Cernovich in August 2018
November 17, 1977
|Alma mater||University of Illinois at Springfield (BA)|
Pepperdine University (JD)
Michael Cernovich (born November 17, 1977) is an American social media personality, anti-feminist, men's rights activist, political commentator, and conspiracy theorist. He has been characterized as a part of the alt-right, but does not identify as such. Cernovich has been a regular host of The Alex Jones Show on InfoWars.
He became a blogger in the 2000s, focusing on anti-feminist themes. He gained notice within the manosphere where he gave advice as a "pickup artist" and espoused rape apologia such as claiming date rape "does not exist". He created a website, Danger and Play, in 2012; it was first known for his men's rights postings. During the 2016 US presidential election campaign, Cernovich adapted his website as a political blog, advocating in favor of Republican Donald Trump and promoting conspiracy theories about Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Cernovich is known for his promotion of fake news, conspiracy theories, and smear campaigns. He helped spread Pizzagate, which falsely claimed that John Podesta and other high-ranking Democratic Party officials were involved in a child-sex ring. Cernovich has falsely accused various political opponents of being pedophiles or supporting pedophilia. He succeeded in getting Sam Seder fired from MSNBC with such an allegation, but the reporter was reinstated when the claim was revealed to be a falsehood.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Career
- 3 Views
- 4 Other responses
- 5 Personal life
- 6 Notes
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Cernovich was born on November 17, 1977.  His family were devout Christians in the farming town of Kewanee, Illinois. The family was poor, and his mother suffered from mental illness and was treated for a period of time in an institution. Cernovich graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy from the University of Illinois at Springfield in 2001. He graduating with a Juris Doctor from Pepperdine University's School of Law in 2004.
Blogs and anti-feminist writings
In his early writings, Cernovich focused on antifeminism, men's empowerment, and how to meet women. The title of Danger and Play came from a quote by Friedrich Nietzsche, "The true man wants two things: danger and play. For that reason he wants woman, as the most dangerous plaything." In 2014, Cernovich promoted Gamergate, a controversy during which several women in the video game industry were targeted by Internet trolls. He goaded leading women with tweets such as "Who cares about breast cancer and rape? Not me."
In 2015, Cernovich wrote a self-published self-help book, Gorilla Mindset. In 2016, he tweeted, "Women love aggressive men, but only if they are alpha males." According to The New York Times in April 2017, Cernovich has long been criticized for arguing that date rape is a "harmful concept for men and women." The Southern Poverty Law Center has identified him as a male supremacist.
Cernovich became influential on social media, initially as part of the manosphere movement. He later helped to shape far-right narratives in the United States. He falsely claimed during the 2016 United States presidential election that Hillary Clinton had a "seizure disorder" and Parkinson's disease. By September his #HillarysHealth hashtag had gotten 240,000 page views and had become a national trending topic on Twitter. During the month of September, Cernovich's tweets were seen more than 100 million times.
Cernovich frequently calls his adversaries "cucks", a variant of the alt-right slang word cuckservative, a pejorative term for conservatives who supposedly betray conservative social values. In reference to this, he has written, "To beat a person, you lower his or her social status. Logic is pointless." Cernovich admits to sometimes using trolling tactics, which he says he uses to build his brand rather than for his own amusement.
In October 2016 Cernovich said: "The left likes to talk about power structures, right? Well, the media still thinks of itself as speaking truth to power. What they don't realize is that someone like me is perceived as the new Fourth Estate."
He also said: "Maybe they should check their structural privilege." The "paternalistic" media, he said, was giving way to a more democratic one. "It makes journalists crazy, because they used to be in control. They can't control people anymore. Everyone has a voice now."
Cernovich has accused the Democratic Party of attempting to assassinate him.[dubious ] In 2016, Cernovich criticized Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for speaking at a gender-segregated mosque.
On sexual harassment and pedophilia
In August 2012, Cernovich wrote that date rape "does not exist". In October 2016, he wrote, "Lying about being in love to sleep with someone isn't rape. Getting played isn't rape. Regret isn't rape. Thinking, 'I might have been date raped,' means you weren't raped."
In mid-November 2017, Cernovich offered $10,000 for information about congressional sexual harassment settlements. The next week, he sent documents concerning a case settled by Representative John Conyers (D-Michigan) to BuzzFeed, which vetted them and reported on them. Cernovich encouraged all victims of sexual assault by congressmen to speak up and offered to cover their legal expenses.
Cernovich helped to promote the false Pizzagate conspiracy theory in 2016 through his blog posts. He asserts his belief that there are active child sex rings in Washington, D.C. He has accused his opponents of being pedophiles on many occasions. In a YouTube video he said that most people employed by the news media and "every A-list actor" in Hollywood were also pedophiles.
