The REAL False Flag Operation, Part 4
In Part 4 of this series, we will review how an “Antifa apocalypse” hysteria wave had occurred as a precursor event a number of years ago, and how it was discovered to have come about, and who devised the scheme to exploit it.
NOTE TO THE READER: This is another topical blog post that gotten to be so long in content and scope, that as a courtesy to the reader I have split up into a series of posts. It concerns a topic now of interest to the new conspiracy-crowd that is the Religious Right, who has now as a late-comer embraced this viewpoint after introduction to the conspiracy-minded “don’t believe your eyes or the establishment” perspective from their extremist hard-right Christian and other Christian media outlets, both large and small, “mainstream” and small-time fringe blogs, podcasts, Facebook posts and tweets. Through this they have become versed into the old conspiracy concept that has historical precedents but is now-overused and supersaturated, that of the “false flag operation,” by agents provocateur in disguise, to implicate and discredit rival ideological camps. It reviews the latest popular arguments in conservative and Religious Right professional and social media that leftist radicals actually conducted the Capitol insurrection by those otherwise-plainly identified as right wing extremists in the “patriot movement,” including the cases of violent or provocative incidents in the years leading up to it. It explores the arguments popularly disseminated to date, who are the main figures formulating and dispensing these narratives, what are their histories, track records and possible motives for such, the extent of their accuracy or inaccuracy, and the appearances of a REAL “false flag” narrative being promulgated that is not what is being popularly identified in this public relations “sleight of hand.” It also painstakingly documents who the actual insurrectionists and inciters were in these events, based upon hard evidence of video and photo documentation, self-incriminating posts and writing, announcements of planned operations prior to the event, law enforcement investigations and legal filing and pleas, and statements by top government officials who admitted their intentions to incite, or were eyewitnesses to the culprits and the events. In the introductory Part 1, we began by summarizing the key events and timelines of the pivotal day of the Capitol insurrection, how President Trump set the stage (including literally) to prepare the people for war beforehand (with the help of violent militia groups and others online), bring the people to Washington at the very hour of the election certification, and provoke them into the seditious mob and combination vandal gang and lynch mob, as well as identifying a few initial figures that have come from obscurity to experience a meteoric rise in the national media in capitalizing in those days on the dark and disturbing latent impulses now seething in the American public that they have exploited for immediate profit and future agendas of even higher ambition. Part 2 included a more in-depth profile of the individuals, leaders and organizations involved in the insurrection itself, derived from their writings and confessions, FBI reports and legal briefs, as well key representatives of some of our time-honored institutions (those revered by conservatives in particular) that shockingly had a pivotal role in the deadly event, and the demographics of the typical 2021 insurrectionist, with these findings having major implications in our society in the days ahead. In Part 3 of this series, we explored how different elements of America’s faith community responded on the day of the insurrection, and in the aftermath how they perceived the true culprits, including major Christian and conservative media and their “Antifa” claims, how it was generated and spread (and by whom), allied conservative figures who joined in and later ashamedly renounced such claims to Trump and the public, and how the conservative citizenry ignored such debunking and has clung to the “Antifa insurrectionist” manufactured narrative, and associated myths. In Part 4 of this series, we will review how an “Antifa apocalypse” hysteria wave had occurred as a precursor event a number of years ago, and how it was discovered to have come about, and who devised the scheme to exploit it.
The January 2021 Capitol sacking and insurrection was not the first “big” incident of the Trump era that triggered widespread disinformation blaming Antifa. In the fall of 2017 rumors spread that protests planned nationally in November by a group called Refuse Fascism was actually Antifa, and was planning for widespread destruction of the whole nation at the time. In October 2017, Buzzfeed reported that
An anti-Trump group called Refuse Fascism is calling for a protest a day starting November 4th across the United States. Organizers are asking protesters to come out every day until the Trump administration is no longer in power. Known best for its ubiquitous signs emblazoned with a black-and-white “NO!” signs, Refuse Fascism advocates for the removal of Trump in the belief that his administration is a step closer to a fascist American government. Sunsara Taylor, one of the co-founders of the group, told BuzzFeed News that Refuse Fascism organizes “mass nonviolent political protests” — November 4 included — because “only a movement that draws in millions in nonviolent sustained political protest can create the kind of society-wide political crisis where this regime is removed from power.” Refuse Fascism’s call-to-action on its website reads:
“ON NOVEMBER 4, 2017:
We will gather in the streets and public squares of cities and towns across this country, at first many thousands declaring that this whole regime is illegitimate and that we will not stop until our single demand is met: This Nightmare Must End: the Trump/Pence Regime Must Go! Our protest must grow day after day and night after night—thousands becoming hundreds of thousands, and then millions—determined to act to put a stop to the grave danger that the Trump/Pence Regime poses to the world by demanding that this whole regime be removed from power.”
It does not mention violence.
Jordan Peltz, who works for the private company US Warrant Service, posted a video to his YouTube channel in late September warning of an upcoming civil war. The video has been reposted and viewed hundreds of thousands of times. In the video, he says, “On [antifa’s] website, they’re calling for an open civil war, which they will start in November. They are fundraising for weapons, ammunition, training, supplies…They’re openly fundraising so they can attack.” Refuse Fascism is not asking for firearms or ammunition, according to its website…He has worked for a private company called US Warrant Service, a private contractor that describes itself as an “elite paramilitary reconnaissance and warrant agency”…Peltz says that antifa members plan to attack first responders and “anyone in uniform” and then “white people and Trump supporters because you’re a Nazi to them…I don’t know why we’re allowing this, but if our leadership isn’t going to step up and finish this, we have to. That is our right, and that is what we must do.” Peltz claims on Craigslist the video has been viewed millions of times and that he has been doxxed because of it…He also maintains a Facebook page called Veritas Aequitas USA — Hosted by Jordan Peltz, which features a donkey wearing a Nazi armband as its profile picture.
No other self-proclaimed anti-fascist collectives have said on social media that they’re planning to participate in the November 4th protests, contrary to the right-wing assertion that antifa writ large is calling for a giant, violent protest. Taylor of Refuse Fascism told BuzzFeed News, “What they’re saying is completely false. They’re blatant lies, and they’re creating and intending to intimidate people who want to stand up to the Trump/Pence regime. It’s concerning that these lies are being spread and that they’re unleashing threats.” The group also published statements condemning attacks on antifa — “There is NO moral ‘equivalence’ between those seeking to impose white supremacy and fascism, and those fighting against this nightmare” — and on the rash of conspiracy theories, calling them “lies and distortions by fascist web sites and trolls.” There are dozens of other videos like Peltz’s on YouTube. They’ve been viewed millions of times collectively.
YouTube – Here are a few of them:
“Antifa Plan Civil War To Overthrow the Government On Nov 4, 2017” — 152,000 views
“Civil unrest/ nov. 4th” — 338,000 views
“Trump Could Declare Martial Law In FIVE Cities After Receivig [sic] Chilling Warning About Nov. 4th | Top” — 250,000 views
“The Nov 4th civil war explained. Don’t fall for it!!!!!” — 141,000 views
“Antifa To Start The War On November 4th” — 384,000 views
Alex Jones’ YouTube channel, which has two million subscribers, posted a video on October 25 — “Breaking: DOD Exercise To Simulate National Power Grid Collapse On Antifa Day Of Rage.” It’s already been viewed nearly 30,000 times. InfoWars also published an article on the protest echoing Peltz’s warning of civil war.
Some conservatives on Twitter are using the hashtag #CivilWar2017:
#Antifa & intellectual toddlers better keep their violence in liberal cities-country folk know how to deal w infant tantrums #CivilWar2017
Snopes also posted a debunk of the civil war conspiracy theory.
Peltz has seemingly tried to distance himself from his claim of antifa civil war, however, saying his original video was just a “rant I posted for my friends” that was taken out of context and “edited.”
Finding out my video meant for me and few friends had been taken and edited. Only site I thought had it.”
After his video went viral, Peltz responded to a Facebook post about the video in September, downplaying it by saying he had “little sleep” when he made it. He still says of antifa, though, that he will “stomp them out for good.” But he continues to post videos mocking antifa.
I don’t know about you, but I can’t recollect a day in the fall of 2017 where Antifa nationwide rolled out their “stockpile of “firearms and ammunition,” and “attacking first responders and law enforcement,” “civil war” and “martial law” declared and the “shutting down the power grids,” leading to a nationwide holocaust – was I not paying attention, and missed it? I must still believe it, because a guy with a donkey wearing a Nazi armband as his symbol declared it, and it was promoted and embellished by Alex Jones and the usual suspects.
Other reports added further details on the eve of the event:
Yes, antifascist protesters are planning to participate in a demonstration in downtown Seattle Friday. A number of left-wing rallies are planned nationwide for Nov. 4, including Seattle’s “Stand Up To Trump, Fight White Supremacy” rally. But some far-right websites are reporting that “antifa super-soldiers” are going to rise up on Nov. 4 and start a new civil war. Those words are from a sardonic tweet by Tom Bloke. Bloke jokingly claimed to be the “leader” of antifa, and some right wing blogs believed it. Rumors about Saturday’s rallies have gotten so strange, the fact-checking site Snopes weighed in. Lucian Wintrich, who writes for the blog Gateway Pundit, published a story Monday with the headline, “ANTIFA Leader: “November 4th […] millions of antifa supersoldiers will behead all white parents.”
…Here’s what we know about the demonstration planned for Saturday: the antifascist group Insurrectionary Youth Action (IYA) appears to be the main antifascist participant. The event begins at noon at Seattle City Hall along 4th Avenue downtown. IYA says the Revolutionary Communist Party has put out a the nationwide call to start a new Occupy Wall Street-like movement on Saturday. Now, here’s where it gets a little murky: IYA says it’s not demonstrating on Saturday to support the RCP. “We at Insurrectionary Youth Action (IYA), a new group of insurrectionists based out of the Pacific Northwest area, would like to make a call to action for other affinity groups and anarchist organizations to take part in the upcoming Nov 4th events,” the group wrote in a blog post. “Not out of solidarity with the RCP mind you, but as an autonomous force of our own that can influence the event and instigate radical action against the current regime.”
On Inauguration Day, an anti-fascist demonstrator was shot and seriously injured during a demonstration at a [right-wing firebrand] Milo Yiannopoulos event at the University of Washington. Elizabeth Hokoana has pleaded not guilty to first-degree assault in the shooting (her husband, Mark, has pleaded not guilty to third-degree assault for using pepper spray). On May Day, a right-wing group from the Portland area, Patriot Prayer, held a demonstration at Westlake Park in Seattle. The group clashed with antifascists, although May Day 2017 in Seattle was much calmer than in past years. Patriot Prayer has continued to antagonize Seattle, however. The group participated in an “anti-sharia” rally at Seattle City Hall in June [in 2017? They must have been desperate to fundraise, by calling on a “golden oldie” existential threat]. That rally ended in a confrontation between right-wing demonstrators and anti-fascists at Occidental Square…So, to recap: there are no antifascist super-soldiers, but expect a rally and possibly a march in downtown Seattle Saturday.
This kind of information was all that Fox News needed to run with, to breathlessly warn of an “Antifa Apocalypse“:
Will the so-called “Antifa apocalypse” come with a bang or a whimper?
…The left-wing “Refuse Fascism” group is using Nov. 4 as its kickoff for demonstrations in nearly two dozen U.S. cities, protests it says will continue “day after day and night after night ─ not stopping ─ until our DEMAND is met.”
The “DEMAND” is the removal of President Trump and Vice President Pence. The gatherings are being described as a kind of “Antifa apocalypse” on right-wing media, according to The Washington Post…Among the 20 cities where rallies are set to occur are Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Honolulu, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Seattle…“You cannot try to ‘wait things out’,” a Refuse Fascism call to action reads. “Those who lived through Nazi Germany and sat on the sidelines, looking on as Hitler demonized, criminalized, and eventually rounded up one group after another, became shameful collaborators with monstrous crimes.” Tapping into movements like Occupy Wall Street and the Women’s March, Refuse Fascism said it hopes to protest non-stop, 24/7 “until this regime is driven from power.” The organization is engaged with a broad coalition of groups, including the Revolutionary Communist Party — but says they are committed to a nonviolence stance…[Refuse Fascism board member Andrew] Zee told The Washington Post his organization does “uphold the legal right to self-defense,” but that they “don’t initiate violence” and they “oppose violence.”
Refuse Fascism ATL’s poster asks Atlanta demonstrators to bring “pots and pans” with an image of a pole poked through Trump’s severed head, drawn as a pig’s with flies buzzing around it. Chicago’s invite includes an image of a rope pulling down a Trump statue, which is already cut in half. “Show this damn Trump and Pence regime that they do not rule over us,” one organizer said in a video posted on Facebook. “Let us stand together, come together, and fight this regime on November fourth”…Recently, several members shut down a Los Angeles highway with “Nov. 4 It Begins” signs in a show of “non-violent civil disobedience”…[Bob] Avakian brands Pence the political leader of “Christian fascism,” a “fascism wrapped in the Bible taken literally and the American flag, saturated with racism, misogyny, and xenophobia,” which he compares to the “kind of Islamic fundamentalism that is tearing up the Mideast.”
I am so glad they warned and prepared us for the holocaust of people armed with “pots and pans,” declaring “non-violence” and “non-violent civil disobedience.” Speaking of “violent anti-fascists,” conservatives should look no further than their own grandparents, who were proud to be “violent antifascists” in defeating the fascist Nazi and Italian fascist forces terrorizing the world. The German Christians were later ashamed that they had not been “antifascists” and confronted the Nazis and Italian Fascists in the streets when they could have dealt with them, rather than “standing back” or, worse yet, secretly applauding their hard line against the immigrants and minority groups and rampant nationalism and “getting the trains to run on time,” and eventually letting millions of people be killed.
A media outfit called “Mic,” which caters to millennials, published an expose which explains much further who was behind this 2017 “false flag” apocalyptic warning, and its consequences:
According to some online conservative circles, anti-fascist activists — or “antifa supersoldiers,” depending who you ask — have plans to “behead all white parents” and attack “small-business owners,” “kill every single Trump voter,” team up with violent gangs and go on a rampage, killing every conservative they can find. The actions have been billed as “bigger than anything the likes of which we’ve ever seen,” with supporters of President Donald Trump urged to “prepare with bullets, food and water.” Conservative activists have been reporting alleged antifa accounts for making serious, violent threats to conservatives in the build-up to the day of action. One account, @KrangTNelson, was mass-reported until he was finally suspended from Twitter. The only problem? Krang isn’t a violent antifa thug — he’s a left-leaning humorist. And the “threat” that got him kicked off Twitter was an obvious joke. What’s more, the Nov. 4 conspiracy theory is — you guessed it — a baseless lie. There is no evidence for an attack. There is no evidence of planned violence. A cofounder of the group organizing the event said it is a peaceful call for nonviolent protest.
…Much of this wild speculation seems derived from a deeply dubious and widely shared report on right-wing conspiracy hub InfoWars by YouTuber and blogger Paul Joseph Watson. The InfoWars post links to a statement on the website of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, which indeed calls for demonstrations against Trump in numerous U.S. cities on Nov. 4. At no point, though, does it call for “violence” or “riots,” let alone a “civil war,” as Watson reported. Watson seems to parse the statement’s fleeting reference to a book published in 2005 by Communist Party Chairman Bob Avakian — The Coming Civil War and Repolarization for Revolution in the Present Era — as a sign that thousands of people are actually planning to start a civil war. From there, things really flew off the rails. On Sept. 29, InfoWars’ Alex Jones told his viewers that “we have a flood of antifa saying that they’re preparing with weapons, knives and guns to kill conservatives, patriots and white people en masse.” Posts like this one started to go viral, with far-right activists claiming law enforcement sources told them things like “Black Lives Matter” received “almost 25 million [dollars] for weapons and other tools to supply groups that plan to attack ‘white people,’” that Trump had deputized “over 4 million military people” to prepare for a coming civil war with antifa and that “800,000” antifa soldiers would likely team up with gang members from MS-13 for the fight. There is no evidence for any of these claims.
Wait — so who is Krang T. Nelson, and what does this have to do with him? Krang’s account has been on Twitter since December 2015. He’s well-known for lefty “shitposting” — satirical and often acerbic takes on current events. He was riffing on the collective Nov. 4 conspiracy derangement when he posted this joke Sunday night, which Krang said prompted his suspension. “Can’t wait for November 4th when millions of antifa supersoldiers will behead all white parents and small-business owners in the town square,” he wrote. I direct-messaged Krang’s new account to ask about the suspension on Monday. “It seems there were a good number of Fox News grandparents who cannot recognize satire when it’s slapping them about the face,” he said. Krang said he also received screenshots from group DMs between some high-profile right-wing Twitter personalities that seemed to indicate they were coordinating a campaign to report his tweet en masse. Krang shared the screenshots with Mic but asked they not be published.
…Gateway Pundit’s D.C. Bureau Chief and White House Coordinate Lucian Wintrich responded to these satirical responses with this post: “Tom Bloke,” aka @21logician above, is “considered to be one of the leaders of the domestic terrorist group antifa,” the report reads. “[He] took to Twitter today to threaten violence against ‘white parents’ and ‘small-business owners.’” Reached on his account, @21logician told Mic he has no affiliations with antifa. He said he published the tweet as a reference to Krang’s suspension and that “Tom Bloke” isn’t even his real name. “It’s baffling to me that such an obvious joke — stolen from another guy, as a joke — turns into an article where I’m suddenly cited as an antifa leader,” he said in a DM. “The right-wing fake-news machine is on another level of stupid that is hard for me to understand.” “I don’t even like antifa that much,” he added…When contacted via email for clarification, Gateway Pundit’s Lucian Wintrich defended his claim that “Tom Bloke” is an antifa leader. Many are taking the Gateway Pundit post as a serious threat and a literal call to violence. Other pundits, like conservative commentator Bill Mitchell, ran with it, too.
You can now see on “Tom Bloke”‘s Twitter site – the one with the picture of George Soros with rabbit ears – that his masthead now proudly announces his coronation from The Gateway Pundit as a “leader of Antifa,” or as it says verbatim, ” ‘Tom Bloke, considered to be one of the leaders of the domestic terrorist group ANTIFA’ -The Gateway Pundit.” A quick perusal of his account will show that is full of bewildering (to this 57-year-old), mischievous banter associated with today’s “hip” crowd, that cynically sees humor in everything and deeply held beliefs on all sides, and references that are too web culture-savvy for me.
I can’t imagine what these people would do with my ironic, satirical comments, intended to reveal the absurdity of people’s paranoia, if I wasn’t so darn irrelevant by not being a darling on the “hip” platforms like Reddit, Twitter or TikTok, and more focused on carefully-laid-out extended evidentiary narrative, rather than catchy memes and terrifying, pithy graffiti-style “Chicken Little” announcements of imminent peril.
This narrative of hysteria and conspiracy was fed by the right-wing online and social media community, with typical announcements such as this one from Oct. 10, 2017:
ALERT: Antifa Declares CIVIL WAR – Announces “Day of Anarchy” on November 4th (VIDEO)
ALERT—PLEASE READ CAREFULLY
Antifa has just announced that they’re planning to purge every single Trump voter, Republican, and conservative American in this country. Come November 4th, the far-left terrorist organization will erupt in violence, raiding houses, seizing weapons, and causing absolute chaos. Born under the Obama administration some time around 2014, the radical left wing group “Antifa” has grown to a full blown domestic terrorist threat. Over the past year we’ve seen them shut down conservative speakers such as Milo Yiannopoulos, attack innocent Americans, and use violence to push their political agenda. After being declared a terrorist organization by the Department of Homeland Security [Note: I cannot find confirmation that the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security placed them on an official “terrorist” list, or that they or the FBI consider them a unified, organized group, although Politico reported then that some officials internally and confidentially used words like “domestic terrorists” to refer to some of the more violent participants], we’ve seen them slink back into shadows—and while they do most of their operations in secret, dozens of conservative journalists and reporters have infiltrated their ranks, and have some terrifying news.
According to sources, Antifa is planning an all out civil war on November 4th. This is not going to be a productive platform for engagement, it’s not going to be a peaceful protest, hell it’s not even going to be a violent riot. What they’re planning is bigger than anything the likes of which we’ve ever seen, and we need to prepare ourselves. Dozens of conservative voices have spoken out against the mayhem that Antifa has in store, urging Americans to prepare with bullets, food, and water. “They’re planning a total day of anarchy on November 4th,” one said. “They’re planning the first day of their revolution.” That’s right—this isn’t just a one time event. This is meant to be the day that they seize control of America. This is meant to be the day that freedom ends, that justice dies, and that terror reigns free. Antifa does not want democracy, they do not want peace, they do not want freedom…they want complete and utter chaos.
“I never thought that in my life time, I’d see the complete and total breakdown of society, of morality, of civility…the building blocks of what make this nation great,” said a [unnamed] Sheriff Deputy trying to warn Americans of the impending war. “We’re no longer allowed to walk in public…if you’re a Republican you have to fear getting beaten, destroyed, maimed, or killed.” “If you’re white, or you’re a Trump supporter…it will be open game on you. If our leaders aren’t going to step up and finish this, we have to. Each and everyone of us has to,” he adds. Antifa plans to first target and eliminate law enforcement officials, and then they will move onto citizens. Info Wars reports that major hot spots for this war will be “New York, Austin, Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.” Many, such as Stephen Crowder, have gone undercover and exposed how Antifa is hoarding guns, bullets, knives, and other weapons. They’re building an arsenal. They’re preparing for war. Alt-left agitators are planning to stage mass riots in major cities on November 4 during which they hope to instigate a “civil war” that will lead to the “regime change” of the Trump administration.
…The fate of our country hangs on a thread, and all it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. So arm yourselves and steel your nerves, prepare for the worst yet hope for the best—because if it really does come down to it, and push comes to shove, this will be the day that we reclaim our country. Please share this article with everyone you know—this is extremely important information and every single patriot in America must be prepared for November 4th.
I should also make further clarification regarding the prominent conservative organization “The Gateway Pundit” (whom has been mentioned in previous posts in this series) that was cited as the primary source of “mainstreaming” the “antifa holocaust” story in 2017. One can read a primer about the organization here. They are worthy of an extended review, in terms of their origins and track record, for they are a classic archetype of the type of conservative media outlet to which my fellow evangelicals are instantly drawn to, and from which they draw their devoutly and rigidly-held opinions and legitimacy of their worldview.
Jim Hoft founded The Gateway Pundit website in 2004. While I could not find any books he had written, much less bios contained within them, the Amazon author page of his twin brother Joe Hoft does add some glimpses not only into himself, but The Gateway Pundit itself:
Joe Hoft is an author and contributor at one of America’s largest political websites – http://www.thegatewaypundit.com. The gateway pundit (TGP) is run by Joe’s identical twin brother Jim. Joe’s online posts at TGP have been retweeted by President Donald J. Trump and made the headlines at the DrudgeReport, at one time one of the largest websites in the world with more than 1.5 billion hits monthly.
Some of Joe’s books for sale there include 2020’s In God We Trust: Not In Lying Liberal Lunatics, and 2017’s Loving, Blessing, and Being Aware of God’s Grace. In the Amazon book description of the latter book, he writes, “At one point, author Joe Hoft—who’s now a world-traveling executive brimming over with success—found himself living in his brother’s basement without his wife or daughters. He was depressed and emotionally drained and broken…So how did he move through huge disappointments and turn life lessons into success? He cultivated relationships with the right people…”
The only bio on Gateway founder Jim Hoft I could find is on the website of Lifeboat.org, of which they also show he is a member on their Ethics Board. I should first attempt to explain what I can ascertain about this enigmatic but fascinating organization, although I concede it is far afield from the main premise of this work. Their “Mission Statement” page at the website states that
The Lifeboat Foundation is a nonprofit nongovernmental organization dedicated to encouraging scientific advancements while helping humanity survive existential risks and possible misuse of increasingly powerful technologies, including genetic engineering, nanotechnology, and robotics/AI, as we move towards the Singularity.
Lifeboat Foundation is pursuing a variety of options, including helping to accelerate the development of technologies to defend humanity such as new methods to combat viruses, effective nanotechnological defensive strategies, and even self-sustaining space colonies in case the other defensive strategies fail. We believe that, in some situations, it might be feasible to relinquish technological capacity in the public interest (for example, we are against the U.S. government posting the recipe for the 1918 flu virus on the internet). We have some of the best minds on the planet working on programs to enable our survival. We invite you to join our cause! The Lifeboat Foundation is working on a prototype Friendly AI and also has launched the world’s first bitcoin endowment fund.
Even more interesting is their “Frequently Asked Questions” page. There you find that “a set of emerging technologies — Genetics, Robotics, and Nanotechnology — will make more power available than has ever been known in human history” which could benefit humanity, or “enable a small group, or even a single individual, to dominate the world — or destroy it.” They add that “Nanotechnology, when it reaches the advanced stage of molecular manufacturing, could trigger a rapidly escalating arms race that spins out of control and ends in devastating war, possibly threatening the survival of all humanity. This may become possible by 2020, or perhaps even sooner. There will also be the threat of a nano-built self-replicating system (popularly called grey goo) that could in theory consume large amounts of the biosphere.” In regard to the question, “How will Lifeboat Foundation protect us?” they reply that “Since it is usually not feasible to slow down the advancement of dangerous technologies, our foundation will do everything possible to speed up the advancement of defensive technologies against all possible threats. When asked, “How can we be protected against advances in Nanotechnology?” they reply, “We support our NanoShield proposal for an active, distributed sensing and response system: an ‘immune system’ that would detect and stop bad uses of nanotech. Side effects of this system include the potential for oppression by the owners of the shield and the potential for the shield itself to turn destructive due to a software bug or due to hackers getting control of it.”
