Alt-Right Fake News 'Journalist' Jailed in Phoenix Assault

A Phoenix Police Department vehicle.
A Phoenix Police Department vehicle. Ash Ponders
Who says a 19-year-old with questionable qualifications or dedication to the truth can’t become a famous journalist?

Certainly not the Gateway Pundit, an alt-right fake news website based in St. Louis, when it hired Jordan Conradson.

Now, thanks to a fresh incident reported to police, the self-styled news outlet is having trouble fulfilling its unabashedly ironic mission statement displayed on its masthead.

“We report the truth — and leave the Russia-Collusion fairy tale to the conspiracy media.”

Conradson isn’t old enough to pop the tab on a can of Kilt Lifter, but that hasn’t stopped him from infecting the internet with dangerous conspiracy theories and getting himself arrested in Phoenix on Sunday. Police allege he assaulted and injured his girlfriend.

The Phoenix Police Department nabbed Conradson, who also claims to have worked as a Realtor since he was just 18, on charges of assault and criminal damage, court records show.

Less than a week ago, he retweeted, ”There’s never an excuse for violence. Ever.”

Conradson was booked into jail, Phoenix Police Sergeant Philip Krynsky confirmed. "He was booked for a few misdemeanors," the sergeant said.

The case is now pending in Phoenix Municipal Court. According to court documents, Conradson was at the home of his girlfriend, a 20-year-old Arizona State University honors student, around 1 a.m. on April 3, when a domestic assault took place. The young woman sustained minor injuries, the records show.

She and Conradson announced their relationship on Facebook in January 2021.

The wannabe newsman has been released from jail as he awaits his trial on May 27. He pleaded not guilty.

According to court records, Conradson is not allowed to initiate contact with his girlfriend. He's also forbidden from possessing weapons, alcohol, or marijuana, all common release conditions.

It’s not Conradson’s first time through the justice system, though.

In early 2018, when he was just 16 years old, Conradson was arrested in Scottsdale on charges of underage drinking. Nearly two years later, the case was dismissed, according to court documents.

That incident with cops didn’t scare off the Gateway Pundit.

The conspiracy-hawking blog strives for excellence “both in production and in the promotion of virtue,” according to the mission statement on its website. “All our content should be true,” wrote the blog’s founder, Jim Hoft, on the website. “No value is more important than this.”

But according to a report from the nonprofit Poynter Institute for Media Studies, only 5 percent of the content on the Gateway Pundit is grounded in facts. Two-thirds of the website’s content is based on "ridiculous claims" and 16 percent is mostly false, according to the report, which appears on Poynter's PoltiFact website.

In November, the Gateway Pundit published an article claiming that, because of COVID-19’s Omicron variant, “the Biden administration has decided to leave the U.S. southern border completely open.”

In reality, immigration officials logged nearly 200,000 encounters at the U.S.-Mexico border, including more than 100,000 expulsions.

The Gateway Pundit also reported that Dr. Anthony Fauci and other top U.S. health officials plotted “for a new avian flu virus to enforce universal flu vaccination.”

Such far-fetched headlines attract more than 2.5 million unique readers every day, Hoft claims, even after the Pundit was kicked off conventional social media platforms.

Early last year, in the wake of the 2020 U.S. presidential election, Twitter banned the Gateway Pundit’s account for repeatedly publishing dangerous misinformation and conspiracy theories about the election’s legitimacy. In September, Google demonetized the site for the same reason.

Thanks to its ultra-conservative advertisers and donors, the website is profitable enough to maintain a growing staff.

Hoft hired Conradson last year when he was 19.

The self-dubbed “journalist” doesn't appear to have any education beyond high school and no prior experience or training as a reporter, based on public education records, his bio, and his LinkedIn profile.

Conradson turned 20 in November.

Last May, Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs accused him of harassing and threatening her. He filmed himself chasing her while squawking accusations that she was trying to undermine the infamously dubious, so-called election “audit” ordered by state Republicans.

On the same day, Hobbs' claimed, a man called her office saying she deserved to die and wondering “what she is wearing so she’ll be easy to get.”

Hobbs shared the tweet in response to another tweet about Conradson.

The incident was serious enough that Governor Doug Ducey ordered the Arizona Department of Public Safety to provide protection for Hobbs and her family.

“I don’t think anyone is under the delusion that the teen Realtor writing for a partisan site is a real reporter,” former Arizona Capitol Times reporter Julia Shumway tweeted. “But that footage of him chasing and yelling at Secretary Hobbs was both frightening to watch as a woman and such a departure from how journalism works.”

Two months later, Arizona State Senator Michelle Ugenti-Rita, a Republican from Scottsdale, told police Conradson had harassed her at a Donald Trump rally in Phoenix.

Conradson was handcuffed and placed in the back of a police car, the Gateway Pundit reported, but he was not charged with a crime.

Conradson also was slated to join Arizona State Representative Walt Blackman, a Republican who’s currently making a bid for Congress, on Sunday night as the special guest on a webinar about Arizona politics.

He didn’t show.

“Our special guest Jordan Conradson from the Gateway Pundit may not be able to join us this evening,” a transcript of the webinar reads. “I got word about 30 minutes ago that he may have been arrested.”

Conradson has not posted an article on the Gateway Pundit or tweeted since April 2.
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Elias Weiss is a staff writer at the Phoenix New Times. A native of Charlotte, North Carolina, he reported first for the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and was editor of the Chatham Star-Tribune in Southern Virginia, where he covered politics and law. In 2020, the Virginia Press Association awarded him first place in the categories of Government Writing and Breaking News Writing for non-daily newspapers statewide.
Contact: Elias Weiss