EPISODE 4   |   NOVEMBER 15, 2018
BEYOND THE PALE
Is the mainstream media really concerned about the safety of reporters? We follow Mike Cernovich, one of the most talked about journalists of our time, to find the answer.
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EPISODE 4   |   NOVEMBER 15, 2018
BEYOND THE PALE
Is the mainstream media really concerned about the safety of reporters? We follow Mike Cernovich, one of the most talked about journalists of our time, to find the answer.
Share this Post
Red Pilled America is designed to be listened to, not read. Please reference and use the audio version for exact quotes.
Patrick Courrielche: Freedom of the press is sacred in America. That’s why it’s enshrined in our First Amendment. Americans understand this. Yet the press and the people are embroiled in an unprecedented conflict.
Donald Trump: Media outlets like CNN and MSNBC are fake news.
Patrick Courrielche: The people want the truth. The media claims to be giving it to them. And there is a standoff.
Now the press is concerned about the tone of the conflict. And more specifically…they fear for the safety of the press.
But is that true? Is the mainstream media really concerned about the safety of journalists?
I’m Patrick Courrielche and this is Red Pilled America…a new storytelling show.
This is not another talk show covering the day’s news. We are all about telling stories. Stories Hollywood doesn’t want you to hear. Stories the media mocks. Stories about everyday Americans that the elites ignore. You can think of Red Pilled America as audio documentaries. And we promise only one thing…the truth.
Welcome to Red Pilled America.
Patrick Courrielche: Freedom of the press. It is one of our founding principles, and has kept us from becoming a country like China – a centrally-planned society without liberty. Without freedom.
Yet a conflict between the people and the press has reached epic proportions. The conflict is not a new development. Rush Limbaugh sounded the first alarm on the AM radio dial in the 80s. Sean Hannity exposed it on cable TV and Matt Drudge linked to it on the Internet in the 90s. Andrew Breitbart displayed it within the blogosphere a decade ago. The battle between the people and the press has been brewing for a generation. Middle America has been largely powerless to the far-left mainstream media. But something new is happening. The people aren’t taking it anymore, and they have some tools at their disposal.
The information war has reached such epic proportions that the mainstream media claims to be concerned about the safety of the press. But is it true? Are they really worried about the safety of journalists? To find the answer, we follow the rise of one of today’s most controversial journalists – a man who helps us get to the bottom of the conflict between the people and the press.
Mike Cernovich: What you’ve just seen is two definitions of fake news. But both of them can’t be true. What is real news and what is fake news. That’s what you’re gonna learn on Hoaxed, the media’s war on truth.
Patrick Courrielche: That last guy is Mike Cernovich describing his 2018 film Hoaxed – a documentary on the phenomenon of Fake News.
Few in journalism have gone through the meteoric rise that Mike Cernovich has experienced. At one point completely ignored by the legacy media, he is now one of their favorite targets. The far-left New York Times accuses him of being a conspiracy theorist. The uber left-wing Washington Post brands him a right-wing online agitator. The radical leftist at CNN think he’s a right-wing troll. They can call Mike Cernovich a lot of things, but stupid is not one of them. The man seemed to appear from out of nowhere to become one of the most followed and most reviled figures in media…and he seems to love every minute of it.
I first spoke with Mike in September 2016, when he was still largely an un-discussed figure in the legacy media. I was struck by how different his demeanor was compared to his Twitter persona. One on one, the guy was obviously smart, funny, charismatic. But on Twitter…he more resembled Rowdy Roddy Piper. He was a villain that relished in the role.
At the time I was advised to stay away from him. That message only amplified over the last two years. But when I recently learned about what he was going through, a potentially dangerous situation for his family, I couldn’t look away.
Like most overnight success stories, Mike’s has been a long-time coming. Originally a self-help author, he’d eventually add journalism to his talent stack, and has unquestionably broken some major stories – and arguably forced one of the most jaw-dropping moments of the 2016 election.
Mike Cernovich: I never went to journalism school and thought I would want to one day be Woodward and Bernstein or anything like that. I just didn't like I don't like being lied to and I thought Well let's tell the truth about what is actually going on here.
Patrick Courrielche: But Mike found his way into journalism in a round about way.
Raised in a small town in Illinois, around nothing but cornfields and soybean farms, Mike Cernovich grew up a poor, chubby kid who got picked on a lot…until he had a life changing moment.
He describes the time in his self-help book Gorilla Mindset.
