Laura Elizabeth Loomer enters a diner in Burbank with a designer bag slung over her shoulder, wearing glammed-up eyeshadow, her Fox News-blonde hair dyed Transylvanian-black like her eyebrows. She orders black coffee and crispy bacon. She looks she’s attending her own funeral.
Coffee with Laura is a cardinal sin in today’s interbred media clubhouse. The young woman from Arizona’s suburbs, at 25, has ripped a hole through the internet and fallen right through it. She’s now banned from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Uber, Lyft, Venmo, PayPal, GoFundMe, Medium, Teespring and — for harassing other journalists — the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). I ask her if she can ever again be normal.
Laura picks at the bacon with her purple fingernails. An eyelid twitches slightly, and she goes back to the beginning of her story—fast, as if the screen-door is open and she’s selling.
‘It was honestly 9/11. When I was eight years old, I really started to become very interested in Islam… From a young age, I understood that there was a “War on Terror”. My parents even bought me those “Iraq Most Wanted” playing cards, so while other kids were playing with Pokémon cards, I was talking about things like Osama bin Laden.’
Did Bush-era propaganda turn eight-year-old Laura Loomer into a Manchurian Candidate in the ‘War on Terror’? She was educated by action-movie coverage of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, which fed on the fear that a terrorist could strike at any moment. She grew up distrusting the government and also the media, where conspiratorial ‘truthers’ like Alex Jones, and YouTube films like Zeitgeist turned 9/11 into the JFK assassination for a generation of Americans who would become the guinea pigs of social media activism.
Laura was never close to her mom, and was raised by her dad, a mostly secular Jewish doctor, along with her two brothers, one of whom struggled with severe behavioral issues. ‘I just remember the police were often at my home. I grew up a very anxious, depressed kid. I had struggles with depression, so I would use politics as a kind of outlet to escape all the dysfunction of my life.’
Fox News talking heads like Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly felt, she says, like friends. ‘I used to come home and watch Bill O’Reilly with my dad every night, and we’d have like five TVs on in the house, and it was always Fox News.’ Laura found friendship through her television. She watched hidden-camera shows like To Catch a Predator, Punk’d, and Cheaters; these shows influenced her ‘Loomered’ brand of activism (a term she coined in 2017).
‘I used to think it was cool, watching these people get embarrassed on camera and getting confronted. I’ve always been really drawn to that, and in a way, it’s kind of what I do with the Loomered videos, which are like a more political and profound type of Punk’d.’
To be Loomered is to undergo an interrogation by Laura’s cell phone. Her greatest hits include crashing a Hillary Clinton book signing and asking as many uncomfortable questions as possible before being escorted away. Over the last two years, Laura has become America’s most notorious political paparazzi; with the aesthetic and personality of a red-carpet reporter during a big premiere. She views what she’s doing as gonzo journalism.
‘She’s fearless, but she doesn’t know when to back away,’ said one source, who asked to remain anonymous. ‘TMZ is better at that.’ My source felt ‘truly sorry’ watching Clinton aide Huma Abedin being hunted by the lens of Laura’s device. ‘Shame on you, Huma, for endangering your five-year-old son,’ Laura said, tailing Abedin into the climate-controlled safety of an NYC Starbucks.
‘I view journalism as being fly-on-the-wall,’ says a source who observed Laura at a May Day rally in 2017, where Laura claimed she was assaulted by a member of Antifa. ‘But she kept trying to get into the action, and instigating people to attack her. She makes every story about her. She exploits conservatives being attacked. I was shaking, but she had a smile on her face. She was instigating them [Antifa], so she can scream she was attacked.’
One of Laura’s former producers at Rebel Media claims she would tell members of the Proud Boys, her security detail, that she wanted to be attacked, and that if someone broke her nose, she could sue them and use the money to fund her plastic surgery.
Update: Laura denies this claim and says she never had a producer at Rebel Media. Spectator USA has confirmed the producer was working independently, not as an employee of Rebel Media.
