Photo of Paul Sperry, conservative journalist

Factsheet: Paul Sperry

Published on 14 May 2020

IMPACT: Paul Sperry is an American conservative journalist who previously served as a Washington bureau chief for the right-wing, conspiratorial website, WorldNetDaily. Sperry is a former media fellow at The Hoover Institution and has authored several anti-Muslim books, including Infiltration: How Muslim Spies and Subversives Have Penetrated Washington. Sperry has a long record of promoting anti-Muslim conspiracy theories. In April 2020, President Donald Trump promoted an anti-Muslim tweet by Sperry about Ramadan and COVID-19.

Paul Sperry is a conservative journalist who has made regular appearances on Fox News, and his articles have appeared in the New York Post and other prominent publications. Sperry has also served as the Washington bureau chief for Investors Business Daily (IBD) and is a former media fellow at The Hoover Institution. In addition to authoring Infiltration: How Muslim Spies and Subversives Have Penetrated Washington (2005), Sperry co-authored Muslim Mafia: Inside the Secret Underworld That’s Conspiring to Islamize America (2009) with anti-Muslim activist P. David Gaubatz

In April 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, President Donald Trump promoted a tweet from Paul Sperry in which Sperry posed a hypothetical question about whether American mosques would be “subjected to the same social-distancing restrictions during Ramadan as churches were during Easter” for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic. During a follow-up White House press conference a few days later, a reporter read Sperry’s anti-Muslim tweet back to President Trump asking for his comment. “I would like to see that,” Trump replied, suggesting that he wondered if local authorities would treat American mosques differently than churches.

In February 2000, Sperry was announced as the Washington Bureau Chief for the right-wing website, WorldNetDaily. During his tenure, Sperry published numerous articles against Democratic politicians such as Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Eric Holder, and Adam Schiff. During Sperry’s tenure as the Washington Bureau Chief for Investors Business Daily, he wrote columns calling former President Barack Obama the “defender-in-chief of Islam” with a “pro-Islam bias” and warning of an “Islamic fifth column” growing inside America.

In 2005, Paul Sperry published his first anti-Muslim book called Infiltration: How Muslim Spies and Subversives Have Penetrated Washington. In it Sperry argues that American Muslims were covertly trying to infiltrate the U.S. government by “pretending to be peace-loving and patriotic, while actually supporting violent jihad to turn the United States into an Islamic state.” According to a book review published on the Middle East Forum, a right-wing anti-Muslim think tank, Sperry’s book explored how a “network of Muslim groups and individuals are exploiting America’s religious freedom and ethnic sensitivity in order to undermine America from within.” The watchdog group Media Matters for America also noted that Sperry’s book specifically cited conservative Grover Norquist’s “ties to militant Muslim activists,” a long-time conspiracy theory for anti-Muslim activists.

In an April 2005 interview with anti-Muslim author Robert Spencer, Sperry explained his reasoning for the book, stating, “Washington hasn’t leveled with us about the full scope and depth of the Islamic threat not only inside America but inside the government, just as it hasn’t leveled with us about the true nature of Islam. So I wrote this book to expose the elaborate fraud that’s been orchestrated by our leaders in the Washington establishment and the leaders in the Muslim establishment, who are playing us all for suckers.”

In October 2009, Sperry co-authored another anti-Muslim book called Muslim Mafia: Inside the Secret Underworld That’s Conspiring to Islamize America with P. David Gaubatz. According to the Center for American Progress, Gaubatz is a former federal agent in charge of special investigations for the U.S. Air Force. In addition to sending his son, Chris Gaubatz, to pose as a Muslim convert to work “undercover” at the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Sperry’s co-author had projects funded in the past by Frank Gaffney’s anti-Muslim think tank, Center for Security Policy.

Sperry and Gaubatz’s book, Muslim Mafia, promoted the conspiracy theory that Muslim spies were posing as congressional interns and infiltrating Capitol Hill with a nefarious Islamist agenda. The book was eventually published by WorldNetDaily, founded by noted anti-Muslim activist Joseph Farah, who in the past admitted that his website had knowingly published “some misinformation by columnists.” In their book, both Sperry and Gaubatz claimed they would provide readers with a conspiratorial “road map to the criminal conspiracy by CAIR [Council on American-Islamic Relations], the Islamic Society of North America, and other outwardly benign Muslim organizations to support violent jihad and undermine law enforcement—with the ultimate goal of ‘eliminating and destroying’ American society ‘from within.’”

