Mike Cernovich

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  • Trolls Chuck Johnson and Mike Cernovich launching websites to harass journalists

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    The Daily Caller reported that “alt-right”-affliated internet trolls Chuck Johnson and Mike Cernovich will be launching websites to “go after” reporters.

    Cernovich, a noted “men’s rights” activist and a host at conspiracy outlet Infowars, has a history of pushing conspiracy theories including “Pizzagate” and the idea that an April chemical attack in Syria was a hoax. He has launched numerous harassment campaigns against media figures, including a New York Times reporter, and has been promoted by people affiliated with President Donald Trump, including Kellyanne Conway and Donald Trump Jr. Chuck Johnson, the editor of fringe outlet GotNews, has also harassed numerous journalists, and along with Cernovich has made up part of the far-right alt-media echo-chamber that has worked in tandem with fake news purveyors to spread conspiracy theories and spur harassment against reporters and other figures.

    The Daily Caller, in a May 19 article, reported that Johnson and Cernovich were “each launching websites to go after reporters.” It quoted Johnson saying, “The American press no longer behaves properly, and they need to be held to account.” Cernovich also told the outlet that his website would “perform investigative journalism on people who are making the news and breaking the news and find out if these are trustworthy people.” From the report:

    Internet provocateurs and journalists Chuck Johnson and Mike Cernovich are each launching websites to go after reporters, The Daily Caller has learned.

    Johnson, who currently runs GotNews.com, told TheDC Thursday, “The American press no longer behaves properly, and they need to be held to account.”

    “They have decided to make themselves the story, and so if anyone has information on top journalists we will make them the story,” added Johnson, an infamous internet troll with reported ties to the Trump administration.

    Johnson has been banned from Twitter for harassment and previously was a freelance contributor for The Daily Caller. He also helped launch Wesearchr, which crowd-funded for information that sometimes pertained to journalists. Some of the “bounties” on the site were for Megyn Kelly’s divorce files, or a sex tape of Gawker founder Nick Denton.

    He said the website — he won’t reveal its name — will be a fusion of Wesearchr and Got News and will be launched by July 4. Johnson added that Cernovich might be involved.

    Cernovich, who has been described as a conspiracy theorist for spreading stories about pedophilia rings and Hillary Clinton having Parkinson’s, told TheDC Thursday that he has a website in the works called “Journalism on Journalists.”

    “It would perform investigative journalism on people who are making the news and breaking the news and find out if these are trustworthy people,” Cernovich said.

    [...]

    Cernovich said journalists “have this immense amount of power and they write profiles on people and the minute you turn the camera on them they act like you are some harasser or stalker.”

    He said that there is a “double standard” and that journalists aren’t held accountable if they “ruin someone’s life with disinformation.”

  • Fake News Purveyors Promote “Alt-Right” Claims That Susan Rice And James Comey Imperiled By Supposed FBI Investigation

    ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

    Fake news purveyors are promoting dubious claims from “alt-right” figures Mike Cernovich and Jack Posobiec that former FBI Director James Comey dropped an FBI investigation into former national security advisor Susan Rice because it would have implicated him. They are also claiming that Rice is in legal jeopardy for unmasking aides of President Donald Trump who were caught on incidental FBI surveillance. There have been no mainstream media reports that Rice or Comey committed any wrongdoing, and both Cernovich and Posobiec have a history of pushing misinformation and conspiracy theories.

  • Why The “Alt-Right” Is Getting Scoops From The Trump White House

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    The vicious “alt-right” provocateur Mike Cernovich spent the 2016 election cycle claiming that Hillary Clinton had Parkinson’s disease and that her associates were leading a child sex-trafficking ring from a Washington, D.C., pizza restaurant. Now he has the ear of enough sources close to President Donald Trump that, at times, he has published legitimate scoops that have later been verified by more credible sources.

    “Big scoops by personalities who rose to prominence online by crossing the line into trolldom have short-circuited a mainstream-media bullshit detector that once spotted fake news by bylines alone,” warned BuzzFeed News’ Charlie Warzel, who has detailed several cases in which trolls linked to the racist and misogynistic “alt-right” have turned out to be unnervingly well-sourced.

    By providing people like Cernovich with this information, the administration sources have created a new state of uncertainty for journalists and news consumers who might otherwise have been able to universally reject stories from “alt-right” sources. And that creates a dismal state of affairs given the willingness of those writers to troll the public by pushing flagrantly false reports and conspiracy theories.

    The wave of more credible stories doesn’t reflect a new commitment to investigative journalism on the part of these figures so much as it reflects terribly on the sort of people in Trump’s orbit, who are feeding information to the dregs of the internet for personal or strategic reasons.

    For Warzel, the rising power of the “pro-Trump media” makes sense because “its people are in the White House,” feeding information to simpatico media figures.

    That is surely the explanation in some cases. According to Alex Jones, a conspiracy theorist who frequently brags about his influence with the president and who recently gave Cernovich a regular hosting gig on his radio show, the troll’s sources are “not a secret, it’s [the president’s] sons, especially Donald Jr.”