Freelance journalist Jake Offenhartz said that Cernovich and his followers had inappropriately used a photograph at a rally of Columbia University activists in New York City on October 30, 2017 to imply falsely that leftist protestors were marching to advocate pedophilia.
In December 2017, Cernovich hosted an "Ask Me Anything" on Reddit. The Reddit event, regarded as a failure by several media outlets, was dominated by users mocking him and asking questions about the rape allegations against him, his advice to men to expose their genitalia and masturbate in front of women who are unwilling to engage in sexual acts, and a purported encounter with a male-to-female transgender individual in Thailand (which Cernovich denied). A few days later, he announced his intention to retire from social media, but reversed the decision within hours.
In July 2018, Cernovich dug up historical tweets by director James Gunn of Disney, who was a vocal critic of Trump. Gunn had joked about rape and pedophilia; Disney fired Gunn for these tweets. In March 2019, Gunn was reinstated by the company and directed Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
Cernovich has posted multiple provocative tweets about rape, including the comment: "A whore will let her friend ruin your life with a false rape case. So why should I care when women are raped?"
Political statements about Donald Trump and others
In January 2006, Crime and Federalism published an article by Cernovich about Donald Trump, "Donald Chump?", in which he referred him as a "media whore" who "casts his image to the world on demand and recasts it constantly to suit everchanging ratings and marketing schemes". He advised to "never trust a man who combs his hair so as to cover his shiny dome, and then flaunts a wife young enough to be his daughter."
A decade later, during the 2016 presidential campaign, Cernovich saw Donald Trump as a kindred spirit. According to Politico, during the 2016 campaign and early period of the Trump administration, Cernovich was an "indefatigable Trump cheerleader", and believed that he and kindred activists would have a major influence on the Republican Party. By 2018 Cernovich had become "increasingly critical" of Trump, and less politically active. He refocused his efforts on his "Gorilla Mindset" lifestyle-coaching practice.
In September 2018, he tweeted, "There's no Wall. She's not locked up. But Flynn got fired and sent to wolves. And Sauadi [sic] Arabia sold weapons of murder. I give zero f-cks about Republicans losing the House." Cernovich complimented democratic socialist (and Trump critic) Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on her primary election upset of New York Congressman Joe Crowley: "She just slaughtered fucking Crowley, just slaughtered the machine, and now she's like the It girl... I like to watch peak human achievement."
Cernovich criticized the Trump administration's 2018 missile strikes against Syria, which also divided the president's political base. Afterward Cernovich announced that he would shift to writing about "philosophy" and more esoteric content. He claimed to have felt a "cosmic" "shift in energy" that only "high-consciousness people" could apprehend. He also elaborated on his past use of mind-altering drugs and several times referred to reality as a "simulation".
Conflict with Sam Seder
I am confident that other tweets from that time will reflect my disgust in a less satirical tone.
—Sam Seder in an email to MSNBC Senior VP of Communications Errol Cockfield Jr., defending the tweet.
On November 28, 2017, Cernovich published a post on Medium that resurfaced a deleted tweet progressive talk radio host Sam Seder wrote in 2009 joking about convicted statutory rapist and fugitive film director Roman Polanski. The tweet read, "Don't care re Polanski, but I hope if my daughter is ever raped it is by an older truly talented man w/ a great sense of mise en scene." Cernovich claimed the tweet proved Seder tacitly endorsed Polanski's sex crime. He then approached multiple journalists and news outlets, including MSNBC, to break the story.
Seder found out about the brewing controversy the same evening en route to a supermarket after being contacted by MSNBC Senior Vice President of Communications Errol Cockfield Jr. asking him to explain the tweet. Seder replied to Cockfield in an email explaining the point being made in the tweet and the context in which he wrote it. Seder also provided other tweets supporting his claim.
The next day, on November 29, 2017, Seder received a voicemail from Cockfield indicating MSNBC's upper management was seriously considering cutting ties with him. Seder responded that MSNBC was making a mistake and that, "there's no story here." Seder further warned Cockfield that if they moved forward with the termination, "You guys are going to be the story." Seder also requested a formal termination email. Seder never received the email, leading him to believe that this employment status was still undecided.
On Sunday, December 3, 2017, Seder was notified by Jon Levine of TheWrap that they had been contacted by MSNBC who had decided to terminate Seder's contract and were about to break the story through their own publication. Seder immediately sent Cockfield an inquiry regarding his status. Cockfield, at first, did not have a status update but later confirmed MSNBC was, in fact, dropping Seder.
