporter, like, pull back as she -- the reporter got scared, and she keeps doing it. What is that?

    ...

    HANNITY: Is that video we're showing a seizure, maybe?

    DR. DAVID SAMADI: Well, it certainly could be --

    HANNITY: Watch it right here. Let's just -- watch it closely here, watch the reporter back, right there -- the -- you see the -- look, and it goes on and on and on. That is, to me, bizarre.

    SAMADI: There is certainly some neurologic issue going on, depending on when this tape was taken.

    ...

    HANNITY: Let me show one of the brain freezes so I can --

    ...

    HANNITY: I don't think we're getting the Wall Street speeches, the speeches, copies of the speeches that she gave to big investors and insurance companies, and I don't think we're getting this either. I think she's going to keep it undercover, which is probably by design. [Fox News, Hannity, 8/11/16]

  • Right-wing media are celebrating the election of far-right extremist Jair Bolsonaro as president of Brazil and comparing him to Trump

    Blog ››› ››› GRACE BENNETT & COURTNEY HAGLE


    Media Matters / Melissa Joskow

    On October 28, far-right Brazilian Congress member Jair Bolsonaro was elected president of Brazil. Bolsonaro has repeatedly embraced authoritarianism, and he has a history of espousing misogynistic, racist, anti-LGBTQ, and other extremist rhetoric. Right-wing media are celebrating his victory and high poll numbers by cheering on his proposed policies and highlighting the similarities between Bolsonaro and President Donald Trump:

    • Fox’s Laura Ingraham said Brazilians are “looking at Bolsonaro as someone who’s more like Trump, who’s going to get back to the basics on the economy. And I bet Bolsonaro and Trump form a very productive relationship trade-wise -- watch the trade deal that’s going to come out of this Bolsonaro-Trump relationship.”
    • During the October 29 edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade said Brazilians “wanted to bring in someone from the outside who spent very little of his own money in order to win.” Fox’s Rob Schmitt added that Brazilians wanted “change,” and “got it,” with “the Trump of the tropics.”
    • Fox’s national security and foreign affairs expert Walid Phares celebrated Bolsonaro on Fox Business Network, claiming, “He’s going to go anti-terrorism, anti-smuggling, he's going to reform the economy, and he made a statement that he is going to be a partner with the United States against those extremists and also helping us with the issues of the migrants.”
    • Sinclair’s Boris Epshteyn boasted in his morning newsletter that “President Trump’s country - first policies are becoming more popular around the globe” and expressed his hope that “the positions shared by these two leaders will result in a strong and mutually beneficial relationship between the U.S. and Brazil.”
    • Hugh Hewitt shared an article about Bolsonaro’s win and tweeted: “Brazil deregulated will work with Columbia Mexico U.S. for a booming hemisphere”
    • In The Gateway Pundit, Jim Hoft wrote that “Anti-Communist ‘Trump of the Tropics’” Bolsonaro won the election and complained that Reuters “calls Bolsonaro ‘far right’ because he openly opposes communism.”
    • Pamela Geller wrote that Bolsonaro’s ascent to power is “similar to what the United States experienced with President Trump. Bolsonaro has been called ‘Brazil’s Trump’ due to his nationalistic policies and his tough stance on crime.” Geller also criticized the media’s coverage of Bolsonaro as a “far-right politician,” drawing comparisons between the media’s treatment of him and Trump.
    • The Daily Caller’s Jason Hopkins praised “Trump of the Tropics” Bolsonaro’s tough stance on crime and free-market economic reforms, arguing that his support comes not from “establishment figures and those in the American left-wing media,” but from “Brazilian citizens who wanted change.”
    • Far-right troll Mike Cernovich complained that “many Brazilian friends have told me Bolsonaro is being lied about in the media,” repeatedly claimed Bolsonaro is not “far right,” and argued, “The far left is being rejected worldwide. … The Brazilian people voted for change.”
    • Far-right agitator Katie Hopkins noted Bolsonaro’s victory alongside an anti-Islam image, and she added that she is “bloody loving the rise of the right.”

    Bolsonaro’s rise followed years of anti-democratic statements from him that can only be read as fascist. An October 28 article in The New York Times compiled some of the Brazilian president-elect’s most extreme comments. When asked in a 1999 interview whether he would shut down Brazil’s Congress, Bolsonaro replied:

    There is no doubt. I would perform a coup on the same day. [Congress] doesn’t work. And I am sure that at least 90 percent of the population would celebrate and applaud because it doesn’t work. The Congress today is useless … lets do the coup already. Let’s go straight to the dictatorship.

    He also appeared to advocate for a violent “civil war” to “do the job that the military regime didn’t do: killing 30,000.” Bolsonaro has repeatedly advocated for torture and threatened earlier this month to jail his political opponents after taking office.

    The Times also reported that Bolsarano once told a fellow lawmaker that he “would not rape [her] because you [she is] not worthy of it.” He has stated that he would not hire women equally, and he referred to having a daughter as a “weakness.” In 2011, he claimed he would “rather his son die in a car accident than be gay,” and two years later he claimed that he would “rather have a son who is an addict than a son who is gay.” Just last year, Bolsonaro implied that Afro-Brazilians are lazy, claiming, “They don’t do anything. They are not even good for procreation.” Bolsonaro has promised to roll back policies meant to protect the environment, and, according to the Times, he claimed the “Amazon is like a child with chickenpox, every dot you see is an indigenous reservation.”

