Paul Joseph Watson
Paul Joseph Watson.jpg
Personal information
Born (1982-05-24) 24 May 1982 (age 39)[1]
OccupationBlogger, radio host, YouTube personality
YouTube information
Also known asPJW, Paul J. Watson, PropagandaMatrix (formerly), Anything Goes
Channel
Years active2011–present
Genre
Subscribers1.9 million[2]
Total views518.5 million[2]
Associated acts
YouTube Silver Play Button 2.svg 100,000 subscribers 2015
YouTube Gold Play Button 2.svg 1,000,000 subscribers 2017

Updated: 21 January 2022

Paul Joseph Watson (born 24 May 1982)[1] is a British far-right[3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10] YouTuber, radio host and conspiracy theorist.[11][12][13][3] Until July 2016, Watson embraced the label "alt-right", but he now identifies as part of the new right.[14] In May 2019, Facebook and Instagram permanently banned Watson for violation of hate speech policies.[15][16]

Watson's career emerged through his work for conspiracy theorist and radio host Alex Jones. As editor-at-large of Jones' website InfoWars, he helped promote fake news[17] and advocated for 9/11, chemtrail and New World Order conspiracy theories.[1] Subsequently, reaching a significant audience, both Watson and Jones altered their focus. They now mainly focus on criticizing feminism, Islam, and left-wing politics.[18] Watson also contributes to InfoWars's talk radio program The Alex Jones Show, which he occasionally hosts or co-hosts. Watson has been working at InfoWars since October 2002.[19]

Since 2011, Watson has hosted his own YouTube channel, prisonplanetlive, on which he expresses his views on topics such as contemporary society, politics, and modern liberalism in an often mocking manner. He rose to prominence on his YouTube channel by attacking and mocking the "woke mob", social justice warriors, feminism and anti-racist movements.[10] As of January 2021, his channel has over 1.9 million subscribers.[20]

Political self-identification

Watson described his formative moment as when, at the age of 18, he watched The Secret Rulers of the World, a documentary in which journalist Jon Ronson accompanied Alex Jones in infiltrating Bohemian Grove in California, a place where some conspiracy theorists believe global elites plot the New World Order. He has described British conspiracy theorist David Icke, whom he first read as a teenager, as the person who woke him up.[1]

Watson, along with Jones and InfoWars as a whole, has shifted from mainly commenting on conspiracy theories such as chemtrails, the New World Order and the Illuminati, to increasingly criticising feminism, Islam, and left-wing politics.[18] Watson has been described as a member of "the new far-right" by The New York Times, which wrote in August 2017 that his "videos are straightforward nativist polemics, with a particular focus on Europe" and convey his opposition to modernist architecture and modern art.[21] Iman Abou Atta, director of the anti-Islamophobia group Tell MAMA, has said that Watson "has become 'the' nexus for anti-Muslim accounts that we have mapped... He has become an influencer in promoting information—much of it bizarre and untrue—which has been regurgitated by anti-Muslim and anti-migrant accounts time and time again."[22]

Watson previously described himself as a libertarian and supported Ron Paul in the 2012 presidential election. In a 2016 tweet, he said he no longer considered himself a libertarian because Gary Johnson "made the term an embarrassment."[23] Watson has also called himself a conservative and considers modern-day conservatism a countercultural movement.[17] In a November 2016 Facebook post, he differentiated between the New Right and the alt-right. He claimed that the alt-right "likes to fester in dark corners of subreddits and obsess about Jews, racial superiority and Adolf Hitler."[14] He and Mike Cernovich have feuded with figures such as Richard B. Spencer and David Duke, who see white nationalism as necessary for the alt-right.[citation needed]

Although he endorsed Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election, Watson declared in a tweet on 6 April 2017, he was "officially OFF the Trump train" after Trump's decision to launch missile strikes on Syria in response to a Khan Shaykhun chemical attack several days earlier, believing Trump had reneged on his promise not to intervene in Syria. He said Trump was "just another deep state/Neo-con puppet".[24] After a decrease in Twitter followers occurred, he denied he had "turned on Trump", saying he was only "off the Trump train in terms of Syria" and blaming the media for "fake news".[25] He declared in a separate tweet he would shift his focus to ensuring French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen of the National Front would be elected in the 2017 election, which she lost.[26] Donald Trump Jr. retweeted Watson's reference to French celebrities leaving France if Le Pen was elected and referred dismissively to similar reputed claims in the U.S. before Trump Sr. was elected.[27]

