In June, Mike Cernovich published a post at his blog Danger & Play, declaring that “there was more than one shooter” in the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Fl., that killed 49 people and injured 53 others; on Twitter, he accused the government and the media of engaging in a “cover-up.” In September, following the first presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, Cernovich declared that the debate was “rigged” and that “the microphones were set up to make Trump sound unlike his usual self.” It was Cernovich who over the summer popularized the idea that Clinton was suffering from a “grave neurological condition” (one of the Twitter hashtags he used to promote his theory, “#ZombieHillary,” was picked up by Rush Limbaugh on his radio show). And it was Cernovich who was mainly responsible for “Pizza-gate,” the conspiracy theory that Clinton and other Democratic-party officials were running an underground child-sex ring out of a Washington, D.C., pizza parlor, Comet Ping Pong, and which culminated in the shop being shot up by a mentally ill man from North Carolina.
Now Cernovich’s “reporting” has percolated all the way to the Oval Office. On Monday, presidential adviser Kellyanne Conway encouraged her followers to watch Cernovich’s recent appearance on 60 Minutes, where he pushed back against host Scott Pelley’s (accurate) characterization of him as a purveyor of “fake news.” Then, on Tuesday, he received plaudits from Donald Trump Jr. for, it turns out, publishing some actual news: Cernovich apparently beat mainstream-media reporters to the revelation that it was former national-security adviser Susan Rice who requested the “unmasking” of Trump-team members collected in intelligence-gathering operations. “In a long gone time of unbiased journalism he’d win the Pulitzer,” Trump Jr. tweeted.
How did this happen?
Cernovich, 39 years old and an attorney by training, is the creator of Danger & Play, a blog initially about all things “masculine” that takes its title from Friedrich Nietzsche’s Thus Spake Zarathustra: “The true man wants two things: danger and play. For that reason he wants woman, as the most dangerous plaything.” The blog led to his 2015 e-book, Gorilla Mindset: How to Control Your Thoughts and Emotions, Improve Your Health and Fitness, Make More Money and Live Life on Your Terms. Why gorillas? “We are apes,” he says in his Danger & Play: Essays on Masculinity, also published in 2015. “In the jungle, size is king. Women like big men. That’s just evolution.”
Bigger is better for Cernovich. “Size is status.” He ridicules the “weak” and “weak-minded,” who indulge guilt and shame, or what he calls “slave emotions.” He wants men to be “dominant,” which requires careful attention to juicing recipes, muscular density, and “testosterone biofeedback.” Cernovich is very concerned about testosterone. “Check your testosterone levels,” he advises. “Every study on evolutionary psychology has correlated testosterone levels with dominance.” If you’re devoted to a “scientific” approach to masculinity, as Cernovich is, you can acquire “super serum” — Cernovich’s name for semen to which women become “addicted.”
Cernovich initially was not much interested in politics, except where it involved feminism (Danger & Play: “The two pillars of feminism are narcissism and entitlement”). He generally occupied his time writing blog posts such as “Misogyny Gets You Laid,” “When Should You Compliment a Woman?” [A: “During or after sex”], and “How to Cheat on Your Girlfriend.” But in Donald Trump, Cernovich found a man he takes to be a kindred spirit — or, at the very least, an opportunity. He has become a social-media warrior for Trump, unabashedly embracing the label “alt-right” and using his Twitter profile to disseminate fabricated stories. Currently, he has 241,000 Twitter followers. He even scraped another book out of it: MAGA Mindset: Making YOU and America Great Again.
And now he is winning accolades from the White House.
Donald Trump might turn out to have his virtues. His presidential tenure may advance conservative policies or arrest the growth of tentacular bureaucracy. His insensitivity to criticism could help deflate the political correctness swallowing up American political culture. But it can hardly come as a surprise that the “grab-em-by-the-p****” candidate has helped elevate other vulgar, amoral showmen.
Mike Cernovich is the epitome of this type. To him, being “dominant” justifies declaring that “date rape does not exist,” that “women want to be tamed,” and that one of the key signs of a real man is “aggression,” sexual and otherwise. Lie if you like, cheat if you can; what matters is being the “alpha male.” What is the truly “masculine” man’s maxim? “We are done when I say we are done.”
I happen to know a number of very fine men — types who run into firefights, treat marriage as a lifelong vow, and minister to the vulnerable. Some of them are barrel-chested, some aren’t. None of them ever needed Mike Cernovich’s cut-rate pick-up artistry and superficial masculinity cult.
And neither does anyone else.
— Ian Tuttle is the Thomas L. Rhodes Fellow at the National Review Institute.