Infowars | Media Matters for America

Infowars

Tags ››› Infowars
  • Where is the media outrage over the violence and harassment abortion providers face on a daily basis?

    Media fixated on a protest at Tucker Carlson's house should look at how often they cover (or don't cover) anti-abortion violence and harassment

    Blog ››› ››› SHARON KANN


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    A memo to media and any would-be think piece writers: If you’re mad about protesters bothering Fox News host Tucker Carlson at home, then it’s worth asking whether you've expended the same energy over the harassment abortion providers face on a daily basis.

    According to CBS News, approximately “20 protesters gathered in front of Carlson's home” on November 7:

    Carlson's wife said she heard "loud banging and pounding on her front door," the police report says. When officers arrived, they found politically-charged signs left on cars in the driveway, a sign on the front door and the anarchy symbol spray painted on the driveway. [CBS News, 11/8/18]

    Carlson told The Washington Post that the gathering “wasn’t a protest. It was a threat.” Although he was not home at the time, Carlson claimed, “They weren’t protesting anything specific that I had said. They weren’t asking me to change anything. … They were threatening me and my family and telling me to leave my own neighborhood in the city that I grew up in.”

    There are many things that Carlson has said in his capacity as a mouthpiece for white nationalism, xenophobia, racism, and sexism that are more than worthy of objection. He also regularly uses his platform on Fox News to bully, mock, and enable harassment of his guests. And the details of the protest -- as described in ThinkProgress by someone who was actually there -- vastly contradict Carlson’s claims. Yet there is now a veritable catalogue of think pieces about the lack of “civility” shown by those who protested Carlson. If media want to have a real conversation about “civility” and harassment, then it should be impossible to omit this fact: Abortion providers, patients, and clinics face everything that Carlson claimed and more, but this kind of regular, persistent, and, in some cases, daily harassment doesn’t garner the same kind of media attention as incidents like the protest at Carlson’s home.

    Eleven people have died as a result of anti-abortion violence since 1993. Numerous others have been injured, and still more have found themselves and even their families targeted for personalized harassment from abortion opponents. This trend of violence and harassment against abortion providers, patients, and clinics has increased in recent years, and it shows little sign of abating. According to a report by the National Abortion Federation, rates of anti-abortion clinic protests in 2017 were already at the highest levels seen since the organization began tracking such incidents in 1977. In 2018, there have been numerous incidents of violence or threats against clinics reported in Illinois, New Jersey, Utah, Texas, Pennsylvania, California, Washington, Massachusetts, and more.

    In North Carolina, abortion provider Calla Hales has painstakingly documented the frequent anti-abortion protests and harassment directed at her clinics in the state -- including attacks on her personally. As but a few examples of the type of harassment Hales and her patients face, protesters have:

    Followed Hales, and taken photos and video of her car:

    Taken photos and videos of patients entering the clinic, and persisted in trying to “counsel” them even after being asked to stop:

    Deceptively dressed themselves as law enforcement to give patients the false perception that they can direct traffic, or stop their cars on the way into the clinic:

    Used amplification systems to not only harass patients, but also to target clinic staff, physicians, and their families by publicizing their names:

    If all of that wasn’t enough, hundreds of protesters regularly gather outside of Hales’ clinics -- blocking traffic, harassing patients, and generally making the process of accessing legal and necessary heath care more complicated than it should ever be:

    Hales has frequently noted that despite her efforts to document the continuing harassment faced by herself, her staff, and the clinic's patients, many people are still unaware of the sheer magnitude of the problem. In particular, Hales contrasted the disparate reactions to the protest at Carlson’s home and the lack of regular attention surrounding the ongoing and more severe harassment she and many other providers face:

    As reported by The Charlotte Observer, the protesters regularly harassing Hales’ clinic recently acquired a nearby property and are preparing to use it as a base of operations to intensify their harassment. Imagine the media outrage if a group of protesters did even a fraction of these incidents to a right-wing media figure. How many op-eds would be written calling for “civility” if a group of protesters purchased the property next to Carlson’s home and set up speakers to yell at him and his family on a daily basis?

