Here’s an example of alt-right writers knowingly deceiving readers

Counter-protestors unfurl a fake banner in front of protestors against Mike Cernovich.

Yesterday, we discussed the “fundamentally unanswerable” question of whether people who read and share alt-right media actually believe the reporting. Do the readers of Gateway Pundit really think that “Antifa super-soldiers” plan to behead white parents on November 4th? One hopes not. Maybe they read Gateway Pundit the same way an older generation read the Weekly World News—as a publication that shares their outlook and makes up stories in that vein. There’s no way to know. I bet if you asked die-hard readers of the Weekly World News whether the stories were true, they’d say they believed every word. That’s how they get in on the joke.

Anyway, one thing we could say for certain was that the author of “ANTIFA Leader: ‘November 4th […] millions of antifa supersoldiers will behead all white parents'” did not believe it himself. Bard graduate and credentialed White House correspondent Lucian Wintrich did not mistake an ironic tweet for a leaked terrorist conspiracy. Here’s his intellectually dishonest justification, the next day, for describing a known Twitter ironist as an “Antifa leader.” Quote:

In Anarchist groups, groups with no real organizational structure, those who control the general conversation and are in positions of influence are leaders…Seeing as [the user] has a far left Twitter audience that includes many members of ANTIFA, I stand by the report.

By that reasoning, Bob Dylan is an ANTIFA leader, too. It’s a real stretch from “those who control the conversation are leaders” to a plan for mass beheadings on a specified date, and Wintrich surely knows it. He’s either intentionally misleading his audience or refusing to break kayfabe, or some cynical combination of both. He’s just one guy, though. Maybe other alt-right personalities really do believe their own wildly inaccurate news.

Here’s an example of alt-right “journalists” reporting a story they know isn’t true, though. Last night, demonstrators at Columbia University protested a speech by Mike Cernovich. At some point, unnamed persons approached a group of protestors and asked them to hold the banner pictured above. We don’t know who did that, but we can assume they were not, in fact, joint representatives of Antifa, ResistNY, and the North American Man-Boy Love Association. The banner was fake. Gothamist reporter Jake Offenhartz tweeted a picture identifying it as fake. Then multiple alt-right personalities, including Cernovich, used that picture in tweets and reports that presented the banner as real. We can be certain that at least one of them read the original tweet and knew the banner was a hoax, because Cernovich took down his tweet after Offenhartz sent him a copyright complaint. Yet the picture has been shared thousands of times as proof that Columbia students marched against Cernovich and in defense of pedophilia.

Again, maybe all those alt-right personalities reported a story they knew to be false with the certainty that their audience was in on the joke. We don’t say pro wrestlers are willfully deceiving their fans; they’re putting on a show. But Cernovich, of all people, should not tell himself that no one takes him seriously. He was a prime exponent of the Pizzagate conspiracy theory, which led to an armed man trying to raid a Washington, DC pizzeria that he believed housed a child sex ring. At a certain point, Cernovich can no longer tell himself it’s all for fun. At a certain point, he must know that he is simply lying to people, on as a large a scale as he can, for as much money as he can get ahold of. I wonder how he feels.

Gateway Pundit reports that Antifa plans to “behead white parents”

White House correspondent and prematurely evil-looking millennial Lucian Wintrich

Antifa: What is it? We know that it is an organization, although it is the kind of organization with no leadership, structure, or system of membership. We also know they are terrorists: the kind of terrorists who have not been implicated in any deaths or proven to destroy property, although it is generally agreed they start fires at demonstrations. Most importantly, they are the same as Nazis: the kind of Nazis who only target Nazis, and who do not assert the supremacy of any particular ethnic group, but Nazis nonetheless. The important thing about Antifa is that it is a real and dangerous entity bent on destroying America, a la Black Lives Matter or George Soros. This morning, Gateway Pundit warned its readers that an Antifa leader had announced on Twitter that he “can’t wait for November 4th when millions of antifa supersoldiers will behead all white parents and small business owners in the town square.”

The original tweet has since been deleted, but it seems like a joke—specifically, a joke referencing the suspension of lefty Twitter humorist Krang T. Nelson. A mildly popular ironist who has publicly claimed to be the “leader of Antifa” is probably not the leader of Antifa. If he were, he would probably not leak their mass murder plan and its date in a tweet. And if this were the plan, it would probably not involve this homage to Looney Tunes. Yet the Gateway Pundit piece cites that tweet as further evidence of Antifa’s plans, in a barely readable explainer/screed by honest-to-god White House correspondent Lucian Wintrich. It’s amazing that the White House gave this person a credential. But what’s really amazing is how many right-wing personalities seem to believe his article was true.

“Seem to” is the operative phrase here. Gateway Pundit might have the dumbest readership on the whole internet. The site has its own sub-category on Snopes. Its business is built on monetizing the credulity of shut-ins, but Wintrich is presumably not one such credulous weirdo. He went to Bard—an institution that attracts plenty of rich dummies but also coats them in that veneer of sophistication which does not mistake irony for sincerity. Reading that article, the question that leaps to mind is “What kind of person believes this?” The answer is not “Lucian Wintrich.”

Here’s a more interesting question: Do his readers believe it either? It is entirely possible that Gateway Pundit is the Weekly World News for right-wingers. They agree with the sentiment, not the reporting, and it’s fun to pretend they buy it on Facebook. That’s what I hope for, anyway—a readership of provocateurs rather than credulous crypto-fascists. But this is one of those questions that is fundamentally unanswerable. The defining feature of Gateway Pundit is its epistemic instability. Only two things are certain here. One, Bard should produce better writers than this:

The Antifa movement evolved from college level indoctrination and was then fueled by the mainstream media after they began labelling President Trump and his supporters as “Nazis” or “fascists.” Through this, the “Harry Potter” dweebs decided to pickup bike-locks and go bashing their “enemies” over the head (*cough* *cough* Eric Clanton). It is supreme immaturity that leads to one galavanting around the streets under the collective title of Antifa.

And two, Bill Mitchell should know better.