The next day, on December 4, 2017, TheWrap announced that MSNBC had elected to sever ties with Seder by not renewing his contract (due to expire in February 2018) due to the controversial tweet. Seder defended the tweet by pointing out that, taken in context of the current events around the time he posted it, it was a satiric response to a petition urging Polanski's release from detention in Switzerland because of his stature as an artist. That he was, in fact, mocking Polanski's apologists. After news of the termination broke, Cernovich released a Twitter video celebrating his triumph.[N 1]
By then, Seder noted that advertisers on The Majority Report with Sam Seder podcast were also being contacted and pressured by Cernovich and his followers to cut ties with the show over the tweet. In response, Seder launched a GoFundMe campaign to help maintain funding for the show in the face of potential loss of advertising revenue. In an episode of the podcast titled, "I'm Under Attack By the Nazi Alt-Right", Seder said, "this smear involves the willful misinterpretation of a tweet that I posted in 2009" and that he will "never be ashamed of criticizing those who would excuse the predation of women or girls."
Seder revealed plans to use a portion of the GoFundMe proceeds to produce a three-minute video educating people on Cernovich's tactics. According to Seder, Cernovich's ploy had been retribution for his frequent criticism of US President Donald Trump as well as Republican Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore who was accused of sexual assault.[N 2] Further, Seder chided MSNBC's decision to terminate his employment concluding, "I think they're afraid of those people."[N 3]
The news of Seder's dismissal prompted an almost immediate backlash. Over 12,000 people signed a petition protesting Seder's termination, arguing that Cernovich had acted in malice and was deliberately mischaracterizing the tweet. AV Club wrote that "MSNBC has now fully bought into that smear campaign ... whose openly stated goal is the destruction of news outlets just like it through the use of blatantly manipulative trolling techniques. Mother Jones rebuked MSNBC for capitulating "to the demands of a lunatic conservative."[N 4] HuffPost chided that Cernovich was now MSNBC's new "De Facto Ombudsman." MSNBC primetime anchor Chris Hayes tweeted, "The entire culture and our politics are now dominated by people who have weaponized bad faith and shamelessness." Hayes tweeted several times against the decision by his own network, including: "Also, I reiterate my longstanding position that people shouldn't be fired for a tweet, *particularly* one that is obviously being read in manifestly bad faith." Actress and comedian Sarah Silverman also tweeted in support of Seder.[N 5]
There was considerable dissent within MSNBC over Seder's termination. Some employees expressed concerns that his firing would encourage other far-right personalities to launch similar smear campaigns. A senior MSNBC employee characterized the capitulation as "really weak" and "pathetic". MSNBC's management itself was unsettled by the celebratory reaction from the far-right. On December 7, 2017, MSNBC decided to reverse their decision to terminate Seder's employment. MSNBC President Phil Griffin said in a statement, "Sometimes you just get one wrong, and that's what happened here. We made our initial decision for the right reasons—because we don't consider rape to be a funny topic to be joked about. But we've heard the feedback, and we understand the point Sam was trying to make in that tweet was actually in line with our values, even though the language was not. Sam will be welcome on our air going forward." In response, Seder issued a statement while accepting his job back:
I appreciate MSNBC's thoughtful reconsideration and willingness to understand the cynical motives of those who intentionally misrepresented my tweet for their own toxic, political purposes ... We are experiencing an important and long overdue moment of empowerment for the victims of sexual assault and of reckoning for their perpetrators. I'm proud that MSNBC and its staff have set a clear example of the need to get it right.[N 6]
—Sam Seder on Cernovich.
Columbia Journalism Review cited the incident as an example of a broader pattern of far-right media personalities using online smear campaigns to get mainstream journalists fired. Cernovich, who also promoted the Pizzagate conspiracy theory, insisted "date rape doesn't exist" and was himself arrested for rape (though subsequently pleading guilty to battery), acknowledged that "some are saying Seder was making a joke or being sarcastic." However, he still insisted he didn't misrepresent the tweet and that he simply "reported on what [Seder] said." He later admitted that the whole incident was a stunt[N 7] while claiming victory explaining, retroactively, it was meant to bring attention to what he perceived was a double standard and a lack of "diversity of viewpoint"[N 8] in the media. He also sarcastically tweeted that he was "thrilled" MSNBC offered Seder his job back while threatening to "bring Sam Seder's Tweet out every time the media goes after someone else for a Tweet."[N 9] On December 9, 2017, having failed to get Seder fired, Cernovich claimed that his wife was being stalked at the behest of the media.
Cernovich identifies as an "American Nationalist". He advocates IQ-testing for all immigrants and limiting those who can enter, and promotes ending federal funding of universities. He opposes the two-party system and says that his support for Trump is not based on public policy.
Cernovich has been classified by some reporters as being part of the alt-right movement, but he rejects this label. In his study of the alt-right, the political scientist George Hawley also disputed this characterization, saying that Cernovich "might be properly labelled" as "alt-lite". Commentator Angela Nagle described Cernovich as a "major figure in the alt-light milieu".