On 16 June 2018, Watson announced that he had joined the UK Independence Party along with Mark Meechan and Carl Benjamin.[28][29]

Watson with Alex Jones in June 2013
Watson with Alex Jones in June 2013

In traditional media

In 2016, Watson was an early proponent of allegations that Hillary Clinton suffers from numerous serious medical conditions, though he was unable to provide any evidence.[30] Watson's part in the manufacture and dissemination of the rumour was taken up by the National Enquirer[30] and mentioned in the mainstream media as part of a discussion of the role of rumour and conspiracy theory in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.[31][11][32]

In February 2017, Watson tweeted an offer to pay for a journalist to visit Sweden and stay in the "crime ridden migrant suburbs" of Malmö, if they think it would be safe.[33] Many journalists took him up on the offer,[33][34] and Watson chose New York journalist and videographer Tim Pool, who was already planning a similar investigation.[35] Watson gave Pool $2,000 for the trip.[33][35] Pool's findings contradicted Watson's claims.[36]

At a November 2018 White House press briefing, persistent questioning of Trump led an intern to attempt to take a microphone from the hand of CNN's Jim Acosta.[37][38] Acosta's White House press credentials were subsequently revoked, allegedly for having "put his hands" on the intern.[39][40] Watson uploaded an edited version of the original footage in support of this claim. In this version, zoom and frame rate changes create the misleading impression that Acosta had behaved aggressively towards the intern.[39]

Watson confirmed that he had applied a zoom and denied making any other alterations, though expert analysis confirmed that "the clip repeats several frames that do not appear in the original footage" and that it had been sped up.[41][40] The video has generally been described as doctored, though some experts concluded that the changes do not necessarily represent deliberate manipulation but could be artefacts of accidental degradation during processing.[41][42] White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders pointed to the video that Watson posted as clearly documenting Acosta's "inappropriate behaviour." The White House was criticised for sharing a doctored video and thereby spreading "actual fake news" rather than using the original footage.[43] A subsequent court ruling found that the action against Acosta was unconstitutional on due process grounds.[44]

On 2 May 2019, Watson and several other people considered to be extremists, including Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, Jones, and right-wing commentator Milo Yiannopoulos, were permanently banned from Facebook, which called them "dangerous."[45] "We've always banned individuals or organizations that promote or engage in violence and hate, regardless of ideology", a Facebook spokesperson said. "The process for evaluating potential violators is extensive and it is what led us to our decision to remove these accounts today."[46] Watson tweeted that he had broken "none of their rules" and complained of "an authoritarian society controlled by a handful of Silicon Valley giants" in which "all dissent must be purged."[15] Trump retweeted Watson, mocking the "dangerous" epithet.[47]

Views

Immigration

Watson is anti-immigration.[48][1] He has claimed[49] that "Malmö is known as 'Sweden's Chicago'" due to mass immigration into the country.[50] According to Salon magazine, the claim is false,[51] an assessment supported by a study published in Critical Studies in Media Communication.[52]

In 2022, Watson used the murder of a Jewish man in Paris to attack French President Emmanuel Macron and France's African migrant communities.[10]

Islam

Watson is opposed to Islam.[48][53][54] He has labelled Muslim culture "horrific" and declared that it produces mass rape, "Islamic ghettos" and the destruction of Western culture.[1] Watson has said that the western world needs "Islam control" rather than gun control. In an InfoWars article, Watson wrote, "Muslims living in both the Middle East and the west show alarmingly high levels of support for violent jihad"[55] and that there is "violent oppression of gays and Christians in the Middle East".[56] In August 2017, he said that YouTube had blocked monetisation on all his videos about Islam as part of the website's policies dealing with hate speech, and on other subjects including modern art.[57]