Most interestingly, they add that “We support the creation of self-sustaining space colonies, on the Moon and in deep space, in case of a nanotech (or other) disaster that makes human life difficult or impossible on Earth. We also support the creation of self-contained bunkers on the Earth; these would use much of the same technology as self-sustaining space colonies.” When asked, “How can we be protected against anti-matter bombs and some high energy particle accelerator mishaps?” they respond, “Anti-matter bombs and high energy particle accelerator mishaps which create small black holes or turn the Earth into a giant strangelet would threaten all life on Earth so self-sustaining colonies elsewhere is our proposal.” When asked, “Do we expect to be successful?” they reply, “With the survival of the human race at stake, we have to be successful.” To the reader who asks, “I don’t want to wait until 2020 to go into outer space. Can you help me?” they announce that “All Lifeboat members are eligible for 5% discounts on Space Adventures terrestrial tours, zero-gravity and supersonic jet flights, sub-orbital space flights, and a $200,000 discount on trips to the International Space Station!” They add that “If one space colony failed to provide sufficient safeguards, then only they would face the consequences, leaving the other colonies to learn from their mistake.” When one asks, “I only have $10 in the bank. Is there a chance I could get on a lifeboat”? they assure them by noting that “In the tradition of Harvard’s admissions policy, we expect lifeboats to not be exclusive to the rich and powerful. We expect that there will be lotteries for spots on lifeboats and there will also be trust funds to provide ‘lifeboat scholarships’.”
Some of their programs include “Particle Accelerator Shield – To prevent, and also make plans on surviving when possible, particle accelerator mishaps including quantum vacuum collapse, mining the quantum vacuum, formation of a stable strangelet, and the creation of artificial mini-black holes” and “Personality Preserver – Methods of preserving persons — or just their personalities — include cryopreservation and uploading.” The “Long Range Programs” include “Alien Shield – To prevent annihilation by an alien race (biological or otherwise),” “Antimatter Shield – To prevent antimatter-based annihilation, “Black Hole Shield – To protect against black holes that are not manmade,” and “Sun Shield – To protect against and/or cope with our sun becoming a red giant and other harmful fluctuations in its output.” It appears that they keep up to date a blog of new announcements, at least up to April 24, 2021.
It appears that they at least try to maintain an air of financial transparency, with a page devoted to their non-profit IRS Form 990 filings up to 2014, a lengthy donor list with names, amounts and dates, with many low dollar (and most a single dollar), details of their accumulated “Lifeboat Fund” to date (including a matching pledge by Ray Kurzeil of “The Singularity” in 2006), and details about their multi-million dollar “Bitcoin Endowment Fund,” going back at least to 2011.
Regarding the biography of Jim Hoft of the Gateway Pundit on the Lifeboat website, who lists him on their “Advisory Board” and member of their “Ethics Board,” they write that
Jim Hoft is the author of this article and author of Gateway Pundit, one of the leading conservative blogs on the internet today and which currently draws over a quarter of a million readers each month. He has led the pack on many news stories and has been the guest of numerous radio talk shows and panel discussions on current events. Gateway Pundit is often linked by internet giants and has been mentioned in the Washington Post, New York Sun, and the British daily Telegraph. Jim earned a BS in Biology at Loras College. He is professionally one of the few in his field certified to train High Performance Team Building in World Class Organizations. He has researched microbes at the source of the Mississippi River in Itasca, Minnesota. He also has modeling and acting accomplishments to his credit. He starred in numerous national commercials, has made appearances in nationally syndicated television shows and has been pictured in various publications from Caterpillar’s Catalog to The St. Louis Post Dispatch. He’s made brief appearances in film.
This is the most fascinating and visionary thing we will observe going forward about Jim Hoft. Keep in mind as we go forward, what it says about this organization that they have him on their “Ethics Board.”
The “About” page of Mr. Hoft’s online media organization, The Gateway Pundit, has more details about its nature itself, which is important to consider, in line with its central role in the “insurrectionists as Antifa” black propaganda effort:
The Gateway Pundit was originally founded in 2004 as TheGatewayPundit/blogspot.com by Jim Hoft who is the Editor of TGP…The site was established for readers tired of limited options and a politicized establishment media. In 2011, the website moved to its current location as http://www.thegatewaypundit.com. TGP’s audience grew rapidly and added additional writers to the staff. Today over 2.5 million unique readers every day visit TGP. The Gateway Pundit is ranked as one of the top 150 websites in America, based on Alexa rankings. Founded in 2004 The Gateway Pundit is an online news publication consisting of news, commentary and analysis. Located in America’s Heartland, TGP focuses on topics Heartland Americans care about. Since its founding, TGP’s has grown as many Americans turn to digital news sources and as many Americans continue to lose trust in the purportedly unbiased nature of older newspapers and networks, TGP is addressing this gap as a trusted news source for the stories and views that are largely untold or ignored by traditional news outlets. Founded as a counter to the establishment media that primarily shares news and opinion from a decidedly liberal perspective, TGP we believe it is important that we are transparent about our beliefs and perspectives and how it may shape our news and opinion priorities. Our focus is to make editorial choices that address the gap in the politically liberal leanings of establishment media outlets…Editorially, The Gateway Pundit espouses politically conservative world view that support conservative positions on most issues, including abortion, national defense, small government, second amendment rights, tax policy, individual freedom and Constitutional values.
All Ethics and Editorial standards stem from the following values. All our content should be true. No value is more important than this. This does not preclude the use of opinion — opinion is vital to political and cultural commentary. But all opinions expressed must be supported by truth. All Gateway Pundit content should be excellent, both in production and in the promotion of virtue. We must have courage in order expose the truth about powerful interests that may be angered by our coverage…Every person in our news organization has unique gifts, a unique background, and a story that can contribute to the excellence of the whole company…The Gateway Pundit is 100% owned by Jim Hoft, with no outside investors, grants, or funding. TGP is funded by paid advertising in order to provide a free news source for our readers…we are committed to providing greater transparency about how news is produced…
Regarding “accuracy in media,” in early 2013 The Huffington Post reported on the 2013 awardees of the “Reed Irvine Accuracy in Media Award,” given out at the 2013 CPAC (Conservative Political Action Committee) convention. They note that according to the description given by the “right-wing media watchdog Accuracy in Media,” “The Reed Irvine Accuracy in Media Award was established in 2005 to honor those who have made outstanding contributions to the practice of journalism in the tradition of Reed Irvine by independently covering and reporting on news that was misreported or ignored by the mainstream press.” The Huffington Post also notes recent awardees being Andrew Breitbart, Tucker Carlson, and Dana Loesch (who, that very year, had said she would like to join U.S. Special Forces in urinating on dead Afghan bodies like they did). The organization announced in 2013 that it would award its 2013 Reed Irvine Accuracy in Media award to The Gateway Pundit’s Jim Hoft, saying in its press release that “Accuracy in Media will honor…Jim Hoft of Gateway Pundit for his groundbreaking contributions to New Media in a ceremony taking place at the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on March 14th.” In turn the Post editorializes that
Hoft is known as the Dumbest Man on the Internet, and for good reason. As Media Matters summed it up: “Hoft runs with (or spawns) almost every inane story that bubbles up in the conservative blogosphere, has proven that he has absolutely no vetting process for the sources he cites, and apparently has a hard time with basic reading comprehension.” In fact, a couple days before AIM announced the award, Hoft uncritically repeated a claim from a survivalist blog under the headline “Obama DHS Purchases 2,700 Light-Armored Tanks to Go With Their 1.6 Billion Bullet Stockpile.” As Little Green Footballs’ Charles Johnson pointed out, they aren’t tanks and they aren’t being bought by the DHS (they’re for the Marine Corps). This is the guy that AIM is giving an “Accuracy in Media Award” to. Media Matters also stated: “Hoft’s ongoing position of influence in the conservative media is evidence that the entire movement is intellectually bankrupt.” That AIM is giving Hoft what passes as its most prestigious award demonstrates the intellectual bankruptcy of AIM.
And yet, Hoft has been flooded with overwhelming numbers of devoted reader/followers (many from the Religious Right), and the advertising and patronage money that comes with such a large following. We will see just how “accurate” his findings have been over the years and how mature his discernment and assessments are, that justifies his very popular, well-funded and central role of influence, including amongst many of my fellow Christians, who either read his reports directly, or circulate them or see their headlines and capsules of its content on social media, without further critiquing of its assertions or sources.
A couple of months before the 2016 presidential election, Hoft had begun spreading the story (or rather, insinuation) that Hillary Clinton was in medical trouble and thus unfit to take office. CNN reported that “on his Gateway Pundit site, ran a headline blaring, ‘Wow! Did Hillary Clinton Just Suffer a Seizure on Camera?’ She had not, of course, as had been clear to everyone present. But the video soon went viral. Less than a week later, after Clinton delivered her convention address, he was back at it, publishing a GIF of the nominee’s amused face (there were a lot of balloons falling) under a similar title: ‘Wow! Media Missed This=> Did Hillary Suffer Another Seizure After Her DNC Speech?’ ” They also note that later he was part of a suggestion that her Secret Service detail was carrying a syringe for her to (in my words) “bring her back” when under health duress, which was reported by Sean Hannity and others since Hoft is often the catalyst for such stories to propagate, but the Secret Service later formally confirmed that the device in their hands was merely a flashlight.
I heard a lot of stories about Clinton being so frail and medically feeble at the time, but, five years later, she seems as stout and energetic as ever, although they insinuated that she may last no time. Should I (and we) be believing these people?
Immediately after President trump’s inauguration, The New York Times reported that “On Thursday, Jim Hoft, the founder of The Gateway Pundit, said the White House was giving his site an official press credential. The Gateway Pundit promoted hoaxes such as one alleging that protesters in Austin, Tex., were bused in by the liberal donor George Soros. (The originator of that story told The New York Times that his assertions were not supported by fact.)” The White House press room is a tiny room with only a handful of coveted chairs for press organizations, and the new inclusion of new figures like Mr. Hoft means that many reputable, prestigious organizations were suddenly left out. A few weeks later, the London-based Independent newspaper corroborated the report by reporting that
Amid the breaking news and fake news, Donald Trump’s administration has granted press credentials to an outspoken conservative news site that has promoted false rumours about Hillary Clinton’s health and voter fraud. Jim Hoft, the founder of Gateway Pundit and its freshly minted White House correspondent, Lucian Wintrich, attended their first event at the White House – a press conference with Mr. Trump and Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau – on Monday…Mr. Wintrich, 28, an artist and writer who has worked with Milo Yiannopoulos, a strident editor at Breitbart News, told The Independent he hoped to report fairly from the White House and correct what he considered a weight of bias among reporters based there. “We hope to balance some of that bias,” he said.
The picture was topped by Mr. Hoft and the young Mr. Wintrich standing behind the White House Press Office lectern. Curiously, I noticed personally that both of them are giving a very awkward and intentional “OK” gesture, with their other fingers sticking straight up. Even more curiously, that same month, the influential troublemaking alt-right web forum 4Chan (the originator of the QAnon myth) began reporting that the same gesture spelled out and was meant to convey “white power” by white supremacists in media posings (according to the Anti-Defamation League), although many point this to another case of “trolling the liberals.”
This announcement was also confirmed by The Washington Post on Inauguration Day, and who also gave some additional fodder of Hoft’s and The Pundit’s reputation for accurate, vetted and truthful reporting:
“During the election, I had a million readers a day at the Gateway Pundit,” Hoft told DeploraBall attendees at the National Press Club. “Thank you. And the reason was because I was telling the truth. We’ve been in contact with the Trump administration, and they’re going to do something different, and we got their word that the Gateway Pundit is going to have a White House correspondent this year.” “Telling the truth” is not, by any objective measure, what the Gateway Pundit does. If you have a conspiracy theory or a hoax you want to spread, Hoft is your guy.
Just last week, the Gateway Pundit published the absurd, social media-generated claim that the Washington Post’s Doris Truong had sneakily snapped cellphone photos of notes belonging to secretary of state nominee Rex Tillerson, during his confirmation hearing. Truong was not at the hearing; it made no sense to think she would have been at the hearing, since she is an editor of The Post’s website. Yet Twitter trolls saw video of an Asian American woman on her phone, near Tillerson’s notes, and decided without evidence that it must have been Truong, who also is Asian American. That was good enough for Hoft. During the presidential campaign, Hoft fell for an Internet hoax about a postal worker in Ohio who was supposedly destroying absentee ballots cast for Trump. No such thing happened. A week before Election Day, the Gateway Pundit published the false claim that Michelle Obama was deleting tweets supportive of Hillary Clinton, even though a simple Twitter search could have debunked the notion. After the election, Hoft relied on a social media rumor to report that an anti-Trump protest in Austin was “fake” because demonstrators had been bused into town on George Soros’s dime. That was completely bogus. The man who started the rumor later told the New York Times that he had connected a lineup of buses to the protest without any knowledge. The buses had actually transported attendees of a technology conference.
A few weeks later, The New York Times gave more information about the new status of the Pundit within the White House, and Mr. Wintrich in particular:
The Trump administration has granted press credentials to Lucian B. Wintrich, the Washington correspondent for Gateway Pundit, to attend White House press briefings and ask questions of the press secretary, Sean M. Spicer. Mr. Wintrich, an artist and writer who has collaborated with Milo Yiannopoulos, the polarizing editor at Breitbart News, attended President Trump’s news conference with the Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, on Monday. He was joined by the owner of Gateway Pundit, Jim Hoft, who posted on Twitter, “President Trump just spoke about tossing criminal migrants and I wanted to stand up and cheer!!” In a telephone interview from the West Wing, Mr. Wintrich, 28, said he would “be reporting far more fairly than a lot of the very left-wing outlets that are currently occupying the briefing room.” He added, “We will be doing a little trolling of the media in general here.” Asked what kind of trolling his fellow White House correspondents might want to prepare for, Mr. Wintrich paused. “I don’t want to give too much away,” he said. “We have some pretty solid stuff planned.”
…Last month, the site drew criticism for disseminating a false report that a Washington Post journalist had photographed the written notes of Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson during a confirmation hearing. The journalist, who did not attend the hearing, was subsequently harassed with threatening voice mail messages and online attacks. When asked about the false stories, Mr. Wintrich said: “That is the state of new media. When you are trying to get new information out there as quickly as possible, occasionally you’ll get something wrong and have to fix it. That’s how media works right now.” [This is also what used to be defined in generations past as “black propaganda,” because lies travel faster than the truth can ever catch up.] He said that Gateway Pundit had “broken dozens and dozens more factual stories” but did not offer an example when asked for one.
Mr. Wintrich described himself as a Trump supporter and Goldwater conservative who enjoys “simultaneously trolling both progressives and evangelical conservatives.” He said his aim was “to provide fair coverage from the conservative side.” On Twitter on Monday, Mr. Wintrich posted a photograph of himself standing behind the White House press room lectern, a White House pass slung around his neck. The post from Mr. Hoft included the hashtag #pepe and an accompanying Pepe emoji, a reference to Pepe the Frog, a cartoon character that has been repurposed as a symbol by white supremacy and anti-Semitic groups. Mr. Wintrich said the inclusion of the Pepe icon was not meant as anti-Semitic. “My grandfather is Jewish, he fought against the Germans, escaped through the Polish underground,” Mr. Wintrich said.
In March 2017, The New Yorker gave an extended profile of Mr. Wintrich (whom they traveled with), new White House correspondent of The Gateway Pundit, and how it and he reflected the new profile of Trump-friendly “journalists” now given formal credibility within the highest seat of government:
One Sunday afternoon in February, Lucian Wintrich was in his studio apartment in the East Village, washing down a mouthful of vitamins with a lukewarm takeout latte. He was leaving for Washington, D.C., within the hour. “I’m a bit hungover, I’m sorry to report,” he said. “Hardly the ideal way to make my grand D.C. entrance, but so be it.” He sent a text to his boyfriend, lit a cigarette, and started to pack. His walls were covered with framed art, including a line drawing of a woman, gagged and strapped to an imaginary instrument of sexual torture, and photographs of several seminude young men wearing “Make America Great Again” hats, which were from Wintrich’s “Twinks 4 Trump” series. “Good art should be transgressive,” he said. “These days, it seems, the best way to be transgressive is simply to be a white, male, proudly pro-American conservative.”
Wintrich, who is twenty-eight and has no professional training in journalism, was on his way to Washington to join the White House press corps. “I can only imagine what they’re going to make of me”…A few weeks earlier, at a pre-Inauguration party called the DeploraBall, I had spent a portion of the evening chatting with Wintrich, one of several far-right social-media stars in attendance. At one point, he excused himself to make an announcement from the stage: “We’ve had eight miserable years of people in the White House press corps—CNN, BuzzFeed, Huffington Post—writing articles” about President Obama, such as “ ‘The Best 80 Times That I Wanted to Jerk Off to Our President.’ ” This bias would soon be rectified. “We’ve been in contact with people in the new Administration, and . . . I’m going to be . . . the youngest, gayest correspondent in the White House in history!”
Wintrich, a slim, good-looking brunet, grew up in Pittsburgh. At eighteen, when he enrolled at Bard College, he was a standard-issue progressive. By his junior year, he had become a Reaganite…He moved to New York, where he was a “creative” by day and a “party host” by night, both jobs that are not quite as glamorous as their euphemistic titles imply. A “creative” works at an advertising agency…A “party host” is paid a few hundred dollars to show up at a club, invite a coterie of attractive friends, and spend an evening being conspicuously charming. “I had a good run, for a few years, as a darling of the artsy New York gay scene,” Wintrich told me. “Then I came out as pro-Trump, and all those bitches turned against me.” Last summer, at a Gays for Trump party at the Republican National Convention, Wintrich met several of the country’s most effective right-wing propagandists, including Jim Hoft, a fifty-six-year-old blogger who lives in St. Louis. Since 2004, Hoft has run the Gateway Pundit, whose posts are often picked up by the Drudge Report and distributed widely through Facebook. Recent Gateway Pundit headlines include “Feral Muslim Migrants Shout ‘Allah Akbar’, Attack Police in France” and “Breaking: Creepy New Video Released of Joe Biden Groping Little Girls.” During the Presidential campaign, the Gateway Pundit received more than a million unique visitors a day, roughly on a par with The Weekly Standard. Hoft and Wintrich became friends, and Wintrich began writing for the site…After BuzzFeed ran a story accusing the Gateway Pundit, among other right-wing blogs, of using “alternative facts,” Wintrich wrote a post headlined, misleadingly, “Buzzfeed Admits Liberal ‘Fake News’ No Longer Works—Points To Gateway Pundit as News of Future.”
Wintrich…had packed an Yves Saint Laurent blazer, three Hermès ties, and a bottle of Dior Eau Sauvage. “I’ve got my first few outfits all lined up, and, I have to say, they’re extremely cute,” he said…he opened his laptop, which is decorated with a Barry Goldwater sticker, and binge-watched several episodes of the animated sitcom “King of the Hill.” He didn’t seem to take the news-gathering aspect of his new job too seriously; more to the point, he didn’t seem to consider taking the news seriously to be part of his job. “The main goal will be to draw attention to the ridiculous hypocrisy of the liberal mainstream media and to push back against them,” he said. No one in the Trump Administration had coördinated this plan with him, he added; he saw it as his patriotic duty. The media, he said, “lambastes Trump no matter what he does. Everyone knows Obama had a bigger crowd at his Inauguration. Literally, who gives a shit? It’s just pretension and condescension, on the media’s part, to make a big deal of it”… In Washington, Wintrich checked into the Hay-Adams Hotel…There he met up with his boss, Jim Hoft, who would accompany him into the briefing room the next day, and with two filmmakers from Chicago, who planned to document their arrival. “I hate travelling, but I had to be here for this,” Hoft said. “The Gateway Pundit, this blog I started in my basement, made it all the way to the fucking White House. Are you kidding me? This is gonna be so epic!” Hoft told me that, shortly after the election, he e-mailed “Trump’s people, and they encouraged us to apply” for press credentials.
…Over dinner at a nearby steakhouse, Hoft and Wintrich brainstormed about what they might ask the next day. “Just make sure it has ‘fake news’ in it, Lucian,” Hoft said, passing him a notepad. “Every question you ask with the words ‘fake news,’ you get a ten-dollar bonus. We’ll add that to your contract.” Wintrich, sipping a Martini, jotted a few notes. “Sean! Over here, Sean!” he said, pretending to raise his hand. “In the past month alone, there have been at least twenty fake-news stories in the failing New York Times. Does fake news like this get in the way of the President’s ability to proceed on policy?” Hoft cackled loudly enough to startle a woman at a nearby table. “That’s fucking hilarious,” he said…Andrew Marcus, the other filmmaker, said, “The big decision you have to make is how much of a troll you’re willing to be.” “He’s there to troll,” Hoft said. For a moment, Wintrich seemed to get cold feet. “Should we have a couple of backup questions that are specifically about policy?” he asked, tentatively. “Policy schmolicy,” Hoft said.
…Hoft and Wintrich, after clearing security, walked past the North Lawn and entered the briefing room. They stood behind the lectern, with the official White House seal in the background, and posed for a photo, both wearing half grins and making “O.K.” hand gestures. When they sat down again, Wintrich posted the photo on Facebook, captioning it with two emojis—an American flag and a frog. (In some corners of the Internet, the “O.K.” gesture is associated with Pepe the Frog, a once-harmless cartoon that was co-opted by the alt-right.)…The reporters were escorted into a white-marble hallway lined with oil portraits of recent Presidents and First Ladies. “Holy shit, Lucian, look at this,” Hoft said, standing before Hillary Clinton’s portrait. During the campaign, the Gateway Pundit’s coverage of Clinton included the headlines “Dental Expert: Hillary Clinton Is Suffering From Serious Gum Infection and Immune Disorder” and “Breaking: Top Physician: Hillary Clinton Has Parkinson’s Disease.” Hoft and Wintrich posed in front of the portrait, making the “O.K.” gesture…Hoft and Wintrich couldn’t find any seats for the Gateway Pundit, so they sat in those reserved for the Qatari network Al Jazeera and RT, which is funded by the Russian government. “Everyone calls us Putin’s puppets anyway, so we might as well embrace it,” Hoft said.
…Hoft ran into an old friend, Sam Nunberg, a lawyer and former Trump adviser, who was spending much of that day at the bar, drinking with political reporters. “Remember me?” Hoft said. “Of course,” Nunberg said. “You’re part of the pro-Trump fake-news spectrum, somewhere between Breitbart and Drudge.” Hoft rolled his eyes, let out a loud laugh, and said, “Oh, fuck off, Sam”…Before Hoft left for the airport, I told him that he should expect to hear from a member of The New Yorker’s fact-checking staff. “Oh yeah, just like at the Gateway Pundit,” Hoft said. “We’ve got a huge department of full-time fact-checkers.” He laughed so hard that he nearly spilled his lemonade.
At the end of April, 2017, The Hollywood Reporter was hanging out with Wintrich, and here is what they observed from their time spent with him:
Lucian Wintrich paced in front of the White House, a cellphone pinned to his ear. On the line was his boss, Jim Hoft, founder of The Gateway Pundit, a right wing blog that dabbles in conspiracy theories for the site’s 5 million monthly readers. “This makes me look like a pussy,” he muttered, “like I didn’t want to go in today.” Moments earlier, the White House had denied Wintrich access to a daily briefing with White House press secretary Sean Spicer. Wintrich, 28, suggested that Hoft pull some strings and “get in touch with Hicks or Bannon … maybe Hicks?” He was referring to President Trump’s director of strategic communications, Hope Hicks, and chief strategist, Steve Bannon, who is openly contemptuous of the mainstream media.
Since Wintrich had been named the site’s first White House correspondent, he had struggled with the newness of Washington. Gay and nominally Jewish, he felt more at home in New York, where he had worked as a “creative” at a prominent ad agency and a club promoter. He dated a creative-writing student and model from Colombia and took filter-heavy pictures of scantily clad teen boys…At the Republican National Convention, he had gathered his pictures into an exhibit called “Twinks for Trump,” in which boys sported “Make America Great Again” caps. He parlayed his transformation from a college progressive to a Milo Yiannopoulos disciple, and then, with nearly no training in journalism, befriended Hoft, who helped him grab a powerful seat in the elite world of Washington media…Now Wintrich was wondering aloud whether his exclusion was part of a liberal media conspiracy. He turned to tell an interviewer from WeAreChange.com that a “nefarious plot” had been hatched by the White House Correspondents’ Association. To an observer, the display felt like a temper tantrum, and by design, it probably was… The turmoil [of the Trump administration media circus] has blown open space for exploitation by outlets long considered fringe or disreputable. This is where Wintrich, who proudly proclaims himself a media troll, lives. “Like, obviously I’ll take the occasional jab at media,” he said. “Because I hate them all.” The distaste is mutual. “You can’t call what he does reporting,” says one longtime White House correspondent for a top U.S. newsweekly. “It’s just offensive and meant to be provocative.”
Later that night, Wintrich was having drinks at Larry’s Lounge, a popular D.C. gay bar. Across from him was Andrew Feinberg, who writes for Sputnik, a news outlet established by the Russian government. Sipping a cocktail, Feinberg said he was distressed that more of his White House colleagues hadn’t befriended Wintrich. “I work for an outlet that has been publicly accused of being Russian propaganda many times, and yet people have been completely civil to me,” he said. Wintrich’s phone rang, and he jumped up. A source was calling. Moments later he was back, with news — a tip about a teacher who allegedly had forced students to give him oral sex but was being protected by teachers’ unions. “I’m going to tie that f—ing back into Trump’s education policies,” he said, “because teaching unions need to be f—ing broken up.” Wintrich sees himself as having two jobs: writing about “dry policy stuff” and trolling the media. “It’s a mixture of the two,” he said…”To get younger audiences interested in the actual news, you have to play that up,” he told me. “Half of what I do — well, on social media specifically — is f—ing with people.” If Trump’s arrival advances the destruction of the wall between serious news and entertainment, Wintrich is on board. “I think jumping into social media and being like, ‘Yeah, I have a 10-inch dick flaccid while writing about actual policy,’ right there is a certain humor to it that has been lacking for a while,” he said.
This is the guy and his work and “insights,” and the website promoted by many Bible-believing conservative Christians these days on social media.