    Trump Jr. repeatedly drew scrutiny during the 2016 election for his interactions with “alt-right” and white nationalist figures and memes. He follows Cernovich and several other “alt-right” figures on Twitter, and in April he declared that Cernovich deserved to win a Pulitzer Prize for one of his stories.

    Several other current and former members of the White House staff have similar ties to that movement.

    This seems like a plausible pathway for at least some of Cernovich’s stories. But White House staffers don’t need to be his buddy in order to use him -- they may see giving him information as a way to maintain Trump’s support with the “alt-right.”

    In short, there may be a White House strategy to feed the trolls.

    White House chief strategist Steve Bannon turned Breitbart.com into “the platform for the alt-right” during his tenure running the website, seeing the value in gaining fans within that movement. Throughout the election, the Trump campaign could count on people like Cernovich to push conspiracy theories about Hillary Clinton. There is certainly value in keeping such people on the White House’s good side and being able to deploy their skill at manipulating the broader discourse.

    In this scenario, sending tips to such figures is of a piece with the White House Press Office’s decision to grant press access to a rotating cast of fringe media figures. It’s a way to reward friendly outlets while keeping the press off balance.

    Finally, there’s the possibility that the end goal of some of these stories is to feed the King Troll: President Trump himself.

    Politico reported today that because the president lacks a structure for receiving information and is willing to believe anything put in front of him, “aides sometimes slip him stories to press their advantage on policy; other times they do so to gain an edge in the seemingly endless Game of Thrones inside the West Wing.” And that can have major consequences: “A news story tucked into Trump’s hands at the right moment can torpedo an appointment or redirect the president’s entire agenda. Current and former Trump officials say Trump can react volcanically to negative press clips, especially those with damaging leaks, becoming engrossed in finding out where they originated.”

    “That is what happened in late February,” Politico continued, “when someone mischievously gave the president a printed copy of an article from GotNews.com, the website of Internet provocateur Charles C. Johnson, which accused deputy chief of staff Katie Walsh of being ‘the source behind a bunch of leaks’ in the White House.”

    Johnson’s piece about Walsh was also cited in Warzel’s article about pro-Trump media figures who had received unusually well-sourced scoops. Johnson openly repudiates many conventions of journalistic ethics and has published numerous stories that were later disproved; he’s also been banned from Twitter. As his notoriety grew, he went from published stories at prominent conservative outlets like The Daily Caller to writing for his own website.

    But President Trump is uninterested in any of this, and so when Johnson’s story passed across his desk it apparently became a “topic of heated conversation in the West Wing, setting off mini internal investigations into who had backstabbed Walsh,” Politico reported.

    In this scenario, the “alt-right” commentariat becomes a way for White House aides to generate news clips that they can give the president, because he does not discern between their work and that of a mainstream newspaper. Unlike more credible reporters, writers for these outlets have no real standards; if you give them something juicy, they will publish it.

    Either senior White House aides and people close to the president share the values of the “alt-right” racists and misogynists, or they’re willing to work with them to achieve their ends. Either way, the “alt-right” isn’t going away -- it continues to grow and metastasize and now has allies at the highest level of government.

  • Gateway Pundit Threw A Gala For The "Alt-Right" And We Were There

    Move Over Nerd Prom; Troll Prom Is In Town.

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G. & JARED HOLT

    On April 29, about a mile away from the annual White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner, a little over a hundred members of a group who dubiously brand themselves as purveyors of the “real news” gathered in a downtown Washington cigar lounge to revel in their success. And the success is not insignificant - leveraging social media audiences to manufacture controversies and troll, they are now providing for their followers an increasingly expanding alternative to what they see as a hopelessly biased press.

    At first glance, The Gateway Pundit's ‘80s-themed “Real News Correspondents Gala” -- billed as an alternative to the simultaneous "establishment media" dinner of the White House press corps -- was indistinguishable from a stereotypical Washington affair: The audience consisted of high-profile figures, apparent benefactors, and an insatiable crowd eager to network with anyone seemingly important. However, the standard, “What do you do?” networking question often preceded the more cultish reference to a new alternative right-wing: “How did you arrive at the movement?”

    This movement has run rampant on new-media and is rapidly expanding throughout the internet. Its members have taken to social sites like Facebook, Twitter, Periscope, Reddit, and YouTube to promote far-right nationalist politics, conspiracy-laden worldviews, and fact-flexible rants to an audience it has isolated and now dominates, shoddy journalistic practices aside, as its preferred news source. Their increasing reach over online subscribers has turned them into an asset for the White House, which has compensated members of this new media circuit -- often eager to undermine media reporting negatively on the administration -- with access to bring their paranoia straight into White House press briefings.

    The event hosted and celebrated a handful of the most prominent members of the so-called “new right fam” (a transparent attempt at rebranding after their "alt-right" identification grew toxic) including “dumbest man on the internet” Jim Hoft, self-described “guerilla journalist” and fraud-peddling performance artist James O’Keefe, Rebel Media host Gavin McInnes, the White House’s favorite rape-denying troll, Mike Cernovich, Gateway Pundit White House correspondent and troll Lucian Wintrich, and “alt-right” figure Cassandra Fairbanks, who writes for the Russian state-sponsored outlet Sputnik.