Race and ethnicity

Watson has criticised perceived racial tokenism.[58] In 2017, he criticised the BBC for "portraying Roman Britain as ethnically diverse" after the broadcaster included a black Roman centurion in an educational cartoon. His criticism was contradicted by Mary Beard and Cambridge's Faculty of Classics, saying there was overwhelming evidence that Roman Britain was a multi-ethnic society, but noting that this would have been more noticeable in a military or urban setting than a rural one and the significant gaps in historians' understanding of the topic.[59]

In May 2022, Byline Times and the Southern Poverty Law Center published an account of a recording apparently of Watson at a party saying: "I really think you should press the button to wipe Jews off the face of the Earth" and making other homophobic and racist comments, such as saying: "I care about white people. Not sand nigger Jew Paki faggot coons". The recording has been confirmed by three secondary sources. In response, Joe Mulhall of Hope not Hate said that while Watson was careful to follow social media platform moderation policy, it was not surprising that he would express such views in private.[9][10]

Personal life

In an interview, Watson said he grew up on a council estate with little financial resources, and that by 18, he was teetotal and exercising 3 hours per day.[60]

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Hines, Nico (22 April 2018). "Alex Jones' Protegé, Paul Joseph Watson, Is About to Steal His Crackpot Crown". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 24 January 2019.
  2. ^ a b "About Paul Joseph Watson". YouTube.
  3. ^ a b "Alt-right editor challenges journalists to visit Sweden". BBC News. 21 February 2017. Retrieved 10 August 2017. Paul Joseph Watson, the UK-based editor of far-right conspiracy website InfoWars
  4. ^ "Alt-right commentator gets 'schooled' by historian over diversity in Roman Britain". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 20 August 2017.
  5. ^ "The alt-right's views of Trump are getting kind of complicated after his Syria strike". The Week. 10 April 2017. Retrieved 20 August 2017.
  6. ^ "This Alt-Right Blogger Said Sweden Is Crime-Ridden And Now People Are Trolling Him With Memes". BuzzFeed. Retrieved 20 August 2017.
  7. ^ "Facebook bans Alex Jones, other extremist figures". Reuters. 3 May 2019. Retrieved 4 December 2019.
  8. ^ Dickson, E. J. (8 November 2019). "How a New Meme Exposes the Far-Right Roots of #NoNutNovember". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 4 December 2019.
  9. ^ a b Hayden, Michael Edison (6 May 2022). "Leaked Audio Underscores Dark Side of Far-Right YouTube Subculture". Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved 7 May 2022.
  10. ^ a b c d "'Wipe Jews Off the Face of the Earth': Racism and Antisemitic Slurs of Viral YouTuber Exposed". Byline Times. 6 May 2022. Retrieved 7 May 2022.
  11. ^ a b Cheadle, Harry (26 August 2016). "How Conspiracy Theories About Hillary Clinton's Health Went Mainstream". Vice. British conspiracy theorist Paul Joseph Watson
  12. ^ Townsend, Mark (11 February 2017). "Britain's extremist bloggers helping the 'alt-right' go global, report finds". The Guardian. Retrieved 24 January 2019. London-based Paul Watson, described as "editor, staff writer" for the conspiracy website InfoWars ... is named as a central disseminator of the conspiracy theory concerning Hillary Clinton having debilitating health issues ... During a series of unashamedly conspiratorial videos that were viewed millions of times, Watson, originally from Sheffield, suggested Clinton might have had syphilis, brain damage and Parkinson's disease as well as alleging she was a drug abuser.
  13. ^ Weigel, David (28 August 2016). "The alt-right's take on Clinton's speech: Botched, but legitimizing". The Washington Post. Retrieved 24 January 2019. For the alt-right and its allies ... the speech helped elevate a fringe. In videos, Jones and his colleagues at InfoWars portrayed her as a sickly, doddering figure of desperation. ... InfoWars contributor Paul Joseph Watson...
