Last year, I reported on a pair of self-identified life coaches arrested for allegedly taking part in the Capitol insurrection of January 6th. Both Samuel Fisher of New York City and Patrick Stedman of Haddonfield, New Jersey, had come to embrace extreme right-wing ideas — including those tied to the conspiracist QAnon movement — after creating online personae around red-pill gender ideology. It seems as though the two men were separately but similarly radicalized while trying to establish themselves as influencers: Fisher branded himself as “Brad Holiday” and posted YouTube videos about everything from sales strategies to the “healthy” relationship between Donald and Melania Trump. Stedman took on the title of “dating strategist” but wound up tweeting misinformation about COVID-19 and supposed pedophile rings.
Since their indictments, however, Stedman and Fisher have been on very different journeys. Fisher’s Facebook account, which he used to brag about storming the Capitol and to share violent rhetoric, appears to have vanished, while his unpopular YouTube page and professional website have lain dormant for more than a year. Earlier this month, he was sentenced to three and a half years in prison after pleading guilty to a weapons charge; when he was taken into custody, the FBI searched his Upper East Side apartment and car, finding an illegally modified AR-15 rifle, more than a thousand rounds of ammunition (including high-capacity magazines), a laser scope for a rifle, machetes and a so-called “ghost gun,” an untraceable firearm he’d build himself. According to prosecutors, he traveled to Washington, D.C., with some of these items.
Contrary to Fisher’s prediction of January 11, 2021, his pro-Trump content has not been removed from the internet. He will go on to defend himself on the federal charges relating to trespassing in the Capitol and disorderly conduct there — to which he has pled not guilty.
While Fisher has logged off and tried to atone for his actions, comments and frightening arsenal — he told the court he has been in therapy, attended addiction recovery groups and tried to reconnect with his family — Stedman has been unrepentant. He posts as prolifically as ever on his Twitter account, where he now has 30,000 followers (but minimal engagement), as well as on his newly refurbished website, where he continues to advertise himself as a dating and relationship coach for men. He, too, is still awaiting trial on federal charges related to obstruction of an official proceeding, unlawful entry on Capitol grounds and disruptive conduct, all of which he documented for social media, in one of dozens of cases slowly making their way through the courts.
Amid requests from his lawyer to delay hearings due to the wide scope of discovery in the government’s case, Stedman has overstepped at least once: In September 2021, a district judge ordered that he cease any communication with any potential witness against him following a Twitter spat with the individual Stedman believes identified him to federal law enforcement. A prosecutor argued that Stedman had aimed to “publicly reveal” the identity of this individual.
But overall, Stedman has avoided mentioning his legal proceedings, though not entirely. A month ago, he appeared on a YouTube stream for the Red Man Group, an “unapologetically pro-man, pro-father, pro-masculinity group podcast by and for men” associated with 21 Studios, a multimedia organization that wants to “make men alpha again.” The little-watched, three-hour interview billed Stedman as “America’s Most Wanted Dating Coach.” At one point, when Stedman opines that the U.S. and Canada are not free democracies, the host, Anthony Dream Johnson, remarks: “In America, we have political prisoners right now. There’s people arrested for the January 6th stuff — 500, 550 or so. They’re political prisoners, in my opinion, of a fucking witch hunt. And this shit is evil and tyrannical, and the founding fathers would be extremely angry, to put it nicely.”
Stedman deflects this invitation to bemoan his indictment by noting that the U.S. Constitution thankfully has effective protections for the accused, then pivots back to the subject of Ukraine, perhaps wary of saying anything that could land him before a judge again.
Obviously, Stedman’s lack of a weapons cache, let alone any demonstrated intent to use it, has saved him from the kind of downward spiral Fisher has suffered. He’s able to keep on peddling his dubious “expertise” as though any rational person needs the guidance of a man suckered into joining the January 6th riot by Trump’s cult of personality and the network of outlandish lies that grew from it. And because his purported crimes included no acts of violence, he could — if convicted at all — receive a lenient punishment. As of January, the median prison sentence for insurrectionists was just 45 days, with some receiving only probation, house arrest, fines or community service. At any rate, it’s highly unlikely he’ll be in for a stint like Fisher’s, which is already as long as that of “QAnon Shaman” Jacob Chansley, a notorious leader amid the riot.
Stedman will also probably demonstrate the ease of reintegrating into society for many involved in the attempted coup: no real reckoning with what they did or why, no separation from the worldview that brought them to it and no lessons learned. See you at the next one, champ.