    The night took off with Hoft, who had donned a retro white headband and a pair of reflective sunglasses, welcoming guests to the shindig, giving shoutouts to a roster of speakers from the “alt-right” including McInnes and Wintrich, and presenting O’Keefe and Cernovich with awards for their “work.” The people Hoft introduced then took the floor to acknowledge that without that digital echo chamber, many in their movement would be virtually unknown. Cernovich reminisced about “Hillary’s health thing,” referring to rumors he helped push that former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton was chronically ill, whose spread “only happened because of the amplification of social media.”

    But for a group that previously basked in its own isolation and claims to despise the Washington establishment media, the night was sharply punctuated by complaints that “the movement” -- shorthand many of its members now use in conversation to refer to these "alt-right" or “new right” online content creators and their acolytes -- and its message are not validated by mainstream reporting.

    “Not only do they not do the journalism,” O’Keefe told attendees as he accepted an award for his own so-called journalism, “but they’re too afraid. ... We really are the only ones left to actually do the job.” For the record, O’Keefe’s journalism has included creating misleading and doctored “undercover” videos as well as embarrassing himself while attempting sting operations targeting liberal organizations.

    In a self-aggrandizing speech, Wintrich claimed, “Many of the people in this room, we’re all the last bastions of free speech in America. We’ve had this old guard media who have been running with these stale narratives that are purely left-leaning for decades, and finally after ages we’re seeing this beautiful transition.”

    But the movement’s idea of journalism contains a clear premise: that their own right-wing bias is an advantage that allows their followers, who already think mainstream media cannot be trusted, to trust them. As described by The Washington Post when profiling Cernovich, “objectivity is less important than an impression of honesty." To gain the trust of their audiences, they actively attack and undermine mainstream media. As Wintrich admitted, he’ll “take the occasional jab at media, because” he “hate[s] them all," and “half of” his job as a White House correspondent is “fucking with people.” To members of this group, this approach validates their charade as legitimate news providers and lends authenticity to their work.

    Cernovich went so far as to suggest that many of the movement’s narratives are artificial and self-induced -- yet still journalism.

    “There’s this new form of media now which is part activism and part real journalism,” Cernovich said. “And the way I put it is if there’s nothing happening, make it happen, and a lot of people say, ‘Well, that’s not real journalism. Real journalism is observing things,’ and I don’t really believe that’s true, actually. If you can get on a microphone and say ‘Bill Clinton is a rapist’ -- if the crowd reacts, that’s news.”

    Despite the questionable journalistic premises the movement holds dear, like Cernovich’s method of provoking crowd reactions for “news,” or O’Keefe’s habit of presenting heavily edited videos as evidence or attempting to smear mainstream media, the night was full of recognition of attendees for their supposed journalistic merit. Along with presenting an award to O’Keefe, Hoft also honored Cernovich for being “one of the main individuals who helped [President] Donald Trump get across that finish line” and celebrated him as the person who “first started noticing” and “pushing” the idea that Clinton “looks a little sick.”

    This journalistic debauchery would be nothing more than bad theater if it hadn’t been legitimized by the White House by granting practitioners access to press briefings. Despite Gateway Pundit’s admission that its correspondent is “there to troll,” Wintrich was credentialed to attend White House press briefings. Cernovich was also approved for a press pass, and he used his access to cause a commotion in the briefing room by yelling at members of the press corps. He later uploaded a video of his outburst to his Periscope feed.

    The “Real News Correspondents Gala” also hosted many young people hoping to board the new-media train barreling out of the “new right” movement. One amateur media personality told us that he was there to network and make connections to expand his platform online. Media figures in attendance seemed receptive to the aspiring personalities and were eager to pose for pictures. As Cernovich gave his speech, he recounted the story a young woman in attendance told him about her college broadcast journalism professor telling her she would never make it in the industry.

    “Her dreams were killed in college, but you can live your dreams now,” Cernovich said. “Give her a hug. Tell her we love her.”

    And the movement may have good reason to entertain new media aspirants: Many prominent online personalities of the “alt-right” movement have talked publicly about expanding their media operations and hiring more people. Vanity Fair reported that “alt-right” poster boy Milo Yiannopoulos is planning to launch a new media operation “for libertarian and conservative comedians, writers, stand-up comics, intellectuals, you name it” and plans to hire 30 people. O’Keefe told the audience that his group Project Veritas would hire “dozens of full-time infiltrators who are going to work their way to the top” of progressive organizations.

    Cernovich also revealed that the movement’s leaders are considering hosting a TED talk-style conference over the summer and will continue to host happy hours and social events for their supporters.

    “Connection and community is what we have to focus more on because everybody on the internet feels isolated and alone, and then they come to an event and they go, ‘Wow, Mike. A lot of people come to your happy hours,’” Cernovich said. “Well, yeah. No shit, right? We’re popular. There’s a lot of us out there and you wouldn’t get that message if you only watched the news.”

    As its members enjoy their newfound popularity, the "new right" movement is also challenged with balancing the inflammatory rhetoric and “meme magic” that have been the foundation of its online success, against the backlash that results from deploying this rhetoric in the real world, which could threaten the long-lasting political capital and broader legitimacy they crave. That is what explains their attempts to rebrand themselves as “new right” and distance themselves from the most toxic figures of the “alt-right,” even despite their gaining notoriety and followers during the 2016 election by associating with and praising the “alt-right.”