Mike Cernovich: One day a bully beat me up badly. It was humiliating. My sister had to pull the attacker off of me. I felt demoralized and powerless. There was a mattress in our garage and I went there and laid down on it and I cried myself to sleep. When my dad came home from work he looked down on me from the garage door with part pity and part contempt and he asked me one question that changed my life. ‘When are you going to get serious?’ Those words coupled with the expression on his face were a wake up call for me. I made the decision there. I would get serious. Very serious.
Patrick Courrielche: He began training hard in martial arts. Eventually claiming to have beaten up all but one of his past bullies. He’d eventually channel that energy into a different direction. He ultimately moved out to Southern California to attend law school and later started a law blog. That was his first step into journalism.
Mike Cernovich: I got involved in legal journalism probably 10 or 15 years ago. I had a law blog that I kept as a hobby. And one thing that I would notice is that in judicial opinions discussing prosecutorial misconduct the judges would never identify the prosecutor by name.
I would look into court records and court filings to find obscure information about people who engaged in unethical legal conduct.
Patrick Courrielche: At the time he didn’t even realize that what he was doing was journalism…basically being curious about something and digging in to find the answer. He moved away from the law blog and started an online magazine for what he described as “alpha males” and would develop a self-help business around an idea he calls “Gorilla Mindset”, publishing books and producing self-help seminars around the concept. But he would get drawn back to journalism when he got a tip from some of his blog readers.
Mike Cernovich: I think the first time I ever really did journalism was when I had a bunch of readers in Budapest Hungary and at the time I was going to go to Budapest just to go to the opera house or something and they told me hey you know the media is really lying about the migration issues happening and I thought OK I'll go figure that out.
Patrick Courrielche: At the time in 2015, there was a major immigration crisis hitting Europe like a ton of bricks.
Mike Cernovich: And I went to the Keleti train station in Hungary in Budapest and I noticed yeah the media had not been telling the truth.
Patrick Courrielche: The media in the area were branding the European migrants as refugees. However, what Mike saw was something different.
Mike Cernovich: But the issue is what's the difference between a refugee and a migrant and that's not something that the media is prepared to discuss. Now the difference is that migrants leaving his country for a better economic opportunity and that's not something I want to knock, but that's different than a pure refugee. Here's what I noticed at the Keleti train station. There were signs I kid you not that were literally saying ‘do not stop in Denmark’ because under the refugee migration act whichever country get fingerprinted first is the country you have to stay in. And I thought well Denmark's a pretty nice country, but Denmark doesn't have as generous benefits as Germany and Austria.
Mike Cernovich: And I realized OK there's more to this story than is being reported and that was the beginning.
Patrick Courrielche: Like so many others, including yours truly, Mike had unintentionally stepped into a life of journalism.
Mike Cernovich: James O'Keefe has a quote which I like and that is, ‘journalism is an activity not an identity.’ And that even though I didn't know it at the time I was doing journalism but not really realizing it. But I would only do it as a one off. I wasn't trying to get scoops right.
Patrick Courrielche: He was ready to step away from journalism again. But then something happened – the campaign of the century was taking shape.
Mike Cernovich: In 2015 I had strongly held political beliefs which was that I hated both parties equally. I had what would be called a negative moment with politics during the bailouts of Wall Street and I said wait a minute. All these people got rich and my friends are playing bankruptcy and losing their homes. And John McCain and Barack Obama are suspending campaigning to go back to Washington D.C. to figure out how he can help the big banks and forget about the consumers. So for me the idea of being politically involved or being on his side was something I held in contempt…
So I was anti politics anti both political parties. And of course that was pre Trump because as we know Trump arrived and he changed everything.
Trump just showed up and I thought this guy's fun. I want to see him smash things. I want to see him call everybody out. I want to watch the show. I didn't even know what Trump’s political issues were. I just knew that this is fun.
Patrick Courrielche: What he was struck by in the early part of the 2016 Election was that the media thought Trump’s ceiling was three percent.
Mike Cernovich: So at the time of that are you people are crazy. Trump is everywhere and he's got it he's got a very strong shot and in fact the GOP they can't win the general election. The only person in the GOP running who could win the general election is Trump. And then of course everybody told me I was dumb didn't know what I was talking about. Stick to lifting weights and I thought OK now. Now you guys started arguing with me. I'm going to get into this.
