How a Misleading Story Led to Death Threats

New York Assemblyman Nick Perry did not expect to begin 2021 as the target of death threats and vicious racial abuse. “It came so out of left field,” explained Frank Shea, his communications coordinator, “the phone was just ringing constantly.” 

Over 1000 emails flooded in from all over the United States criticising and attacking Assemblyman Perry. A few politely expressed disagreement, but most did not and hurled abuse at Perry, a Jamaican immigrant. One email read “N*****! You need lynching and your whole family. White power. Kill the n*****, save the planet.” Other emails were more vague, stating only, “the second amendment will be used.” 

The Birth of Bill A416

The events that spurred this barrage of abuse have their origin in the Ebola crisis of 2014 when a nurse returning to the United States from treating Ebola patients in West Africa refused to voluntarily enter quarantine in a state facility

In response to this, Assemblyman Perry began drafting a bill which he would eventually introduce to the New York State Assembly in April 2015 where it was assigned the number “A6891.” 

The bill set out a mechanism to force those suspected of having come into contact with a contagious, deadly disease to enter quarantine at the New York Governor’s (or their delegate’s) order. Frank Shea, Perry’s communications coordinator, explained to Grftr News that the bill’s language was based on laws allowing the state to confine mental health patients who present a risk to themselves or others.

“I sat with the Assemblyman five years ago when he was talking about this bill. There’s no conspiracy. It was just that we don’t want somebody with Ebola to be able to go on the subway,” said Shea.

Since 2015 the bill has been passively reintroduced to the New York Assembly during each subsequent session however it never achieved any momentum and has no co-sponsors. In January 2021 the bill was assigned the number A416 for the new legislative session.

Two of Perry’s staff members confirmed to Grftr News that there were no plans to promote the bill this legislative session. “It wasn’t on his agenda to try to push through, to get passed, or put up for a vote”, said Shea adding “there are dozens of other bills that he’d love to pass that would help out our community and help out the people he served more than this one.”

Rise of the Conspiracy Theory

The bill first drew attention from anti-mask and anti-vaccine activists in September 2020. A widely shared Facebook post claimed that the legislation was “legally going to take your children from you” under the guise of helping stop COVID-19 spread. Lead Stories promptly debunked these claims, however, this did little to stop the conspiracies about the bill. 

A common misconception on social media was that the bill was about to come up for a vote before the Health Committee on January 6, 2021, when the new New York Assembly session began. This was not accurate as Perry, and his team have confirmed multiple times. 

The confusion likely arose because to introduce a New York Assembly bill its author/sponsor must submit it to a relevant committee. However, this does not mean the bill will be voted on or discussed. 

Perry and his representatives have continuously stressed that the proposed bill is entirely unrelated to the current Sars-CoV-2 pandemic. “Context is king, and it has nothing to do with COVID,” Shea told Grftr News. 

Yet these repeated assertions have fallen on deaf ears. In early January 2021, the bill gained widespread attention in rightwing circles. Jenna Ellis, a Trump legal advisor, called it “insanely unconstitutional” while former Republican congressional candidate Liz Joy described it as “straight up detention camp stuff.”  

The bill also came under fire from Laura Ingraham and New York Assemblyman Jarett Gandolfo. Prominent rightwing Twitter commentator Ian Miles Cheong furiously tweeted “I knew Cuomo was a bit of an authoritarian anti-Semite but I never thought the state would go literal Nazi.”

Cheong is one of many social media users who believe that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was involved with the bill. In reality, Shea explained that Cuomo had never been in contact with Assemblyman Perry about the bill. 

Representatives for Cuomo confirmed to Politifact that “we didn’t even know this bill existed” and that the governor had no plans to “open up concentration camps.”  

Rightwing news website Bizpac Review described the bill as “horrifying” and “Communist-styled authoritarianism.” Other social media posts were far more extreme with one Reddit user writing, “anyone who votes for this should immediately be executed.” 

Popular rightwing Youtube commentator Tim Pool also discussed the bill in two separate videos calling it “a psychotic piece of legislation” and suggesting it had been drafted to remove “undesirables.” While discussing the bill Pool did not once mention that it contains legal safeguards and would provide avenues for people to appeal their detention. Instead, he suggested it could result in indefinite detention for trumped-up reasons.

One of Pool’s videos dedicated to the bill was titled “NYC Law Allows Cops To Round Up People Who MIGHT BE Sick To Designated Facilities- Sounds Familiar.” In the video, Pool drew comparisons between the bill and totalitarian regimes, suggesting it was an authoritarian overreach and plot by the establishment left to crush ordinary people.

Grftr News put this to Shea asking him to confirm whether the bill was a secret plot to usher in a totalitarian communist regime. Shea answered that it was “100% not” saying “Assemblyman Perry is a liberal and progressive Democrat, a former US Army man and a proud American.” 

Death Threats, Racism, and Frustration

After the bill was catapulted into the limelight and began receiving the internet’s attention things started spiralling out of control. Assemblyman Perry’s office got “a hundredfold” more emails and calls than before. One staff member described how most of the people who called the office would “curse you and tell you to go back where you came from.” Other callers threatened to finance political campaigns to bring Assemblyman Perry down.

Frank Shea, Perry’s communications coordinator, confirmed that “80 to 90%” of the calls and emails were “name-calling bordering on threats or outright threats”. Approximately 90% of callers were from out of state. Nearly all the callers had no grasp of the facts at issue. Discussing this, Shea noted the callers were “wasting a lot of time and energy on this, but that seems to be the place we’re at in our nation right now.”

Asked how he felt about the abuse one Perry staff member replied “when you work in government, you have to make yourself calm… and you have to treat each person at their point of concern. So I understand that some of them are well and truly upset.” He later added “sometimes I just stay quiet, because I do understand the frustration. So I’ll stay quiet and let them say what they want to say.” 