    Unfortunately, Hales’ experience is not uncommon for abortion providers, patients, and clinics across the country. The anti-abortion group Operation Save America regularly circulates flyers with photos and home addresses of abortion providers, often with incendiary language. Just last week, radical anti-abortion group Army of God published a new manifesto from Eric Rudolph (who bombed an abortion clinic in 1997) calling for more violence against abortion providers. The organization’s website currently celebrates the release of Rachelle “Shelly” Shannon -- an anti-choice extremist who attempted to assassinate abortion provider Dr. George Tiller in 1993, and was also convicted for “six firebombings and two acid attacks at abortion clinics in California, Oregon and Nevada.” Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Peifer told NPR: “She has counseled people to commit similar acts — even more violent acts than she did. … And there's been nothing to indicate that she's changed her mind in that regard.”

    Right-wing media argue that these anti-abortion extremists are acting in isolation. Yet in many instances, these media personalities -- Carlson included -- have fostered or encouraged anti-abortion harassment. Before being ousted from Fox News after public reports that he sexually harassed multiple colleagues, Bill O’Reilly spent years not only spreading misinformation about abortion, but also openly bullying abortion providers like Tiller. Prior to Tiller’s assassination by anti-abortion extremist Scott Roeder, O’Reilly called the doctor “Tiller the baby killer,” and insisted that there was a “special place in hell” for him. After a deadly shooting attack at a Colorado Planned Parenthood clinic in 2015, O’Reilly defended his previous attacks on Tiller, claiming that his comments were accurate. After this attack, The New Republic reported on how the admitted shooter’s penchant for right-wing media such as Fox News and Infowars shaped his paranoid and conspiratorial views about abortion and Planned Parenthood. On this year’s anniversary of Tiller’s assassination, Infowars live streamed an anti-abortion protest in front of a Texas Planned Parenthood clinic. The conspiracy theory-pushing outlet then repeated the stunt in November -- just days after caterwauling about the “unhinged” protesters that “terrorized” Carlson’s home.

    Harassment, threats, and violence of any kind are unacceptable. Last weekend, thousands of protesters gathered outside Hales’ clinics. Although some media outlets have reported on the epidemic of harassment faced by providers like Hales, those who saved their outrage for the protest at Carlson's home have little excuse for not reporting on the harassment facing patients, providers, and clinics on a daily basis. 

  • Right-wing media's tantrum over a 2015 ad is stoking extreme anti-abortion rhetoric and harassment

    ››› ››› JULIE TULBERT

    Right-wing media and anti-abortion figures recently raised objections to a "horrible new ad” attributed to Planned Parenthood -- despite the so-called ad actually being a 2015 video from a political action committee, not Planned Parenthood. However, as conservative figures continued to express shock and disgust, people on social media started to make threats of violence against the health care organization citing shares of the 2015 video online. This isn’t the first time that right-wing media have manufactured outrage that resulted in harassment and threats toward abortion providers, patients, and clinics.

  • The Infowars-White House pipeline is alive and well

    Sarah Huckabee Sanders shared an edited Infowars video to prop up the White House’s lies about CNN’s Jim Acosta

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders shared a deceptively edited video from Paul Joseph Watson, the editor-at-large at Infowars, as evidence for the administration’s false claim that CNN’s Jim Acosta assaulted a White House intern during a press conference.

    Infowars head Alex Jones has repeatedly claimed that his operation passes material to President Donald Trump and White House staff.

    Acosta and Trump had a contentious exchange during a November 7 press conference where a White House intern attempted to take a microphone from Acosta’s hand. During the exchange, “Acosta’s hand appeared to briefly brush her arm.” But Sanders subsequently accused Acosta of “placing his hands on a young woman” and announced that his White House press pass was suspended.

