Meet Patrick Lancaster: A U.S. Navy veteran from Missouri and … – Grid

By | January 13, 2023

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Picture illustration: Mae Decena. Sources: Getty Pictures/Patrick Lancaster VK profile
Putin’s invasion has catapulted Patrick Lancaster, who calls himself an impartial journalist, into the limelight.
It was late March, and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine was going poorly. The Kremlin had achieved its finest to black out Western protection of the struggle domestically, in addition to its stories of failed Russian advances and widespread brutality.
On the Kremlin’s flagship media channel, Russia-1, got here a really completely different, ghoulish story: from Russian-occupied Ukraine, an “unique” report alleging Ukrainian militants brutally raped and murdered a Ukrainian girl and disfigured her corpse.
Within the footage, a correspondent follows a pro-Russian separatist soldier into a faculty basement in Mariupol to view the corpse of a useless girl. The physique’s fingers seem certain, and a plastic bag is over its head. The physique is partially lined by what’s described as a Ukrainian navy uniform; a swastika seems both burned or carved into the corpse’s uncovered pores and skin.
The video contained no proof to establish the wrongdoer of the heinous crimes, and Ukrainian officers have mentioned they have been dedicated by Russian forces, noting proof of comparable atrocities had surfaced in different Russian-held areas. For Russia-1′s story, that was irrelevant: To them, this was a Ukrainian atrocity and underscored Putin’s claimed mission to “denazify” Ukraine.
A thumbnail from Lancaster’s YouTube channel. Within the video, posted on March 27, he’s led to a disfigured physique and alleges Ukrainian troops tortured and murdered the girl in a basement in Mariupol, Ukraine. (YouTube, PLNewsToday)
The reporter on the scene wasn’t Russian however was Missouri-born Patrick Lancaster, 39, a U.S. Navy intelligence veteran and self-styled “impartial, crowd-funded journalist.” Over time, he’s proven a knack for being first on the scene to seize what seemed to be staged proof benefiting Kremlin narratives. He has additionally courted an viewers of American conspiracy principle fanatics by showing on Alex Jones’ radio present, which promotes falsehoods like Joe Biden stealing the 2020 presidential election.
Lancaster’s work has turn into an everyday characteristic of Russian state media. His footage and commentary have appeared on Russia As we speak, a state-run English-language channel; Russia-1 and Russia-24, two of the flagship state-owned Russian language channels; and Zvezda, a channel owned by the Russian Ministry of Protection.
A screenshot from Patrick Lancaster’s profile on Russian social media web site VKontakte exhibits him showing as a visitor on Russia-24, a state-owned Russian language information channel. The picture was uploaded on Feb. 14. (VKontakte)
In Ukraine, he enjoys entry to Russian-controlled territories, the place he’s typically the one English-speaking reporter. In his movies, he typically seems to accompany Russian navy. In a single current video posted to his Telegram channel, he dons a white strap round his arm and leg, a type of identification utilized by Russian troopers to acknowledge each other. He tells the digicam if he didn’t do that, he has been knowledgeable he might be mistaken for a Ukrainian soldier and shot. On Telegram, pro-Russian trolls encourage customers to help Lancaster’s work.
Simply previous to Russia’s invasion, Lancaster was one of many first to report on an alleged “terrorist assault” on three civilians, purportedly carried out by Ukraine. In his protection, he uncritically repeats what he seems to have been informed by Russian navy: Ukrainian saboteurs had detonated an improvised explosive gadget from the aspect of the highway.
On this case, the scene seems to have been so lazily constructed that Lancaster’s personal footage captures obvious proof of the lie: his photographs of the stays contained in the automobile revealed an impossibly clear lower alongside the entrance of 1 “sufferer’s” cranium, in step with an post-mortem. Grid confirmed with specialists on the time that this was the case, and subsequent reporting additional established the reality: This was not proof of an IED assault, and the our bodies appeared to have been sourced from a morgue.
Way back to 2014, Lancaster was taking pictures and posting movies from the area, together with a doubtful piece meant to problem the veracity of the investigation right into a civilian airliner shot down by a Russian anti-aircraft missile.