All those I spoke to said they welcome fair criticism with Shea saying that if someone wants to offer polite criticism “that’s more than appropriate” though he added that the other responses were “pretty disheartening to see.”

While Perry’s office had received abuse prior to the signal boosting from prominent rightwing individuals, his staff suggested that their actions had made a bad situation worse. The calls and emails had made it more difficult for Perry’s actual constituents to reach him with legitimate issues. 

Following the controversy, Shea suggested to Grftr News that Perry may pull the bill. In a statement on Twitter Perry acknowledged fair criticism of his bill and committed to accepting amendments and making changes to it “in regards to concerns to constitutional rights.” Either way, neither Perry nor anyone else has any desire to bring the bill up for a vote

Despite the racist abuse and overt death threats (which Perry’s team have referred to state police) his staff remained upbeat, saying they understand that robust and unpleasant criticism comes with the territory and that the Assemblyman is “not going to get overly concerned with people calling him names, disappointing as it is.”

Asked what he thought lay ahead for the conspiracies about Assemblyman Perry and those promoting them Shea paused a moment before replying, “hopefully, some new shiny nickel comes rolling by that catches their attention.”

Grftr News relies on your support to continue. We don’t have any outside funding and do not run advertisements on our website. If you would like to support our project, please subscribe to our Patreon. Patrons receive early access to our blog posts as well as a host of other benefits. We can’t do this project without your support. You can subscribe to our Patreon here: https://www.patreon.com/TimPoolClips.

The Truth About Gender Programs in Pakistan

Conservatives on social media erupted in outrage last week after eagle-eyed commentators noticed that the mammoth Fiscal Year (F.Y.) 2021 Omnibus and COVID Relief and Response Act set aside $10 million for “gender programs” in Pakistan. 

Omnibus bills are the legislative equivalent of Frankenstein’s monster. They combine several smaller bills to form one large bill, thereby saving Congress time as they only need to vote once. 

In this case, the Omnibus bill contained bills which provide government funding for 2021 in addition to a measure providing emergency COVID funding. The financing of the gender programs in Pakistan came from the former parts of the bill.

One of the most vociferous critics of the gender program funding was journalist turned popular online political commentator Tim Pool who joined in the mockery tweeting:

“I was terrified when I heard Pakistan was at risk of losing its gender programs [sic]

With the news of Trump signing the omnibus I can rest easy knowing that, although Americans are about to be evicted en mass, the sacrifice is worth it to teach Pakistani youth what xe/xir mean.” 

Pool later doubled down on this tweet proudly reading it out in a Youtube video. In other videos, he rehashed the same themes angrily stating in one, “how about we… don’t print money and borrow money for nonsense like Pakistani gender studies? Pool went on to call the money spent on what he falsely labelled as “gender studies” a “waste.” Later in another moment of anger Pool asked, “have we even fixed the pipes in Flint yet?” (In case he’s still wondering the answer is yes – though trust in the water supply is still shaky).

Finally, while discussing the issue on his daily podcast livestream, Pool turned to a cohost to incredulously ask “why does Pakistan need gender programs?” Today we will be answering this question for Tim and all the others too lazy to do the research.

What is a gender program anyway?

Defining what exactly a “gender program” is can be a challenge. Neither the bill nor any subsequent news reports provided any detail on this. We can, however, find clues by examining the history of the term in previous spending bills. An identical item to the one in the FY2021 bill can be found in the consolidated FY2020 spending bill. Before this, going back to at least 2014 each bill contained language providing funding for “gender programs” which were to include:

 “coordinated efforts to combat a variety of forms of gender-based violence, including child marriage, rape, female genital cutting and mutilation, and domestic violence, among other forms of gender-based violence in conflict and non-conflict settings.”

To get a more definitive answer about the Pakistan context, we reached out to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) who control the funding provided to Pakistan. In a statement to Grftr News a USAID spokesperson explained:

“USAID’s [gender] programs work to improve women’s access to economic opportunities, increase girls’ access to education, improve maternal and child health, combat gender-based violence, and increase women’s political and civic participation in Pakistan, which helps promote a more prosperous, stable, and inclusive society in Pakistan and furthers international peace and security.”

USAID also directed Grftr News to a fact-sheet documenting recent accomplishments, including supporting tens of thousands of female survivors of gender-based violence and providing thousands of educational scholarships.

In one of Pool’s many videos on the topic, he showered lavish praise on President Trump for tweeting out a video statement wherein Trump complained about the gender program funding. However, Pool and Trump leave out one crucial detail. In both the FY2020 and FY2021 appropriations bill, Trump – at the direction of his daughter Ivanka – specifically requested $100 million in funding for the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity (W-GDP) Initiative

The W-GDP could easily be described as a “gender program” and was praised by the Trump administration’s Council of Economic Advisers as “smart economic policy.” In February 2020 Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also praised the program saying “the need for the W-GDP is clear and it’s urgent.” 

While the W-GDP and the funding for Pakistan in the spending bills appear to be separate, they both address similar problems. Heaping one with praise while harshly attacking the other is undoubtedly an inconsistent position.

Why does Pakistan need gender programs?

Pakistan is the world’s 5th most populated country; still, on measures of gender equality, it ranks 151st out of 153 above only Iraq and Yemen. According to the USAID in Pakistan, “women lag behind men on every indicator of well-being”, and economic opportunities are limited. Only 10% of Pakistani women have a bank account.

According to a report from the World Economic Forum, in Pakistan, 54% of women are illiterate compared to 29% of men and women have lower rates of enrollment in education at all levels. Women are also severely underrepresented in the labour force with only between a quarter to just over two-fifths participating depending on the data source consulted. Additionally, women hold only 5% of senior and leadership roles. 

