Controversial blogger Chuck Johnson, once called the “most hated man on the Internet,” is taking an active role in suggesting and approving candidates for positions in Donald Trump’s White House, according to an exclusive report in Forbes.
Sources close to the Trump transition team tell Forbes that Johnson has an “unofficial role” as a consultant to some of the transition committees, helping “to recommend, vet and give something of a seal of approval to potential nominees,” as a representative of the alt-right to Trump’s operation.
And Johnson’s role has real influence, Forbes reports, because of his connections to top Trump advisors Steve Bannon and Peter Thiel.
For years, Johnson been at the center of countless media controversies, fanning the flames with his website, GotNews, which bills itself as an alternative to the “lying mainstream media”.
GotNews has often transacted in salacious allegations against both public and private figures. Its tactics include accusing married politicians of affairs and publishing the names of rape accusers who had sought to remain anonymous. Johnson has been banned from Twitter for harassing a Black Lives Matter activist, and appeared at a dinner for white supremacist activists last month in DC.
Johnson was also credited with being one of the people who flew some “Clinton sex accusers” to the second Presidential debate this past fall.
Since Trump’s victory in November, Johnson has reportedly been instrumental in setting up introductions and facilitating meetings between potential appointees and members of the Trump transition, including nominees expected to head up the FCC and the USDA. Forbes also connects Johnson to a website called “The Plum List,” which collects data on potential Trump hires.
Johnson has a long history with Bannon. He wrote for Bannon at Breitbart News, and, according to Forbes, also worked closely with Bannon during the campaign (including helping stage that pre-debate press conference with Bill Clinton’s alleged rape and groping victims back in October).
As for Thiel, Johnson told Forbes that the two share “share some of the same enemies, including the now-defunct online gossip website, Gawker.
Thiel secretly bankrolled Hulk Hogan’s successful lawsuit against Gawker; Johnson has sued Gawker in California (the suit is still alive), alleging defamation over some scatological allegations Gawker made about Johnson’s college years.
But regardless of how he ended up in the halls of power, Johnson seems to be in the thick of Trump’s operation, which could present an interesting conundrum for the incoming President.
This is not necessarily the type of character with whom Trump would want to be perceived as consorting.
But as Forbes points out, the extent of Johnson’s influence isn’t entirely clear, even if he was in Trump’s VIP box at both the Republican National Convention and the election night festivities in New York. Other prominent members of the alt-right have also said they’re in touch with Trump officials, but are staying on the periphery of any official action, in order to preserve their independence as commentators.