Paul Joseph Watson
Paul Joseph Watson
Watson in 2013
|Born||24 May 1982|
|Residence||Battersea, London, England|
|Occupation||Writer, editor, YouTube personality|
|Also known as||PJW, Paul J. Watson, PropagandaMatrix (formerly), Anything Goes|
|Years active||2011–present (as a YouTuber)|
|Total views||413 million|
|Updated 12 June 2019|
Paul Joseph Watson (born May 24, 1982) is an English YouTube personality, radio host, writer and far-right conspiracy theorist. He has been described as 'alt-right' by multiple sources. Although as late as July 2016 he called himself alt-right, he no longer accepts that label and considers himself part of the 'New Right.'
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 and advocated conspiracy theories such as the claim 9/11 was a government cover-up, the chemtrail conspiracy theory, and the New World Order. Subsequently reaching a significant audience, both Watson and Jones altered their focus. Presently their commentary is mainly focused on criticizing feminism, Islam, and left-wing politics. Watson also contributes to InfoWars's talk radio program The Alex Jones Show, where he occasionally either hosts or co-hosts. Watson has been working on InfoWars since October 2002.
Since 2011, Watson has hosted his own YouTube channel, prisonplanetlive, from which he expresses his views on topics such as contemporary society, politics, and modern liberalism in an often childish, mocking manner, for instance using cartoonish voices and making fun of his subjects' personal appearance. He describes his channel as "Culture, controversy, contrarianism" and often lampoons celebrities and politicians. As of February 2019, his channel has over 1.5 million subscribers.
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 location where some conspiracy theorists believe that global elites plot the New World Order.
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 commenting against feminism, Islam, and left-wing politics. 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 also noted his opposition to modernist architecture and modern art. Iman Abou Atta, the director of the anti-Islamophobia group Tell MAMA, has said that "Paul Joseph 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."
Watson previously described himself as a libertarian, and supported Ron Paul in the 2012 U.S. presidential election. In a 2016 tweet, he said he no longer considered himself a libertarian because Gary Johnson "made the term an embarrassment." Watson has also referred to himself as a conservative, and he considers modern day conservatism to be a counter-cultural movement. In a post on Facebook in November 2016, Watson differentiated between being a member of the "New Right," which he considers to be distinct from the alt-right. He claimed that the alt-right "likes to fester in dark corners of sub-reddits and obsess about Jews, racial superiority and Adolf Hitler." 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.
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" following the president's decision to launch missile strikes on Syria in response to a gas attack several days earlier, believing Trump had reneged on his promise to not intervene in Syria. He said the president was "just another deep state/Neo-con puppet". 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 blamed the media for "fake news". He declared in a separate tweet he would shift his focus on ensuring French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen of the National Front would be elected in the 2017 election, in which she was ultimately defeated. 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 US before Trump Sr. was elected.
In July 2018, Watson signed "The Non-Feminist Declaration", which includes the phrase "Given the extent of feminist entrenchment in institutions, we recognize that we are embarking on a project that may last for decades, but we shall not waver in our determination to roll back feminist influence over state and other institutions."
In the media
In 2016, he was an early proponent of the health allegations that Hillary Clinton suffers from numerous serious medical conditions, although he had no evidence. Watson's part in the manufacture and dissemination of the rumour was taken up by the National Enquirer 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.
In February 2017, he 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. Many journalists took him up on the offer, and Watson chose New York journalist and videographer Tim Pool, who was already planning a similar investigation. Watson provided US$2,000 to Pool for the trip. Tim Pool also ran a fundraiser to fund an investigation into other 'no-go zones' in other areas of Sweden and Europe.
At a White House press briefing in November 2018, persistent questioning of President Trump led to an intern attempting to take a microphone from the hand of CNN's Jim Acosta. Acosta's White House press credentials were subsequently revoked, allegedly for having "put his hands" on the intern.
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. 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 speeded up. The video has generally been described as 'doctored', though some experts concluded that the changes do not necessarily represent deliberate manipulation but could be the result of artefacts resulting from accidental degradation during processing. 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. A subsequent court ruling found that the action against Acosta was unconstitutional on due process grounds.
On May 2, 2019, Watson and several other people considered to be extremists, including Nation of Islam founder Louis Farrakhan as well as Jones and right-wing commentator Milo Yiannopoulos, were permanently banned from Facebook, which called them "dangerous." "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." Watson insisted on Twitter 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." President Trump retweeted Watson mocking the "dangerous" epithet.
Watson is anti-immigration. He has claimed that "Malmö is known as ‘Sweden’s Chicago’" due to mass immigration into Nordic countries. According to Salon magazine, the claim is false, an assessment which is supported by a study published in Critical Studies in Media Communication.
Watson is anti-Islam. He has labelled Muslim culture as "horrific" and declared that it produces mass rape, "Islamic ghettos" and the destruction of Western culture. Watson has said that the western world needs "Islam control" rather than gun control. Watson wrote in an InfoWars article that "Muslims living in both the Middle East and the west show alarmingly high levels of support for violent jihad." He stated that there is "violent oppression of gays and Christians in the Middle East". In August 2017, he claimed that YouTube had blocked monetization on all his videos about Islam, as part of the website's policies dealing with hate speech, and on other subjects including modern art.
Race and ethnicity
Watson has criticised perceived racial tokenism, leading to criticism. In 2017, he attacked the BBC for "portraying Roman Britain as ethnically diverse", after the broadcaster included a black Roman centurion in an educational cartoon. His assertions were contradicted by Mary Beard and Cambridge's Faculty of Classics, citing "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.
- 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.
- Mulhall, Joe (9 April 2017). "Exclusive: US President's Son Interacts with British Far-Right Figure". Hope Not Hate. Retrieved 24 August 2019.
- Cheadle, Harry (26 August 2016). "How Conspiracy Theories About Hillary Clinton's Health Went Mainstream". Vice.
British conspiracy theorist Paul Joseph Watson
- 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.
- 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...
- "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
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- 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.
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- Bowden, George (21 February 2017). "Paul Joseph Watson Comes Good On Twitter Offer To 'Investigate Malmo, Sweden, Crimes'". Huffington Post.
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- Hefner, Josh (8 November 2018). "White House shares edited video to justify revoking press pass of CNN's Jim Acosta". Retrieved 17 December 2018.
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- "The Live-Streamers Who Are Challenging Traditional Journalism". The New Yorker. 11 December 2017.
- 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
- 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
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- "Mosque-attack suspect read conspiracy site InfoWars prior to London rampage: Prosecutors". The Washington Times. 24 January 2018.
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- 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.
- "Alt-right commentator gets 'schooled' by historian over diversity in Roman Britain". The Daily Telegraph. 27 July 2017.
- "Faculty of Classics backs Mary Beard after Roman Britain diversity debate". Varsity (Cambridge). 7 August 2017.
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