How they ruin you: inside a smear campaign by activists and journalists
In a recent article for Quillette, I presented the results of a study into the concerning relationships between Antifa and national-level journalists. This was never the sum total of anything I had set out to do, but simply a consequence of separate academic research I had conducted into the left-wing radical group. But, as expected, directly after publishing my article there was an immediate and coordinated backlash from those same journalists mentioned in the report. For me, this experience demonstrates an ideal example of how these groups cooperate to target dissenters.
My initial thread on Twitter, which I published on May 15th, mapped out the relationships between 15 Twitter-verified journalists from publications such as The Huffington Post, The Guardian, and CNN. It was met with days of derision and abuse from Antifa accounts on Twitter. Jason Wilson of the Guardian, and one of the chief examples I had outlined in my study, mocked:
It wasn’t until Red State, PJ Media, and Quillette picked up my research that the mockery and abuse quickly turned into character assassination and suppression.
Two days after the thread was published, I was asked to appear on Al Jazeera’s flagship political show Inside Story on an unrelated issue. I had been asked to come to the show and speak about the exceptionally important Christchurch Call to Action—a multi-governmental commitment to eliminate terrorist violence and online-based extremist content. It was an important subject for me, and the show went well. Shortly after filming, the producer messaged me to say how proud she had been of the panel.
Not too long after excitedly phoning my family in Ireland to see if they had watched the show, I realized it had been taken down from Al Jazeera’s YouTube page and removed from their homepage. I contacted the show’s producer who had been so pleased with the show.
The producer indicated that she had received an email from Luke O’Brien of The Huffington Post who had made very serious allegations about me being on the far-right. She also noted that Michael Hayden had written a tweet to Al Jazeera stating that I ran an alt-account whose “primary shtick is to mock feminists and immigrants.”
I did indeed run a political satire account called “ProgDadTV” from November 2017 to August 2018, with sporadic appearances thereafter. It was intended to spoof modern outrage culture across the political spectrum, and managed to build a fanbase in doing so. I even managed to gain praise from leading comedian Joe Rogan who said he found the satire hilarious on his popular podcast. My biggest hit as ProgDad was a prank which took aim at vegans—a duck heart in a kinder egg spoof intended to “start a conversation on ethical meat consumption” with a small child—that went viral on Christmas Day.
ProgDad was never abusive. It was never racist, aimed at immigrants, women or religious minorities. It was a parody intended to mock the ridiculous, tone-deaf attitudes of white, upper-middle-class progressives that have become the hallmark of that demographic.
I found it interesting that Michael Hayden claimed that ProgDad was a racist, sexist account, and not just satire, when he and I directly interacted at one point, with him telling me how funny he found ProgDad after I pranked him, and he even encouraged me to continue with the routine.
I found it even more interesting that Michael Hayden claimed (and later maintained) that ProgDad was a racist, sexist account when, in later conversations, I informed him directly that I was an extremism researcher and I was using ProgDad as a vehicle for research into the far-right. Though ProgDad had begun as a spoof (and was genuinely a lot of fun!), as I spent more time online I was able to pinpoint a small, but noticeable, faction of followers who interacted with my posts not out of simple comedic enjoyment—but hate. They hated people on the left. Virulently. I put on my professional hat, and became interested in developing a set of interventions to prevent some of these people from drifting into far-right extremism.
Hayden interviewed me in mid-2018, and though I was wary to break cover and put my far-right research at risk, I did let him know my intentions with ProgDad.
So why did he, only two days after my Twitter thread on connections between the media and Antifa, suddenly contact Al Jazeera and misrepresent ProgDad – who he knew damn well to be satire, and who he knew was my research vehicle? Why did he suddenly deny finding it humorous? What urged him to instead discredit me and conflate ProgDad, the satirical account, with Eoin Lenihan, the researcher?
And it only got worse.
