The irony is target-rich.
Far-right conspiracy-mongers Mike Cernovich and Jack Posobiec—who helped orchestrate the Pizzagate and Seth Rich fantasies, among other falsehoods, and have seemingly stoked social media intimidation in the service of Donald Trump—have been protesting pitiably in recent days that some people on the Internet aren’t being nice to them.
Their wounded complaints come as the men also claimed a new high-profile liberal scalp: the firing by Disney and Marvel of James Gunn on Friday as director of Guardians of The Galaxy Vol. 3, after Cernovich and Posobiec resurfaced old tweets of the director joking about pedophilia and rape. Gunn apologized for his words in a sequence of tweets.
Cernovich told The Daily Beast: “Disney took the right first step, but it's time to do an open investigation into all of Hollywood. That this was conducted in the open is disturbing and leaves one to wonder what happens no one is around.”
Cernovich and Posobiec’s instinct to attack is as honed as their assuming of the mantle of victimhood.
“Why are these angry people threatening my wife and child?” Posobiec demanded in an email to The Daily Beast, addressing his experience of being “harassed” by critics.
In a document titled "Sworn Statement" dated Feb. 20, 2018, Posobiec claimed one of his tormenters—Vic Berger, a director of satirical videos that frequently star Posobiec and Cernovich—“engaged in an increasingly hostile campaign of harassment, using electronic systems, of myself and my family” and “posted a threat to my wedding on Twitter.”
Cernovich provided The Daily Beast with a copy of Posobiec’s handwritten statement, which claims Berger—who earns his keep making videos for Super Deluxe, the digital comedy website owned by TBS—instructed his 77,000 Twitter followers to crash Posobiec’s wedding.
Posobiec told The Daily Beast that he filed the statement as part of a formal complaint to an unidentified local police department in Pennsylvania, but Berger said he has never heard from the cops. (The Daily Beast has asked Posobiec to identify that local police department, and will update this article if clarification is forthcoming.)
In his email, Posobiec continued, “I held a peace rally against political violence at the White House”—a sparsely attended demonstration last year in Washington’s Lafayette Park against “fake news,” Kathy Griffin, and a production of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar featuring the assassination of a Trump-like Caesar. (Cernovich was a speaker at Posobiec’s rally.)
“Their tactics will incite terrible consequences for our country if they continue down this road,” Posobiec gravely concluded.
Posobiec’s buddy Cernovich, meanwhile, blogged this week that “the fake news media” are “accessories” to “stalking and harassment” by pursuing “news tips” provided by Cernovich’s supposed stalkers and harassers.
Aside from the 35-year-old Berger, who lives with his wife and two kids in Pennsylvania, Cernovich blames Berger’s friend Nathan Bernard for coordinating a campaign of what Melania Trump might call cyber-bullying.
Bernard, who met Berger online during the 2016 presidential campaign, is a 28-year-old Brooklyn-based tech entrepreneur and app developer whose web site, Bernard Media, tracks the antics of the conspiracy-boosting right.
Coincidentally, Bernard, who identifies as a Democratic Socialist, said he also happens to be a Boston University pal and former Bronx housemate of Democratic Socialist House candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Her campaign spokesman didn’t make her available for an interview.
“There’s a couple of guys stalking me for about a year, year and a half,” Cernovich told The Daily Beast, referring to Berger and Bernard and claiming that “they’ve now fabricated a rumor that there’s a sex tape involving me and [alt-right activist and Infowars contributor] Laura Loomer. And it’s just like one fake thing after another… They claim that I was having an affair. The stories are just ridiculous.”
Cernovich, however, has claimed repeatedly that Berger “could be” the leader of a pedophile ring known as “Berger’s Boys.” Berger, for his part, has nicknamed his quarry “Weird Mike.”
Among the countless videos Berger has made to lampoon Cernovich—a non-practicing California lawyer who conducts what he calls “Gorilla Mindset” seminars on the joys of male empowerment—is this one posted on Bernard Media, replete with farting noises edited in for good measure, in which Cernovich—wearing exercise gear—breathes heavily and repeatedly slaps himself in the face, presumably impersonating a hulking great ape.
