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Losing My Religion. Brief Notes on David Pakman and the “alternative media.”

“That’s me in the corner
That’s me in the spotlight
Losing my religion”



“THE impression forces itself upon one that men measure by false standards, that everyone seeks power, success, riches for himself and admires others who attain them…And yet, in making any general judgment of this kind, one is in danger of forgetting the manifold variety of humanity and its mental life… But the discrepancy between men’s opinions and their behaviour is so wide and their desires so many-sided that things are probably not so simple.”

— Sigmund Freud, Civilization and its Discontents




From time to time we check in with the so called alternative media mostly as a reminder that mile wide inch deep self righteousness is not a monopoly of the establishment media.

The Young Turks, the Majority Report, Kyle Kulinski, and all of their affiliates and remoras all sound essentially the same and are the same in not only being shallow but in delivering their opinions with a tone of moral certainty and a firm belief in the nuance and sophistication of their views.

There are people in the Vatican with less conviction and more charm because of it.

Love your dress father but your purse is on fire, said Tallulah Bankhead, to a, flamboyant priest, one December evening but, while no one will ever go broke excavating the systemic hypocrisy of the Church, Inc, the inability of the current sort of “left” that inhabits certain corners of YouTube, is in a special class.

From the sinister anti-Semitism of Michael Brooks, to the extent to which TYT calls out Trumpers for irresponsibly ginning up the mob, while simultaneously ignoring the rabid bigotry of their YouTube followers who pepper the comment threads below their videos with language one could find at a Klan rally, the psychological dissonance is stunning.

Of course this is hardly new.

For decades people have sadly and often gleefully pointed out the strange cult like language of assorted leftists and their followers.

The phrase, “cult of personality” specifically attaches to various historical episodes of left wing (and right) terror, and catastrophe.

But there is also the more mundane, almost banal, iteration where, everything from book clubs to writer’s rooms fall under various forms of everything from “Political Correctness” to “woke” warfare in which, would be apparatchiks and low level goons, demand power over language and thought.

While the right is as much at fault, and is often essentially crying wolf when confronted by nothing more threatening then a puppy, the facts are well known, and the idea that the left does not tolerate “cult’s of personality” or “grifters” manipulating and being manipulated by cult’s of personality, would hardly seem worth mentioning.

Except for a recent video by, alternative media figure, David Pakman.

Pakman is slightly to the right of politically rabid weasels like Michael Brooks in that he does not view Israel as especially or uniquely immoral along the spectrum of assorted political actors, and he is not necessarily an acolyte of the AOC/Squad.

But, in a recent short video, using those talking points as examples, he made the case that, the “left” unlike the “right” does not have “grifters” who he defines as being people that exist as tools of “cult’s of personality” that spew dogma and disallow dissent.

His example, per the image in the video, is the noxious Candace Owens, a right wing tool of such limited cognitive ability that detailing the hypocrisies and contradictions and pettifogging in her diatribes is as useful as explaining why shit stinks.

If you need a lecture, it’s probably already too late though, as is the case with Pakman’s distortions, one should not underestimate the need to excavate the fragrant deuce from the facts.

Here’s a sample:

“How come the left doesn’t have grifters like the right. I love this question.”

Explaining that he can see where someone might construe this as a subtle attempt to troll the right, he says it’s not and is a legitimate issue and we quote him at length and nearly fully so as to short circuit any suggestion of screwing with the presentation:

“This is a real thing. The right has these grifters…they suffer from audience capture where they start modifying what they put out there in order to appeal to an audience even if these are not their political beliefs but that would only work within or in front of a certain audience because of the cult’s of personality the right rewards. This is one of the big differences between independent left-wing media and independent right wing media…I can have people who like 95% of what I say…there is no cult of personality around me because immediately people who have been with me for years will completely abandon me.

Now we can talk about whether or not that’s good or bad for the movement, but with the right you see cult’s of personality develop such that these individuals can do no wrong.

They build a following for their personality not what they stand for, not what they believe, and not what they say but for the sort of role they are given by the right.

The left both doesn’t allow these grifters to build around these cult’s of personality and is quite frankly not interested in them in the same way we’ve talked before about how you will see very different reactions from the right and left when there is a political scandal.

…the right will try to cover them up and make excuses for the people…to keep them in power or even give them more power as we saw with Brett Kavanaugh on the left when we find out Anthony Wiener has been caught sexting with a fifteen year old people just want them out.

We have ideas and principles and policies we want to be made a reality. And as soon as we see somebody behaving in a way that doesn’t make sense we want them out.

…So again, the left simply doesn’t allow the grifting to become profitable the way the right does. It doesn’t create an environment in which one would succeed by doing that.
…and what you see is that (grifting) happens on the right and mostly not on the left.”