On Friday morning, three days after my thread on journalists and Antifa, I received a confrontational and unsolicited DM from Luke O’Brien telling me he had contacted the producer at Al Jazeera. I was confused, at first. O’Brien knew Hayden, I thought perhaps he had shared information on my background.
Later, the producer texted me and stated that O’Brien had said “He covers nationalists, neo-nazis, fascists, and Islamophobes. He said you are one of these extremists.”
While I was explaining myself to Al Jazeera producer about the O’Brien accusations, I was in contact with Hayden, who I believed to have some decency based on his position at the SPLC, and our not-unfriendly history surrounding ProgDad even though he had reservations about my act. I asked him, after reminding him of previous conversations to intervene and help me. I gave him the producer’s email and he agreed to contact her.
I felt relieved. But that was quickly washed away when I found out he used that opportunity, the trust I had placed in him as a professional, to lie.
He misrepresented me, and ProgDad, to the Al Jazeera. The producer was explicit that he had taken the opportunity I had given him, providing him with the personal information of the producer, to discredit me.
Fortunately for me, Al Jazeera had a level of professional integrity these journalists did not. Prior to inviting me to the panel, they had already vetted my experiential expertise, and now they demanded evidence from Hayden and O’Brien to back up their accusations.
She confirmed to me that O’Brien never produced any evidence.
Hayden produced two pieces of what he called “evidence,” the first being three links to the Daily Stormer, which had featured ProgDad links at various points in time. ProgDad did appear in the Daily Stormer. He also appeared in several Polish Newspapers, The Poke, The Pluralist, The Huffington Post, PJMedia, and Joe Rogan.
The second piece of “evidence” from Hayden is far more absurd. He provided a tweet from @RamzPaul who Hayden referred to as “an overt white supremacist.” The Tweet stated that ProgDad had been banned from Twitter as part of a spoof campaign to stage “bleed in’s” in public pools across America. This is untrue, which could have been confirmed at any time. ProgDad had been suspended for mocking a literal white supremacist, @LucidHurricaneX. This individual was so vile that he was later banned from Gab, a free speech platform with very liberal standards on speech, for doxing a liberal activist.
In his only two pieces of evidence for his allegations that I am a right-wing extremist, Hayden could not produce a single tweet by Eoin Lenihan or ProgDad demonstrating any supposed affinity I actually had for the white race, or even right-wing politics.
ProgDad was satire. He was meant to be ludicrous and absurd. And, he parodied privileged, white extreme progressives and the social media outrage merchants for whom new parody accounts are popping up like four leaf clovers. He was not extreme, or coming from a place of hate, and Hayden knew that. Still, he attempted to undermine my reputation through slanderous guilt-by-association claims that misrepresented what he knew ProgDad to be.
What Hayden and O’Brien did is exactly what I outlined in my initial article for Quillette. They contacted an employer and smeared my reputation to poison the well against me, and did so while relying heavily on sources associated with—you guessed it—Antifa.
O’Brien of the Huffington Post, the one who couldn’t provide a single piece of evidence of my supposed right-wing extremism to Al Jazeera (in fact he didn’t even get back to the producer after his accusations), is particularly guilty of this. In May 2019, just after my Antifa thread, O’Brien posted a thread on Twitter, calling me “groyper fash” and linking a tweet by Antifa doxer and hacker @Karmatic_Antifa (who often alternates aliases e.g. @Anonymous_Ca1m and @RowdyPundit). I was routinely doxed and harassed by this account, and I had advised O’Brien as long ago as the Summer of 2018 that he was relying on information from an individual who was engaging in illegal activity.
A later dox of my ProgDad account was shared by @OpWolverines and @MACROCHIP, both accounts O’Brien regularly works with and both accounts that led a harassment campaign against me lasting months which included sharing my dox and contacting my place of work. Here is a pastebin link to data analysis @OpWolverines compiled for O’Brien prior to his doxing article on Amy Mek which I reference in my Quillette article.
