James O’Keefe’s Google ‘Whistleblower’ Loves QAnon, Accused ‘Zionists’ of Running the Government

By William.Sommer@thedailybeast.com (Will Sommer)
Photo Illustration by Kelly Caminero/The Daily Beast

Right-wing provocateur James O’Keefe published his latest video on tech giants on Wednesday, touting an interview with former YouTube software engineer and self-proclaimed “whistleblower” Zach Vorhies. In the video, Vorhies claims that Google’s search algorithms are riddled with political bias, and touted a cache of internal Google files he alleges prove his case.

Vorhies complains that Google doesn’t surface conspiracy theory websites like InfoWars in one of its news search algorithms. He insists that his information is so valuable that he has a credible fear that Google could be “trying to off me.” 

“Some say that you’re a hero, some are going to say that you have extreme moral courage,” O’Keefe told the former Googler in the video. 

“I always thought that when the time came to do the right thing, in a big way, that I would always be the one that stood up and did the right thing,” Vorhies replied.

What O’Keefe’s video leaves out, though, is that his much-hyped insider is not as credible as he claims. On social media, Vorhies is an avid promoter of anti-Semitic accusations that banks, the media, and the United States government are controlled by “Zionists.” He’s also pushed conspiracy theories like QAnon, Pizzagate, and the discredited claim that vaccines cause autism.

On Wednesday, O’Keefe defended Vorhies on Twitter. “Not every source is a perfect angel,” he tweeted. “Good journalists know this is true.” Vorhies and Google didn’t respond to requests for comment.

On his Twitter account, @Perpetualmaniac, Vorhies repeatedly attacks Jewish people and accuses them of a wide range of crimes. (Both O’Keefe and his group, Project Veritas, promoted Vorhies’s Twitter account in tweets on Monday.)

He even alleges that “Zionists” killed conservative publisher and O’Keefe mentor Andrew Breitbart, who died of heart failure in 2012. 

“It’s very simple, either you go along with the zionists or you end up like Andrew Breitbart,” Vorhies wrote in January. 

In a May tweet, Vorhies accused Israel of plotting the 9/11 attacks, and encouraged Twitter users to look up 9/11-related conspiracy theory content, providing no evidence of his claims.

“Israel and the zionist cabal planned 9/11 and its going to all come out,” Vorhies wrote. 

Vorhies also regularly uses symbols and language popular with white supremacists online. In multiple tweets, he referenced “ZOG” — long-time white supremacist abbreviation  for the “Zionist Occupation Government,” the conspiracy theory that the U.S. government is controlled by Jewish interests. In one tweet, he used #ZOG and #Illuminati hashtags to allege that an election was being stolen in Florida. In another, he accused the public-interest group Free Press of being a front for a Jewish cabal.

“This group makes a lot more sense once you understand that it’s a front for the Zionist Occupational Government…” Vorhies wrote.

Vorhies has also deployed the “echo parentheses” popular with anti-Semites, in which three parentheses are added on each side of a phrase to imply that a person is Jewish. In a June tweet, he claimed that Jews ran the slave trade, a conspiracy theory he claimed had been covered up by “the (((globalist media))).”

He’s repeatedly used the word “goy” on Twitter, a word popular with anti-Semitic groups to imply that Jews control non-Jewish people. At one point, he complained that the concept of free speech was only “free speech for Jews, not free speech for Goyim.” In another tweet, he suggested that vaccines were a Jewish plot to poison non-Jewish people.

“It’s your body unless you want to avoid putting toxic vaccines in your body, goy,” Vorhies tweeted in June. 

Asked about their whistleblower’s use of anti-Semitic attacks, an unnamed person with access to the Project Veritas media inquiry email account replied only with an attachment of a file leaked by Vorhies, an internal study about Google’s search algorithm. Asked to elaborate, the writer of the email didn’t respond. 

Vorhies is also an avid promoter of the baseless QAnon conspiracy theory, which has anti-Semitic overtones and whose believers claim that President Donald Trump is engaged in a secret battle with a high-ranking pedophile “cabal” in Hollywood, media, banking, and the Democratic Party. After Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX) resigned as the head of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation in January, Vorhies saw it as proof that QAnon is real.

“Down goes another high level cabal agent,” Vorhies wrote, adding the #qanon hashtag.  

Vorhies appears to have been an early follower of QAnon, tweeting positively in January 2018 about the conspiracy theory, three months after it launched with a series of anonymous, cryptic messages posted online. Since then, Vorhies has frequently tweeted other QAnon phrases, like “Where we go one, we go all” and “trust the plan.” 

“The narrative of Qanon has been more accurate than any other news outlet,” Vorhies tweeted in May. 

Vorhies also appears to be a believer in Pizzagate, a QAnon predecessor conspiracy theory that held that Hillary Clinton, her campaign chief John Podesta, and other top Democrats had a child-sex dungeon in the basement of a Washington pizzeria. 

There’s no basis for the claims made by Pizzagate believers, which eventually inspired a North Carolina man to fire shots in the restaurant. As recently as May 2018, though, Vorhies was demanding that filmmaker Michael Moore make a movie investigating Pizzagate

“Hey Michael when are you going to make a movie about the pedophiles that ran Hillary’s campaign?” Vorhies wrote, tweeting a doctored photo of Podesta with a crying child and references to “pizza.”

YouTube, where Vorhies worked until recently, has been criticized for a video recommendation algorithm that can push users towards more extreme content—and thus towards radicalization and conspiracy theories. 

Vorhies himself saw YouTube as a reliable source of evidence for his conspiracy theories, according to one tweet he sent promoting anti-vaccine paranoia. In a January tweet, he urged other Twitter users to look up anti-vaccine information on YouTube.

“Don’t take my word for it—study it for yourself,” Vorhies wrote. “See the testimony of countless parents testifying on social media (e.g. YouTube).”

—With additional reporting by Adam Rawnsley.


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