Lancaster is one node in an elaborate community of propagandists Putin and his allies have exploited for years to take care of Putin’s help with the Russian public and past. For the reason that invasion of Ukraine, the Kremlin has used a heavy-handed media marketing campaign to color Ukraine as a nation overrun by Nazis and in want of liberation by Russian forces. The technique has boosted Putin’s approval rankings even because the financial system craters, information stations are compelled off the air and the navy suffers huge losses.
Lancaster grew up in St. Louis, the place he attended a personal Catholic highschool. Simply after commencement in 2002, he joined the Navy. After attending the Navy and Marine Corps Intelligence Coaching Middle in Dam Neck, Virginia, he served on the plane service USS Kitty Hawk on deployments to the Persian Gulf, Australia and South Korea. He labored as a cryptologic technician and certain held a top-secret clearance, in response to Navy paperwork.
An undated picture from Patrick Lancaster’s time within the Navy, the place he served on the usKitty Hawk, is proven on his web page on Russian social media web site VKontakte. (VKontatkte)
The department confirmed Lancaster’s service, and declined to make additional remark. Grid requested to talk with Lancaster for this story. He agreed, after which stopped replying to messages. Grid additionally reached out to Lancaster’s family and friends, most of whom declined to discuss him or didn’t reply.
After his discharge from the Navy in 2006, Lancaster tried his hand at actual property for a number of years, in response to his LinkedIn profile. It was a uniquely poor time to enter the U.S. actual property market; the sector collapsed in 2008 and triggered a world monetary disaster. After that foray, Lancaster labored briefly for a South Dakota building agency, the corporate’s proprietor confirmed. Then Lancaster went to Europe and settled in Berlin, the place he turned concerned in videography.
He first traveled to Ukraine in 2014, the place he noticed the Crimean referendum vote. In interviews with Russian media, he has mentioned what he noticed on the bottom didn’t match what was portrayed in Western media, and it impressed him to start documenting the scene. In his early movies, Lancaster appears extra focused on opposing views, interviewing a number of individuals who thought the area ought to stay a part of Ukraine. Throughout this time, Patrick contributed movies of the battle between Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed separatists to RT, previously often known as Russia As we speak, a Russian state-controlled media firm.
Lancaster’s LinkedIn profile says he labored in a contract capability for Sky Information and Thomson Reuters. A Reuters spokesperson informed Grid that “Patrick John Lancaster was not a Reuters worker, freelancer or stringer at any time. Reuters bought a small variety of video clips from Lancaster in Ukraine over a quick interval within the mid-2010s. These clips weren’t commissioned by Reuters.” Sky Information didn’t reply to a request for remark.
David Ferris, an American filmmaker and author, met Lancaster when the 2 have been a part of a bunch of freelancers based mostly on the Pink Cat Hostel in Donetsk, Ukraine, in 2014. The unaffiliated, younger, broke journalists bonded over being a step faraway from the better-resourced journalists affiliated with legacy information publications staying in an actual lodge on the opposite aspect of town, he mentioned.
Though that group didn’t work collectively, they typically traveled to websites collectively for ease and security, Ferris mentioned. Others within the group included Antoine Delaunay, a French photojournalist, and Christopher Allen, an American journalist. Allen was killed in South Sudan in 2017. Reached by cellphone Wednesday, Delaunay confirmed he was a part of the buddy group and didn’t dispute any portion Ferris’ account.
“I keep in mind [Patrick] form of being compromised from the start,” Ferris mentioned. “He would usually promote to Russia As we speak.”
Regardless of ideological {and professional} variations, the group was shut, Ferris mentioned, certain by their empathy for civilians in wartime and the shared expertise of private danger. “All of us did sympathize with the plight of the individuals who have been dwelling underneath this struggle and who had their lives upended, and who have been, truthfully, on the receiving finish of Ukrainian bullets and shells,” he defined.
That camaraderie got here to an finish after Allen, Ferris and Lancaster have been detained on the unofficial border between the pro-Russian, separatist-controlled area of Ukraine, often known as the Donetsk Folks’s Republic (DPR), and Ukraine, in response to Ferris. With no translators, fixers or safety — or actual press credentials to talk of — the Ukrainian intelligence company pulled the reporters off the general public bus they have been touring in and held them in a single day in an outdated Soviet lodge.