    Online, these personalities behave like trolls, taking pleasure in triggering “social justice warriors” (the pejorative nickname given in online forums to those perceived as socially progressive) by, among other things, using inflammatory language, but claiming it’s in jest. As New York magazine’s Noreen Malone explains, the group uses irony as armor when their jokes get criticism: “If you take them seriously, they’ll claim you miss the joke.” Much of this ironic contrarianism permeates into their real life personas and makes them seem like walking memes. At the “gala,” as Mike Flynn Jr., son of Trump’s former national security advisor and one of the leading proponents of the pizzagate fake news story, generously positioned himself and his Golden Girls T-shirt into any and all pictures he was asked for, he couldn’t help but invite fellow partygoers to“trigger some snowflakes” by flashing the “OK” sign. Members of the “alt-right” have ironically appropriated the “OK” sign to represent their faction after a viral message board hoax pushed the idea that it had white nationalist connotations. The vocabulary of this “new right” group draws so much from the online forums its members frequent that it would be foreign to anyone who hasn’t spent time reading their digital output. Our female reporter was congratulated by a fellow partygoer for being “red-pilled” (someone who has been awakened to the real world) -- which he determined based simply on her being one of the few women in attendance (the male to female ratio was, by generous approximation, seven-to-three -- not counting the women on Flynn Jr.’s Golden Girls T-shirt).

    Again, all of this would seem just amusing anecdote were it not for the powerful connections that have legitimized their shoddy journalistic practices, employed in order to reach their growing audiences and leverage their support. President Donald Trump’s sons are allegedly serving as sources to Cernovich, and his media appearances have been publicized by Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president. And those connections suggest the possibility that some “new right” ideas could influence policy. But until it’s possible to assess how much of the movement’s digital output is meant as posturing to continue amassing followers that sustain their digital media enterprises, and how much represents actual positions with enough political support to make them executable, we are forced to keep taking them at their word, meant in jest or not.

    Images by Dayanita Ramesh

  • Fake News And The "Alt-Right" Are Pushing Forged Documents To Aid Marine Le Pen In France's Election

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

    Forged documents originating on 4chan alleging that French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron was evading taxes spread online thanks to an ecosystem that includes social media, “alt-right” outlets, and fake news purveyors. The campaign was seemingly aided by Russian-linked entities, and it subsequently reached Macron’s opponent, who aired the claim in a public debate.

    Macron is competing in a May 7 runoff against far-right candidate Marine Le Pen. On May 3, hours before a scheduled debate between Macron and Le Pen, an anonymous user on 4chan posted documents purporting to show that Macron used a shell company to dodge taxes. Users on the forum responded that the documents should be sent to “independent journalists” and “the alternative media” like “Cernovic (sic), Breitbart, and so on,” and encouraged each other to “spam” the documents “on social media” such as Twitter to get “it trending.” They also said to “send it to Le Pen.” The documents soon spread on Twitter, with many of the Twitter accounts promoting them appearing to have connections to Russia, according to a Belgian researcher. The claim was promoted by “alt-right” media figures such as Mike Cernovich and Jack Posobiec.

    That these figures would attempt to smear Le Pen’s opponent is not surprising given that Le Pen is widely admired by much of the “alt-right” and closely tied with Russia.

    Along with Twitter, 4chan’s campaign was picked up by forums on 8chan and Reddit; “alt-right” fringe outlets The Gateway Pundit, Got News, Zero Hedge, and Daily Stormer; and fake news purveyor Before It’s News.

    The 4chan-based documents eventually reached Le Pen herself. During her debate with Macron, she said, “I hope that we will not find out that you have an offshore account in the Bahamas.” Le Pen later backed down on her claim, and Macron filed a legal complaint against her for the statement. Multiple outlets have reported that the documents were fake, with The Telegraph noting that they were “widely denounced as crude forgeries.” Additionally, following Le Pen's accusation, the French prosecutor's office has opened an investigation regarding “suspicions of fake news being spread to influence Sunday's presidential vote.”

    The case is yet another example of the way the misinformation ecosystem involving the “alt-right” and fake news purveyors amplifies fringe falsities and lies (and even Kremlin-connected conspiracy theories). The network has often succeeded in pushing those false claims into more traditional conservative and mainstream outlets and, thus, the public realm.

    Image by Dayanita Ramesh

  • Alex Jones Has Given Mike Cernovich A Hosting Gig At Infowars

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    The “nation's leading conspiracy theorist” Alex Jones has given alt-right troll Mike Cernovich a regular hosting gig at Infowars’ The Alex Jones Show.

    As reported by CNN on May 3, Cernovich will take over “the fourth hour of Jones' show once a week” effective immediately. Jones has praised Cernovich on his show as “a total patriot” for having President Donald Trump’s “sons, especially Donald Jr.” as sources and for creating a commotion after a White House press briefing he was granted access to earlier this week. Jones also claimed Infowars was granted a “weekly” pass to the White House press briefing.