    In an attempt to bolster her false claim, Sanders posted a video that purported to back her version of events:

    Observers on Twitter quickly pointed out that the clip in question originated from a tweet by Watson and that the video was altered. According to HuffPost, “The footage Sanders shared was missing the audio, zoomed in and repeated. Critics on social media said the speed of the footage was altered as well.”

    In recent months, several social media platforms have either outright banned Jones and his outlet or placed restrictions on his activities. But Jones and his Infowars colleagues still appear influential enough that their content can quickly reach the White House.

    Ever since Trump appeared on Jones’ show in 2015 and praised his “amazing” reputation, Jones has often claimed to have close access to Trump and administration personnel. One high-profile example of the Infowars-White House pipeline is when Trump pardoned disgraced former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. As the pardon announcement neared, Arpaio appeared on The Alex Jones Show and thanked Jones and Infowars for getting his story to the president. As recently as September, Jones claimed on his show, “I have specifically had the White House and the president thank me recently for the fact that I’m covering the hard topics no one else will to hit the barbed wire.”

  • Alex Jones’ Infowars still uses Facebook to spread hate, dehumanization, and harassment

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Mellisa Joskow / Media Matters

    Update (11/9/18): Following publication of this post, Facebook removed all of the War Room videos referenced here. Facebook did not take action against the War Room page itself, which remains active.  

    In August, Facebook took action against conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, deleting several of the primary pages he used to broadcast content from his Infowars outlet for violating the social media site’s community guidelines.

    But the ban wasn’t total. One of Infowars’ main programs, War Room, is still broadcast on Facebook, and it is a cesspool of harassment and hate.

    War Room is a three-hour weekday broadcast hosted by Infowars’ Owen Shroyer and Donald Trump confidant Roger Stone that airs following The Alex Jones Show. The War Room Facebook page is officially affiliated with Infowars, listing the outlet’s website for its contact information; it also “likes” several other active pages associated with Infowars.

    In addition to being broadcast on Facebook, War Room airs on Infowars.com and through terrestrial radio. Jones himself is a frequent guest of the show, and the War Room Facebook page also posts full segments of The Alex Jones Show, Infowars’ flagship program, whose page was banned by Facebook.

    A Facebook spokesperson declined to address questions about the War Room page.

    On War Room, Shroyer acts as Jones’ surrogate by pushing the same hateful messages his boss touts. This pattern can be seen in the program’s harassment of Christine Blasey Ford, who came forward during the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh to say Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her when they were both in high school.

    During the show’s September 25 Facebook broadcast, Shroyer called Ford a “high school floozie who may or may not have drunkenly fell into bed with one man or 100 men.” Two days later, Shroyer made comments that highlighted how Facebook allows him to say things about Ford that other online platforms don’t permit, commenting that Twitter had banned him for calling Ford a “floozie.” Apparently taking advantage of his carte blanche from Facebook, Shroyer went on to repeatedly call her “floozie Ford” while mocking her voice. During an October 8 broadcast, Shroyer joked that Ford had been sexually assaulted by “Barney the Dinosaur” or “the Kool-Aid Man,” while again mocking her voice.

    The War Room Facebook page also aired a September 20 video in which Jones made a number of disgusting sexist comments about Ford. The video, which is comprised of clips from War Room and The Alex Jones Show, includes Jones falsely claiming that Ford was photographed “spreading her legs” in her high school yearbook and saying she “appears to be a hussy.” Jones also called on his supporters to harass Ford during her testimony before Congress by holding signs showing her spreading her legs.

    Harassment on the War Room page also extends to elected officials. During a September 21 broadcast, Shroyer described a scenario in which Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA), a favorite target of Jones’, is a murderer and child rapist. Shroyer asked, “Do the Democrats having to be raping your daughter and stabbing you in the freaking neck for you to realize who these people are? Seriously -- does Eric Swalwell have to come to your house and rape your child and stab your granny in the neck just for you to see how crazy he is?”