  • “Free speech” advocates suddenly furious that Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) invited a controversial criminal defense attorney to speak in 2003

    Pro-Trump media figures smear Sinema, a Senate candidate, as “an actual Islamic terrorist”

    Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    The Republican Party and pro-Trump media figures are smearing Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) as either a terrorist supporter or “an actual Islamic terrorist” over two 2003 events at Arizona State University she promoted that featured controversial criminal defense attorney Lynne Stewart. Stewart, who represented terror group leader Omar Abdel Rahman, known as “the blind sheikh,” was convicted two years after these events for conspiracy to provide material support of terrorism.

    Following publication of an October 10 FoxNews.com article headlined “Senate Dem hopeful Kyrsten Sinema promoted events featuring convicted terror lawyer,” the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) quickly issued a press release smearing Sinema for supposedly having “promoted terrorists.” (The FoxNews.com headline itself is misleading as the article notes that, at the time, Stewart had been charged but not yet convicted.) The NRSC press release inaccurately stated that Sinema was “sympathizing with convicted terrorists.” It also claimed that she “fervently defended the attorney who was convicted of providing material support to a terrorist organization, and promoted her on campus, saying she was ‘emphatically not guilty’ and blamed the ‘hastily enacted PATRIOT Act’ for her conviction.” The quotes are from 2003, before Stewart was convicted. Stewart died in 2017, but her conviction remains controversial in legal circles.

    NRSC communications staffer Calvin Moore leaped beyond this smear in a tweet claiming Sinema has “ties to the mastermind behind the first World Trade Center bombing,” which is patently absurd and false.

    Two far-right media personalities helped push the Republican smear about Sinema. Gateway Pundit’s Jim Hoft falsely declared in an October 11 blog post that “Democrat Kyrsten Sinema is a terrorist supporter.” Hoft pulled this description from Mike Cernovich, who at first tweeted that Sinema “worked with an actual Islamic terrorist,” then descended further into absurdity by eventually calling Sinema “an actual Islamic terrorist” and saying she’s “an actual terrorist supporter, a literal f-cking terrorist.”

    Hoft is no stranger to inviting people under indictment to speak. Former national security adviser Mike Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, recently spoke and received an award at an event sponsored by Hoft’s Gateway Pundit. His website also has a history of supporting controversial speakers who are invited to college campuses. For his part, Cernovich is accustomed to drawing opposition to his controversial campus appearances, and he has even accompanied a neo-Nazi to a campus rally. Yet they are nevertheless suggesting that by inviting people to a campus event to hear from a defense attorney, Sinema is either supporting terrorists or acting as one herself.

  • 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.

  • Radio hosts like Rush Limbaugh ran with a false far-right claim about the Jacksonville shooter

    “Pizzagate” conspiracy theorist Mike Cernovich and serially inaccurate site Gateway Pundit were among the first to push the bogus claim

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Radio stations and talk hosts around the country, including syndicated radio host Rush Limbaugh, ran with a false far-right claim that the Jacksonville, FL, mass shooter was a Reddit user with a history of critical posts against President Donald Trump.

    On August 26, a man opened fire during a video game tournament in Jacksonville, FL, killing two people and injuring 10 others before turning the gun on himself. After the shooting, far-right conspiracy theorist Mike Cernovich baselessly tweeted that the shooter “was a member of the Resistance who referred to Trump supporters as ‘trumptards’” citing what he claimed was his Reddit history. Ian Miles Cheong, formerly a self-described contributor for The Daily Caller who was involved (as was Cernovich) in the misogynistic online movement known as Gamergate, tweeted an image of anti-Trump comments posted by a Reddit account named “Ravenchamps,” which he claimed belonged to the shooter.

    Gateway Pundit, a serially inaccurate far-right site that consistently gets things wrong during breaking news events (and is now facing lawsuits for it), subsequently elevated both tweets and pushed the story. Conspiracy theory outlet Infowars also picked up the claim, along with fake news-churning sites like YourNewsWire, Neon Nettle, and True Pundit. The claim was also turned into memes and put on Facebook, where thousands of users shared the posts.

    The claim turned out to be false, as the user “Ravenchamps” -- whose name is Pavel -- subsequently clarified on Reddit that he was not the shooter, sharing the harassment he was receiving as a consequence of the far-right’s irresponsible claim. Pavel, who is from Minnesota, told BuzzFeed that he was “call[ing] out the idiots” who blamed him for the shooting and told NBC News, “There are a lot of idiots on the internet who come to conclusions over no factual evidence.”