  14. ^ a b Pearce, Matt (29 November 2016). "The 'alt-right' splinters as supporters and critics agree it was white supremacy all along". LA Times. Retrieved 24 January 2019.
  15. ^ a b Isaac, Mike; Roose, Kevin (2 May 2019). "Facebook Bans Alex Jones, Louis Farrakhan and Others From Its Services". The New York Times. Retrieved 24 August 2019.
  16. ^ Ortutay, Barbara (3 May 2019). "Facebook bans Louis Farrakhan, Alex Jones for hate speech". YouTube News. Associated Press. Retrieved 24 August 2019.
  17. ^ a b Walter, Damien (18 February 2017). "There's a very simple reason why the alt-right is not the new counterculture". The Independent. Retrieved 15 June 2020.
  18. ^ a b Wilson, Jason (24 May 2017). "How rightwing pundits are reacting to the Manchester attack". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 June 2017. Paul Joseph Watson, Alex Jones's British mini-me, has followed the same broad path that the rest of the organization has. He was never on the left, of course, but over time his commentary has focused less and less on the Illuminati and chemtrails, and more and more on pushing a stridently anti-Muslim, anti-feminist and anti-left message.
  19. ^ Hanonoki, Eric (19 June 2017). "Infowars' Paul Joseph Watson can't get anything right". Salon.
  20. ^ "Paul Joseph Watson's YouTube Stats (Summary Profile) - Social Blade Stats". Socialblade. Retrieved 10 May 2022.
  21. ^ Herrman, John (3 August 2017). "For the New Far Right, YouTube Has Become the New Talk Radio". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 3 August 2017.
  22. ^ Hayden, Michael Edison (4 January 2018). "Keith Ellison's 'Antifa' Tweet Spurs Anti-Muslim and Racist Backlash". Newsweek. Retrieved 14 January 2018.
  23. ^ Lynch, Conor (23 December 2016). "Donald Trump and the libertarians: Why have so many people who claim to love freedom embraced a strongman?". Salon.
  24. ^ "Trump supporters turn on the president over Syria strike". The Irish Times. 7 April 2017. Retrieved 24 August 2019.
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  26. ^ Greenwood, Max (7 April 2017). "Syria strike disappoints Trump backers in media". The Hill. Retrieved 14 April 2017.
  27. ^ Mulhall, Joe (9 April 2017). "Exclusive: US President's Son Interacts with British Far-Right Figure". Hope Not Hate. Retrieved 24 August 2019.
  28. ^ Ovenden, Olivia (6 August 2018). "UKIP Are Working With Controversial Alt-Right YouTubers To Win Over Young Voters". Esquire. Retrieved 11 August 2018.
  29. ^ "UKIP is bouncing back in an altogether nastier form". The Economist. 19 July 2018. Retrieved 11 August 2018.
  30. ^ a b Macbain, Hamish (1 March 2017). "Are these the faces of London's young 'alt-right'?". Evening standard magazine.
  31. ^ Jamieson, Amber (26 August 2016). "Conspiracy central: the activists painting Clinton as a sick, terrorist-friendly killer". The Guardian.
  32. ^ Collins, Ben (9 August 2016). "'Is Hillary Dying' Hoax Started by Pal of Alex Jones". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 24 January 2019.
  33. ^ a b c Roden, Lee (21 February 2017). "Far-right editor's offer to pay travel costs to 'crime-ridden Malmö' backfires as dozens accept". The Local Sweden.
  34. ^ Bowden, George (20 February 2017). "Paul Joseph Watson's Twitter Offer For Journalist Trip To Sweden Spectacularly Backfires". Huffington Post.
  35. ^ a b Bowden, George (21 February 2017). "Paul Joseph Watson Comes Good On Twitter Offer To 'Investigate Malmo, Sweden, Crimes'". Huffington Post.
  36. ^ "The man sent to 'crime ridden' Sweden by a right-wing journalist has reported his findings". 1 March 2017. Retrieved 21 December 2018.
  37. ^ Lurie, David R. (21 November 2018). "The White House Restored Jim Acosta's Press Pass, but Hasn't Abandoned Its Attack on Free Speech". Slate Magazine. Retrieved 24 December 2018.