@OpWolverines recently tweeted at a writer from The Post Millennial who had covered my story, feeding her a number of defamatory and untrue statements about ProgDad that he does not, and cannot, provide evidence for. That tweet was ‘liked’ by Hayden.
Among the more ludicrous accusations by OpWolverines are that I do not have a doctorate (separate tweet) and that I am “friends” with white supremacist Paul Nehlen. ProgDad had interviewed Nehlen when he was running for congress, before he descended into an obvious white supremacist. I got him to admit that he was far-right—something that the mainstream media at the time had failed to do.
Perhaps @OPWolverines should have asked Michael Hayden. He knew that.
Since the thread, the same journalists who mocked me for suggesting they could ever be associated with something as deviously mob-like as slandering and harassing people out of their lives’ normalcy have gone on to do exactly that. They denied I submitted my research to a journal, and then once an outlet released the name of the journal—they harassed the journal, inundating it with fake submissions.
Journalists have formally written in publications or platforms with huge reach and denied my professional and academic qualifications, smearing them as false or nonexistent—as though these statements are not libellous. Among those journalists who have made such statements, Jared Holt of CJR, Patrick Strickland of Al Jazeera English, Shane Burley and Alexander Reid Ross of The Independent, and Michael Edison Hayden of the SPLC.
Of particular contention has been my cited work history, I will clarify here.
In November of 2016, I won a contract with the Tony Blair Faith Foundation to develop a set of resources to create interventions for pre-radicalized youth as a part of the Generation Global Resources Production (GGRP) team. The Foundation was in the midst of a transition at the time, a restructuring, which would eventually lead to it being rediscovered as the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change. This restructuring would lead to the contract never formally being fully realized, unfortunately. But I have maintained communications with the Foundation. And the GGRP is what inspired my research during ProgDad. I exclusively provided these emails to The Daily Caller.
Any statements suggesting that I have no connection to these organizations are defamatory and require immediate, full retraction or correction, and the harassment of the journalists who have provided the details on this experience must end.
For several years now, The Right Honourable Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been struggling to designate the notorious Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps as a terrorist entity. This is not only a troubling matter for the majority of Canadians, but is also a matter that places question marks on Trudeau’s administration and perhaps even the Prime Minister’s personal agenda.
The designation of the IRGC as a terrorist entity has been the priority of several governments, just not Trudeau’s. The United States of America was the latest to designate the IRGC as a terrorist entity, joining Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. The European Union and United Nations have crippled the IRGC with tough financial sanctions and designated its top members as terrorists as well.
For years now, a number of Canadian politicians have pushed for the designation of the IRGC as a terrorist entity, but it appears that the man blocking an “entire designation” is Trudeau himself.
These calls were renewed once again after the U.S airstrike which killed IRGC Major General Qasem Soleimani on the 3rd of January 2020.
“The Liberals voted for the measure, yet have done nothing to recognize the destructive and destabilizing influence of the IRGC. The Conservative Opposition once again calls upon the Trudeau government to finally list the IRGC as a terrorist entity after 18 months of foot-dragging,” says a joint statement by Conservative MPs Erin O’Toole and James Bezan.
The IRGC has been funding, managing, supervising and conducting terrorist operations for four long decades in Afghanistan, Europe, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, South America, Syria and Yemen; so, what’s stopping Trudeau from designating the group, in its entirety, as a terrorist entity?
Justin is struggling to make sense
The Government of Canada has already designated the Quds Force as a terrorist organization. Iran’s Qods Force is merely a unit within the IRGC, specializing in unconventional warfare and military intelligence operations around the world. The IRGC regularly threatens the American continent as well as Canada’s closest allies, either directly or through its proxies such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and Syria, Yemeni Houthis and Iraq’s Hashd al-Shaabi.
Justin Trudeau’s administration has also renewed the terrorist designation of organizations that are either units or establishments of the IRGC, such as Hezbollah, while totally ignoring the fact that Hezbollah would cease to operate without the backing of the IRGC.