Patrick Courrielche: Like so many citizen journalists, what caught his eye during the election cycle was the difference between what he was witnessing firsthand and what the mainstream media was telling the public.
Mike Cernovich: And I noticed something that I wasn't seeing in the news which was if you go to a Trump rally good time everybody's nice and occasionally you know maybe a punch gets thrown that shouldn't. And I don't have any tolerance for that kind of stuff. But if you compare say a Trump rally to a rock concert or even to a left wing event you'll find out that they're peaceful. But you go outside of the Trump rally…and there’s like carnage. People are throwing bottles. By people I mean Antifa, far left protesters, throwing glass bottles at the police chanting f the police, attacking Trump supporters. I saw a guy get his nose broken…
And if you turned on the news they would say, ‘Can you believe how bad these Trump rallies are?’ And I said wait a minute, the Trump rallies are actually quite nice but outside is the carnage. So then I started streaming what was happening outside of the Trump rallies and kept doing that and went from there.
Patrick Courrielche: Mike’s Twitter following was on the rise. He started using a live video streaming app called Periscope that connects to Twitter and was providing his followers a perspective that they weren’t getting anywhere else.
As the Democratic National Convention was opening in Philadelphia, a major scandal broke out. Wikileaks had just leaked emails from the Democratic National Committee showing they’d rigged the primaries against Bernie Sanders. Protests erupted outside the DNC convention. Sanders supporters were pissed. The mainstream media largely ignored the protests. Mike Cernovich did not.
Mike Cernovich: You can think what you want. There’s a lot of people here. So I’m gonna give you a tour of this park that we’re at by the convention center. Just so you can get a sense of how many f*ckin people are here.
Patrick Courrielche: He described what he was doing as journalism about journalism. He wanted to show where the press was and where they were not, what they were doing and what they were not doing.
As the 2016 campaign raged on, Mike was naturally finding ways to expose the mainstream media’s bias. He decided to hone in on a taboo subject. Hillary’s Health.
Hillary Clinton had serious health incidents throughout the years – going back to 1998 when she got a serious blood clot in her knee. In 2005, she fainted during a luncheon speech. Then in early 2008, during a TV interview in the heat of her first Presidential run, a problem reared its ugly head.
Hillary Clinton: [coughing]
Patrick Courrielche: At first it looked like an isolated incident. But then it happened again a few days later.
Hillary Clinton: [coughing]
Patrick Courrielche: She would eventually drop out of the race, paving the way for Obama’s election. He’d later appoint her as Secretary of State in 2009. Then shortly after taking the position…
Patrick Courrielche: The health concerns continued to pop up…with another coughing fit in 2012.
Hillary Clinton: [coughing]
Patrick Courrielche: Many Americans think we select our presidential frontrunners. That’s rarely the case. The parties pick and mold their frontrunners years in advance. Which is why a few days after Obama won re-election, Hillary started her branding campaign for a 2016 presidential run to be his successor. And her health came into question.
But just one day after her Barbara Walters interview aired, Hillary was rushed to a doctor and diagnosed with a concussion after fainting again. The episode couldn’t be kept under wraps.
She had to be admitted into the hospital for a blood clot that formed in the space between her brain and her skull behind her right ear. The head injury was so serious, she was forced to wear special glasses for double vision.
The optics of the incident, so soon after telling the world she was healthy, provided a clear problem for her 2016 run. So she did something unprecedented.
Steve Croft: This is very improbable. This is not an interview I ever expected to be doing.
Patrick Courrielche: Just a few weeks after being released from the hospital, she appeared with President Obama in a joint interview with 60 Minutes. And what was the message delivered to the public?
Steve Croft: “Why were you so insistent about wanting her to be Secretary of State.”
President Obama: “Well, I was a big admirer of Hillary’s before our primary battles and the general election. Her discipline, her stamina, her thoughtfulness…
Patrick Courrielche: Her stamina. The political class seemed to know something the public did not…it appeared there was something up with Hillary’s health. She’d eventually ditched the double vision glasses, but her violent coughing fits continue.
Hillary Clinton: [coughing]
Patrick Courrielche: So when the 2016 Presidential campaign was fully underway, it shouldn’t have been a surprise that Hillary’s health was going to be an issue. Matt Drudge was first to bring it up in a big way.
Matt Drudge: She’s old and she’s sick. She’d not a contender. They’re making here a contender with these propped up Saturday Night Live things. It’s like a head on a stick. And then on the today show with the Gunthrie. A head on a stick. She is not a viable vibrant leader for the country of 300, including the illegals 380 million. Anyone who is 70 years old and hypothyroid you do not elect president ladies and gentlemen. You don’t do it.
