Charles C. Johnson

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Charles C. Johnson
Charles Carlisle Johnson

(1988-10-22) October 22, 1988 (age 32)
EducationClaremont McKenna College
OccupationPolitical activist
Years active2013 – present

Charles Carlisle Johnson (born October 22, 1988) is an American far-right[1] political activist. A self-described "investigative journalist",[2] Johnson is often described as an internet troll, and has been involved in the proliferation and spread of multiple fake news stories.[3][4][5] Johnson was owner of the websites,, and, all of which were short-lived.[6] He wrote two books, both published by Encounter Books in 2013.


Johnson attended Milton Academy high school on scholarship. He attended Claremont McKenna College from 2007 to 2011.[7] At college he was awarded the Eric Breindel Collegiate Journalism Award and the Publius Fellowship at the Claremont Institute.[8][9]


Bob Menendez[edit]

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.[10][11]

Cory Booker[edit]

On October 14, 2013, Johnson published an article in The Daily Caller claiming that Newark mayor and then 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.[12][13]

David D. Kirkpatrick[edit]

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.[14] Johnson apologized to Kirkpatrick.

Malaysia Airlines Flight 370[edit]

Johnson told the ABC news affiliate in Fresno that he knows where Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 is. The airplane disappeared on March 8, 2014 while en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. "I just need the funding to go there," he told news reporters.[15]

2014 Mississippi Republican primary election[edit]

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.[16] 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".[16] 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.[17]

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.[16][18]


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".[19] 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.[20] 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.[21] The New York Times has said the reporters only revealed the street on which Wilson once lived.[21]

University of Virginia rape article[edit]

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.[21] Johnson publicly identified Jackie, but in the selection of photos he used had the wrong photo of Jackie,[22]

Banning from Twitter[edit]

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.[3] 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.[23]

Katie Walsh[edit]

In February 2017, Johnson's website claimed that deputy chief of staff Katie Walsh was “the source behind a bunch of leaks” in the White House without offering any concrete evidence.[24]

Charlottesville Rally[edit]

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.[25] The Michigan man was subsequently harassed, and was advised by police to flee his home following a slew of death threats.[25][26] Together with his father, the Michigan man filed a defamation lawsuit against 22 corporate and individual defendants, including Johnson.[27][28] On June 1, 2018, Johnson and GotNews agreed to pay $25,000 to settle the lawsuit.[29]

Trump campaign WikiLeaks liaison[edit]

In September 2016, Johnson published a story on GotNews about a soon-to-launch anti-Trump website called[30] 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.")[31] 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.[32]

Fraudulent sexual harassment claim against Senator Charles Schumer[edit]

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.[33][34]

Charge of Holocaust denial[edit]

Johnson once posted on a Reddit Ask Me Anything "I do not and never have believed the six million figure" (referring to the number of people killed in the Holocaust) and "I agree with [Holocaust denier] David Cole about Auschwitz and the gas chambers not being real."[35] When Rep. Matthew Gaetz brought Johnson to President Donald Trump's 2018 State of the Union Address as a guest of Florida, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League cited these statements — along with Johnson's website WeSearchr having raised more than $150,000 for the legal defense of neo-Nazi propagandist Andrew Anglin and other actions — in urging Gaetz to "discontinue any association with Johnson and to publicly repudiate his views immediately".[36][37]

Johnson denies he is a Holocaust denier. He said "I support Israel as a Jewish state and Zionism as a concept" in the same Reddit thread where his Holocaust denial statements appeared,[35] is a donor to the Simon Wiesenthal Center, and is currently suing the Huffington Post over claims that he is a Holocaust denier. [38]


Johnson has written two books published through Encounter Books,[39] Why Coolidge Matters (2013, ISBN 1-59403-669-1); an essay collection encompassing various points in Calvin Coolidge's political career,[40] and The Truth About the IRS Scandals (2013), ISBN 9781594037443; a book covering the IRS targeting controversy and alleging the since-debunked assertion that the agency targeted primarily conservative and right-leaning groups.[41][42]

Gawker lawsuit[edit]

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.[43] In January 2016, the Missouri suit was dismissed.[44] Johnson settled with Gawker's estate in 2018.[45]

Websites (GotNews, WeSearchr, Freestartr)[edit]

Johnson was the founder of three websites, all of which are defunct.

