Charles C. Johnson
|Charles C. Johnson|
Charles Carlisle Johnson|
October 22, 1988
Milton, Massachusetts, U.S.
|Education||Claremont McKenna College|
|Years active||2013 – present|
Charles Carlisle Johnson (born October 22, 1988) is an American far-right political activist. A self-described "investigative journalist", Johnson is frequently described as an internet troll, and has been involved in the proliferation and spread of multiple fake news stories. Johnson was owner of the websites GotNews.com, WeSearchr.com, and Freestartr.com, all of which are now defunct. He has also written two books, both published in 2013 by Encounter Books.
- 1 Education
- 2 Controversies
- 2.1 Bob Menendez
- 2.2 Cory Booker
- 2.3 David D. Kirkpatrick
- 2.4 2014 Mississippi Republican primary election
- 2.5 Ferguson
- 2.6 University of Virginia rape article
- 2.7 Banning from Twitter
- 2.8 Katie Walsh
- 2.9 Charlottesville Rally
- 2.10 Trump campaign WikiLeaks liaison
- 2.11 Fraudulent sexual harassment claim against Senator Charles Schumer
- 2.12 Denunciation by Anti-Defamation League
- 3 Books
- 4 Gawker lawsuit
- 5 Websites (GotNews, WeSearchr, Freestartr)
- 6 References
- 7 External links
Johnson graduated from Milton Academy in 2006. He then attended Claremont McKenna College, graduating in 2010.[self-published source] During his college years he was awarded the Eric Breindel Collegiate Journalism Award and the Publius Fellowship at the Claremont Institute.
Johnson was involved in the creation of a Daily Caller story that accused U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) of soliciting underage prostitutes in the Dominican Republic. A criminal investigation of the case found no evidence, and the women making the allegations later admitted they had been paid by a local lawyer to make the claims.
On October 14, 2013, Johnson published an article on The Daily Caller claiming that Newark mayor and senatorial candidate Cory Booker never lived in Newark, citing neighbors of Booker's alleged address as evidence. Booker's campaign provided a reporter from Buzzfeed with rental checks and other documents for the address going back several years, and Booker's communication director dismissed Johnson's allegations as "laughable". According to Booker's campaign he lived there from late 2006 to shortly before he was elected Senator in 2013. Johnson stands by his reporting, claiming that Booker may well have paid rent but did not live in Newark.
David D. Kirkpatrick
In January 2014, Johnson published an article reporting that New York Times reporter David D. Kirkpatrick was arrested for exhibitionism and had previously posed for Playgirl. Johnson's source for the Playgirl claim was a January 22, 1990, article in The Daily Princetonian, which was later revealed to be satirical. Johnson apologized to Kirkpatrick.
2014 Mississippi Republican primary election
On June 30, 2014, Johnson published a story on GotNews accusing Mississippi senator Thad Cochran of bribing African-Americans to vote for him in the Mississippi Senate Republican primary. The story came days after Cochran had defeated Tea Party challenger Chris McDaniel in a run-off election. Johnson claimed that a Black pastor named Stevie Fielder had told him he was paid by Cochran's campaign to bribe Black Democrats into voting for Cochran. Johnson paid the pastor for his statements, a controversial practice sometimes known as "checkbook journalism". Fielder later partially recanted his story, saying that he had been speaking hypothetically, that he had turned down the offer, and that Johnson's recording of his interview had been selectively edited, a claim Johnson denies.
During the election, Johnson also accused the Cochran campaign of being responsible for Mississippi Tea Party leader Mark Mayfield's suicide and encouraged his Twitter followers to flood a Cochran campaign conference call.
During the Ferguson unrest, Johnson published the Instagram account of shooting victim Michael Brown and stated that the account "shows a violent streak that may help explain what led to a violent confrontation with Police officer Darren Wilson". Johnson also filed a lawsuit to have Brown's juvenile records released. In Brown's home state of Missouri, the records of minors are private, but Johnson argued that the matter was of pressing public interest under the state's sunshine law. The county court disagreed. Further appeal attempts by Johnson to unseal the records went as far as the State Supreme Court of Missouri, which denied his request.
In a separate incident during the unrest, Johnson published the addresses of two New York Times reporters, claiming that they published the known addresses of Darren Wilson. The New York Times has said the reporters only revealed the street on which Wilson once lived.
University of Virginia rape article
In December 2014, Rolling Stone columnist Sabrina Erdely published an article entitled "A Rape on Campus" about the alleged gang rape of a University of Virginia (UVA) student named "Jackie" in 2012 at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house at UVA. The article was later found to be fabricated. Johnson publicly identified a woman he thought was Jackie, which has since been proven to be false.