    Cernovich gained notoriety online as a rape-promoting, misogynist alt-right troll who pushes the "Pizzagate" conspiracy theory, and is currently attempting to rebrand himself as “new right.” By granting him a press pass, the White House allowed him to undermine the press corps with the same inflammatory techniques he uses to disrupt discourse online. The partnership between Jones and Cernovich provides more evidence of the incestuous alternative-media “new right” echo chamber which disseminates misleading and offensive content across multiple media platforms with extreme efficiency.

    As explained by CNN, the alliance between these internet personalities is “a perfect fit” as they “both represent a brand of journalism” that mixes sensationalism and misleading narratives with “a smattering of items that appear to hold some water.” From CNNMoney’s May 3 article:

    Mike Cernovich, a self-described "New Right" Internet personality, will begin regularly hosting part of "The Alex Jones Show" on InfoWars, a far-right media organization known for peddling unfounded conspiracy theories.

    Cernovich, a 39-year-old lawyer from California, who guest hosted some segments on InfoWars last month, will host the fourth hour of Jones' show once a week, starting today, but moving to Friday afternoons the following week, a representative for InfoWars told CNN.

    [...]

    And now he's one of the first online right-wing trolls of the 2016 election cycle to take his act professional, if not quite mainstream. InfoWars and its founder Alex Jones spread conspiracy theories, but are also carried by 200 radio stations across the country, and visited by millions of readers online each month.

    [...]

    While Cernovich may break some news, he certainly does not do so in the traditional sense. In the stories he's authored that have checked out, he's played loose with the facts and applied a partisan spin to advance a narrative. In others, he's made wild claims without sufficient evidence to support them.

    [...]

    In many ways, the marriage between Cernovich and InfoWars is a perfect fit. Both represent a brand of journalism perhaps best comparable to the National Enquirer. Each hawks sensational and often wildly inaccurate or misleading stories to their audiences, but mixes them in with a smattering of items that appear to hold some water.

    [...]

    It also signals a splintering from the more traditional conservative media industrial complex. While Cernovich and other right-wing provocateurs share viewers with outlets like Fox News, they've drawn on an entirely different infrastructure to get their messages out — one which appears to be growing larger and stronger by the day.

    In an interview with Jones prior to his first hosting appearance on May 3, Cernovich argued that Jones’ “integrity” in his Pizzagate coverage is what led Chobani owner Hamdi Ulukaya to sue him, claiming “ultimately Islam means submission, and he wants -- under his religion he has to make you, and infidel, submit to him.” Cernovich also used his new platform to brag about how he “triggered” reporters in the White House press briefing room, claiming that MSNBC’s Kristen Welker “is not a healthy person,” has “a satanic look,” and “you can look at that person and just tell that is a sociopath.”

  • Alex Jones: Infowars Has Been Granted A “Weekly” White House Press Pass, “Regular” Press Credentials Are “Pending”

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Conspiracy theorist and Donald Trump media ally Alex Jones claimed that his outlet Infowars has been granted a weekly press pass to the White House and suggested that Infowars is making progress in obtaining a more permanent press credential.

    During his May 2 broadcast, Jones said, “I want to toot our horn and Mike Cernovich's horn again. The media is calling for his weekly pass he was given. We've gotten those as well. We're pending getting our regular passes which are very hard to get at the White House with Jerome Corsi.”

    Cernovich, an “alt right” troll who has been making regular appearances on Jones’ show in recent weeks, attended the White House press briefing yesterday and had an outburst as the briefing concluded.

    Jones said that the more permanent credentials would be for Infowars Washington, D.C., bureau chief Jerome Corsi, a disreputable right-wing figure who led the birther movement.

    In January, Jones said that Infowars had been offered a White House press credential. The White House press office denied the claim. Jones later claimed he meant that Infowars “can get them if we want them, guaranteed.”

    Jones and Trump have an ongoing relationship. Jones has repeatedly boasted about the president and people in the administration calling him on the phone. Then-presidential candidate Trump appeared on Jones’ program in December 2015 and praised the host for his “amazing” reputation.

    From the May 2 edition of Genesis Communications Network’s The Alex Jones Show:

    ALEX JONES: I want to toot our horn and Mike Cernovich's horn again. The media is calling for his weekly pass he was given. We've gotten those as well. We're pending getting our regular passes which are very hard to get at the White House with Jerome Corsi. The national media has said that it was white power -- [Cernovich] made the Trump symbol of A-OK, we’re going to handle it, everything’s being taken care of with finesse. It doesn’t matter if that means it’s handled, we’ve got it done, everything is A-OK. They say he is an evil white supremacist because he’s pointed out that Antifa is attacking people all over the United States and he was able to get that out in the briefing yesterday at the White House.

    Previously:

    What It Would Mean To Have Infowars In The White House Press Room

    Alex Jones: I Didn’t Ask For White House Press Credentials, But “We Can Get Them If We Want Them, Guaranteed.”

    Here’s What Happened When The Trump White House Gave An “Alt-Right” Troll Access To The Press Room

    Alex Jones Claims Trump Calls Him And Asks If He’s “Happy” With His Performance

    *This post has been updated. 

