Former Chicago gossip columnist Liz Crokin is now a star among far-right conspiracy theorists | Bleader

Former Chicago gossip columnist Liz Crokin is now a star among far-right conspiracy theorists

by

Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe

42 comments
Liz Crokin and Roseanne Barr
  • Liz Crokin and Roseanne Barr
When Liz Crokin's name appeared in national news stories due to her surprising connection to a controversy involving Roseanne Barr last week, it felt like an ironic twist of fate. Crokin, a Winnetka native, dished tabloid-style gossip about the lives of Hollywood stars for Chicago print media for almost a decade. But now it's the former Tribune and Sun-Times columnist's name popping up in other journalists' lurid news stories.

The Barr story emerged last Friday in response to one of her tweets about President Trump.  The actor-comedian had recently regained mainstream relevance due to the success of her new Roseanne reboot, which struck ratings gold for ABC, attracting more than 18 million viewers in its first week. All of that extra attention has increased the public scrutiny of her bizarre political views. That's why it suddenly became national news when Barr tweeted: 
"President Trump has freed so many children held in bondage to pimps all over this world. Hundreds each month. He has broken up trafficking rings in high places everywhere," she wrote, adding that Trump gets the benefit of the doubt from her.

That "hundreds a month" factoid was traced directly back to Crokin, who has a combined 79,000 followers on Twitter and Facebook. She had written a blog post in early 2017 for the conservative website Townhall titled "Why the MSM Is Ignoring Trump's Sex Trafficking Busts." The article alleged that law enforcement agencies under Trump had freed more kids from bondage in one month than in any year during the Obama administration. She cited "a staggering 1,500-plus arrests" of sex traffickers arrested in Trump's first 30 days, compared to just 400 in 2014 under Obama. Crokin's post, which has since been debunked, goes on to commend the current president as someone who "genuinely does care about children and [who has] vowed to make solving the human trafficking epidemic a priority."

Barr's now-deleted tweet that recycled Crokin's thesis caused an uproar in mainstream circles but drew unabashed praise from a fringe sector of the pro-Trump Internet that believes in a vast conspiracy called QAnon—also known as "the Storm."

"QAnon" refers to a user on the anonymous message board 4chan who claims to be a high-ranking government employee with inside knowledge of the White House. This self-described official has posted what the user says is leaked inside intel about how Trump is planning mass arrests of top Democrats—including the Clintons—for their alleged involvement in a satanic child-sex-trafficking ring. It's essentially a virulent strain of Pizzagate, the conspiracy theory claiming a D.C. pizza parlor was part of a child sex-trafficking operation led by Hillary Clinton. A North Carolina man named Edgar Welch was so convinced by this baseless theory in December 2016 that he drove to the capital and commandeered the restaurant with a military-style assault rifle—even firing off a shot while inside.

Crokin appears to be swayed by many of these same QAnon theories. She is among a cadre of conspiracy-minded Internet users propagating information and links about it on social media, YouTube, and fringe podcasts like The Richie Allen Show. It's a tiny but very active slice of the Internet mediasphere who now say they have a more prominent voice due to Barr. In a video posted to YouTube on Easter Sunday, Crokin described Barr's tweets as "nothing short of a miracle"—praising the actor-comedian as her only celebrity ally in the fight to expose a cannibalistic satanic sex cult among Hollywood power players and political elites—one that utilizes a CIA mind-control program.

"Roseanne has been supporting my work exposing child sex trafficking, elite pedophilia, Pizzagate, and Pedogate for close to a year," Crokin said in a video that's been viewed more than 22,000 times. "She tweets my stuff and has been very supportive of me . . . and she's been very supportive of the community exposing the pedophilia problem in Hollywood."

Liz Crokin pictured with alt-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos
  • Liz Crokin pictured with alt-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos

In an article explaining Barr's tweet, the Washington Post described Crokin as an "obscure conservative writer," but the 39-year old journalist wasn't particularly right-wing—or obscure—for most of her career. Publicly, at least. During her college years, she worked as an intern for the U.S. State Department during the George W. Bush administration and for conservative pundit Bill O'Reilly's Fox News show The O'Reilly Factor. But her politics remained relatively invisible when she started working for Chicago media.