Women also bear the brunt of domestic violence in Pakistan and “around a quarter of the population live in households that condone violence.” 

Furthermore, according to Pakistan’s National Institute of Population Studies (NIPS), 15.1% fewer women than men have Computerised National Identity Cards (CNICs), which are required to vote and obtain government aid. Apart from these immediate impacts, knock-on effects of not having a CNIC can include women becoming permanently disenfranchised even after receiving a card. This is because “the time in which young people become enfranchised is important in establishing lifelong habits of participation in community and government affairs.” In Pakistan’s transgender population the issue is even starker with one report suggesting that only a fifth have a CNIC number.

The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed all these issues to the forefront as those on low-income who lacked a CNIC number could not receive government assistance. In the pandemic’s early stages women also only made up 5.53% of COVID-19 Response Committee’s in Pakistan sinking to 0% in some areas.

In a statement to Grftr News, a USAID spokesperson explained that because of these factors, “all of USAID’s efforts across all development sectors incorporate the cross-cutting theme of gender equality.”

Pakistan has a long way to go to achieve gender parity; however, change is happening, mainly driven by economic factors but also cultural changes and a desire to achieve what is seen as the ‘Pakistan dream.’

One of the few elected officials to defend the $10 million for Pakistani gender programs was South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham. In an interview with Fox News, he stated: “Pakistan is a place I really worry about.” Grftr News approached Graham’s office for comment but has not had a response at time of publishing.

What gender programs will Pakistan be getting?

Grftr News contacted USAID to determine where the 2021 funding for Pakistan’s gender programs would be going. A spokesperson responded explaining that USAID was still reviewing options and that discussions “on the shape and scope of programming” were still in early stages. 

From 2010 to 2017 USAID funded the Gender Equity Program (GEP) in Pakistan which produced several positive impacts and led to recommendations that future gender programs in Pakistan “should continue to focus on… access to justice, women’s economic empowerment, ensuring women’s representation in decision-making in government, and GBV [gender based violence] prevention and response.”

In 2020 funding for gender-specific programs was used to “support women in establishing sustainable women-led micro businesses, developing market relevant skills and linkages, gaining greater financial literacy, reducing gender-based violence, and improving access to income-earning opportunities.” 

Previous programs have also helped 1.5 million women obtain national identity cards, allowing them to open a bank account, register to vote, and receive “social protection benefits.” 

According to the U.S. government Pakistan, “remains critical to U.S. counterterrorism efforts, nuclear nonproliferation, regional stability.” As a result, “the United States therefore has a deep interest in a stable, democratic, and prosperous Pakistan.” A report by the Congressional Research Service has also identified that foreign assistance is beneficial because it can promote regional peace and stability. The aid can also help further U.S. commercial and humanitarian interests and help counter terrorism and prevent crime.

What have we learned?

Based on what we now know, Pool and other conservative commentators made several critical mistakes in their coverage of the gender program funding. Their claims that the aid would fund “gender studies” programs or organisations trying to introduce neo-pronouns were flat out wrong. Instead, the funding is for programs offering crucial assistance to a population in one of the world’s least gender-equal countries facing numerous hurdles on their way to a better future.

Grftr News relies on your support to continue. We don’t have any outside funding and do not run advertisements on our website. If you would like to support our project, please subscribe to our Patreon. Patrons receive early access to our blog posts as well as a host of other benefits. We can’t do this project without your support. You can subscribe to our Patreon here: https://www.patreon.com/TimPoolClips.

Tim Pool Hydroxychloroquine Fact Check

Image as tim pool as a covid particle

In Tim Pool’s December 3rd livestream with Destiny, the two online personalities got talking about hydroxychloroquine and Trump. Pool defended Trump’s statements about hydroxychloroquine while Destiny called Trump irresponsible and pointed out the weak evidence base supporting the usage of hydroxychloroquine in treating COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2.

During the conversation Pool confidently asserted “there was a ton of past research for coronavirus and SARS Covid 1 [sic], hydroxychloroquine was effective in reducing severity.”

This is false. Not a single human trial of hydroxychloroquine was conducted during or following the first SARS outbreak in 2003/04.

Through a thorough scouring of the medical literature, I was able to identify only four studies published before the current outbreak that were at all relevant in answering whether hydroxychloroquine worked for treating or preventing SARS infection (1, 2, 3, 4). Other scientific papers I identified were review or commentary articles which merely summarised the findings from other research without presenting any novel findings.

Even leaving aside their actual results these four studies do not make up “a ton of past research.” I’ve seen middle school essays with a better evidence base. That aside what do the studies actually say?

Well of the relevant four studies all but one were actually studying chloroquine, not hydroxychloroquine. Chloroquine is a drug with a similar structure and effect profile however it is not identical to hydroxychloroquine.

Three out of the four studies were preliminary investigations in cell culture models of disease – mainly in African green monkey cells. Cell culture models are incredibly useful when investigating the effects of drugs however any data generated from cell models is limited and as the famous XKCD cartoon notes: a handgun can also kill cells on a Petri dish. The one study that was looking at an animal model of disease was studying a mouse model. Mice models are certainly a step up from cells but still limited in their predictive capacity.

The studies examining chloroquine converge on the finding that the drug appears to have some ability to treat or prevent SARS infection in vitro (literally “in glass” i.e. in the Petri dish in the laboratory).

Finally, the single study specifically examining hydroxychloroquine in a cell model found “All compounds, except for HCQ [hydroxycholoroquine], were effective inhibitors of SARS-CoV replication in Vero cells within the 1-10ÌM concentration range.” [Emphasis mine].

