Infowars

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  • Pro-Trump outlets falsely suggest the Clintons murdered a former Haitian government official

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Media outlets that favor President Donald Trump are claiming that former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were involved with the death of a former Haitian government official. The claim is just the latest in a long-running series of unsupported allegations that the Clintons have murdered people.

    On July 12, the Miami Herald reported that Klaus Eberwein, a former director of the Haitian government’s economic development agency, “was found dead Tuesday in a South Dade motel room in what the Miami-Dade medical examiner’s office is ruling a suicide.” According to the Herald, Eberwein “had fallen on hard times” and "faced allegations of fraud and corruption," and he was scheduled to testify before a Haitian anti-corruption commission. While neither the Clintons nor the Clinton Foundation were mentioned anywhere in the article, some fringe outlets and figures and fake news purveyors drew a connection, claiming that Eberwein’s expected testimony would have implicated the foundation. Far-right troll Mike Cernovich tweeted that Eberwein was “Found Dead Before Testifying Against Clinton Foundation” (discredited filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza promoted the claim), and fake news purveyor YourNewsWire claimed Eberwein was going to “testify that the Clinton Foundation misappropriated Haiti earthquake donations from international donors” (which conspiracy theorist Kim Dotcom and pro-Trump radio host Mark Simone promoted).

    Those claims were, of course, false. According to Snopes, a quote attributed by YourNewsWire to Eberwein attacking the Clinton Foundation actually came from someone else, and before his death, “no reports said or even hinted that any probe in which [Eberwein] was involved targeted Hillary Clinton or the Clinton Foundation”:

    As it turns out, however, the article from YourNewsWire from which the Haiti Sentinel piece was written is suspect, containing a “quote” from Eberwein — the only part of the article that linked him to the Clintons to begin with — that was actually spoken by someone else:

    “The Clinton Foundation, they are criminals, they are thieves, they are liars, they are a disgrace,” Eberwein said at a protest outside the Clinton Foundation headquarters in Manhattan last year.

    Someone did say that outside Clinton Foundation headquarters in Manhattan in November 2016, but YourNewsWire appears to have, for some reason, confused one person of Haitian descent with another. The actual person who spoke this phrase is a community activist and New York area radio host named Dahdoud André, and this comment originally appeared in a BBC article[.]

    [...]

    Before news of Klaus Eberwein’s suicide was reported on 12 July 2017, no reports said or even hinted that any probe in which he was involved targeted Hillary Clinton or the Clinton Foundation. The claim originated on the frequently disreputable YourNewsWire.com, and was uncritically repeated and amplified by readers and blogs. However, we have found no specific information tying Eberwein to Clinton before his July 2017 death.

    Since the Snopes report, not only have outlets and figures not retracted their false reporting, but the claim has spread. Pro-Trump TV network One America News (OANN) claimed Eberwein was “due to appear in court this week to testify in the Haitian senate against the Clinton Foundation for alleged corruption.” OANN went so far as to link Eberwein's death to the suicide of a GOP operative who sought Hillary Clinton's emails from Russian hackers and the murder of a Democratic National Committee (DNC) staffer, saying, "Now with three mysterious deaths all leading back to the Clintons in some way, it's only a matter of time before the authorities connect the dots and see the pattern of a Clinton cover up."

    Far-right conspiracy outlets Zero Hedge and Infowars both published the same piece claiming “deaths seem to follow the Clinton’s (sic) around, and this one especially is probably something – considering since the mainstream media is silent about this death.” Conspiracy outlet WorldNetDaily alleged Eberwein “told acquaintances he feared for his life for his fierce criticism of the Clinton Foundation,” and pro-Trump website The Gateway Pundit suggested Eberwein was “another victim of Clinton Arkancide.” Fake news purveyors Right Alerts, American Today, Conservative Fighters, USA Politics Today, Global Politics Now, TruthFeed, and Right Wing News also all suggested or outright alleged a connection between the Clintons and Eberwein’s death. Their pieces have received hundreds to thousands of Facebook engagements apiece, according to social media analytics website BuzzSumo: YourNewsWire (419,200), Infowars (7,800), Zero Hedge (20,400), WorldNetDaily (13,500), Gateway Pundit (11,000), Right Alerts (1,800), American Today (400), Conservative Fighters (10,400), USA Politics Today (1,400), TruthFeed (18,300), and Right Wing News (931).

    Conservative media figures have falsely alleged for years that the Clintons have killed several people, including then-White House deputy counsel Vince Foster, despite multiple investigations concluding that his death was a suicide. Recently, some in conservative media, including OANN, have baselessly suggested that the Clintons were connected to the death of the DNC staffer, Seth Rich, even though law enforcement has concluded he was likely the victim of a botched robbery.

  • Despite conservative media claims, James Comey didn't leak classified information to NY Times

    ››› ››› DINA RADTKE

    Right-wing media, pro-Trump internet trolls, and fake news purveyors are boosting a report from a right-leaning journalist in a way that suggests former FBI Director James Comey might have intentionally leaked classified information to The New York Times. The report presents already-known information about Comey’s memos that recounted his interactions with President Donald Trump. Politico also reported that the source that passed along the memo to the Times confirmed that it did not contain classified information.

  • Pro-Trump media claim “shadow President” Obama is violating the Logan Act

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Fringe media supporting President Donald Trump have claimed that former President Barack Obama violated federal law and is acting as a “shadow president” because he has talked to former and current foreign leaders since the end of his presidency. The claims, which have at least partially been parroted on Fox News, are an extension of conservative media’s ongoing conspiracy theory that Obama runs a “shadow government.”

    Since Trump’s inauguration, conservative outlets have baselessly claimed that Obama is running some kind of “shadow government,” a conspiracy theory which has since been invoked by a Republican congressman and by one of Trump’s attorneys. The right-wing hysteria took on a new level of feverishness after Obama met with a handful of former and current world leaders, some of whom he worked closely with as president.

    Pro-Trump fake news purveyors were quick to attack Obama for his post-presidency activities. Several websites, including American Today, Patriots On The Right, US Postman, and USA Daily Time, claimed in June that Obama was “undermining President Trump” while “advertis[ing]” his “shadow government.” They suggested that Obama had “committed treason” and “violated” the Logan Act, a law barring private citizens from interfering with American foreign policy and for which no one has ever been prosecuted. The Federalist Tribune and The Washington Feed also asserted that Obama would get “a lengthy jail sentence” as a consequence of the law. Eventually, more fake news purveyors continued to push the false narrative, with Mad World News, USA Newsflash, GOP The Daily Dose, The Angry Patriot, Global Politics Now, Freedom Daily, US Advisor, ENH, and Before It’s News joining in.

    Additionally, “alt-right”-affiliated Infowars and fake news purveyors Conservative Fighters, TruthFeed, and Red Rock Tribune hyped a Daily Caller piece suggesting Obama was a “shadow president.” “Alt-right”-affiliated The Gateway Pundit also called Obama a “shadow president” who “may be breaking the Logan Act.” There has also been some discussion regarding Obama and the Logan Act on the “alt-right”-affiliated forum 4chan /pol/.