Banning from Twitter
On May 24, 2015, Johnson sent a tweet asking his followers for donations to help him "take out" Black Lives Matter activist Deray McKesson. McKesson shared the tweet and took the tweet as a threat. Johnson was permanently banned from Twitter after several users reported him for harassment. In 2018, Johnson sued Twitter for banning him on the grounds that Twitter violated his First Amendment right to free speech. The California Superior Court in Fresno struck down Johnson's lawsuit on June 6.
In August 2017, Johnson's website GotNews falsely accused a Michigan man of being responsible for the car attack on 12 August 2017 that killed and injured anti-racist protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia. The Michigan man was subsequently harassed, and was advised by police to flee his home following a slew of death threats. Together with his father, the Michigan man filed a defamation lawsuit against 22 corporate and individual defendants, including Johnson. On June 1, 2018, Johnson and GotNews agreed to pay $25,000 to settle the lawsuit.
Trump campaign WikiLeaks liaison
In September 2016, Johnson published a story on GotNews about a soon-to-launch anti-Trump website called PutinTrump.org. WikiLeaks forwarded the story in private to Donald Trump Jr. before publicly tweeting it. Business Insider speculated that Johnson's story in September on GotNews may have marked the beginning of Donald Trump Jr.'s—and the Trump campaign's—back-channel contact with Julian Assange and Wikileaks. (Johnson wrote after Wikileaks tweeted the story, "About 2 hours after our original article, Julian Assange's WikiLeaks repeated our discoveries. Guess which big leaks organization reads GotNews & WeSearchr on the downlow! Come on Julian, let's work together. WikiLeaks & WeSearchr is a match made in heaven. We can take down Hillary together.") In August 2017, Johnson brokered and attended a meeting in London between GOP Rep. Dana Rohrabacher and Julian Assange to discuss a presidential pardon for Assange.
Fraudulent sexual harassment claim against Senator Charles Schumer
On December 11, 2017 Johnson wrote on his Facebook page, “Michael Cernovich & I are going to end the career of a U.S. Senator.” Johnson claimed to have uncovered a sexual harassment lawsuit against Senator Charles Schumer. The lawsuit, however, turned out to be a forgery. Moreover, language in the forged lawsuit was copied verbatim from a real sexual-harassment complaint filed against Rep. John Conyers. Schumer referred the matter to Capitol police for investigation.
Denunciation by Anti-Defamation League
Johnson attended President Donald Trump's 2018 State of the Union Address as a guest of Rep. Matthew Gaetz of Florida. In a letter to Gaetz, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League urged Gaetz to "discontinue any association with Johnson and to publicly repudiate his views immediately." The letter noted that Johnson's website WeSearchr raised more than $150,000 for the legal defense of neo-Nazi propagandist Andrew Anglin and that Johnson has written that he agrees with notorious Holocaust denier David Cole "about Auschwitz and the gas chambers not being real."
Johnson has written two books published through Encounter Books, Why Coolidge Matters (2013, ISBN 1-59403-669-1); an essay collection encompassing various points in Calvin Coolidge's political career, and The Truth About the IRS Scandals (2013, ISBN 9781594037443; a book covering the IRS targeting controversy and alleging that the since-debunked assertion that the agency targeted primarily conservative and right-leaning groups.
In June 2015, Johnson sued Gawker for defamation in Missouri for $66 million for Gawker's publication of rumours that Johnson defecated on the floor while a student at Claremont McKenna College, and filed a similar suit in California in December. In January 2016, the Missouri suit was dismissed.
Websites (GotNews, WeSearchr, Freestartr)
Johnson was the founder of three websites, all of which are defunct.
In 2015, Johnson created WeSearchr, a crowd-funding website. By 2017, the site became a fundraising platform for alt-right causes, though Johnson claimed that was not his intention. Neo-Nazi Andrew Anglin, founder of The Daily Stormer, used the website to raise money to defend himself against a lawsuit brought by the ACLU on behalf of a woman trolled by followers of Anglin. In addition to corwdfunding legal battles, the site was also designed to crowd-fund bounties on reporting goals. According to Johnson, he used the site to receive money for information he had already acquired. The site closed in May 2017.
Johnson also started the crowdfunding site Freestartr, which collected funds for white nationalist Richard B. Spencer, far-right activist Tommy Robinson, white nationalist Faith Goldy, Johnson himself, and others. In mid-2018, Freestartr stopped accepting funds, as the site was banned by Stripe and Paypal, which Freestartr used to process payments.