Patrick Courrielche: Then just a few weeks later, Trump picked up the baton…and in pure Trumpian fashion, drove the message home.
Donald Trump: [Strength, Stamina montage.]
Patrick Courrielche: Trump was pounding out the message. And at a time when the exhaustion of the campaign was clearly beginning to wear on Hillary. By the beginning of 2016, the uncontrollable coughing fits were back.
Hillary Clinton: [coughing fit]
Patrick Courrielche: It was at about this time, in April 2016, that Mike Cernovich started to publicly identify this issue. In a series of tweets he brought attention to her health. “Hillary simply does not have the energy or health or stamina to fight Trump one on one,” he tweeted. “If you can't see this, you are truly blind by hate,” he added.
No one in the mainstream media was critically reporting about her obvious health problems. So Mike began blogging about it. As Hillary’s coughing fits continued, the media was forced to cover it in the only way they knew how - claiming the attacks on her health were sexist.
Katy Tur: And there’s this valed sexism they’ve been accused of. Somebody doesn’t have the strength and stamina, somebody who should not be president.
Patrick Courrielche: But even with the media playing defense, the health concerns swirling in social media were leaving a mark. So Hillary introduced a new campaign slogan that appeared directly designed to counter the brewing controversy.
Chuck Todd: If you could sum up, what is the big idea of your candidacy?
Hillary Clinton: Look, we are stronger together…
Patrick Courrielche: It was no coincidence that the word “stronger” was in her slogan. Her campaign might as well have said Hillary was sick.
The message started to become clear to the Twitterverse.
Mike Cernovich: So yeah so Hillary what happened there was Scott Adams said just written that he thought that Hillary looked unhealthy and I looked at Hillary and I thought Hillary is unhealthy and my brain just due to being a lawyer is always looking for logical inconsistency…
Patrick Courrielche: And he noticed that Hillary was canceling events and hiding from the media. By contrast, Trump was everywhere.
Mike Cernovich: There was even a time she went 255 days I believe without doing a press conference and thus I started with a friend started a countdown clock saying when was Hillary's last press conference.
Patrick Courrielche: Conservative media was, however, fixated on Hillary’s shady finances. But it was falling flat. The Clinton’s financial corruption was already baked in the cake. And besides, people think all politicians are corrupt. But bad health – that’s a fatal flaw. Mike’s instincts gravitated to an area that the media was saying was completely off limits. By early August, Mike began publicly advocating that Hillary’s health was the single issue of the election. By contrast, the media was not only ignoring her health, they were actively trying to marginalize anyone talking about it. Mike, and others like Paul Joseph Watson, attacked the issue nearly full time.
Mike got the hashtag #HillarysHealth trending, and posted article after article on the subject – sometimes making wild speculations. If the media wasn’t going to cover the unknowns about her health, Mike would fill the void in a way that got attention. He wondered about what looked like a lesion on her tongue. He questioned whether a specific member of her Secret Service detail was possibly a medical handler. He published articles quoting medical professionals about her potential ailments. He led with headlines like “Hillary’s Health cannot be ignored.”
Mike Cernovich: And we kept pushing and we kept pushing that we kept pushing the narrative. For example she had a stool with every event that she would kind of lean on and say well why does she have a stool and next thing you know the stool is gone. And it was it was unrelenting because she she was not healthy.
Patrick Courrielche: People started combing the Internet for any signs of Hillary’s frailty. They found images of her needing help up stairs at a campaign stop. The Drudge Report ran with the images. The Hillary’s Health hashtag reached such a fever pitch that Hannity dedicated an entire segment to the growing controversy.
Of course, the far-left CNN entered, claiming that questions about her health were the stuff of conspiracy theories. Brian Stelter led the charge.
Brian Stelter: And the Clinton campaign, whether you agree with them or not, they are right tonight to be saying these are just conspiracy theories. They’ve been debunked time and time again.
Patrick Courrielche: But no matter what CNN and others did to try and make the issue off-limits, the concern over her health kept growing. She was forced to respond.
Jimmy Kimmel: The new one is you are unhealthy. That you had a concussion. Rudy Giuliani was on Fox News yesterday and today saying you seem to be sick, you look tired, etc. etc. Are you in good health?