By June 2017 it was reported that the Press Gallery fraternity of journalists themselves had to intervene regarding the antics of non-professional jokers like Wintrich and the Pundit that the Trump administration had let in:
Conservative-populist blogger Jim Hoft is likely to be disappointed—bitterly so—after spending Monday morning trying to persuade the Senate Periodical Press Gallery to grant a permanent credential to his Donald Trump-friendly, liberal-loathing, conspiracy-minded Gateway Pundit web site. While the verdict had yet to be officially announced as of this writing, sources said the gallery’s executive committee of correspondents voted not to revisit their May ruling that the web site is mainly a content aggregator and thus doesn’t qualify under gallery rules. (Late Tuesday, the executive committee informed Hoft by letter that Gateway Pundit’s application has been rejected.) According to the gallery’s Rule 2, which the executive committee cited in its original decision, “Applicants must be employed by periodicals that regularly publish a substantial volume of news material of either general, economic, industrial, technical, cultural, or trade character”—a requirement that Gateway Pundit was adjudged not to meet.
Military Times correspondent Leo Shane III, chairman of the gallery’s executive committee made up of Capitol Hill beat reporters, said he and his colleagues reached their original conclusion, admittedly subjective, after analyzing Gateway Pundit’s frequent reliance on the work of other outlets as opposed to its own original reporting—a finding Hoft disputed. “We told them before we left that we’re going to continue, whatever the decision is today, and work through the appeals process,” an aggrieved Hoft told The Daily Beast…“We believe we deserve the credential as one of the largest news sites in Middle America. Middle America deserves a voice,” Hoft added, citing Google Analytics for his claim that Gateway Pundit, a frequently linked fave of the Drudge Report, receives upwards of 15 million page-views per month. “They deserve someone that can tell their story.
Along with Alex Jones’s Infowars, Gateway Pundit is apparently one of President Trump’s favorite websites; during last year’s campaign, he repeatedly tweeted out links to Gateway Pundit stories. The site has eagerly promoted Barack Obama birtherism, and given credulous, splashy treatment to more than 20 liberal-bashing hoaxes and bogus conspiracy theories during its 13-year existence, according Media Matters for America…The 28-year-old Wintrich, a gay alt-right controversialist in the mold of fired Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopolous, achieved notoriety most recently by claiming that former first daughter Malia Obama physically threatened and angrily scolded him at a nightclub party last March in Manhattan’s Soho neighborhood.
Hoft was especially irked that during Monday’s session, members of the gallery’s executive committee questioned his self-identification on his Twitter account as well as on the Gateway Pundit site as a Tea Party “activist”—a pursuit that could violate gallery rules against journalists or their organizations working to enact legislation before Congress. Hoft scrubbed that description three months ago from Twitter, and from Gateway Pundit’s website last week, as Gateway Pundit’s credential application was being considered and the executive committee pointed the problem out to him…The liberal ThinkProgress and the conservative Daily Signal outlets, for instance, were both denied credentials because they are creatures of advocacy organizations. “They didn’t receive credentials because they didn’t conform to the rules that have governed the gallery for years,” Shane said.
Regardless of press credentials, the summer of 2016 forward found Wintrich, Hoft and the Gateway Pundit “on a roll,” as they began to release one after another sensational, erroneous or intentionally false stories widely distributed by conservative media, and quoted on Christians outlets and the social media of Christians. In August of 2017, it was reported that The Gateway Pundit announced that the hit and run killer of one and injuring 19 at the Charlottesville rally was actually (but erroneously) an “anti-Trump protester,” and actually gave a name of the proposed assailant that was wrong, causing him immediate peril and harassment. They add that “The ‘report’ Gateway Pundit cited was a now-deleted tweet by a Twitter user named @Aristotle_Code, who goes by “Michael” and whose profile picture is of a sportscar. “Michael” has less than a thousand Twitter followers.” The report added that “This is not Gateway Pundit’s first time this calendar year accusing the wrong person of a terror attack. In January, Gateway Pundit’s Jim Hoft claimed CNN had lightened a picture of a man named Esteban Santiago, who had shot up a Fort Lauderdale airport. Not only had CNN not even identified a suspect, let alone lightened a picture of one, Hoft’s post featured a picture of an entirely separate Esteban Santiago, who was not the same age or from the same state as the one who perpetrated the shooting. The post was shared by the former Republican Congressman representing Fort Lauderdale, Allen West.”
By October 2017, The Gateway Pundit was known for misidentifying yet another major assailant:
Geary Danley was not the gunman in Las Vegas who killed at least 50 people late Sunday. But for hours on the far-right Internet, would-be sleuths scoured Danley’s Facebook likes, family photographs and marital history to try to “prove” that he was…To name someone as a mass murderer based on that evidence would be irresponsible and dangerous. But that’s exactly what a portion of the far-right Internet did overnight. The briefest look at the viral threads and tweets falsely naming Geary Danley as the attacker makes it easy to guess why a bunch of right-wing trolls latched on to him: His Facebook profile indicated that he might be a liberal. Authorities have since identified the gunman as Stephen Paddock, 64, who was later found dead in a hotel room on the Strip. His motives remain unknown. But the fake Danley story presented a complete, desirable package to the elements of the far-right Internet that spread it. That phony story quickly embedded itself into the algorithms of Google and Facebook, where sites promoting the rumor remained at the top of the results for anyone searching for Danley’s name.
In excited all-caps, one anonymous user on 4chan’s /pol/ board posted that Danley was a “REGISTERED DEMOCRAT!” The thread spread quickly, as did a crowdsourced wiki page about Danley on Everipedia that, according to its edit history, once said that “Geary opened fired [sic] on the 34th floor of the Mandalay Bay toward a concert happening across the street.” But even as those rumors were thoroughly, conclusively debunked, this false narrative was picked up in the algorithms that, increasingly, have come to define a person’s public-facing identities…The right-wing news site Gateway Pundit also picked up these rumors as fact in a now-deleted article. That article’s URL was still the top result for Danley’s name on Google in the early hours of Monday morning. The headline, still visible in search results…read, “Las Vegas Shooter Reportedly a Democrat Who Liked Rachel Maddow, MoveOn.org and Associated with anti-Trump Army.”
By mid-December 2017, The Washington Post was reporting that
Two days after losing Alabama’s special Senate election, Republican nominee Roy Moore has yet to concede the race to Democrat Doug Jones — even after White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that he should…Asked if President Trump believed that Moore should give a concession speech, Sanders said that it “should have already taken place.” But Moore, who suggested on election night that the race would go to a recount, said in a Wednesday web video that late-counted ballots could change the results of the election…Moore, who lost by 20,715 votes, is not in a position to ask for a recount. Alabama law does not trigger a recount unless the margin between two candidates is less than 0.5 percent; according to the latest count by the Associated Press, the margin between Jones and Moore is 1.5 percent…The Republican Party of Alabama, which stood by Moore when national Republicans abandoned him, congratulated Jones on Wednesday. Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill, who sided with Moore’s campaign during several election controversies, has said that the election will be certified Dec. 28. But at the same time, Merrill’s office has had to brush off conspiracy theories promoted by pro-Moore websites, which have suggested that the results were tainted by fraud.
One theory, which went viral before being debunked by Snopes.com, was that multiple black voters were caught trying to vote with fake IDs. (More than 95 percent of black voters supported Jones, giving him his winning margin.) Another, also debunked quickly, was that vans of illegal voters were seen somewhere in the state. Merrill’s office confirmed that there had been no actual reports of that kind of behavior. “There’s a lot of misdirection that comes in around Election Day,” said John Bennett, a spokesman for Merrill. “We got no reports that caused us enough concern to act against them.” Alabama’s voter ID law, which has survived tough legal challenges, had previously led to four convictions of voter impersonation. But there were more theories, some of them tweeted at Moore when he shared his video. One suggested that people seen celebrating at Jones’s party, who admitted coming in from out of state, might have voted illegally. (In a news clip, they clumsily said they had come to “vote and canvass together.”) Another, promoted by the conservative site Big League Politics, suggested that the election-night count — in which urban Mobile and Jefferson counties came in last, putting Jones in the lead — was suspicious. In the election’s final days, Moore’s campaign had cited an inaccurate Big League Politics story to claim that women who accused Moore of sexual assault had been found and directed to the media by Republican strategist Tim Miller; Moore’s Twitter account shared the story after Breitbart News aggregated it.
Big League Politics also shared a rumor that went viral when posted by the Gateway Pundit, a conservative group blog that since the start of this year has sent a reporter to the White House briefing. Citing a post on Reddit by a user named Warren4Prez, Gateway Pundit’s Jim Hoft told readers that “Democrat activists are calling on black voters in Mississippi, Georgia and South Carolina to travel to Alabama to vote for the far-left candidate Doug Jones.” The post, published 28 days before the election, suggested just that. “African Americans in Mississippi: We need you to make a short trip to Alabama on Dec. 12 and vote against the right-wing Republican Senate candidate and child molester Roy Moore,” wrote Warren4Prez. But in an interview, the Redditor behind the post confirmed that it was intended “as an obvious troll.” “I was trying to get a rise out of alt-right people, and then they really went for it,” said Warren4Prez, who spoke on the phone after proving that the account was theirs. “I got like 100 posts on Reddit, telling me I was being hated by everybody. Democrats started posting stuff accusing me of trying to discredit them.” Warren4Prez posted the fake request on political Reddit pages for each state that borders Alabama; it was removed from all but the Mississippi page. In an email, Hoft did not say whether he contacted Warren4Prez to verify the information, but he did point to an update at the bottom of the viral Gateway Pundit post. “Liberals say these are fake Reddit posts(?)” Hoft wrote. “Regardless, the posts are still up on Reddit and the posters are still encouraging Democrats to cheat.”
…On election day, the One America News Network, which had run stories about Moore designed to exonerate him — one pointed out that an accuser’s son had been a drug addict — informed viewers that Moore had won. “We’re being told that there are strong signs that the majority of voters have come out in support of the judge,” OANN reported, before the polls in Alabama had closed. “We are unofficially announcing that Roy Moore has won this race.”
…According to the Alabama Secretary of State’s office, there were no credible reports of voter fraud.
The next month, the Chicago Tribune reported that
Fox News’s Tucker Carlson…devoted airtime last night to update viewers on developments in the October 1 mass shooting in Las Vegas. In the segment, a Republican congressman dropped serious – and unsubstantiated – hints about a possible Islamic State connection to Stephen Paddock’s attack from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel. It’s another instance of a fringe conspiracy theory leaking into the mainstream on Fox, this time in the words of an elected official. “I smell a rat like a lot of Americans,” Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., told Carlson. “Nothing’s adding up…But even more troubling than that, recently I’ve been made aware of what I believe to be credible evidence, credible information regarding potential terrorist infiltration through the southern border regarding this incident.” When pressed for more information, the congressman explained the terrorist group had previously threatened to attack Las Vegas, and after Paddock killed 58 concertgoers ISIS took responsibility for the attack – a boast most experts found unconvincing.
Catherine Lombardo, an attorney representing victims of the attack on the panel, quickly shot down the suggestion. “We’ve seen no evidence of a terrorist attack,” she said. “I would ask, with all due respect Congressman, unless you have specific evidence to back that up, it seems a bit irresponsible to make that allegation. If you do have any evidence of that, I’m asking you right now.” “I’m just telling you, I have received what I feel to be . . . credible evidence of a possible terrorist nexus,” Perry answered. “We’re going to have to wait until that situation develops”…Perry’s office did not return a phone call late Thursday for elaboration on his claims about a terrorist link…Perry’s comments on Las Vegas are far from unique in certain corners of the media. Rather, they sync with a wider tapestry of conspiracy theories that have been proliferating since the attack. Antifa, the Deep State, ISIS, leftists, and globalists – all have been connected to the attack on radio and podcasts, often confusingly paired together in a massive overarching Ur-conspiracy. A day after the massacre, commentator Wayne Allyn Root (self-professed “warrior for God, guns, gold, tax cuts, term limits, Trump, and that tall, wonderful wall”) tweeted out the shooting was a “Clearly coordinated Muslim terrorist attack.” On October 4, Laura Loomer made an appearance on Alex Jones’ Info Wars to lay out her own theories. “There are a lot of things that suggest that either this is some type of deep state coverup, or that Stephen Paddock has ties to Islamic terrorists,” Loomer said. “Whether it was a gunrunning operation gone wrong, or in fact, he was an ISIS operative himself.”
By the next week, the Gateway Pundit published a piece entitled “Terror Expert Warns: ISIS May Still Have Proof It Was Behind Las Vegas Attack.” But the expert cited, New York Times reporter Rukmini Callimachi, later claimed she made no such assertion. “Conspiracy theorists have repeatedly misquoted me as saying that ISIS was behind the Vegas attack,” Callimachi told Mother Jones. “To date, zero evidence of an ISIS link has emerged. I am talking both to sources in law enforcement and to U.S. officials in Iraq who are tracking the terror group closely. They have found nothing suggesting that Paddock either interacted with members of ISIS, or was inspired by them – and certainly no evidence that he converted.”
The following month, USA Today reported that, after the Parkland shooting that killed seventeen students, “BuzzFeed News also took to Twitter to debunk what it called a ‘hoax screenshot’ of its site circulated on Twitter by the White House correspondent for the website Gateway Pundit. The faked report was headlined, ‘Why we need to take away white people’s guns now more than ever’.” They also add that “A story on the Gateway Pundit site reported the shooter was a registered Democrat, tying the political affiliation with an incorrect name. It later corrected it.”
One of the most damning accusations of The Gateway Pundit came the very same month form the most prominent flagship conservative newspaper in America, The Washington Times. There they write that
The Gateway Pundit, a right-wing website that touted President Trump during his 2016 campaign, ran an unsubstantiated report alleging voter fraud during the race fueled by Russian agitprop referenced in a federal indictment unsealed by special counsel Robert Mueller’s office Friday. “GOP Alleges VOTER FRAUD in Broward County – Democrats Opened TENS OF THOUSANDS of Ballots,” Gateway Pundit founder Jim Hoft declared in an article he published Nov. 2, 2016, precisely a week prior to Mr. Trump’s election over Democratic rival Hillary Clinton. The article cited a tweet published earlier in the day by @Ten_GOP, a Twitter account purportedly managed by members of the Tennessee Republican Party but actually operated by the Internet Research Agency, a Russian “troll farm” at the center of a sprawling indictment unsealed Friday as part of Mr. Mueller’s investigation into the 2016 race. “BREAKING,” the bogus GOP account tweeted. “#VoterFraud by counting tens of thousands of ineligible mail in Hillary votes being reported in Broward County, Florida.” That precise tweet was among a handful attributed to Internet Research Agency accounts and included in Friday’s indictment charging 13 Russian nationals and three companies, including the aforementioned troll farm and its employees, for allegedly defrauding the United States and interfering in the 2016 race using “information warfare.”
“The defendants allegedly posed as U.S. persons, created false U.S. personas and operated social media pages and groups designed to attract U.S. audiences,” the indictment said. “Starting in or around the summer of 2016, Defendants and their co-conspirators also began to promote allegations of voter fraud by the Democratic Party through their fictitious U.S. personas and groups on social media,” according to the indictment. Indeed, Twitter announced in January that the social network detected and deleted more than 3,000 accounts likely operated by the Internet Research Agency, including the bogus GOP account, among others…existing news reports suggest the Russian troll account may have made an impression beyond just The Gateway Pundit. On the afternoon of Nov. 2, for example, Florida GOP Chairman Blaise Ingoglia sent a letter to the state Supervisor of Elections, writing: “I have been advised that tens of thousands of vote-by-mail ballots in Broward County are being opened by your staff.” “NEWS ALERT,” Fox News tweeted afterward. “GOP alleges voter fraud in Broward County, Florida.” Neither Mr. Ingolia nor Mr. Hoft immediately returned emails seeking comment Saturday.
The Gateway Pundit’s role in propagating the baseless voter fraud claim was first reported by the liberal media watchdog Media Matters for America. Launched in 2004, Gateway Pundit has previously been criticized for its often far-right and occasionally unsubstantiated reporting, including as recently as earlier this week when its credentialed White House correspondent, Lucian Wintrich, circulated a bogus Buzzfeed article titled “Why We Need To Take Away White People’s Guns Now, More Than Ever.” Members of Mr. Trump’s campaign, including White House counselor Kellyanne Conway and former national security adviser Michael Flynn, echoed tweets posted by Ten_Gop before the account was deleted, previous reporting revealed. Social media trolls working for the Internet Research Agency participated in a multifaceted influence operation authorized by President Vladimir Putin targeting the 2016 race, the U.S. intelligence community previously assessed. “The defendants allegedly conducted what they called information warfare against the United States, with the stated goal of spreading distrust towards the candidates and the political system in general,” Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said in announcing the charges against them Friday.
Also, the same month, the reputable Internet-rumor verification sight Snopes had to address and debunk other fabrications disseminated by The Gateway Pundit and others, about Parkland School student-survivor David Hogg, who had become a gun control advocate as a result, with vague allegations insinuated because his father used to be a dreaded FBI agent. They write:
On 20 February 2018, as a group of students from the Parkland, Florida mass shooting attack traveled to their state capitol to lobby for tighter gun safety measures, far right conspiracy blogs pushed increasingly hysterical claims that at least one of the survivors of the massacre was a “deep state” pawn. For example, TheGatewayPundit.com posted a story calling it a “red flag” that David Hogg, a senior who survived the Valentine’s Day attack at the campus of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, volunteered during a CNN interview that his father is a retired agent from the Federal Bureau of Investigation as he criticized the Trump administration. President Donald Trump had accused the bureau of “spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign” and thus failing to follow up on warnings concerning the suspect, Nikolas Cruz. Hogg, who has become a high-profile advocate for tighter gun safety legislation since the attack, said during the interview that: “I think it’s disgusting, personally. My father’s a retired FBI agent and the FBI are some of the hardest working individuals I have ever seen in my life.”
But according to the Gateway Pundit: “Anyone who has been following the news could tell you that many in the FBI have been working against the president from the start, with the most notable case involving collusion between the FBI, Obama Administration, and the Clinton campaign to push the false ‘verification’ of the junk Steele Dossier. It has also been widely reported that the FBI received tips well in advance of the Florida school shooting and decided, for whatever reason, not to act. The fault for this tragedy lies squarely on the shoulder’s of the FBI, who could have prevented this back in January.” The site also accused Hogg of “not remembering his lines” while posting a video of him making statements and stumbling over his words prior to a pre-taped interview. The Gateway Pundit is one of several blogs that was named in a federal defamation lawsuit filed in Michigan earlier in February 2018, accusing them of falsely identifying a teen as the driver that killed Heather Heyer during a counter-protest against white nationalists in Charlotesville, Virginia in August 2017.
…Conspiracy theorists and trolls alike heavily implied that a months-old video (despite the facts that he readily identified himself with the same name, that people occasionally travel across the United States, and that his family moved to Florida from Los Angeles) is somehow “proof” that he is a trained “crisis actor,” a baseless rumor that is inevitably pushed after horrific mass shootings. However, Hogg posted on Twitter last August that he was visiting Los Angeles, and Hogg, who runs his high school’s television station, made a video under his own name documenting the [other incident] altercation afterward — hardly the actions of a “trained crisis actor” who needs to keep his identity secret…A related rumor appeared later on 20 February 2018, when hoaxers tried to further sow doubt by claiming that Hogg graduated from a Los Angeles-area high school in 2015 — even going so far as to create a Classmates.com profile. However, the page’s source code clearly shows when the profile was created…This claim also appeared alongside an image purporting to show yearbook proof that Hogg graduated from the California school in 2015. This was quickly debunked by Sarah Chadwick, another survivor of the mass shooting…Another student, Joey Wong, posted a video of himself opening a Douglas High yearbook and showing Hogg listed as an eleventh-grader, along with his picture and provided an archived video on his post to debunk it]…Other blogs posted a mugshot of a different person — 26-year-old David Guyton Hogg of South Carolina — claiming that he was “posing” as the Parkland survivor. But besides their difference in appearance, the South Carolina man’s mugshot states he has blue eyes while the teen’s eyes are darker.
The president’s son, Donald Trump, Jr., highlighted the Gateway Pundit story about the FBI and another by another far-right outlet, True Pundit, on his own Twitter account…According to the Tampa Bay Times, an aide for one state lawmaker, Republican Rep. Shawn Harrison, provided this response to a picture of Hogg and fellow student activist Emma Gonzalez: “Both kids in the picture are not students here but actors that travel to various crisis [sic] when they happen.” We contacted Harrison’s office seeking follow-up comment or documentation supporting the remark from the aide, identified as Benjamin Kelly. In reply to a request for more information, Kelly reportedly sent the Times an e-mail containing a link to a YouTube video promoting the conspiracy theory against the two teens. The lawmaker told the Times: “If my aide disparaged a student from Parkland who is grieving than I will deal most strongly with my aide … Clearly it was inappropriate for him to send that.” Harrison later said on his own Twitter account: “I was just made aware that my aide made an insensitive and inappropriate allegation about Parkland students today. I have spoken to him and placed him on leave until we determine an appropriate course of action. I do not share his opinion and he did so without my knowledge.” Kelly later confirmed on Twitter that he had been fired:”I’ve been terminated from the State House. I made a mistake whereas I tried to inform a reporter of information relating to his story regarding a school shooting…Rep. Shawn Harrison is an honest and respectable man. In no way should he be held responsible for my error in judgement.” He later deleted his account entirely.
Despite the presence of the Douglas High students in attendance, the Florida House voted on 20 February 2018 not to consider a bill calling for a ban on assault rifles and high-capacity magazines for firearms.
The Parkland Shooting incident, and Gateway’s role in promoting a debunked conspiracy theory, led The Washington Post to consider this rogue media troll, now part of the Trump administration-selected Washington press corps, and what made it “tick” in general, in a report the same month:
The bloodshed had barely ended in Parkland, Fla., last week when the Gateway Pundit added its own unique take on the students who had quickly become media-friendly gun-control advocates. “EXPOSED,” read its headline. “School Shooting Survivor Turned Activist David Hogg’s Father in FBI, Appears To Have Been Coached On Anti-Trump Lines.” It later doubled down, asserting — without any evidence to support it — that operatives linked to liberal billionaire George Soros had “selected anti-Trump kids to be the face” of the massacre. The stories helped spread a debunked conspiracy theory about the students being paid “crisis actors.” This was a few days after the site initially claimed that the suspected shooter was “a registered Democrat.” A few hours later, it realized it had zeroed in on the wrong Nikolas Cruz but soft-pedaled its correction, merely amending its story to say he wasn’t a Democrat, as “some sources had reported” — a group that seemed to include news sites that had cited Gateway Pundit’s story. Gateway Pundit didn’t stop there. Reporter Lucian Wintrich, who wrote the Parkland stories, took to Twitter to denounce the protesting students as “little pricks.”
The take-no-prisoners approach — not to mention the conspiratorial tone and dubious assertions — has been the trademark of Gateway Pundit since its founding by a former corporate executive named Jim Hoft in 2004. Despite this, its influence has grown both among the fringe right and more mainstream conservatives. In 2016, it championed Donald Trump’s candidacy; Wintrich eventually received White House press credentials in the new Trump administration. Hoft — who declined an in-person interview and only responded briefly to questions via email — rejected the label often applied to his creation: far right. The term, he said, is “used by Democrats and far left media to smear anyone who opposes the leftist narrative.” He also dismissed the idea that his site has spread falsehoods. “Our track record is comparable or better than mainstream media,” he wrote. For example? “We didn’t fall for the false Trump-Russia collusion scandal.”
Yet even some Trump supporters have found Hoft and TGP, as it sometimes calls itself, a bit too hot to handle. Hoft, 56, was set to appear this week on a panel at the Conservative Political Action Conference convention outside Washington when the panel’s sponsor, the American Principles Project, objected to his presence because of TGP’s posts on the Florida students. The removal of Hoft had an ironic undertone; the theme of the panel was “the suppression of conservative views on social media.” Hoft says he found the sponsor’s demand that he be sidelined “outrageous.” He added, “They smeared me worse than liberal haters.”
…TGP misidentified the shooter at a Las Vegas concert in October in which 58 people were shot to death. The post, written by Hoft’s twin brother, Joe, carried the headline, “Las Vegas Shooter Reportedly a Democrat Who Liked Rachel Maddow, MoveOn.org and Associated with Anti-Trump Army” — details gleaned from the Facebook page of a man whom, it turned out, had no connection to the shooting whatsoever. Hoft says the story was only on its site for a few minutes before it was removed and that a liberal watchdog group “caught the mistake and spread it around to liberal media where it made headlines for days.” Gateway was also among a handful of right-leaning sites that incorrectly identified a Michigan man as the driver of the car that killed a woman who was protesting a neo-Nazi march in Charlottesville in August. Although Hoft pulled the story after only a few minutes, the man and his father have filed a defamation suit, naming Jim Hoft among the defendants. When The Washington Post reported allegations in early November that Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore had molested a 14-year-old girl in the late 1970s, Gateway Pundit quickly took up Moore’s defense. It seized upon a single tweet from an obscure, unverified account that claimed, without evidence, that the newspaper had paid his accusers for their recollections. It hadn’t.
…What distinguishes Gateway from other right-leaning sites such as Breitbart.com is that “the bar for what they’ll publish is just lower,” said Will Sommer, an editor for the Hill newspaper who edits Right Richter, a blog about conservative media. Even so, he said, it is relatively more respectable than the conspiracy-peddling site Infowars, which increases TGP’s influence among other conservative sites. “By this point,” Sommer said, “plenty of people know not to take an Infowars story at face value. But Gateway Pundit doesn’t have that similar reputation for publishing bogus stories, even though they should.” In fact, beyond its direct reach — it attracted 2.75 million unique visitors in January, according to the tracking firm ComScore — TGP is an influential part of an “insulated” right-wing media ecosystem of sites that rely almost exclusively on each other for web traffic and sourcing, according to a study led by Harvard law professor and Internet scholar Yochai Benkler. During the 2016 campaign, the site was among the most frequently shared media sources on Twitter and Facebook among Trump followers, far more than mainstream news outlets, the study found. Although somewhat less influential than Breitbart or Fox News, it was among a group that includes the Daily Caller, the Washington Examiner and Infowars.
