“The Z Man” is a white nationalist internet personality who pulls in thousands of dollars per month churning out racist propaganda and rubs shoulders with white nationalists at conferences on both sides of the Atlantic – without ever showing his face. Based on research and analysis, Hatewatch believes it has identified the person behind the pseudonym.
John Christopher Zander, 55, a software salesman residing in the Baltimore suburbs, has inhabited The Z Man persona since at least 2013, based on a Hatewatch review of public records and leaked documents containing biographical data that match Zander with the Z Man persona.
Since 2013, The Z Man has published an independent but well-trafficked site called The Z Blog, which he updates with new posts about five times a week. From July 2017, he expanded his activities into a weekly, hour-long podcast called “The Z Blog Power Hour.” The Z Man depicts white men as the victims of a genocidal conspiracy, and advocates a separatist white-only country, or ethnostate, in North America.
The Z Man voices these themes across so many posts and podcasts that the overall effect becomes repetitious. In a January 2018 post, he wrote: “The war on whiteness is happening at every point on the social structure and in every town in the country. ... Therefore, there is no running away from the slow-moving white genocide being perpetrated on us by our rulers,” referring to a common white supremacist conspiracy theory. Those “rulers,” Z Man asserted, operated under the sway of a “coalition of blacks, Hispanics, miscellaneous foreigners, Jews and white feminists,” and they aimed to “replace whites in America via the miracle of open borders.”
Z-Man has habitually called Baltimore – which is two-thirds Black and is the closest city to the town in which records reveal Zander resides – “Lagos” in his propaganda, referring to the former Nigerian capital. He asserts that Black people are intellectually inferior and more prone to criminality, caging his views as “race realism.” The Z Man wrote in a May 2020 blog post that for Black and white Americans, “There are no more options left to try other than peaceful separation,” adding that “whatever the cost of implementing the divorce must be paid as it is less than the constant tax on white people for events that happened over a century ago now.”
Alongside his cliches about peaceful racial separatism, Z Man often hints that violence may be necessary to bring about the white ethnostate he desires. In an August 2020 post, he wrote: “There is no voting your way out from under a corrupt ruling class. The only solution for that is the hangman. ... The ruling class of America no longer has any connection to the average white American, so the interests of white people are ignored.”
Hatewatch first linked Zander with The Z Man pseudonym through information included in the data breach at extremist-friendly domain registrar and web host Epik. From there, Hatewatch confirmed that the details revealed through the data breach matched Zander by, among other things, reviewing public records and talking to sources who know him.
Zander, however, denied that he was The Z Man in a brief conversation. When Hatewatch contacted Zander at Profit Programming, the company where he works, to discuss the identification of him as The Z Man and ask for comment, he denied all knowledge, saying, “You’ve got the wrong guy” before abruptly ending the call.
A growing influence in the white nationalist movement
The Z Man has published extremist content at a prolific rate. In 2021 alone he published 246 public blog posts and 47 podcasts; 150 text and audio posts on his subscriber-only Subscribestar site; 52 weekly columns for a far-right website; and at least one print article in The Freedom Times, a far-right newspaper.
While The Z Man is little-known beyond the white nationalist subculture, there are strong indications of his growing influence within it. He claimed in a 2020 guest appearance on a white nationalist podcast that The Z Blog had north of 300,000 visitors a month. Although that number is impossible to verify, several popular measures of website rankings indicate that The Z Blog attracts significant traffic for a website on the white nationalist fringe. For example, Alexa, a service that compares website traffic, put The Z Blog in its “Top 1 Million Web Sites” lists over 1700 days since 2014.
He maintains an account, also called The Z Blog, on the white supremacist-friendly social media site Gab. The account, which is badged as a paid “Pro” account and as a Gab “Investor,” has over 12,300 followers – more than fellow white nationalist David Duke (around 8,400), neo-Nazi Billy Roper (around 1,600) and white nationalist hate group Patriot Front (around 7,900). In a recent post there responding to the identification of the person who betrayed Anne Frank’s family to the Nazis in World War II, he complained, “Yet they tell us the camp guards had a duty to kill themselves and their families rather than work as prison camp guards,” appearing to excuse the role of camp guards in the Holocaust.
A cog in the far-right propaganda machine
The Z Man has collaborated with personalities and publications across the far-right media ecosystem for years.