    According to social media analytics website BuzzSumo, these claims being peddled by the pro-Trump fringe ecosystem, including American Today, Mad World News, USA Newsflash, GOP The Daily Dose, The Angry Patriot, Freedom Daily, Infowars, Conservative Fighters, TruthFeed, and The Gateway Pundit, have drawn numerous Facebook engagements that rise well over the thousands, according to social media analytics website BuzzSumo. There were at least 380 engagements with American Today's article, 41,900 with Mad World News’ article, 122,500 with USA Newsflash’s article, 6,500 with GOP The Daily Dose’s article, 7,000 with The Angry Patriot’s article, 48,300 with Freedom Daily’s article, 58 with Infowars’ article, 10,200 with Conservative Fighters’ article, 8,700 with TruthFeed’s article, and 5,000 and 6,900 for The Gateway Pundit articles, respectively.

    Some of the narrative has now gained cable news visibility by reaching Fox News, with host Lou Dobbs on July 6 attacking Obama for “shadowing” and trying to "undercut" Trump, and Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade on July 7 wondering why Obama was “shadowing” Trump and wondering whether Obama was trying to “swamp him.”

    The spread of these baseless claims yet again illustrates how the pro-Trump "alt-right"/fake news ecosystem has been used to push lies, conspiracy theories, and falsehoods.

  • Fringe media target new Minneapolis hate crime hotline as imposing “Shariah” and “fascism”

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    “Alt-right”-affiliated outlets and fake news purveyors are targeting Minneapolis, MN, after the city installed a hotline for residents to report possible hate crimes, baselessly claiming it is imposing "Shariah" law, that the move amounts to "fascism," and that it’s related to a United Nations resolution.

    On June 19, the Star Tribune reported that Minneapolis had “set up a hot line for residents to report hate-crime incidents and other acts of intolerance.” Though the report mentioned that the hotline “comes amid signs of a recent surge of such incidents affecting Muslims and Jews across the country, many of which go unreported,” neither the news report nor the city’s press release suggested that the hotline is meant for people who subscribe to a specific religion.

    Nonetheless, “alt-right”-affiliated outlets and fake news purveyors jumped on the announcement to suggest the hotline was a front for a Muslim takeover. WorldNetDaily published a piece, which Infowars cross-posted, calling it a “Shariah hotline” for “snitches,” and The Gateway Pundit alleged that the hotline was set up in response to “false stories.” Fake news purveyor Freedom Daily called it the “anti-blasphemy hotline,” comparing it to blasphemy laws in other countries which “followers of Islam” can use to “have people who speak out or criticize their religion thrown into prison.” It said that the hotline was “only the beginning of Democrats’ plans for full-blown fascism in our country,” and also suggested that it is connected to a U.N. resolution pushed by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton “that encouraged nations to criminalize a person who defames or criticizes a person’s religious views,” a claim also suggested by WND.

    In addition, fake news purveyor USA Newsflash also claimed the new hotline is “fascism” against “opinions deemed forbidden by the state,” and fake news purveyor Conservative Daily Post called the hotline “Gestapo-like.” Fake news purveyor The Washington Feed accused the city’s “loony” mayor of “embrac[ing] … Islamic culture” at the expense of the First Amendment, and fake news purveyor TruthFeed criticized the idea of “taxpayer dollars and energy being wasted on this hateful, foreign religion.” A contributor for fake news purveyor Before It’s News accused the city of “surrender[ing] to the supremacism” of Muslims.

    The WorldNetDaily, Infowars, Gateway Pundit, Freedom Daily, Conservative Daily Post, and TruthFeed articles have drawn numerous Facebook engagements, according to social media analytics website BuzzSumo. There were at least 2,200 engagements with WorldNetDaily's article, 140 with Infowars' article, 319 with Gateway Pundit's article, 65,400 with Freedom Daily's article, 7,200 with Conservative Daily Post's article, and 1,100 with TruthFeed's article.

    The absurd attacks come as the “alt-right”/fake news ecosystem continues to push Islamophobic smears against anyone associated with Islam. This ecosystem has also repeatedly targeted brands and public figures who seek to promote unity, and it has amplified other dubious claims, baseless conspiracy theories, and lies.

  • Right-wing media hype flawed report on illegal voting pushed by serial conservative misinformers

    ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    Conservative media are reporting on a study claiming that thousands of illegal votes have been cast in Virginia since 1988. However, the study's authors have reportedly used “unreliable methodology” before, its findings go against those of several other studies and experts on voter fraud, and a person inaccurately targeted in it has called it a “gross misrepresentation of the facts.” Additionally, the study was put out by groups known for spreading conspiracy theories and fables about voter fraud and intimidation and which have previously used dubious methodologies in their studies.

  • Infowars’ Paul Joseph Watson can’t get anything right

    Watson's fans include Donald Trump Jr. and the Trump administration

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    Infowars editor Paul Joseph Watson has no credibility. The longtime Alex Jones collaborator has frequently fallen for hoaxes, posted transparently false information, and pushed fringe conspiracy theories about 9/11 and mass shootings.

    Infowars and Watson have become a favorite source for President Donald Trump and his fans. The president and his aides have referred to Watson’s work during the campaign, and Jones claimed senior aides have said they “really want” Watson to be part of the White House press corps.

    Watson is an Infowars editor and writer who has been working for conspiracy theorist radio host Alex Jones since October 2002. He has emerged as his own brand, regularly posting videos to his own YouTube channel. His videos carry headlines like “Why Are Feminists Fat & Ugly?”; “Hillary's Weird Behavior: The Cover-Up”; “F**k Beyoncé"; and “The Deep State War on Trump.”

    He’s also a prolific presence on social media, where he regularly pushes false information and misogyny. Watson has tweeted that the Women's March on Washington would be composed of a “handful of self-entitled, fat, ugly feminists trying to get arrested in desperate attempt to impress any man”; “a feminist is a woman who hates men because she is ugly on the inside and out and no one wants to be around her”; “strident feminists are almost always joyless cunts who are not fun to be around. This is a scientific fact”; and the “stereotype of most feminists being fat, ugly and obnoxious is completely accurate.”

    Watson also rails against purported political correctness and “social justice warriors.” He complained in a June 2 Reddit Ask Me Anything discussion that liberals are anti-science because they won’t accept that African and Middle Eastern people are more aggressive because they have lower IQs, adding: “You can’t deny that there are differences between races when it comes to IQ.” He also said that there’s a “war on men and masculinity” and that popular culture glorifies “being a pussy” and having depression, which Watson falsely alleges is not a real medical condition. And Watson has claimed that “there’s no such thing as moderate Islam. Islam is a violent, intolerant religion which, in its current form, has no place in liberal western democracies.”

    Watson is a conspiracy theorist who has woven tales about the United States government's involvement in tragedies such as 9/11, the Oklahoma City bombing, and the Virginia Tech shooting. He has also fallen for numerous hoaxes, including fake stories about President Obama grabbing Melania Trump’s butt, President Trump generously allowing a black woman to live in Trump Tower for free for eight years, and a “damaging new Trump tape.”