Furthermore, the Trudeau administration considers all of the IRGC’s affiliates such as the Taliban, Al-Qaeda, Hezbollah and Hamas as terrorists, except the IRGC itself. From a national security perspective, this makes no sense whatsoever.
If the majority of the IRGC’s affiliates, small units, establishments and key figures have been designated as sources of terrorism by ally governments and previous Canadian government administrations, why then is Justin Trudeau delaying the terrorist designation of the IRGC, an organization actively sponsoring current designated terrorist organizations while also harbouring in Iran the terrorist leaders of Al-Qaeda?
It’s a ‘yes or no question’
Justin Trudeau, was Qassem Soleimani a terrorist?
If the answer is no, then you simply shouldn’t be Prime Minister.
If the answer is yes, then you are yet to fulfill your duty as Prime Minister towards the national security of Canada, and by not designating the IRGC as a terrorist entity, in its entirety, you are siding with government administrations that allow terrorists to operate with minimal criticism and opposition.
After causing many delays, protestors have left the Swartz Bay ferry terminal, located north of Victoria, B.C. They were blocking the terminal and denying people access on Monday.
The protestors claim to be working alongside Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs in attempting to cancel a liquified natural gas pipeline being implemented by Coastal GasLink. The pipeline is being built in north central B.C.
NEWS 1130 reported that the group was protesting on Highway 17 and were even in the water in kayaks too.
An online statement released by the protestors says, “In response to the recent call from the Wet’suwet’en for solidarity actions that ‘shut down rail lines, ports, and industrial infrastructure’ this action has targeted BC Ferries because of the corporation’s deepening integration with the Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) industry,”
“BC Ferries has proposed ‘upgrades’ to two of its ferries that will make them reliant on the very product that Coastal GasLink (CGL) threatens to bring through Wet’suwet’en territory.”
Dozens of protestors took part in the event and used their banners to cover signs at the terminal.
Since being proposed, the pipeline has even caused violent encounters between protestors and police.
After coming to agreements with 20 First Nation councils, Coastal GasLink is attempting to build the pipeline from northeastern B.C. all the way to Kitimat, B.C. The pipeline will reportedly stretch 670 kilometers.
According to the hereditary clan chiefs, the project can not continue without their permission.
On Monday, Deborah Marshall from BC Ferries noted, “We fully respect the rights of individuals to protest decisions that they don’t agree with, but our concern is allowing our customers to have safe and unimpeded access to our terminal.”
“At our Swartz Bay terminal right now, the lanes are blocked. The lanes leading into the terminal, so no customers are able to access the terminal at this point, so it’s affecting all of our routes sailing in and out of Swartz Bay right now.”
While Virginia may be for lovers, it’s also for gun-loving patriots.
Tens of thousands of gun owners have rallied on Richmond’s capitol hill, as pro-gun activists from across the country protest proposed restrictions by state lawmakers.
Those proposed laws come after Virginia Democrats took control of the state’s legislature for the first time since 1996 off the heels of campaign promises of gun reform. Pro-gun activists, on the other hand, believe that the Democrat’s laws would infringe on their second amendment right to bear arms.
President Donald Trump tactfully gave his two cents this morning, tweeting some choice words to the Democrat Party.
“The Democrat Party in the Great Commonwealth of Virginia are working hard to take away your 2nd Amendment rights. This is just the beginning. Don’t let it happen, VOTE REPUBLICAN in 2020!”
“What’s going on here, if not stopped, will spread to other states,” said Teri Horne to CNBC, a Texas-resident who travelled to Virginia with a Smith & Wesson rifle and .40-caliber handgun. “They will come for our guns in other states if we don’t stop them in Virginia.”
The protests have remained largely peaceful, though not without the due-diligence of law enforcement. Last week, the FBI arrested three members of a small neo-Nazi group. The group allegedly sought to start a race war by sparking violence at the event.