In early 2014, Johnson created GotNews, an alt-right news website.[7] The site closed on September 17, 2018.[46] GotNews filed for bankruptcy in May 2019. The bankruptcy petition lists GotNews’ total liabilities as between $500,000 and $1 million.[47]

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 American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on behalf of a woman trolled by followers of Anglin.[48] In addition to crowdfunding 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.[49] The site closed in May 2017.[49][50][51]

Johnson also started the crowdfunding site Freestartr, which collected funds for white nationalist Richard B. Spencer,[52] far-right activist Tommy Robinson,[53] Canadian nationalist Faith Goldy,[54] Johnson himself,[55] and others. In mid-2018, Freestartr stopped accepting funds, as the site was banned by Stripe and PayPal, which Freestartr used to process payments.[54][56]


  1. ^ Flynn, Kerry. "Former Breitbart reporter sues Twitter for banning him". Mashable. Archived from the original on 2018-09-16. Retrieved 2018-09-16.
  2. ^ "About Charles C. Johnson, investigative journalist and author". Charles C. Johnson. Archived from the original on 2015-08-29. Retrieved 2018-09-16.
  3. ^ a b Hess, Amanda (2015-05-28). "Chuck C. Johnson suspended from Twitter: Why?". Archived from the original on 2015-08-22. Retrieved 2015-08-22.
  4. ^ Wicentowski, Danny (2015-06-08). "St. Louis Lawyer Fighting to Reinstate Troll King Charles Johnson on Twitter". Riverfront Times. Archived from the original on 2015-08-29. Retrieved 2015-08-22.
  5. ^ Mac, Ryan (2017-01-09). "A Troll Outside Trump Tower Is Helping To Pick Your Next Government". Archived from the original on 2017-01-09. Retrieved 2017-01-09.
  6. ^ Barrouquere, Brett (September 19, 2018). "Once an outlet for conspiracies, now shuttered without explanation". Hatewatch. Southern Poverty Law Center. Archived from the original on 2018-09-22. Retrieved September 21, 2018.
  7. ^ a b Murphy, Tim (December 6, 2014) "The Rise and Fall of Twitter’s Most Infamous Right-Wing Troll." Archived 2018-10-01 at the Wayback Machine Mother Jones. (Retrieved October 1, 2018.)
  8. ^ "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.
  9. ^ "Publius Alumni". The Claremont Institute. Archived from the original on 2014-08-20. Retrieved 2017-05-20.
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ Lazo, Luz (March 18, 2013). "Dominican police: 3 women paid to make false claims about Menendez". Washington Post. Archived from the original on 2013-03-19. Retrieved March 19, 2013.
  12. ^ Cramer, Ruby (October 14, 2013). "Cory Booker: Yes, I Live In Newark". Buzzfeed. Archived from the original on 2016-05-30. Retrieved June 10, 2016.
  13. ^ Weigel, David (2013-10-15). "Birther director claims Cory Booker does not live in Newark". Archived from the original on 2015-09-24. Retrieved 2015-08-22.
  14. ^ 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". Archived from the original on 2015-08-19. Retrieved 2015-08-22.
  15. ^ Hoggard, Corin (January 2, 2015) "How the 'Most Hated Man on the Internet' ticks in Fresno." ABC News. (Retrieved April 8, 2020.)
  16. ^ a b c Politics (2014-07-11). "Charles Johnson And The Mississippi Senate Race". Business Insider. Archived from the original on 2015-08-14. Retrieved 2015-08-22.
  17. ^ Pender, Geoff (July 11, 2014). "Meridian man dials back vote-buying claim". The Clarion-Ledger. Retrieved September 5, 2015.
  18. ^ Cogan, Marin (June 16, 2015). "Ugly: The aftershocks of a tea-party suicide". New York Magazine. Archived from the original on 2015-09-06. Retrieved September 5, 2015.