Not only was Tim completely wrong about the existence of “a ton” of research about hydroxychloroquine and SARS, he was also wrong about the direction that research pointed. This is all little unfortunate for a man who claims to frequently fact check himself and who still has “journalist”  in his Twitter bio.

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Rise of the Grifter: A Tim Pool Biography

An image showing Tim Pool on the right side. An American flag is behind him as money flies around him.

Introduction

Tim Pool is a rightwing grifter who receives over 100 million monthly views making him the most viewed independent rightwing Youtube creator. He releases approximately 4+ hours of video per day across his three main channels: Tim Pool, Timcast, and Timcast IRL. He is also the founder of the independent media company SCNR.

Presented below is the most complete (at time of writing) biography of Tim Pool available. It provides a lot of previously obscure or hard to find information about Pool, some of it buried deep in academic journal articles or in a throwaway line in a book. It has taken approximately 70 hours of research to create.

Over the coming months, the biography will continue to expand, however, I think it is vitally important to put it up now to act as a quick reference for people creating content about Tim, whether that be in an article or a Youtube video. See this less of a long read on Tim Pool and more a Wikipedia style summary of his career.

If you enjoy this post/biography please consider subscribing to our Patreon to help us bring you further stories and investigations like this (Patreon.com/TimPoolClips).

Birth and Early Years

Timothy Daniel Pool was born on March 9th 1986 (records don’t state whether he came out of the womb with a beanie). He grew up in Chicago’s Southside with his three siblings.

Pool’s father was a firefighter and his mother sold cars. Pool has described how his family was middle class but then fell on hard times and later became lower middle class; this appears to have coincided with Pool’s mother losing her job.

Pool and his family were staunch Christians and he attended a Catholic school until fifth grade. In sixth grade, he transferred to a public school and also drifted away from religion, becoming a firm atheist for a while. Politically he has described his family as moderate Democrats.

Pool attended high school for a couple of months before dropping out at 14 and continuing his education at home using books he received in the mail.

From then on not much is known about him for some time other than that he was an avid skateboarder. Videos from 2003 later uploaded to Youtube in 2006 show him skateboarding wearing his now distinctive beanie.

Recently Tim Pool has repeatedly claimed that during the 2008 election he was drawn to Ron Paul but didn’t vote for him, instead voting for Obama. This is contradicted by statements he made in around 2012 when he claimed to have voted for Ron Paul and not Obama.

This brings us to the first example of Pool’s inconsistency. At many different points in his life things just don’t quite add up. If you look at his current Youtube videos you’ll see this pattern reflected where he’ll make two directly opposite and mutually exclusive statements, for example, “I think AOC will lose her primary election” and then a few minutes later he’ll say “I think AOC will win.”

Regardless of who Pool voted for in 2008, in recent years, he has frequently talked about becoming disillusioned by Obama.

Tim Pool first drew media attention in 2009 when he was mentioned in an article noting that he had been recruited to monitor a Chicago skatepark to prevent people from spraying graffiti in it.

2011: Pre-Occupy

In a 2012 profile, GQ Magazine claimed that Tim moved to Los Angeles in early 2011 to pursue a career in acting. Speaking to Grftr News in 2020 Pool has denied this, stating he travelled there to create skateboarding videos. While in LA Pool fell in with a group of people living at a local hackerspace and made a few weird videos with them.

At some point in mid-2011 Pool moved to Newport News Virginia where he worked to build a skatepark with his brother and made instructional skateboarding videos.

During this period in his life Pool has claimed to work for several nonprofits in a variety of roles. In 2012 he specifically named Greenpeace, Environment America, The World Can’t Wait and other antiwar groups. This is where we have another inconsistency. In various publications from 2012 and in the present day he was given or provided the title of “community organizer” or community outreach director yet in other places he has stated he was only a fundraiser and canvasser.

Unconfirmed tweets from October 2020 from a person claiming to know Pool in around 2010/2011 suggest Tim was “always really good at making people trust him very fast. Which was a valuable skill in that job.”

In September 2011, while living in Virginia, Tim was scrolling through the internet one day when he saw a video of police brutality during an Occupy Wall Street action where a cop said: “My little nightstick is going to get a workout tonight.”  This inspired Tim to travel to New York.

2011: Occupy

Getting Started

Pool arrived in New York late at night on September 21st. He spent his first night sleeping rough in a park. Pool started recording things with his phone and uploading them later.

Reports on how and when Pool turned to livestreaming differ slightly with one suggesting he met Vlad Teichberg a derivatives trader turned activist and live-streamer who founded Global Revolution which filmed protests all around the world. In this story, Pool and Vlad became friends shortly after Pool’s arrival in New York and one day in a dramatic moment during a police action Vlad told Pool to download the UStream app and set up a livestream.

The more commonly told story is that soon after arriving in New York Pool met Henry James Ferry who had recently lost his job in academic publishing and together they set up a livestream called The Other 99.

Building A Reputation

At first, Pool was the cameraman while Ferry acted as a reporter in front of the camera. However, Pool was younger, fitter, and more liked by the audience so soon Ferry stopped appearing on the stream and Pool went out and did the filming, narrating what he saw using his phone.

As Ben Lenzner, an academic writing about Pool around the time put it, “Pool’s online audience was asking him to remove the reporter from the frame and they wanted Pool to be both the recorder and the reporter, albeit, more like them, behind the lens, with a smartphone, in a sense almost a representative of themselves on the scene.”  Ironically Pool’s role has now switched completely.

While he was streaming Pool’s audience would ask him questions and give him useful information in real-time. They would also give him instructions on where to go to be in the center of the action. Some of his supporters would even buy him food, water, and spare phone power banks when he requested their assistance. In 2014, Pool compared his livestreaming to being like a first-person journalism video game.

