During a contentious exchange at a Wednesday hearing to discuss gun violence in America, Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM) accused gun rights advocate John Lott of impersonating a woman online to boost his image.
While questioning Lott, Heinrich cited a 2003 article from The Washington Post that uncovered Lott’s ruse, reporting that he posed as a woman named Mary Roch who he tried to pass off as a student in his class in empirical methods at Pennsylvania University. In online postings, Roch defended Lott against his harshest critics, called him a “meticulous researcher,” claimed that he’s “not driven by the ideology of the left or the right,” and even “summoned memories of the classes she took from Lott a decade ago to illustrate Lott’s probity and academic gifts.”
When Washington Post reporter Richard Morin confronted Lott over the fake persona, he confirmed that it was indeed him who used the persona to argue his case in debates that took place in various internet forums.
“I probably shouldn’t have done it — I know I shouldn’t have done it — but it’s hard to think of any big advantage I got except to be able to comment fictitiously,” Lott admits in the Post’s article.
But Lott wasn’t as forthcoming during Wednesday’s hearing.
“Does it show good judgement for a researcher to comment that way with regard to your own research under a name that is clearly not transparent?” Heinrich asked.
“I did not write that,” Lott replied. “It was a family account and there was somebody else in my family who was responding to attacks that were on me … So I don’t police everybody in my family when they go and do things like that and I had members of my family who wrote a couple of review on my books and other things like that.”
“You’re quoted in this article as saying, “I probably shouldn’t have done it,” Heinrich replied.
Watch the exchange below:
John Lott, the NRA's favorite pro-gun "researcher," just got confronted in a congressional hearing for using a fake online persona, "Mary Rosh", to praise his own work. Lott threw his family under the bus, then had a meltdown as he ran out of time to speak. pic.twitter.com/hz4KNV7y2x
— Timothy Johnson (@timothywjohnson) September 18, 2019
Featured image via screen grab