  • Here’s What Happened When The Trump White House Gave An “Alt-Right” Troll Access To The Press Room

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    Mike Cernovich is an internet troll, conspiracy theorist, and leading figure in the “alt-right’s” assemblage of modern-day white nationalists and misogynists who has drawn praise and support from President Donald Trump’s closest confidantes. Today, he used a White House press pass to berate reporters at the daily briefing for not sufficiently covering “the violence against Trump supporters.”

    Cernovich received a White House press pass last week, and he attended the briefing Friday and made a hand sign associated with white nationalists from the podium. Other “alt-right” media figures, including Rebel Media’s Lauren Southern and Gateway Pundit’s Jim Hoft and Lucian Wintrich, have also visited the press room during the Trump administration.

    Cernovich returned to the White House for today’s press briefing. After press secretary Sean Spicer concluded taking questions from reporters, Cernovich shouted out, “What about violence against Trump supporters at Berkeley?” Ignored by Spicer, Cernovich began yelling at members of the White House press corps, repeatedly demanding to know why they purportedly refused to cover the story. At one point a member of the press corps asked him if he was a reporter; he responded that he was.

    Once reporters stopped responding to his diatribe, Cernovich left the room. Here’s the video of the outburst, via his Periscope feed:

    The White House’s practice of admitting a provocateur to hassle members of the press corps is part of the administration's broader effort to undermine journalists by flooding press conferences and briefings with an array of pro-Trump sycophants and propagandists.

    As close White House ally Newt Gingrich suggested in November, the White House press office has the power to “rethink from the ground up the whole concept of the White House press corps, come up with a totally new grass-roots model, and not allow the traditional media to dominate and define White House press coverage.”

    Trump’s “alt-right” fans are more than willing to participate in this effort, in some cases openly acknowledging that they are seeking access to the press room so they can troll journalists.

  • Pro-Trump RSBN Scales Back, Cancels Mike Cernovich Program

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    The pro-Trump Right Side Broadcasting Network (RSBN) has parted ways with two of its hosts -- including prominent “alt-right” conspiracy theorist Mike Cernovich -- and is scaling back plans to become a “24/7” news outlet, its CEO told Media Matters

    After the small media upstart found success during the 2016 campaign by providing live streams of Donald Trump’s rallies, RSBN sought to use Trump’s surprise win as a springboard to a bigger platform. Politico reported in January that RSBN had begun “quietly attempting to transform itself from a small live-stream operation into a major and diverse digital media outlet” with the goal of becoming a “24/7 news outlet of the common man.”

    But in recent months, those plans have apparently floundered. RSBN has struggled to find viewership for original streaming programs and has had to apologize for incendiary comments from its personnel.

    In January, RSBN attempted to appeal to its YouTube-centric audience by hiring YouTube prankster Joey Saladino (also known as “Joey Salads”). The move backfired, as numerous self-identified conservative Trump fans criticized the hiring on Twitter and in YouTube comments sections, specifically pointing to Saladino’s production of a hoax video purporting to show that the “black community is very violent toward” Trump supporters.

    Media Matters also documented that Saladino has a history of tweeting racist remarks, including warning that you’ll get “shot” if you “steal a niggas food stamp” and claiming that “Facebook is for old people and niggers.”

    The show had trouble getting viewers; the program’s last three episodes averaged just a couple thousand views.

    The network cut ties with Saladino after airing only six episodes of The Joey Saladino Show -- the last on February 10.

    In February, RSBN began airing the commentary and call-in show The Right Mindset with Mike Cernovich. Cernovich is a prominent “alt-right” figure who is infamous for launching online harassment campaigns, promoting rape denial, pushing conspiracy theories like “Pizzagate,” and tweeting racist and misogynistic remarks.

    Though Cernovich has friends in the Trump White House and a large social media presence, his RSBN program never took off, with no episode currently garnering more than 7,500 views on RSBN’s YouTube page. The views for Cernovich and Saladino stand in stark contrast to the millions racked up by RSBN for Trump rallies and events.

    In emails to Media Matters, RSBN CEO Joe Seales confirmed Saladino is no longer with the network and said Cernovich “is no longer doing The Right Mindset with us. Was a mutual decision pretty much as the views were not what we expected.”

    He added that there weren’t “enough views on the programs to justify the cost of producing them.”

    RSBN has had other problems with personnel. It recently issued a statement apologizing for comments by host Nick Fuentes, who said it was “time to kill the globalists” who run CNN and that he didn’t “want CNN to go out of business … I want the people that run CNN to be arrested and deported or hanged.”

    Politico magazine also noted in a January profile that RSBN had to reprimand an employee for “suggesting on Twitter that Islam is an inherently inferior religion.”

    Former Infowars reporter Joe Biggs also announced that month that he was filming a “pro 2nd Amendment show” for the network. Media Matters subsequently noted that Biggs had tweeted his approval of date rape, sexual violence, revenge porn, and punching women and transgender people. (Politico reported that the tweets “may have put his chances for full-time employment at RSBN in jeopardy.”)

    In his email to Media Matters, Seales wrote that Biggs “never worked for or with us. We worked up the idea of a pilot for a show, which included him, but it wasn't meant to be.”