During this time Pool registered the timcast.tv domain name which now redirects to a fan site for Zara Larsson a Swedish singer and songwriter. Pool also registered the domain name occupywallstreet.com and had something related to Occupy as his Twitter name. Some contemporary reports suggest Pool was initially involved in the protests as a protestor but both mainstream media sources and the sources I have spoken to cast doubt on this.

Pool received varying amounts of views on his streams, sometimes pulling in a few dozen people, other times having hundreds or thousands. One day he ran into Michael Moore, Moore had been scheduled to appear on CNBC but apparently, they couldn’t film where he was appearing so Pool walked up and started interviewing him.

Tim Pool’s breakout moment came on November 15th 2011 when the police began evicting Zuccotti Park.

Many journalists were barred from entering the park and all the other livestream crews (more on them in a moment) were caught unawares. Pool was lucky and had a partial charge. For the next 21 hours, he streamed non-stop and was brought more batteries and food by his viewers. His stream was featured on NBC, Reuters, CNN, Al Jazeera and other news companies. This day cemented his reputation as “Occupy’s livestreamer.” He was featured in the New York Times, The Guardian, Fast Company, The LA Times, Mashable, Time Magazine, Wired, British GQ, The New Yorker, and more. In 2013 he won a Shorty Award for “Best Journalist in Social Media in 2013.”

He received book offers, joined a speaking agency website, and spoke to Fordham university journalism students. His work was featured and analysed in multiple academic journal articles (1, 2, 3, 4, 5), at least one PhD thesis, in several books (1,2,3, 4), and in journalism textbooks (1, 2).

A livestream viewer donated money to buy Tim Pool a drone which he called the Occu-copter and hacked to broadcast live video.  He hoped to eventually be able to control the drone with his mind.

Many people referred to Pool as a citizen journalist which was a term he rejected and fought hard to avoid. He once called himself a social media journalist but seemed to think being called a citizen journalist demeaned the work he did. He was also heavily critical of the media privately saying to one academic “journalists are the enemy.” He also stated he would rather work for 1,000,000 people giving him $1 each than 1 person or company giving him $1,000,000.

Pool was also an idealist. He was once asked which headline he’d like to see in a newspaper and stated: “That is a very difficult question.” But in the end, he settled on “humans have come together to find a better tomorrow and are going to start working on it as soon as possible.”

In 2013 Pool also stated he thought a future world would need to move to a world “closer to socialism.

Occupy: Fault Lines

Throughout the early parts of his career, Tim Pool saw a value in showing everything on camera with no editing – he believed this was the most transparent way to do things.

This put him at odds with Occupy protestors and other live streamers. Over the past few months, I’ve spoken to several other live streamers and people who knew Pool during Occupy. I learned a lot from these conversations.  One overarching point that has stood out is that none have had a positive thing to say about him – he is viewed as a major disappointment.

These conversations revealed that Pool was not the only person livestreaming the protest nor was he even the first. Other groups and people included Global Revolution, The Other 98, OWS NYC, and Occupy Wall Street NYC.

Tensions first began to rise between Pool and the other livestreamers before spreading to the wider movement. One reason for the tensions was his superior equipment and donation. Another factor was the audience he was building. Unlike other livestreamers Pool was constantly narrating events. As one fellow livestreamer explained to me Pool built strong parasocial relationships with his audience and when he was hurt they hurt. His audience would also brigade other livestreams and propagate drama. Rather than hearing from the wider Occupy movement Pool’s audience was drawn to Pool and he, in turn, was drawn to spectacle.

Other live streamers spent hours streaming boring (but initially productive) General Assembly meetings while Pool ran around looking for action.

Some Occupy attendees were critical of Pool for trying to take over the Occupy branding, for example, by buying the occupy Wall Street domain name.

These tensions stayed simmering until Pool started getting on the bad side of other protestors. Whenever protesters engaged in direct action he would be there to record. One memorable clash came when Pool filmed protestors puncturing police car tires during the Zuccotti Park eviction. Other live streamers took a more careful approach to filming and were often protestors themselves.

Although Pool’s filming once actually got someone off a criminal charge he knew and spoke about how the police followed his channel. This latter fact led to protestors growing increasingly concerned.  On at least one occasion Pool had his camera knocked out his hand and made a very big deal about it.

Due to this developing hostility and Pool’s radical commitment to transparency, many Occupy protestors turned on Pool but his audience was largely blissfully unaware except when attacking other live steamers for disagreeing with Pool.

A Gothamist article from the time accuses Pool of being a police snitch however when I put this to other occupy protestors they said that no one “serious” believed that he was a paid police informant but more that he was providing incriminating evidence to the police and landing people in prison.

Despite all his claimed anti-authoritarian impulses Pool wasn’t afraid of letting the police arrest people due to the evidence he broadcast.

During a class he gave at Fordham university Tim Pool was asked “what he saw as the key difference between the coverage of the news on traditional media such as television, and coverage of the news via what he was doing, Pool replied, “we’ve got to get rid of the idea of editing”.

The class’s professor later wrote in reference to Pool “the advent of transmedia transnational video journalism has shifted the balance of news, power, and freedom in the world forever. The three – news, power, and freedom – are closely related. To report news is to have power, and to have both news and power is to have freedom.”

This question of power and editing brings us nicely to a very important part of Pool’s story. One of the people I spoke to explained it like this:

“It seems whether intentionally or conveniently that he cannot perceive power dynamics. Trying to get him to understand why filming the police and filming protesters is not the same thing and that the impact of the communication is not the same and the consequences are not the same, and that that’s something he has to take responsibility for was impossible. He just wouldn’t or could not acknowledge that.”

This lack of understanding of power dynamics is something I may later return to.