This interconnected web of news outlets was able to intensify Trump’s campaign themes and agenda — his immigration proposals and his attacks on Hillary Clinton generally — and helped push them further into public discussions, the study said. “What we find in our data is a network of mutually-reinforcing hyper-partisan sites that revive what Richard Hofstadter called ‘the paranoid style in American politics,’ combining decontextualized truths, repeated falsehoods, and leaps of logic to create a fundamentally misleading view of the world,” the study’s authors wrote. “By repetition, variation, and circulation through many associated sites, the network of sites make their claims familiar to readers, and this fluency with the core narrative gives credence to the incredible.” The Harvard study accorded special status to Gateway Pundit, saying it was “in a class of its own.”
By the summer of 2018, The Gateway Pundit was again in the middle of as “pin the Antifa tail on the donkey” storyline, as told here by CNN Business:
After he was arrested earlier this week by authorities in South Dakota, Mark Einerwold immediately became a character in an ongoing narrative within conservative media, where he was depicted as the latest example of a left-wing domestic terror threat. Headlines from a variety of right-leaning outlets asserted that Einerwold was a member of “Antifa,” the radical anti-fascist group that has reportedly been accused of domestic terrorism by the Department of Homeland Security and has been the subject of stories on the likes of Fox News and Breitbart. Einerwold was arrested on Tuesday in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, on burglary charges for thefts in surrounding communities. Law enforcement there said they found bomb-making materials and illegal guns in his home, as well as a two-page anti-government document and a jacket that contained the word “Antifa” in his car. But a cursory glance at Einerwold’s Facebook account suggests that he is anything but supportive of Antifa. The profile is littered with pro-Second Amendment memes, and posts that lionize the American flag and criticize welfare recipients. His “likes” include the Tea Party, online conservative personality Graham Allen and the pro-police movement Blue Lives Matter. Just last month, in fact, Einerwold posted a news report about Antifa — though he hardly endorsed the group. “This is what the social justice looks like,” he wrote. “These are the people taking over our campuses. They are militant, they are dangerous.”
Minnehaha County Sheriff Mike Milstead told CNN that local reporters spotted the jacket as police removed it from Einerwold’s vehicle. The day after the arrest, Minnehaha County Sheriff’s Captain Jason Gearman said at a press briefing that the “association with Antifa really concerns us.” Milstead said the jacket remains Einerwold’s “only link” to Antifa, but that singular detail soon echoed throughout the right-wing media sphere. The fringe website Gateway Pundit picked up on the story, running the headline: “Leftist Antifa Terrorist Arrested with Bombs with Plans to Sell to Friends to Kill Law Enforcement”…Meanwhile, Einerwold’s brother, Bob, insists that all of these descriptions are wildly off the mark. “He’s conservative, he’s pro-gun rights,” Bob Einerwold told the Argus Leader of Sioux Falls. “He can’t stand liberals.” As for the Antifa” jacket, Bob said, “He didn’t wear it out of pride, I can tell you that.”
There is one other plausible option, given all this data: was he keeping the jacket to perform some kind of “false flag” attack to pin on Antifa itself?
This behavior continued on two months later, as the Gateway Pundit and similar extreme hard-right media outlets mis-identified yet another mass shooter (now a basic daily occurrence in our “exceptional” nation of no assault gun restrictions based upon a gun-worshipping culture), as NBC News then reported:
A day after a competitive video gamer shot and killed two people, wounding 10 others, at a Madden video game tournament in Jacksonville, Florida, a group of far-right news outlets announced that they had found the Reddit account used by the shooter, who they said used the pseudonym “Ravenchamps.” But the groups were wrong. “Ravenchamps” did not belong to the shooter, who the police say was a Baltimore resident named David Katz and who killed himself in the shooting. And the announcement caused considerable trouble for the real person who owned the account.
The fringe sites Infowars and Gateway Pundit, plus far-right commentator Mike Cernovich and reporter Ian Miles Cheong, claimed that “Ravenchamps” — similar to Katz’s frequent video game username “Ravens2012champs” — was operated by the alleged shooter before his death. They pointed to the account’s rhetoric that repeatedly slammed the president, along with other political figures, pointing out a comment where Ravenchamps called users “Trumptards.” But the real owner of the account was a Minnesota native named Pavel, who returned to Reddit on Monday to see dozens of people claiming he was dead…Shortly after Pavel started tweeting [in response], Gateway Pundit appended two question marks to the headline of their story tying him to the shooting, which now reads: “Jacksonville Shooter Was Member of Anti-Trump ‘Resistance’?? – Murdered 3 People (UPDATE).”
The Gateway Pundit did not miss a single opportunity to deceive and exaggerate with the red meat they provided to their rabid conservative following – including a large segment of the Religious Right who hung on their every “disclosure,” to then hurriedly pass on to all their Facebook friends. As one particularly egregious example, they began to be a media mouthpiece for some youngster, amoral trouble makers – think, like a Stephen Miller or Charlie Kirk-type – however even darker in some respects, in their willingness to intentionally bear false witness and blackmail popular figures who did not support the hard-right narrative. We begin with describing the background of one of their most famous slanderous con-jobs in recent years, as described by the Atlantic magazine in an article at the end of October, 2018:
A company that appears to be run by a pro-Trump conspiracy theorist offered to pay women to make false claims against Special Counsel Robert Mueller in the days leading up to the midterm elections—and the special counsel’s office has asked the FBI to weigh in. “When we learned last week of allegations that women were offered money to make false claims about the Special Counsel, we immediately referred the matter to the FBI for investigation,” the Mueller spokesman Peter Carr told me in an email on Tuesday. The special-counsel office’s attention to this scheme and its decision to release a rare statement about it indicates the seriousness with which the team is taking the purported plot to discredit Mueller in the middle of an ongoing investigation. Carr confirmed that the allegations were brought to the office’s attention by several journalists, who were contacted by a woman who identified herself as Lorraine Parsons. Another woman, Jennifer Taub, contacted Mueller’s office earlier this month with similar information. The woman identifying herself as Parsons told journalists in an email, a copy of which I obtained, that she had been offered roughly $20,000 by a man claiming to work for a firm called Surefire Intelligence—which had been hired by a GOP activist named Jack Burkman—“to make accusations of sexual misconduct and workplace harassment against Robert Mueller.”
Parsons wrote in her letter that she had worked for Mueller as a paralegal at the Pillsbury, Madison, and Sutro law firm in 1974, but that she “didn’t see” him much. “When I did see him, he was always very polite to me, and was never inappropriate,” she said. The law firm told me late on Tuesday afternoon, however, that it has “no record of this individual working for our firm.” Parsons explained that she was contacted by a man “with a British accent” who wanted to ask her “a couple questions about Robert Mueller, whom I worked with when I was a paralegal for Pillsbury, Madison, and Sutro in 1974. I asked him who he was working for, and he told me his boss was some sort of politics guy in Washington named Jack Burkman. I reluctantly told [him] that I had only worked with Mr. Mueller for a short period of time, before leaving that firm to have my first son.” She continued: “In more of an effort to get him to go away than anything else, I asked him what in the hell he wanted me to do. He said that we could not talk about it on the phone, and he asked me to download an app on my phone called Signal, which he said was more secure. Reluctantly, I downloaded the app and he called me on that app a few minutes later. He said (and I will never forget exactly what it was) ‘I want you to make accusations of sexual misconduct and workplace harassment against Robert Mueller, and I want you to sign a sworn affidavit to that effect.’” The man “offered to pay off all of my credit card debt, plus bring me a check for $20,000 if I would do” it, she wrote. “He knew exactly how much credit card debt I had, right down to the dollar, which sort of freaked me out.”
Surefire Intelligence was incorporated in Delaware less than three weeks ago, according to online records, and describes itself as “a private intel agency that designs and executes bespoke solutions for businesses and individuals who face complex business and litigation challenges.” Surefire’s domain records list an email for another pro-Trump conspiracy theorist, Jacob Wohl, who began hyping a “scandalous” Mueller story on Tuesday morning. Wohl told The Daily Beast that Burkman had hired Surefire to assist with his investigation into Mueller’s past, but denied knowing anything about the firm’s involvement in an alleged plot to fabricate allegations against Mueller when asked why his email address appeared in the domain records. He did not respond when asked by NBC why a telephone number listed on Surefire’s website referred callers to another number that’s listed in public records as belonging to Wohl’s mother.
But she’s not the only woman who’s come forward: Jennifer Taub, a professor at Vermont Law School, received an email from a man using a Surefire Intelligence email address around the same time, on October 22. “It’s my understanding that you may have had some past encounters with Robert Mueller,” he told Taub, according to the email she forwarded to me on Tuesday afternoon. “I would like to discuss those encounters with you.” (Taub told me she has never had any encounters with Mueller, though she does appear on CNN at times as an expert commentator on the Mueller probe.) “I believe a basic telephone call, for which I would compensate you at whatever rate you see fit (inside reason), would be a good place to start,” the man continued. “My organization is conducting an examination of Robert Mueller’s past. Tell me a decent method to contact you by telephone (or Signal, which would be ideal) and a beginning rate to talk with you about all encounters you’ve had with Special Counsel Mueller. We would likewise pay you for any references that you may have. Lastly, I would appreciate your discretion here, as this is a very sensitive matter.” Taub told me she forwarded the email to the special counsel’s office, noting that she did not plan to respond.
Around the time that Taub and Parsons say they began receiving these communications from Surefire, Burkman released a video on his Facebook page claiming, without evidence, that Mueller “has a whole lifetime history of harassing women.” On Tuesday, the day the special counsel’s office revealed that it had referred Parsons’s claims to the FBI, Burkman tweeted a similar allegation. In an emailed statement, Burkman denied knowing Parsons and called the FBI referral “a joke, mueller wants to deflect attention from his sex assault troubles by attacking me.” He added in a separate email that “on Thursday 1200 NOON ROSSYLN HOLIDAY INN we will present a very credible witness who will allege that Mr. Mueller committed against her a sexual assault.” Mueller’s spokesman reiterated that the claims are false.
Burkman, a conservative radio host, is known for spreading conspiracy theories. He launched his own private investigation into the murder of the Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich, dangled uncorroborated claims of sexual harassment against a sitting member of Congress, and earlier this year offered $25,000 to FBI whistle-blowers for any information exposing wrongdoing during the 2016 election. He also promoted legislation that he authored—despite not being a member of Congress—that would ban gays from playing in the NFL. And he’s hosted two fund-raisers for Rick Gates—the former Trump-campaign official who was indicted by Mueller late last year.
The next day, CNN Business published an article showing how The Gateway Pundit kicked into gear to then promote a story too good to pass up:
For a little while on Tuesday, a document posted to The Gateway Pundit, a popular right-wing blog prone to peddling conspiracy theories, must have seemed to some of its readers like the perfect story. The document was not just an allegation of sexual assault against Special Counsel Robert Mueller, a favorite enemy of President Trump’s supporters — it was also an opportunity to troll liberals, supporters of the #MeToo movement, and the media. The blog’s commenters were gleeful. “We believe the victim…we believe the victim…we believe the victim…,” the top comment read. “Proof doesn’t matter. It’s the seriousness of the charge,” another commenter responded. A reply to that said, “Absolutely. Anyone who doesn’t believe her is supporting sexual assault and attacking all women.” And then another: “Lol time to rub it in.”
Just a few hours later, however, the story collapsed. Journalists and internet sleuths tied a scheme to smear Mueller with charges of sexual assault to an entity called Surefire Intelligence. That firm was tied to 20-year-old Jacob Wohl, a far-right internet personality who has written for The Gateway Pundit and who was previously banned from financial trading by the National Futures Association over allegations of fraud, and to a number of fake LinkedIn profiles apparently intended to create the impression that Surefire Intelligence was a legitimate and impressive organization with several employees. The Gateway Pundit’s founder, Jim Hoft, removed the document from his website and published an editor’s note in its place. He said that there were “very serious allegations against Jacob Wohl” and that he was “looking into” them.
The bizarre saga appeared to have kicked into gear over the last few weeks when reporters from various news organizations were emailed by a person or people who identified themself as Lorraine Parsons…On Tuesday morning, Wohl tweeted that a “scandalous story about Mueller” would be “breaking tomorrow.” Burkman announced shortly after that he would be holding a press conference on Thursday to “reveal the first of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s sex assault victims.” The Gateway Pundit, which Wohl writes for, then published the document detailing what it portrayed as an unidentified woman’s accusation that Mueller had raped her…
The individual who emailed [Prof. Jennifer] Taub identified himself as Simon Frick, who claimed to be a researcher for Surefire Intelligence. Ed Krassenstein, a liberal Twitter personality who writes for HillReporter.com, said he had also been contacted by an individual claiming to work for Surefire Intelligence after he looked into claims from Parsons. Phone numbers listed on the Surefire Intelligence website, however, automatically redirected callers to a voicemail for Wohl’s mother.
Other discrepancies soon started to add up. Twitter users pointed out that the same Google user who had uploaded images for the Surefire Intelligence website had also previously uploaded images for a website Wohl used for an asset management firm. Aric Toler, a researcher for Bellingcat, an organization that uses online and open source material to conduct investigations, also noted that a LinkedIn profile for Simon Frick used a picture of Christoph Waltz, an actor who has starred in movies including “Django Unchained,” “Muppets Most Wanted,” and the James Bond film “Spectre.” And Jane Mayer, a writer for The New Yorker, noted that a LinkedIn photo of an individual claiming to be the head of Surefire Intelligence appeared to simply be a darkened photograph of Wohl. (The picture had been removed from the profile by the time CNN viewed it Tuesday afternoon.) [The article shows the pictures from Mayer’s Twitter post, which obivously appears to be Wohl in the same picture as himself, but darkened, to be “Matthew Cohen,” the head of Surefire.] Wohl himself even apparently confirmed a link between Burkman and Surefire Intelligence. He told The Daily Beast that Burkman had hired Surefire Intelligence to help him investigate Mueller’s past. Burkman, however, told CNN that he doesn’t “comment on any employees or subcontractors.”
When reached for comment through Twitter’s direct message feature and asked about his ties to Surefire Intelligence, Wohl said, “Sounds like a kooky Russiagate conspiracy theory.”
When CNN dialed a number listed on Surefire Intelligence’s website, an unknown individual answered. That person told CNN that he didn’t know what Surefire Intelligence was — “it doesn’t ring a bell” — and, when asked to identify himself, said “don’t call” if “you aren’t sure” who the number belongs to. Several hours later, phone numbers listed for Surefire Intelligence on its website had been disconnected. At least some of the LinkedIn profiles that showed purported employees of Surefire were also taken down, as were two articles on Medium promoting the company under the guise of news stories. Burkman said on Twitter Tuesday night that “the allegations of paying a woman are false.” Burkman is a Republican operative who has a history of organizing stunts that get him attention, present narratives aimed at benefitting the GOP, and ultimately fall apart in spectacular fashion. For instance, earlier this year, Burkman helped peddle conspiracy theories about the murder of Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich when he announced a press conference in which he said he would “present a witness” who would identify two individuals who had information about Rich’s murder. However, when reporters arrived, Burkman said the witness would call in, and not appear in person. After technical difficulties establishing a phone connection, the witness, who was not identified by name, rambled instead of providing actual information.
On the same day, NBC News reported that
Jacob Wohl, a pro-Trump fan of conspiracy theories, and Jack Burkman, a conservative lobbyist and radio host, stood in front of a half-full room of reporters and activists at a D.C.-area Holiday Inn Thursday to detail their allegations of sexual misconduct against Robert Mueller, the special counsel probing Russian interference in the 2016 election. The woman who they said has made those allegations, a Los Angeles native in her 30s, was slated to attend the news conference and give her own account. But, Wohl said, she feared for her life and on arriving in Washington, “panicked and boarded a flight to another location.” Burkman promised she would appear at another news conference in the near future. Wohl and Burkman took turns speaking at the podium, detailing the allegations, complimenting each other, and defending their professional records against charges of conspiracy peddling and political bias.
…Earlier this week, several journalists reported on Twitter that they had received suspicious emails from a woman claiming someone had offered to pay her for making sexual misconduct allegations against Mueller. The journalists said those offers had come from SureFire Intelligence, a company NBC News connected to Jacob Wohl through telephone and domain records. Their claims were later bolstered by a second woman who came forward with an email offering similar payments in exchange for smearing Mueller, signed by a SureFire agent. Burkman opened the news conference by addressing the controversy. “None of this is true,” Burkman said of the allegations he and Wohl had been involved in a plot. “There were no offers of payment, there was no wrongdoing, there was no bribery, there was nothing illegal or untoward or unethical that took place here,” Wohl said.
…Wohl told reporters the woman making allegations had contacted Wohl with claims Mueller had sexually assaulted her in a New York City hotel room in August of 2010. Explaining that his “default position” is “to not believe” women who come forward with allegations of sexual assault, Wohl told reporters that he found the woman now accusing Mueller credible. Wohl said that he met her after she hired his company SureFire Intelligence to handle “an estate matter.” She later came back to him with the allegations. Little is known about the woman allegedly making these allegations. After Wohl and Burkman went back and forth on the exact spelling of her name, Wohl described her as a fashion designer, who was “well-educated and comes from a good family.” “She is a gal who has an illustrious background and she is not politically oriented,” Wohl said. “We went through every meticulous detail of her allegation, we cross-referenced it with public records, we joined historical societies to get some of those records,” he said. Wohl said they were “in the process” of going to police with the woman’s allegations and would file a report by the end of next week. Burkman then stepped in and said the decision would be “up to my client,” and the evidence-gathering process was mid-investigation. “We have tentacles out in all directions gathering evidence,” Burkman said. They further claimed to have more victims whose stories they were currently vetting. “Hundreds of people have contacted us” this week, Wohl said.
Burkman is well-known for peddling baseless conspiracy theories surrounding the murder of Democratic aide Seth Rich and promoting bombshell information that never materializes. Last November — again at a Holiday Inn — Burkman sent reporters home without making good on what he had advertised as new allegations of sexual harassment against a member of Congress. Likewise, Wohl, a former hedge fund manager now banned from the financial industry, has amplified prominent conspiracy theories as a writer for The Gateway Pundit, an often-inaccurate right-wing website…Wohl was asked about his political bias, specifically for his tweets attacking Mueller, including one where he wrote the special counsel should be sent to Guantanamo Bay. Wohl said his personal opinion had no effect on his professional handling of the investigation. Other reporters questioned 20-year-old Wohl’s experience in the intelligence gathering business and why he had lied to reporters days earlier when he denied having any part in the investigation. Burkman responded, calling Wohl “a child prodigy who has eclipsed Mozart.” At one point, Will Sommer from The Daily Beast said, “No one is discounting [the woman’s] account. We didn’t know her name until 20 minutes ago. We’re questioning both you two very un-credible people.” When questioned about a Washington Post account of Mueller at jury duty in D.C. on the date of the alleged incident in New York, Wohl accused the paper of reporting the story to discredit the woman. When reporters laughed at Wohl’s suggestion that “sometimes people go to jury duty, but they’re also somewhere else,” Wohl admonished the audience. “It’s not funny. It’s not a laughing matter,” he said.
The same day, The Daily Beast offered their own account of the fraudulent press conference “whistleblower” fiasco:
A press conference intended to publicize sexual assault claims against special counsel Robert Mueller collapsed in spectacular fashion on Thursday, after the pro-Trump operatives behind the event failed to demonstrate a grasp of even basic details about their accuser or explain why they had repeatedly lied about their project…Throughout their 45-minute press conference, the two men repeatedly contradicted themselves and each other, giving cryptic non-answers that convinced approximately zero people in attendance that their allegations were anywhere close to the truth…After initially promising that the accuser, a fashion designer named Carolyne Cass, would appear alongside them, Burkman and Wohl seemed to change their minds by the time reporters assembled inside the dimly lit Holiday Inn in Rosslyn, Virginia…Without an in-person accuser, Wohl and Burkman instead offered a signed affidavit from her that claimed Mueller raped her in a New York hotel room on Aug. 2, 2010. No other evidence was given, aside from a print-out Wohl had distributed that noted Mueller had been in New York on Aug. 5, 2010. Left unsaid: That was three days after the alleged attack. Additionally, they accused Mueller’s team of “leaking” a Washington Post story that undermined their tale. The report showed Mueller was in Washington on Aug. 2 serving a jury duty summons. Despite their claim of an exhaustive investigation of the allegations, Wohl and Burkman failed to spell the accuser’s name correctly. Cass’ first name is misspelled as “Carolyn,” without an “e” in the affidavit, and Burkman insisted that her name was spelled without an “e” when asked by reporters. Only after repeated pressing did Burkman concede that her name is actually “Carolyne.” “Even the Declaration of Independence had misspellings,” Burkman quipped. Burkman claims to represent Cass, and he said she hasn’t reported her allegations to New York police.
Other allegations the duo had made earlier fell apart as well. Burkman had previously claimed that he had seven women willing to accuse Mueller. Wohl eventually conceded that they did not have seven women with accusations against Mueller. Allegations that accusers were being paid have swirled around the effort. In October, a number of media outlets, including The Daily Beast, received an email from a “Lorraine Parsons” who said Burkman’s associates were offering her tens of thousands of dollars to accuse Mueller. And on Tuesday, Vermont Law School professor Jen Taub also told The Atlantic that she’d been offered money to accuse Mueller. Wohl and Burkman were reluctant to explain how Wohl, who claimed he first worked with Cass on an unrelated estate issue, was first in contact with their accuser. They also failed to explain where Mueller’s FBI security detail was when he was supposedly assaulting a woman. And Wohl was cryptic about other details, too—he repeatedly declined to say whether he has a private investigator license. Eventually, Wohl said he sometimes works with licensed private investigators. Wohl’s name isn’t in a database of licensed private investigators maintained by the state of California, where he lives. The two men even declined to say how they knew each other. Burkman said only that their meeting was “synergistic.”
Wohl, who is better known as a pro-Trump partisan on Twitter than any sort of sleuth, initially tried to hide his role in the effort. Wohl insisted earlier this week that he wasn’t the head of “Surefire Intelligence,” the previously little known investigations firm that compiled Cass’ allegations. Surefire at first claimed to be a group of ex-intelligence agents from Eastern Europe and the Middle East. But Wohl was forced to concede otherwise after a number of digital footprints, including clues on Surefire’s website and a company phone number that linked to Wohl’s mother, proved he was behind it. A number of LinkedIn accounts for the firm’s “staff” were also revealed as stolen headshots from models and Hollywood celebrities. But Wohl, who insisted he wasn’t behind the fake LinkedIn pages, said he had to lie about the firm for investigative purposes. “It was important that I preserved my anonymity,” Wohl said.
The allegations from Wohl and Burkman have struggled to gain traction even in the right-wing media. The Gateway Pundit, a pro-Trump site that Wohl writes for and which frequently runs hoaxes as actual news, initially published Cass’ affidavit. But it has since backtracked, pulling down the document and stressing that the post was Wohl’s responsibility alone. A reporter from Gateway Pundit asked Wohl tough questions at the press conference, suggesting that even his sometime-employer isn’t convinced of his claims. After the press conference, Gateway Pundit founder Jim Hoft published a post saying the site had “suspended our relationship” with Wohl.
The event was reminiscent of other failed Burkman press conferences, including several he’s held on the Seth Rich conspiracy theory. Burkman attached himself to the investigation of the former Democratic National Committee staffer’s murder in 2016 but has frequently failed to make good on his claims. Burkman’s previous flops included a botched press conference in which he promised and failed to deliver a deep-state representative who would say Rich was killed by government hit men.
At times, the event resembled a real-life version of the Twitter fights Wohl often engages in. Wohl complained that someone online had photoshopped a picture of him turning into a corncob—a reference to a popular tweet about someone doubling down in the face of internet embarrassment. Burkman defended Wohl, 20, from charges that he doesn’t have enough experience to investigate such a serious charge against Mueller. “I think Jacob is a child prodigy who has eclipsed Mozart,” Burkman said. A heckler cut in, yelling that Wohl couldn’t even open an eTrade account—a reference to Wohl’s lifetime ban from futures trading, a penalty he earned in a previous career as a teenage hedge fund operator. In the face of unanswered questions from the press, Burkman and Wohl headed to their car followed by reporters. But Burkman promised more details to come at an unspecified future press conference.
These two grifters have had a long history of trying to blackmail famous people seen as a hindrance to the Far Right; however, one of their potential “biggest fish” came a year and a half later as they continued their unabated schemes, this time in the middle of the COVID pandemic. In April 2020 the online newspaper The Daily Dot began reporting on a story about their latest exploits:
The coronavirus outbreak has made Dr. Anthony Fauci, longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a household name. As beloved as he is in some corners, Fauci is loathed in others. He has increasingly weathered attacks from conservatives and conspiracy theorists who disagree with his cautionary approach to the deadly virus and view him as a “deep state” enemy of President Donald Trump. Last month, as the threats escalated, Fauci was assigned a security detail. The latest attack on him comes in the form of an accusation of sexual assault.