Hillary Clinton: Here, take my pulse while I’m talking to you.
Jimmy Kimmel: Oh, okay.
Hillary Clinton: Make sure I’m alive.
Jimmy Kimmel: Oh my god there’s nothing there. Can you open this jar of pickles? This has not been tampered with.
Patrick Courrielche: She may have opened the jar, but she was still in a media pickle. Because, you see, Mike wasn’t operating purely on a hunch. He claimed to receive some inside information.
Mike Cernovich: Now as you know Secret Service does not leak. That is the one law enforcement agency where they're just not going to tell you anything. However Hillary Clinton had mistreated Secret Service for years and years and years. I'm not going to say my source was Secret Service but I was informed to monitor Hillary and have someone constantly follow her around because there kind of would be an incident.
Patrick Courrielche: The issue became so toxic for Hillary that any cancellation on her schedule would have surely caused an Internet firestorm. At the time, Trump was everywhere – tirelessly campaigning. The Hillary’s Health meme contrasting the two candidates created pressure for Hillary to go out when she probably shouldn’t have. And in early September 2016, the demands of the campaign started catching up with her.
Hillary Clinton: [coughing fit]
Patrick Courrielche: She started making serious mistakes.
Hillary Clinton: To be grossly generalistic, you can put half of Trump supporters into what I call a basket of deplorables. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic, you name it.
Mike Cernovich: So the pace the pace because of the questions people are asking got too much for her and then that led to the event on 9/11.
Patrick Courrielche: Weirdly, the media claimed they didn’t follow Clinton as she left the event. So the details of the incident were at first sketchy. But then the real story began to leak.
Hillary apparently fainted, for a third time…that we know of. And luckily, an astute onlooker captured it all on video.
The media tried to claim Hillary just stumbled…but the video clearly showed that she collapsed. It was a stunning moment. The news spread like wild fire.
Mike Cernovich: I'll always remember 9/11 two different ways. One is of course the terrible attacks and then I'll remember people screaming get out of bed my phone was ringing because I'm a night owl is up to probably 4:00 in the morning that night. So I was sleeping. I was happy dreaming away about something I'm sure. And then and shakes me she was Michael everybody's calling you something must have happened.
And I look at my phone and my texts just blown up Scott Adams texted me, ‘it's over.’ And I thought it's over what the heck happened and then of course I signed online and saw the now famous tape of Hillary collapsing in the van.
Patrick Courrielche: After watching the video, he jumped online to gloat with his followers.
Mike was completely vindicated. The fake news media, who just days ago were saying concerns over Hillary Clinton’s health were pure conspiracy theories, now had to acknowledge that her health was indeed an issue.
Mike Cernovich: And the point I want to make about that video that I find most telling about it and I haven't heard anybody but me mentioned this point though if you and I were walking Patrick and you fell down I would be like oh crap like what do we do. And when Hillary just collapsed everybody knew what to do.
There was no sense of what's happening is this a bad thing what we have to do that tells me that that wasn't the first time she had collapsed because yep just grabbed her and another guy grabbed her put her in like another day at the office and that's something the media never wants to talk about because it shows that the media were conspiracy theorists.
The claim that I spread a conspiracy theory about her health when no the conspiracy theory was that she was actually healthy.
Patrick Courrielche: This was the event that made Mike Cernovich the enemy of the mainstream media. Why? Because he made the media look ridiculous, and he had fun doing it.
Media coverage of Mike started to trickle in. The New Yorker featured him in an article entitled “Trolls for Trump” in October 2016. He had arrived. The story largely positioned him as an influential supporter of Trump’s candidacy.
The rest of the media probably would have left him alone after that – the press tends to ignore effective journalists on the right. But then the unthinkable happened. Trump won the presidency.
Patrick Courrielche: Like so many other Trump supporters – Mike Cernovich was added to the media’s hit list.
Mike Cernovich: I want to say I'm like a zoo animal they were studying. They were all they all of who I was but they wouldn't talk about me. That's another point I guess about the New Yorker article that was a big awakening moment for me is all these people who oh never heard of this guy nobody knows who he is when that article came everybody goes, Yeah I told ya. Cernovich is a loser. Look at him he lives with his mother-in-law because he can't afford a house and is an insecure wannabe alpha male whatever. And I thought wow, all you people who ignored me are sharing this article you clearly know a lot about me. So that's when I realized that they were all pretending to not know who I was and they were lying.
