Book Review: Hoaxed by Mike Cernovich

“To understand the media requires you to set aside logic and reasoning.”

“So I found that journalists use themselves as the source of their own lies.”

“To expect non-hypocrisy from most people in the intellectual realm is a fantasy.”

No wonder the world presented to you by the mass media seems completely divorced from reality.

Newsflash: It is. And it’s done on purpose.

These are just a few choice quotes from Hoaxed, the companion book to writer Mike Cernovich‘s upcoming documentary about the media and how it distorts the truth, and give a good idea of what message Hoaxed is trying to convey.

You might not like Cernovich. You might find his mindset stuff hokey and his politics not to your liking. You might even not like me for having a positive view of the guy’s work. But one thing you can’t deny is that he puts his money where his mouth is.

Hoaxed shows this by not being a partisan hatchet job pushing a specific partisan political agenda. It also doesn’t get “revenge” on the media for all the lies it’s told about Cernovich. Instead, Hoaxed features complete, unedited versions of the interviews used in the film to discuss the issue of what has entered the American lexicon as “fake news.”

Mike Cernovich

Because our news media is fake. At least, most legacy outlets, be they print, cable, or on-line. I’ll spoil things a little for you, but the thread running through Hoaxed is that people want raw, unfiltered truth that lets us make up our own minds. Without trustworthy news-gatherers who do this for a living, we are easy to manipulate. Which is the reason fake news, aka propaganda, exists. It always has and it always will.

By presenting these unvarnished interviews, Hoaxed once again shows Cernovich walking his talk. It’s meta in that way.

Hoaxed also features some short essays by Cernovich himself which provide some context for what he’s trying to do. They’re pithy and really lay out the reasoning behind the entire Hoaxed project: a nation can only survive and thrive if it’s based in truth and if different sides can talk to each other without resorting to violence.

And we are not there at this particular point in time.

The best way to form an opinion about Hoaxed is to read it yourself. It’s a pretty dense read, and I wish some people were interviewed longer, while others I wish would shut up . . . particularly Jordan Peterson. What the hell is this guy talking about? Does he even know or believe half the gibberish that comes out of his mouth? His segment was one of the longest and added the least to this book.

And speaking of Peterson, man has the bloom come off of that rose for me. I considered myself a fan in that I liked how he stood up to PC culture and preached a message of positive masculinity and personal responsibility. Then I read his book 12 Rules for Life and all of a sudden I was no longer impressed. He takes hundreds pages of gobbledygook to make five good points. Maybe because I have an awesome dad I’m not his target audience.

(Anthony Scaramucci (more on him below) went on and on a bit, too . . . interesting guy but damn man!)

At least Stephen Molyneux, who also had a long interview, had a lot of interesting things to say about the nature of truth, philosophy, and what an actual argument consists of. I liked his interview more than his own book.

Documentary filmmaker Cassie Jaye and right-wing Proud Boys founder (and Vice co-founder, which seemingly by-law has to be used to describe the man) Gavin McInnes give good insights into what it’s like being lied about. Jaye in particular had a particularly bitter experience learning that her former left-wing feminist friends did a complete 180 toward her for the mere sin of disagreeing with them on one thing.

Cassie Jaye

Former Google employee James Damone, author of the supposedly controversial “diversity memo,” also has an interesting, slightly harrowing story about the media’s destructive power. I only wish his interview were longer. Controversial Infowars head Alex Jones also shares his own experience of being smeared by Megyn Kelly’s profile of him, which, whether you like Jones or not (I’m guessing most of you don’t), you can agree people don’t deserve to be lied about.

Dilbert creator and persuasion expert turned political analyst Scott Adams has an interesting discussion about media and persuasion which is familiar if you’ve read any of his work, but provides a good primer of his worldview if you haven’t. Writer, marketing expert, and entrepreneur Ryan Holiday gives a fascinating glimpse into the world of media manipulation, first from an advertising perspective and then extrapolating broadly. And he criticizes Cernovich, which makes for an entertaining read.