The arrogance is stunning. The smug dismissal of alternative political points of view as only being about money and status is typical of both the haute left and the woke pseudo left, and of course also typical of every other political cadre dominated by cult’s of personality.

First rule of Political Fight Club: Never discuss the rule’s of Political Fight Club.

And consider the questions raised by Pakman’s rhetoric:

When he says the left doesn’t allow it, exactly how is party discipline maintained?



Public ridicule?

The benign hand of the “free” market?

And notice the qualifier – not profitable in the same way as on the right?

Details would be nice but don’t hold your breath. After all, not profitable to Pakman may be a fortune to someone else.

And as to the idea that the left, historically, has not been a violent blood feud and thunder dome of competing cult’s of personality is of course absurd. And while name checking everything from the Dantonists vs the Robespierre factions, Marx vs at one point, everyone else, to Lenin vs the Spartacus League, to Stalinists vs Trotskyists, to the intercine squabbles that dominated cadres in New York in the 1930s, and again in the 50s and 60s, to the battles between various figures on the left over supporting or abandoning Bill Clinton would, while accurate, be like hunting a flea with a cruise missile.

To be generous if not fair, Pakman does give himself an out by narrowing his brief to the current crop of “alternative media” but that upon even cursory examination offers no relief. (and that is without excavating the extent to which Pakman’s argument is dangerously, a-historical, amputating the current “left” from its history)

Try offering a nuanced critique of the Squad and see how long it is before you are called a fascist, a Trump supporter, and then banished or, deplatformed.

Try pointing out that key figures in the Black Live’s Matter movement should be seriously questioned about their connections to Louis Farrakhan and see how long it is before you’re labeled a white nationalist and a bigot.*

Try defending Dave Chappelle and see what happens.

Granted, Pakman makes the argument that precisely because he has offered criticism of the Squad and lost viewers, it proves his point that cults can not and do not flourish on the left.

Except logically, if one grants his premise, what remains are strident cultists who, unable to find gratification from Pakman, et al, surely take their eyeballs and clicks elsewhere until they find someone who will tell them what they already know.

The idea, per Pakman, is that unable to trade mantra for a political organism with him, these desperate and angry sucks to your assmar give me the fucking conch shell tribalists, retreat to their basements and forego the internet like religious acolytes living alone in a cave and never again seek click-bait gratification.

Obviously Pakman again, as with the larger scale examples, sounds both absurd and ironically, just like someone trapped inside a cult.

Additionally of course one need only take a cursory read of the YouTube comments under his videos or those of TYT, etc., to see the uniformity of opinion and the violent rhetoric directed at anyone who deviates from dogma.

That in turn is not dissimilar to what you can find in the comments among standard mouth breathing knuckle dragging reactionaries or fascists who uniformly take alternative video criticism of say, Israel, as a reason to claim everything is the fault of the Jew controlled banks and media.

Sadly for Pakman, you find the same malignant trolls offering the same claims in the threads below Michael Brooks and TYT and Kyle Kulinski and Jimmy Dore and so on. You also find that these stalwart advocates of reason and their shit doesn’t stink rhetoric, approving comments in the threads and scrupulously refusing to call out the bigots.

And then there’s the recent mini scrum over former Proud Boys chief, Gavin McGinnis.

Flushed from his previous political roach motel he has resurfaced with a new venture in which he has sought to act as a reasonable moderator between left and right guests.

Going so far, apparently to pretend to be someone else, calling in to Pakman he tried, unsuccessfully to gin up interest in his new grift.

At the same time he offered to pay, Pakman and TYT figure, Anna Kasparian, to come on his show.

All of the alternative media figures spent a few days making fun of McGinnis (or as they like to say, dunking on him) by saying varying forms of they would not participate in white washing a goon with a sketchy as fuck track record though, in Pakman’s case he said, he would possibly think about it.

And all of them, then scrupulously avoided discussing the uncomfortable fact that one of their spirit animal guides, Cornel West, had gone on McGinnis’ show.

What we emphasize here is not the right or wrong of West choosing to engage with and cleanse the reputation of a man described by some as a neo fascist but rather, the refusal of the alternative media to engage in a discussion about what it means to them that West did go on the show.

There defense being, that they would not be “baited” by conservatives into criticizing West and or defending McGinnis.

Of course that is true, or sincere – but so is the fact that their refusal reeks of grifting and cult’s of personality in which everyone is equal, it’s just that some are more equal than others.

As has always been the case, the pathologies of individuals, the fever of the crowd, and a hundred other factors push people to say and do things that are contradictory, hypocritical and often absurd.