‘I always have had this way about me, where I’ve been able to get a story,’ she reflects. ‘Ever since I was in college. I’ve always had a way to get media attention. There’s just something about me. I haven’t even personally been able to pinpoint what it is.’
She was studying Broadcast Journalism at Miami’s Barry University, when in 2015, James O’Keefe of Project Veritas hired her to go undercover and try to convince officials into allowing her to start a ‘Sympathetic Students in Support of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.’ The video went viral, and the university suspended Laura. That’s when she began her crusade against Islam.
‘Eighteen years ago, this country was brought to its knees when Muslims decided to hijack planes and kill 3,000 Americans,’ she says. ‘So how did we go from witnessing planes incinerate and kill thousands of Americas to the point where we’re now advocating more for Muslims and immigrants in this country than our own American citizens?’
Laura’s anti-Islam activism centers around the idea that America has become comfortably numb to the terror of 9/11, that our defenses are down. Laura believes that if we don’t treat every Muslim as a potential threat, Sharia law could overtake the Constitution, and Uber could become a training ground for Islamic terrorists. For Laura, every Muslim is a potential jihadist, and every Muslim who reads the Koran is practicing radical Islam.
‘There is no moderate form of Islam,’ she insists. ‘I don’t care what people think. At the end of the day, I’m right, and it’s not gonna be until one of their daughters or sons or moms or fathers are mowed down by an ISIS terrorist or blown-up in a subway where they’ll realize that I was right.’
She doesn’t believe Muslims should hold positions in law enforcement or government: ‘I think it’s a national security threat.’ Yet she denies that Islamophobia exists. Pressed to admit that she exhibits symptoms of exactly that condition, she makes a semantic argument that she isn’t ‘phobic’ of Islam. In fact, she insists she’s ‘proud’ of being anti-Islam.
Occasionally, Laura contradicts her own talking points. I don’t believe this indicates dishonesty; it’s a symptom of her ideological untidiness. I believe her when she says, ‘I’m a very impulsive person, I don’t care about optics.’ I believe her when, minutes later, she says, ‘I’m very strategic…I’m very methodical and considerate of messaging.’
I think she believes everything she says.
Profits from right-wing trolling campaigns against both Islam and ‘Big Tech’ once pumped $10,000 per month into Laura’s checking account. It’s less than half of that today, following bans on Facebook and Twitter. Tech mogul Robert Shillman continues to help, though she now mostly funds her antics from individual donations.
‘Everyone thought that they were going to stop me by branding me an Islamophobe, getting my verification removed, calling me a Nazi, whatever,’ she says. ‘That’s not going to stop me.’
When Twitter banned Laura last November, she began to flirt with journalistic self-parody. She created pop-up versions of her tweets, and chained herself to Twitter’s NYC headquarters, wearing a yellow Star of David on her chest. Then, in December, she visited the home of newly elected California governor Gavin Newsom dressed in a Mexican fiesta costume. She was described on Twitter as the ‘crazy ex-girlfriend of journalism’.
In January, Laura responded to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s claims that a US border wall would be ‘immoral’ by recruiting migrant workers standing outside Home Depot to stage a protest on the front-lawn of Pelosi’s Napa estate. In the video, the undocumented workers (paid $200 each, according to Laura) are comic props, holding up a spray-painted sign that reads ‘Immorality.’
‘They call me anti-immigrant or anti-Muslim,’ she tells me, ‘but those illegal aliens from Mexico and Guatemala got more money from me in two hours than they would have if they mowed Nancy Pelosi’s lawn.’
Laura’s perverse sense of humor can be entertaining, but unsettling. Her activism has no borders, no respect for privacy, and is completely remorseless. ‘They could have been deported,’ she says, a heartless twinkle in her eye. ‘Even if my stuff is obscene, they know that I’m right and exposed their hypocrisy.’