Since October 2020, he has written a weekly column for the paleoconservative website Taki’s Magazine. Hatewatch reviewed trending articles on Taki’s and found that he is currently one of the most popular writers. Taki’s commonly plays host to extremists, including writers from the white nationalist non-profit VDARE, and Gavin McInnes, who announced the foundation of his neo-fascist street brawling group the Proud Boys on Taki’s website on Sept. 15, 2016.
In a Nov. 29, 2021, Taki’s column, he wrote that trials like Kyle Rittenhouse’s showed that prosecutors had adopted a “novel legal theory” that “white people have a duty to die when in a violent confrontation,” and that “white people have no right to self-defense, especially when the attacker is not white.”
On Oct. 11, 2021, he wrote for Taki’s of the former police officer convicted of George Floyd’s 2020 murder that “[Derek] Chauvin’s crime is that he is white and a black guy overdosed in his custody just when the people in charge wanted to hang a white guy. Everything about the case was a morality play put on by the ruling class to libel white Americans.”
He has also written for Counter-Currents, a white nationalist website that also publishes propaganda advocating for a white ethnostate.
In an Oct. 9, 2020, post there, he described that year’s racial justice protests, sparked by the murder of George Floyd, as “the riot campaign waged by the Soros organization.”
The Z Man has appeared on multiple white nationalist podcasts since 2017, including co-hosting “Fash The Nation” from The Right Stuff network, and appearing as the featured guest on the “Rebel Yell” podcast, produced by neo-Confederate organization Identity Dixie.
During his most recent October 2020 appearance on Johnson’s “Counter-Currents Radio” podcast, he argued at length that colonialism and slavery had been beneficial to Africans and African Americans alike.
“The best thing that happened to Africans was white people,” he said, adding that “instead of having these days of rage there should be days where Black people get together and thank the local white guy.”
Hatewatch contacted Greg Johnson and the editors of Taki’s Magazine to ask what aspects of The Z Man’s work they thought worthy of their support but received no replies.
Travel to white nationalist conferences
Since 2017, The Z Man has reported on his own attendance at white nationalist conferences in the U.S. and Europe.
In July 2017, he wrote a three-part travelogue on his website concerning his first trip to an American Renaissance conference. One of those posts was later republished on American Renaissance’s own website. Founded in 1990 by Jared Taylor, American Renaissance publishes articles portraying Black and other non-white people as being intellectually inferior to whites.
“I walked into the Friday night reception, hoping to see one of the famous guys and maybe buy them a drink,” The Z Man wrote in a July 30, 2017, blog post. “Instead, someone stopped me to say he was a fan. Then someone else did the same. That’s flattering, of course, but it takes getting used to.”
In the same post, he described friendly interactions at the conference with Richard Spencer, then at the height of his influence in the white nationalist movement. Spencer invited him to ”a late dinner and he was just one of the guys, debating the topics and soliciting opinions,” The Z Man wrote.
Hatewatch contacted Richard Spencer, who said he could not recall the meeting.
But an in-person meeting with VDARE podcaster and writer John Derbyshire was the “most exhilarating part of the trip,” he wrote, and he found the white supremacist and former National Review columnist to be “brilliant and charming.”
Derbyshire returned the admiration. He has subsequently referenced The Z Man in at least 23 “Radio Derb” podcasts, according to his own transcripts.
Asked in an email about his relationship with The Z Man and to confirm that the person behind the account is Zander, Derbyshire asked in reply, “Uh, you’re asking me to assist in the SPLC’s antiwhite defamation racket?” White nationalists commonly dismiss reporting about them as being motivated by racism against white people.
According to other posts on The Z Blog, The Z Man subsequently attended several other white nationalist conferences, including the white nationalist H.L. Mencken Club in 2017, the American Renaissance conference in 2018 and 2019, and two Scandza forum events in Copenhagen, Denmark, and Oslo, Norway, in 2019.
Profiting from propaganda
Hatewatch’s review of publicly available evidence from subscription websites indicates that The Z Man earns a significant income from all this propaganda.
Hatewatch estimated the likely take at online subscription platform Subscribestar based on The Z Man’s subscriber count at two subscription tiers. In December 2021, The Z Man earned an estimated $3,454 on Subscribestar. Between June 2021, when Hatewatch began measuring his Subscribestar take, and December, he took in an estimated average of $3,222.
Extrapolated into an annual figure, The Z Man’s output brings in an estimated $38,000 a year. Hatewatch contacted Subscribestar with questions about their provision of a platform for the blog, and the income they derive from it, but received no response.