  38. ^ Griffiths, Brent D.; Schwartz, Jason. "White House pulls pass from CNN reporter". POLITICO. Retrieved 24 December 2018.
  39. ^ a b Harwell, Drew (8 November 2018). "VIDEO: White House shares doctored video to support punishment of journalist Jim Acosta". Washington Post. Archived from the original on 9 December 2018. Retrieved 17 December 2018 – via Duluth News Tribune.
  40. ^ a b Hefner, Josh (8 November 2018). "White House shares edited video to justify revoking press pass of CNN's Jim Acosta". Retrieved 17 December 2018.
  41. ^ a b Ismail, Aymann (8 November 2018). "The White House's Acosta Video Looks Different From the Original. Does That Mean It's "Doctored"?". Slate Magazine. Retrieved 22 December 2018.
  42. ^ Rogers, Kaleigh; Koebler, Jason (8 November 2018). "Expert Says: No Evidence the White House Video of Jim Acosta Was Doctored". Motherboard. Retrieved 22 December 2018.
  43. ^ Johnson, Michaela (8 November 2018). "Sanders criticized for sharing 'doctored' video of Acosta at press conference". KOMO-FM. Sinclair Broadcast Group. Retrieved 18 December 2018.
  44. ^ Epps, Garrett (16 November 2018). "Why Jim Acosta Got His Pass Back". The Atlantic. Retrieved 22 December 2018.
  45. ^ Lorenz, Taylor (2 May 2019). "Instagram and Facebook Ban Far-Right Extremists". The Atlantic. Retrieved 5 May 2019.
  46. ^ Oliver, Darcy (2 May 2019). "Facebook bans Louis Farrakhan, Milo Yiannopoulos, InfoWars and others from its platforms as 'dangerous'". CNN. Retrieved 2 May 2019.
  47. ^ Latza Nadeau, Barbie; Weill, Kelly (4 May 2019). "Trump Spends Morning Endorsing Far-Right Fringe Propaganda on Twitter". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 24 August 2019.
  48. ^ a b Croucher, Shane (16 August 2018). "Alex Jones Is Off Social Media—but His British InfoWars Sidekick Paul Joseph Watson's Accounts Are Still Live". Newsweek. Retrieved 24 January 2019.
  49. ^ Sorensen, Martin Selsoe (24 February 2017). "Sweden, Nation of Open Arms, Debates Implications of Immigration". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 21 December 2018.
  50. ^ Marantz, Andrew (11 December 2017). "The Live-Streamers Who Are Challenging Traditional Journalism". The New Yorker. Retrieved 6 May 2022.
  51. ^ Leah, Rachel (1 March 2017) "InfoWars sponsors a journalist's trip to Malmö, Sweden, but he finds little evidence of a Muslim crime wave" Salon
  52. ^ Mulinari, Leandro Schclarek (2017) "Contesting Sweden's Chicago: why journalists dispute the crime image of Malmö", Critical Studies in Media Communication, v.34 n.3, pp. 206–219, doi:10.1080/15295036.2017.1309056
  53. ^ "Kanye West celebrated by right-wing conspiracy theorists over recent comments". Newshub. MediaWorks New Zealand. 24 April 2018.
  54. ^ Lemon, Jason (25 June 2018). "Alt-Right Linked Social Media Activists Welcomed As Members of Britain's UKIP". Newsweek. Retrieved 24 January 2019.
  55. ^ "Mosque-attack suspect read conspiracy site InfoWars prior to London rampage: Prosecutors". The Washington Times. 24 January 2018.
  56. ^ "Even a top far-right conspiracy theorist says Trump's retweets of fringe British anti-Muslim videos are 'bad optics'". Business Insider. 29 November 2019.
  57. ^ Griffin, Andrew (11 August 2017). "YouTube stars that supported Donald Trump claim site is taking away their money and they'll quit". The Independent. Retrieved 24 August 2019.
  58. ^ "Alt-right commentator gets 'schooled' by historian over diversity in Roman Britain". The Daily Telegraph. 27 July 2017.
  59. ^ Ashworth, Louise (7 August 2017). "Faculty of Classics backs Mary Beard after Roman Britain diversity debate". Varsity.
  60. ^ Worswick, Marie-Elise (7 November 2016). "Paul Joseph Watson interview: Meet the alt-right Brit dominating YouTube". University of Sheffield. Retrieved 2 May 2021.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)