    War Room’s Facebook page is also a platform for videos of Shroyer’s in-person harassment. During the show’s October 29 broadcast, Shroyer played a video of him harassing several Black people outside of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. In the video, Shroyer tells the people they are in “the cult” and “choose not to be part of the African-American revolution that’s happening right now.”

    The War Room page additionally features violent commentary from Shroyer, such as when he took issue with a reporter for liberal outlet Raw Story who was critical of Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA). During the October 8 broadcast, Shroyer asked, directing his comment at the reporter, “What if some radical conservative showed up to your house and shot you in the leg, you little punk ass bitch?”

    Anti-Semitism also has a home on War Room’s Facebook page. During a video hawking Infowars products posted on October 8, Jones falsely claimed that philanthropist George Soros, who is Jewish, is a “Nazi collaborator piece of crap” who killed “a bunch of innocent Europeans,” and added, “Fuck you, Soros.” The false claim that Soros collaborated with the Nazis is an anti-Semitic smear used frequently to attack him.

    During another Infowars commercial that has broadcast on the War Room Facebook page, Infowars’ Paul Joseph Watson mocked people who have autism, claiming that buying Infowars products will “trigger the verified libtards on Twitter” and cause an “autistic screeching fit.”

    The Washington Post reported on November 5 that NewsWars, another page affiliated with Jones, was also untouched by Facebook’s earlier enforcement action. In an interview, Jones “acknowledged that his social media staff sometimes suggests content to the NewsWars Facebook page.” The article noted:

    The continuing popularity of Jones’s videos on Facebook, including those focusing on the migrant caravan in Mexico and claims that pipe bombs sent to prominent Democrats were hoaxes, also highlights Silicon Valley’s struggle to crack down on hate speech even in cases when tech companies have publicly singled out perpetrators for punishment.

  • Rep. Dave Brat appeared in conspiracy theory-filled Alex Jones interview and praised him for “educating people”

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    When Rep. Dave Brat (R-VA) wanted publicity for his new book, he gave an interview to Alex Jones and helped him push conspiracy theories about Muslims and refugees. He also praised the conspiracy theorist for “educating people,” and asked Jones’ audience to visit his website.

    Jones is one of the nation’s most toxic media personalities, having claimed that the U.S. government perpetrated the 9/11 attacks and the tragedies at Columbine, Oklahoma City, Sandy Hook, and the Boston Marathon, among others. Jones’ dangerous rhetoric has gotten him banned from numerous platforms, and he is also being sued by families of the Sandy Hook victims for defamation. Jones has repeatedly pushed lies and smears about the December 2012 mass shooting in Newtown, CT, including claiming that the shooting has “inside job written all over it” and it was “synthetic, completely fake, with actors, in my view, manufactured.”

    Despite widespread knowledge about Jones’ dangerous and violent rhetoric, Brat appeared on the June 28, 2016, edition of The Alex Jones Show to promote his book, which was released that day. Writer Brian Tashman documented Brat’s appearance at the time for Right Wing Watch.

    Brat praised Jones, telling him at the conclusion of the interview that he’s “educating people.” Jones also celebrated Brat, calling him a “true populist” and “one of the best up there.”

    Brat and Jones exchanged conspiratorial and anti-Muslim rhetoric. While summarizing an Evening Standard of London article, Jones falsely claimed that London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who is Muslim, said “we’re going to start bringing in Sharia law, basically” and was being “seditious.” Jones then claimed that he sees “the left truly allied with Islam, with orthodox, which is aggressive, jihad Islam. … I’m sorry, [then-President Barack] Obama and others have allied with it. Am I wrong, congressman? What’s going on here?” Brat replied: “No, you nailed it but there’s some severe splits and contradictions coming up on the left."

