Another culprit in the murder of expertise

Charles "Chuck" Johnson

Charles “Chuck” Johnson

This sad, unqualified, pathetic troll is now an advisor to Donald Trump’s team.

He’s got nothin’. He graduated from college a few years ago with a bachelor’s degree, started an overblown blog that he called a news source, and parlayed inventing far-right lies and calling Obama “gay” into a career that endeared him to other liars, racists, and various neo-Nazis.

Despite his disregard for facts and reckless approach to publishing, Johnson, who was recently photographed at a dinner attended by white supremacists in Washington, D.C., built a significant following among many who self-identified as being a part of the “alt-right.” Trump drew significant support from those same followers during the election.

Mike Cernovich, another pro-Trump troll who is friends with Johnson, said that Johnson often has a hand in behind-the-scenes politics. The media really likes to hate on [Johnson], Cernovich said. But if they knew how influential he has been–in ways they didn’t know–it would be kind of mind blowing.

This is apparently all you need to become influential in the new administration. You can be a guy whose main claim to fame is that people spread scatological rumors about him and his acquaintances find them plausible, and still play a role in shaping American policy.

Is this a great country or what?


  1. allanbishop says

    The trolls and hate mobs that clog up Twitter at the click of Trump’s fingers are like the SA of the New Regime – the Brownshirts who do the street fighting, figuratively beating up opponents and intimidating anyone who gets out of line (Leslie Jones will know what I mean). Trouble is the name Brownshirts is already taken.

    How about the Browntongues instead?

  2. jrkrideau says

    Sorry but I don’t see why one is surprised. He looks like a perfectly normal Trump advisor.

  3. says

    @4 See, now I have a general issue with that accusation… he SOUNDS like a perfectly normal Trump advisor, but if he looks like a Trump advisor then I also look like a Trump advisor. And if I was a Trump advisor I would mostly be looking for ways for him to give all his money away and shopping for bunkers for him to lock himself away in forever.

    Is it sad that when I saw that picture, and realized I shared a hair color, general hair and beard style, etc with this guy my first impulse was to go immediately shave? They’re now starting to ruin our beards, among all the other things.

    Wait a tick, though… I thought Trump had some irrational hatred of facial hair? Isn’t that why Bolton said he got passed over? Or was it just gross incompetence?

  4. says

    I don’t think he has the ear of Trump directly, but rather is one of a small mob of assholes planning the transition, so he can probably get away with the offensive facial hair.

  5. davidc1 says

    Use the laws and the media to shame them ,if all else fails laugh at them .
    Doc you are hardly in a position to mention offensive facial hair .

  6. emergence says

    From Forbes:

    Johnson attributed much of the work that he and others have done in support of Trump to being able to tap into voters’ emotions through memes, such as the Pepe the Frog cartoon that became an informal mascot for Trump supporters. Johnson said that memes represent a new way for people to discuss national politics, which he said is dominated by a “white paper” mindset predicated on debating policy merits based on fact rather than emotion. To hear Johnson tell it, the success of this approach is evidenced by the visceral reaction to memes that generated widespread attention and influenced public perception during Trump’s rise to power, despite having little or no basis in fact.

    Remember that John Oliver segment on Trump last year? If feelings are more important than facts, and if Trump and his legion of sycophantic trolls can make people feel something, then that means Trump can shape reality as he sees fit. This Johnson guy has the gall to call mainstream media outlets liars even though he actively encourages a media landscape where emotions dominate and facts are irrelevant. Really, I’m pissed off, though not at all surprised, that the “alt-right” neo-fascist troll brigade in general say that the mainstream media lies even though the various memes and fake news articles championed by said trolls themselves have repeatedly been shown to be outright lies.

    We need to call these assholes out anytime they try to pass off fake news and bullshit memes as fact, and we need to be persistent in calling them out on it.

  7. says

    In somewhat related news, HarperCollins is stopping sales of Monica Crowley’s book after plagiarism was discovered. She was found to have plagiarized on at least one other occasion, and now Politico is also showing plagiarism in her doctoral dissertation at Columbia. I don’t know what action(s) Columbia is taking.

    And speaking of memes, look who’s now openly using Pepe.

  8. applehead says

    Anyone ever noticed how all those alt-reich and MRA radio hosts, Youtuber and assorted propagandists have not only offensive facial hair, but the exact same type of offensive facial hair? It’s as if they sprung from the same mold of the same factory.

    But I guess conformity is a hallmark of fascism.

  9. says

    What’s dying isn’t expertise, it’s the willingness to admit that problems may be complex and have multiple causes and require complex solutions. Expertise has always been an illusion — the minute anyone in authority claims to be “the smartest guy(s) in the room” it’s time, metaphorically, to leave the building and sell all your stock in the company.

    What’s going to cause a disaster isn’t that Chuck Johnson and his ilk don’t have degrees and qualifications. (I’m sure many of them could afford to purchase the necessary degrees from surprisingly reputable schools if this were the difficulty.) The Obama administration was chock-full of people with degrees and qualifications, and over in the bombing thread everyone is griping about how worthless our foreign policy is despite all that, and we made Bush’s tax cuts permanent and went ahead with disastrous austerity policies despite all that “expertise”. It’s the combination of extraordinarily short-sighted greed and the assumption that every problem has a simple, obvious solution, and maybe vanity as well, which is going to be the source of screwups.

  10. methuseus says

    @applehead #10:

    have not only offensive facial hair

    Plenty of liberals have similar facial hair. If you think it’s offensive, I guess you think lots of people with that kind of facial hair are offensive. My facial hair is not the same, although it could be called similar.

    Is that seriously the biggest criticism you have of him or others like him? It’s definitely not to the level of victim blaming or anything, but it hits sort of close to home for me.

    I think PZ was saying this individual is lacking in any qualifications that would be beneficial to any presidential administration, not that he has no degrees or qualifications at all. He has a bachelor’s degree, so he has some random, verifiable, qualification.