    He added that RSBN is “anything but racist or sexist,” writing:

    I know you folks at Media Matters like to take shots at us, but I hope you get the facts straight. We are anything but racist or sexist here.

    Our #1 producer, Brandon Davis, is African American...and as you know, so is our host Wayne Dupree.

    Steve Lookner, our #1 reporter and host is Jewish.

    And we have Margaret Howell and Liz Willis as reporters.

    RSBN’s efforts to finance its expansion plans through online fundraising have produced fewer donations than hoped. It started a GoFundMe account in late January with a goal of $50,000 but had only raised a little over $12,500 as of posting.

    RSN also started a Patreon site in early April and promised donor perks such as appearing “monthly on an RSBN Show,” “your own personalized song created by RSBN's Jacob Seales,” and a “live on-air shoutout during a news broadcast.” As of posting, the fundraiser has raised commitments of nearly $900 per month of its $20,000 goal.

    In the wake of those setbacks, RSBN said it is scaling back its original programming and reorienting its focus to what made it popular during the Trump primary.

    “It doesn't look like we'll be going to 24 hours anytime soon,” Seales wrote. “We're going to focus more on live breaking news coverage during the day and sending out crews to cover major events (such as POTUS rally this weekend).”

  • The White House’s Favorite Misogynistic Rape Denier Is Coming To Friday’s Press Briefing

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Internet troll Mike Cernovich, who has previously been promoted by persons within and close to President Donald Trump’s administration, announced on Twitter on April 24 that he had been approved for a “press pass” to visit the White House on April 28.

    In a since-deleted tweet, self-proclaimed “new right” leader Cernovich sent a message to President Donald Trump telling him that “some very dishonest people” at the White House “pulled my press pass,” warning that the action “will not go over well.” Hours later, during a live broadcast on YouTube (which has subsequently been removed) in which he ranted against the administration for denying him access, he told his audience that he just discovered his press pass has been approved. Cernovich followed up with a tweet:

    Cernovich’s presence at the White House comes as no surprise given the praise and access to information given to fringe and far-right outlets by White House officials. For example, Cernovich seemingly received special access to information involving the widely debunked smear that Susan Rice improperly unmasked Trump campaign staff under investigation and advance information that Trump would strike Syria. In addition, Cernovich has received praise from those close to Trump including Trump counselor Kellyanne Conway and the president’s son Donald Trump Jr., who both amplified Cernovich.

    In this case, while it appears that Cernovich received a day pass, not a permanent press pass like the ones given to credentialed journalists, Cernovich’s appearance at the White House, and most likely at the press briefing, reflects a larger pattern of outspoken Trump supporters and defenders getting increased access.  A similar pass was given to The Rebel Media’s Lauren Southern, who grew to fame as an “alt-right” media personality who denied rape and demonized minorities. The Trump White House briefing room has also become a hotbed for fringe pro-Trump media writers such as The Gateway Pundit’s Jim Hoft and Lucian Wintrich, who flashed an “alt-right” hand signal inside the briefing.

  • A Look At The Incestuous Alternative-Media Echo Chamber Winning Over Online Audiences

    Blog ››› ››› JARED HOLT

    On the coattails of President Donald Trump’s successful election campaign and an anti-"political correctness" wave, an alternative right-wing media echo chamber successfully reverberated itself into virtual relevance on social media, where it now reaches millions of people every day. This new-media ecosystem exists outside of traditional newspapers and cable news networks, instead taking to social sites like Facebook, Twitter, Periscope, Reddit, and YouTube to promote its far-right nationalist politics and conspiracy-laden worldviews to an audience it has isolated and now dominates as its preferred news source.

    Key players in this circular far-right alt-media echo chamber, such as online troll Mike Cernovich and Infowars’ Alex Jones, have successfully crafted a false impression of credibility. They have synthesized a “new right” echo chamber from “alt-right” ideologies and orchestrated a media machine that disseminates content across multiple media platforms with extreme efficiency.

    Key voices in this ecosystem often work a redundant media circuit across allied platforms to reinforce each other’s worldviews and concepts of reality, cast doubt on mainstream media, and suggest widespread conspiracies along the way. Cernovich demonstrated this tactic as he circulated a faux scandal story that suggested Susan Rice, who served as national security adviser to former President Barack Obama, was responsible for improper unmasking of Trump officials caught in surveillance of foreign officials.

    Cernovich toured the Rice story around the alternative media sphere he occupies until it eventually broke into mainstream media. On April 2, Cernovich first tweeted the “breaking news” that Rice had ordered the unmasking. Later that day, Cernovich published his full story about the explosive allegations. On April 3, Cernovich promoted the story in a livestream broadcast to his tens of thousands of Periscope followers. The same day, “alt-right” thought leader Richard Spencer publicly slammed Cernovich in his own broadcast, granting the story a direct platform into the "alt-right" fanbase. On April 4, Cernovich took his story through the alternative media circuit, appearing on Infowars and Free Domain Radio and earning shoutouts from Stefan Molyneux, Lee Stranahan, and Donald Trump Jr. After riding the wave, Cernovich continued his self-promotion in a Reddit AMA thread and a post-story interview with Rebel Media.