  19. ^ Wilstein, Matt (September 5, 2014). "Conservative Blogger Tries to Prove 'Violent Streak' with Michael Brown's Photos". Mediaite. Archived from the original on 2015-09-26. Retrieved September 5, 2015.
  20. ^ Zara, Christopher (August 28, 2014). "Mike Brown Juvenile Record? Lawsuit Seeks Alleged Arrest History Of Slain Missouri Teen". International Business Times. Archived from the original on 2015-09-24. Retrieved September 5, 2015.
  21. ^ a b c "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2017-02-23. Retrieved 2017-03-01.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link).
  22. ^ Howell, Patrick (2014-12-07). "Journalist publishes alleged name and photo of UVA rape victim". Archived from the original on 2015-09-23. Retrieved 2015-08-22.
  23. ^ Thomsen, Jacqueline (6 June 2018) "Court strikes down far-right activist's lawsuit over Twitter ban." Archived 2018-06-08 at the Wayback Machine The Hill. (Retrieved 7 June 2018.)
  24. ^ "How Trump gets his fake news". POLITICO. Archived from the original on 2017-05-15. Retrieved 2017-05-15.
  25. ^ a b Collins, Ben (2017-08-13). "Alt-Right Media Framed Wrong Person in Car Attack, Labeled Him 'Anti-Trump Druggie'". The Daily Beast. Archived from the original on 2017-08-13. Retrieved 2017-08-13.
  26. ^ Darcy, Oliver (August 16, 2017). "Man misidentified as Charlottesville driver had to flee home; plans to sue far-right sites". CNNMoney. Archived from the original on 2018-08-02. Retrieved August 2, 2018.
  27. ^ Palma, Bethania (February 18, 2018). "GotNews and Other Disreputable Sites Sued for Naming Innocent Teen as the Charlottesville Killer". Retrieved August 2, 2018.
  28. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2018-02-18. Retrieved 2018-02-18.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  29. ^ Barrouquere, Brett (June 8, 2018). "Costly Hate". Hatewatch. Southern Poverty Law Center. Archived from the original on 2018-06-13. Retrieved August 2, 2018.
  30. ^ Johnson, Charles C. (September 21, 2016). "BREAKING: George Soros-Tied Group Launching Trump-Russia Conspiracy Theory Website". Archived from the original on September 22, 2016. Retrieved September 21, 2018.
  31. ^ Bertrand, Natasha (November 15, 2017) "A notorious far-right blogger may have provoked WikiLeaks' outreach to Donald Trump Jr." Archived 2017-11-16 at the Wayback Machine Business Insider. (Retrieved November 11, 2017.)
  32. ^ Mai-Duc, Christine (August 17, 2017) "Rohrabacher on meeting with WikiLeaks’ Assange: We talked about 'what might be necessary to get him out.'" Archived 2017-11-16 at the Wayback Machine Los Angeles Times. (Retrieved November 16, 2017.)
  33. ^ Sullivan, Eileen (December 13, 2017). "Schumer Files Police Report After Fraudulent Document Emerges". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 2018-03-07. Retrieved March 6, 2018.
  34. ^ Weill, Kelly (December 13, 2017). "Alt-Right Hyped Sexual Harassment Hoax to Attach Schumer". The Daily Beast. Archived from the original on 2018-01-26. Retrieved March 6, 2018.
  35. ^ a b Smith, Adam C (February 6, 2018). "Matt Gaetz's State of the Union guest admits he questioned Holocaust". The Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved 15 August 2020.
  36. ^ Greenblatt, Jonathan A. (February 1, 2018) "ADL Letter to Congressman Matthew Gaetz Regarding Charles Johnson." Archived 2018-03-03 at the Wayback Machine Anti-Defamation (Retrieved March 2, 2018.)