    The baseless claim that “Ravenchamps” was the shooter jumped to multiple radio stations, a medium with a history of pushing false stories that originated online (including some from fake news sites in places like Africa and Macedonia). The radio shows pushing the bogus claim include:

    • The nationally syndicated The Rush Limbaugh Show, where host Rush Limbaugh claimed that “you might not hear very much about this Jacksonville shooting ... because it appears the shooter was part of the Trump resistance. Limbaugh said that the shooter was apparently “very, anti-Trump” on a Reddit thread. Limbaugh claimed as a result the “drive-bys [media] are not going to want to want to make a vast, vast move on this guy” because “people that hate Trump are supposed to hate guns”;

    • Maryland talk station WCBM-AM’s Morning Show With Sean and Frank, where hosts said the alleged shooter’s Reddit page was “littered with anti-Trump garbage” and, in a later segment, reiterated that he was “part of the Trump resistance”;

    • Nebraska talk station KFAM-AM’s Chris Baker, who asserted that “according to all reports,” the alleged shooter was a “Trump resistor” based on his “Reddit page; and

    • The Steve Kane Show on Florida talk station WSBR-AM, where the host shamefully lauded Cernovich as “awesome” and read his tweet about the Reddit account. He added that it showed the shooter was “another liberal, just like the guy that shot up the baseball team,” referring to the 2017 shooting at the Republican congressional baseball practice.

  • Mike Cernovich's far-right conspiracy theories, bigotry, and association with white supremacists

    An abundance of tweets, blog posts, and on-air appearances -- many of which he has now deleted -- reveal the conspiracy theories, rape denial, and “alt-right” shilling that brought Cernovich fame

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G. , BRENDAN KARET & JOHN KERR


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Far-right grifter and “Pizzagate” conspiracy theorist Mike Cernovich is putting his star power behind Republican Kelli Ward by joining her on a bus tour before the Arizona primary on August 28. Ward, who is competing for the GOP nomination to represent Arizona in the U.S. Senate, described Cernovich in her announcement of the bus tour as “a social media personality and the author of several books examining political and social trends,” forgivingly glossing over Cernovich’s record of peddling disgusting conspiracy theories, shilling for the “alt-right,” dismissing date rape, and endorsing misogyny.

    Questioned about the decision, Ward hilariously claimed to not know what Cernovich’s views are. Ward, along with her husband, is an administrator of a Facebook group that traffics in some of the same conspiracy theories that Cernovich pushes. Ward has also been an ally of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, and Cernovich has done frequent work with Jones’ Infowars in recent years.

    Despite running with Cernovich’s crowd for years, Ward can try to get away with claiming to not know who he is perhaps because of his attempts to scrub a lot of his caustic record from his online portfolio. However, an abundance of deleted tweets, blog posts, and videos reveal him for the unhinged conspiracy theorist, rape denier, and “alt-right” shill that he became famous for being.

    Cernovich repeatedly pushed the “Pizzagate” conspiracy theory

    Cernovich has pushed conspiracy theories about pedophilia, Satanism, “spirit cooking,” and more

    Cernovich pushed forged documents and propaganda

    Cernovich spread a conspiracy theory about murdered DNC staffer Seth Rich

    Cernovich falsely claimed a Roy Moore accuser forged his signature in a yearbook

    Cernovich pushed conspiracy theories about mass shootings

    Cernovich has made journalists a target of many attacks

    Cernovich has repeatedly pushed bigotry, and shilled for white supremacists and the “alt-right”

    Cernovich repeatedly pushed rape denial and misogyny

    Cernovich repeatedly pushed the “Pizzagate” conspiracy theory

    During the 2016 presidential election, some supporters of President Donald Trump baselessly claimed Democrats and powerful celebrities were tied to a pedophilia ring hiding in a Washington, D.C., pizzeria. As a consequence, a man went to the restaurant to “self-investigate” and opened fire inside.

    Cernovich said, “Pizzagate is real. There are pedophiles at the highest level of media, Hollywood, and in government.”

    Cernovich has attempted to scrub his wide-ranging “Pizzagate” record to obscure his role in propagating it. But since-deleted tweets show evidence of his responsibility.

    In one video, Cernovich said, “If you want to have the real power, they force you to rape children and they record it. And that does two things. One is you are now blackmailed forever. ... And then two is only someone depraved enough to rape a child is going to be allowed in the shadow government.”

    Cernovich has pushed conspiracy theories about pedophilia, Satanism, “spirit cooking,” and more

    In a video that can still be found on far-right misogynist Stefan Molyneux’s YouTube channel, Cernovich claimed John Podesta, chairman of the campaign of former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, was involved in “spirit cooking” rituals, during which he claimed participants mixed “semen with breast milk” to drink.

    Besides pushing the baseless claims on his website, Cernovich also suggested that then-candidate Donald Trump should have addressed the conspiracy theory during one of his rallies and accused the Clinton family of “100 percent” being connected to pedophile rings. On another occasion, he also suggested a visit to Haiti was evidence that the Clintons were trafficking children.

    Cernovich also accused former President Barack Obama of giving children to human traffickers.

    Cernovich also claimed to have heard that Obama’s children are not actually his children.

    In another video, Cernovich said, “We have to purge the satanists from the FBI,” noting that he thought former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe was a satanist, while he was unsure about former FBI special agent Peter Strzok.

    As reported by The New Yorker, Cernovich was “among the first” to falsely claim that Hillary Clinton “had a grave neurological condition.”

    Cernovich has also tried to smear all of his protesters and critics as pedophiles. And while he has avoided to outright endorse it, he is one of the far-right figures who amplified the QAnon conspiracy theory on their social media platforms.

    Cernovich pushed forged documents and propaganda

    Cernovich promoted a forged document that accused Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) of sexually harassing a former staffer, then quickly walked back the claim when the document was reported to police as a forgery.

