Mike Cernovich

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Mike Cernovich
Mike Cernovich (42451724670) (cropped)1.jpg
Cernovich in August 2018
Born
Michael Cernovich

(1977-11-17) November 17, 1977 (age 43)
EducationUniversity of Illinois at Springfield (BA)
Pepperdine University (JD)
MovementMen's rights movement
Websitecernovich.com

Michael Cernovich (born November 17, 1977) is an American alt-right social media personality, political commentator, and conspiracy theorist.[1][2][3] An anti-feminist and early supporter of Donald Trump's political aspirations, Cernovich is generally understood to be part of the alt-right.[3] Cernovich describes himself as part of the "new right" and some have described him as part of the "alt-lite".[4][5] Cernovich has been a regular host of the far-right The Alex Jones Show on InfoWars.[6]

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".[7] 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.[8]

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.[9]

Cernovich is known for his promotion of fake news, conspiracy theories,[8][10] and smear campaigns.[11][12] 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.[7][13][14][15] 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 falsehood.[7][16]

Life[edit]

Cernovich's family were devout Christians in the farming town of Kewanee, Illinois.[8] The family was poor, and his mother suffered from mental illness.[17]

Cernovich graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy from the University of Illinois at Springfield in 2001.[18] He graduated with a Juris Doctor from Pepperdine University's School of Law in 2004.[17]

Cernovich was arrested and charged with rape in 2003. The rape charges were dismissed, but he was ordered to perform community service for misdemeanor battery. His record was later expunged.[8]

Cernovich married his first wife when he was a law student in 2003. He later said the marriage was "ruined by feminist indoctrination".[8] 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.[8][19] He later married his second wife, Shauna.[8] The couple has two children together.[20]

Writing[edit]

Blogs[edit]

In 2004, Cernovich started a legal blog entitled Crime & Federalism, where he wrote about law from a libertarian perspective.[19]

In his early writings, Cernovich focused on antifeminism, men's empowerment, and how to meet women.[7] Shortly after his divorce in 2011, he created the blog Danger & Play, where he wrote about men's rights, fitness, and self-help topics.[19] 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."[14] 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'".[21]

Books[edit]

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.[14] In the book, he advocated a "gorilla mindset" for heterosexual men, suggesting that they should act as dominant alpha males when relating to women.[7]

In 2016, Cernovich published Danger & Play: Essays on Embracing Masculinity.[22] 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.[22]

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.[23]

Social media[edit]

Cernovich became influential on social media, initially as part of the manosphere movement.[24] He later helped to shape far-right narratives in the United States.[7] 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.[8] 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.[25]

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.[8] Cernovich admits to sometimes using trolling tactics,[7] which he says he uses to build his brand rather than for his own amusement.[8]

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).[26] A few days later, he announced his intention to retire from social media, but reversed the decision within hours.[27]

Gamergate[edit]

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.[8][19] 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.[28][9] 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."[28]

Involvement in firings of other individuals[edit]

Sam Seder[edit]

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.[29] MSNBC elected to sever ties with Seder by not renewing his contract (due to expire in February 2018) due to the controversial tweet.[30][29] 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.[29][31][32] After news of the termination broke, Cernovich released a video on Twitter video celebrating his triumph.[30] 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.[30] 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.[30] 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.[31]

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.[31][33] 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."[34] Mother Jones rebuked MSNBC for capitulating "to the demands of a lunatic conservative."[35] HuffPost chided that Cernovich was now MSNBC's new "De Facto Ombudsman."[36] MSNBC primetime anchor Chris Hayes tweeted, "The entire culture and our politics are now dominated by people who have weaponized bad faith and shamelessness."[35] 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.[30][32] A senior MSNBC employee characterized the capitulation as "really weak" and "pathetic".[30][32] MSNBC's management itself was unsettled by the celebratory reaction from the far-right.[30][32] On December 7, 2017, MSNBC decided to reverse their decision to terminate Seder's employment."[33][37]

Cernovich acknowledged that "some are saying Seder was making a joke or being sarcastic."[38] However, he maintained that he didn't misrepresent the tweet and that he had simply "reported on what [Seder] said."[30]

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.[39]

James Gunn[edit]

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.[15] Gunn had been a vocal critic of Donald Trump,[15] and the tweets were unearthed shortly after Gunn had mocked conservative commentator Ben Shapiro. Disney quickly announced they had fired Gunn from his role as director of the Guardians of the Galaxy series.[40]

A number of media outlets openly criticized Disney's decision, including Collider, Cartoon Brew, The Daily Dot, The Independent, National Review, MovieWeb, and Vulture.[41][42][43] An online petition urging Disney to re-hire Gunn received over 400,000 signatures.[44][45] 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.[46]

In March 2019, Gunn was reinstated by Disney as director of the film.[47]

Other activities[edit]

The Alex Jones Show[edit]

In May 2017, Cernovich began hosting the fourth hour of The Alex Jones Show on InfoWars every Friday.[6]

Jeffrey Epstein documents[edit]

Cernovich and the Miami Herald joined Alan Dershowitz (who filed for exoneration) in filing, on journalistic grounds, to have the documents about the 2017 defamation settlement of Giuffre v. Maxwell unsealed.[48] After the judge dismissed their request, the matter was appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit,[49] which vacated that order July 2 and ordered the summary judgment papers unsealed.[50]

Conspiracy theories[edit]

Politico has described Cernovich as an "avid consumer and progenitor of conspiracy theories".[51]

Cernovich believes in the white genocide conspiracy theory.[52] He said that he initially joined the alt-right after realizing that "tolerance only went one way and diversity is code for white genocide".[53][54] He later deleted several tweets referring to the concept.[55]