The U.S. embassy received them out the following day, Ferris mentioned. However when Lancaster agreed to be interviewed by a “conspiratorial,” “anti-imperialist” podcaster, Allen grew indignant, Ferris recalled, and the dispute culminated in a fist struggle within the hostel’s kitchen.
“Chris had objected to Patrick’s protection as a result of it didn’t adhere to journalistic norms,” Ferris mentioned. After the struggle, “that was just about the tip of that harmonious relationship.”
Grid couldn’t independently affirm the group’s detention by Ukrainian officers or the U.S. embassy’s intervention.
Shortly thereafter, Lancaster has mentioned he moved to the DPR. In 2017, he married a Donetsk girl from the world. They’ve two kids.
Lancaster’s marriage ceremony was lined by a number of Russian information organizations together with Zvezda, which is owned and managed by Russia’s Ministry of Protection. His marriage ceremony was attended by notorious Serbian mercenary sniper Dejan Beric, who claims to have killed many Ukrainians whereas combating for the Russians.
That 12 months additionally noticed an early instance of Lancaster’s participation in a doubtful, macabre story that advocated for the Russians. That July, Malaysia Airways flight MH17 was shot down over Ukraine, killing 298 folks. A subsequent investigation concluded the aircraft was downed by a Russian missile, fired by pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine who possible mistook the civilian craft for a navy goal.
Russia denied accountability for the catastrophe and repeatedly tried to solid doubt on the Dutch-led investigation. Lancaster took an lively function on this effort, producing movies elevating doubts in regards to the investigators’ efforts.
In a single video, Lancaster stumbles upon fragments of human bones on the crash web site, months after it was meticulously scoured, documented and cleared by the investigative staff.
His video angered households of the deceased and annoyed the Dutch investigative staff. “Take that American, Patrick Lancaster,” Michael Pistecky, who led the trouble to retrieve the our bodies, mentioned in 2019. “He poses as a journalist and works with the … I wouldn’t name them separatists, not rebels, however slightly bandits, as a result of we now know that they have been concerned within the downing of MH17.
“Properly, Lancaster claims to have discovered bone stays on the crash web site in 2017 after which says that the forensic specialists from the Netherlands did a nasty job. On this means, the emotions of the following of kin are performed into in an annoying means. As if we didn’t go to nice lengths to retrieve the our bodies.”
Lancaster has constructed a world viewers for himself since then, partially by skillfully leveraging the numerous social media platforms accessible to broadcast content material worldwide. He has about 500,000 followers throughout Twitter, YouTube, Telegram and VK, the Russian Fb clone. He releases new movies virtually day by day. YouTube, his most trafficked outlet, stories over 30 million views for his movies.
Lancaster’s attain has been additional boosted by American uber-conspiracy-theorist Jones, who has made Lancaster a recurring visitor on his present, “Infowars.” Jones has been a serious proponent of the “Cease the Steal” motion to overturn Donald Trump’s 2020 election loss, and his exhibits typically describe actual information occasions as fantastical “false flag” intelligence operations meant to mislead and confuse the American public. Jones didn’t reply to a request for remark. In an unrelated lawsuit, Jones’ legal professionals have argued that no cheap individual would imagine his over-the-top rhetoric.
In a single “Infowars” phase with Lancaster, titled “American Reporter in Ukraine Exposing the Globalist WW3 Russian False Flag Op in Actual Time,” Jones heaps reward on the expatriate Missourian, in between commercials promoting buckets of shelf-stable meals and dietary dietary supplements. “He exhibits what the Western media won’t present you,” Jones mentioned on one episode. To Lancaster, he mentioned, “You’ve achieved a lot wonderful work I really feel like I do know you.”
On a current “Infowars” look, Lancaster implored Jones’ viewers to “do your personal analysis.” On display screen, Jones promotes Lancaster’s Patreon, a fundraising platform fashionable with podcasters.
“Suppose for your self,” Lancaster says, “Don’t hearken to the narrative the Western mainstream media offers you. Analysis and discover out the info.”
Due to Lillian Barkley for copy modifying this text.
Investigative Reporter
Jason Paladino is an investigative reporter for Grid the place he focuses on nationwide safety coverage, U.S. international involvement and corruption.
Misinformation Reporter
Anya van Wagtendonk is the misinformation reporter at Grid, specializing in the impression of false info on coverage, elections and social habits.
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