- "Charles Johnson Threatens To Sue Man Who Called Him A Child Molester". The Daily Caller. 2014-09-04. Retrieved 2015-08-22.
- Flynn, Kerry. "Former Breitbart reporter sues Twitter for banning him". Mashable. Retrieved 2018-09-16.
- "About Charles C. Johnson, investigative journalist and author". Charles C. Johnson. Retrieved 2018-09-16.
- Hess, Amanda (2015-05-28). "Chuck C. Johnson suspended from Twitter: Why?". Slate.com. Retrieved 2015-08-22.
- Christian Dem in NC (2015-05-25). "Charles C. Johnson gets booted off Twitter for wanting to "take out" Deray McKesson". Dailykos.com. Retrieved 2015-08-22.
- Wicentowski, Danny (2015-06-08). "St. Louis Lawyer Fighting to Reinstate Troll King Charles Johnson on Twitter | News Blog | St. Louis News and Events". Riverfront Times. Retrieved 2015-08-22.
- Mac, Ryan (2017-01-09). "A Troll Outside Trump Tower Is Helping To Pick Your Next Government". Forbes.com. Retrieved 2017-01-09.
- Barrouquere, Brett (September 19, 2018). "Once an outlet for conspiracies, GotNews.com now shuttered without explanation". Hatewatch. Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved September 21, 2018.
- "Charles Johnson". LinkedIn. Retrieved 2015-08-22.
- "Eric Breindel Collegiate Journalism Award - American Media Institute". American Media Institute. 2012-04-27. Archived from the original on 2017-05-20. Retrieved 2017-05-20.
- "Publius Alumni". The Claremont Institute. Archived from the original on 2014-08-20. Retrieved 2017-05-20.
- "Women: Sen. Bob Menendez paid us for sex in the Dominican Republic". The Daily Caller. 2012-11-01. Retrieved 2015-08-22.
- Bump, Philip (March 8, 2013). "Daily Caller's Prostitution 'Scoop' Was So Thin Even the "New York Post" Passed". The Atlantic. Archived from the original on June 30, 2009. Retrieved March 13, 2013.
- Lazo, Luz (March 18, 2013). "Dominican police: 3 women paid to make false claims about Menendez". "Washington Post". Retrieved March 19, 2013.
- Charles C. JohnsonContributor (2013-10-14). "Neighbors: Cory Booker never lived in Newark". The Daily Caller. Retrieved 2015-08-22.
- Cramer, Ruby (October 14, 2013). "Cory Booker: Yes, I Live In Newark". Buzzfeed. Retrieved June 10, 2016.
- Weigel, David (2013-10-15). "Birther director claims Cory Booker does not live in Newark". Slate.com. Retrieved 2015-08-22.
- Charles C. JohnsonContributor. "Benghazi reporter Kirkpatrick went nude constantly". The Daily Caller. Retrieved 2015-08-22.
- Weigel, David (2014-01-06). "Daily Caller's Charles C. Johnson cites 24-year-old fake Princeton newspaper to attack the David D. Kirkpatrick, the New York Times' Benghazi reporter". Slate.com. Retrieved 2015-08-22.
- Politics (2014-07-11). "Charles Johnson And The Mississippi Senate Race". Business Insider. Retrieved 2015-08-22.
- Pender, Geoff (July 11, 2014). "Meridian man dials back vote-buying claim". The Clarion-Ledger. Retrieved September 5, 2015.
- Cogan, Marin (June 16, 2015). "Ugly: The aftershocks of a tea-party suicide". New York Magazine. Retrieved September 5, 2015.
- Wilstein, Matt (September 5, 2014). "Conservative Blogger Tries to Prove 'Violent Streak' with Michael Brown's Photos". Mediaite. Retrieved September 5, 2015.
- Zara, Christopher (August 28, 2014). "Mike Brown Juvenile Record? Lawsuit Seeks Alleged Arrest History Of Slain Missouri Teen". International Business Times. Retrieved September 5, 2015.
- Howell, Patrick (2014-12-07). "Journalist publishes alleged name and photo of UVA rape victim". Dailydot.com. Retrieved 2015-08-22.
- Thomsen, Jacqueline (6 June 2018) "Court strikes down far-right activist's lawsuit over Twitter ban." The Hill. (Retrieved 7 June 2018.)
- "How Trump gets his fake news". POLITICO. Retrieved 2017-05-15.
- Collins, Ben (2017-08-13). "Alt-Right Media Framed Wrong Person in Car Attack, Labeled Him 'Anti-Trump Druggie'". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 2017-08-13.