The interview with guerilla journalist and raconteur James O’Keefe of Project Veritas game is worth a few reads. Here’s a guy who does present the unvarnished truth . . . and he still gets lied about and accused of doing all the dishonest things the media itself does. And former Trump director of communications Anthony Scaramucci is surprisingly intelligent and has some great ideas about how legacy media could adapt for the current technological era we live in–very different from how the media portrayed the man!

You’ll notice I’m leading someone out: Hawk Newsome, leader of the Greater New York Black Lives Matter, lawyer, and political activists. That’s because his interview was one of the most interesting and most revelatory. Hearing him explain what he’s all about in his own words has given me a lot to think about, not only about media manipulation, but the troubled history of police interactions with black communities, and isn’t that what news is supposed to do?

Hawk Newsome

I heartily recommend Hoaxed, even if you can’t stand Mike Cernovich. You might not agree with him, but you’ll find interesting, full interviews with people you’d never see on mainstream outliers. And Cernovich lets them speak with very few interjections, and those are mostly prompts on his or his team’s part to keep the interview moving.

The media is lying to us, and has been for a long time. It’s good to find out how and why.


  1. You know why people like JP? Because he cares. He is totally full of gobblygook about lobster hierarchies and yet he cares about your room being clean. Also, he gets the darkness in people, the demons they must slay. He empathizes. By contrast, Cernovich does not care, he’s a total asshat and people know it. He may well be right about a few things, but no one wonders if what motivates him is concern for the human condition.

    I find that contrast fascinating and I think it provides us with some real clues about why the conservative message so often fails. You yourself pleaded a few times in this blog post, “I heartily recommend Hoaxed, even if you can’t stand Mike Cernovich.” I think you’re quite right, people should read it, the problem being, people are not ruled by the fact that “you are right,” they are ruled by the fact that “you care.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s the message/messenger distinction, isn’t it? Is a person who holds terrible views and might be a scumbag but makes objectively good things happen better or worse than someone with the best of intentions and motivations who leaves disaster in their wake?

      Most people would rather take the latter then the former.

      I respectfully disagree that “caring” is the best litmus test, but that might be a personal thing. I don’t care, no pun intended, if someone cares about me as long as they’re not harming me, and especially if they’re making things better.

      For accuracy’s sake, I thought chapter about lobsters and dominance hierarchies in Peterson’s book was one of his better ones. My main issue with him is that after READING his words, it’s ruined his speaking. The issues aren’t as noticeable when he speaks. Maybe his interview comes across better in film, but his interview in this book was nearly incomprehensible. And I mean that in the truest sense of the word.

      Liked by 1 person

      • “I respectfully disagree that “caring” is the best litmus test…”

        Well, I would not say that caring is the “best” litmus test, but I would say that it is the dominant one that is always going to win out in the end. So whether JP is actually coherent or whether the news is real or fake become irrelevant. What people really want to know is, do you care?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Caring, or the appearance is a good selling point, but you are 100 percent right that it’s not the best or only litmus test, a wording inaccuracy on my part. Less cynically, caring coupled with good advice it’s very powerful.

        I suppose I’m superimposing my personal past experience, because I’ve listened to many people in the past who care very deeply about me, and their advice has sucked. Whereas sometimes reading books by people who don’t know me or listening to a speech or talking to someone that’s not even a friend has provided advice that’s actually paid off in the long run. As with most things, your mileage may vary.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Re: Jordan Peterson. Dude, you had a good father who himself had a good father, and all three of you are Greek Orthodox. Jordan Peterson is for people who are terrified of symbolism and starting to thaw to the idea that maybe symbolism is OK to consider. You’re (metaphorically) on the other side of the planet from Jordan Peterson’s audience. You should be watching Jonathan Pageau, not Jordan Peterson.

    You reading Jordan Peterson is like a teenager going to an old person’s home and noting that the attendants shout too much. Or going to a dog trainer and noting that they say a lot of silly stuff like “you’re a good boy! yes you are! Who’s a good boy? You are!” Well, yes. But try talking to their target audience like they’re healthy adult human beings and you’ll just watch that fail spectacularly.