Earlier this week, the Daily Dot received a press release from a woman claiming that Fauci sexually assaulted her in 2014. The release included the details of the allegation and said she and her representatives plan to hold a press conference on Tuesday in Washington, D.C. All allegations of this nature are given equal consideration. But the more the Daily Dot looked into the details, the more things didn’t add up. The accuser didn’t respond to multiple requests to speak with her. The woman, whose name is not reported here because it couldn’t be confirmed, claims to be represented by Rhonda Abramson and Richard Whitley of Whitley, Moran, Telander LLP. The Daily Dot could find no record of any business by that name. The email, which came from the accuser’s Gmail, included Abramson’s LinkedIn account and phone number. There she claims to live in the Washington, D.C. area and to have worked for two companies. Unlike Whitley, Moran, Telander, those companies’ existence was readily confirmed. However, both told the Daily Dot that they have no record of Abramson’s employment. “We have never employed her, have never heard of her, and have been fielding calls and emails on this for a couple of days,” said Dave Seman, managing principal of Paladin Political Group, which Abramson claims to have worked at until last month. “We have requested LinkedIn flag her profile for fraud.” A human resources representative at the second company, where Abramson claims to have worked from 2007 to 2011, said that the position she lists doesn’t exist. Abramson herself seems to also not exist. Reverse image searches for her LinkedIn profile picture turn up nothing. An initial search for her picture on Have They Faked Me was negative, but barely; a second search a day later was positive. This means either that fake photos have likely been made using this image, or that the image itself is fake. Abramson did not respond to numerous messages via voicemail, text, and LinkedIn. All calls went to voicemail. Although she’s not responding to inquiries, Abramson did find time to post the press conference details on LinkedIn yesterday.
Richard Whitley is similarly impossible to find. The Daily Dot found no one by that name, or any of the variations of Richard, in Washington, D.C on LinkedIn or Facebook. Even the location of the press conference is strange. According to the assault allegation, it took place at the Four Seasons in Baltimore in 2014, which is on International Drive. The address for the press conference is also given as an International Drive, but in Washington, D.C. That address most closely matches that of the Chinese Embassy. However bizarre, it is possible this location was chosen because the coronavirus originated in China.
Given the nature of the allegation and his history, the Daily Dot contacted far-right pundit Jacob Wohl to ask if he knew anything about it. Wohl has previously been involved with leveling often far-fetched sexual allegations against various individuals Republicans consider their enemies: Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Pete Buttigieg, and Robert Mueller. Each allegation was later resoundingly discredited. Plus, sham press conferences in the D.C. area are kind of his thing. Wohl said he had nothing to do with the accusation against Fauci. “This is the first I’ve heard of it,” he said. He also said that his frequent co-conspirator and right-wing lobbyist Jack Burkman isn’t involved and that no one had contacted him with allegations against Fauci. Wohl said that he’s presently in California and has no plans to be in D.C. this Tuesday. It’s beginning to seem unlikely that anyone, least of all Abramson or Whitley, will attend the press conference.
UPDATE 1:28pm CT, April 21: Wohl and Burkman were on today’s press conference call. They claimed to have got in touch with Abramson via LinkedIn after the Daily Dot contacted them, after which they were asked to participate due to their being “preeminent subject matter experts” in the field of MeToo, according to someone who said he was Whitley. Neither they, the alleged victim, nor “Whitley” could account for the fact that none of the parties appears to exist. Further, none could explain why the details recounted today differ significantly from key points of fact alleged in the release. They also claimed the Chinese government invited them to have the press conference at the embassy. Burkman promised to send information that would corroborate their identities and the facts alleged. Thus far, he has not.
A few weeks later, Reason magazine published a fascinating article that filled in the rest of the details about this incident, and these “gentlemen”:
I’d just finished Saturday morning’s second cup of coffee when an email popped through, subject line: “Exposing Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman.” “Hi Nancy, I hope you are having a nice weekend. I feel very bad about lying to you and others about Dr. Fauci. I took it upon myself to call Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman and record them (see attached)… Many thanks and again, I feel very bad about all this. I apologize to you, the other reporters and Dr. Fauci.” The writer of the email identified herself as Diana Andrade. I had never before emailed with Andrade, but had spoken with her 10 days earlier, when I knew her as “Diana Rodriguez.” At that time, Rodriguez alleged that when she was 20 years old, in 2014, she’d been sexually assaulted by Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases…
For those lucky enough to be unfamiliar with the exploits of Wohl and Burkman, they are pro-Trump provocateurs who’ve found a niche drumming up fake sexual harassment allegations that end comically badly, including against former FBI Director Robert Mueller (who turned out to have been serving jury duty the day he was supposed to have committed the assault) and Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren (the press conference for which took place on Burkman’s stoop, and whose supposed victim was a 24-year-old Marine). Being on the receiving end of an allegation of sexual misconduct is now a rite of political passage—a perverse sign you’ve made it. Fauci’s star rose in March as he appeared at COVID-19 briefings day after day…Here, then, was an opportunity for Wohl and Burkman to take down the newest of Trump’s perceived enemies, to maybe become favorites in Trump’s actual orbit. On the chance it would cause their own star to rise, they would move Fauci toward irrelevancy, if not infamy.
The rollout of their latest smear job was a fiasco, a series of “media alerts” announcing press conferences with no start times, never mind that neither the public relations contact nor the company she worked for appeared to exist, and a “statement” from Rodriguez so breathless it seemed intended to steam up the windows. “He looked rich and powerful, and I love smart men with grey hair. He told me all about his fantastic career in medicine, so I went upstairs,” Rodriguez wrote of her fictional meeting with Fauci at the bar of the Four Seasons Hotel in Washington, D.C. After detailing some ineffective hotel bed wrestling and managing to flee with her honor intact, Rodriguez closed with the statement, “Now, when I see him on TV touted as some kind of hero, I want the nation to know the truth. This is my truth. This is my story.” It was all in a league of its own weirdness…Nevertheless, several journalists called into a conference call to hear Rodriguez’s story. We were treated, instead, to Wohl and Burkman on the line, stating they’d on the fly been invited to represent Rodriguez, who haltingly told a story that varied significantly from the media alert and, when questioned for clarification, was talked over by Wohl. “People come forward against figures that are considered media darlings with very credible allegations and are attacked by the media,” he told us. “And you see the same sort of victim-blaming here.”
He and Burkman then tried to dissemble past there not being one verifiable fact or person in their latest confection, implausibly invoked the name of Kevin Spacey as someone who would speak for their client, and confirmed for reporters that the original location of the press conference had been at the Chinese Embassy. “They were kind enough to offer the venue and there’s not a lot of open venues these days,” said Burkman during the call. (He had “a contact there.”) It was all beyond absurd, and when the reporters finally stopped laughing, one asked, “Can you just tell us you’re pulling a prank here?” With the exception of The Daily Dot, which covered the claim only to debunk it, no outlet touched the story. There was no there there…And that would have been that—until Saturday’s email, which included Andrade telling me, “The reality is that I’ve known Jacob since 2018 and that he charmed me into taking money to do this (see attached picture of us together),” taken when they were romantically involved. Also, that Wohl and Burkman “had me do something like this…back in January.” “And I understand they’re trying to get another girl to do it, too,” she writes. “They asked me if I knew anyone to do it.” Andrade was correct. The day before, I’d received another press release, this time from Burkman, citing a new accusation by “Karen Draper,” a “former assistant” of Fauci—a person and claim almost certainly as vaporous as the last.
“They are interested in one thing: power,” Andrade writes. Sure, but how could such buffoonery be perceived as power? Were they so desperate to catch Trump’s eye they would pounce on anyone garnering public adulation, something the president was temperamentally unable to abide? And was there any upside to the rest of us knowing what animates a couple of amateur dirty tricksters, wannabe Roger Stones minus the charisma and connections?Andrade, having been in the muck with these two, thought people should know. She had not acted nobly—and had taken money for not acting nobly—to try to bring down a man she had never met. Disgust with the enterprise made her want Wohl and Burkman to admit what they’d put her up to. The deciding factor to get them on tape, however, was Wohl asking her to provide another girl. “I ignored his inquiry about this,” she writes. “But it led me to feel like I needed to blow the whistle.”
During the nine-minute, 35-second call, Wohl and Burkman do not cover themselves in glory. They hector Andrade when she says she’s feeling paranoid and wants reassurance that everything’s fine. “What could be wrong, Diana?” Wohl asks. “You did a good job, you got paid. What’s the problem? What seems to be the issue? You’re freaking out. You’re texting me late at night. What’s the issue?” “What’s the problem? What’s your problem?” echoes Burkman. “Tell me what the problem is? What’s your problem?” She says she’s uncomfortable with the money they gave her, some guy showing up, claiming to be a lawyer, with his face hidden by a cap. “Is he even a real lawyer?” she asks. “I looked him up.” “Yeah, he’s a real lawyer,” Wohl says. “He’s a good lawyer,” and then goes on to brag about that lawyer’s White House connections. It’s possible that a White House–connected lawyer might have hand-delivered five figures in cash to Andrade in Los Angeles. It’s also possible Wohl made up the whole thing. But she says she did get the money, and Wohl and Burkman are clearly eager to imply that they are intimate with Team Trump.
…She proposes she give back the cash and instead receive a wire transfer (thus creating a trace), a proposition Burkman shoots down. (“Cash is best,” he tells her. “We don’t want any records of this nonsense.”) She wants the men to admit they are trying to bring down a person who in no part deserves it. “Let me tell you something, Diana,” says Burkman. “This guy shut the country down. He put 40 million people out of work. In a situation like that, you have to make up whatever you have to make up to stop that train and that’s the way life works, OK? That’s the way it goes.” Andrade counters that he and Wohl are not taking COVID-19 seriously. “It’s not just any virus. I mean, it’s a huge deal….I think you guys think it’s something made up, and it’s not.”“Mother Nature has to clean the barn every so often,” Burkman counters. “How real is it? Who knows? So what if 1 percent of the population goes? So what if you lose 400,000 people? Two hundred thousand were elderly, the other 200,000 are the bottom of society. You got to clean out the barn. If it’s real, it’s a positive thing, for God’s sake.” “So, what? Survival of the fittest?” Andrade asks, a bit more pique in her voice. (The sense you are dealing with people who have an enthusiasm for eugenics can do that.) But Wohl’s not having it. “Diana, look, can you just do this for me?” he says. “Can you just keep your mouth shut and just…just do it for me.”
“Oh Jacob, come on,” she says. “You have a way of charming people…and there are a lot of things I don’t want to say in front of Jack but I am so done with you. I do not want to deal with this anymore. I think you’re actually an evil person…you’re just, you’re just so charming until you get me cornered. I don’t know how you do it, but you find a way to make me go along with your little plans.” At this, the men talk over each other, telling Andrade she “readily volunteered” and asking who cares if she “made up a story. Grow up, for Christ’s sake.”
…Shortly afterward, Andrade ends the call. Then she emails me.
“I’m sure you noticed I wasn’t following the script,” she says, after our first email, with regard to the story told on the conference call not lining up with the press statement. Yes, I say, it was pretty bad. There was “no preparation!” she says. Jacob “just told me, because he knows my other story, he just said, ‘Use the same stuff.'” The “same stuff” is a reference to a sexual assault Andrade says she experienced when she was just out of high school, when she was attacked in a car by a much older man. The incident caused her shame, both having been assaulted by someone she barely knew but thought she could trust and also “because I lied to my mom about where I was when this happened.” “For many reasons, I couldn’t talk about it,” she says, but she had told Wohl, back when they were involved. It had made him angry on her behalf, and this past January, he had made her an offer. “He said, ‘Well, you know you don’t want to talk about this, but maybe this could be another way of talking about it.'” He then asked her to recraft her experience into an accusation against an Academy Award–winning actor. He, Wohl, would pay her to do it. “He said, ‘We actually need someone like this, and maybe it’d be good practice for you to be able to talk about this,'” she recalls. “‘Just talk about how you feel about the real thing, but take it out against this other person.'” Andrade made the accusation. She never knew why Wohl wanted her to do this, and the story never gained traction. Wohl then had her try again with Fauci. Another strikeout.
As feeble as they are at pulling off these cons, Wohl and Burkman appear to appreciate what a powerful motivator shame can be and how it has been used traditionally to keep women quiet. They have refashioned #BelieveAllWomen into a tool for their own purposes, including in their most recent media alert about the press conference, called for this Friday, for alleged Fauci victim “Karen Draper.” “This is becoming a disturbing pattern, and the left-wing media has no interest in letting women speak their truth,” Burkman wrote in the press release. “I’m hopeful that Karen will be able to tell her story and help bring this troubling series of events to light.”
“I don’t know how they do all these things and why they do all these things,” Andrade says. “Also, he tried to frame Mueller…I’m like, how is he not in jail?” Reached by email for this story, Wohl responded “no comment” and Burkman replied only: “We stand by Diana and her allegations”…But there was one thing she did wonder, in light of his attempts to bring down Mueller and Fauci. “I don’t understand,” she says, “how he doesn’t get in trouble.”
By May 2020, a historical list of their additional scams over time was also being reported:
In March , Wohl circulated a fake coronavirus lab test, saying that Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden had tested positive for the virus — and, dramatically, that he would die in 30 days…This was only a month after Wohl alleged that Biden was the member of a member of a Parkinson’s disease support group, also unsubstantiated. In October of 2019, Wohl purported to have evidence of a recent “long-term sexual relationship” (lasting several months?) between Elizabeth Warren and a 24-year-old bodybuilder Marine. At a hilariously ill-conceived press event, which featured a TV screen on a table, displaying the incredible graphic, “Elizabeth Warren Cougar?” Burkman and Wohl disseminated a “bombshell” document containing accusations by a man named Kelvin Whelly, who actually showed up to the event, unlike other “witnesses” of Wohl’s in the past. The document claimed that Whelly met Warren on “COWBOYS4ANGELS,” which bills itself as “a site for attractive young men who provide companionship escort services to well-heeled women,” and that, in August of 2018, Warren flew him to Massachusetts, where met her at a Hilton Hotel in Woburn. He also claimed, with no evidence, that she asked him to participate in BDSM play, and told him “You wouldn’t believe how many studs like you show up to the Congressional retreats.” Needless to say, it was a fiasco. Whelly couldn’t stop cracking up while he spoke about the “ordeal,” according to bystanders. He also took off his shirt at some point to reveal a supposed “sex scar,” which was swiftly debunked via his public Instagram, on which he’d posted a photo of the same scar with the much more plausible explanation that he “hit [his] back with a chain trying to take down a swing.”
In January of 2019, shortly after California senator Kamala Harris announced her bid for president, Wohl began tweeting that she was not eligible to run because her parents were not born in the United States. He claimed that neither of Harris’s parents had been “a legal resident for 5 years” prior to her birth, and that she was raised in Canada. Despite the fact that Harris is an American citizen born and raised in Oakland, Wohl stuck to his guns, also engaging in some more well-worn birtherism about Barack Obama. In February 2019, Wohl and another far-right conspiracy theorist and fellow banned Twitter user Laura Loomer traveled to Minnesota to “prove” that Representative Ilhan Omar had married her brother in order to get him U.S. citizenship, a racist, fully-debunked attack that has long been made on the Somali-American politician. Wohl claimed he had to travel with security because of “Somali jihadists” who had threatened him, but refused to show any of these armed bodyguards on his livestream. Burkman and Wohl then attempted to hold another press conference revealing their findings at the 2019 Conservative Political Action Conference, before being asked to leave the grounds. Not to be deterred, they held it in a nearby hotel lobby, with Wohl flanked by a “security guard” wearing a single AirPod. Wohl and Loomer then released a “documentary” on their investigation, in which they showed Wohl supposedly filing a police report about death threats he had received from an account that was later revealed to be a fake profile. The man whose photo was used to create it has since sued Wohl.
In April of 2019, Wohl and Burkman tried making false sexual-assault allegations against 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg. This time they published claims on Medium that a Michigan college student named Hunter Kelly had been a victim of Buttigieg’s, and held a press conference in May in the driveway of Burkman’s suburban home. By this point, Kelly had already recanted the allegations, and said Wohl had contacted him via Instagram to pitch the fake plot under the auspices of a “‘task force’ set up by the Donald Trump administration.” As “evidence” that they had not coerced Kelly into making the claims, at their press conference, Wohl and Burkman showed footage of him drinking coffee with the statement, “Most forced coercion attempts do not involve caramel frappucinos.” The footage was shown on a television that had been wheeled onto the house’s front steps that initially said “PRESS CONFERENCE” on its screen…They also claimed that detractors were planning a “Protest Against Homophobic Bigots” in reaction to their press conference, and that “hundreds of leftist protestors” were “set to descend.” Soon after, it was revealed that attendees who RSVPed to the protest event online had received confirmation emails containing the email address “firstname.lastname@example.org.”
As recently as this past Tuesday, October 2, Burkman and Wohl were yet again holding a press conference in Burkman’s Arlington driveway. This time, they promised to reveal the name of the whistle-blower who had revealed Donald Trump’s phone calls with the Ukrainian Prime Minister, for which he is now facing calls for impeachment…Of course, they were “unable to release” the name of the informant, and still haven’t.
There are some more details about the “amazing” Wohl and Burkman that might interest the readers. Not surprisingly, many of these types of operators, who appear to be younger and younger, take their amoral, money-at-all-costs value system normally associated with conservatism and its political objectives, and use these wealth-accumulation ambitions to shamelessly bilk others financially to bankroll their hedonistic “capitalism affirming” lifestyles. For example, in November 2018 NBC News reported that
Wohl, 20, has a history of schemes. He was once billed as a teenage financial guru, but his penchant for lying — about his success and credentials — cut his investment career short and attracted investigations by government and industry regulators. Wohl got his first taste of fame at 17, in a local news profile of his hedge fund. Calling him the “Wohl of Wall Street,” the spot gave Wohl publicity for Wohl Capital, a fund that he claimed had grown to 20 investors — students, parents, grandparents and teachers — and offered returns of over 22 percent. By 2016, Wohl had shut down the hedge fund, and instead of college, he was running two new projects from Los Angeles. One was Montgomery Assets, which Wohl claimed invested in equity, fixed income and commodity markets, and started with “seed money from a Chinese family office.” The other was NeX Capital Management, a commodity trading adviser.
Wohl ran his businesses in an unorthodox way, attracting clients in part with bikini models he had found on Craigslist and Backpage. An ex-employee described the practice to an investor news website and it was documented in real time with screenshots posted by Twitter users who made it a hobby to follow Wohl’s activities. “We need models for promo modeling events including conferences, trade shows, seminars, etc.,” read one Orange County, California, Craigslist ad viewed by NBC News. “We also have other modeling opportunities including bikini modeling and fashion modeling if you fit the type for that sort of modeling.” Wohl blamed the posts on “trolls of mine in 2016,” whom he “immediately reported” to the FBI, he told The Daily Beast. In August 2016, Wohl announced that Montgomery Assets was “acquiring” Hollywood talent manager Trousdale Consultants, a company with no footprint, no website and no record with California’s business registry, until Wohl’s announcement. Following the partnership, Wohl used the new arm of his company to place Los Angeles Craigslist ads for “Instagram models” and “college hotties.”
While Wohl was posting YouTube videos and writing press releases alleging great success, his clients were complaining to regulators. In one allegation, which prompted an investigation by the National Futures Association, an organization that self-regulates the futures industry, a client claimed that Wohl told him his $75,000 investment had grown, but only provided $44,000 when he asked to cash out of the fund. Wohl claimed the fund had lost money, but examiners noted in their report that the account overall had made a profit, which was then moved to another fund, established in the name of Wohl’s mother. According to their report, Wohl evaded investigators and hid from them when they knocked on his door. Wohl’s father, David Wohl, an attorney and a recurring guest on Fox News programs, threatened to have the regulators charged with harassment. The association did, however, find Wohl to be “unbalanced” in his presentation of profit risks to clients and said he had misled investors by claiming to have been trading since he was 9 years old. In 2017, the National Futures Association banned Wohl for life. That same year, an investigation by the Arizona Corporation Commission concluded that Wohl had defrauded investors. He was ordered to cease and desist in the violation of securities laws, and pay about $38,000 in restitution and fines, according to commission documents obtained by NBC News. As part of the settlement, he neither admitted nor denied the findings. In 2017, Wohl’s lawyer told the commission that the first payment of $16,000 would not be made on time. “Ultimately, we do not have the funds,” Wohl’s lawyer said. In January, Wohl’s case was referred to the state’s attorney general for collections, according to commission documents. In March, Arizona Superior Court entered a judgement against Wohl for nonpayment.
As an example of the reporting being done in financial outlets around 2016, the following source documents the young Wohl’s activities at the time that the financial world was sizing him up – a community at least to some extent less gullible than the general public:
Jacob Wohl, the teenage promotion sensation that swept the nation, has got the world on a string. The self-proclaimed stock guru turned managed futures guru now a real estate guru, currently has his sights on the October 19 Presidential Debate. He is taking a private jet, he says paid for by a “client,” from Los Angeles to Las Vegas to watch Donald Trump, the family presidential candidate of choice, battle it out with Hillary Clinton, who has been surging in the major polls in the wake of the last debate. Amid a regulatory furor where he recently responded to a National Futures Association inquiry by calling them “thugs,” Wohl isn’t concerned. He told ValueWalk he is being escorted in the jet by “Instagram models.” Wohl is perhaps best known for promoting a “director of fun” to entertain clients. As far as those pesky regulators nipping at his heals over missing customer funds, he said he is “not worried. It’s just a cost of doing business.”
After receiving statements from an investor during spring that customer funds were missing, the NFA conducted an extensive search of all regulated accounts known to be controlled by Wohl and related parties. Working in conjunction with various brokerage compliance departments, the NFA discovered trading oddities in Wohl’s registered CTA account and that of his mother. The NFA claimed client assets were diverted into the mother’s account. The NFA sent three investigators to Wohl’s Hollywood Hills, CA home, which was listed as the business address. It is standard investigating procedure when fraud is suspected to ratchet up the investigative urgency and pressure. The NFA engages in audits of its members…“It is unclear at this point whether this saga simply represents regulators gone rogue or whether it speaks to a broader culture of harassment, stalking and thuggery at the National Futures Association,” Wohl wrote in his NFA response letter. To support his charges, Wohl says claims NFA investigators were “peeping through the windows of his home” after Wohl was seen inside during a surprise inspection and audit. Wohl also notes that regulators drove 68 miles west to his father’s and questioned his younger brother, 17, about Jacob’s whereabouts…He stated that he would not be meeting with the NFA as they requested in their investigative complaint as a result of the “dangerous and bizarre nature” of the NFA investigators, which Wohl called “three strange men.”
Pointing to regulatory growth that he says has “doubled or tripled” in size while the financial industry growth has remained static, Wohl thinks regulators are bored at work. “They have lawyers sitting around looking for things to do,” he told ValueWalk…For his part, Wohl indicated he has moved on from regulated investment industries. Real estate is the 18-year-old’s next industry to conquer, following in the footsteps of his political idol, Donald Trump. “I’m learning new things,” he said. “I’m going to be announcing new products shortly.”
On March 2nd, 2017, the National Futures Association announced a press release on their website that “National Futures Association (NFA) has permanently barred Los Angeles, Calif. commodity trading advisor Nex Capital Management LLC (Nex Capital) and its sole principal and associated person, Jacob Wohl, from membership and from acting as a principal of an NFA Member. The Decision, issued by an NFA Hearing Panel, is based on a Complaint authorized by NFA’s Business Conduct Committee (BCC) on August 19, 2016. The Hearing Panel found that Nex Capital and Wohl willfully failed to cooperate with NFA by refusing to submit to an examination of Nex Capital.” By Nov. 2018, The Arizona Republic reported that
A 2017 Arizona Corporation Commission cease-and-desist order leveled the allegations against Wohl, finding he violated securities law by misleading investors about how much of their money would be at risk, and misrepresenting his company’s size. The commission ordered him to pay $32,919 in restitution and penalties totaling $5,000. Wohl’s attorney told the commission in 2017 that Wohl was unable to make the first payment and asked for a four-week continuance…Wohl has not paid any of the money he owes the commission, according to a commission spokeswoman. The commission has referred the matter to the Attorney General’s Office collections unit…Wohl’s troubles in Arizona began in 2015, when two residents of the state contacted Wohl after seeing his media appearances. The Arizona residents invested in his hedge fund, according to the Corporation Commission… The commission found Wohl won the business of at least one of his investors by misrepresenting his company’s size. The investor was also told that only 20 percent of invested capital would be at risk. However, in January 2016, Wohl ceased operations and returned approximately 60 percent of the investors’ capital, the commission said. In 2015, Wohl began looking for investors for a new hedge fund, NeX Capital Management LLC. Wohl solicited investments in the fund from two Arizonans by misrepresenting the risk involved, the commission found…Wohl also began posting advertisements on Craigslist Phoenix in 2016, looking for investors in a house-flipping business. The commission documents say the Craigslist advertisements misrepresented the size of Wohl’s company, Montgomery Assets Inc., and the experience of its employees and risk associated with the investment…In June, Wohl tweeted calling the Arizona Corporation Commission a “racketeering organization full of Angry Democrats,” citing an article detailing allegations that Corporation Commission head Gary Pierce, who is a Republican, was accepting money in exchange for favorable votes affecting a utilities company.
By September 2019, Newsweek was reporting that
American conservative activist and far-right conspiracy theorist, Jacob Wohl, is wanted on a felony arrest warrant in California, the Daily Beast reported on Wednesday. Wohl, 21, and his former business partner Matthew Johnson were charged in California for the illicit sale of securities in a Riverside Superior Court, according to a criminal complaint filed last month. In 2016, Wohl and Johnson allegedly “represented themselves as members of a company called Montgomery Assets,” according to the complaint. Between July 27 and August 27, 2016, the two accused “offered for sale unqualified securities in violation of California Corporations Code 25110.” The warrants for Wohl and Johnson were issued on August 19, however Wohl has yet to be arrested, the Riverside County District Attorney’s office said. Wohl, who gained notoriety on social media for peddling false information and regularly responding to President Donald Trump’s tweets, has not yet suffered any legal consequences for his actions despite his critics claiming that he has pushed the line on numerous instances. Wohl has previously been accused of defrauding investors.