    Trump and his aides have helped mainstream Watson, Jones, and Infowars, which is aiming to get permanent White House press credentials. Trump has twice retweeted Watson’s account (Watson responded to one retweet by writing that he “can now retire”). Donald Trump Jr. loves retweeting Watson’s account and has done so nearly 40 times since October 2016, according to the Trump Twitter Archive database. Longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone, Eric Trump, and White House director of social media Dan Scavino Jr. have also retweeted Watson or promoted his work.

    Jones said during a February 22 Reddit Ask Me Anything that he’s “talked to some of the senior Trump people” and they have told him, “‘Hey, we like you, but we really want Paul Watson’” as the Infowars White House correspondent. Jones added that Watson has declined to move to D.C.

    Here are 22 times Watson has pushed false stories and/or fact-free conspiracy theories:

    Watson fell for hoax that "CNN/BuzzFeed" would leak “damaging new Trump tape” before inauguration

    Watson helped start false claim that Trump “almost certainly” won popular vote due to votes “cast by illegal aliens”

    Watson posted fake photos claiming CNN made Fort Lauderdale airport shooter appear white

    Watson fell for fake story that Common Core curriculum taught 6th graders “how to use strap-on dildos”

    Watson posted -- then deleted -- story claiming WikiLeaks “bombshell” revealed that Clinton said she “hates everyday Americans”

    Watson fell for photoshopped picture of Obama supposedly grabbing Melania Trump’s butt

    Watson published false story that Obama executive order “mandate[s] the apprehension and detention of Americans who merely show signs of ‘respiratory illness’”

    Watson published 2011 story claiming “sources” say “bin Laden’s corpse has been on ice for nearly a decade”

    Watson’s Wash. Post-Seth Rich conspiracy theory fell apart

    Watson fell for fake story that trump allowed “homeless black woman” to live in Trump Tower rent free “for eight years”

    Watson falsely claims that depression is a fake condition

    Watson falsely claimed Obama adviser advocated “forced abortions” and “mass sterilization programs” through water supply

    Watson repeatedly connected Chicago attack with Black Lives Matter (police said it wasn’t connected)

    Watson falsely claims Obama’s birth certificate is “fraudulent”

    Watson falsely reported that “Social Security Administration is purchasing the bullets as part of preparations for civil unrest”

    Watson conspiracy theory: “U.S. establishment” “trained, funded and allowed” 9/11 hijackers into country

    Watson conspiracy theory: WTC 7 collapse “was a controlled demolition”

    Watson conspiracy theory: Virginia Tech mass shooting might have been “another government black-op”

    Watson conspiracy theory: Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh carried out attack under the direction of the FBI

    Watson conspiracy theory: Fort Hood mass shooting appears “perfectly staged”

    Watson conspiracy theory: Norwegian shooter “a patsy?”

    Watson conspiracy theory: British government behind 7/7 London bombings

    Watson fell for hoax that "CNN/BuzzFeed" would leak “damaging new Trump Tape” before inauguration

    Watson: “CNN/BuzzFeed to release damaging new Trump Tape 48 hours before inauguration.” Watson reported that a “source claiming to work for NBC has contacted Infowars to warn of a CNN/Buzzfeed plot to release a damaging video tape of Donald Trump just 48 hours before he is inaugurated as president.” [Infowars, 1/16/17, via Internet Archive]

    Watson was tricked by man who wanted to see how gullible he is. BuzzFeed reported that a man named Markus Muir said he tricked Watson into publishing the story. He explained: “It was only two direct messages and I thought he might ask for more confirmation. I went to bed, forgot about it, then I checked his feed on the train to work and it was just him saying there was huge news about to come out. I couldn’t believe it. It was a cut-and-paste job of what I said to him and it was all bullshit -- I made it all up.” He added that his idea came to him after seeing a CNN discussion on fake news. Infowars later took down Watson’s story. [BuzzFeed, 1/18/17]

    Watson helped start false claim that Trump “almost certainly” won popular vote due to votes “cast by illegal aliens”

    Watson: “Trump may have won popular vote.” Watson posted an Infowars piece claiming that “three million votes in the U.S. presidential election were cast by illegal aliens, according to Greg Phillips of the VoteFraud.org organization,” and as a result Trump “almost certainly won the popular vote.” [Infowars, 11/14/16]

    Reality: The claim that millions of “illegal” votes swung the popular vote is a baseless conspiracy. Numerous fact checkers noted that the “three million” “illegal” votes claim is false. PolitiFact wrote that the claim was given oxygen by Infowars, and it is “inaccurate” and “false.” It added that “studies have consistently shown that voter fraud is nowhere near common enough to call into question millions and millions of votes. Indeed, the ability to carry off such a far-reaching conspiracy -- potentially involving millions of people over the course of several months and without being noticed by election administration officials, many of them in states controlled by Republicans -- is ridiculously illogical.” [PolitiFact, 11/18/16, 11/28/16]

    Watson posted fake photos claiming CNN made Fort Lauderdale airport shooter appear white

    Watson tweet: “Why is CNN attempting to make the shooter look more white? bizarre.” After Esteban Santiago was arrested for the deadly January 2017 shooting at the Fort Lauderdale airport, Watson tweeted:

    [Twitter, 1/6/17, via archive.is]

    Watson’s photo was fake. As The Daily Beast noted, “In reality, CNN had yet to air a picture of Santiago, let alone lightened a picture of him. The conspiracy also used a picture of an entirely different man named Esteban Santiago -- not the alleged shooter. … A real image of the shooter circulated on the internet hours later, confirming that he is not the 39-year-old Santiago showed in Watson’s tweet and Gateway Pundit’s article.” Watson later deleted his tweet. [The Daily Beast, 1/6/17]

    Watson fell for fake story that Common Core curriculum taught 6th graders “how to use strap-on dildos”

    Infowars story: “6th graders taught how to use strap-on dildo.” Watson wrote in a September 2014 story that “shocking images out of a classroom in Jacksonville, Florida illustrate how 11-12 year olds in 6th grade are being taught how to use strap-on dildos amidst a debate about sexual content finding its way into other Common Core subjects, material which has been attacked by some as pornographic.” [Infowars, 9/15/14, via archive.is; Snopes.com, 1/18/14]

    Watson mistook “satire” article as real news. As The Washington Post noted, “a quick reverse image-search make it pretty clear that the images came from an LGBT event at a college in Canada … and that the story itself originated on Modern Woman Digest, a bad ‘satire,’ i.e. fake-news, site.” Infowars has since taken down the story. [The Washington Post9/19/14]

    Watson posted -- then deleted -- story claiming WikiLeaks “bombshell” revealed that Clinton said she “hates everyday Americans”