- Darcy, Oliver (August 16, 2017). "Man misidentified as Charlottesville driver had to flee home; plans to sue far-right sites". CNNMoney. Retrieved August 2, 2018.
- Palma, Bethania (February 18, 2018). "GotNews and Other Disreputable Sites Sued for Naming Innocent Teen as the Charlottesville Killer". Snopes.com. Retrieved August 2, 2018.
- Barrouquere, Brett (June 8, 2018). "Costly Hate". Hatewatch. Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved August 2, 2018.
- Johnson, Charles C. (September 21, 2016). "BREAKING: George Soros-Tied Group Launching Trump-Russia Conspiracy Theory Website". GotNews.com. Archived from the original on September 22, 2016. Retrieved September 21, 2018.
- Bertrand, Natasha (November 15, 2017) "A notorious far-right blogger may have provoked WikiLeaks' outreach to Donald Trump Jr." Business Insider. (Retrieved November 11, 2017.)
- Mai-Duc, Christine (August 17, 2017) "Rohrabacher on meeting with WikiLeaks’ Assange: We talked about 'what might be necessary to get him out.'" Los Angeles Times. (Retrieved November 16, 2017.)
- Sullivan, Eileen (December 13, 2017) “Schumer Files Police Report After Fraudulent Document Emerges.” New York Times. (Retrieved March 6, 2018.)
- Weill, Kelly (December 13, 2017) “Alt-Right Hyped Sexual Harassment Hoax to Attach Schumer.” The Daily Beast. (Retrieved March 6, 2018.)
- Greenblatt, Jonathan A. (February 1, 2018) "ADL Letter to Congressman Matthew Gaetz Regarding Charles Johnson." Anti-Defamation League.org. (Retrieved March 2, 2018.)
- Delk, Josh (January 31, 2018). "GOP rep invited alt-right activist to the State of the Union". The Hill. Retrieved 2018-01-31.
- "Charles C. Johnson - Encounter Books". Encounter Books. Retrieved 21 September 2018.
- http://www.washingtontimes.com, The Washington Times. "BOOK REVIEW: 'Why Coolidge Matters'". The Washington Times. Retrieved 2018-09-16.
- "Remember the IRS Scandal? It was fake news all along". Newsweek. 2017-10-10. Retrieved 2018-09-16.
- Chait, Jonathan. "The Debunked IRS Targeting Scandal Shows There Is No Sane Wing of the GOP". Daily Intelligencer. Retrieved 2018-09-16.
- Sola, Katie (June 19, 2015). "Conservative Blogger Sues Gawker For $66 Million Over Public Pooping Rumors". Huffington Post.
- Patrick, Robert (January 15, 2016). "Blogger's defamation lawsuit tossed out — of Missouri". St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
- Murphy, Tim (December 6, 2014) "The Rise and Fall of Twitter’s Most Infamous Right-Wing Troll." Mother Jones. (Retrieved October 1, 2018.)
- Barrouquere, Brett (September 19, 2018) "Once an outlet for conspiracies, GotNews.com now shuttered without explanation." Southerner Poverty Law Center. (Retrieved October 1, 2018].
- Castillo, Michelle (June 24, 2017). "The far right uses this site to fund favorite causes, and its founder aims to be 'very profitable'". CNBC. Retrieved August 28, 2018.
- Singal, Jesse (May 16, 2017). "Chuck Johnson's WeSearchr Is Having a Bit of a Meltdown". Select All. New York Magazine. Retrieved August 28, 2018.
- Lenz, Ryan (August 5, 2018). "One Year Later: Leaders from 'Unite the Right' Fall From Grace". Intelligence Report. Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved 28 August 2018.
- Menegus, Bryan (May 16, 2017). "World's Worst Website Goes Down (Again)". Gizmodo. Retrieved August 28, 2018.
- Kirkland, Allegra (May 24, 2018). "After Struggle To Raise Funds, Spencer Finally Gets Lawyer In C'ville Case". Talking Points Memo. Retrieved August 28, 2018.
- Dearden, Lizzie (August 1, 2018). "Tommy Robinson is richer and has more international support after two-month imprisonment, research shows". The Independent. Retrieved August 28, 2018.
- Sommer, Will (August 21, 2018). "Big Finance is Hitting the Far Right in the Wallet". The Daily Beast. Retrieved August 28, 2018.
- Guynn, Jessica (January 18, 2018). "'Alt-right' escalates war against Silicon Valley, pledges to expose bias against conservatives". USA Today. Retrieved August 28, 2018.
- Fisher, Alyssa (July 24, 2018). "Far-Right Organizations Get Banned From PayPal, Beg Followers For Help". The Forward. Retrieved August 28, 2018.