Regarding Wohl and Burkman’s false witness allegations against Donald Trump’s political rivals during the 2020 election, The Daily Beast offers some additional details of their modus operandi:
A pair of right-wing provocateurs are being accused of attempting to recruit young Republican men to level false allegations of sexual assault against Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg. The details of the operatives’ attempt emerged as one man suddenly surfaced with a vague and uncorroborated allegation that Buttigieg had assaulted him. The claim was retracted hours later. A Republican source told The Daily Beast that lobbyist Jack Burkman and internet troll Jacob Wohl approached him last week to try to convince him to falsely accuse Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, of engaging him sexually while he was too drunk to consent. The source who spoke to The Daily Beast said Burkman and Wohl made clear that their goal was to kneecap Buttigieg’s momentum in the 2020 presidential race. The man asked to remain anonymous out of a concern that the resulting publicity might imperil his employment, and because he said Wohl and Burkman have a reputation for vindictiveness. But the source provided The Daily Beast with a surreptitious audio recording of the meeting, which corroborates his account. In it, Wohl appears to refer to Buttigieg as a “terminal threat” to President Donald Trump’s reelection next year. Neither Burkman nor Wohl responded to repeated requests for comment on this story. But after The Daily Beast contacted them last week, traces of the scheme disappeared from the web and social media.
On Monday, a separate individual using the name of Hunter Kelly published a post on the site Medium in which he alleged that Buttigieg sexually assaulted him in February. That post was tweeted out by David Wohl, Jacob’s father, and quickly re-written by the site Big League Politics, which is known as a landing ground for right-wing conspiracy theories.
Uh oh: BREAKING: Media Darling Buttigieg Accused of Sexual Assault https://t.co/iOGx7yo8Qu via @BigLeaguePol
— David Wohl (@DavidWohl) April 29, 2019
Kelly’s supposed Medium and Twitter accounts both say they were created this month. His Facebook page includes several posts lauding Trump and criticizing Hillary Clinton. He appears to have responded to Jacob Wohl’s posts on Instagram in the past. The Daily Beast reached out to Kelly on a cellphone listed to him in the student directory at his Michigan college. Told we were reporting on apparent efforts by Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman to drum up false sexual assault allegations against Buttigieg, Kelly replied, “I was unaware this was happening. But yes it is true.” Kelly wrote that he did not control the newly created Medium and Twitter accounts that posted the allegations under his name. When asked if he could verify his identity, he texted the Daily Beast a selfie that matched the photo seen on Medium and on Kelly’s longstanding Facebook accounts. “Here is a selfie of me, sorry I have been crying,” he wrote. “Today and the promises made didn’t go as planned.” Kelly declined to provide more details. But two hours later he posted a message to his Facebook timeline headed, “I WAS NOT SEXUALLY ASSAULTED.” “It’s important for everyone to know that I was not sexually assaulted and would never falsely accuse anyone,” he wrote. “To keep it brief for now, I was approached by a political figure to come to DC to discuss political situations from the standpoint of a gay Republican. When I arrived they discussed Peter Buttigieg and started talking about how they would be working a campaign against him.” “I went to bed and woke up to a fake Twitter @RealHunterKelly and an article that I in no way endorsed or wrote. I have since left and am working on a formal statement to give to everyone including the Buttigieg family.”
The statement sent to The Daily Beast from the Facebook account on Tuesday said that Wohl and Burkman flew him to Washington, D.C., and showed him a statement detailing the bogus accusations against Buttigieg—which they then posted without his permission. He went on to say that they also tried to get him to sign off on a script for a press conference—over his protests—but he called his family to come get him and then fled. Burkman, in a statement, acknowledged that he had worked with Kelly but insisted that Kelly had come to him for help. “While we’re disappointed by his reaction today, I can’t imagine the stress he’s currently under,” said Burkman. “This is a difficult subject for anyone to face and unfortunately, as an attorney, there’s only so much I can do”…The man who told The Daily Beast that Wohl and Burkman approached him last week also described himself as a Trump supporter…They met at a restaurant in the Washington area, where, the source said, both Burkman and Wohl introduced themselves using false names. Burkman assumed the alias of Matt Teller, the source said. Wohl, he said, just used the first name Bill. The source added that he recognized Wohl because of his internet notoriety and decided to record their conversation, convinced that it could prove useful should any investigation be launched into the origins of the anti-Buttigieg scheme. The audio was provided on the condition that it not be published, so as not to reveal its source. An expert in audio forensics contacted by The Daily Beast then examined the recording and confirmed that Wohl was one of the speakers.
The pitch by Wohl and Burkman wasn’t detailed, the source said, but it resembled past attempts by the duo to peddle dubious sexual assault allegations against perceived political foes. It would involve the accuser giving a press conference where he would publicly make his accusations about Buttigieg. The source said Wohl and Burkman seemed to want him to figure out many of the details, including a window of time during which he and Buttigieg were both in Washington, when the fabricated offense may have occurred. When the source expressed reluctance, they assured him the scheme would make him wealthy, famous, and a star in Republican politics. Wohl cited the national recognition given to Christine Blasey Ford after she accused Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault during his confirmation hearings last year. Wohl and Burkman described the source’s role as a “catalyst” whose false allegations would prompt actual victims to come forward. The goal, Wohl and Burkman stressed, was to hobble Buttigieg’s ascendant campaign, according to the audio of the conversation. The South Bend mayor has rocketed into the top tier of 2020 Democratic contenders, to the surprise of many national political observers…Last Monday, Burkman wrote on Twitter, “2020 is shaping up to be more exciting than 2016. Looking like it will be Trump vs. Mayor Pete! Get the popcorn ready!”
The source did not agree to participate in the scheme, but Wohl followed up with a phone call a day or two later to see if he could recommend friends or associates who might be a good fit to play the victim in the hoax. The phone number he called from was listed on the website of a company called Potomac Intelligence Group, which claimed to be a political and corporate intelligence firm with offices in Virginia and California. Matt Teller, the alias that Burkman used in the meeting, was listed as a Potomac Intelligence employee. “Teller” also had a LinkedIn page, where he recently penned a post responding to a “blogger” who “wrote a story about Potomac Intelligence alleging that we work with the Saudi Government.” It doesn’t appear that any such story was ever written. “While we don’t comment on our clients or the operations that we carry out on their behalf,” the LinkedIn post said, “we can say this: We will never apologize for our counter-terrorism practice.” Minutes after The Daily Beast reached out to Wohl and Burkman, the Potomac Intelligence website was taken down, Teller’s LinkedIn page was deleted, and both of the company’s phone numbers were disconnected. That website was similar in appearance to that of Surefire Intelligence, a fake company that Wohl set up under the pseudonym Matthew Cohen and used to peddle false sexual assault allegations against Special Counsel Robert Mueller last year. Both sites also were registered through the same anonymous domain registration service, and both used the same webmail provider, Protonmail, for their contact email addresses: email@example.com for the Mueller smear, firstname.lastname@example.org now.
Months later, when the whims of the primary season shifted from Buttigieg to Kamala Harris, Wohl and Burkman adjusted their malevolent tactics to support Trump’s fortunes, as Newsweek recounts:
The 2020 presidential candidate was accused by Wohl, a 21-year-old, far-right conspiracy theorist, and Burkman, a Republican lobbyist, on Wednesday of engaging in an extramarital affair with a personal trainer. But the men repeatedly refused to offer any evidence to the claims that 26-year-old Shawn Newaldass made about engaging in individual and group sex encounters with Harris in exchange for money—or a “series of sexcapades,” as Burkman and Wohl referred to them. The practice of making such serious allegations without evidence has become a repeated occurrence for Wohl, Burkman and the various accusers they bring forward. The ex-Marine brought forward by Wohl and Burkman last week who claimed he was in a long-term affair with 2020 candidate Elizabeth Warren was discovered to have lied about his military service, according to information provided at the time to Newsweek by the U.S. Marine Corps. The men offered no corroborating evidence. Wednesday’s affair was nearly identical to last week’s press conference on Warren: Boxes of Dunkin Donuts laid out for attendees, a private security guard was present and Wohl, Burkman and their accuser spoke from the front porch of Burkman’s Rosslyn, Virginia home as intrigued neighbor’s stood watch and hecklers yelled and played the banjo or bagpipes. One man wore a corn costume while loudly blowing into a party streamer. At one point, after Wohl picked up a nearby hose and threatened to douse a protester, Burkman convinced Wohl against it. The press conference soon thereafter was forced to end, with the men’s microphone being drowned out by the rowdy protesters.
Newaldass’ allegations were that after serving as Harris’ personal trainer for several years, he began “an extensive sexual relationship” with the California senator this summer after her “workouts became more intense” in the wake of announcing her candidacy for president in January. From June through roughly sometime in early September, Newaldass claimed he had a total of 11 sexual encounters across the country as he traveled with Harris, several of which involved Harris paying him thousands of dollars for him and other men to have sex with her. He claimed that, in one instance, he was paid $3,000 in cash to “arrange a small orgy” and $7,500 cash in another for him to find Harris two other men to have sex with. Speaking to Newsweek after their chaotic front porch press conference, Newaldass, Wohl and Burkman were unable to provide any evidence that would corroborate their claims.
Newsweek was unable to find any record that Newaldass was a personal trainer. Social media accounts, which had his name listed as Shawn Newaldas, were sparse with content and appeared as though they had not been used in months, if not years. There was no evidence that he was a personal trainer. Wohl suggested that several online pictures would show Harris working out with Newaldass, but Newsweek was unable to find any…Prompted with timeline questions about when and how he met Harris, in addition to how he was put into contact with Burkman and Wohl, Newaldass appeared confused or unwilling to answer. Burkman and Wohl answered the majority of questions posed by Newsweek, including some of those directed at Newaldass. “Shawn, you’ve got so much on your mind,” Burkman said at one point, as he started to answer a question for Newaldass. Newaldass said that Harris “came across me,” despite the lack of online evidence that he offered private workout lessons.
“As a personal trainer, I’m actually trying my best to promote myself. Like I said, she found me, and I was promoting myself as the best personal trainer out there,” Newaldass said. “And that’s how it all came about. Because I was now in the process of promoting myself as the greatest.” At the direction of Burkman, he then began performing fingertip pushups as evidence he worked out…Wohl and Burkman claimed that Newaldass had text messages with Harris, but they declined repeatedly to allow Newsweek to review them. “We’re going to release them at-will,” Wohl said. “But we always feel as principal, sort of generally speaking, that we want to give the candidate a chance to respond before we release damning evidence.” Wohl and Burkman also claimed that an unknown man who approached them at the press conference as Newaldass was detailing his allegations handed them a cease and desist letter from Harris’ campaign. Afterward, however, Newsweek asked several times to review the document. Wohl initially said he’d already thrown it into the trash, but Burkman interjected, explaining that once their lawyers read over it, Newsweek would be able to view…Burkman and Wohl were unsure of the law firm the letter came from, only to say during the press conference that it came from 1776 K St. A spokesperson for one of the law firms registered at that address, Wiley Rein LLP, told Newsweek they had “no involvement.”
Additional data compiled about this event from The Daily Beast take this incident further into the surreal:
Inept conservative operatives Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman held another bizarre press conference in Burkman’s driveway on Wednesday…The pair’s bogus accuser—26-year-old Sean Newaldass—told The Daily Beast on Friday that he had no idea the event in which he alleged that he was in a romantic dalliance with the Senate was real. That’s because Newaldass had met Wohl and Burkman by replying to an ad posted on Craigslist seeking a “male actor” for “performance art.” When he showed up at Burkman’s Virginia home and delivered his lines alleging an affair, Newaldass was under the belief that the press conference was actually an audition for a Spike TV show. He said he had no idea that Harris was a politician. Indeed, he assumed she was a fictional person. “I thought I was acting for a role in a movie, like a role in a TV series,” Newaldass said. “I thought everything was staged, I’m thinking everyone is an actor.” Newaldass insists that he believed that everyone at the event, from Wohl and Burkman, to the reporters asking questions, and a heckler dressed as a corncob, were all actors. Wohl promised Newaldass $500 to appear at the event—money that Newaldass said he still has yet to receive. “I’m thinking this is going to be like The Office,” Newaldass said. “The Office has super dry humor.”
As Newaldass realized Wednesday afternoon that the event was real, and that he was being treated as an outright liar on social media, he said he became afraid to leave his home…Asked over Instagram direct message whether he had tricked Newaldass, Wohl responded with only a laughing-crying emoji. Burkman, a lawyer and lobbyist whose membership in the D.C. Bar was recently suspended over unpaid dues, didn’t respond to a request for comment…Newaldass said he first entered Wohl’s orbit by replying to the Craigslist ad, which makes no mention of politics, Burkman and Wohl, or Harris. Shortly after responding, according to Newaldass, he was contacted by Burkman and Wohl. The phone number that Newaldass said Wohl used to contact him is the same as a number Wohl has used in the past to text and make phones call to a reporter at The Daily Beast. On Tuesday night, Wohl and Burkman got Newaldass an Uber to Burkman’s home in Rosslyn, Virginia. Newaldass said he was told the house belonged to Spike TV, a network that no longer exists after parent company Viacom changed the channel’s name to the Paramount Network in 2018. “I was told, ‘This is the audition for a TV show that’s going to be on Spike,’” Newaldass said. “And I can be a personal trainer on the show, right?” Newaldass said Burkman and Wohl showed him the statement he would read on Wednesday , but described it as a “script.” Burkman and Wohl later emailed him the “script,” according to Newaldass, but not without their signature ineptness. Newaldass initially received a statement from the pair making a series of different sexual allegations against former Vice President Joe Biden—apparently because Wohl or Burkman mixed up their smears and attached the wrong file to the email. After he asked Wohl for clarification, they sent the Harris statement instead.
Newaldass arrived at Burkman’s house around noon Wednesday, a few hours before the press conference. He said two other people—a singer and a purported minister who would perform a blessing at the press conference—were just as nervous as he was, preparing their lines as though they were getting ready for a performance…the “minister” later told The Daily Dot that he was not actually a reverend and appeared “confused” about the event. As hecklers and a handful of reporters gathered on Burkman’s sidewalk, inside, Burkman and Wohl encouraged Newaldass by talking up his future Hollywood career. Newaldass said Wohl claimed to be a “director,” and both men encouraged him to sign the statement making allegations against Harris—a signature they would later use as proof that he really believed the claims. “They’re encouraging me like, ‘Man, you’re going to be a star, you’re a lead actor,’” Wohl said. Newaldass’s press conference devolved into farce almost as soon as it began, with a mystery man delivering an apparently fake cease-and-desist notice that Burkman claimed was from Harris’ campaign and Wohl threatening to spray hecklers with a garden hose. Newaldass read the statement to the crowd, convinced, he said, that Harris was a fictional character. “I’m completely oblivious to who this person is,” Newaldass told The Daily Beast.
While Newaldass was able to read from his statement, he became confused when asked to answer questions from the crowd, since he thought he needed to read lines. In an interview later with a Daily Dot reporter, Burkman and Wohl repeatedly cut in whenever the reporter asked Newaldass a question. Newaldass said he left the event with promises from Burkman and Wohl for future opportunities in Hollywood, and even the prospect of an entire TV series and potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars…When he got home afterwards, though, Newaldass said he slowly began to realize he had been tricked. His Instagram page filled up with accusations that he was a liar. Newaldass insists that he had never heard of Harris before the press conference. And on that front, he isn’t alone—12 percent of respondents in a Morning Consult poll this month said they had never heard of the senator.
Guys like Burkman and Wohl don’t con just the actors they hire, and the media and public they target, but even the wealthy patrons they get to underwrite their schemes:
Last October, two men came forward with a staggering claim: Robert Mueller, the two-year thorn in Trump’s side, had committed rape. They would hold a press conference in Arlington, Virginia, with Mueller’s alleged victim, a woman named Carolyne Cass…One of them was Jacob Wohl, a then-20-year-old, right-wing provocateur from Southern California. The other was Jack Burkman, a middle-aged lawyer, Republican lobbyist, and noted conspiracy theorist…At one point, a journalist asked whether they’d received permission to use Cass’ name in the accusation. “Yes, of course we have permission,” Burkman answered crossly. As the debacle unfolded on livestream, people across social media asked what the hell was going on. Sitting in a friend’s New York City apartment, Carolyne Cass wondered the same thing. Just 24 hours earlier, she’d believed Wohl was a 25-year-old, Mossad-trained private investigator named “Matthew Cohen.” Now, she didn’t know what to think.
Cass, 34, grew up in Dallas, the fourth of five siblings. Both sides of her family come from Texas oil wealth; money was never an issue…Cass says she suffered sexual assault at the hands of family friends…In August 2010, her former stepmother, Kristine Cass, and her 13-year-old half sister, Saundra, who lived in Hawaii, were murdered by Kristine’s ex-boyfriend — a loss which rocked their island community…Unmoored, Cass lived with some Deadheads and learned how to tie-dye before returning to the Big Apple. Throughout this time, her trust fund paid the rent.
In 2014, at 29, Cass decided to make the move West. Worst of all, according to Cass, her trust fund officer began embezzling money from her…This financial malfeasance may seem relatively trivial to someone of Cass’ station, but it triggered a series of events that led her to Wohl. She shut the doors on the tie-dye startup and lived on what remained in her trust fund. When the money finally dried up, Cass put her dance skills to work as a stripper and took on costuming jobs.
…In 2016, Cass came into some inheritance money and decided it was time to make good on her pop star ambitions…Scouring Craigslist, she saw an ad for Social Media for Models, a company which promised to set up photo shoots and boost aspiring performers’ social media followings. It was run by a fiftysomething man named Erik DeSando, whom she found charming, even spiritual in a self-helpish sort of way. One of DeSando’s previous talent agencies faced a federal class action lawsuit on behalf of 6,000 minors who paid thousands for casting calls that never happened. And as a pageant recruiter for Miss California, DeSando allegedly slept with one of his 24-year-old recruits, promising he could make her a star. Over the next two years, DeSando led Cass to a cast of L.A. types, each one offering, in their own way, to help her reach fame…
…The son of lawyer and Fox News contributor David Wohl, Jacob showed an early eye for manipulation…Barred from the investment world, Wohl turned his sights on following in the footsteps of his father, a vocal Trump supporter. In 2017, Jacob began tweeting earnestly about the president, praising his stream-of-consciousness tweet storms as “the modern day version of FDR’s Fireside Chats.” It wasn’t long before Wohl built a sizable following, eventually amassing 185,000 followers. Around the same time, he also set up Surefire Intelligence, an unlicensed private investigation firm. He created a personal alias for that company: “Matthew Cohen.” By now, broke enough to be on welfare, Cass went back to Craigslist to find a private investigator. There, she discovered a Surefire ad promising to recover assets for those who had been scammed out of $5,000 or more. Wohl, who answered the phone gruffly, softened when Cass said she was calling for “Matthew Cohen.” Wohl’s alias boasted an impressive resume: “Cohen” dropped out of Harvard after being recruited by the Mossad, Israel’s national intelligence agency. He returned to L.A. seeking a quiet life. He said he’d started his PI firm because it made good money — $30,000 to $40,000 a month — and let him travel for undercover cases.
…Surefire seemed legit to Cass. It had a glossy-looking website and was reviewed favorably by bloggers on Medium — though she later learned from media reports that those posts were falsified by Wohl, and eventually deleted. (No internal information or user data from the Medium platform was shared with the writer of this piece.) Cass told “Cohen” about her situation with DeSando…“Cohen” promised that he’d get her the money from DeSando within a month. In fact, he told her that, if they found more dirt on DeSando, they could even shake him down for more than that. Feeling confident in “Cohen’s” abilities, Cass signed a retainer agreement and pawned the title of her car to pay his $2,000 fee…According to Cass, “Cohen” dropped the case several weeks later, claiming, curiously, that the investigation had become too costly for him to continue…Cass says “Cohen” began talking to her on long phone calls, gleaning personal details about her and sharing info about himself. “He was basically bragging about how hot he was: ‘I have a great body, and green eyes, and a cute face.’” She says he even sent her a shirtless selfie.
Cass got in touch with another investigator in L.A. to help with the DeSando case. When she told him about Surefire, he expressed his skepticism about the unlicensed firm and encouraged her to report them to the authorities. She relayed this conversation to “Cohen,” who flipped. “He lost his temper and said, ‘That’s how you get your throat slit,’” Cass says. She assured him that she wouldn’t report him to the police.
In July 2018, Cass finally won her small claims case against DeSando, even without help from her pricey PI, and was awarded $10,000. But “Cohen” hadn’t delivered a single sheet of intel on DeSando, and she still wanted that material. The two set up a time to meet…“Cohen” arrived looking nothing like she expected. He seemed young for 25…He also brought nothing with him related to her case. He claimed he’d shredded all of the documents as a standard precaution before going on a business trip…Several weeks later, Cass says “Cohen” invited her to his Irvine apartment to do some additional recon work for her. Though he told her he lived alone, she saw photos on the wall of someone else. That was just a cover, he claimed — in the event that someone broke in, the would-be crook wouldn’t think he lived there…Cass and “Cohen” spent the rest of the day together swimming at his apartment complex pool, making dinner, and eventually sleeping together.
Meanwhile, Wohl had spent the previous weeks posting on social media about the special counsel investigating the president. In one tweet, he wrote, “Mueller needs to understand one thing, and one thing only: TRUMP MAKES THE RULES NOW!” Months passed and Cass continued her relationship with “Cohen”…Cass disclosed a lot to him during those conversations, including something that was incredibly painful for her to revisit: Several years prior, she’d been date-raped by a man who’d hired her to do costuming work…in October, he came to her with an offer. He and a colleague named Jack Burkman had been tapped by the government for a new job. (Cass says she didn’t know who Burkman was; he’s perhaps most famous for leading an effort to boycott the Dallas Cowboys after they signed Michael Sam, an openly gay football player. Last year, he was shot in the buttocks by an ex-Marine whom he’d hired to uncover a conspiracy around the murder of Democratic staffer Seth Rich.) Cass recalls Wohl telling her the project had “an unlimited budget.” This would be a political acting gig: She’d put in some anonymous calls to the press and recount the details of the real rape she’d experienced, but she would change some significant details — notably, that the man who raped her was Robert Mueller, the man who for months had dominated the news cycle with his investigation of the President. In return, she says “Cohen” promised he and Burkman would create an alias for her, keep her identity secret, and pay her $50,000.
Cass’ old friend B says “Cohen” reached out to ask if he could use B’s name in a document “to confirm certain allegations… he wouldn’t tell me what they were.” Once he sent her an “affidavit” with fake details about her friend being raped by Mueller, “I was like, ‘I want no part of this,’” B says. She warned Cass to break ties with “Cohen.” Cass didn’t listen. In Cass’ telling, “Cohen” said they were just using her and B’s real names in the document as a placeholder; they would soon set up a covert identity for her. Despite “Cohen’s” iffy promises of anonymity and the fact that he refused to pay her up front, he persuaded Cass to fly with him to Washington. At first, she says, “Cohen” told her she was just traveling to meet Burkman. Then “that turned last minute into, ‘No, it’s going to be a press conference,’” Cass says…That day, a story popped up on her news feed that mentioned Burkman, someone named Jacob Wohl, and a mystery woman who was going to accuse Mueller of assault. Cass asked “Cohen” about this Jacob Wohl person: “He said, ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about,’” Cass says…When they approached the airline counter to rebook, the agent assisting them pointed at Wohl and asked, “Jacob?” He said yes. “I said, ‘Who is this Jacob guy?’” Cass recalls. “He said, ‘Don’t worry, it’s just for today.’” Maybe this was all part of his efforts to evade the FBI, Cass reasoned. Plus, she’d been promised a secret alias, which “Cohen” said he’d set her up with soon…He began checking his Twitter account… that is, Jacob Wohl’s Twitter account. Pretending to nap in her seat, Cass watched him log onto Instagram to check out girls in Halloween costumes. In previous conversations, he told her he wasn’t on social media. Yet, here he was, zooming in on photos of scantily clad women. “That was just the final straw,” Cass says.
Furious and frightened, Cass moved to an empty row of seats at the back of the plane, where she quietly cried. When they landed in Washington, she ducked the man she now believed was Jacob Wohl, rushed to the women’s bathroom, and called B, who told her to leave for New York City. She could stay at B’s apartment and ride out the impending storm. As Cass hid in a stall, Wohl began calling incessantly and texting to ask if she’d been picked up by agents on her way to the bathroom. She knew she had to lure him out of the airport: She texted that she was waiting outside. She remained hidden until she got confirmation that he’d gone past security. After buying a spot on the next flight to New York City, she called Wohl and told him she was out.
The next day, Wohl and Burkman went in front of a room of reporters and moved forward with the story, using Cass’ real name, details about her family, information about the trust fund officer who had embezzled from her, and lurid information about the supposed rape, including some details which mirrored her real experience…“I told them not to use my name, not to say anything about my family,” Cass says now…it turns out Wohl had scammed money from at least one other person under the moniker “Matthew Cohen”: Julienne Adams from Vancouver, WA, came forward to the Daily Beast about how “Cohen” had promised to obtain a stolen Hummer in exchange for a $1,200 fee. He allegedly took the cash and didn’t do any of the work…Cass says reporters swarmed her family’s home in Dallas, thinking she might be hiding out there…In retrospect, Cass says she should have stopped communicating with Wohl as soon as he dragged her name through the mud at the presser. Instead, at his request, they met up for lunch at a cafe in Beverly Hills shortly after her return from New York City. She wanted an apology, an explanation, something, anything. But he never even explained why he’d posed as “Matthew Cohen,” though he did start responding to the name Jacob. He spent their meeting asking strange, romantic questions, such as whether she’d considered marriage in her future…She even went to Wohl’s place in Irvine a few days after their lunch meeting, where Cass says he pressed her to come forward with the false Mueller accusations (she refused), and she pressed him to refund her the money she’d paid for his PI services and some of the $50,000 payout he’d promised for her involvement in the scheme (she recalls him scoffing, “I won’t give you free money”)…In the end, it was Wohl who broke things off, saying he could never tell his friends he was dating a 34-year-old.
