The Red Room. By the Urban Dictionary’s definition is “a livestream on the dark web where dark web criminals will take people that they have kidnapped and kill them on camera. The audience will open polls in the chat box and decide what should be done with said individual.” Charming.
Jenny Claffey’s podcast of the same name delves into territory often uncharted by mainstream media, unearthing the uncomfortable truths and distorted realities that attempt to reconcile humanity’s darkest questions. The podcast redefines conspiracy commentary. It eradicates preconceptions of a creepy podcast host exuding unattractive nerdiness who is hidden away in a dimly lit basement, surviving on energy drinks and the adrenaline of the dark web. Red Room is unapologetically sexy, meticulously researched conspiracy journalism delivered in a provoking manner.
I’ve always been interested in Jenny’s professional life. The former co-host and founder of the infamous ITGALZ podcast has totally reinvented her career. I admire Jenny’s immense resilience. It’s something that we can all learn from (yes, that sounded preachy…apologies).
I sat down with the podcast host to ask her the things I’ve always wanted to know.
What draws you to the darker side of life?
“I’ve always been chronically online. I’m of the generation that the internet only came into my life when I was around 15. I was an internet feen from the get-go. It was my iteration of going down rabbit holes online. There was no social media when I started, so it wasn’t about portraying yourself a certain way. Anyone could set up a website and post the weirdest sh*t online.”
“I see conspiracies as a form of escapism. You can learn a lot about humanity from it. It’s like – what is it about the world that makes people want to have such distraction from their reality. It’s a reflection of how much information we can consume now.”
“I’m interested in what makes someone a conspiracy theorist. How do you even get to that place?”
“We are so frustrated with the world – we have so little control. We have so much access to information so we can pigeon hole ourselves. I think a lot comes from a lack of community also. All of a sudden you are united by one thing – like a D.I.Y. religion. A lot of the time people think they are just fighting for something that’s right and just. Now I’m not saying that this is healthy or constructive – there is definitely a point of no return. But, it’s so interesting.”
Does constantly researching such intense subject-matter ever get too much for you?
“I think I’ve kind of been de-sensitised to all of it. I’m not saying that’s a good or a bad thing. I’ve been reading about this stuff for so long. If I’m going to do a podcast on a dark topic – it’s usually because I feel there is a wider conversation to be had.”
Recently, a lot of former once niche conspiracies like the Epstein and Maxwell case have blown up. They’re now mainstream. What does it feel like when the world wakes up to something that you’ve known about for years?
“What I always struggle with is that when these things come to light – it doesn’t mean that it’s the end. When these people are sentenced – it’s not over. There are always more things to uncover that are just under the radar.”
“I’ve spoken for years to people about Epstein and looked like some sort of psycho. I first found out about Epstein in 2017 from my boyfriend at the time. When the documentary came out I was immediately like – who made this? There was so much bias information in it. Then I looked into the makers – and a lot of it made sense. What they were saying was true but they held back a lot of information – it was controlled, sort of like propaganda. A selected version of reality.”
In March of this year, Jenny published an interview with ex-scientologist and activist Pete Griffiths in The Sunday World. And in true Church of Scientology fashion, the institution came for Jenny.
“The Sunday World article was part of a three episode Scientology special on Red Room. For the last one – I found an Irish ex-scientologist who has been an activist for anti-cult activity for a long time – Pete Griffiths. I had an opportunity to do a supplementary piece on him for the Sunday World. The day after it was published, we got a letter from the solicitors from the Church of Scientology USA “You are this 32 year old podcaster who is obsessed with our Church”. They literally made a website about me.”
Does that not scare you?
“No I loved it. I was literally like my goal is to get a letter from the Church of Scientology.”
You’ve got to respect it…
Podcast: Red Room