    There are a lot of people who are terrified of reality and need to approach it very obliquely, through a very soft cushion of words. They’re kind of like the veteran of World War I around whom it’s best to close the cupboard quietly lest he think Jerry’s trying to kill him again.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha! That’s a good point. I found his discussions against post-modernism interesting but his other stuff mostly incomprehensible.

      I mean, there’s a part in the trailer for this movie where Pererson says “Falsehoods have consequences. That’s what makes them false.” If you discern any meaning in that statement, please tell me.


      • Interesting post and I appreciate the write-up, but I’m still not buying it. Seems like if a statement takes this much explanation, it wasn’t very clear to begin with.

        It’s frustrating because Peterson says some things that make perfect sense, but others, especially when read, seem like the quintessential example of word salad.

        A consequence of a thing isn’t what makes a thing a thing. I’m no philosophy student and I’m basing all of this on my familiarity with the English language, and viewed from that end, or doesn’t add up.

        The Bible, as dense and obscure as it can be, is far easier to understand.


      • All things have their context. Growing up in a Greek Orthodox context, you’re not going to be very familiar with philosophical pragmatism since you’re going to be concerned with, you know, actual truth.

        A lot of people have grown up in a context where they believe that truth is not possible. That it’s not possible to know anything. That everything we think we know we just made up and attribute to reality. If a person believes this, reasoning, and especially explicit reasoning, is completely useless with him. He’s got a sort of mental paralysis.

        Jordan Peterson is trying to help those people. He’s doing physical therapy for toddlers who can’t crawl yet and you’re pointing out that what he’s teaching isn’t good advice for running a 5k. 🙂

        Your criticism is correct, but he never meant it to be useful for runners. Basically, I think you underestimate just how stupid the average modern is and how difficult it is to trick them into even small amounts of thinking. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh, and yes, the bible is far easier to understand. For sane people. Jordan Peterson is, after all, a psychologist. He’s not trying to help sane people. He’s trying to get people to the level where they can actually read things for sane people.

        Liked by 1 person

      • “Falsehoods have consequences. That’s what makes them false.” If you discern any meaning in that statement, please tell me.”

        I laugh at JP’s corny simplicity sometimes, but yes, I’ve had to make that same point many times just from the other direction. The truth really matters. Deceptions lead us astray. What is sin but a deception, a false perception? Sin is a bad thing that has consequences. That’s what makes it sin. So if you build your house on falsehoods, it’s likely to fall over. These things can sound very cheesy to some, but believe it or not they are great revelations to many, like rocket science.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Truth has consequences too. Is that make them true? Saying that the consequences of a thing are what makes a thing the thing just doesn’t make sense to me.

        What makes falsehoods false is that they are not true.

        I dunno . . . maybe I’m thinking about this too much.


      • Well, you know how the bible says, “and the truth shall set you free?” When we are trapped in deceptions and falsehoods we are not free. Mike is kind of saying the same thing in “Hoaxed.” What makes false news and propaganda, false? It has consequences, that’s how we know it’s false. Other words for “consequences” would be motive, intent, agenda, purpose. It’s designed to brainwash you. The news is “fake,” because it is not there to simply provide you data and allow you to form your own opinions. Without a free press, we aren’t free either.

        In our individual, personal lives, what JP is saying is that if is false, it has consequences. So like, calling yourself a failure 24/7 is false and it has consequences. Believe it or not many people don’t realize this. We can be more like those NPC’s, just following a script.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’m starting to understand you, IB. I get the point, but the original statement still makes no sense to me. I wish you would write a book.

        Falsehoods have *negative* consequences. You shall know people by their fruits. Maybe that’s what Peterson meant and it just didn’t come out right. I don’t know.

        Looking back, I think calling the guy a “phony” was a bit much on my part. I’m more . . . I don’t know, disappointed or unimpressed maybe.


      • Well, speaking plainly here, I think JP’s a bit of a nut case and I worry he’s going to actually kill himself on his meat only diet. Trappers did that in the olden days and sailors too, and they all died of things like scurvy and trapper’s fever. I worry because he and his kid are teaching and preaching this diet to other people who aren’t so discerning, and I think that’s really irresponsible and dangerous.

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s