Crokin's first reporting job came in 2002 with the Tribune's City News Service, but she soon moved to the back pages of the Trib's daily tabloid the RedEye (full disclosure: I was also a RedEye freelancer, but I never met Crokin). For seven years starting in 2003, she wrote Liz in the Loop (once called "Eye Contact"), a celebrity gossip column; "Liz Crokin stalks celebrities so you don't have to" read a RedEye tagline. The column obsessively reported on movie, music, and TV stars who visited Chicago and what they ate, where they partied, who they made out with, and (sometimes because of who they made out with)—who they broke up with.

News of celebrity breakups became Crokin's journalistic calling card. "I don't mean to be, but I seem to be the breakup queen," she told Michigan Avenue magazine in 2009, citing her big scoops on the Jessica Simpson-Tony Romo and the Hilary Duff-Joel Madden decouplings as evidence.

It's unclear why RedEye didn't renew her contract in 2010. Crokin didn't respond to interview requests, and most former editors and staffers contacted for this story also declined to comment. Her former colleagues who responded say they didn't know Crokin well or have much contact with her. Multiple sources say she was a regular at a lot of upscale (and booze-filled) social events and ritzy parties.

Crokin left Chicago for Los Angeles in 2010 to work at a host of tabloid mags: Us Weekly, National Enquirer, Star, and InTouch. As a reporter and editor, Crokin further solidified her credentials as Queen of the Breakup. She's bragged that she obtained exclusive pictures of Ashton Kutcher's affair and then broke the story of the end of the actor's marriage to Demi Moore. Crokin also says she got her hands on "exclusive information on Katy Perry's crumbling marriage to Russell Brand several weeks before he filed for divorce" and broke news about John Travolta's "gay affairs."

Liz Crokin with Steve Bannon and conservative talk show host Anna Khait
  • Liz Crokin with Steve Bannon and conservative talk show host Anna Khait

She returned to the Chicago journalism world in 2012—this time as a freelance celebrity columnist for the glossy "fashion and lifestyle" magazine Splash, a Sun-Times publication launched by the paper's former owner Michael Ferro (who took Splash with him to the Tribune Company when he left the Sun-Times in 2016). Splash publisher Susanna Homan tapped Crokin to write LA LA Liz—a column that once again specialized in pithy chatter about romantic relationships in Hollywood ("The Kardashians are krumbling and Hollywood divorce updates from our Chicagoan in Hollywood, Liz Crokin" read the headline from a post in 2012).

But during the year and a half she freelanced for Splash, Crokin's professional and personal life took a turn for the worse. She fell ill in late September 2012 and was forced to check into Cedars-Sinai hospital in Los Angeles. Doctors diagnosed her with a viral form of meningitis that developed into menigoencephalitis, a dangerous swelling of the brain that Crokin says caused daily migraines and vertigo and left her unable to work as a result of photophobia (an extreme aversion to light) resulting from brain damage.

The sickness began affecting her to the point that she struggled to work and lost her main job at American Media Inc.—the publisher of the Star and National Enquirer—in 2013. Crokin is described as having been laid off during a wave of downsizing in an article by the Associated Press about accusations of sexual harassment against Dylan Howard—the chief content officer of American Media. Crokin was one of several former employees who alleged harassment against Howard last year.

Splash killed Crokin's column in February 2014. "I was unable to take care of myself; I couldn't read or write the same way, or sit up in a chair for more than a few minutes at a time because my brain was so swollen," she wrote in a piece about her ordeal for the website Elite Daily. "I flew to Chicago so my parents could take care of me full-time."

Several weeks after her initial diagnosis, Crokin says, she learned that her meningitis was caused by genital herpes, an STD she claims was passed to her by her ex, a wealthy California businessman. In February 2014, Crokin filed a personal injury case for battery and negligence against her former lover (who has denied giving Crokin the STD).