Cernovich has advocated for a universal basic income within the United States, claiming that "Conservatism is on the way out". Interviewed on 60 Minutes in March 2017, he advocated for single-payer healthcare, saying if "a large swath of the company, or country, are suffering, then I think that we owe it to all Americans to do right by them and to help them out."
Cernovich believes in the white genocide conspiracy theory. He has said that it is real in South Africa. He said that he initially joined the alt-right after realizing that "tolerance only went one way and diversity is code for white genocide". He later deleted several tweets referring to the concept.
Following Cernovich's August 2016 appearance on Fox News's Red Eye, the show's producers later said that they had made a mistake in booking him. They had not known of his reputation for online disputes.
In August 2017, the Anti-Defamation League accused Cernovich of commissioning and publishing a "blatantly anti-Semitic cartoon" by Ben Garrison as part of a campaign against President Donald Trump's national security adviser.
Cernovich married his first wife as a law student in 2003. He said the marriage was "ruined by feminist indoctrination". He has admitted to having cheated on his first wife and bragged about it, sometimes publishing articles online that offered tips on how to cheat on partners. An attorney for a Silicon Valley firm, his first wife earned millions of dollars from an initial public offering of stock. She filed for divorce in 2011, and Cernovich received what he has described as a "seven-figure sum" in the settlement.
- "Thank you to everybody who emailed MSNBC," Cernovich said in a video he posted on Twitter. "Thank you to all of you. You're heroes. You're heroes because you emailed MSNBC and you let them know about the tweet. You let them know the people will be heard."
- Seder explained Cernovich's ploy thusly: "If they succeed in getting me fired or scaring my advertisers away, they will continue until they have silenced anyone who'd criticize Roy Moore, criticize President [Donald] Trump or criticize the conservative movement."
- "According to Seder, he and MSNBC management never had a serious discussion about the tweet, what it meant and whether it posed a problem for MSNBC social-media standards. "If there was any conversation about the tweet," says Seder, "it had nothing to do with substance. It was, 'This is blowing up.'" And from what Seder can tell, his position with the network didn't much concern the company's top managers. "I only spoke to the PR guy and they only fired me after there was an imminent story," says Seder. An MSNBC spokesman responds that the company requested Seder's written defense of his tweet, and then considered that defense in reaching its decision on the contract renewal. Seder's conclusion: "I think they're afraid of those people."
- Mother Jones wrote: "thanks to the demands of a lunatic conservative, they cut off Sam Seder for a single lame joke made on Twitter in 2009."
- Sarah Silverman's tweet: "Yo @msnbc ur gonna let Mr Pizzagate be ur moral compass?"
- Seder further elaborated on this statement in a phone interview with The New York Times: "I think [MSNBC] messed up, and I think they hopefully learned a lesson that you have to make an assessment on the substance. Media outlets in general have been very reluctant to do that, and I think it's become so much more important in this era, both because of technology and because of, frankly, the depravity of some elements of our society."
- "The left isn't going to stop going through our tweets so we aren't going to stop going through theirs," Cernovich said. "I wish we would get over people trying to find someone saying a naughty thing. I've been saying that for years. And nobody wants to listen. So fine, we will play by the same rules."
- "EVERY media article has defended Sam Seder's right to make child rape 'jokes' that would get anyone else fired, but yeah there is no media narrative at all, and there's totally a diversity of viewpoint in the media. Yes, sure thing guys, we totally buy that." —Mike Cernovich
- "I'm thrilled MSNBC has made the decision that people shouldn't be fired over satirical tweets," Cernovich said on Twitter. "This rule will surely be applied equally to all sides, and if it's not, we will bring Sam Seder's Tweet out every time the media goes after someone else for a Tweet."
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- Lange, Jeva (April 4, 2017). "The president's son thinks PizzaGate conspiracy theorist Mike Cernovich should win the Pulitzer". The Week. Retrieved November 22, 2017.
- Kaczynski, Andrew; McDermott, Nathan (March 24, 2017). "Virginia gubernatorial candidate laughed about GOP 'cucks' on controversial conspiracy theorist's show". CNN. Retrieved November 22, 2017.
- "James Gunn Was Fired For Old Tweets Because Disney Listened To The "Pizzagate" Guy". Houston Press. July 23, 2018.
- "This Is MSNBC's De Facto Ombudsman". HuffPost. December 6, 2017.
- "Anti-Semitism Used in Attack Against National Security Adviser H. R. McMaster". ADL Blog. August 3, 2017. Retrieved May 26, 2018.
- Demopoulos, Alaina (April 18, 2019). "But Where are the Lederhosen? Mike Cernovich Models Male Fashion". Daily Beast. Retrieved July 3, 2019.
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