Mikhail Zadvornyy founded Subscribestar in 2017 as a membership subscription platform. In initial filings for the underlying LLC in Wyoming, Zadvornyy provided an address in Krasnoyarsk, Russia. From 2018, Subscribestar became the subscription platform of choice for many far-right figures after a competing platform, Patreon, began banning the accounts of various prominent figures in the so-called “alt-right.”
PayPal withdrew its payment services from Subscribestar the same year following the influx of “alt right” users. In addition to his Subscribestar earnings, The Z Man has raised approximately $4,100 in donations on the Buy Me a Coffee platform since May 2021, according to that site’s own statistics.
Hatewatch contacted Buy Me A Coffee for comment on his use of their platform for fundraising, and their apparent lack of any prohibition on hate speech in their site’s rules.
They initially responded with a request that Hatewatch flag specific problematic posts on the paywalled site. When Hatewatch reiterated its question, Buy Me a Coffee offered no further response.
On The Z Blog and in podcasts, The Z Man also promotes products from commercial sponsors including Boston-based jewelers Minter and Richter; Columbia, Maryland-based Havamal Soapworks; and Fairbanks, Alaska-based Alaska Chaga.
Hatewatch contacted these businesses for comment on their sponsorships, but none responded.
He also receives reader and listener donations via PayPal, cryptocurrency addresses and at the same Cockeysville post office box listed for Zander in documents released in the Epik leak.
A Bitcoin address Zander nominates on his website for donations had received just over 0.087 Bitcoins, worth over $4,300 at the time of publication.
Support from major platforms
When The Z Man advertises new episodes of his podcast in weekly blog posts, his standard closing line boasts of their wide availability on mainstream platforms.
“I am on iTunes, which means the Apple Nazis can listen to me on their Hitler phones. The anarchists can catch me on iHeart Radio. … YouTube also has the full podcast,” he has repeatedly written.
"The Z Blog Power Hour” was, until Hatewatch’s investigation, also available on Spotify, Audible and Google Play. Hatewatch contacted Amazon, Apple, Google, iHeart Media and Spotify about the availability of “The Z Blog Power Hour” on their platforms.
Amazon removed the podcast from its services following contact from Hatewatch. YouTube also removed the “Z Blog Power Hour” archive after Hatewatch contacted the company for comment. A spokesperson for Google, which shares a parent company, Alphabet, with the video platform, said that the channel had been terminated for violating the platform’s hate speech policy.
The spokesperson also said that the YouTube channel had not been earning money under YouTube’s partner program. They said that podcasts on Google Podcasts were only rarely removed in compliance with local laws, saying that Google did not host podcasts on the service, which instead allows users to discover podcasts.
Following Hatewatch’s inquiries to Zander and to Google, the websites operated by The Z Man began substituting links on his website from YouTube to a podcast archive on the loosely moderated “alt tech” site Odysee.
If Zander is indeed Z Man as the evidence reviewed by Hatewatch suggests, he ultimately lost the cover offered by his pseudonym through data leaked from the domain registry Epik – a product he had recommended to his readers in a July 2019 comment thread on his blog, selling it as a way for white nationalists to protect their identities.
“Avoid the platforms like Blogger and Wordpress,” he wrote. “[Go] to Epik and register your domain and get a hosting plan,” he advised readers, so that they could better avoid “doxing, shutdowns, DDodS and all that.”
Epik’s data identifies John Zander as the registrant of five domains between May 25, 2019, and Nov. 8, 2020. Alongside the name, the Epik data includes an address in Cockeysville, a suburban city in the Baltimore metro area. Public records show the address has been John Christopher Zander’s residence since 2003.
The Epik registration records also included a Gmail address with an account name that matched Zander’s real name, and a phone number with a Baltimore metro area code. One of the domains Zander registered with Epik was zmediallc.us, on June 15, 2019. Three weeks prior, on May 27, a registration agent was used to set up a company in Maryland called Z Media LLC.
Days after that LLC was registered, a June 8, 2019, post on The Z Man’s Subscribestar blog, announced “I have a new LLC,” adding, “In theory, it is something you can do on-line, but in reality it is better to use a service.” In the same post, The Z Man complained that getting a “PO Box was more involved than I would have expected, as I had to find one that would be convenient now and into the future.” He added: “My office is outside the city. ... Finding a post office near my travel routes and close to the highway took some research. It turns out that most post offices are no located near highway exits.”
Hatewatch research reveals that The Z Blog invites donations to be sent to a post office box on the route from Zander’s home to the Profit Programming offices. It is just three blocks away from exit 20 on Interstate 83, which runs between Baltimore and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Z Media LLC is also the name of the PayPal account to which The Z Man invites blog readers and podcast listeners to direct donations.