Their legal battle got more complicated in March 2015 after Crokin published Malice, a thinly veiled roman a clef about her experiences. The book's heroine is a tabloid journalist named Lana Burke whose work covering a Mormon presidential candidate (Crokin spent six months covering Mitt Romney for the Enquirer) is endangered after a wealthy older businessman named Malken Murphy gives her herpes.

On a media tour promoting the book, Crokin told interviewers that Malice was based on her own biography, and she openly discussed her case against her ex. The businessman responded with his own lawsuit alleging invasion of privacy and slander. The complaint, obtained by the Daily Mail, says that Malice "goes to incredible lengths to humiliate Plaintiff, spreading vulgar and scathing lies" including scenes in the book in which Murphy has sex with prostitutes, is imagined as being part of a pedophile ring, and is described as 'having slipped [club drug] ecstasy into his wife's drink several times before they were married.'" A partial settlement was reached earlier this year in the case.

Crokin has said her brain "started healing itself" in 2015, and by 2016 she was writing again—this time for the far-right conservative magazine and website Townhall—particularly about the issue of child sex trafficking. Reading the leaked Democratic National Committee e-mails "really woke me up to how real of a problem this is," she said in an interview with the YouTube show Through the Black.

Over the last year and a half, colleagues and former friends of Crokin say, her social media posts began to become more "delusional" ("I had to hide her posts because they were so crazy," said one friend).  
An online meme insinuating that Hillary Clinton and other high-level Democrats are Satan worshippers who run a child sex trafficking ring.
  • An online meme insinuating that Hillary Clinton and other high-level Democrats are Satan worshippers who run a child sex trafficking ring.
A large percentage of Crokin's posts, interviews, and conversations are tied to a theory that "one-third of the government" is part of a satanic Illuminati-like cult that sexually enslaves, kills, and even eats children. And to maintain power, they draw on Project MK Ultra, an experimental CIA program from 1953 to 1973 in which the agency used LSD and other drugs for mind control, information gathering, and psychological torture. Last month Barr tweeted the words "MK Ultra"—which would have been well-known to those deep in the QAnon world.

John Legend and Chrissy Teigen threatened to sue Crokin at the end of 2017 after the journalist said the celebrity couple "flaunt illuminati symbolism," have satanist friends, and "run in circle with people who rape, torture & traffic kids." "You need to take my family's name out of your mouth before you get sued," Legend tweeted at Crokin.

On Thursday, Crokin tried to tie in Nasim Aghdam, who shot and wounded three people at YouTube's California headquarters this week, to the QAnon conspiracy theory. "These videos strike me as mind control videos probably used on sex trafficked kids! #QAnon #ProjectMonarch #MKUltra #NasimAghdam," Crokin tweeted with a link to YouTube videos by Aghdam, who killed herself.

Crokin has a similar outlandish take on the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements.

"You have the [Creative Artists Agency], this horrific, evil company that was driving this campaign," Crokin said on The Richie Allen Show. "They are actually trying to distract from the bigger picture, and the bigger picture is that these elites are involved in raping little kids, eating babies, drinking blood, sacrificing, and that kind of stuff. So they are using the #Time'sUp and the #MeToo movements as a distraction."

To Crokin and others disciples of the "Storm conspiracy," Trump is a hero on the verge of shutting down the satanic Democratic child-abusing cult. He just needs a little more time to get the public ready for it.

"That's very hard for the public to process," Crokin said on Dave Hodges's The Common Sense Show. "So President Trump and his people understand that they can't just come out one day and be like, 'Oh hey, one third of the government is raping children and sacrificing them and drinking their blood and they're satanists.' You just can't drop that bomb on people; people can't process that information like that, they need it in doses, they need to be conditioned. So what we have going on behind the scenes is that . . . the Trump administration is slowly trying to condition the public and try to prepare them for what's about to go down."

That's why Crokin is so ecstatic about the return of Roseanne Barr to national prominence. She's helping to normalize the conspiracy theory.

"She has been at the forefront of this. She's an absolute beacon of light," Crokin said.

Comments (42)

Showing 1-25 of 42

Add a comment
 

Add a comment