    Infowars story: “WikiLeaks bombshell: Hillary Clinton ‘hates everyday Americans.’” Watson wrote an October 2016 piece headlined “Wikileaks Bombshell: Hillary Clinton ‘Hates Everyday Americans.’” He began the story by claiming: “New Wikileaks emails released just moments ago include a shocking admission by Clinton campaign manager John Podesta that Hillary Clinton ‘has begun to hate everyday Americans’. The whistleblower organization dumped part 3 of its Podesta email release today and this has to be the most jaw-dropping revelation yet.” [Infowars, 10/11/16, via archive.is]

    Watson wildly misrepresented Clinton’s comment. As even conservatives acknowledged, Clinton did not say she hated “everyday Americans.” Rather, the email was relaying that Clinton hated the cliché phrase “everyday Americans” -- not people themselves. Infowars later deleted its story. [Media Matters, 10/11/16]

    Watson fell for photoshopped picture of Obama supposedly grabbing Melania Trump’s butt

    Watson tweeted out photo of Obama grabbing Melania Trump’s butt. Watson tweeted out the following photo after President Trump’s January 20 inauguration:

    [Twitter, 1/22/17]

    The image was photoshopped. As BuzzFeed noted, the supposed Obama-Melania Trump image is “a very badly Photoshopped image” and “so bad that you can literally still see some of Obama’s original arm in the photo.” Watson later claimed it was just a “joke.” [BuzzFeed, 1/24/17; Twitter, 1/23/17]

    Watson published false story that Obama executive order “mandate[s] the apprehension and detention of Americans who merely show signs of ‘respiratory illness’”

    Watson: Obama order allows “him to mandate the apprehension and detention of Americans who merely show signs of ‘respiratory illness.’” Watson wrote in 2014: “As the Ebola outbreak continues to cause concern, President Barack Obama has signed an amendment to an executive order that would allow him to mandate the apprehension and detention of Americans who merely show signs of ‘respiratory illness.’” [Infowars, 8/1/14]

    PolitiFact: Order did “not mandate the apprehension and detention of people who show signs of ‘respiratory illness.’” PolitiFact wrote that Infowars’ supposed reporting is “a fundamental misreading of the executive order Obama signed and the power the federal government has. The updates Obama made to a 2003 executive order do not mandate the apprehension and detention of people who show signs of ‘respiratory illness,’ has nothing to do with the current Ebola crisis and only affect people entering the country or crossing state lines. We rate the claim Pants on Fire.” [PolitiFact, 8/6/14]

    Watson published 2011 story claiming “sources” say “bin Laden’s corpse has been on ice for nearly a decade”

    Watson: “Inside Sources: Bin Laden’s corpse has been on ice for nearly a decade.” Watson reported on May 2, 2011, that contrary to the announced death of Osama bin Laden, the terrorist leader had actually been dead for years and the government was merely waiting for “the most politically expedient time” to announce it, according to “sources”:

    A multitude of different inside sources both publicly and privately, including one individual who personally worked with Bin Laden at one time, told us directly that Osama’s dead corpse has been on ice for nearly a decade and that his “death” would only be announced at the most politically expedient time.

    That time has now come with a years-old fake picture being presented as the only evidence of his alleged killing yesterday, while Bin Laden’s body has been hastily dumped into the sea to prevent anyone from finding out when he actually died. [Infowars, 5/2/11]

    There’s no evidence bin Laden’s body was frozen for years. Al Qaeda confirmed that bin Laden had died in the 2011 raid. [The Associated Press, 5/6/11]

    Watson’s Wash. Post-Seth Rich conspiracy theory fell apart

    Watson suggested Wash. Post released breaking story “to distract from Seth Rich bombshell.” Watson suggested on May 6 that The Washington Post “published its dubious story on President Trump leaking classified information to the Russians less than an hour after the bombshell news broke that murdered DNC staffer Seth Rich was in contact with Wikileaks and that DC Police were ordered to cover it up. The coincidental timing has led many Trump supporters to accuse the Post of publishing their story in an attempt to distract the rest of the media from focusing on the massive new revelations in the Seth Rich case.” [Infowars, 5/16/17]

    The Post story went up before supposed “Seth Rich bombshell.” As Post reporter Dave Weigel noted, the Post story went up before the Fox 5 story was published. (The Fox 5 story has since been disproven and the main source for the story has backtracked.) [Twitter, 5/16/17; Media Matters, 5/16/17, 5/17/17]

    Watson fell for fake story that Trump allowed “homeless black woman” to live in Trump Tower rent free “for eight years”

    Watson: “A homeless black woman reveals that she has been living in Trump Tower for eight years with the blessings of the Donald himself.” Watson posted a story with the headline “Black Homeless Woman Says Trump Allowed Her To Live In Trump Tower Rent Free For 8 Years.” He began by writing that a “homeless black woman reveals that she has been living in Trump Tower for eight years with the blessings of the Donald himself” and “this doesn’t quite fit with the media’s portrayal of Trump as a rich, racist bigot.”

    [Infowars, 12/8/16]

    Trump Hotels spokesperson said the story is not true. BuzzFeed reported in response to Infowars that the story is not true, according to Trump Hotels:

    A woman’s claims in a now-viral video that she has lived in Trump Tower rent-free for up to nine years with the blessing of President-elect Donald Trump himself is not true, a Trump Hotels spokesperson told BuzzFeed News Friday.

    “There is no validity to the video,” said Jennifer Rodstrom, a spokeswoman for Trump Hotels, who answered a BuzzFeed News request sent to a transition team spokeswoman. “The woman depicted is not our guest.”

    The video, which first appeared to be posted on YouTube in July, gained traction on Thursday after it was published on InfoWars, a right-wing conspiracy outlet, and celebrated by Trump supporters who said it contradicts criticism that Trump is a bigot.

    The InfoWars link was shared more than 28,000 times on Facebook.

    Infowars later added an editor’s note stating that the story was “unconfirmed,” but was worth reporting “given Trump’s long and documented history of helping those in need.” [BuzzFeed, 12/9/16; Infowars, 12/8/16; Internet Archive, accessed 6/5/17]

    Watson falsely claims that depression is a fake condition

    Watson: Depression shouldn’t be a “medical condition.” Watson posted a January 2017 video attacking people who have depression, complaining that “being weak-minded and emotionally incontinent” has “become a positive personality trait.” Watson concluded that people who have depression have been “misled” because depression is “temporary” and the pharmaceutical industry just wants to “control people” and make money off of them:

    PAUL JOSEPH WATSON: Why is everyone so depressed now when we've got it so much easier? It's because you've been completely misled about what depression actually is. Depression is nothing more than dissatisfaction with life. It's temporary unhappiness, but the dominant culture in the pharmaceutical industry figured out that it could control people and make tons of money by treating depression as a pathological disease. So now depression is not unhappiness but a medical condition which it’s the responsibility of the doctor to alleviate by medical means. And they're only too happy to, often being paid to do so under the insane justification that depression is a chemical imbalance -- which it isn't. [Infowars, 1/4/17; YouTube, 1/4/17]

    Medical professionals: Depression is real. The American Psychiatric Association notes that depression “is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act.” The organization notes that “several factors can play a role in depression” and that “differences in certain chemicals in the brain may contribute to symptoms of depression.” [American Psychiatric Association, accessed 6/5/17]

    Watson falsely claimed Obama adviser advocated “forced abortions” and “mass sterilization programs” through water supply

    Watson: Obama adviser advocated “totalitarian measures of population control, including forced abortions, mass sterilization programs conducted via the food and water supply.” Watson wrote of former Obama science adviser John P. Holdren in 2009:

    President Obama’s top science and technology advisor John P. Holdren co-authored a 1977 book in which he advocated the formation of a “planetary regime” that would use a “global police force” to enforce totalitarian measures of population control, including forced abortions, mass sterilization programs conducted via the food and water supply, as well as mandatory bodily implants that would prevent couples from having children.