    Members of the echo chamber attract and maintain a fan base by developing an abusive relationship with their audience members -- a process they label “redpilling.” They gaslight their audiences until readers and viewers feel unable to trust any media other than those particular outlets to deliver them “the truth.” As a result, these new-media companies have groomed rabid fan bases that turn to them as beacons of honesty in a media world that they believe is orchestrated to distract the public from this echo chamber’s version of “the truth.”

    Many media outlets disregard this new-media echo chamber, continuing to speak about the movement with the same blanket terms and condescension they used before the so-called “new right” distanced itself from “alt-right” leaders. But now, months later, this far-right alternative media apparatus is encroaching on its mainstream competition online. For example, Infowars recently surpassed CNN in its number of subscribers on YouTube, which marked a major milestone in far-right alternative media's encroachment on the video site’s news ecosystem.

    According to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in early 2016, about half of people age 49 and under said they get their news online. And as cable news viewership declines and as Americans’ trust in news media sinks to an all-time low, alternative new-media stars have leveraged a unique opportunity to redefine right-wing media and reach mass audiences once loyal to established journalism outlets. The alternative media ecosystem has also benefited from attention from top government officials and those close to them; presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway recently elevated Cernovich on Twitter, Donald Trump Jr. pushed an Infowars conspiracy theory, and Michael Flynn Jr., the son of Trump’s former national security advisor, has promoted Infowars and conspiracy theories like “Pizzagate” sourced from the alternative media sphere.

    Graphics by Sarah Wasko

  • Report Traces How The "Alt-Right" Spread Pro-Assad Propaganda

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    A report by the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab found that a claim that recent airstrikes in Syria were a “false flag” operation -- an operation that either didn't really occur or that were conducted by a party other than the Syrian government -- which went viral among the "alt-right" actually originated with a Syrian propaganda outlet that supports the current regime and spread to a series of pro-Kremlin conspiracy websites and fake news purveyors before being promoted by “alt-right” figures including Infowars’ Alex Jones and Mike Cernovich.

    The report showed that key claims, quotes, and images that were initially reported by Al-Masdar, the outlet that supports Syrian President Bashar Assad, were used in reports on pro-Kremlin sites, fake news sites, and on Infowars. 

    In addition, the report noted that, after the "false flag" claim was promoted by Jones and Cernovich, Twitter accounts that appear to be bots accelerated the use of hashtags about the attack, which led to the hashtag #SyriaHoax going viral. The report concluded, “The Syrian regime’s reaction to the chemical attack is no surprise,” but “what is noteworthy is the way in which the regime’s response … was translated rapidly and directly into coverage on alt-right websites, most obviously Infowars.” From the report:

    The chemical attack came at dawn, local time, on April 4. It was widely reported and provoked outrage and condemnation, triggering immediate calls for an investigation. Photographs and videos from the scene showed hideous images of dead children and footage of rescuers, including the White Helmets group, washing down victims.

    The same day, website Al-Masdar News, which supports the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, published an article claiming that the story was a “false flag” operation.

    [...]

    Over the next two days, the al-Masdar piece was picked up by a number of pro-Kremlin and anti-Western sites.

    It was reproduced verbatim by at least three conspiracy sites: globalresearch.ca, informationclearinghouse.info and The Lifeboat News. A number of pro-Kremlin sites known for their use of false reporting quoted it at length. These included The Duran and The Russophile (also known as Russia News Now), together with conspiracy site Investment Watch Blog.

    A third group of sites wrote their own reports, but very largely followed the Al-Masdar arguments. These included 21st Century Wire and Before It’s News, both of which ran a video repeating the claims and using the same imagery.

    [...]

    The most influential pickup came on April 5, when US-based conspiracy site Infowars ran its version of the story. Infowars is a highly influential site among the “alt-right” movement in the US; its leading light, Alex Jones, has over 600,000 Twitter followers.

    [...]

    The Syrian regime’s reaction to the chemical attack is no surprise. It has consistently denied all accusations of atrocities, and accused its critics of false claims, as documented in the Atlantic Council’s report “Breaking Aleppo”.

    What is noteworthy is the way in which the regime’s response, launched on a site which has repeatedly amplified Assad’s messaging, was translated rapidly and directly into coverage on alt-right websites, most obviously Infowars.

    Conspiracy website Infowars and its proprietor, Alex Jones, have heavily praised Russian President Vladimir Putin in recent months, with Jones previously bragging about praise from “top Putin advisers” and even Putin himself in regards to his pro-Trump coverage. Jones also claims to have “talked to folks very close to the president” about Trump’s Syria policy. Both Jones and Cernovich, a member of the so-called “alt-right,” have helped popularize numerous conspiracy theories, including the “Pizzagate” story that falsely claimed an underground child sex trafficking ring was run out of a pizzeria in Washington, D.C.

    In March, the FBI opened an investigation into Russian operatives’ use of “bots” to push pro-Trump news from far-right outlets to social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, and the Senate Intelligence Committee opened an investigation into Russia’s use of fake news to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. Before It’s News, one of the pro-Trump propaganda outlets mentioned in the report, and a site that Media Matters has identified as a fake news purveyor, has denied any connection between Trump and the Russian government.

    Graphics by The Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab