The story of triple amputee Senior Airman Brian Kolfage Jr, severely injured in a rocket attack in Iraq, is one of tragedy and redemption. His personal website and Facebook page tell the story of his courage with the help of soft-focus pictures of his photogenic family.
But that’s only the first page of Google results. Scroll a bit, and you find…paranoia and resentment. In 2013 he saw a reduction in his veteran benefits of about $100/= a month, which appears to have been caused by bureaucratic incompetence. But he blamed it on Obama: the theory being that he was personally targeted and ripped off of $100/= each month because he called Obama a disgrace on the Mike Huckabee show. By 2014 he was writing open letters to Obama berating his decision to pull out of Iraq and calling him a back-stabber. Mixed in was a sense of resentment that while both were raised in Hawaii, Obama was attending elite private schools while Kolfage was not.
Dig deeper still, and you land in an unholy brew of doxxing, online harassment, and conspiracy-mongering. By 2014 he was a right-wing celebrity, his fame centered on his Facebook page (since suspended for repeated harassment) and Twitter account (also suspended), where he was promoting birtherism and asking fans to dox critics. He founded WoundedAmericanWarrior.com, later rebranded as FreedomDaily.com, later rebranded as Freedom-Daily.com, all of which spread fake news, anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant propaganda, and have been described as ‘boiling cauldrons of hate.’ At last check, the Facebook page Freedom Daily — which had over 2 million followers — had been rebranded as Daily Vine, and as of recently, also removed.
Like many other right-wing conspiracy sites that masquerade as news, the registration of Brian Kolfage’s sites is hidden. He registered FreedomDaily.com in 2015 to one “John Doe” from 1600 Pennsylvania Ave at the height of his battle with Obama, giving a clue about what was on his mind as he registered it. However, the technical contact gives away his real name.
Dig deeper still, and you find monetization. An LLC registered by Kolfage’s wife, Freedom Daily LLC, had annual sales of over half a million. They hire several authors: Kat Stevens, Frank Lea, “Liberty Belle,” Al Waisman, Jeffrey Rainforth, and others: on the latter two, more in a moment. Freedom Daily articles also appear to be the source for a whole host of Macedonian click-bait sites, such as ConservativeForever.com, MediaConservative.com, and so on, probably adding to their click totals.
Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook laws aren’t the only laws Kolfage has repeatedly fallen afoul of. In 2015, his social media activity was cited in a case filed in Arizona over online harassment, and just last month, a case was filed in Michigan by a father and son falsely accused of assault during the Charlottesville rally where an activist, Heather Heyer, was killed. It names a number of right-wing sites as defendants for spreading libel. Among the right-wing sites named: Freedom Daily, LLC, and two of its authors, Al Waisman and Jeffrey Rainforth.
Ten days after this case was filed, the website FreedomDaily.com showed an ‘Out of Business’ banner, and all their content has been moved over to Freedom-Daily.com. Their Twitter account, that claims a readership of over 30 million a month, is still going strong.