    The concepts outlined in Holdren’s 1977 book Ecoscience, which he co-authored with close colleagues Paul Ehrlich and Anne Ehrlich, were so shocking that a February 2009 Front Page Magazine story on the subject was largely dismissed as being outlandish because people couldn’t bring themselves to believe that it could be true. [Infowars, 7/11/09]

    PolitiFact: Claim is “pants on fire” false. PolitiFact wrote that many conservatives, including Glenn Beck, were quoting from Holdren’s book “out of context” and concluded he was not advocating those positions:

    But with regard to Beck's claim that Holdren "has proposed forcing abortions and putting sterilants in the drinking water to control population," the text of the book clearly does not support that. We think a thorough reading shows that these were ideas presented as approaches that had been discussed. They were not posed as suggestions or proposals. In fact, the authors make clear that they did not support coercive means of population control. Certainly, nowhere in the book do the authors advocate for forced abortions.

    Some have argued that Holdren's view of the imminent and grave global dangers posed by overpopulation should provide pause, given Holdren's current view that global warming now presents imminent and grave global dangers. That's a matter for reasoned debate.

    But in seeking to score points for a political argument, Beck seriously mischaracterizes Holdren's positions. Holdren didn't advocate those ideas then. And, when asked at a Senate confirmation hearing, Holdren said he did not support them now. We think it's irresponsible to pluck a few lines from a 1,000-page, 30-year-old textbook, and then present them out of context to dismiss Holdren's long and distinguished career. And we rate Beck's claim Pants on Fire! [PolitiFact, 7/29/09]

    Watson repeatedly connected Chicago attack with Black Lives Matter (police said it wasn’t connected)

    Watson was among the first to tie Chicago kidnapping and attack with BLM. On January 4, four black people were arrested after they live-streamed a kidnapping and attack of a white man with special needs in Chicago. Watson repeatedly claimed that the attack was connected to Black Lives Matter, tweeting among other things: “#BLMKidnapping is the hashtag to get this story trending” and “the BLM torture victim was held for 24-48 hours. #BLMKidnapping.” [Media Matters, 1/5/17; Twitter, 1/5/17]

    CNN: “Chicago police say they see no connection between the suspects and the Black Lives Matter activist group.” CNN reported following the attack that “Chicago police say they see no connection between the suspects and the Black Lives Matter activist group, contrary to some reports on social media” and noted that Watson was an early promoter of the connection:

    Chicago police say they see no connection between the suspects and the Black Lives Matter activist group, contrary to some reports on social media.

    Yet in less than 24 hours, the hashtag #BLMKidnapping was mentioned more than 480,000 times on Twitter and became one of the top five Twitter trends across the country Thursday.

    Paul Joseph Watson, editor at large of the website "Infowars," was among the first to tie the attack to Black Lives Matter, a social justice movement that protests violence and racism against African-Americans. "Infowars" is known for promoting conspiracy theories, saying the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre was a government hoax and claiming the 9/11 attacks were orchestrated by the US government. [CNN.com, 1/5/17]

    Watson falsely claims Obama’s birth certificate is “fraudulent”

    Watson: “National security threat: Obama’s birth certificate proven fraudulent.” Watson wrote a July 2012 piece concluding that “Obama’s birth certificate betrays innumerable instances clearly indicating that the document has been tampered with in an effort to manufacture the myth that Obama was born in the United States. The manifestly logical conclusion that he was not creates an urgent national security threat and represents one of the biggest cover-ups in U.S. political history.” [Infowars, 7/18/12]

    Former President Obama’s birth certificate is not fake. Obama’s birth certificate is authentic and he was born in the United States. [PolitiFact, 7/1/09; FactCheck.org, 4/27/11]

    Watson falsely reported that “Social Security Administration is purchasing the bullets as part of preparations for civil unrest”

    Infowars suggested “Social Security Administration is purchasing the bullets as part of preparations for civil unrest.” Watson wrote in August 2012: “It’s not outlandish to suggest that the Social Security Administration is purchasing the bullets as part of preparations for civil unrest. Social security welfare is estimated to keep around 40 per cent of senior citizens out of poverty. Should the tap run dry in the aftermath of an economic collapse which the Federal Reserve has already told top banks to prepare for, domestic disorder could ensue if people are refused their benefits.” [Infowars, 8/15/12]

    AP debunked Infowars’ claim. The Associated Press wrote at the time that the administration isn’t building up arms “to defend against unruly senior citizens”:

    The clamor became such a distraction for the agency that it dedicated a website to explaining the purchase. The explanation, it turns out, isn't as tantalizing as an arms buildup to defend against unruly senior citizens.

    The bullets are for Social Security's office of inspector general, which has about 295 agents who investigate Social Security fraud and other crimes, said Jonathan L. Lasher, the agency's assistant IG for external relations.

    The agents carry guns and make arrests — 589 last year, Lasher said. They execute search warrants and respond to threats against Social Security offices, employees and customers. [The Associated Press, 9/4/12

    Watson conspiracy theory: “U.S. establishment” “trained, funded and allowed” 9/11 hijackers into country

    Watson: 9/11 “was an inside job.” Watson wrote in his 2003 book Order out of Chaos: Elite Sponsored Terrorism & The New World Order that he can prove 9/11 "was an inside job,” writing:

    Initially we will document the overwhelming amount of evidence indicating that the US knew the attacks were about to take place. The question of why the attacks took place despite the fact that they could have been prevented runs parallel throughout this extended section of the book.

    It is important to note that the official story of 9/ 11 can be dismantled from two or more different angles. If we are to believe that nineteen suicide hijackers carried out the attacks on behalf of Al-Qaeda then it can be proven that these men were trained, funded and allowed into the country by the U.S. establishment. They were tracked and traced and their intentions were well known by the authorities, many months and even years before that fateful day. I will present the evidence to verify these claims in this chapter. In the following chapter I will switch to the second and more cutting edge angle of research, namely that the Al-Qaeda plot was merely a smokescreen to shadow who really carried out the attacks and what methods were used.