Some of their public press conference scams border on the comical, although their intentions are to hurt real innocent people:
Hapless pro-Trump operative Jacob Wohl appears to have staged a fake protest against himself, only to have it become immediately apparent that he was behind it. Wohl and his ally, Republican lobbyist Jack Burkman, have been planning to hold a press conference Wednesday at Burkman’s Northern Virginia house to push a baseless sexual assault smear against Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg. But on Monday, Burkman tweeted a link to an Eventbrite event page called the “Protest Against Homophobic Bigots” which he claimed was being used to organize a protest against his press conference with Wohl. “Hundreds of leftist protestors are set to descend on our Wednesday Press conference,” Burkman tweeted,” Burkman tweeted. “We WILL NOT surrender to the mob! We’ve called in extra security to guard our safety and that of our partners in the media.” Before Burkman’s tweet, no other Twitter account had ever promoted the event page. And it quickly became apparent as to why. Reporter Justin Duckham noticed that the Eventbrite page’s organizer used the email address “email@example.com” — an email address also used by Wohl. Though it looked remarkably clear that Wohl had tried to organize a protest against himself, Wohl denied any involvement. “I’ve never used Eventbrite in my life,” Wohl said. “It was created by a troll.” Burkman, like Wohl, also said he wasn’t involved in the event. In a text message, he blamed the event page on “internet trols (sic).”
Eventbrite later deleted the event, describing it as in violation of Eventbrite’s rules against inauthentic content. “We take the issue of inauthentic content very seriously and our policy is to remove it when we become aware of it,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “Upon review of this event, we determined it to be in violation and have taken it off our platform and terminated this account.” In March, Wohl was caught faking death threats against himself on Twitter and reporting them to the police as legitimate.
Not surprisingly, Mother Jones reports that Bill Shine, a former co-president of Fox News and the Trump White House deputy chief of staff and communications director, is a big fan of Wohl:
Conspiracy theorist Jacob Wohl has spread rumors that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is dead. He’s been banned from Twitter for making fake 2020 presidential campaign accounts in an attempt to manipulate the election…And apparently he maintains a close relationship with the White House communications director and his wife. Wohl tells Mother Jones that Bill Shine, a former co-president of Fox News and current White House deputy chief of staff and communications director, and his wife, Darla, are “big fans” of his. Last week, Darla Shine was spotted greeting Wohl warmly at a gathering of conservatives. Wohl spent several hours Thursday and Friday loitering with right-wing activist Laura Loomer in the hotel lobby outside the Conservative Political Action Conference, one of Washington’s largest annual conservative political gatherings. On Thursday, the pair held a press conference to release the results of their investigation into Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), a Muslim member of Congress who Wohl alleged had secretly married her brother in an attempt to commit immigration fraud. The claim is so far into tinfoil-hat territory that even CPAC—which has in the past been sponsored by the John Birch Society and hosted far-right fringe speakers—apparently wouldn’t let Wohl into the conference to make his dubious announcement.
Nonetheless, at a CPAC afterparty that evening, Darla Shine reportedly gave the young activist a warm reception at the bar. Jared Holt, a research associate at Right Wing Watch, a news site published by the liberal advocacy group People for the American Way, was also at the party. Hosted by the campus conservative group Turning Point USA, the party featured guests such as Donald Trump Jr.; his girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle; and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas). Wohl was there, too. Holt wrote that at the afterparty, “Wohl was enthusiastically greeted by Darla Shine,” and that later, Wohl told him that Shine “helps him out.” The next day, I ran into Wohl in the hotel lobby and asked him about his relationship with Darla Shine. He confirmed that he’d been hanging out not just with Darla, but also with her husband, Bill, at the Turning Point party and then later at the Trump International Hotel for an after-afterparty…Wohl said he didn’t want to “discuss overtures with administration folks” but knows the Shines through his father, David Wohl, an Orange County, California, criminal defense attorney who frequently appears on Fox News. “They go back,” he told me. “I just think [Darla] thinks Laura and I are young, aggressive conservative activists and personalities and, generally speaking, she’s a fan.”
Until recently, Darla Shine was mostly known for blogging about parenting and housekeeping, but she’s also spread her share of misinformation. In 2008 and 2009, she hosted a radio show in which she promoted conspiracy theories about President Barack Obama, FEMA camps, vaccines, sunscreen—she thinks it’s a hoax—and UFOs. (On the show, she interviewed people who claimed to have been abducted by aliens.) Later, she moved to social media, where her posts have been filled with conspiracy theories, racially charged commentary, and vigorous defenses of Trump. Shine has frequently complained on Twitter about the use of the N-word in rap lyrics, suggesting that if white people couldn’t use the word, black people shouldn’t be able to put it in songs, either. She has criticized black athletes and celebrities for failing to speak out about black crime and has shared links to stories about white people being murdered by black assailants with comments like, “where is black lives matter?” After Trump referred to Haiti and some African nations as “shithole countries,” Shine tweeted a racist meme that contrasted the alleged lack of progress in African development with the wonders of ancient Rome. In 2015 at the University of Oklahoma, two members of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity were expelled after video surfaced of them singing on a bus to a frat event, “There will never be a n—– at SAE. You can hang them from a tree, but they’ll never sign with me.” After the news broke about the expulsions, Shine tweeted, “At FSU u can punch a girl in the face & only get kicked off football team but sing a song with the N word in it & you’re expelled at Oklahoma.”
In another tweet, she blamed pharmaceutical companies for the mass murder of nine African American churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015 instead of the white supremacist who actually killed them. “Yes Lets blame the Confederate Flag instead of Big Pharma and the psychiatric violence inducing Suboxone Dylan [sic] Roof was taking,” she wrote. Shine deleted her account last summer, when Trump appointed her husband to be White House communications director, but not before Mediaite reporter Caleb Ecarma screenshotted the most noxious tweets. The social-media hiatus was short-lived, though, and Shine rejoined Twitter in October. Last month, she used her account to issue a tweetstorm of anti-vaccination rhetoric in the wake of several deadly measles epidemics around the world. Among other things, she falsely claimed that childhood illnesses like measles and mumps “keep you healthy & fight cancer.”
Speaking of Ilhan Omar, Wohl and Loomer hit the normally-peaceful, out of the way streets of Minneapolis to troll for worn-out tropes that are favorites of the hard-right crowd, that being the mythical “no go” Muslim neighborhoods in America that were a common demagogic fund-raising alarmist theme of the “anti sharia mania” of a decade or more ago, as the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported in early 2019:
The least-accurate thing ever to happen to Minneapolis just happened to Minneapolis.
“Just left a no-go zone in Minneapolis,” a stranger in town tweeted to his 186,000 followers this weekend. “One of the friendly local Somali men asked me ‘Are you trying to get killed?’ ”…this weekend, they cast lie after lie after lie into the wind, describing a Minneapolis that is a terrifying wasteland, safe only to travel in armored cars and with bulletproof vests. We don’t know who’s waiting downwind, believing every word. We’ve heard stories like these before. We’ve seen camera crews from Fox and Friends trawl the sidewalks of Cedar-Riverside, mocking the people they meet. We’ve seen the three militia guys the FBI arrested last year — the ones who allegedly drove in from Illinois to toss a bomb into the Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center. When bullies come to town, you can ignore them and starve them of the attention they so dearly crave. Or you can push back when they try to push people around. Bullies came to town this weekend. And Minnesotans were not having it.
“This is a lie,” state Rep. Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington, fired back at the stranger on Twitter. “For anyone outside of MN, please realize Minneapolis — like any large city — has some rough neighborhoods. But there is no such ‘no go zone.’ This is a farce.” Tony Webster, Twin Cities champion of open records, sacrificed his weekend to keep tabs on the visitors as they tweeted about town — from U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar’s office to Dar Al-Farooq to the lobby of the Star Tribune — and tried to fact-check them in real time. For his troubles, he said, somebody sent him threatening messages about his dog. Their team consists of a Mueller report footnote, somebody banned from Twitter, some other guy and a crack security detail they can’t show you but, trust us, they’re just off-camera.
The Worst Super Friends Reboot donned bulletproof vests and headed out into the town they kept calling “Minneapolistan.” “If you’re not familiar with Minnesota, you don’t know how this works, but the Islamicist forces have taken over sections of the respective police departments,” they explained in the same earnest tones they used to try to convince potential donors that it costs $8,000 to get to Minnesota. For every minute they spent lying about conditions in Minnesota, they spent at least four begging for donations for their cause. “There are sharia police in Minnesota now,” they said, hilariously wrongly. “There are men who walk around in orange vests that say ‘sharia police.’ ” The mayors of Minneapolis and St. Paul could not be bothered to fact-check this nonsense Sunday, because they were busy having a snowball fight in St. Paul — in one of those snow-go zones you hear so much about.
By September of 2020, the creative “lying machine” Wohl and his henchman Burkman was coming up with ever-new frauds to give him legitimacy to the most gullible on the right, stooping so far as to have a fake FBI raid of his property, because he is so “important” as a danger to the powerful, and getting “too close to the truth,” as this report from The Daily Beast recounts:
A supposed FBI raid on the home of an infamous Republican dirty trickster appears to have been a ruse—one that began falling apart even as its perpetrators managed to dupe a major national newspaper. On Monday, a Virginia man who responded to a Craigslist ad seeking actors to play FBI agents for a television pilot came forward to say that he’d been roped into the latest hoax orchestrated by bumbling right-wing smear merchants Jack Burkman and Jacob Wohl. Tommy Abraham told The Daily Beast in an interview on Monday that the Craigslist ad offered $400 cash payments to white male actors who agreed to don FBI badges and windbreakers and film a series of scenes at Burkman’s home in Arlington, Virginia. In the pre-dawn hours of Monday morning, Abraham said that he and a handful of others who responded to the ad converged on Burkman’s home and were filmed acting out an FBI raid there. Abraham supplied documentary evidence to back up his assertions, including emails from an address bearing the name of a company Wohl once ran.
By Monday afternoon, news of the fake raid had already been reported as genuine by The Washington Post, and Burkman was insinuating that high-level government officials were retaliating against him for his efforts to root out corruption in Washington. A person going by the name Bev Donahue sent a series of photos and video clips of the “raid” to reporters, and shared them on an eponymous Twitter account created in August. But there’s evidence that “Donahue” is just a pseudonym for Wohl. That Twitter account is associated with an email address beginning with “ja” and a cell phone number that, like Wohl’s, ends with the digits 91. Shortly after the Post piece was published, the reporter on the story tweeted that “there’s a good chance [Burkman] staged this raid himself. When asked about that, he hung up.” The FBI did not respond to The Daily Beast’s request for comment, but a spokesperson told the Post that Burkman’s home had not, in fact, been raided on Monday.
Abraham provided The Daily Beast with emails between himself and the person who created the Craigslist ad early this month seeking actors for the fake FBI raid on Monday. The person identified himself as Jacob Klein, but Abraham said that he discovered after meeting the man on Monday that he was actually Wohl. Some of the emails to Abraham were sent from an address corresponding to the name of a defunct financial firm, Nex Capital Management, that Wohl once ran. The emails show “Jacob Klein” sharing details of what he said would be a television shoot at Burkman’s address around 5 a.m. on Monday morning…In emails, Wohl told Abraham the role was for “a police drama” and that he’d be “acting as an FBI Special Agent.” He was instructed to ask for Jacob Klein when he arrived on scene. He said Wohl and Burkman told him when he arrived that the scenes they were filming would be “used for multiple shows, a couple unaired pilots.” “They said that Jacob was a director and actor,” Abraham added. The actors who participated were promised $400 in cash. But Abraham said that they were told after the shoot that they couldn’t be paid in cash, and were asked to email their full names and home addresses to Burkman so that he could mail them checks…He Googled Burkman’s name, found a photo of him with “Jacob Klein,” realized the latter was actually Jacob Wohl, and began reading up on their well-documented trail of deception and self-sabotage.
This latest stunt appears to be an effort to hype Burkman’s supposed dirt-digging on former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. In a post on encrypted messaging app Telegram, Wohl claimed that the “unconstitutional predawn raid” wouldn’t stop him and Burkman from investigating Mattis. In an email to The Daily Beast, Burkman claimed that the supposed FBI raid had been meant to punish him for investigating Mattis’ position on the board of scandal-plagued blood-testing company Theranos. “We press on,” Burkman wrote in the email. “Undeterred.”
It was also reported in September 2020 that Wohl and Burkman were implicated in an FBI investigation involving Roger Stone:
The FBI is investigating blundering conservative operatives Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman for a series of possible crimes, according to a document filed by federal prosecutors. Ironically, the document revealing the investigation was filed just days after Wohl and Burkman staged a fake FBI raid on Burkman’s home in a bid for media attention. The FBI investigation centers on Wohl and Burkman’s February release of confidential juror questionnaires from the trial of Trump associate Roger Stone. The FBI is investigating the pair for potential witness harassment, criminal contempt, and obstruction of justice, according to the filing. The Sept. 18 document, filed by prosecutors from the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, asks for a court order mandating voice-over-IP company HD Carrier LLC not reveal the existence of a grand jury subpoena related to the FBI investigation.
The filing was first noticed by Offshore Alert, a website covering offshore banking, after an editor there was able to quickly grab it from the website of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia before it was sealed. The document is no longer publicly available…In late February, Wohl and Burkman held an impromptu press conference outside the Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland to allege that the Stone jury, which had convicted him on seven counts three months earlier, was biased against him. As their supposed proof, Wohl and Burkman published confidential juror questionnaires, which mostly focused on the jurors’ media diet. “On February 27, 2020, Burkman and his associate, Jacob Wohl, held a press conference during which they disseminated copies of the juror questionnaires,” the filing reads. “During that press conference, Burkman and Wohl did not provide the manner by which they obtained the court documents other than to say neither Roger Stone nor Stone’s legal team provided them.” The court filing also notes that Burkman published some of the confidential questionnaires on Twitter.
“On or about February 20, 2020, John M. Burkman, Jr. (a/k/a Jack Burkman) released via his Twitter account (@Jack_Burkman) a sample of juror questionnaires…the filing reads “…Burkman also claimed to have a transcript of the grand jury testimony of Steve Bannon.” Those actions could potentially qualify as crimes, according to prosecutors. “Based on the facts above, the FBI assesses Burkman and Wohl may have been engaged in an attempt to influence or injure the jurors, as well as tampering with potential witnesses before the court,” the filing reads. “As part of its continued investigation, [the] FBI is seeking to determine with whom Wohl was in contact at the time of jury selection in order to help determine the possible vector by which Wohl and/or Burkman obtained the juror questionnaires.”
The HD Carrier subpoena relates to a series of phone numbers that Burkman contacted prior to the publication of the questionnaires, according to the filing…The filing also notes that an early disclosure of the investigation could prompt the targets of the investigation to engage in “flight from prosecution, destruction of or tampering with evidence, intimidation of potential witnesses, or other serious jeopardy to this investigation.”
This was not the end of the immediate and direct legal problems of Wohl and Burkman. The following month, The Associated Press reported that
Two notorious conservative operatives were charged Thursday with felonies in connection with false robocalls that aimed to dissuade residents in Detroit and other U.S. cities from voting by mail, Michigan’s attorney general announced. Jacob Wohl, 22, and Jack Burkman, 54, each face four felony counts in Detroit, including conspiring to intimidate voters in violation of election law and using a computer to commit crimes, Attorney General Dana Nessel said. The calls falsely warned residents in majority-Black Detroit and urban areas in at least four other states that voting by mail in the Nov. 3 election could subject people to arrest, debt collection and forced vaccination, Nessel said…A judge found probable cause Thursday to support the charges, which carry the potential for years in prison and thousands of dollars in fines upon conviction. The computer charges carry up to seven years apiece while election law violations could bring up to five in all…Nessel said the investigation found that Burkman and Wohl created and funded the robocalls in an attempt to deter voters of color from participating in the November election.
Wohl and Burkman have a history of supporting President Donald Trump and attacking his political opponents. Michigan is a key battleground state that Trump narrowly won in 2016 in part due to a drop in turnout for Hillary Clinton in heavily Democratic Detroit…The caller identified herself as part of Project 1559 and said it was a group founded by Wohl and Burkman. The calls falsely claimed that voting by mail would result in personal information going into databases that will be used by police to resolve old warrants, credit card companies to collect debts and federal officials to track mandatory vaccines.
Their troubles at the time extended over the whole region; days later, the Columbus Dispatch reported that they were wanted as well in the adjoining state for similar misdeeds:
Ohio authorities are considering whether charges are warranted against two men already accused of voter intimidation targeting minorities in Michigan. A total of 8,050 robocalls were made and 3,449 answered on Ohioans’ phones from the duo: Jack Burkman, 54, of Arlington, Virginia, and Jacob Wohl, 22, of Los Angeles, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said Tuesday…Secretary of State Frank LaRose referred similar complaints his office received to the FBI for possible violation of the Voting Rights Act, Yost said. “The calls purported to advise the people on the other end of the call that they ought to be very careful about asking for an absentee ballot because bill collectors were going to mine that information and come after them,” Yost said in a video released Tuesday afternoon. Areas of Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania with high percentages of minority residents apparently were targeted, the attorney general said. In all, 67,396 calls were made, Yost said. Investigators found the calls appear to have been financed by an organization run by Burkham and Wohl. The two were charged Oct. 1 by the Michigan attorney general with four crimes: voter intimidation; conspiracy to intimidate voters; and counts of using a computer in both schemes…In addition to the states listed by Yost, the two men also made calls to New York and Illinois, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said…In another untrue claim, the call alleges the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will use the information to track people for mandatory vaccines.
By the end of the month, the Cleveland press reported that Wohl and Burkman were formally charged in Ohio as well:
After already having been indicted in Michigan for a robocall scheme to intimidate urban-area voters with misinformation, the fabulously inept duo of Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman have now been indicted in Cuyahoga County for the same scheme…Wohl and Burkman face eight counts of telecommunications fraud and seven counts of bribery and a possible 18 years in prison…In all, the duo made more than 65,000 robocalls. Cuyahoga County prosecutors say at least 10% of those were targeted to Cleveland and East Cleveland…Arrest warrants have been issued. The pair will appear at a later court date.
By May 2021, they were still in the news, as the state of New York also brought charges for the robocalls, according to The Hill:
New York Attorney General Letitia James announced Thursday that her office filed a lawsuit against conservative operatives Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman for their alleged participation in orchestrating robocalls that targeted Black communities, urging voters not to cast mail-in ballots…“Hi, this is Tamika Taylor from Project 1599, the civil rights organization founded by Jack Burman and Jacob Wohl. Mail-in voting sounds great, but did you know that if you vote by mail, your personal information will be part of a public database that will be used by police departments to track down old warrants and be used by credit card companies to collect outstanding debts?” the automated calls reportedly said, according to James. “The CDC is even pushing to use records for mail-in voting to track people for mandatory vaccines. Don’t be finessed into giving your private information to the man, stay home safe and beware of vote by mail,” the calls reportedly continued…Wohl and Burkman, according to James, were deliberately targeting Black communities. Her office made this determination after seizing emails sent between the two men, which discussed dispatching the robocalls in areas with a high population of Black voters.
Sadly, although many Jews are leaders in the fight for truth, human rights, and compassion for their fellow man, including roughly half of the population in Israel, Wohl unsurprisingly represents the hard-right strain of Zionism that is willing to play fast and loose with the truth, and blatantly and conscience-freely (probably because their lack of any accountability to Christ’s values, or even belief in a God or afterlife according to most of them (which makes the lying Christian “God-fearers” look even worse)) indulging in full-blown fabrication, slander and false witness because in their Darwinistic, self-perceived existential struggle for survival, “the ends justifies the means.” The international news wire for the Jewish people around the globe, the venerable Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported in 2018 that
To his 158,000 followers, Wohl, 20, describes himself as “Conservative, Trump Supporter, Zionist.” So he seemed like an interesting person to profile for JTA. And in the 19 minutes before he hung up on me, Wohl said his share of interesting things. He complained about children of immigrants who couldn’t speak English in his second-grade class. He insisted that Puerto Rico, a territory of the United States, has a socialist government. He equated the Palestinian Authority with ISIS. “I think that conservatives find that I really have my finger on the pulse of the issues that matter,” Wohl said of his hyperactive Twitter feed, which has gained nearly 100,000 followers in the past year. “I don’t spend a lot of time on things I view as unimportant.” [Sounding like his mentor Donald Trump, they reveal a tweet of Kohl’s stating, “The economy is absolutely booming, yet democrats are too worried about plastic straws to work! Too bad”]…On Sunday, Wohl called Trump “the greatest friend of the Jewish People to ever occupy the White House.” Two days earlier he called on Barack Obama to be extradited to Israel for meddling in its 2015 elections. (A former Obama campaign aide, Jeremy Bird, worked for a nonpartisan Israeli NGO that campaigned against Benjamin Netanyahu. American campaign consultants of both parties have a long history of working on Israeli elections.)
…He also posted personal ads on Craigslist seeking attractive women while claiming to run a modeling agency, according to the Daily Beast. One woman accused him of posting her photo online, in a bra, as the “Wohl Girl of the Month” without her permission. The domain WohlGirls.com expired last month. Wohl told JTA that he now does due diligence for mergers and acquisitions, though he would not reveal the name of his company or any further details. “I’m not going to tell you because I don’t like journalists meddling in my private business,” he said. “It can only cause problems when journalists start meddling around in my employment situations and what I’m doing businesswise, as I’ve learned.” Wohl was raised and still lives in Orange County, a politically conservative area of Southern California, in a Republican home. His father, David Wohl, is an attorney who has appeared on Fox News as a commentator and describes himself as a campaign surrogate for Trump. Wohl has followed in his father’s footsteps, appearing on Fox Business as early as 2015 to discuss his hedge fund. His political activism ramped up with the start of Trump’s campaign in 2015, and since has skyrocketed. In addition to his Twitter activity, Wohl writes pieces for the right-wing site The Gateway Pundit, runs his own right-wing news site called The Washington Reporter and co-hosts a podcast with the independent journalist Laura Loomer called “2 Live Jew,” which is advertised as the “#1 Podcast for Jewish Trump Supporters.” Episode titles have included “The Caliphate Comes to Toronto” and “Full Commie.”
“Laura is on the cutting edge of stopping the Sharia invasion that’s happening in the United States, the Islamification of neighborhoods,” Wohl said on a recent podcast, referring to Islamic religious law. “They want Sharia courts. This is what they’re calling for, this is their vision, is to establish a caliphate in the West.” Wohl said he agrees with Trump “on 90 percent or 95 percent of his positions” — first and foremost immigration…“A wall would change a lot about a lot of border states as far as public safety,” he said. “What’s coming across our southern border is in many cases, not in all cases, but in many cases tremendous crime. “When Trump came down the escalator and said ‘We’re going to build a great, great wall and we’re going to make Mexico pay for that wall,’ he had my vote”…One of the issues on which Wohl disagrees with Trump relates to Israel. Wohl would like to see the president, who has been friendly to the Israeli government’s agenda, take an even harder line against the Palestinian Authority…“I would like to see the Palestinian Authority defunded completely by the United States and treated like ISIS or any other terrorist organization because that’s what they are,” he said.
…Wohl said proudly that Trump has retweeted him three times and replied to one of his tweets, which he said is “a recognition that you’re doing something right.” Other tweeters have enjoyed mocking Wohl for a curious trope he repeats: a contention that he hears “coffee shop hipster liberals” praising the president. He has said so six separate times. I wanted to ask Wohl about this surreptitiously pro-Trump hipster cafe. I also wanted to ask him more about his Judaism, as well as his future plans. But he hung up on me after I asked him a follow-up question about his claim that Puerto Rico is socialist. “You’ve got a terrible attitude,” he said before ending the call.
On his own personal website, under the tab “Who is Jacob Wohl?,” he states that “Wohl is an outspoken advocate for the State of Israel and has run major efforts to curb anti-Semitism in the United States.”
In a 2019 USA Today interview, he gives a glimpse of his motivations, and his self-perceived “utility” of the truth versus lies, and his transactional approach that makes no apologies for embracing and concentrating on the “big lies” that prey on the intellectual and moral weakness of the public, if it furthers his goals and the conservative movement:
A false claim bubbled up from the internet last month that Sen. Kamala Harris, the recently announced presidential candidate, wasn’t eligible for election because she had immigrant parents and spent part of her childhood in Canada…Even better for Jacob Wohl, the 21-year-old Californian who ignited the Harris birther claim with a tweet, some people actually seemed to accept it as fact. “The believability stuck at about 15 to 18 percent by my measurement,” Wohl said in an interview shortly afterward, declaring it “not a bad campaign.” Wohl, a self-professed “political and corporate intel consultant” and supporter of President Donald Trump, is dedicated to plying the malleable fringe of the electorate with dubious claims and disinformation schemes.
…Wohl’s father, attorney David Wohl, says that as a Trump surrogate he was on calls with the 2016 presidential candidate daily. David Wohl has regularly appeared on cable news networks to promote the president and his policies. Trump has retweeted Jacob Wohl’s praise – of the president’s economy, or just general “WINNING”-ness that the “left-wing media can’t stand” – at least three times. They appear to have met at least once, as evidenced by a photo of father, son and president together, and the younger Wohl says he has spoken to the president “several” times…On Twitter, where he has 186,000 followers and is adept at quickly responding to Trump’s tweets to gain many more eyeballs, Wohl has claimed, without evidence, that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg is secretly dead or in a vegetative state and that pipe bombs sent to prominent Democrats and media outlets were a left-wing “false flag” operation. He flew to Minnesota last week to “investigate” the rumor that Somali-American Rep. Ilhan Omar married her brother, a mission for which he tried to fund-raise $25,000 from his online followers. Wohl’s trip to the heartland devolved into bizarre tweets in which he suggested that Minneapolis was so overrun by Somali jihadists that he had to wear a bulletproof vest and travel with a team of “security professionals.”