Occupy: Endings

As Occupy continued on, Pool and Ferry started falling out. Pool claimed it was because Ferry was spending holidays away from the protest and not contributing enough effort while taking much of the money. Meanwhile, Ferry claimed it was because Pool asked for a minimum compensation of $156,000. Either way, on January 4th Henry changed the livestream password resulted in Pool setting up his own UStream channel which he named Timcast.

Pool filmed for a few months and announced he would make a documentary on Occupy (which he called an ‘Occumentary’). This has yet to materialise.

Pool travelled to several places including in Spain and the UK, as well as breaking news stories like Hurricane Sandy back in the US live-streaming and crashing on inflatable air mattresses in random strangers closets. Some viewed him as the future of journalism and the man who could fix the news. Pool was critical of mainstream media and their reliance on opinion and filtering.

Vice News Era

In June 2013 Tim Pool was an early hire by Vice News.

Seven months on he has had foreign assignments in 14 countries, including to cover the conflicts in Ukraine and Thailand, usually travelling now with a VICE cameraman or producer.” In Istanbul, Turkey, he streamed the events through Google glass.

Around this time Pool also spoke at South by Southwest (1, 2) and a BBC conference in the UK.

Fusion Era

Pool left Vice in June of 2014 and started working at Fusion which later became Splinter in September of 2014 as a director of media innovation/senior correspondent.

While at Fusion Pool made videos about climate change, big corporations, government surveillance and social unrest. Now in 2020, he aligns with the party who denies climate change and smears anyone trying to make the world better by calling them radical, dangerous, stupid, and evil.

Pool helped make a really excellent documentary about Ferguson showing the systemic racism embedded within the justice system and county. For example, the documentary pointed out that due to the county being split into several municipalities each with their own police and court system a person with a broken taillight could be fined in 8 different police districts in one journey and people would get kicked between jails – leading to suicides and frustration.

It was an honestly impressive documentary however it also had a whole crew and director working on it so, in his narration, Pool was probably also reading someone else’s words. Again in the documentary, there is an example of him just not understanding power relations. He focuses on a cop car getting smashed until a black protester turns to his camera and points out that compared to the lives lost to the justice system’s racism, a smashed car was nothing.

Recently, Pool has spoken about getting frustrated at the woke agenda Fusion had pushed and has claimed that he refused to push this agenda and ran out his contract leaving in 2016.

During his time at Fusion, Pool was also making videos on his Youtube channel which are almost unrecognisable to videos he’s making now. He attacked big corporations, corrupt institutions, and privacy invasions. He even attacked Trump in around 2012 due to his birtherism comments.

2016: Independence

From 2016 onwards Tim Pool has largely worked independently.

In 2016, Pool was still averaging relatively low view counts compared to present day and he came off as far more reasonable than he does now. Even in early 2018 the grating tone he is now famous for had not yet fully sunk in.

During this time Tim Pool realised a very key point which was “trust is the #1 most important factor in delivering news. As the big news orgs lose reach and it disperses down to individuals people are looking for a selection of humans, not brands, to listen to.” This more horizontal rather than vertical model of trust is something the book ‘Who Can You Trust’ by Rachel Botsman touches on and Pool grasps it fully.

To build a successful career, Pool knew he had to build a brand around himself as he had done in Occupy so that people would come to him for the news.

Pool has privately claimed to Grftr.news that he doesn’t chase the algorithm. Whether that is true or not is less interesting to me than the fact that for whatever reason he is very attuned to what works and what doesn’t.

In 2019 Pool wrote an article in the conservative website Human Events in which he stated:

“Get people mad, get paid. But how do you keep milking the same cow over and over? You need to radicalize, and the content needs to stay fresh. After all, stale news doesn’t sell.

“Is Trump a Racist?” get you a million views but you can’t write the same story twice.

Tomorrow you write “Trump IS Racist.”

Then “Trump IS THE MOST Racist.”

Then “Is Trump Like Hitler?”

“Trump IS LIKE Hitler.”

“Trump Is WORSE Than Hitler.”

“It’s earning points, visible social approval points that make us feel good. Social media is a fucking drug that is polluting our minds.”

Despite the article being an attack on the media and the left, I think it’s actually more revealing about himself. The last part about earning social media points and feeling good also matches with what people who knew Pool told me. They said they think he’s less interested in the money and more the attention and validation he gets from his fans and views.

2017: Sweden Break

In February 2017 Pool got a huge break.

On February 19th 2017 Trump referred to an event happening in Sweden the night before and suggested refugees were to blame.

The day after Paul Joseph Watson tweeted “Any journalist claiming Sweden is safe; I will pay for travel costs and accommodation for you to stay in crime ridden migrant suburbs in Malmo”

Hundreds of people offered to go but he took up Tim Pool’s offer and paid Pool $2000. Pool also used GoFundMe to raise another $18,000.

Malmo’s deputy mayor Nils Karlsson promised any visiting journalists a warm welcome and then met with Pool.

In the video announcing he was going, Pool had already started defending Trump and then tried to do a bit of both siderism and claimed he wasn’t picking any sides.

Pool also started fear mongering saying he had been warned by other journalists not to go because he could be attacked but said he still wanted to go. Two days later he made another video where he said he had been told not to go.

In Sweden, he interviewed the deputy mayor and then some ordinary people. At times Pool seemed to discount what the deputy mayor had said because of his political leanings.

Interestingly this didn’t seem to always be his approach.

During his videos, one of the other people Pool spoke to was a migrant and his wife. He also spoke to Chang Frick, a person with close far-right links. Pool neglected to disclose this except by saying the Frick was a controversial figure and that some people said he was aligned with a right-wing party.

Pool also spoke to another right-wing Swedish figure who claimed police have lost control. In other publications, this figure has said he believes radical gender ideology is damaging academic freedom.