    […]

    One of the biggest smoking guns to indicate that the terrorist attack was an inside job is the CIA’s direct connection with the hijackers via Pakistan ISI Director General Mahmoud Ahmad. General Mahmoud Ahmad instructed Ahmad Umar Sheikh to hotwire $ 100,000 to the 9/ 11 lead hijacker, Mohammad Atta. On September 11th, Ahmad was a guest of former clandestine CIA officer and CFR member Rep. Porter Goss and Skull and Bones/ CFR member Senator Bob Graham. Since September 4th, he had met with top brass at the CIA, the Pentagon and the White House, including Colin Powell, Richard Armitage, Joseph Biden and George Tenet.

    Condoleezza Rice lied in a May 16th 2002 press conference when she claimed ignorance of Ahmad's visit and the $ 100,000 transfer. Ahmad had already resigned from the ISI and the FBI had confirmed the circumstances behind this. Rice stated, "I have not seen that report, and he was certainly not meeting with me."

    What was the money man behind the terrorists doing in the halls of the US government before, during and after 9/ 11? This is just one example of the firm alliance running through the CIA, which in turn controls the ISI, which in turn controls Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda. [Paul Joseph Watson, Order out of Chaos: Elite Sponsored Terrorism & The New World Order, 2003, via Kindle]

    Watson conspiracy theory: WTC 7 collapse “was a controlled demolition”

    Watson: “Building 7 was a controlled demolition.” Watson concluded in an October 13, 2010, article that the collapse of World Trade Center Building 7 was actually a “controlled demolition”:

    How much more evidence do we need to conclude that Building 7 – which was not hit by a plane and suffered limited fires across just a handful of floors – could not have simply crumbled into its own footprint within seven seconds without the aid of additional explosives?

    Of course, if authorities were ever forced to admit that WTC 7 was deliberately demolished it would then tarnish the credibility of the entire 9/11 official story, which is why NIST has engaged in an obvious cover-up to firstly withhold and then edit some of the footage in an attempt to hide the self-evident fact that Building 7 was a controlled demolition. [Infowars, 10/13/10]

    Watson conspiracy theory: Virginia Tech mass shooting might have been “another government black-op”

    Watson: Purported ties between shooter and CIA are “arousing increased suspicion.” Watson wrote an April 2007 article arguing that Seung-Hui Cho, who perpetrated the mass shooting at Virginia Tech, “was a mind-controlled assassin, whether you believe he was under the influence of outside parties or not.” He wrote of the shooter’s alleged connections to the CIA:

    Questions about the sequence of events on Monday, VA Tech, as well as the profile of the killer are arousing increased suspicion.

    We have been receiving numerous calls and e mails alerting us to the fact that VA Tech is pulling links from its website concerning their relationship with the CIA. Reports from November 2005 confirm that the CIA was active in operating recruitment programs based out of VA Tech. Several professors from VA Tech are involved in government programs linked with NASA and other agencies.

    Wikipedia also pulled a bizarre recently taken photograph of Cho wearing a U.S. Marines uniform.

    Such details only fan the flames of accusations that Cho could have been a Manchurian Candidate, a mind-controlled assassin.

    The CIA's program to create mind-controlled assassins that could be triggered by code words, MK ULTRA, is not a conspiracy theory, it's a historical fact documented by declassified government files and Senate hearings. President Bill Clinton himself had to apologize for the program before he left office. [Prison Planet, 4/19/07]

    Watson: “This could very well be another government black-op.” Watson wrote of the shooting:

    Early details about the horrific school shooting at Virginia Tech strongly indicate that these events represent a Columbine-style black-op that will be exploited in the coming days to push for mass gun control and further turning our schools into prisons.

    Eyewitness Matt Kazee told the Alex Jones Show that it was a full two to three hours after the shootings began that loudspeakers installed around the campus were used to warn students to stay indoors and that a shooter was on the loose.

    Quite how the killer was afforded so much time before any action was taken to stop him is baffling, especially considering the fact that the campus, according to Kazee, was crawling with police before the event happened due to numerous bomb threats that had been phoned in last week.

    […]

    The details that are beginning to emerge fill the criteria that this could very well be another government black-op that will be used as justification for more gun control and turning our schools into prisons, festooned with armed guards, surveillance cameras and biometric scanning to gain entry. [Prison Planet, 4/16/07]

    Watson conspiracy theory: Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh carried out attack under the direction of the FBI

    Watson: “A plethora of evidence” shows FBI directed McVeigh to bomb federal building. Watson wrote in 2010 of the Oklahoma City bombing:

    In reality, as anyone who has done five minutes research into the OKC bombing will understand, the official story crumbles on the merest hint of casual examination.

    While the media, the SPLC, the ADL and similar organizations are happy to play the Timothy McVeigh card over and over again, they are less enthusiastic to mention the fact that McVeigh planned his deadly assault on the Alfred P. Murrah building under the intimate direction of a high-level FBI official, according to McVeigh’s co-conspirator Terry Nichols, a claim voluminously backed up by a plethora of evidence that has been presented in court on several occasions. [Infowars, 4/19/10]

    Watson conspiracy theory: Fort Hood mass shooting appears “perfectly staged”

    Watson: “Everything about Nidal Malik Hasan screams ‘patsy.’” Watson wrote that Nidal Malik Hasan, who was convicted of the fatal 2009 Fort Hood mass shooting, appears to be a “patsy” and the shooting was “staged”:

    The Empire strikes back – right when when public support for the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan sinks to all time lows, an anti-war Islamic extremist with links to suicide bombers goes on a shooting rampage at a U.S. army base, reinvigorating support for the war on terror and demonizing opposition to it as anti-American extremism. The scam would be believable if it wasn’t so perfectly staged.

    Without getting into convoluted conspiracy theories about mind control and whatever else, not that they aren’t without merit, the facts we already know about Hasan and his behavior prior to the deadly shootings just screams out “patsy” and “set-up” and almost exactly mirrors other terror scams the Empire has run in the past.

    Just like the would-be liquid bombers that were supposedly planning on bringing down multiple airliners in August 2006, who were caught on CCTV buying bulk supplies of cake in the very hours before the plot, Hasan’s pre-shooting behavior contradicts completely the idea that he was preparing for a deadly rampage.

    […]

    When the dust settles on yesterday’s tragic events at Fort Hood it may indeed turn out to be the case that Nidal Malik Hasan was a lone nut seeking to exact revenge for what he saw as perpetual war crimes being carried out against the people of Iraq and Afghanistan. If that is the case, it doesn’t make such crimes acceptable nor does it mean all people who oppose the war on terror are likely to go on a shooting rampage.

    However, from all the evidence that has emerged thus far, and in comparing it with other terror scams in the past where patsies have been deliberately groomed and set up to be the fall guys for false flag attacks, everything we know about yesterday’s events suggests that there is infinitely more to the story of Nidal Malik Hasan than meets the eye. [Prison Planet, 11/6/09]

    Watson conspiracy theory: Norwegian shooter “a patsy?”

