The man who runs the pro-Trump conspiracy and misinformation site True Pundit has been unmasked as a former award-winning journalist.
Michael D. Moore, 51, used to work as a reporter for the New Jersey newspaper The Record, where he won a Loeb Award for business journalism in 1996, Buzzfeed News reports. He left the paper to start an investigations service in the late ’90s. Today, he runs a site that specializes in wildly fake stories about Hillary Clinton, the FBI and alleged “deep state” conspiracies that are heavily amplified by other fake news sites and pro-Trump celebrities on Twitter.
Moore publishes and tweets under the pseudonym Thomas Paine. That persona claims to be a former journalist who has a vast network of anonymous sources inside the FBI and CIA, who supposedly feed him the details in his psuedo-bombshell stories. They have included: Former FBI lawyer Lisa Page told Congress that Chinese hackers accessed Hillary Clinton’s email server; Clinton wanted to murder Julian Assange by drone when she secretary of state; the FBI was covering up the fact that the Las Vegas shooter didn’t act alone; and the NYPD was threatening to leak information about Clinton’s criminality if James Comey didn’t indict her before the election. The latter story was retweeted by former national security adviser Mike Flynn and Donald Trump Jr.
Paine is “fluent in the language of paranoid social media,” New York magazine once said.
Other details about Moore he doesn’t include in his @Thomas1774Paine Twitter bio: He has a criminal record as the result of an FBI investigation and a “long history of shady business practices,” reports Buzzfeed. Moore was arrested by the FBI in June 2013 for running two websites that sold pirated DVDs and illegal downloads (a side gig that caused Moore to leave his job in journalism when his bosses launched an internal investigation). Moore pleaded guilty to one count of copyright infringement and was sentenced to one day in prison and three years of probation. The month his probation ended in 2016, he started publishing the frequently anti-FBI True Pundit.
On Tuesday, Moore published a piece on True Pundit admitting his identity — and his vendetta against the FBI. “These bastards — and their bosses — were going to pay for violating my family. My kids. My home. One way or the other, I would have the last word. As I have throughout my life and career. And I was going to have to go back into journalism to even the score,” he said. “I always win. You’ll learn that about me in the coming days and weeks, if you haven’t already learned as a reader of True Pundit.”