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.[56][57] He later deleted his tweets related to Pizzagate,[15] and downplayed his involvement in propagating the theory.[58]

Cernovich regularly asserts his belief that there are active child sex rings in Washington, D.C. and in Hollywood.[16][9] He has accused his opponents of being pedophiles on many occasions.[16] A visit to Haiti by the Clintons, he saw as evidence the couple were involved in child trafficking.[59] In another YouTube video, he said that most people employed by the news media and "every A-list actor" in Hollywood were also pedophiles.[7]

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.[51] 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.[9] In April 2017, Cernovich promoted a conspiracy theory that the Khan Shaykhun chemical attack in Syria was a hoax funded by an American financier.[60] 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.[59]

Views[edit]

Cernovich has been classified by some reporters as being part of the alt-right movement.[3] In his study of the alt-right, the political scientist George Hawley argued that Cernovich "might be properly labelled" as "alt-lite".[4] Commentator Angela Nagle described Cernovich as a "major figure in the alt-light milieu".[5] The Southern Poverty Law Center has classified Cernovich as a male supremacist.[14]

Cernovich has denied being alt-right, saying he prefers the label "new right". He has also described himself as an American nationalist.[7][51]

Politics[edit]

Cernovich has criticized electoral politics, writing, "no thinking man buys into this two-party political system".[8]

Cernovich has advocated for a universal basic income within the United States,[61][51] claiming that "Conservatism is on the way out".[62] 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."[63]

Donald Trump[edit]

During the 2016 United States presidential campaign, Cernovich saw Donald Trump as a kindred spirit.[8] 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.[64]

By 2018, Cernovich had become "increasingly critical" of Trump, and less politically active.[64] 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."[64] Also in 2018, Cernovich criticized the Trump administration's 2018 missile strikes against Syria, which also divided the president's political base.[65][66]

Rape[edit]

In August 2012, Cernovich tweeted: "Have you guys ever tried 'raping' a girl without using force? Try it. It's basically impossible. Date rape does not exist".[21] More than four years later, 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."[7] Cernovich has posted multiple other 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?"[67] 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" which he says leads to false accusations of rape.[7]

Works[edit]

Books[edit]

  • 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.

Films[edit]

Year Title Role
2016 The Red Pill Associate producer[68]
2016 Silenced, Our War for Free Speech Producer[69]
2019 Hoaxed: The Media's War on Truth Producer and as self[23]
2020 The Plot Against the President Self[70]

References[edit]

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  3. ^ a b c
  4. ^ a b Hawley, George (2017). Making Sense of the Alt-Right. New York: Columbia University Press. p. 82. ISBN 978-0-231-18512-7.
  5. ^ a b Nagle, Angela (2017). Kill All Normies: Online Culture wars from 4chan to Tumblr to Trump and the Alt-Right. Winchester and Washington: Zero Books. p. 50. ISBN 978-1-78535-543-1.
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  44. ^ Cavna, Michael (July 23, 2018). "#WeAreGroot: How Hollywood is reacting to James Gunn's Disney firing". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on December 23, 2018. Retrieved July 24, 2018.
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  48. ^ Brown, Julie K; Blaskey, Sarah (August 10, 2019). "Huge cache of newly unsealed records detail how Jeffrey Epstein and his madam allegedly lured girls into sexual servitude". Chicago Tribune. Associated Press. Retrieved April 20, 2020.
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  50. ^ "Dershowitz Wins Unsealing of Epstein-Related Defamation Case". news.bloomberglaw.com. Retrieved April 20, 2020.
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  55. ^ "James Gunn Was Fired For Old Tweets Because Disney Listened To The "Pizzagate" Guy". Houston Press. July 23, 2018.
  56. ^ Huang, Gregor Aisch, Jon; Kang, Cecilia (December 10, 2016). "Dissecting the #PizzaGate Conspiracy Theories". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on December 10, 2016. Retrieved April 6, 2017.
  57. ^ Shelbourne, Mallory (April 25, 2017). "Writer who pushed 'Pizzagate' conspiracy theory says he'll attend WH briefing". TheHill. Retrieved January 6, 2021.
  58. ^ "Mike Cernovich, right-wing conspiracy theorist, considers congressional campaign in California". AP NEWS. February 9, 2018. Retrieved January 6, 2021.
  59. ^ a b López G., Cristina; Karet, Brendan; Kerr, John (August 21, 2018). "Cernovich has pushed conspiracy theories about pedophilia, Satanism, 'spirit cooking,' and more". Media Matters for America. Retrieved January 3, 2021.
  60. ^ "How a pair of self-publicists wound up as apologists for Assad". The Economist. April 14, 2017. Archived from the original on April 13, 2017. Retrieved April 14, 2017.
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  62. ^ Gray, Rosie (January 20, 2017). "The 'New Right' and the 'Alt-Right' Party on a Fractious Night". The Atlantic.
  63. ^ Matthews, Dylan (April 4, 2017). "Why the alt-right loves single-payer health care". Vox (website).
  64. ^ a b c Schreckinger, Ben (October 29, 2018). "Trump's Culture Warriors Go Home". Politico. Retrieved November 1, 2018.
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  67. ^ Hod, Itay (July 24, 2018). "Mike Cernovich, Who Got James Gunn Fired, Has Rape Tweet History". TheWrap. Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  68. ^ "Male Supremacy". Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved January 6, 2021.
  69. ^ "About Mike Cernovich". Mike Cernovich. January 7, 2018. Retrieved January 6, 2021.
  70. ^ "Pro-Trump Russiagate Doc in the Works From Daughter of Hollywood Legend (Exclusive) | Hollywood Reporter". www.hollywoodreporter.com. Retrieved January 6, 2021.

External links[edit]