Pool also spoke to a businessman who claimed to be too scared of backlash if he used his face or real voice.

Pool also spoke to three men who it later emerged are allegedly part of the fringe conspiracy theorist organization Folkresningen de Fria who are sceptical of the Holocaust.

During his interviews, Pool did not push his interviewee’s to answer tough questions or question the meta-narrative he was crafting.

Tim Pool was also involved in an incident where he claimed the police had to escort him away. When reached by the media the police disputed this saying Pool was wrong.

Many people know this much of the story. What is left out of all the coverage is that Tim wasn’t actually the only journalist who went to Sweden.

This shows another through-line in Pool’s career: in almost all the situations he has been involved in there have always been other better sources of reporting who receive little or no recognition.

The other journalist is a man from the UK named James Patrick who used to work for the Metropolitan police before becoming a whistleblower.

His seven-part article series (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7) on his Sweden trip paints both a  much more nuanced picture of Sweden but also a much more hopeful one. Unlike Pool who spoke to rightwing anti-immigrant political activists, and rightwing figures, Patrick spoke to Swedish academics, a local police captain, and dozens of local residents. Patrick’s story is the one Pool could have told if he cared less about spectacle and more about facts but unfortunately that’s not Pool’s role.

2019: The Birth of Modern Pool

By 2018, Pool was already almost fully evolved into his modern iteration and produced multiple daily videos. His view and subscriber count was relatively stagnant though did show slow growth. However, at the start of 2019, several things happened at once. First, Pool went from making about three to four videos on his second channel to making five per day, and then on February 8th 2019, he appeared on The Joe Rogan Experience.

Following Pool’s Rogan appearance there was a minor bump in Youtube search interest for him, followed by an even more substantial one after he went on Joe Rogan’s show again to talk with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Vijaya Gadde, Twitter’s head of legal and policy March 5th. This cemented his growth and since then, his Youtube career has skyrocketed.

Pool is now the most-watched right-wing Youtuber achieving 100 – 110 million monthly views, and receiving thousands in Youtube live chat donations on his nightly podcast livestream Timcast IRL. He also gets money from sponsorships and YouTube ad revenue very likely earning him at least in the low millions each year.

Recently Pool bought a massive house near DC with 8 bedrooms, several external structures, and a basement basketball court which he’s converting into a skatepark. He lives in this house with several of his crew. Some online commenters have begun referring to this house as a “compound” and arguably they are not far wrong.

Despite all his fame and money, Pool receives little critical or even positive media attention. The IDW gets interviewed by the NYT while Pool sits in his house wearing the same outfit he has been wearing since 2003. This fact has led one of the people who knew him during Occupy to state that they think he’s partially playing a character and wearing a costume.

In July 2019 Tim Pool was invited to the Whitehouse by Donald Trump along with several other conservative commentators and showed up in his beanie.

2020: Current Pool

Most recently, Pool almost continually pushes the right-wing framing of stories. To set out to prove this we watched over 330 of his videos released over about a two month period and found that he uses right-wing sources 59% of the time and that his most used source by a massive margin is the Daily Mail, followed by Fox News, followed by the New York Times – largely because he attacks their coverage so often, followed by Andy Ngo tweets.

The Daily Mail has been shown numerous times to engage in bad journalistic practices including allegedly plagiarising stories with little or no credit, to pushing dangerous right-wing narratives. In fact, for several years running the Daily Mail has received the most rulings against it by IPSO the industry created voluntary press standards agency in the UK.

In the run-up to the US 2020 presidential election Pool donated money to a Republican politician for the first time and endorsed Donald Trump and Republicans multiple times. Pool went on to vote for a Republican candidate for President, Senate, and Congress. Throughout 2020, Pool stated on numerous occasions that he believed Trump would or could win a 49 state landslide. This did not occur. Pool also often pushed stories related to voter/election fraud in the run-up to the election.

2020 also saw the creation of his Timcast IRL Youtube show on which he livestreams almost every weekday drawing in thousands of dollars in Youtube livechat donations. He first hosted this show with Adam Crigler – a former model and skateboarder who ended up leaving the show in mid-August 2020. Pool currently hosts the show with new host Ian Crossland who was involved in the creation of Minds.com and Pool’s producer Lydia Evans.

Pool flies out high-profile guests to appear live in the studio for approximately two hours for the show and has hosted Enrique Tarrio, Chairman of the Proud Boys and other controversial rightwing figures. Pool has also stated a desire to have Infowars creator Alex Jones on his show and further hinted at a desire to host the far-right white nationalist commentator Nick Fuentes.

 

Notes

This biography is a living document. Expect many changes and additions in the coming weeks and months. As thorough as this document may be, it leaves out many key details. Some of these will be reported out by myself, others will need to be reported by other journalists.

Key omissions in this document as it currently stands which will eventually be added are 1) the story about the murder that happened outside Tim Pool’s New York home 2) the story about the alleged sex offender who stalked/visited Tim Pool’s house in 2019 3) details about Tim Pool’s podcast, his cohosts and his move history 4) further details about Pool’s rhetoric in 2020 5) details about Pool’s life and career from ~2013-2016 6) more details about Pool’s current output and other business ventures e.g. SCNR. These omissions and several others will eventually be rectified but I currently lack the time to write these up.

If you enjoyed this article please consider subscribing to our Patreon: Patreon.com/TimPoolClips

An Introduction to Grifting

A Growing Problem With Political Discourse

What is a grifter?  They’re someone who sells you something they know doesn’t work.  Or, at least, they don’t care whether it works or not.  It’s the intentional lack of carefulness about the truth that determines whether someone is a grifter.  The end goal for these people is that they get paid, and if that means being less-than-honest, or even flatly dishonest, then that’s just fine by them.  No skin off their nose.