Virginia Governor Ralph Northan (D) has moved to push gun control laws including universal background checks, assault rifle bans, and a one-handgun-a-month purchase limit.
Many Canadians feel the CBC is biased and doesn’t live up to its own standards and practices. Many Canadians have taken action: writing their MP’s, filing complaints, and taking to social media.
But now, with the CBC scheduled to appear before the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to have their licence renewed, an unlikely corner of the internet–#Gamergate–aims to take things to the next level with a co-ordinated campaign to file complaints that they’re calling “#OperationCanadianBaConII”.
They take issue with coverage of gamers on the CBC, stretching all the way back to 2014 when the Canadian public broadcaster first promoted the narrative that #Gamergate was about harassing women (although there were undoubtedly misogynist bad actors within the amorphous internet group), and not about conflicts of interest between video game developers and video game journalists.
They’ve waited until now because the CBC has delayed the date of their consultation period for several years following a “regime change” at the CBC in 2018.
Lead #OperationCanadianBaConII organizer @LunarArchivist hopes that the complaints will prompt an official response from the Canadian government, and lead to the CBC revising their Journalistic Standards and Practices.
“CBC had done several hit pieces on #GamerGate and several supporters, including myself, had filed complaints with the CBC Ombudsman, Esther Enkin, only to have our concerns downplayed and dismissed in her reviews, which were always in favour of the CBC,” he said.
“After speaking with my local Member of Parliament, the idea occurred to me to take a page from the handbook of Operation Disrespectful Nod–a #GamerGate e-mail campaign where supporters were encouraged to inform advertisers of the dubious ethical standards of the websites who had employed smear tactics against us.”
@LunarArchivist says that there are at least a dozen people working together across multiple Discord servers involved with the operation. They’ve got until 8 p.m. EST on February 13 to get their submissions in.
“One hurdle has definitely been trying to convince non-Canadian #GamerGate supporters that they’re allowed to submit interventions despite not being from Canada,” he says.
“The announcement about its start was rather sudden and we’re still working on establishing a distribution network for the archive of all of CBC’s anti-#GamerGate coverage for use as a reference for those who want to concentrate on that aspect of things.”
The #OperationCanadianBacConII crew have been working to transcribe over six hours of audio and video broadcast and prepare a list of specific ways in which the CBC breached their own standards of practice, such as including the false claim that programmer Eron Gjoni accused game developer Zoe Quinn of sleeping with game journalists for good reviews in their reportage.
They’ve also noted when pieces critical of #Gamergate have disappeared from the CBC’s website, and documented how three separate CBC radio interviewers conducted the exact same interview with an anti-#Gamergate “pop-culture expert.”
“We want to raise public awareness of the fact that #GamerGate’s situation isn’t unique and the CBC tends to use the same tactics on others,” @LunarArchivist says.
“First impressions are important, and a bad one can do lasting or permanent damage to your cause or reputation. The longer false information is allowed to marinate in the public consciousness, the more likely it is to get accepted as ‘truth’, regardless of the facts. And the likelihood of this increases if the CBC doesn’t correct the record within a reasonable amount of time.”
This negative impression of gamers as a whole, perpetuated by the CBC is what really bothers the members of #OperationCanadianBaconII.
@LunarArchivists believes that while CBC employees were allowing their anti-gamer biases to seep into their reporting even before #Gamergate started to trend, the real issue is that CBC was just following the leader instead of asking critical questions about the narrative being spread.
“Many CBC journalists just threw due diligence to the wind and ran with the baseless claim advanced by Anita Sarkeesian and other social justice advocates for years that gamers were opposed to mainstream feminism and identity politics and harassing them.”
@LunarArchivist hopes that the operation will not only lead to more balanced coverage of gamers, but will also help other Canadians who are upset with the CBC’s coverage.
“I’m hoping that not just activists, but regular people will start taking a more active role in taking the CBC to task, especially since they get over a billion taxpayer dollars a year.”