Patrick Courrielche: Their close surveillance of Mike would soon play out.
The first major media hit piece against him arrived in the form of a 60 Minutes story about the purveyors of fake news.
The media, unwilling to admit that Trump legitimately won the presidency, began a conspiracy theory that fake news led to his victory – and the show placed Mike Cernovich at the center of it all. 60 Minutes even suggested that Mike was connected to an outrageous crime.
A few weeks before Election Day 2016, Wikileaks published some emails of John Podesta, a top advisor to Hillary Clinton. Online chat rooms began to discuss what they thought was a strange code language used in the emails. Some speculated that the use of the word “pizza” was code for pedophilia. Followers of the Internet phenomenon called it Pizzagate.
Mike Cernovich: The idea that I was some kind of huge Pizzagate spreader when what in fact happened is I posted a hash tag unrelated stories just about pedophilia.
Patrick Courrielche: Mike had often been criticizing the media for normalizing pedophilia. The New York Times, Salon.com and others published articles arguing that pedophiles were not monsters. It was a disorder, not a crime. So Mike used the trending Pizzagate hashtag and story to criticize the media on its gross normalization of pedophilia. At times he was imprecise with his words, and admittedly he enjoyed a good conspiracy theory – all of which left him vulnerable.
A man ended up entering a DC pizzeria, thought by some Pizzagate believers to be the center of a child pedophile ring and shot at the only locked door in the restaurant thinking he was saving trapped kids. But there were no trapped kids. Luckily no one was hurt. The man was arrested and sentenced to several years in prison. But it was the perfect opportunity for the media to try and take down Mike.
60 Minutes opened up their segment with the shooting – and suggested that Mike was somehow connected to the crime…and perhaps even responsible for it. Stunningly though, when Mike published the entire interview transcript, 60 Minutes said something entirely different. During the interview, Scott Pelley admitted that the show’s researchers verified that Mike never claimed the pizzeria was involved in a child pedophile ring. That admission never made the show.
Mike Cernovich: And then I went on 60 Minutes and that was when I was on everybody's radar because everybody remembers I remember the day went on 60 Minutes for the rest of my life.
Everybody was hyped when they found out that I was going to be on because they thought he was going to be crushed. Everybody said I can't wait to watch Cernovich go on 60 Minutes he's going to be destroyed and the hash tag for 60 Minutes trended. Everybody was tweeting me you're a loser. Can't wait to watch you get destroyed.
I go on. Afterwards, media silence. Nothing. I know I did well then. Because they would be letting me know if I hadn’t. And then that's when the media pieces started to show up and of course they took a very dishonest tone which was oh he's a troll and if you are you with a troll it's going to be different than a normal media person they try to again create this dehumanised me to make me seem like I'm not a human being. And that was nasty on their part.
Patrick Courrielche: Even after being branded as the leader of fake news, Mike kept breaking real stories, major stories – including the story proving Trump was right about the Obama Administration spying on him. Donald Trump Jr. said Mike deserved a Pulitzer Prize for the reporting – the highest award in journalism. Mike also started to change his approach – becoming less trolly, more publicly empathetic…a bit more Kumbaya. He started a effort to shame journalists into covering violence against Trump supporters by calling out the entire press corps at a White House briefing.
Mike Cernovich: The violence against Trump supporters isn’t being covered, why is that? Why won’t anybody here cover the violence against Trump supporters?
Patrick Courrielche: It was around this time that a left-wing video creator started to elevate his harassment of Mike on Twitter. The guy worked with CNN’s parent company, Turner Broadcasting.
Mike Cernovich: There was a guy, and I'm not going to name him because I don't want to give people more attention, who started trolling me on Twitter with tweets that I don't even think I’d written, right. And I thought OK this guy's a little creepy. Whatever. Twitter people troll you. And then he started telling his followers to like dogpile on me or whatever the term is. And I just started getting all kinds of harassment creepy messages from his followers they would invade me like 50 or 100 times anytime I did a video so I blocked the guy.
Patrick Courrielche: When you block someone on Twitter you stop them from seeing your posts and they can no longer communicate with you through the site.
Mike Cernovich: I'm like oh OK whatever. This is a creepy guy I’m blocking the guy. And then he tells his followers, Cernovich blocked me, message Cernovich. Which by the way is inciting harassment. And I got the usual hey weird Mike this and that.
