November 17, 1977
Kewanee, Illinois, U.S.
|Movement||Men's rights movement|
Michael Cernovich (born November 17, 1977) is an American alt-right social media personality, political commentator, and conspiracy theorist. Cernovich describes himself as part of the "new right" and some have described him as part of the "alt-lite". Cernovich has been a regular host of the far-right The Alex Jones Show on InfoWars.
Cernovich 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 made a number of inflammatory comments about dating and sexual assault, including the claim that date rape "does not exist". He created a website, Danger and Play, in 2011; it was first known for his postings about men's rights. During the 2016 US presidential election campaign, Cernovich adapted his website as a political blog, advocating in favor of Republican candidate Donald Trump and promoting conspiracy theories about Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. In 2014, Cernovich became a prominent figure in the Gamergate online harassment campaign against several women in the video game industry, and through this built a following among the alt-right.
Cernovich is known for his promotion of fake news, conspiracy theories, and smear campaigns. He helped spread the Pizzagate conspiracy theory, which falsely claimed that John Podesta and other high-ranking Democratic Party officials were involved in a child-sex ring. Cernovich has falsely accused 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 Cernovich's claim about him was revealed to be a lie.
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Cernovich graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy from the University of Illinois at Springfield in 2001. He graduated with a Juris Doctor from Pepperdine University's School of Law in 2004.
Cernovich married his first wife when he was a law student in 2003. He later said the marriage was "ruined by feminist indoctrination". An attorney for a Silicon Valley firm, his first wife earned millions of dollars from an initial public offering (IPO). She filed for divorce in 2011, and Cernovich received what he has described as a "seven-figure sum" in the settlement. He later married his second wife, Shauna. The couple has two children together.
In 2004, Cernovich started a legal blog entitled Crime & Federalism, where he wrote about law from a libertarian perspective.
In his early writings, Cernovich focused on antifeminism, men's empowerment, and how to meet women. Shortly after his divorce in 2011, he created the blog Danger & Play, where he wrote about men's rights, fitness, and self-help topics. The title of Danger & 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." On Danger & Play, he posted such unsubstantiated articles as "The Orlando Shooter Did Not Act Alone", and listed "16 Feminists" he believes "Have Taken Over 'Conservative' Media'".
In 2015, Cernovich self-published Gorilla Mindset: How to Control Your Thoughts and Emotions, Improve Your Health and Fitness, Make More Money and Live Life on Your Terms, which became a bestseller in the motivational self-help category on Amazon. In the book, he advocated a "gorilla mindset" for heterosexual men, suggesting that they should act as dominant alpha males when relating to women.
In 2016, Cernovich published Danger & Play: Essays on Embracing Masculinity. In October 2016, he published MAGA Mindset: Making YOU and America Great Again through Castalia House, a Finnish publishing house founded by Vox Day which primarily publishes science fiction and fantasy.
In 2018, Cernovich partnered with Scooter Downey and Jon Du Toit to write Hoaxed: Everything They Told You Is a Lie, which was also made into a documentary of the same name. The documentary was listed on the Amazon platform before being removed without comment in 2020.
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 2016, his #HillarysHealth hashtag had gotten 240,000 pageviews 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 was one of the four figures identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) as mainly responsible for the spread of #HillarysHealth hashtag on Twitter.
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. Cernovich admits to sometimes using trolling tactics, which he says he uses to build his brand rather than for his own amusement.
In December 2017, Cernovich hosted an "Ask Me Anything" on Reddit, regarded as a failure by several media outlets, which 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 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 2014, Cernovich became a prominent figure of Gamergate, an online harassment campaign during which several women in the video game industry were targeted by Internet trolls. Wired wrote that Cernovich "gained a kind of leadership over the unruly mob", and The Washington Post wrote that "Mike Cernovich went from being relatively unknown to a voice for the alt-right" through his participation in Gamergate.
Cernovich hired private investigators to hound Zoë Quinn, a central target of Gamergate, and worked with Eron Gjoni, Quinn's former boyfriend who had written the disparaging blog post about Quinn which incited the harassment campaign. Cernovich himself harassed and intimidated victims of Gamergate, and used his platform to incite harassment and encourage Gamergate proponents in their actions, including doxing their targets. According to O'Toole et al. writing in Gender Violence, "Cernovich's ongoing strategy, even after Gamergate itself died down, has been to promote conspiracy theories, provide dubious legal advice, and offer a constantly rotating platter of targets."
Involvement in firings of other individuals
In December 2017, Cernovich published a Medium post and contacted several journalists and news outlets about a joke tweet that comedian and MSNBC contributor Sam Seder had written in 2009. Cernovich claimed that the tweet, which 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," proved Seder tacitly endorsed Roman Polanski's sexual abuse crime. MSNBC 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, and that he had been mocking Polanski's apologists. After news of the termination broke, Cernovich released a video on Twitter video celebrating his triumph. 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, and also to produce a three-minute video educating people on Cernovich's tactics. According to Seder, Cernovich's ploy had been retribution for Seder's frequent criticism of then-President Donald Trump as well as Republican Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore.