    He also promoted forged documents about Emanuel Macron before he was elected president of France.

    Cernovich has also reportedly help spread pro-Assad propaganda. Cernovich declared that he was “not buying” that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad carried out chemical attacks against Syrians.

    Cernovich spread a conspiracy theory about murdered DNC staffer Seth Rich

    Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich was murdered in Washington, D.C., on July 10, 2016. On August 9, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange brought up Rich unprompted on a Dutch TV program, implying (but refusing to confirm) that Rich was his source for the DNC emails Wikileaks made public before the presidential election. Cernovich promoted the interview while questioning point-blank if Rich was Assange’s source.

    Following Cernovich’s tweet, Fox’s Sean Hannity picked up the baseless story.

    Cernovich falsely claimed a Roy Moore accuser forged his signature in a yearbook

    Cernovich falsely claimed that Beverly Young Nelson, who has reported that former Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore sexually assaulted her when she was 16, admitted that she forged Moore’s signature in her high school yearbook. Nelson actually said she added some notes next to the signature but that it was Moore’s signature. In fact, Cernovich cast doubt on all of the reports made against Moore.

    Cernovich pushed conspiracy theories about mass shootings

    In a since-deleted blog post, Cernovich claimed that “there was more than one shooter at Pulse in Orlando,” referring to the 2016 mass shotting at Pulse nightclub in Florida. Cernovich wrote, “As you follow the story, look for” certain “evidence.” He added, “If we don’t see all of this, then there was a second shooter.”

    He also attempted to blame a mass shooting in New Mexico on anti-fascist protesters and made similar comments following a series of bombings in Austin, TX.

    After a suicide bomber killed 22 people, including children, who were leaving an Ariana Grande concert in England, Cernovich attacked the pop star for liberal and “anti-American” statements that she made while reacting to a tray of donuts years prior.

    Cernovich has made journalists a target of many attacks

    Cernovich lashed out at a HuffPost journalist for reporting on a notorious anti-Muslim social media account. He also once planned a website to harass journalists and since then has set out to get some journalists fired by weaponizing fake outrage over past tweets taken out of context, unleashing his followers on harassment campaigns against targeted journalists on the way. He has said, “Most people in journalism are pedophiles.”

    After Republican congressional candidate Greg Gianforte assaulted Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs, Cernovich told Alex Jones that it was “a total set up.”

    He also implied on Twitter that Jacobs may have had the assault coming.

    Cernovich has repeatedly pushed bigotry, and shilled for white supremacists and the “alt-right”

    Before rebranding away from the term when it became unpopular, Cernovich was among the main online proponents of the “alt-right,” rallying against diversity and going on the record to represent the movement’s views while declaring himself to be “alt-right friendly.” He also used to promote some of its figures, including “Baked Alaska” (who is white supremacist and serial-self owner Tim Gionet), Nazi sympathizer Milo Yiannopoulos (whose handle was @Nero before he got permanently banned from Twitter), and white supremacist Ricky Vaughn.

    One of his tweets supportive of the “alt-right” even gave credence to the idea of “white genocide,” a common white supremacist trope.

    In one video, Cernovich trivially used the n-word:

    He also complained about “thugs” attacking “me and my kind,” and he admitted that he was “happy” that a white supporter of Black Lives Matter was stabbed to death, saying he wouldn’t be stabbed because “I’m a … man.”

    During one of his broadcasts to his followers, Cernovich repeatedly used a homophobic slur.

    He has said, “Anywhere Muslims go, they’re blowing things up.” He also said that Muslims in America may want to “kill all women.” In another video, Cernovich warned transgender Americans that if refugees in Germany “find out about you, they’ll rape you and kill you.”

    Cernovich called the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) “anti-America” and said that it is “extorting Jews.” He also replied “exactly” when Alex Jones said ADL has “always been the group that feeds on the Jews working with the Nazis.”

    Cernovich repeatedly pushed rape denial and misogyny

    Cernovich has tried to hide his misogynistic musings, which the self-declared former “total hottie” used to post on his site Danger and Play. That site was a blog “about how to pick up women” and featured posts like “Misogyny Gets You Laid.”

    One of his posts featured statements that minimized rape, including, “If you believe in rape culture, I understand a lot about you: you’re a gullible fool who believes feminists.” In a now-archived post, Cernovich denied the existence of date rape:

    Additionally, in a post offering advice on “how to choke a woman” he claimed, “Women only want to have consensual sex with men they know could rape them,” and confessed to having “choked women unconscious” on occasion. He also advocated for choking women “when standing around,” saying to do it when she “acts up.” He’s on the record offering similar advice:

    Cernovich once presented consent as a burden, saying, “If you as a man read a signal wrong, you’re a rapist.” In one video, Cernovich complained, “If your son, or you, … has sex with your girlfriend while she is sleeping … that’s technically rape.”

    He has also said that “there is probably 10 men enslaved to every one woman enslaved.”

    Similarly, in a now-deleted article titled “When In Doubt, Whip It Out,” Cernovich wrote about exposing himself to a date who refused his sexual advances, saying she “wasn’t freaked out” by him masturbating in the backseat of her car and suggesting his readers to not “settle for the make out. If possible, at least pull out your dick. If you can get her to touch it, even better.”