The Z Man unmasked
Hatewatch furthered its investigation into the identity of The Zman by obtaining additional website records, and by matching public records for Zander with The Z Man’s disclosures in blog posts and podcasts. Specifically, the Gmail address disclosed in the Epik breach was linked by a data broker to a now-suspended Twitter account, “bcsportsfans.” BCSportsFans.com is a forum site for fans of Boston College sports teams. It features a welcome message listing a Yahoo email address as a means of contact.
Three separate data brokers identify that email address as belonging to John Christopher Zander, and each associates it with his Cockeysville home address. Hatewatch reached out to the Yahoo address but did not receive a response. Hatewatch then used public domain name registration records for the BCSportsfans.com to identify the registrant as “John Zander.”
The records show that at registration, the registrant, John Zander, provided the same Cockeysville street address that Hatewatch tied to John Christopher Zander and the Yahoo email address. He also provided a phone number and a contact email address featuring the name The Z Man and the thezman.com domain, all of which appeared to definitively link Zander with the far-right persona.
Telephone records show that the number provided in the BCSportsfans.com registration is listed as Zander’s and that the account holder is Profit Programming, his employer. A separate URL, thezman.org, redirects to The Z Man’s main blog at thezman.com. Domain registration records for thezman.org identify Profit Programming as the site’s registrant, and also list a Profit Programming email address associated with Zander's sales position at the company as the contact email.
Hatewatch contacted Jack Warren, the president and proprietor of Profit Programming, for comment but received no response. Hatewatch has been unable to determine whether Zander’s apparent use of his work email and company name are authorized or whether Profit Programming is aware of these extremist activities. Profit Programming held a CAGE code, a necessary requirement for landing federal government contracts, between Aug. 14, 2015, and Jan. 31, 2018. General Services Administration records show that Profit Programming was awarded a $15,000 contract by the National Institutes of Health for “Information Technology Software” on May 24, 2016.
Hatewatch found additional circumstantial evidence linking Zander with The Z Man. Maryland auto title records show that Zander acquired a brand-new Chevrolet Camaro in late February 2021, and has also owned a 2001 model Mazda SE pickup truck since 2002. Posts in early March on his Subscribestar page in detail a contemporaneous car purchase at “a Chevy dealer” to replace “the vehicle I drive at the moment [which] is twenty years old.”
The Z Man wrote in a July 24, 2021, Subscribestar post titled “Arbeit Macht Frei” – a German phrase that also appeared as a slogan at the entrances of several Nazi concentration camps during World War II – that “My old truck has been sitting since I got the new car. ... The truck is 20 years old and I’m only keeping it for when I move out of Lagos to a more rural setting,” referring to his racist slang for the city of Baltimore.
In a Jan. 14, 2019, post titled “Winter Comes to Lagos,” The Z Man wrote that “my first snowstorm here was my first year. ... We got a big snowstorm, over 30-inches, and the city was shut down for a week.” National Weather Service records show that in January 2003, Zander’s first year in Baltimore, there was an unusually heavy 26.5-inch snowfall from Feb. 16-18.
In his first appearance on Counter-Currents Radio on Aug. 15, 2017, The Z Man said that he was 50 at that time, lived in Baltimore, and grew up in the South, all of which match biographical details for the Baltimore-raised Zander.
‘The stakes are a bit higher here’
Perhaps prophetically, at various moments in The Z Man’s nine-year long career as a far-right propagandist, he has expressed concerns about pseudonymous white nationalists facing the consequences of being identified.
In a November 2019 blog post titled “Chaotic Evil,” The Z Man wrote that the “modern dissident” must resign themselves to “operating in the shadows,” adding that “the days of organizing in public, holding well-advertised gatherings and participating in constructive public debate are gone.”
He wrote the previous month, in a post detailing his attendance at the white nationalist Scandza Forum in Copenhagen, of his disagreement with founder Frodi Midjord over the wisdom of “self-doxing,” or deliberately exposing one’s identity in connection with far-right political activism, “in order to get it over with, so you can move on.”
Europeans, he argued, enjoy a beneficent welfare state and employment laws, whereas “American dissidents are driven to poverty by the Left.”
“Even a single guy with nothing to lose still needs to eat and sleep indoors.” he wrote, referring to the consequences of an American white nationalist having their identity exposed. “The stakes are a bit higher here.”
Photo illustration by SPLC