    Watson: “Anders Behring Breivik: Manufacturing a patsy?” Watson has suggested that Anders Behring Breivik, who was convicted of murdering 77 people in a Norwegian mass shooting, was “a patsy.” He wrote a July 2011 article headlined “Anders Behring Breivik: Manufacturing a Patsy?” which claimed that “Breivik’s character of an enraged psychopath intent on butchering as many people as possible in the name of his cause is also contradicted by people who knew him personally” and concluded:

    A plethora of other questions continue to circulate surrounding Breivik and his motives. Why did this supposedly anti-Muslim crusader slaughter dozens of white Norwegian teenagers? Why didn’t he target a mosque? Why did this supposed “Christian conservative” list a television series that glorifies vampirism (True Blood) as his favorite show? How did Breivik’s ties to freemasonry and his obsession with the Knights Templar play into his rampage? Why did Breivik lift entire portions of leftist Unabomber Ted Kaczynski’s manifesto and incorporate them into his own screed?

    Just like the Oklahoma City bombing, which the case has been obsessively likened with, the evidence is starting to point to a wider plot, but concurrently there seems to be a deliberate effort to manufacture a profile of Breivik as a lone-nut psychopath who was influenced by racism, nationalism, Christianity, and a hatred for Europe’s predominantly neo-liberal elite, who coincidentally will reap the greatest political benefits from this tragic massacre. [Infowars, 7/25/11]

    Watson conspiracy theory: British government behind 7/7 London bombings

    Watson wrote an article claiming British government was behind London bombings. On July 7, 2005, as The New York Times noted, 52 civilians were killed and 700 people were wounded when “four suicide bombers linked to Al Qaeda detonated explosives on a London bus and on three subway trains in the attacks.” Watson wrote a 2005 article purporting to explain how the British government “staged the London bombing,” which included: “Hire four Arabs and tell them they're taking part in an important exercise to help defend London from terrorist attacks. Strap them with rucksacks filled with deadly explosives. Tell the Arabs the rucksacks are dummy explosives and wouldn't harm a fly.” [The New York Times, 7/7/15; Prison Planet, 7/13/05

  • The subtle and nuanced take on climate change from Trump ally Alex Jones

    Blog ››› ››› JOHN KERR

    Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones has repeatedly bragged about his communications and influence with President Donald Trump. During the presidential campaign, Trump even appeared on Jones’ show, praising Jones’ “amazing” reputation and vowing not to let him down.

    As Trump withdraws from the Paris climate accord, here’s a look back at Alex Jones’ perspective on climate change

  • Here’s why media should steer clear of Trump’s bogus Paris agreement talking points

    ››› ››› KEVIN KALHOEFER & CRAIG HARRINGTON

    President Donald Trump defended his decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement with bogus and easily discredited talking points that have long been touted by right-wing media. Outlets covering Trump’s decision to shirk American climate commitments should avoid repeating the White House’s misinformation.

  • The newest target for pro-Trump media is Heineken beer

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Outlets that have served as propaganda mouthpieces for President Donald Trump are attacking beer company Heineken for a new ad campaign that appears to include a call for common ground among people “without borders or barriers.”

    In April, Heineken released an ad as part of its “Open Your World” campaign, which showed, according to a spokesperson who spoke with NBC’s Today, that “finding common ground with each other does bring down the preconceived barriers we put up and make us more open." As part of that campaign, the company’s British beer bottles appear to have wording calling for “a world without borders or barriers” and “the belief that there’s more that unites us than divides us,” along with a link to the ad.

    In response, fake news purveyors and “alt-right”-affiliated outlets, including Infowars and The Daily Stormer, lashed out at Heineken, with some writing that the company “thinks they know exactly how to prevent jihadists from blowing people up and cutting their heads off,” arguing that the message is “insane” and “disgusting,” claiming the message was created by an “idiot,” and writing that a company selling beer that “sucks” is pushing “liberal” politics. They also demanded that the company “stop trying to be social justice warriors” and attacked the company for pushing “to erode national sovereignty and open all international borders.” Some of the outlets are additionally calling for a boycott of the company, as are some message boards on 4chan and Reddit that have previously pushed misinformation on Trump’s behalf.

    The attacks on Heineken come soon after pro-Trump media attacked singer Katy Perry for urging people to “unite” with “no barriers, no borders, … to just coexist” after the May 22 terror attack in Manchester, England. They also accused her of having a “globalist dream of a world government and a border-less society.”

  • Sweden is the gateway to the “alt-right” anti-immigrant agenda in Europe

    Fake news is their method for attracting followers to the cause

    Blog ››› ››› NINA MAST


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Sweden is known as a bastion of progressive values and policies, but underneath the dominant ideology, there is a motivated, well-connected nativist movement that has existed for decades and is now re-emerging, armed with fake news.

    With a population of just under 10 million, Sweden is a small, historically ethnically homogenous country that in recent years has accepted the largest number of asylum seekers per capita of any European nation. Sweden’s white nationalists, once relegated to the fringe, have been re-energized by a global so-called populist movement and a relatively progressive immigration policy that is anathema to their agenda. And there are signs that they may be succeeding in their efforts. Xenophobic hate crimes are up, stricter immigration policies have been imposed, and Sweden Democrats, the far-right political party, with ties to neo-Nazism is, for the first time ever, polling as the second most popular party in the country. To top it off, there is evidence that the media discourse on immigration has taken a dark turn to portray migrants “as a problem,” and fake news is on the rise.

    Enter the Swedish “alt-right,” a movement that sees progressivism as having been imported into Swedish society as an experiment in cultural Marxism and views Sweden’s relatively small size and homogeneity as having contributed to a sort of "unitarian zeitgeist" of liberal thought.* The members of this movement see it as a fight to “diversify” the Swedish media landscape while promoting a decidedly racist agenda. Together, these attributes have created an environment ripe for the spread of “alt-right” ideas, and the most well-known white nationalist of the American "alt-right" has taken notice.

    Richard Spencer, president of the white nationalist “think tank” the National Policy Institute (NPI), after having been recently alienated from a movement he named, is looking for legitimacy in a country he has dubbed “the most alt-right.” According to BuzzFeed, Spencer recently began a partnership with two Swedish “alt-right” outlets, Arktos Media, a publishing house that prints white nationalist literature in English, and Red Ice, a Swedish white nationalist video and podcast platform that often features international guests. The partnership, the AltRight Corporation, which has been called an attempt at a “more ideological Breitbart,” also has its own website and, until May 23, also had its own podcast, AltRight Radio. Soundcloud has since banned the podcast for violating its hate speech policy. But this movement is not confined to the internet. For the past nine years, Sweden has hosted an “alt-right conference” which is attended by members and sympathizers from all over the world. One prominent American “alt-right” figure (whose name was not divulged) told AltRight.com’s Daniel Friberg that Sweden’s annual alt-right conference was the most “well-attended” he’d been to and, notably, the "most radical," too.*

    Migrant crime is a favorite topic of the “alt-right” in Sweden, in part because the outlets that promote this content know they’re speaking to an audience favorable to their ideological agenda, not facts. (Media Matters previously documented Breitbart's use of a racist meme to categorize stories about migrant crime in Sweden, most of which also had little basis in reality). Journalists know this is happening but remain ill-equipped to respond to it. A recent study found that eight out of 10 Swedes believe fake news is altering their “perception of basic facts.” Sweden has acknowledged the rise of “inaccurate information” and, in March, the country’s prime minister announced a plan to combat fake news ahead of Sweden’s 2018 general election. Yet, Sweden remains vulnerable to fake news and, as the education minister admits, there is “some naivety when it comes to the information society.” Often the flow of misinformation looks something like this: A Swedish or British tabloid reports on a study or crime with a sensational headline and few details or context; “alt-right” or far-right outlets cite the original source but add new details to further sensationalize the story; these outlets promote each other to amplify the story; and eventually the story makes its way to a more mainstream news outlet. Sometimes, the news that a story is false makes its way back to Swedish media, but by then, the damage is already done.