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." 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." 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."
Cernovich acknowledged that "some are saying Seder was making a joke or being sarcastic." However, he maintained that he didn't misrepresent the tweet and that he had simply "reported on what [Seder] said."
In 2018, Cernovich, Jack Posobiec, and others on the far-right discovered tweets by filmmaker James Gunn in which he joked about sex acts involving children. Gunn had been a vocal critic of Donald Trump, and the tweets were unearthed shortly after Gunn had mocked conservative commentator Ben Shapiro. Disney quickly announced they had severed business ties from his role as director of the Guardians of the Galaxy series.
A number of media outlets openly criticized Disney's decision, including Collider, Cartoon Brew, The Daily Dot, The Independent, National Review, MovieWeb, and Vulture. An online petition urging Disney to re-hire Gunn received over 400,000 signatures. On July 30, 2018, Guardians of the Galaxy cast members Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Sean Gunn, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, and Michael Rooker released a joint statement through social media expressing their support for Gunn.
In March 2019, Gunn was reinstated by Disney as director of the film.
Publication of sexual harassment allegations against John Conyers
Cernovich uncovered sworn affidavits in which former staffers accused Democratic congressman John Conyers of sexual harassment. Cernovich then gave the documents to BuzzFeed, saying he did not publish them on his own because he thought Democrats would attempt to discredit him. BuzzFeed verified that the documents were real and on November 20, 2017, BuzzFeed published an article accusing Conyers of sexual harassment.
Promotion of conspiracy theories
Politico has described Cernovich as an "avid consumer and progenitor of conspiracy theories".
Cernovich believes in the white genocide conspiracy theory. 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.
Cernovich became known for helping to promote the debunked Pizzagate conspiracy theory in 2016, which claimed that high-ranking Democrats were involved in a child sex-trafficking ring. He later deleted his tweets related to Pizzagate, and downplayed his involvement in propagating the theory.
Cernovich regularly asserts his belief that there are active child sex rings in Washington, D.C. and in Hollywood. He has accused his opponents of being pedophiles on many occasions. A visit to Haiti by the Clintons, he saw as evidence the couple were involved in child trafficking. In another YouTube video, he said that most people employed by the news media and "every A-list actor" in Hollywood were also pedophiles.
Cernovich has also supported the unevidenced theory that there were multiple shooters at the 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting, which he claims the government is covering up. In 2016, Cernovich worked with Chuck Johnson and Wikileaks to offer a bounty for information supporting the conspiracy theory that murdered DNC staffer Seth Rich had been behind a leak of emails from the Democratic National Committee. In April 2017, Cernovich promoted a conspiracy theory that the Khan Shaykhun chemical attack in Syria was a hoax funded by an American financier. In a video with Stefan Molyneux posted on YouTube, Cernovich falsely claimed John Podesta, campaign chairman of Hillary Clinton 2016 presidential campaign, was active with others in "spirit cooking" practices, the mixing of breast milk and semen to drink.
Cernovich has been classified as being part of the alt-right or the "alt-lite" movement, while Cernovich has denied being alt-right, saying he prefers the label "new right". He has also described himself as an American nationalist.
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."
During the 2016 United States presidential campaign, Cernovich saw Donald Trump as a kindred spirit and, 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. In September 2018, he tweeted his disappointment, "There's no Wall. She's not locked up. But Flynn got fired and sent to wolves. And Saudi Arabia sold weapons of murder. I give zero f-cks about Republicans losing the House." Also in 2018, Cernovich criticized the Trump administration's 2018 missile strikes against Syria, which also divided the president's political base.
The Southern Poverty Law Center has classified Cernovich as a male supremacist who is notable for his promotion of violent misogyny and defense of rape. According to The New York Times in April 2017, Cernovich has been criticized for arguing that rape is a "liberal fiction" and that date rape as a concept is "harmful ... for men and women" - which he says leads to false accusations of rape.
- Cernovich, Mike (2015). Gorilla Mindset: How to Control Your Thoughts and Emotions, Improve Your Health and Fitness, Make More Money and Live Life on Your Terms. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. ISBN 9781514672112. OCLC 927343429.
- Cernovich, Mike (2016). Danger & Play: Essays on Embracing Masculinity. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. ISBN 9781519652928. OCLC 974812153.
- Cernovich, Mike (2016). Vox Day (ed.). MAGA Mindset: Making YOU and America Great Again. Kouvola, Finland: Castalia House. ISBN 978-952-7065-92-1. OCLC 964446485.
- Downey, Scooter; Du Toit, Jon; Cernovich, Mike (2018). Hoaxed: Everything They Told You Is a Lie. Jonathan Hom. ISBN 9780998490113. OCLC 1080581048.
|2016||The Red Pill||Associate producer|
|2016||Silenced, Our War for Free Speech||Producer|
|2019||Hoaxed: The Media's War on Truth||Producer and as self|
|2020||The Plot Against the President||Self|
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