Sating that the left is virtuous and above such behavior is of course proof that they are in fact not virtuous or above stooping to trip over their own nonsense.

And one could laugh it off as only being absurd.

But notice how Pakman makes the dismount and sticks the landing.

We, the noble non neurotic left, devoid of concerns about status, money and power, have ideas, we want to make real.

Unlike you Neanderthals who are not with us.

The distinction stinks of ditches filled with five year plans and people who wore glasses.

But then, the squirming prevarication: The right is guilty, guilty, guilty and MOSTLY the left is innocent.

Mostly, in Pakman’s usage, meaning, he has completely undermined and contradicted himself. Having said definitively the left does not have grifters and cult’s of personality, (and in some mysterious undefined fashion makes them money losing ventures), and is virtuous compared to the grift heavy right, with it’s cults, he coughs up a weasel move and, Wiley E Coyote style, blows himself up.

And one might ask, how many grifters and cults are contained in a, mostly?

Or as Berthold Brecht said, when confronted by the cult of East German State grifters, declaring it would, in the face of protests, dissolve the government: wouldn’t it just be easier to dissolve the people.

But, of course the left doesn’t have grifters, or cult’s of personality, and The Three Penny Opera only points to the right.

Then again, as someone else had it: you say you want a revolution, well you know, we all would love to see the plan.



See the video here:



*With pitch perfect timing and irony, right after the we don’t allow grifters and cult’s of personality video, Pakman dropped another calling on Bernie Sanders to reverse his support for his new surrogate, Linda Sarsour.

Citing her support for Louis Farrakhan, her bigoted selection/deplatforming action within the Women’s March movement and other dubious distinctions, Pakman would seem to be defining her as exactly the sort of grifter and cult figure he says the left does not have or allow.

On the one hand he is saying that by calling her out he is showing the left does not tolerate grifters and crucially she unlike say, Candace Owens, actually sincerely believes her own rhetoric.

How he can tell the difference is the obvious question but more mysteriously one wonders what he would call her adamant refusal to tolerate dissent or diversity of opinion in the movements she runs, as anything other than, cult’s of personality?

See the video here:



Here’s an interesting and timely piece worth considering:

For a previous excavation of the issue see the following:


Another issue that goes undiscussed in Pakman’s our shit doesn’t stink mantra of self righteous self-licking ice cream cone rhetoric, is the issue of capitalism.

Pakman’s view is that the left doesn’t tolerate grifting and, again with a vague qualifier, states that it isn’t as lucrative on the left as on the right.

First, of course notice he does not provide any examples. As a result the degree of profitability is unknown as are the numbers and types involved.

Secondly there is the idea that capitalism is not inherently one large industrial scale act of grifting – the destruction of the environment, the lies of the tech gangsterocracies about how their government sanctioned slave manufactured tracking tools empower autonomy, and the fact that Pakman like the rest of the so called self righteous alternative media, all exist inside the Googleplex as YouTube is a wholly owned colony of not just Google but of Wall Street and Big Brother.

This requires Pakman et al to either deny they are collaborating with a regime they claim to either despise or – as with the bourgeois stylings of TYT – want only to tweak.

Their defense one assumes would be that they don’t view these compromises as hypocritical or even remotely fatal to their moral superiority even if they might admit the compromises exist to begin with.

After all, someone has to pick the cotton, and there are a lot of slaves in China, and of course the left, mostly, doesn’t have cult’s of personality and mostly doesn’t have grifters.


2 comments on “Losing My Religion. Brief Notes on David Pakman and the “alternative media.”

  1. Are “The Young Turks, the Majority Report, Kyle Kulinski, and all of their affiliates and remoras” actually alternative media? Or at this point, are they simply part of the mainstream media of the online world?

    Their online presence is fairly established and their online audience respectably large. They aren’t minor players in the media and there has even been some crossover with the traditional media, such as with Cenk Uygur.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. rauldukeblog says:

      A valid point and why I tend to put “alternative media” in quotes.

      Sam Seder actually was a semi regular on MSNBC for a while but didn’t abide by their rhetorical rules and Cenk Uygur does, as you say (along with Kasparian) pop on establishment networks.

      Joe Rogan even had a sit down with Sanders and has a massive audience.

      Also I’m fed up with the idea that they are conveying an authentically alternative or even radical/subversive POV.

      It all sounds the same (that is they all sound identical within the echo chamber of “alternative media” with slight variations) and they all strike me as equally shallow.

      I tend to look at the youTube centric headlines they use (e.g., Cenk destroys Trump goon, Sam ridicules Biden supporter, Kulinski smashes the View, etc, etc) and it tells me everything I need to know about the “substance” of the video.

      Of course that’s what drove me from the establishment media.;-/

      Liked by 1 person

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