Ethan Klein and Hasan Piker Should Not Have Platformed the Liver King
Over the past few months, I’ve interviewed too many people who have lost a loved one down the Qanon rabbit hole. I’ve interviewed these people for my upcoming podcast, launching on October 25th. The Q-Dropped Podcast features stories of families ripped apart by Qanon. I started it because my own parents were sucked down this rabbit hole and had been drawn in, initially, by the alternative medicine influencers on the internet. I have found that the vast majority of those I’ve spoken to who have Qanon loved ones also noticed an interest in wellness influencers first.
Influencers like the Liver King.
I’d like to make clear, first, that I am a massive fan of both the H3 podcast and Hasan Piker. Yes, I, a 45-year-old Canadian, have found myself obsessively trying to keep up with hours of content while also trying to run a business, raise kids, and keep my house clean. Understand, nothing in my life has made me laugh as hard as H3 has the past few years. I’m not going to stop watching Ethan and his crew or the clips of Hasan I consume on YouTube because they platformed the Liver King. I just feel like I need to get this off my chest, and last Friday, Ethan asked, with clear doubt in his voice, “It isn’t hurting anyone, right? Or maybe it is.” referring to the Liver King episode. Of all of the creators on the internet, I know that Ethan can hear criticism and adjust his platform going forward if a good enough case is made. So here goes.
Okay, Ethan. (sorry)
On Sunday, September 11th, 2022, Igor Lanis shot and killed his wife, injured his daughter, and killed the family dog with multiple gunshots. A second daughter, who hadn’t been home at the time, posted afterward on Reddit that the Qanon conspiracy was to blame:
Growing up, my parents were extremely loving and happy people. I always had a special bond with both my parents.
In 2020 after Trump lost, my dad started going down the Q rabbit hole. He kept reading conspiracy theories about the stolen election, Trump, vaccines, etc. He always said he wanted to keep us safe and healthy.
It kept getting worse and he verbally snapped at us a few times. Nothing physical though. He never got physical with anybody.
Well, at around 4 AM on September 11, he had an argument with my mother and he decided to take our guns and shoot her, my dog and my sister. My mother succumbed to her wounds and my sister is in the hospital right now.
My dad also fired back at the cops and they killed him.
While we don’t really know what drew Igor Lanis down the Qanon rabbit hole, I can tell you what sucked my parents in. It was the online wellness community. You know, the folks who are sure the cures for cancer, autism, and ADHD are all in your garden. People who swear they finally have *the* diet to end all diets. Influencers who say stuff like, “Nature had it right.”
People like the Liver King, Ethan.
When you lose a family member down this rabbit hole, it seems harmless at first. It certainly did in my family. My mother used to call my brother and me and tell us all about the new remedy she found for various ailments. We would laugh it off. First, it was oil of oregano that cured everything. Then it was apple cider vinegar. There was a phase where she swore turmeric would prevent every bad thing from happening as well as an essential oil era that ended in chemical burns and my mom’s first visit to the doctor in decades. Today, it’s colloidal silver. If you don’t know, colloidal silver has the ability to turn your skin, eyes, and tongue blue permanently. You think I’m joking. I am not.
My mom found a “health guru” to follow. His name is the Health Ranger. His real name is Mike Adams, and he has built an online empire that only starts with wellness. That’s just how he sucks you in. This man has hundreds of domain names, each of them hosting a different “news” site. To my mom, a boomer, this looks like a regular news site and feels legit. She didn’t grow up with computers or the internet, so she has no idea how to tell a legitimate news site from a news site operating in bad faith. So, one day, she stumbled onto Natural News (I’d link it, but fuck that guy). Innocent home remedies were being hawked there when she initially found it, so we didn’t think to check it out for her.
But here’s the thing, Ethan. Part of the messaging in the world of online wellness is a deep distrust for “Big Pharma” and the broader medical community. It sews disdain for the scientific process and plants the seed in the victim’s mind that all authority and all expertise is specifically designed to get you, to fuck you up, and to keep you sick.
My mom quickly became an anti-vaxxer. She stopped going to the doctor. My mother stopped brushing her teeth. When my dad had a stroke, she hesitated to call an ambulance.
Mike Adams, a man not unlike the Liver King, had full and complete control of my mother.
Then, the pandemic hit. Already sold on a total distrust of all authority and expertise, my parents started to say concerning things. Pro-gun things, and my parents had always been left-leaning and vehemently anti-gun. They started to spout nonsense about masks and spew hate for medical and epidemiological experts. My deeply socialist parents began saying pro-Trump absurdities.
When the vaccines rolled out, shit finally hit the fan. It became clear to my brother and I that the natural remedy websites my mom visited had begun pushing far more sinister things. When we investigated, we found that Mike Adams had launched several political news sites, the stories from which were linked as suggested articles on Natural News.
These stories were horrendous, encouraging readers to stockpile weapons to protect themselves from Black Lives Matter and Antifa. They assured readers that Hillary was eating children to stay young and that the Ever Given container ship was stuck in the Suez canal because they found 1300 dead children in it. Lizard people were running the white house, aliens had infiltrated our society and JFK Jr. was still alive and ready to run as Trump’s running mate in the next election.
My parents were convinced that the vaccines carried microchips and that wearing masks would kill them. My parents believed that Hollywood was a cult that was trafficking children for sex and body parts. These once fierce fighters for human rights now see everyone as an enemy, and they’ve been told to see that by a man who also happens to own an online gun shop.
A gun shop.
You know, one from which an American reading Mike Adams’ crap might buy a gun when he becomes convinced that his family is protecting a global pedophile ring. Maybe an American named Igor.
My parents, fortunately, are Canadian and can’t buy a gun from Mike Adams. But I am entirely unconvinced that they haven’t bought a gun here in Canada.
The funnel from the online wellness community to Qanon is real, and people like the Liver King are the first step to radicalization. Sadly, this radicalization stole a girl’s family from her, but many more people are experiencing a different kind of loss because of people like Mike Adams and the Liver King. We are grieving people who still breathe.
In my sadness and anger at what has happened to my parents, I started a podcast. I wanted to tell the stories of people who were going through what I am going through. I was shocked that after just a handful of interviews, it became clear that many people are falling into Qanon and Q-adjacent extremism through the wellness community. Most of the people I have interviewed said their Qanon loved ones found their way to extremism through the alternative medicine community and people like the Liver King. They are going through divorces because of this. They are children going no contact with their parents because of this. They are experiencing violence because of this and there is a direct and undeniable link to wellness influencers like Liver King.
Ethan, you recently deleted your Jordan Peterson videos because you said you didn’t want to be a part of the pipeline to right-wing extremism. But that is precisely what you’re doing with the Liver King episode. I know you probably didn’t see this connection, and if you had, you likely would not have platformed him because I believe you are a good person. But, I hope for your sake and the sake of the Fupa Troopas and their families that no one ends up falling down that rabbit hole and no one ends up dead like Igor Lanis’ family.
Thank you for considering my position.
Proudly sporting my Teddy Fresh hoodie and a fan for life,