…Deciphering the Mueller saga is characteristic of how difficult it is to grasp at the truth with Wohl, who represents a political moment in which even the most basic facts are in dispute. In some ways, Wohl is simply carrying on the dubious American tradition of deceit in politics, said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, a communications professor at the University of Pennsylvania and author of “Cyberwar: How Russian Hackers and Trolls Helped Elect a President.” Jamieson described 19th-century political operatives who would secretly buy newspapers to dictate coverage, and the dissemination of false accounts about President Andrew Johnson being a murderer. The difference now, she said, is that the internet has democratized that deceit. It’s more difficult online to determine the source of a claim, a major factor in deciding whether to believe it. Being repeatedly bombarded with a claim – social media’s specialty –increases its perceived accuracy, even if it’s false and has been publicly debunked. People are more likely to believe a false claim that fits their ideology, and the internet naturally facilitates people like Wohl finding and communicating with like-minded groups. “It takes a real talent to figure out what kind of deceptions will gain traction,” Jamieson said, and to have both the knowledge of their demographic and technical ability to “figure out what will resonate as opposed to what will be laughed at.”
Wohl disclosed a raft of schemes he says are in the works that he hopes will resonate in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election. He says he plans to create “enormous left-wing online properties” – such as deceptive Facebook and Twitter accounts – “and use those to steer the left-wing votes in the primaries to what we feel are weaker candidates compared with Trump”…Another stated scheme: seeking to collect damaging information on left-leaning non-profits including Media Matters for America, the Southern Poverty Law Center and Right Wing Watch by offering their insiders “moral reconciliation,” and if that doesn’t work, “things of worth” – such as money. Or perhaps those stated plans themselves are a ruse to fool the mainstream media, which he calls a “band of lying goblins.”
Wohl stressed that the accuracy of the information he spreads is “not the important part.” All that matters is how far those claims travel, and how many people believe them. Wohl said he yearns for the days – before he was born – when conservatives would join in outrage over a scene in a sitcom and funnel that unity into other pursuits, like support for unchecked military actions. “You think about these incredibly large-scale wars that were just launched without congressional approval, and they were pretty damn good at carrying out the conservative torch, whatever it happened to be at the time,” Wohl said. In the spread of information, he said, truth is an obsolete concept. “It’s something that can’t be thought about in a linear, binary true-false, facts-non-facts – you can’t do that anymore,” Wohl said. “It’s just not the way it works.”
Wohl chose to meet at Coffee Nature…He arrived at the Orange County cafe in a black Corvette with new-car paper license plates and extended a rigid hand but did not shake when a reporter grasped it. Sipping a free cup of ice water, the thin, severe-featured Wohl, who speaks in clipped verbiage, quickly worked into conversation that he was carrying a concealed firearm in response to the “voluminous left-wing threats” he has received…In describing his methods, Wohl casually explained that he makes it up: “I’ll literally hear one thing and I’ll flip it 180 degrees”…Wohl claimed at the coffee shop, however, that a goal of his [Mueller slander] scheme had been to trick journalists into thinking that he had offered to pay for dirt on Mueller, so he made up a person and sent those allegations to media outlets. On his phone, he scrolled through emails from reporters at major outlets like The Washington Post, The New York Times and Buzzfeed who had tried to garner more information from a person who he says did not actually exist. He described these emails– of reporters doing their due diligence– as trophies from a logic-stretching plan that had as the ultimate goal getting reporters to go to a news conference at a D.C.-area Holiday Inn. “The real allegations against Mueller would have been ignored … had we not roped the media into attending the press conference,” Wohl said.
…Wohl said he didn’t decide to fully apply his “talents” to politics until the rise of Trump, who he describes as a political soulmate in both ideology and tactics. In a brief interview, [father] David Wohl said he had daily conference calls with Trump to hone messaging during the campaign…A search of public records shows that at least a dozen times since 1995, David Wohl has been the subject of state and federal tax liens in California’s Orange and Riverside Counties. Most recently, the IRS named him and his wife in a property lien for $22,002.31 for back income taxes…In divorce filings last year, David Wohl’s wife, Michelle, said that he spends money on guitars, watches, firearms, tickets to concerts and sporting events and a recently purchased “exotic bird” costing $8,000 to $10,000 while “I struggle to make ends meet and live from paycheck to paycheck.” David Wohl said he had no knowledge of tax liens against him and called this article a “hit piece. … Trump calls you guys out for (stuff) like this”…Wohl father and son teamed up to fend off the regulators. David Wohl said he called the Los Angeles Police Department to report financial investigators for stalking them.
I know that Satan is known as the “father of lies,” but even by today’s trolling standards, I think Jacob Wohl gives him a run for his money as heir to the title. I know this was a lengthy “detour” regarding Wohl, but I wanted to illustrate that this barely-beyond teenager, who is now a major “influencer” and knows he can garner a following by espousing absurd slanders even when outed, is fully divorced from any reality or morality – and so must be his gullible followers. His actions and pitiful diverting defenses are so extreme as to be comical, if it weren’t so hurtful to so many innocent, exploited people. This is the culture I see many of my fellow conservative Christians – those I have identified with for my entire life – now gravitating towards with their full devotion, uncaring to vet such inflammatory information, or even renounce it when it comes into doubt. Their only feeble retort when cornered is, “Everybody does it.” Guys like this are the ones new Internet media “titans” like Jim Hoft and The Gateway Pundit, who are followed by legions of conservative Christians, hire to produce bombastic claims that draw in these readers, such as the evidence-free claim that members of Antifa were behind the Capitol insurrection.
While the bulk of conservative Christians seem to bask in these indulgences in fundamental lies and slanders, other parties are being role models in publicly expressing even minimum basic standards for truth and integrity. In February 2021 CNN reported about Twitter, which loves to have as many popular tweeters as possible to maximize their revenue, finally had to draw such a line on such harmful, and dare I say evil, community-poisoning endeavors, not because of differing views, but because they were intentionally constructed on black propaganda to weaken societal trust:
Jim Hoft, the founder and editor-in-chief of far-right news site Gateway Pundit, was permanently suspended from Twitter Saturday after he violated the social media platform’s “civic integrity policy.” Hoft joins a list of other right-wing accounts that have recently been banned for promoting falsehoods about the 2020 presidential election. The list notably includes Former President Donald Trump and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, among others. Twitter’s civic integrity policy states: “You may not use Twitter’s services for the purpose of manipulating or interfering in elections or other civic processes.” Gateway Pundit has been promoting falsehoods about the 2020 presidential election, both on Twitter and directly on its website, alleging voter fraud and voter irregularities. On Biden’s Inauguration Day, the website’s top headline falsely claimed the election had been “stolen” from Trump.
Hoft shared a post about his ban on the Gateway Pundit website Saturday evening. He pointed to an “ongoing investigation of the Detroit TCF Center,” continuing to push a false narrative of “late-night deliveries of tens of thousands of votes.” “We have much more on this incident to report on in the coming days,” Hoft said. He shared a screenshot from his Twitter account before it got banned. The tweet reads, “Just an FYI – The fake news media and others challenged our TCF Center video report from Friday. That was a bad move. We have much more coming!”
…There is no evidence that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump, and the Trump administration and election officials have called the 2020 presidential election the “most secure” election in US history. President Joe Biden won the popular vote by more than 7 million votes and he won the Electoral College 306 to 232. Gateway Pundit has been sharing false information since its inception. Notably, in 2018, the far-right website posted a document that highlighted false allegations of sexual assault against Special Counsel Robert Mueller…Gateway Pundit was also one of many defendants in the Dominion defamation lawsuit. The list also included the Trump campaign, Rudy Giuliani, Trump adviser Sidney Powell, conservative media outlet One America News Network, the right-wing website Gateway Pundit, and Colorado businessman and activist Joseph Oltmann, among others.
Many of my Christian friends will excuse all of this insane lying and criminal slander of innocent figures by saying that people like Jim Hoft of the Gateway Pundit and his minions are fighting for “family values,” and “godly heritage” and Christian principles, and if you have to lie, slander, defame or deceive and ruin innocent parties to accomplish it, well it still fits within their “spiritual” priorities, of which honesty, integrity and character (nor the Golden Rule) aren’t even on the radar screen, and “you have to break a few eggs to make an omelet.” Those spiritual priorities, or “weightier matters of the law” in their eyes, are to oppress those of the economically-draining lower economic strata, immigrants and the “stranger,” and those who are “unclean,” such as gay people or those of other Abrahamic faiths or merely just moral, as well as those champions who defend such, which just happens to be the priorities of the Pharisees – the “lovers of money” – and in contrast to the “weightier matters of the law” of “justice, mercy and faith” preached by Jesus. And to fight these enemies of Christendom (as they define it), such as the “gay menace” and their “gay agenda” they plot (we are told) without ceasing every night to steal all our churches and their property and bank accounts, bakeries, and turn all of our children to alternative lifestyles (assuming children would find the relationships of their own parents repugnant), they have historically clung to conservative, fundamentalist evangelical champions to fight this “gay menace” and preach of its evils (and fund raising form it as they do so).
Of course these evangelical “champions” include the following firebrands against the gay community such as National Association of Evangelicals chief Ted Haggard, who later was exposed for being in a gay relationship and taking illegal drugs (after of course originally denying it, until the evidence was overwhelming), or Bill Gothard of the Institute of Basic Life Principles, a self-proclaimed “expert” on marriage and childrearing, filling stadiums of thousands conservative Christians for decades, telling young people to not date before marriage, and to let their parents make all their life decisions until they die, until he was exposed for personal interactions with girls at their camps in what the Institute called “inappropriate behavior,” and his devout followers finding out this marriage and childrearing “expert” had never been married. The top Religious Right leaders in America like Jerry Falwell, Billy Graham and Pat Robertson had relied upon Mel White to ghost-write their best-seller books that supporters had thought contained “their” wisdom of conservative values, until he decided he had had enough and “outed” himself as a long-time participant in the gay lifestyle. These evangelicals can at least take heart that the recently-departed Ravi Zacharias, considered by the Religious Right community as an unparalleled Christian intellectual and philosopher who defended Christian sexual and other values of integrity against the “wicked culture” and “decadent academia,” was only found to have misrepresented his academic credentials all along, and only secretly owned a chain of massage parlors, grooming and coercing masseuses into performing sexual acts on him with his promises to relieve their economic distress – but at least he was straight.
In light of this trend, we might not be surprised that Jim Hoft, the founder and operator of The Gateway Pundit who provides the unvarnished conspiracy theories against the immoral left so valued by his Religious Right readers, had some other secrets, as exposed by the preeminent national conservative newspaper, The Washington Times, back in 2016:
Conservative blogger and The Gateway Pundit owner Jim Hoft came out as gay Monday morning in the aftermath of the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Mr. Hoft, who kept his sexuality private until now, said it’s time for gays to “come home” to the Republican Party, after an Islamic extremist killed at least 49 people and injured more than 50 others at Pulse nightclub. “After the deadliest Islamist attack on American soil since 9-11 Barack Obama blamed hatred and guns,” he wrote. “His inability to [call] the attack what it is — Islamic jihad — has progressed from denial to psychosis…I came out in the 1980s to family and friends during the AIDS epidemic. I saw a lot of friends get sick. I saw a lot of friends die. I went to a lot of funerals,” Mr. Hoft wrote. “It was a scary time to be gay…I’ve been a conservative activist for years. But today I’m coming out as a conservative gay activist.”
This is consistent with his hiring of Lucian Wintrich as his White House press conference reporter, whom the Trump administration gave valued, rare credentials for the White House press briefing, and who had founded “Twinks for Trump” with calendars of bare-chested teenage boys with Trump hats and paraphernalia, and a major figure in the more flamboyant circles of the gay community, just as his colleague and more famous pundit Milo Yiannopoulos, another favorite of religious Right church folk, particularly because both make outrageous claims against immigrants, minorities and other marginal groups.
Coming back to the beginning of this post and its purpose, to document the original national “antifa apocalypse” of November 2017 and its aftermath, and an indication of the true national threat it posed at the Capitol in 2021 and beyond, this same Lucian Wintrich wrote at the Gateway Pundit the following article (which is excerpted) in October 2017 regarding the imminent nationwide slaughter and the real nature of antifa, as a reflection of the demonstrated reputation of integrity, professionalism and accuracy of Wintrich and the Pundit:
Tom Bloke, considered to be one of the leaders of the domestic terrorist group ANTIFA, took to Twitter today to threaten violence against “white parents” and “small business owners”.
can’t wait for November 4th when millions of antifa supersoldiers will behead all white parents and small business owners in the town square
— Tom Bloke (@21logician) October 30, 2017
Adding to the open display of anti-white racism and coupled with violence against small business owners (for whatever reason), the top-rated reply doubled down:
we, ANTIFA, ARE going to Exploge the white USArace with acme tnt crates UNTIL they are cobered with soot and waving a white rag on a stick
— spoilt teat (@offalnaut) October 30, 2017
UPDATE: Far-left radicals now claiming it was a “funny joke”
Multiple far left radicals have taken to Twitter and various blogs to claim this initial tweet was a “joke.” As written to MIC, Twitter user Tom Bloke is not only a thought leader of the far left; people on the far left who push certain ideologies or, in this case, the normalization of anti-white violence/rhetoric under the guise of “humor”.
…What is “AntiFa” – a.k.a. “Anti-Fascists”, “ANTIFA”, “Antifa”?
A historically relevant and radically far-left domestic terrorist organization known as “Antifa”, or “anti-fascists”, employ street violence with makeshift weaponry to “spread peace and love” and fight for “social justice”. Just like their moronic ancestors, Antifa are hardline socialists, communists, or anti-capitalistic anarchists fighting for their “oppressed” comrades. The Antifa movement evolved from college level indoctrination and was then fueled by the mainstream media after they began labelling President Trump and his supporters as “Nazis” or “fascists.” Through this, the “Harry Potter” dweebs decided to pickup bike-locks and go bashing their “enemies” over the head…It is supreme immaturity that leads to one galavanting around the streets under the collective title of Antifa.
Despite Antifa’s ultimately noble on-paper philosophies, most of the people that congregate as “Antifa” are LARPers (“live action role-play”) attempting to find someone/thing to sexually interact with and the problem with this is the fact that bravado, especially from some of their “women” (God help them), manifests in the form of physical violence as a way to show off. Most of these people have not left their dorm rooms or their parents’ homes before, the shock of sunlight and the atmosphere messes with their minds. Primarily comprised of white, pale-skinned, stick-thin men, and obese pimple-ridden women, Antifa hide behind masks to both disguise their grotesque appearances and to feel “united” with the others in their group. Their primary interests revolve around devolving the state and working outside of the parameters of our democratic and capitalistic system. When they do work within our system, they will attempt to apply “anarcho-syndicalism”, a view that appropriates industrial unionism as a way for the workers of a democratic/capitalistic society to seize control of the means of production in an effort to influence and control the society at large…From Twitter bios to Instagram posts, you can see the hammer and sickle next to the “black flag” emoji and a conveniently placed “#BLM” beside the two and more often than not, it is some college-aged member of the bourgeoisie with a guilt complex and crippling daddy issues – it is all a game to them and a trend to follow not unlike the champagne socialists before them.
This is the same person, the founder of the “Twinks4Trump” youngster gay photo displays, who was given one of the handful of precious White House press credentials for the White House Press Briefings by the Trump administration.
Posts like the latter caused the outfit Medium to publish an analysis on Nov. 3, 2017 of some of the curious anomalies of these announcements of supposed antifa groups, which include the following:
The uproar over November 4th started, predictably, on the right — as news of the planned protests made the rounds, a conspiracy theory began circulating among conservatives that members of Antifa and Black Lives Matter were planning some sort of mass attack on “patriotic” (read: white) Americans. If you look closely enough — or really, if you pay any attention at all — you’ll notice that this is an ongoing trend. The people who denounce Antifa are ignoring the group’s stated goals (to defeat fascism; it’s right there in the name), ascribing completely different ones (to kill all white conservatives) and hoping nobody notices. In doing so, they’re reframing the debate, casting Antifa as the oppressors and conservatives in the role of the oppressed.
So, let’s clear something up: Antifa, as is well known by now, believe that violence is an acceptable tactic in the fight against fascism. It is not the only tactic, but they will not hesitate to use it if necessary. However, it is only meant to be used as a direct response to fascistic action — in other words, they don’t jump strangers walking down the street. Antifa can’t be the oppressor, because their entire raison d’etre is to resist oppression; without it, they literally would not exist. Black Lives Matter, on the other hand, is a nonviolent movement as a whole. Black Lives Matter and Antifa are only related in the sense that they are social movements, but their goals and the means each will use to achieve them are so disparate that attempting to compare the two is like saying “Toilets and showers are the same thing because of water.” Lumping a nonviolent organization in with an organization that regularly engages in street fights is a conceptual leap that can only be made possible by a belief that black people are inherently predisposed to violent behavior.
The concerns from the right began trickling across social media, aided by a handful of Twitter accounts claiming to be Antifa chapters and broadcasting their intentions to attack white people everywhere they could find them. This was alarming, to be sure, but it was also extremely dumb for two reasons. First, the majority of Antifa are white; second, most would-be criminals don’t take to social media to announce a schedule for their crimes. Of course, Antifa never actually made those threats — the accounts claiming to be Antifa chapters were actually being run by alt-right trolls and conservatives hoping to gin up further controversy around Antifa. Here’s a sample [they show an image of a press release of a supposed “antifa” group announcing a violent planned event, which they describe thusly]:
…The press release format was a nice touch, but I particularly enjoyed learning that Antifa — who are also anti-capitalist — are simultaneously a limited liability corporation, a company, incorporated, and copyrighted. (Also a registered trademark, apparently.) And if that wasn’t enough of a hint, kindly direct your attention to the signature at the bottom: [showing the name of antifa media contact Mohammmed Markstein]
Now, I am not an expert on the subject, so I can’t be sure, but I’m fairly certain that there aren’t three consecutive Ms in any name, let alone in the name “Mohammed.” Moreover, while it’s certainly possible for someone to have an Arabic first name and a Jewish last name, I have to imagine it’s a pretty rare occurrence, and the odds of such a unique name making its way onto this particular document are slim at best. A further clue can be found in their contact number, which is actually the number for Hewlett-Packard Investor Relations, and if all that wasn’t enough, there’s still one burning question: who would sign a letter threatening mass murder?
It would seem that any reasonable person would find all of this rather suspicious, but thanks to the limitless credulity of the right, tweets like this kept circulating among the “Deplorable” crowd before eventually making their way to leftist Twitter. There, leftists (rightfully) mocked this conspiracy theory and began sharing absurd joke tweets about Antifa supersoldiers. Apparently, that’s pretty much all you need to lay the foundation for civil war.
Gateway Pundit later updated their article to claim that “Tom Bloke is…a thought leader of the far left.” I’m sure Mr. Bloke is happy to hear of the retroactive promotion bestowed upon him by…ah yes, Gateway Pundit. You see, “Tom Bloke” is a random guy on Twitter who nobody had heard of until his tweet was used in the original article. But, rather than admit he fell for an impossibly obvious joke, writer Lucian Wintrich decided it would be less embarrassing to name a random person a “thought leader of the far left.”
…Then there’s the infamous “NAMBLA” banner picture. If you’re not familiar, alt-right “journalist,” Pizzagate truther, Pirates of Penzance cosplayer, date rape apologist and generally insane person Mike Cernovich was invited to give a speech at Columbia University for the school’s College Republicans. (There’s a sentence that inspires optimism in the future of this great nation.) In response, students organized a protest; at some point during the protest, someone — later revealed as an alt-right troll — handed protesters a banner and asked them to unfurl it. The protesters did, revealing a banner that read “NO WHITE SUPREMACY, NO PEDO BASHING, NO MIKE CERNOVICH” with a tasteful “NAMBLA” logo in the corner. In the moment between the unfurling and the protesters realizing what the banner said and throwing it away, another student took a picture of the banner and tweeted it out in an effort to stymie the alt-right’s attempt to derail the protest. Almost immediately, the picture was copied by the alt-right and tweeted out by some of its most prominent members. Such luminaries included activist Jack Posobiec, who once pulled a similar stunt planting a “Rape Melania” sign outside the DeploraBall to stir up outrage; InfoWars contributor, agoraphobiac and adult newborn Paul Joseph Watson; and Cernovich himself. As if his résumé wasn’t already disturbing enough, Cernovich also has a bizarre (and frankly suspicious) habit of branding anyone who disagrees with him a pedophile — he has lobbed numerous such accusations at his rivals, including “Tim & Eric” collaborator Vic Berger.
Naturally, the story quickly gained steam on the right — “Antifa” and “Pedo” is a match made in alt-right heaven. Eventually, Paul Joseph Watson made a video in which he clumsily pretended that he wasn’t using the photo to push a serious narrative about the dangers of Antifa mere hours before. And yet, people still bought into it. In fact, some of the replies were still expressing outrage at Antifa (who weren’t even there — “Antifa” has become a weird and inaccurate shorthand for “anybody on the left”). So to recap: the hoaxer — who had originally tried to use the photo to seriously claim that leftists are pedophiles — tweeted a video that admitted it was a hoax, effectively recanting his original account. But in the replies, there were people who still sincerely believed that the hoax was, in fact, real… despite the fact that they were replying to the tweet in which the hoax was admitted to be a hoax. This is the same crowd of brain geniuses that will sneeringly dismiss any (true) story they don’t like as “fake news,” but when it comes to an obvious scam, they can’t line up quickly enough to take the bait.
…If you believed (or still believe) any of these “news” stories, please provide your address in the comments so I can send Antifa supersoldiers to your home to socialize all your food, replace the stuffing in your pillows with communism, and hang pictures of Lenin on your walls. (This is real — I have the Antifa® LLC Co. © stationery to prove it.)
Well, what did really happen on the day of “antifa annihilation of white Americans” on November 4, 2017? A report in Cleveland of the “Refuse Fascism” march recounts the following blood-curdling events:
On Saturday, Nov. 4, around 60 protesters from the group known as Refuse Fascism marched through downtown Cleveland. The protesters chanted “we refuse a fascist America” and “No hate. No fear. Immigrants are welcome here.” The protest was one of 60 organized across the country. At the front of the march was Vietnam Veteran Louis “Lou” Pumphrey. “I’m with them because I’m pro-peace,” said Pumphrey, who was drafted in 1966 and served in Vietnam as a reporter and editor for the first infantry division newspaper. The Veterans for Peace member was dressed in his military fatigues and was carrying an American flag with a peace sign replacing the stars and stripes…When the march ended in Cleveland’s Public Square, members of the group gave speeches and performances, some of which did not focus on politics. One man performed a cover of Marvin Gaye’s classic “What’s Going On” accompanied by a snare drum. The organizers also invited people near the rally to take the mic and give a speech of their own.
The protest was a heavy target for far-right paranoia due to claims that Antifa, a collection of autonomous militant groups that directly oppose fascism, had plans to start a civil war. The Gateway Pundit, a far-right website, claimed that an Antifa leader said that “millions of Antifa super soldiers will behead all white parents” on Nov. 4…A Facebook video titled “Officer Warns: Antifa to declare civil war on whites before year-end,” featuring a police officer warning of Antifa civil war, drew more attention to the claims. The video gained over 57,000 Facebook shares and over 3.1 million views. Refuse Fascism member Brenda Adrine said that the organization has no connection to Antifa. The group was founded by members of the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP) and is sponsored by the Alliance for Global Justice, a federally recognized nonprofit. According to their website, the RCP believes that revolution, not reformation, is the only way to bring about change. The party’s influence on the local protests in Cleveland was minimal. Organizer Cheryl Lesson said that there were no RCP spokespeople at the rally, and many of the protesters had no connection with the RCP. “Refuse Fascism is a separate organization from RCP,” said protester Norm Carr. “Some of the initiators are from RCP, but Refuse Fascism doesn’t take a stand on revolution.”
…Several groups of counter-protesters appeared at the rally, including several militia groups. The groups, such as the Ohio Irregular Militia and Cowboys MC, were covered in camo and carrying assault rifles. One man, who called himself Sigs, drove three hours to be at the rally. Sigs and other militia members claimed they came to the rally to back up local police forces in case of violence. A conservative group of students from Cleveland State University (CSU), placed messages over several Refuse Fascism signs, writing “Refuse Fascism are the real fascists.” Two Case Western Reserve University third-year students, Dillon Brown and Marissa Jones, originally made the signs. The counter-protesters took them when the duo left the signs at Public Square to join the march. The two protesters heard about the march in a class called “Social Movements and Social Change” taught by Dr. Mary Erdmans. Erdmans said the class first heard about Refuse Fascism due to the organization’s involvement in a small campus protest about President Donald Trump’s refusal to resign Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) legislation. The course itself tasks students with choosing a social movement study, from either the left or the right. Erdmans said she was surprised by the low turnout at the march. “You can have a lot of grievances, but the question is: when do people stop b****ing in their offices and get out in the streets?” said Erdman.
While I am certainly not ready to join the Revolutionary Communist Party, it doesn’t appear that any of the promised “white beheadings” occurred in this handful of young people. In fact, it appears the only attendees who were armed sufficiently to accomplish such were the right-wing counter-protestors who brought their God-given, second Amendment assault rifles.
I don’t mean to pick on my fellow conservative Christians in particular from amongst the entire conservative community who are gullible to such foolishness, but I admit that I do expect more of them since they supposedly are caretakers of timeless wisdom and the claimed indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and even the Apostle Paul says we are to judge the church, and not the world (1 Cor. 5). Having said that, I have to ask – do any of these “Spirit-filled” Christians who are very pious and a major presence in social media ever vet any of these people and their backgrounds, particularly when they make outrageous and ridiculous and extreme claims, before they pass them on as gospel and a threat to others implicated in them? If they did, would they be embarrassed and apologetic and try to make amends, or “double down” in defending these indefensible scoundrels and their assertions, because apologizing and contemplative deliberation is not the “American Christian way”? We can all be taken now and then (yours truly included), but when does it merely become a lifestyle of embracing the absurd and the ugly? If so (and it seems to me that it is prevalent in our circles), how would we think the world outside the doors of our churches would ever believe our fantastic Gospel message when they see us as merely gullible, mean-spirited suckers, and does anyone else care whether we conduct our Great Commission mandate effectively or not to “rescue the perishing”?
In the concluding Part 5 of this series, we will finally look at the participants of the January 6 insurrection, and how they relate to the supposed “antifa” false-flag instigators of the event.
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