The time I met David Icke

... and put him on New Zealand TV. And why I feel weird about it.

I met David Icke on November 4, 2011.

You know, the guy who in 2020 would spread the unhinged theory that COVID-19 was being spread by 5G networks.

The guy who was kicked off YouTube and Facebook for spreading dangerous health misinformation.

I met David Icke on November 4, 2011 — and I sort of regret it.

But first, some context.

I was a news reporter for TV3, New Zealand.

If I was being charitable to myself, I would say I was a pop-culture reporter who had my finger on the pulse. I would interview Karl Pilkington in a London park, or meet up with South Korean guitarist Lim Jeong-hyun (AKA the then-YouTube sensation Funtwo).

If you were to be less charitable (or my mum) I was the guy at the end of the news who’d cover the story about a cat up a tree (very valid, cats are important).

But back then, I was also really passionate about getting things I genuinely loved on New Zealand TV, be it metal bands like Slayer or our own Lorde.

And conspiracy stuff. I loved conspiracy stuff.

Yep, I grew up on a diet of The X-Files* and any chance I got to namedrop weird theories to a national audience, I’d do it.

So when I sat down with Muse in 2007, I angled towards talking about lizard people… because I knew their frontman Matt Bellamy was a big fan.

One of the “loose cannons” Bellamy was referencing in our interview was David Icke, who back in 2007 was a bit of a pop-culture icon in certain circles.

Once a respected sports broadcaster, Icke went on TV in the early 90s claiming he was a “Son of the Godhead”, before embarking on a very different career:

Conspiracy Theorist Extraordinaire.

He wrote over 20 books, penned endless essays and began speaking at events all over the globe.

And four years after that Muse interview, I heard that David Icke was winging his way to New Zealand to do a nine-hour lecture.

I was blown away, not only by the duration of the lecture, but that he was coming all the way here!

I’d always wanted to meet this whacky trickster, who had been responsible for spreading the idea of reptilian shapeshifters far and wide.

I immediately got in touch with his publicist, explained who I was, and requested an interview. To me, Icke was perfect fodder for my late-night news segment — he had an amazing backstory (a semi-breakdown in live TV), zany connections to pop culture and was more than capable of a good soundbite. I didn’t see any harm in his theories, and figured giving him a platform was fine.

For an added “lol”, instead of setting up a nice interview location in a hotel or local cafe, I told David Icke to come into my newsroom. I knew at least 90% of the people at TV3 would have no idea who he was, and the idea of what he represented (wild misinformation and an unhinged view of the world) being put slam-bang in the middle of a newsroom was just very funny to me.

If you were being charitable you’d call the idea great. If you were less charitable… I was being an idiotic edgelord wannabe.

And it happened. David Icke came into TV3, and I mic’d him up.

To be honest, he was a total delight. A friendly hang. A good chat. A nice guy.

He was more self-aware than I’d expected, and he had a sense of fun about him.

I was also surprised when a few editors and crew emerged from their darkened offices, very aware of who this man was. I guess I wasn’t the only fan.

And then at around 2pm, we sat down in the boardroom where all the producers would have their morning news meeting, and I interviewed David Icke for 30 minutes.

David Icke. The king of conspiracy theories. The man laying the groundwork for the Alex Jones’ of this world.

I like to think I didn’t do a terrible job. I asked him what it was like to be him. To be treated like a joke back in the 90s.

And he said something quite telling, I think:

‘I’d walk down the street and hear laughter… when you go through that much ridicule, one of two things can happen: you can either go into a bundle and never come out, or you can go “I am me, I am free.”’

(Spoiler alert: he went for the second option).

The thing I regret, I suppose, was giving him a platform.

I wasn’t exactly singing his praises, but that evening I filed a 2-minute news story that was broadcast to the whole of New Zealand (well, to whoever was watching). In that report, I mentioned the lecture he was giving — when it was, and where to find it.

And I imagine at least a few people watching that report probably went along.

Sure, they might have gone ironically — just to have a laugh — but I wonder if any of those people (after nine hours of listening) started going down a lil’ rabbit hole. And instead of just going “Oh, haha, funny, the Queen’s a lizard”, they went deeper and got into global elites and underground tunnels and eventually landed on the idea, here in 2020, that COVID-19 really is a big lie. Spread by 5G.

I dunno.

But reading all the headlines about him this year, I feel a bit uncomfortable about pumping his message to New Zealanders almost a decade ago.

In my defence, it was a different time back then. Conspiracy theories were a lot more niche and — I’d argue — fun. Those peddling them represented an underground of misfits, a counter-culture of nerds who wanted the best for the world. They were personified as popular characters on The X-Files, The Lone Gunmen even getting their own spinoff series.

I talked about it a bit with Dr Dentith in my last newsletter, but over the last decade something’s shifted. Conspiracy theories have gone mainstream. The President of the United States is not only the Commander in Chief, he’s also the Commander in Conspiracy Theories.

And David Icke is spreading dangerous health misinformation that is reaching millions.

With that in mind, this is the piece I did back in 2011. I’m comfortable putting it here, because it’s in context. It’s strange watching it, all these years later.

That’s all for today. Stay safe, stay well.

I promise Webworm is not turning into a newsletter exclusively dealing with conspiracy theories… but I am just going where this thing takes me. There’s lot of stuff I want to write about that’s far removed from this topic, I promise. Stay tuned.

David.


*Oh yeah - I really loved The X-Files. And I still do. Here is me and creator Chris Carter on the set of the second (very bizarre) X-Files film I Want to Believe. And yes, I am clutching a copy of Who magazine with a sexy David Duchovny on the cover.

Constant professional, me.