The dark overlord of the deranged far-right

Infowars editor Jerome Corsi’s new book is a case study in the persistence of misinformation.

The dark overlord of the deranged far-right

Infowars editor Jerome Corsi’s new book is a case study in the persistence of misinformation.

The far-right conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi’s latest book, Killing the Deep State: The Fight to Save President Trump, contains none of the fantastic tales of child sex dungeons and MS-13 contract killings for which his current employer, Infowars, is famous. Cranks like Corsi can openly traffick in that sort of nonsense on YouTube, but even the most injudicious conservative publishing houses — here it’s Humanix Books, which is owned by the right-leaning Newsmax Media — require some level of sourcing. As a result, Corsi must rely on a duller strategies, like tediously recounting the details of ancient Clinton scandals, whining about Robert Mueller being mean, and mentioning liberal boogeymen George Soros and Saul Alinsky at every possible opportunity.

What can be gleaned from this mishmash of wacko talking points that make up Corsi’s 13th book? Perhaps that we must take Corsi as he is: a cockroach, able to squeeze through the cracks in American political discourse again and again. But mostly, his ability to tailor his propaganda for whatever audience he deems profitable makes him an instructive case study in the persistence of far-right misinformation.

To understand Corsi’s evolution into an essential cog in the right-wing smear machine, we must recall the events preceding the 2004 presidential election. In August of that year, Corsi and a failed lawyer named John O’Neill published their now-discredited debut Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry. The book spuriously accused Kerry of having lied about his service in Vietnam, for which he earned three Purple Hearts, a Bronze Star, and a Silver Star. Perfectly suited to the climate of comically overwrought nationalism, it became a #1 New York Times bestseller despite a scathing review from that paper. “If John Kerry loses the presidential election,” the review opens, Unfit for Command “will go down as a chief reason.” The smears worked, and “swiftboating" entered the lexicon as shorthand for a dishonest political attack before fading from public memory. Looking back, so many of the details feel eerily prescient — the book was peddled by Sean Hannity and Sinclair Media Group, mainstream cable news gave Corsi and O’Neill ample airtime in the name of fairness, and the liberal commentariat offered plenty of handwringing with their righteous condemnation. John McCain even condemned the whole thing, only to accept donations from the group’s financial backers a few years later. How did we not see Trump coming?

In his media career, Corsi has reshaped himself around the contours of white rage with a cunning ambition not seen in the careers of comparatively shortlived far-right darlings like Glenn Beck, Orly Taitz, and Milo Yiannopoulos. During the Bush years, Corsi emerged as a frothing militarist. His 2005 book Atomic Iran: How the Terrorist Regime Bought the Bomb and American Politicians beat the drum for war with Iran, just as Unfit for Command accused John Kerry of treason for his outspoken anti-war activism in the early 1970s. But the Bush-era jingoism faded fast, and, in a stunning about-face Corsi in 2007 became a 9/11 truther calling for Bush to be impeached. His 2008 No. 1 bestseller The Obama Nation: Leftist Politics and the Cult of Personality and articles for Tea Party hub WorldNetDaily hit on every possible conservative obsession of the time — Obama’s birth certificate and alleged homosexuality, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, Bill Ayers, Saul Alinsky, and the much-feared “choom gang.”

In 2015, while some fellow anti-Obama partisans like Glenn Beck and Erick Erickson recoiled at Trump’s vulgarity, Corsi latched onto him with a passion absent from his defenses of John McCain and Mitt Romney. This was a natural alliance, given Trump’s own misplaced distrust of “globalists” and propensity for conspiracy theories, and it instantly paid off. Corsi hopped aboard Pizzagate, the debunked rumor that Clinton campaign manager John Podesta ran a child-sex ring underneath a D.C. pizza restaurant, and joined the effort to diagnose Hillary Clinton with everything from Parkinson’s disease to autism. His service in the 2016 election won him a job at Infowars, and in May 2017 he was even able to spend a whole day in the White House Press Corps pretending to be a real journalist.