    A 2016 Mediaite report rounded up a sample of Cernovich’s misogynistic tweets, which included “Have you guys ever tried ‘raping’ a girl without using force? Try it. It’s basically impossible. Date rape does not exist,” as well as “Not being a slut is the only proven way to avoid AIDS. If you love black women, slut shame them.” Mediaite additionally noted Cernovich had tweeted and deleted: “A whore will let her friend ruin your life with a false rape case. So why should I care when women are raped?”

  • 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

  • In their own words, the online far-right’s motive to dig up liberal figures' old tweets: revenge

    Far-right trolls claim they are digging up liberals' old tweets out of concern for children, but their prior statements indicate it's an escalation in culture-war tactics

    Blog ››› ››› TALIA LAVIN

    Over the past week, a number of far-right trolls, led by the provocateur and propagandist Mike Cernovich, have been on the warpath against prominent liberal figures in what they see as revenge for the scrutiny instances of explicitly racist, misogynist, and bigoted speech receives on social media.

    Their principal tactic? Digging up tweets from up to 10 years ago and weaponizing them against their authors in efforts to, at best, discredit outspoken liberal actors, directors and comedians, and at worst, get them fired.

    Last week, Cernovich publicized director James Gunn's offensive Twitter jokes about pedophilia and other topics, leading Disney to fire him on Friday from his role as director of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.​ From Cernovich’s perspective, it was a staggering victory -- and one he cast as borne of earnest concern for children in Hollywood.

     

    It’s not the first time Cernovich has made spurious accusations of pedophilia -- he was prominently involved in promoting the “Pizzagate” conspiracy theory that Democratic politicians were involved in running a child sex slave ring from the basement of a D.C. pizzeria. Pizzagate eventually had chilling real-life consequences -- in December 2016, a man drove to Washington and fired a military-style assault weapon inside the family restaurant. However, unlike Pizzagate, Gunn’s now-deleted tweets were real -- and Cernovich’s resurfacing of them and getting Gunn, an outspoken critic of President Donald Trump, fired as a consequence represented a successful escalation of tactics.

    Other far-right figures like MAGA troll Jack Posobiec eagerly amplified Cernovich’s campaign against Gunn. And after Gunn’s firing, the campaign to resurface offensive tweets by left-leaning public figures only escalated. Comedians including Michael Ian Black, Sarah Silverman and Patton Oswalt have come under fire for previous tweets that contained distasteful jokes trivializing pedophilia. Dan Harmon, co-creator of the hit animated series Rick and Morty, left Twitter after right-wing figures recirculated an offensive 2009 parody he made of the show Dexter. (An investigation by Polygon found that users on the message boards 4chan and Reddit had resurfaced the video before Cernovich began tweeting about it.)

    Throughout the campaign, Cernovich and others -- including Ted Cruz -- have maintained a facade of concern for children in what they claim to perceive as Hollywood’s toxic environment.

    However, previous statements from far-right trolls, including Cernovich himself, poke holes in the fake-concern narrative, making absolutely clear that the primary motive of this new offensive is victory in an ongoing culture war -- and more specifically, taking revenge against the left.

    In 2017, Cernovich stated that his goal was to emulate CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski and the KFILE research team, whose members frequently comb through the social media and work histories of government and political figures and have discovered racist and conspiracy theory-mongering comments that affect these individuals’ ability to provide unbiased public service. Cernovich, by contrast, has targeted figures in the entertainment industry.  

    Moreover, Cernovich also explicitly stated that accusations of enabling or accepting pedophilia were part of his mission to use the “rules and tactics” of the left against liberal figures.

    Other trolls in the MAGA universe have been even more explicit, indicating that the success represented by Gunn’s firing is a signal of a tactical shift, not an authentic moral concern. Posobiec touted the “strategic significance” of the event:

    On 4chan, users in a thread titled “Dan Harmon is a pedophile,” which originally surfaced Harmon’s 2009 parody, were even more explicit about their rationale, repeatedly citing the firing of Roseanne Barr as a motive to vengefully “take scalps”:

    CRTV’s Gavin McInnes, the misogynist founder of the violent, fraternal men-only organization Proud Boys, was even more transparent in his articulation of the bad faith that undergirds this latest salvo in the online culture battle. “There’s a new trend going on where the right is exposing the left’s pedophilia, and what they’re really doing is playing dirty pool,” he said in the July 24 edition of his CRTV show Get Off My Lawn. “Now, I know that these pedophile jokes that Cernovich caught these liberals saying are jokes. But I don't have to -- I can pretend I don't know they're jokes. Because they started this war."
     

    The words of Cernovich and his allies put the lie to any notion that this latest offensive is motivated by concern for children. Their desire to endanger the jobs and reputations of popular liberals is driven by lesser motives: revenge and the weaponization of manufactured outrage.

  • This far-right online campaign has found an ally in the Trump administration

    By lobbying on behalf of the British anti-Muslim troll Tommy Robinson, the Trump administration is carrying water for the international far-right

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G.