“I think what Nathan and I are trying to do is use Cernovich and Posobiec’s own tactics against themselves, but do it comically,” Berger explained in an email. “Show these buffoons for who they really are. It’s not political, per se. It’s more that they are just terrible human beings and are out to ruin the lives of people who don’t agree with them, so we might as well fight back and have a little fun with it.”
Berger added: “These two clowns are unintentionally funny to me and are perfect fodder for what I do making comedy videos. Though, they are dangerous because they have a large following of imbeciles who believe their smears and outright lies.”
Bernard, meanwhile, told The Daily Beast: “I’m not saying I’m any sort of angel. I’m a realistic-enough person to say that putting out a sex tape story is a gray area. I’m not saying my hands are completely clean… But I’m also not saying that I have any sympathy for these people.”
The Twitterverse is teeming with Posobiec’s and Cernovich’s attacks on people they don’t like, frequently punctuated by accusations of pedophilia.
In the past, Posobiec and his legion of followers have gone after perceived enemies such as a Navy Times reporting intern who in August 2017 cited an NBC News story that he was stripped of his security clearance as a reserve Navy intelligence officer.
The Navy Times journalist was Mackenzie Wolf, a Muslim American and former Marine Corps corporal.
After a blitz of Twitter attacks from Posobiec and his supporters—including the tweeted hope that Wolf might be strangled with her head scarf, and the doxing of her young daughter’s elementary school—she considered suing or going to the police, but ultimately didn’t because the worst cyberbullies were anonymous, according to a source familiar with the episode. Wolf declined to comment.
In another episode of apparent cyberbullying this past January—one that received national media attention—Team Posobiec took on Lindsey Ledford, a 31-year-old part-time Starbucks barista in College Park, Md., after she discovered the married Posobiec’s profile on Bumble, and managed to get it removed from the feminist-oriented dating app.
After that, “it was just weeklong shit storm,” Ledford told The Daily Beast, adding that aside from the doxing of her home address and phone number, and a campaign to get her fired from her job, she received death threats and obscene tweets featuring the c-word.
Her housemates were terrified, Ledford said, and she went to Home Depot purchase additional locks for the windows.
“I was paranoid and always looking over my shoulder,” she recalled, adding that the scariest tweets were the ones from strangers purporting to express concern for her safety. “There was a lot of anxiety,” Ledford said.
Despite evidence to the contrary—including Bumble’s confirmation that the dating profile was connected to Posobiec’s genuine Facebook page—he insisted it was fake and an instance of identity theft.
He made a video with his pregnant wife Tanya—also fodder for Berger’s satire—in which he pointed out that she is so hot there was no need for him to look elsewhere for sex: “Why would you go out for hamburgers when you’ve got steak at home, you know what I’m sayin’?”
Cernovich, meanwhile, has demanded periodically that certain unfavorably-disposed journalists be fired.
Last November, he mounted a briefly successful campaign against MSNBC contributor Sam Seder—over a sardonic Roman Polanski rape joke that Seder had tweeted eight years earlier—and the left-leaning cable outlet announced Seder’s dismissal on Dec. 5 before admitting bad judgment and reinstating him two days later.
In his recent blog, Cernovich singled out Daily Beast tech reporter Will Sommer, who covers the far-right’s activities on the web, claiming erroneously that Sommer had been “calling people to ask for Cernovich d-ck pics."
In an interview with The Daily Beast, Cernovich sounded especially alarmed by a mysterious, 1,400-word email rife with British spellings—received recently by this reporter and others— that asserted, with zero evidence, that his wife Shauna fears for her life, and that of their infant daughter, and that “she now feels she’s living in a mentally abusive nightmare she can’t see any escape for her or the baby from being married to mike.”
“Jesus! This is, like, psychopathic!” a seemingly shaken Cernovich exclaimed after the email—purportedly from “Arthur Kemp,” the same name as an infamous South African white nationalist and neo-Nazi—was forwarded to him. “This is really nasty. Actually, this is an escalation. This is way beyond what they’ve done. Fuck these people!”