But the problem we have today with these people isn’t that they are scalping fake tickets, or getting people to invest in their pyramid scheme. The problem is that there is a growing cadre of so-called political commentators on YouTube and other social media sites accruing millions and millions of views, who are knowingly making bad-faith arguments about politics, particularly about the political left.  People like Tim Pool, Dave Rubin, Jordan Peterson, and Candace Owens are often pointed to as examples of this growing problem.

Your Crazy, Right-Wing Uncle Is Not A Grifter, But He Is A Victim Of It

We are not trying to claim that everyone saying outlandish things online is a grifter or a part of this problem.  But your conservative relatives retweeting and sharing the content of, say, Tim Pool is exactly what Tim Pool needs them to be doing. In November 2019, he was on The Hill’s Rising and described himself as “idealistically…far left.  But, realistically, like trying to actually accomplish policies that move us forward, I’m probably a moderate left”. Moderate left, huh? That sounds relatively harmless. But the problem is that he’s not telling the truth.

He’s aware that people perceive him as right-wing, and in the same interview says that his policy positions are to the left, but that he is “concerned about some of the same things as conservatives on principle grounds”. As an example, he points to the news media. According to Pool, the idea “that there’s media bias”, or “that a news organization is incentivized by profit” are ideas that conservatives are talking about and progressives are not.  Did Tim Pool forget that The Daily Show, both with Jon Stewart and Trevor Noah, has been hammering media bias regularly on mainstream television to millions of people for years? Jon Stewart publicly destroyed CNBC host Jim Cramer back in 2009 for his failures to be honest with his viewership about the state of the economy leading up to the 2008 financial collapse (and he even showed clips of Cramer explaining how one could deceive the SEC, oops).

The notion that conservatives are talking about media bias, and that the left is not, is absurd.  Maybe Pool is talking in terms of relative mentions? In that case, I would agree with him, as Trump probably calls CNN fake news once per day, while even the mouthiest progressive in Congress might call Fox News propaganda once per week. But of course, that’s not what our beanie-bro means.

He’s just lying – or doesn’t care about the truth.

Why Do You Think These People Are Lying?

Great question! It’s important to distinguish between grifters and useful idiots. A useful idiot is just that; someone who takes the grifter’s word as gospel and carries it downstream.  Without them, there’d be no pyramid schemes or MyPillows.  Every grifter needs their useful idiots.  But when a useful idiot approaches you and says, “hey, want to be a part of a great business opportunity?”, they aren’t technically grifting you because they believe what they are saying is true. They’re not a grifter, just an idiot.  Your crazy, proto-fascist uncle? He’s an idiot.

Let’s use Tim Pool again. He’s not an idiot, he’s a grifter. How can you tell?  Because he has expressed the importance of fact-checking, but we know he doesn’t care to do as much himself. Pool claims he is center-left, but he has donated to a Republican political candidate and expressed support for Republicans and Donald Trump multiple times.  He terrifies his audience with outlandish claims about the left while running defense for the right.

And the idea that conservatives care about media bias but progressives do not? Someone would need to have buried their head in the sand for nearly two decades to genuinely make that claim.  But, since Tim has been actively involved in media and journalism for years, there’s no credible explanation other than that he is knowingly misleading people.

But why do these grifters do this?

They’re Doing It For The Money And Fame

Duh. It’s what grifting’s all about! The grifters we’re concerned with are getting their funding primarily in one of two ways.  Either,  as in the case of Dave Rubin’s show, they receive funding from organizations funded by the Koch brothers and other conservative financiers, or they are funded like other independent media with small-dollar donations and merchandise sales.  Oftentimes grifters in one of these lanes will drift in and out of the other, but they are important to distinguish because it changes the motives involved.

In the first case, with conservative think tanks funding content like the Rubin Report, there is a direct incentive for Dave Rubin to appeal to the politics and sensibilities of the people writing his paychecks.  He needs to hit the marks they want him to hit.  If Dave Rubin was up there talking about his 2015 support for Bernie Sanders, he would not be getting his paychecks anymore.  But talking about black support for Trump? That’s gonna be a yes from me, dawg.  This doesn’t mean that there is a sith-like libertarian overlord waiting in the wings while Dave Rubin does his show, but he knows where the boundaries are and he is more than happy to stay well within them.

In the second case, you need to appeal to your audience.  The audience for these grifters is conservatives.  And when we’re talking about the Trump-era, being a conservative is, with few exceptions, synonymous with being a Trump supporter.  That means that the target audience for these grifters is Trump supporters.

To pick on Tim Pool, he criticizes Trump from time to time, but he recently jumped the shark and said he’s voting for Trump.  This is from someone who described himself politically from “far-left” to “moderate left”.  Pool has oriented himself in such a way that he can provide a semblance of credibility for Trump supporters to point to and say “See! He was a leftist and now he supports Trump”.  And Pool knows this.  He once tweeted that he has “an in depth understanding of social media algorithms and what drives content”.  He needs his viewer base to buy into what he’s doing, and for that to happen Tim Pool needs to buy into what his viewer base is doing, or, at least, appear to buy into it.  And these two categories overlap, Tim Pool has been a guest on The Rubin Report and other conservative financed programs, and those with financial backing make their own money selling merchandise and books.  They go hand in hand.

What Can We Do About It?

The best thing we can do right now is to keep talking about it.  Today, truth is more important than ever, and when people can make a comfortable living distorting the truth and changing the opinions and minds of our friends and families, it has a devastating ripple effect across our personal, professional, and societal relationships.  That’s why Grftr.News exists—to be an outlet that stands against the conmen and conwomen of alternative media.

The second best thing you can do is donate to our Patreon and enable us to continue bringing you the latest and greatest in articles, dunks, and memes about our favorite right-wing swindlers.