‘I think that people who are criticizing me are crazy and that they’re living in an alternative universe,’ Laura says. ‘I think you have to be severely mentally challenged in order to post a picture of Ilhan Omar and say that she represents minorities and gays. I think that you have to be mentally ill to participate in the Women’s March when their mascot is a woman in hijab. I think that you have to be mentally deranged to be a Democrat.’
Laura is surprisingly vulnerable for someone who has made a career out of exploiting the vulnerabilities of others. She confesses that she reached the ‘darkest point’ of her life while living in New York in the early part of her career.
‘I had really bad anxiety and depression, and then I started to basically deal with the depression by doing cocaine. I was never a drug user before, but I was using cocaine to kind of deal with it.’ Laura was 23 years old. ‘There were phases when I wouldn’t sleep for three days straight, and one morning I woke up and drove myself to a cliff, and it was cold and kind of snowy outside. It was February. I tried to kill myself…like legitimately tried to kill myself.’
Trying to describe what Laura does to apolitical people is like trying to explain Snapchat to a septuagenarian, Shakespeare to a Kardashian. Laura made her theatrical debut in Central Park in the summer of 2017, by invading the stage at the Public Theater’s production of Julius Caesar, which included the stabbing of a Trump-Caesar. ’Stop normalizing political violence against the right!’ she yelled, live-streaming herself on Periscope: ‘You guys are ISIS! CNN is ISIS.’
Was she the political equivalent of a streaker?
‘I would call myself… well, how I identify myself is a conservative investigative journalist. But I would be fine if people were to call me a conservative guerrilla journalist because I do gonzo type stunts, guerrilla-type videos. But I do things in a provocative way because I’ve been silenced; I’ve been banned and de-platformed, and if you want to break through the mainstream and establishment, you have to be provocative.’
Supported by Sean Hannity, she became micro-famous. She reappeared later that year with a new look resulting from rhinoplasty and lip injections. The media played along with Laura’s fame-game, and cast her in our political soap opera — in the role of ‘bad girl’.
Social media became both her publicist and red carpet. Twitter became her addiction and dealer; her psychotherapy; her abuser; a blinking casino that exchanged followers for sanity. ‘When I break a story, I feel really happy, but eventually the adrenaline wears off, so it’s not healthy because I’ll go through these phases where I get a big story, and then I just feel really down.’
She’s a stone-cold addict, except there’s no Betty Ford for Twitter. Being banned isn’t exactly rehab. I asked her if her expulsion from social media has helped at all:
‘I have nothing to lose now, so it’s liberating,’ she says. ‘I became addicted to social media. I kind of lived off the adrenaline. It’s not a very healthy lifestyle to live, because when you stop using cocaine, for example, you learn to cope with anxiety and depression in other ways. I pretty much substituted my lows for adrenaline rushes on Twitter. When I got banned, I was honestly having withdrawals.’
Laura is a human being with the same stress responses to social media as the rest of us. Some people claim Laura is suicidal, though nobody seems to care. Then again, others claim she’s loving every bit of the publicity. Her indefinable drive to stay relevant is her most interesting personality trait, but she has little choice left. There’s no witness protection program for cancelled people.
‘Even if I wake up tomorrow and stop talking about Islam, I couldn’t get that nine-to-five job,’ she says. ‘I’d have to literally change my name and get a different Social Security Number. My identity is what exists on the internet.’
Laura Loomer is a wounded animal. Her own tribe has thrown her to the jackals, and she’s in survival mode. Her old brain has taken over. But what happens when she’s banned from YouTube and blocked by everyone she knows? Does Laura put on a ski mask and start a punk band? Does she start printing out pages from The Anarchist’s Cookbook using a VPN? Does she break into your home and boil your pet rabbit for not replying to her email? Does she end up in a bodybag?
No one knows how the unromantic and cruelly modern tale of Laura Loomer will end. But if you’re not worried, then you have a lot more in common with Laura than you think.
‘I know I can’t give up,’ she tells me, ‘because the Left would want nothing more than to write the final story about my demise or my end. It’s just not going to happen. I’m here forever. I’m here to stay.’