    Responding to Brat’s remark that “the leftists are taking control,” Jones told him that “Hitler was a socialist. You can call him a fascist, but whatever. He came from the left, a command-and-control guy. So was Stalin. ... The left, historically -- look at the French Revolution, it was a nightmare. They just run around murdering people. I don’t know what’s wrong with them.” Brat replied that "getting rid of history in the K-12 agenda right now is one of the most troubling things.”

    Jones also told Brat that “Obama orders Border Patrol to ship in TB (tuberculosis),” and refugees coming into the country “just get released to Democratic Party facilities.” Brat replied that he's “been following in Virginia. We’re keeping our eyes on several facilities in my own 7th district.”

    The Republican congressman continued: “Our government is demand-driven, right? I mean, ultimately, the citizens have to get fed-up. And so -- you’re educating people. I’m educating -- that's what’s got to happen. And we [have] got to educate the next generation that you've got to put up a fight if you would like to keep living in this country the way it is.”

    Brat's website address was prominently featured on-screen and was promoted at the conclusion of the interview.

    Media Matters previously documented that in 2015, Brat promoted white nationalist website VDare's praise of his anti-immigrant amendment on his Twitter account.

    Then-candidate Donald Trump appeared on Jones’ program in 2015 and praised his “amazing” reputation. This January, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) also appeared on Jones program -- months later, and following criticism, Gaetz said he wouldn’t go back on the show.

  • Nevada GOP candidate Danny Tarkanian will hold fundraiser with Vegas shooting conspiracy theorist Roger Stone

    Stone is a misogynist and racist who is being investigated by Robert Mueller

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Nevada congressional candidate Danny Tarkanian is set to attend a fundraiser with misogynist and racist dirty trickster Roger Stone. Stone is a conspiracy theorist who has speculated that the 2017 Las Vegas mass shooting was a botched government gun-running operation and the shooter was a government agent.

    Stone is set to be the "special guest" at an October 29 fundraiser in Palm Beach, FL, for Tarkanian. The Republican is running to represent Nevada's 3rd District, which includes a portion of Las Vegas. Tarkanian bizarrely told Axios that "he 'didn’t know' Stone would be there because he doesn’t plan the events." 

    Stone is a longtime adviser to President Donald Trump and works as a paid host for conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ Infowars network. Special counsel Robert Mueller has been closely examining Stone’s activities related to the 2016 election. Stone has repeatedly lied or contradicted himself regarding matters related to the Russia probe.

    Jones and his Infowars network have spread conspiracy theories about numerous tragedies, including wild and irresponsible claims about the October 1, 2017, shooting in Las Vegas that left 58 people dead and hundreds more wounded. Jones has said that the shooting was “as phony as a three dollar bill or as Obama’s birth certificate” and “has the hallmarks of being scripted by deep state Democrats and their Islamic allies.”

    Stone has also forwarded conspiracy theories about the Vegas shooting. During an October 4 appearance on Infowars, Stone said the shooting “is beginning to smell more and more like some kind of gun-running operation. Isn’t it odd that this fellow has no history whatsoever of any social media contact? That would be typical of a government agent, an FBI agent, for example, or a DEA agent.”

    ROGER STONE: I think you put it right in the first, in the opening here, this is beginning to smell more and more like some kind of gun-running operation. Isn’t it odd that this fellow has no history whatsoever of any social media contact? That would be typical of a government agent, an FBI agent, for example, or a DEA agent. That he has no record as a gun enthusiast, yet he has a veritable arsenal in his room, an arsenal no one saw him bring in, and no one saw him bring ammunition or any of the other necessary pieces, the elaborate filming apparatus, and so on. How very strange. And then we track him undeniably to an anti-Trump rally, actually, two different anti-Trump rallies, two different events. I think that that’s a pattern --

    ALEX JONES (HOST): This is like Lee Harvey Oswald at the communist rallies.

    STONE: Well, it very well. He could have been put there as a plant, that’s entirely possible.