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    After months of relentless online (and occasional offline) hysteria, the far-right campaign #FreeTommy has found an ally in the administration of President Donald Trump. According to reports, Sam Brownback, U.S. ambassador for international religious freedom, lobbied Britain’s ambassador to the United States on behalf of the British anti-Muslim troll known as Tommy Robinson. Robinson is imprisoned in the United Kingdom after pleading guilty for contempt of court for disrupting a trial.

    As documented by Hope not hate, an organization that combats far-right extremism, Robinson was arrested for “breach of the peace” while he livestreamed about an ongoing case outside Leeds Crown Court in Britain. By livestreaming and sharing information regarding the case, Robinson violated restrictions on reporting about the case, a common legal practice in the U.K. to ensure that members of the jury aren’t influenced by media pressure or outside information. He pleaded guilty, and his legal representative said Robinson had “deep regret” for what he had done, but many in the online far-right ecosystem have painted him as a free speech martyr through the #FreeTommy online campaign and its offline, sometimes-violent demonstrations.

    By lobbying for his freedom, the administration is putting its weight behind a troll whose prominence derives from his extremist anti-Muslim rhetoric. Robinson, whose actual name Hope not hate reports as Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, is the co-founder of the anti-Muslim English Defense League (EDL), which he built “into the premier street protest group within the far right.” While addressing an EDL audience in 2011, he blamed “every single Muslim watching this video on YouTube” for theJuly 7, 2005, bombings in London, saying, “You got away with killing and maiming British citizens.” A 2013 guest appearance on Fox’s now-defunct show The O’Reilly Factor shows how American right-wing media helped elevate his extremist rhetoric; Robinson claimed on the air that “Islam is not a religion of peace. It never has been, and it never will be.”

    Robinson was once refused entry into the U.S., but he still traveled to the country in 2013 on a friend’s passport. The stunt got him banned from the country. Twitter has also permanently banned Robinson from its platform for reportedly violating its “hateful conduct” policy.

    Before the Trump administration picked up Robinson’s case, the #FreeTommy campaign found acolytes among the American MAGA universe and far-right conspiracy theorists. Alex Jones of conspiracy theory outlet Infowars (which has hosted Robinson as a guest on different occasions) has mischaracterized Robinson as a “political prisoner”; Lucian Wintrich, White House correspondent for the right-wing site The Gateway Pundit, which struggles with getting things right, warned that what happened to Robinson was “what is coming to the United States,” a take similar to that of opportunistic right-wing troll Mike Cernovich. The president’s son Donald Trump Jr. once again displayed his well-documented love for the far-right internet trolls by commenting on Robinson’s situation. Fox host Tucker Carlson hosted anti-Muslim troll Katie Hopkins on his show to advocate for Robinson:

    The developments surrounding the #FreeTommy campaign are illustrative of two notable points: American right-wing media and their prominent online personalities provide a built-in amplification network for the messaging of the international far-right, and the Trump administration is extremely susceptible to its narratives.

    Robinson’s rhetoric reportedly inspired a man to commit an anti-Muslim terror attack in Finsbury Park, London, that left one person dead and 10 others wounded in June 2017.

  • Right-wing media are rallying to defend the Trump administration’s inhumane separation of families at the border 

    Blog ››› ››› GRACE BENNETT & NATALIE MARTINEZ


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    The Trump administration is separating immigrant children from their parents or legal guardians after they cross the border, with at least 2,000 children taken from their parents since April 19. The administration’s merciless and inhumane policy has spurred numerous heartbreaking stories, including reports of a breastfeeding baby who was ripped from her mother, a Honduran father separated from his family who took his own life, and children who are held in cages alongside strangers. Yet right-wing media figures have been quick to defend the policy and dismiss its inherent cruelty:

    • Breitbart editor-at-large Joel Pollak justified separating families at the border, saying the Border Patrol facilities are "better than what they had." Pollak also claimed that ICE taking children from their parents and putting them in detention facilities is “just about caring for the kids.”

    • Right-wing troll Dinesh D’Souza, who recently received a pardon from President Donald Trump, questioned whether immigrant parents are “the ones choosing to separate their families.”

    • Fox's Pete Hegseth defended the separations because the children get food and "soccer and video games." Hegseth also called images of detained children “quite compassionate,” and said the policy was “defensible.”

    • Fox News’ Trish Regan argued that Trump is showing asylum-seeking families "tough love" by taking children away from their parents.

    • Fox contributor Tammy Bruce called for White House press briefings to end after reporters confronted White House press secretary Sarah Sanders about the separation of families.

    • Fox's Jesse Watters argued that the White House should "start ripping press passes away" from reporters who ask about families getting separated at the border. Watters also said that “some would say” that separation is “a more humane policy” than detaining the families together.

    • In a series of tweets, Twitter troll Bill Mitchell aggressively defended the policy, accusing the media of focusing on “#FakeNews ‘concentration camps,’” complaining about the money spent to keep the children captive, suggested that many of the children are “not with their families at all - they are with smugglers” (only a very small percentage of cases involve smuggling and often a bona fide relationship between the child and adult is clear), and claiming, “President Trump is PROTECTING these children.”

    • Fox & Friends host Brian Kilmeade downplayed “the so-called separation of kids and parents” at the border, arguing that the Democrats are using it to distract from the Justice Department inspector general’s report on the handling of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s email server and the Singapore Summit between Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.