Corsi’s current beat is 8chan, the imageboard formed in 2013 by users too racist for 4chan. Here, the pseudonymous user “QAnon” posts dubious insider information from the “deep state” chronicling the progress of a supposed investigation of a massive global Satanic pedophilia ring. According to QAnon, who claims to be in direct contact with Trump, the Mueller investigation is actually a diversion created to distract from the real investigation of Democratic crimes. These include Hillary Clinton and John Podesta supposedly personally creating ISIS, planning the 2012 Benghazi attack, and orchestrating last year’s shooting in Las Vegas — all in order to enrich the Rothschilds, the Saudi monarchy, the Muslim Brotherhood, and Satan. Corsi has appointed himself the “decoder” of these messages — which are already in plain English and use relatively little jargon for a supposed insider — and he has devoted countless hours to explaining them in video chats on YouTube since the posts began last November. Though the messages have incorrectly predicted John Podesta’s arrest twice now, tens of thousands of people still jump at the chance to watch Corsi croak about QAnon’s political significance. For him, this is the grift that never stops giving.

Killing the Deep State resembles the current incarnation of Hannity more than Corsi’s recent work on Satanic sex cults. The first few chapters are devoted to the anti-Trump bias of figures in the Mueller investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election, which may come as a surprise to followers of Corsi’s QAnon videos. Per Corsi, it turns out that the special counsel isn’t actually investigating Pizzagate and Benghazi behind the scenes while also pretending to investigate Trump. “The central premise of this book,” Corsi writes, “is that President Trump is the target of a coup d’état being undertaken by the Deep State, including the CIA, NSA, and other intelligence agencies that maintain a commitment to a globalist New World Order.”

Hyperbole aside, everything Corsi outlines is far-right boilerplate. When Clinton lost the election, the Deep State lost the opportunity to “continue running the international drug trade while supporting the military-industrial complex in a policy of perpetual war.” Even through drug abuse and military spending have steadily increased under Trump, the Deep State apparently still considers him a threat. Does that make sense? No. Does the intended audience care? Probably not.

The Deep State’s fiercest warrior, Corsi writes, is former FBI head and current special prosecutor Robert Mueller, who has “joined forces with the Democratic Party, the mainstream media, and Deep State intelligence agency operatives who are out to destroy the Trump administration.” Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez, representing the “hard-left wing of the Democratic Party,” uses the fortune of financier George Soros to unleash the “anarchistic violence of the Occupy, Antifa, and Black Lives Matter movements.” For their part, the mainstream media enables violence against innocent conservatives like Richard Spencer, who Corsi confuses with anti-Islam author Robert Spencer. Meanwhile, the far-left extremists running social media platforms silence users like “@PatrioticPepe,” for which they “must be investigated for employing algorithms that screen out or otherwise suppress conservative and libertarian postings.”

What should be done to defend Trump against the forces who intend to destroy him? According to Corsi, the White House should first stop holding press conferences. Then, Trump should shore up public support by ending the Federal Reserve, a libertarian pet issue. Finally, “to defeat the false ‘Russia collusion’ narrative, Trump must begin criminal prosecutions against Hillary Clinton and her supporters, including the Podesta brothers, John and Tony.”

As these measures are plainly implausible, Corsi suggests a deus ex machina on the last page: “The premise of this book,” he helpfully writes for the second time, “is that President Trump will be saved because the crux of the argument to remove him from office is founded in the corrupt politics that gave rise to Hillary Clinton’s doomed presidential candidacy in 2016.” Which corrupt politics? For Corsi, they are the Democrats who “champion radical groups like Black Lives Matter and Antifa in a United States of America in which the National Football League loses fans because a group of athletes kneel in protest to the playing of the national anthem.”

Of course. Underneath all the layers of fantasy and conspiracy in Jerome Corsi’s universe — the Satanic pedophile rings, the false flag school shootings, the secret payments to ISIS — it all boils down to impotent rage over black people on TV. How nice of him to simplify it for us.

Alex Nichols is a contributing writer at The Outline.
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