Patrick Courrielche: The harassment could have stopped there, but this Twitter gang took it a step further. They began sending Mike some pretty disturbing messages – including a Photoshopped image of semen on top of a picture of Mike and his daughter with just the slang word for semen in the message.
Mike Cernovich: And that set me off.
Patrick Courrielche: Mike says he checked to see if the person who sent the message interacted with and followed the Turner Broadcasting guy he blocked…and sure enough they did.
Mike Cernovich: I just went ham I think as any father would and did some very very heated Periscopes about this. And then I thought OK this person's gonna just go away. Move on.
Patrick Courrielche: But he didn’t.
Mike Cernovich: Just unrelenting. I would do an event. Threats, the venue would say they’re getting threats.
Patrick Courrielche: The venue cancelled Mike’s event due to the threats. And the “stalker”, as Mike now refers to him, emailed Mike ridiculing him about the cancellation. Mr. Stalker kept escalating the harassment.
Mike Cernovich: There’s a video now the person has made of my wife and there's a baby being beaten up in the background.
Patrick Courrielche: Mr. Stalker used one of Mike’s videos and added audio of a baby crying and slapping sounds to suggest that Mike and his wife were abusing their child.
Mike Cernovich: and the person made a video tagging in child protective service organizations saying somebody needs to rescue this baby. This baby is being abused. And that that's like a different level. Right. That's a completely different level of game.
Patrick Courrielche: The obsession Mr. Stalker and his followers have with Mike is alarming. Mr. Stalker has threatened to call the police to rescue Mike’s daughter, a threat that can be interpreted as “swatting” - a dangerous act where pranksters attempt to get law enforcement to send a large number of armed police to a particular address. It’s dangerous because someone can get mistakenly killed. Mr. Stalker has threatened to crash a wedding that Mike was attending with his daughter. That led to a police report filed by the groom. The Twitter gang has edited audio of his daughter to make it sound like she’s saying things about pedophiles. They started an ugly rumor that Mike had a sex tape with a conservative journalist. Mr. Stalker has even tweeted out Mike’s phone number and others from this Twitter gang have tweeted out his address and made death threats to him and his wife.
Mike Cernovich: real sick stuff. We're talking you know real beyond the pale. And this has been going on for about two years.
Just there's so much of it that I actually lose track of it. I had a kind of surreal moment where I texted my wife and I said hey babe I'm I'm looking for a specific threat. You have the one where the guy said he's going to bash your head with a baseball bat. And she is like oh yeah let me check. And then three minutes later she gives it to me. Right. That's coming from the followers and fans of this stalker gang. And these are verified Twitter accounts by the way who are inciting this kind of harassment. Of course I report the tweets. Nothing happens.
Patrick Courrielche: But besides the moral concerns, Mike is troubled by their fixation for another reason.
Mike Cernovich: Recently we noticed that these people who commit these crimes the Capitol Gazette shooter for example he started off on Twitter making threats on Twitter and stalking journalists on Twitter. And then he went into the Capitol Gazette and shot five people and I know a number of people died. So the people who stalk you there there is a real safety risk if it's a multi multi-year fixation as it is with me.
Patrick Courrielche: All along the way, Mike has attempted to inform the mainstream media of his situation in hopes that they’d deescalate the harassment. Mr. Stalker is a leftwing political commentator. Maybe some peer pressure would bring the harassment to an end.
Mike has even attempted to inform Turner Broadcasting employees, and CNN journalists Brian Stelter, Oliver Darcy, and Jake Tapper – all reporters claiming to be concerned about the safety of journalists in these volatile times. Mike says none of them have responded.
The division of Turner Broadcasting that Mr. Stalker worked with closed this past October. But as recently as November 8, 2018, Mr. Stalker threatened to send police to Mike’s house for a fabricated allegation. Mike recently filed an affidavit with law enforcement in hopes of ending the continued threats. But if something happens to him or his family, the media will carry some of the blame.
Which brings us back to the question at hand, is the mainstream media really concerned about the safety of journalists?
The answer apparently depends on who you are. When Mike spoke to a Huffington Post reporter about Mr. Stalker, the reporter’s response was telling.
Mike Cernovich: The blogger there said oh everybody in D.C. knows. But like nobody's going to write that story. And Shauna was like appalled.
Patrick Courrielche: If the media really cared about the safety of journalists, they’d come to Mike’s defense – regardless of their feelings about his brand of tough journalism. Because we all know our media doesn’t mind an aggressive reporter as long as he’s going after their enemy.