A 2011 report by Thomas Cincotta of Political Research Associates found that Sperry had warned against “those trying to mainstream Islam.” The report also revealed that Sperry had once joined other anti-Muslim activists at a joint North and South Carolina conference, to “educate first responders on the threat of Domestic Terrorism and Radical Islamic Jihadists and the danger they pose to both the Carolinas and the entire southeast.”

In October 2014, Sperry wrote an article in Investor’s Business Daily entitled “Islamic Burial Rituals Blamed for Spread of Ebola.” In it Sperry blamed the religion of Islam as the primary culprit for the Ebola pandemic, claiming, “Islam isn’t just at the heart of the terror threat posed by the Islamic State. The religion is also contributing to the other major crisis plaguing the globe: the spread of Ebola.”

A 2015 article by The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) noted that Sperry had claimed that Muslims had been working for 30 years to infiltrate and “destroy our constitutional government.” Sperry has also tweeted that Muslim immigration to the Washington DC suburbs has turned it into “Northern Virginiastan.” Similarly, during a March 2015 interview, Sperry referred to Dearborn, Michigan, as “Dearbornistan,” and Minneapolis as a “terror hot spot.” In a May 2015 interview on WND Radio America, Sperry claimed that then-President Barack Obama was “flooding” the United States with a “huge surge” of Muslim immigrants.

In an August 2016 Breitbart column, Sperry attacked Gold Star parent Khizr Khan, the father of a decorated U.S. soldier killed in the Iraq war. Sperry claimed that Khan believed that “the constitution must always be subordinated” to Sharia, bolstering the anti-Muslim conspiracy theory that Muslims aspire to replace U.S. constitutional law with Islamic law.

In August 2016, Sperry wrote another New York Post column targeting Hillary Clinton’s top campaign aide, Huma Abedin, claiming that Abedin edited a “radical Muslim publication” in Saudi Arabia. In another September 2017 New York Post column, Sperry claimed that the Saudi government funded a ‘dry run’ for 9/11, paying for two Saudi nationals to fly from Phoenix to Washington, attempting to gain access to the cockpit in the process.

In August 2016, Sperry appeared on Gaffney’s Secure Freedom Radio, where he talked about ‘civilization Jihad,’ and claimed the Muslim World League was “doing immigration jihad” by getting as many Saudi nationals “into our college campuses where they, of course, then can in turn join the Muslim Students Association which is just this jihadist front group and get all these young other Muslims either recruited or convert non-Muslims to this Islamism.”

In January 2017 article for CounterJihad, of which Sperry serves as Editor-in-Chief, Sperry called on President Donald Trump to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization. CounterJihad describes itself as a “response to the ongoing incursion by Islamist groups and their ideology into American life.” The website is named for what it claims is “a global Jihad against free Western society with both violent and civilizational arms and we must respond to their attacks.” 

Sperry has publicly defended numerous members of the Trump administration. In a March 2017 New York Post column, Sperry defended former White House official Sebastian Gorka, who The New York Times revealed had said that “violence is a fundamental part of Islam and emanates from the language of the Quran.” In his column entitled “Smearing Trump’s National-Security Braintrust,” Sperry decried Gorka’s ouster and claimed that “Islamofascists have been on the ascendancy around the world.”

Sperry’s social media networks are filled with anti-Muslim material. On Twitter, he has publicly accused the only two female Muslim members of Congress (Rep. Ilhan Omar [D-MN] and Rashida Tlaib [D-MI]) of being “plants of CAIR” to “infiltrate” the U.S. government. In a March 2018 tweet, Sperry hoped for Muslim civil rights organization, CAIR, to be “shut down” after accusing it of being a Muslim Brotherhood “frontgroup,”  a longstanding conspiracy theory trying to malign American Muslim civic organizations.

Updated May 13, 2020