One-man YouTube brand and far-right darling Tim Pool came down with a nasty case of COVID-19, along with many members of his staff, after hosting a maskless comedy night with far-right performers. This, however, did not make him a vaccine convert. Instead, with the help of podcaster Joe Rogan, Pool—who started as an Occupy Wall Street livestreamer and built a video empire out of extremist talking points—has become the latest poster boy for the dubious treatment of the virus with ivermectin.
On the latest episode of Fever Dreams, journalist Robert Silverman talks about how Pool’s team handled their COVID outbreak after they came down sick at their compound in rural Maryland, which doubles as a skateboard park.
Pool was so ill at one point, as he himself recounted, he thought he would have to go to the emergency room and begged urgent-care doctors for help. Then Pool turned to Rogan, who pushed him to find concierge medical treatment. Later, Pool—who also received monoclonal antibodies and ivermectin, a “kitchen sink” of treatments—helped pay the bills of some of the people around him who got ill, although he resisted answering Silverman’s questions as to whether he’d alerted the venue that hosted his comedy show about his positive diagnosis. (The 200-odd other people who attended never received an email from Pool.)
As Silverman points out, Pool often tries to make his right-wing fans feel that an attack on him is an attack on them. It’s a page right out of Trump’s playbook—and that of Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy, who has also been in the news after Insider recently published a piece detailing his allegedly brutal sexual encounters with women.
Portnoy—who, as Fever Dreams co-host Will Sommer notes, is “massively influential, both among sports fans, among dudes, among the rising species of Barstool Republicans”—has floated a deranged conspiracy theory about the Insider article, suggesting it may have been planted by Steve Cohen, the hedge fund manager and owner of the New York Mets, as vengeance for losing money during the GameStop rally, which Portnoy encouraged. He’s also gone on the attack by trying to smear anyone remotely associated with the piece. This disproportionate response is exactly what his hardcore fans like about him, Silverman says. “It’s very clear that there’s an entire fan base who is desperate to praise and win the affections of their parasocial buddies on Barstool. And one way they feel they can do that is by taking it out on people that Barstool deemed enemies. That’s women; at various other times, it’s been people of color.”
“They are an influencer company,” Silverman adds, “and so of course the fan base is incredibly toxic as all influencer-based fan bases are.”
“What Portnoy has done from the beginning, and this goes back to 2012, is he’s made it clear that any attack on him or his website is actually an attack on the fans… it’s not just like, ‘When they come after me for allegedly violent sexual encounters and possible sexual acts that were done without consent,’ actually, Portnoy says straight up that ‘They are actually attacking you. And they think you’re stupid for supporting us, for liking us.”
Elsewhere in the podcast, Sommer and co-host Kelly Weill talk about the new and newly troubled University of Austin, a sort of higher-ed cosplay for the A-list “aggrieved tweeter” that has already lost some of its luminaries like Steven Pinker and Robert Zimmer. “This is a university that is basically premised on like the intellectual dark web, which is to say like these heterodox people who often have very similar ideas amongst themselves,” Sommer says.
“I think it also hits on this idea that that is something we also see reflected in the CRT [Critical Race Theory] stuff, about this fear that the schools are stealing our children away... Now what if I could keep them within one closed system? And that’s where the University of Austin steps in.”
Of the unaccredited ‘university,’ co-founded by former New York Times columnist Bari Weiss, Weill adds, “I really reject the idea that it’s forbidden, right? Because all of these people are extremely platformed... These people have access to wealth and amplification, and they have for decades.”
Speaking of extremely platformed people in a bit of trouble, the co-hosts discuss the ongoing legal woes for Project Veritas and James O’Keefe; the indictment of Steve Bannon on contempt charges for defying Congress over Jan. 6 records; and the latest, and most definitive, defeat of Infowars flame-thrower Alex Jones in the Sandy Hook cases, whose claims that the mass shooting of elementary school children was a false flag led to merciless harassment of grieving parents. The latest ruling is “pretty much the wrap-up” of the Sandy Hook lawsuits against Jones, Sommer says, noting Jones may have thrown the cases in order to avoid revealing more information about Infowars’ internal dealings and finances. “The only question now is how much he’s going to end up shelling out.”
And finally, in a very, very special episode of the podcast’s Fresh Hell, Sommer reveals a new Jan. 6 “documentary” that makes Patriot Purge look tame. Called Capitol Punishment, it’s “the brainchild of Nick Searcy,” a Hollywood character actor who has been “extremely red-pilled” and was at the riot (though has not been charged with anything). The film features Searcy in cowboy attire reenacting things like FBI raids on the rioters, along with an appearance from a guy named MAGA Hulk.
“How wild is this video going to get?” Sommer asks. “The answer is—pretty wild.”