  37. ^ Delk, Josh (January 31, 2018). "GOP rep invited alt-right activist to the State of the Union". The Hill. Archived from the original on 2018-01-31. Retrieved 2018-01-31.
  38. ^
  39. ^ "Charles C. Johnson - Encounter Books". Encounter Books. Archived from the original on 2018-09-24. Retrieved 21 September 2018.
  40. ^, The Washington Times. "BOOK REVIEW: 'Why Coolidge Matters'". The Washington Times. Archived from the original on 2018-09-16. Retrieved 2018-09-16.
  41. ^ "Remember the IRS Scandal? It was fake news all along". Newsweek. 2017-10-10. Archived from the original on 2018-09-17. Retrieved 2018-09-16.
  42. ^ Chait, Jonathan. "The Debunked IRS Targeting Scandal Shows There Is No Sane Wing of the GOP". Daily Intelligencer. Archived from the original on 2018-09-16. Retrieved 2018-09-16.
  43. ^ Sola, Katie (June 19, 2015). "Conservative Blogger Sues Gawker For $66 Million Over Public Pooping Rumors". Huffington Post. Archived from the original on 2015-08-19. Retrieved 2015-08-22.
  44. ^ Patrick, Robert (January 15, 2016). "Blogger's defamation lawsuit tossed out — of Missouri". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Archived from the original on 2016-01-17. Retrieved 2016-01-16.
  45. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2018-12-05. Retrieved 2018-12-04.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  46. ^ Barrouquere, Brett (September 19, 2018) "Once an outlet for conspiracies, now shuttered without explanation." Archived 2018-09-22 at the Wayback Machine Southerner Poverty Law Center. (Retrieved October 1, 2018).
  47. ^ Merlan, Anna (May 6, 2019) "Far-Right News Site GotNews Has Filed a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Petition." Splinternews. (Retrieved May 27, 2019.)
  48. ^ Castillo, Michelle (June 24, 2017). "The far right uses this site to fund favorite causes, and its founder aims to be 'very profitable'". CNBC. Archived from the original on 2018-08-02. Retrieved August 28, 2018.
  49. ^ a b Singal, Jesse (May 16, 2017). "Chuck Johnson's WeSearchr Is Having a Bit of a Meltdown". Select All. New York Magazine. Archived from the original on 2018-08-29. Retrieved August 28, 2018.
  50. ^ Lenz, Ryan (August 5, 2018). "One Year Later: Leaders from 'Unite the Right' Fall From Grace". Intelligence Report. Southern Poverty Law Center. Archived from the original on 2018-08-29. Retrieved 28 August 2018.
  51. ^ Menegus, Bryan (May 16, 2017). "World's Worst Website Goes Down (Again)". Gizmodo. Archived from the original on 2018-08-29. Retrieved August 28, 2018.
  52. ^ Kirkland, Allegra (May 24, 2018). "After Struggle To Raise Funds, Spencer Finally Gets Lawyer In C'ville Case". Talking Points Memo. Archived from the original on 2018-08-29. Retrieved August 28, 2018.
  53. ^ Dearden, Lizzie (August 1, 2018). "Tommy Robinson is richer and has more international support after two-month imprisonment, research shows". The Independent. Archived from the original on 2018-08-16. Retrieved August 28, 2018.
  54. ^ a b Sommer, Will (August 21, 2018). "Big Finance is Hitting the Far Right in the Wallet". The Daily Beast. Archived from the original on 2018-08-28. Retrieved August 28, 2018.
  55. ^ Guynn, Jessica (January 18, 2018). "'Alt-right' escalates war against Silicon Valley, pledges to expose bias against conservatives". USA Today. Archived from the original on 2018-08-29. Retrieved August 28, 2018.
  56. ^ Fisher, Alyssa (July 24, 2018). "Far-Right Organizations Get Banned From PayPal, Beg Followers For Help". The Forward. Archived from the original on 2018-07-25. Retrieved August 28, 2018.

External links[edit]