    During another October 4 appearance on Infowars, Stone said that Paddock had “no social media, very typical of someone who’s either in the mafia or a federal agent” and “seems to have some record of leftist and anti-Trump activism.”

    Stone’s claim about Paddock being involved in anti-Trump activity is false. The conspiracy theory that the Vegas shooting was a botched government gun-running operation has been pushed by conspiracy theorist media. Investigators concluded that Paddock acted alone and did not carry out the attack as part of a wider plot.

    Stone has promoted numerous other conspiracy theories over the years, including claiming that Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) father was tied to the John F. Kennedy assassination; saying that the Bushes and Clintons have murdered or attempted to murder numerous enemies; and relating that he advised Trump that “there’s a lot of questions” about President Barack Obama’s birth certificate.

    Stone has a history of racist rhetoric. He’s called Black media commentators "stupid negro," "fat negro," "arrogant know-it-all negro," and “Mandingo.” He's also called Hispanic and Black commentators "quota hires." Stone tweeted that he’s a “nigga” with a Nixon tattoo.

    He also has repeatedly used sexist rhetoric. His remarks about female media and political figures include lobbing attacks such as "elitist c*nt," a “self-important, nasty cunt,” and “every man’s first wife.” He also told a journalist, "DIE BITCH."

    (For more on Stone, read Media Matters’ comprehensive guide.)

    Tarkanian has associated with other conspiracy theorists. In April of this year, he went on the program of Wayne Dupree to promote his candidacy. Like Jones, Dupree is a Sandy Hook conspiracy theorist, having claimed that the 2012 school shooting in Newtown, CT, was a “hoax” that involved “crisis actors.” Tarkanian’s website promotes his appearance and he posted it on his Facebook page as well, thanking Dupree for "a great time.”

    In November 2017, Tarkanian gave an interview to online host Jack Belgarde, who has claimed that the Vegas shooting was “an inside job.” 

    Media Matters previously documented that Tarkanian was listed as an administrator of a racist Facebook group. He left shortly after information about him publicly surfaced.

  • Infowars co-host says Democrats break election laws; also confesses he'll vote in a district he doesn't live in

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Harrison Smith, a contributor to Alex Jones’ Infowars outlet, said that he is going to vote in a district he doesn’t live in because he failed to update his voter registration before Texas’ deadline. The comment came during a segment in which Smith introduced himself as one of the co-hosts of a new Infowars show focused on 2018 midterm election coverage and accused Democrats of breaking election laws.

    Smith announced the new show during the October 9 edition of Infowars’ weekday afternoon show War Room, which is broadcast on Facebook, Infowars.com, and through terrestrial radio. War Room host Owen Shroyer and Jones will join Smith in hosting the show, which will air for two hours every weeknight until the November 6 elections under the banner “Banned 2018 Midterm Election Coverage.” Disturbingly, Infowars’ claims about elections have been previously promoted by the president: Trump’s lie that he “won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally” originated with the outlet.

    Speaking to Shroyer, Smith encouraged listeners to register to vote before deadlines to “match these numbers that the Democrats are talking about,” and then said, “Don’t put it off until the last day like I admit I did. I was on my way to the post office to mail my voter registration when I get a call saying, ‘Hey, can you host the War Room today?’ So I will have to go back to my old district to vote this year.” Shroyer responded, “Oh, my gosh. I cost you a vote.”

    Texas law requires that individuals who move from one county to another submit a new voter registration application in person or via mail. Smith, who is based in Austin, TX, where Infowars’ studios are located, does not appear in public records of voters registered in Travis County, where Austin is located. He does, however, have an active voter registration in a different Texas county located more than 150 miles from Austin that started on January 1 and runs through 2019. Texas has been hypervigilant in prosecuting illegal voting cases, even in instances where the person being prosecuted didn’t realize they were violating voting laws.

    Moments later, Shroyer accused Democrats of violating election laws. Shroyer said that Democrats are trying to “rig” the upcoming elections by eliminating the Electoral College, advocating for 16-year-olds to vote, and “obviously the old story, the non-citizen vote, the illegal immigrant vote.”