Citing no evidence, Cernovich blames the bogus email on Berger—who denies authorship. “It fits the pattern of Vic Berger’s behavior and also his writing style,” Cernovich wrote in an email to Posobiec—which Cernovich shared with The Daily Beast.
As for Cernovich’s wife, “we were just in Montana on vacation. She’s gonna be pissed when she sees this,” Cernovich confided over the phone. At which point, Shauna Cernovich could be heard asking in the background: “Are you OK, honey?”
Many people, of course, will hear Cernovich’s objections—and Posobiec’s—as comically paradoxical, considering their history of trolling and doxing adversaries and detractors.
“How long do people have to go back? What’s the statute of limitations?” Cernovich pleaded. “What’s the statute of limitations on this shit? People are like, ‘Well, you’ve said this!’ Yeah, how long ago? Oh, Pizzagate!”—in which Cernovich, Posobiec and others, notably pernicious Infowars fabulist Alex Jones (for whom Cernovich has hosted shows), claimed that Hillary Clinton and her political allies were running a pedophile ring out of the nonexistent basement of Washington’s Comet Ping Pong pizza parlor.
On Dec. 4, 2016 that bogus conspiracy theory inspired a 28-year-old man to drive 350 miles from Salisbury, North Carolina, to Washington, D. C., armed with a semi-automatic assault rifle, and storm into Comet, where he fired multiple shots.
“That was 18 months ago,” Cernovich protested. “I’ve been a relatively good boy since Pizzagate.”
A very recent example of Cernovich’s and Posobiec’s trolling tactics was their aggressive double-teaming of Eric Garcia, a 27-year-old reporter for Roll Call, hours after he posted a story on July 18 revealing that Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul had approvingly retweeted two of Posobiec’s tweets—one praising the lawmaker’s defense of Trump’s Putin summit, and the other a Trump quote from the Helsinki confab: “I will put world peace ahead of politics.”
“Glad to hear it,” the Republican senator commented on Posobiec’s tweet.
After Garcia’s story was posted under the headline, “Rand Paul Retweeted PizzaGate Conspiracy Theorist,” Posobiec and Cernovich went to work, scouring Garcia’s Twitter history to unearth tweets from his teenage years in an apparent effort to discredit him.
“Wow! @ RollCall - can Infowars book @ EricMGarcia soon to tell us the truth about JFK? We can’t sit on this any longer!” Posobiec tweeted sarcastically concerning the then-18-year-old Garcia’s musings: “Watching a documentary about JFK murder. I don’t buy that Oswald acted alone. What do you guys think?”
Garcia—who has around 4,500 Twitter followers, compared to Posobiec’s 346,000 and Cernovich’s 419,000—retorted: “Really classy of you to pick out a tweet of mine when I was 18 and take it as me having a legitimate political opinion, Jack.”
In an interview with The Daily Beast, Garcia recalled that Posobiec, Cernovich and scores of their Twitter followers also tried to tarnish him with political bias by digging up his past as an Obama White House intern—an experience he has written about for National Journal—while mocking his youthful hobby in a garage band and accusing him of racism because he once wondered what a Mexican Muslim would put in a tortilla. (Garcia is Mexican-American.)
“I made a lot of dumb remarks when I was young,” Garcia said, adding that as his day progressed, his Twitter feed exploded with insults and accusations from strangers, including a wish that he “choke on a taco.”
“I got called a racist and a hack and all that other stuff,” he said. “It was overwhelming. It was an onslaught of stuff, and it just got to be too much. It sent me into a funk, and around 1 a.m., I called my best friend back home in California, who told me, ‘Hang in there, you’re doing the right thing, don’t back down.’”
Garcia—who said he’s at work on a book about his personal challenges living with a diagnosis of autism—said he’s hardly surprised that Posobiec and Cernovich find themselves in the social media crosshairs.
“If you spend a lot of your time trolling people, then it should stand to reason that people are not going to like that,” he noted. “I don’t have a major following. I never claimed to be a major journalist or anything like that. I never have and I never will. But if you do spend a lot of time doing this, eventually you’re going to make the wrong kind of people mad. You’re eventually going to get somebody who is going to go back at you—somebody with a bigger following than a lowly schlub like me.”