    • Fox’s Ainsley Earhardt said that families are “choosing to be separated” by showing up at the border. She also argued that “you can't even really blame an administration” for the separation policy.

    • Her fellow Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy said that “the part that is troubling” is not children being ripped from their parents, but the parents choosing to come to the United States in the first place. Doocy also argued that the cages some children are being housed in shouldn’t be called “cages” because rather they are “walls [built] out of chain link fences," and he defended family separation by suggesting the U.S. government spends a lot of money to “make sure that those kids wind up with all that stuff” that detention facilities offer.

    • Fox & Friends repeated or referenced Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen’s lies about family separation throughout the June 18 broadcast. Nielsen initially claimed that separation wasn’t happening -- it is.

    • Right-wing troll Mike Cernovich said that Trump was “keeping [children] safe in dorms,” and he accused former President Barack Obama of giving children “to human traffickers.”

    • Fox host and Trump lackey Sean Hannity claimed that the policy of separation “took place in previous administrations” (neither the Obama nor the Bush administration separated families as a matter of policy). Hannity also accused the media of having an “obsession” with the “so-called policy of separating illegal immigrant families.”    

    • Fox’s Laura Ingraham called the “outrage” over the separation policy “hilarious,” complained about watching “our country try to contort itself into other peoples' cultures,” and excused the separations because the children have “entertainment, sports, tutoring, medical, dental, four meals a day, and clean, decent housing” even though their “parents irresponsibly tried to bring them across the border illegally.” On her Fox show, Ingraham called the administration’s child detention centers “essentially summer camps” and compared them to “boarding schools.”

    • Sinclair's Boris Epshteyn choose not to editorialize on the cruelty of family separation itself, instead attacking the "discourse" around separation policy and claiming it is what's wrong with Democrats and media.

    • Right-wing columnist Ann Coulter warned the president not to fall for “these child actors weeping and crying on” cable news.

    • Radio host Rush Limbaugh called the outrage over family separation “an entirely manufactured crisis” and claimed “it happened during the Obama administration” too (it didn’t).  

    • One America News Network correspondent and internet troll Jack Posobiec defended the policy by fearmongering that children crossing the border could be with traffickers as opposed to family members. There is clear evidence of the relationship between many of the children in detention and the adult that accompanied them.

    • American Conservative Union Chairman Matt Schlapp, a frequent cable news guest, contended that “Obama and Trump have same child protection policy” (they do not).

    • Fox’s David Bossie attempted to shift the blame onto the parents, arguing that “if they don't become criminals, they're not separated.” He also claimed that Trump is just “following the law,” ignoring the reality that separation is a Trump administration policy, not the law.

    • Fox host Tucker Carlson warned his viewers that people speaking up against America detaining children in cages just want to "change your country forever."

    • Chris Bedford, editor-in-chief of the Daily Caller News Foundation, criticized the "hyperbole" over family separation and child detention.

    • Drudge Report’s Matt Drudge attempted to paint Latin American children as violent by publishing a photo of children in Azaz, Syria.

    • Turning Point USA spokesperson Candace Owens claimed that “these policies were in place” during the Obama administration (they were not).

    • Townhall’s Kurt Schlichter aggressively defended the policy, suggesting that the U.S. ought to “separate the children and then send them all away” and “in prison (sic) the parents until they serve their sentence then throw them out.”

    • Infowars frontman and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones claimed that separation has been the “standard procedure for decades” when you “pick up a group of a hundred people and you have no idea who the hell they are.” Infowars also claimed that Trump had exposed “the hoax that the US is mistreating migrant children.”

    • The Daily Wire’s Ben Shapiro fallaciously argued that Trump is simply “enforcing the law on the books.”

    • Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk posted a series of tweets fearmongering about “illegal immigration” and claimed that “all of this happened for 8 years under Obama” (nope).

    • NRATV host Dan Bongino claimed that reporting on the “immigration/children story” is “propaganda, nothing more” and argued that anyone who believed it is “delirious, and should seek professional help.”

    • Radio talk show host Ben Ferguson shared an image on Facebook claiming that policies of separating children from “illegal parents” had been in effect since 2009 and that Democrats just started talking about the issue because “they only care about making Trump look ‘bad.’” The post has been shared over 100,000 times.

    • Conservative commentator Dick Morris claimed that families seeking asylum at the borders were part of a “scam” in which adult immigrants were “abusers” who are using their children as a “battering ram to force their way into the country.” He also said the solution to this problem is to deny asylum to all immigrants who come to the border with a child.

    • Fox New contributor and Townhall Editor Katie Pavlich posted a series of tweets comparing the separation of asylum-seeking families to the separation of children and arrested parents and supporting Sarah Sanders’ claims in which she portrayed “illegal aliens” as criminals who are responsible for separating U.S. families permanently by “committing murder or killing through drunk driving.”

    • Conservative Review TV’s Jon Miller claimed that media are trying to push controversy around separation policies in order to “distract from the disastrous IG report and anything else this president has done that will cause people to vote for him.”

    • Fox News’ Tomi Lahren tweeted that “we owe ILLEGAL immigrants NOTHING,” and suggested that family separation is just one of the “consequences” parents have to accept when they “drag [their] kids over here ILLEGALLY.”

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

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G.