    Last year, American film producer Ami Horowitz made a deceptively edited film rife with false claims about migrant crime in Sweden. In February of this year, after having been promoted by U.K. tabloid the Daily Mail and conspiracy theorist website Infowars, he was invited for an interview with Fox’s Tucker Carlson, not once but twice, and one of the segments was later cited by President Trump as the impetus for his fact-free suggestion that something “was happening last night” in Sweden, which he couched amid discussion of terror-hit cities. The interview received so much attention that the Swedish police and embassy pushed back, one Swedish newspaper responded by fact-checking each of Horowitz’s assertions, and another criticized Trump’s complicity in the “Sweden-bashing by the hard-core American right.” But how equipped is Sweden to deal with xenophobic fake news that doesn’t reach the pedestal of the president of the United States, and, thus, does not grab international attention?

    In another, more recent example, Swedish tabloid Dagens Nyheter published a study titled, "Young Men Who Commit Shootings Often Have A Foreign Background," which found that 90 out of 100 shooting suspects had at least one foreign-born parent. Of course, these findings are concerning, but a closer look illustrates problems that are not unique to Sweden: Unemployment, lack of educational opportunities, and mental illness were all identified by experts as important contributing factors to gun violence. It is also worth noting that almost half of the individuals counted in this study were merely suspected, not convicted, of perpetrating these crimes. Of course, this context was missing from the misleadingly titled article that notorious Islamophobe Virginia Hale later wrote for Breitbart. Alex Jones’ Infowars also engaged with the story, citing the Swedish fake news purveyor and “alt-right” outlet Fria Tider (which has been called the "Breitbart of Sweden"*) in its report, with an even more misleading headline: “SWEDEN: MIGRANTS RESPONSIBLE FOR 90% OF SHOOTINGS.” Both articles used the opportunity to push debunked claims about crime in Sweden.

    Though they’re false, these claims are repeated so often that they begin to exist as facts. For example, the fact-checking website Snopes has debunked many stories on Sweden and even issued a three-part series debunking the most common misleading narratives on Swedish migrant crime. But the narratives persist. There are a few reasons for this. It’s now widely known that sensational headlines get more clicks, and the effect is especially heightened when they play on a person’s deep-seated emotions like anger and anxiety. Sweden has not become the “rape capital of Europe,” but real or imagined, Sweden’s historically liberal refugee admissions policy has created enough tension to make people vulnerable to fake news about the population. Another universal reason for the rise of fake news, as it relates to Sweden, is disaffection from mainstream outlets and increasing preference for alternative sources. A 2016 study in Sweden found half of media consumers get their news from sources other than Sweden’s traditional news sources and around 20 percent have “no confidence” in them.

    There are uniquely Swedish reasons for why the country is susceptible to fake news. These include the well-intentioned ways crime is defined and reported and the language barriers to understanding Swedish news. For instance, according to a late 2015 internal memo, Swedish police were instructed not to report externally the ethnic or national origin of suspected criminals in order not to appear racist. The decision, while admirable and also not unique to Sweden, has raised suspicion. Many far-right outlets perceived the move as an attempted cover-up, and the controversy became so big that the Swedish government responded to the contention. Another Swedish practice that has unintentionally created the illusion of increased crime is the way Sweden defines and categorizes crime and the culture around crime reporting. For example, Sweden defines sexual assault much more broadly than the U.S. and other European countries do, and records every single offense as a separate crime, even if they are committed by the same perpetrator. The country has also created a culture in which victims are encouraged to report crimes rather than stigmatized. Sweden’s open and progressive crime reporting practices, when viewed comparatively, allow fake news purveyors to speculate on a suspected criminal’s ethnic background with impunity, as well as manufacture an inflated perception of criminality.

    From the reader’s perspective, the fact that most “alt-right” outlets and fake news purveyors link to Swedish language news stories in order to validate their claims forces even the most critical reader to either know Swedish or rely on rough translations to discern the validity of the source. Knowing this, outlets can wrongly attribute or incorrectly paraphrase quotations from Swedish sources that advance their narrative without fear of retribution.

    The intersection of fake news and the “alt-right” is a particularly troubling one. It is ever-shifting, beholden neither to facts nor ideology and, in the realm of the internet, almost totally unaccountable. What we do know is that its adherents are white men who are targeting everyone else, that it’s not going away, and that we must remain vigilant. Sweden is the favorite target of the American “alt-right” as it expands to Europe, desperately looking for legitimacy, and armed with total lies. 

    *These quotations were taken from the now-deleted AltRight Radio podcast, "Eurocentric #2: Killing Captain Sweden."

  • Pro-Trump media attack Katy Perry’s call for unity after Manchester attack

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Pro-Trump media are attacking pop singer Katy Perry for urging people to “unite” following the May 22 terrorist bombing in Manchester, calling her a “half-brained” “idiot” who “thinks life is a bumper sticker.”

    In a May 23 interview, Perry said she was “devastated” by the attack, adding, “I think the greatest thing we can do is just unite … no barriers, no borders, we all need to just coexist.”

    In response, fake news purveyors, many of which serve as propaganda outlets for President Donald Trump, lashed out at Perry, writing that she is “as shallow as the gene pool on the left" and a “half-brained” celebrity who has a “globalist dream of a world government and a border-less society.” Fake news purveyors also called her an “idiot” who “thinks life is a bumper sticker,” and claimed her “idiocy” shows she should “stick to singing.”

    Fox News also bashed Perry, mocking her “no borders” remarks and hosting a guest who said, “The next time we welcome Muslim refugees from Syria or Yemen into this country, that we should send them to her house.”

    UPDATE:

    Conspiracy theorist radio host Alex Jones of Infowars also attacked Perry during his program, saying she was “shoot[ing] her mouth off about no barriers” and was a “sick” “cuck” who has a “big fat pathetic satanic ass.”

  • “Alt-Right” Outlets And Fake News Purveyors Hype Fox Analyst's Claim That Obama Wiretapped The Supreme Court

    ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

    “Alt-right” fringe outlets and fake news purveyors are hyping an unsubstantiated suggestion from Fox News senior judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano that the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia thought former President Barack Obama spied on the Supreme Court. Napolitano previously pushed the false claim that British intelligence spied on President Donald Trump on behalf of Obama.