    Shroyer told Infowars supporters, “Go to a Democrat event in your town where they’re registering people to vote and you watch them politicize it and force their hand, make them admit they’re politicizing it, make them admit they’re out there recruiting for Democrats, catch them on camera, then say, ‘Guess what, buddy? I just caught you breaking the law.’”

    Shroyer suggested reporting election law violations to Texas officials and said, “Better watch out, Democrats, your desperation is leading you down a long, dark pathway of illegal criminal behavior that’s going to catch up with you.” Smith responded, “If only law applied to Democrats like it does to conservatives.”

  • Fox & Friends hosts founder of astroturfed #WalkAway “movement” who has appeared on Infowars

    Blog ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

    Fox & Friends is promoting an astroturfed social media “movement,” the #WalkAway campaign, that has been hyped on The Alex Jones Show and promoted by social media bots.

    On the October 2 edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Ainsley Earhardt interviewed Brandon Straka, the supposed founder of the #WalkAway campaign, which encourages voters to “walk away” from the Democratic Party. During the appearance, Straka complained of an apparent “dishonesty” within the “liberal media,” promoting his hashtag, website, and an upcoming “march on Washington” in the process.

    Straka’s “movement” is really an astroturfed social media campaign that has been amplified by both Infowars and Russian bots. Since early July, when the hashtag began to trend on Twitter, Straka himself has appeared on multiple Infowars shows to promote his so-called movement, and an analysis of the hashtag on Twitter found it to be a “psychological operation” aimed at shaping conversations in cable news segments, such as his appearance on Fox & Friends. According to multiple analyses, the hashtag's spread was largely driven by non-human activity, and accounts that tweeted in support of the “movement” had used pro-Trump hashtags such as #maga, #fakenews, and #qanon before they “walked away” from the Democratic Party. Moreover, according to Snopes, the campaign’s supporters have promoted the hashtag with misleading stock photos of people who had supposedly “walked away” from the Democratic Party, though Straka claims the photos were not actually created by the campaign itself.

    From the October 2 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends:

    AINSLEY EARHARDT (CO-HOST): We see your t-shirt. How did you become a conservative? You were a liberal and now you are a conservative activist?

    BRANDON STRAKA (FOUNDER, #WALKAWAY CAMPAIGN): Nice. Well, it's a bit of a long story. But, in general, what it was was, I really came to the realization that the liberal media was incredibly dishonest throughout the campaign of Donald Trump, creating a narrative about who he was and who his followers were. And that really opened my eyes to their dishonesty. I actually think he is a really amazing president, and I think that the people in this country who support him are really good people, but they have gotten a really bad shake from the liberal media.

    EARHARDT: Do you think that there are other people that feel the way do you and they’re just being quiet about it? Because we saw in the election, a lot of people were too afraid to say that they were supporting the president.

    STRAKA: Right, well, this is what I say all the time in the campaign is that it is time for the silent majority to become un-silent, and that's really what's happening, I think, with the #WalkAway campaign. It's a testimonial campaign, and people are creating their testimonials, and they're finding the courage to speak their truth for the first time. It's really created a network of support. In fact, we have a #WalkAway march on Washington next month, which is really going to be a massive demonstration of solidarity.

    EARHARDT: So it's walk away from the Democratic Party and support us?

    STRAKA: Absolutely.

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

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

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Video: Conservatives dismiss Christine Blasey Ford's report that Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her

    Blog ››› ››› JOHN KERR

    When California professor Christine Blasey Ford came forward to say President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her when they were high school students, right-wing media smeared her as an “opportunist,” questioned the timing of her allegations, complained this is "an attempted political assassination of a character,” argued Ford needs to be pressed about her "political bias," and more:

  • Trump ally Eric Bolling goes on The Alex Jones Show

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G.


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

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

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

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

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

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

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

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