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    A member suggested using Wikipedia as a model:


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

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

  • Pro-Trump media have a meltdown after Roseanne’s racist tweet prompts ABC to cancel her show

    Right-wing media figures call on their followers to #BoycottABC

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Following ABC’s decision to cancel the TV show Roseanne after the sitcom’s star, Roseanne Barr, tweeted a racist attack on President Barack Obama’s former advisor Valerie Jarrett, figures in the pro-Trump media universe had a meltdown and called on their followers to boycott ABC.

    It’s not the first time Barr has gone on Twitter to make racist remarks; in fact, the star often serves as an amplifier to far-right conspiracy theories, false anti-Semitic narratives, and other toxic extremist content found on message boards like 4chan. These are the figures bemoaning the network’s decision to cancel the show:

    Infowars host Alex Jones

    One America News Network correspondent and Pizzagate conspiracy theorist Jack Posobiec

    CRTV host and Trump adviser Eric Bolling (who deleted his tweet)

    Las Vegas shooting conspiracy theorist Laura Loomer

    Gateway Pundit’s Cassandra Fairbanks

    YourVoice America host Bill Mitchell

    Lucian Wintrich, White House correspondent for Gateway Pundit

    The Federalist senior contributor Ashe Schow

    Pro-Trump troll Mike Cernovich

    Right-wing figure Ali Akbar

    Pro-Trump radio host Wayne Dupree

    Newsbusters Managing Editor Curtis Houck

    Gateway Pundit’s Jim Hoft

    NRA board member Ted Nugent

    Turning Point USA’s Richard Armande Mills

    Raheem Kassam, former London bureau chief for Breitbart

    Pro-Trump YouTuber Mark Dice

    Judicial Watch’s Jerry Dunleavy

    Fox News radio host Todd Starnes

    Social media network Gab, known as “a haven for white nationalists”

    Hyperpartisan site RedStateWatcher

    What are your thoughts? Please share and comment with your opinion. Is it too dangerous for Conservatives in this progressive era? Will you boycott ABC now?

    Facebook pages shared pro-Roseanne memes

    The Political Insider

    Tell Me Now

    Headline Politics

    Robertson Family Values

    I Support Donald Trump

    America’s Freedom Fighters’ pages

    Hyperpartisan page I Love My Freedom

    Yes, Barr’s tweet was controversial, but ABC has arguably been looking for any excuse to cut Barr’s pro-Trump show since it became the highest rated show on television.

    The Newly Press

  • Here are the conspiracy theories and hoaxes being spread about the Santa Fe shooting

    Blog ››› ››› JOHN WHITEHOUSE & MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    A gunman has reportedly killed at least eight students at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, TX. The shooter is reportedly in custody. Conspiracy theories about the attack are already spreading on message boards and social media.

    This post was last updated at 2:56 pm EDT and will be updated throughout May 18.

    4chan: The shooter was “identified as Ant-awan Al-Kumiyya” and has “ties” to ISIS.

    4chan: “The suspect is a White male named Paulo Deninez.”

    The person who started the thread later posted a “correction” that the name they meant to post was “Paul Denino”:

    4chan: The shooting was designed to distract from Department of Justice inspector general report about investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails.

    Other posts in another thread made the same allegation.

    4chan: The government takes advantage of real shootings to desensitize people before taking their rights.

    4chan: The shooting might have been designed to “shift the narrative back to gun control” and/or distract from Israel killing Gazans.

    4chan: “Jewish false flag to distract from whatever is dropping tonight.”

    8chan: The shooting might have been a false flag.

    Reddit’s r/The_Donald: The shooting might have been a false flag.

    Twitter user: A fake account for “Laguna Beach Antifa” spread a false claim that the poster’s father is a janitor at Santa Fe High School who was shot. Another fake “Laguna Beach Antifa” account had previously pushed this same image.

    8chan: The shooting “was orchestrated to distract from the clearly LIBERAL EMBARRASSMENT that was the Trump golf club shooting?”

    Reddit’s r/Conspiracy: “Student tells CNN anchor there was a fire ‘drill’ at Sante Fe, TX school minutes before shots rang out.”

    Twitter user: A since-removed tweet falsely identified “neo-nazi ring leader Samuel Hyde” as the shooter.

    Laura Loomer: Santa Fe High School had a “mass casualty drill” before the shooting. “I’m sorry, but I can’t help but notice these ‘coincidences.’”

    Twitter user and 4chan: “Deep state” is “commission[ing]” the shooter.”

    Twitter user: The school had an "active shooter drill" just over a week ago. What a (((coincidence))).”

    Twitter user: The shooting was a planned distraction from news about Democrats.

    Twitter user: The shooting could be part of a New York Times cover-up of the release of the Justice Department inspector general report release.

    4chan: The shooter was bullied by teachers, and media are covering it up.

    Twitter users: Survivor Paige Curry is a crisis actor.

    Facebook: A now-removed fake profile was created of the alleged shooter as a Clinton and antifa supporter.

    Mike Cernovich: The alleged shooter may be antifa because he wore the same outfit "which you see at every ANTIFA riot."

    Research contributed by Alex Kaplan, Cristina López G., Natalie Martinez, Grace Bennett, Dina Radtke, and Bobby Lewis. Also, h/t to Buzzfeed reporter Jane Lytvynenko for some of these.