The Lone Gunman (abbreviated as "TLG") was a periodical that was published between 1989 and 2002. (TXF: "Unusual Suspects", "Jump the Shark") It began to be issued monthly by at least April 1994. (TXF: "Blood") From at least 2000 onwards, the publication was issued weekly. (TLG: "Pilot", "Bond, Jimmy Bond") The periodical was published by a trio of journalists — John Fitzgerald Byers, Melvin Frohike and Richard Langly (known collectively as the Lone Gunmen). (TXF: "E.B.E.") The triumvirate of publishers were joined by Jimmy Bond between early 2000 and mid-2001. (TLG: "Bond, Jimmy Bond", "Jump the Shark") Typical stories that the paper ran included such topics as questioning the identity of JFK's killer and fighting whaling or illegal government surveillance. (TLG: "Bond, Jimmy Bond") A typical circulation of the publication (from one week of the year 2000) was 2,824. (TLG: "Pilot")
The publication had its origins in a series of events that took place in May 1989; these incidents convinced the men who would become the Lone Gunmen that no-one was safe from "secret elements within the United States government" that apparently sought to surveil members of the American public and control their lives. Susanne Modeski, who was instrumental in demonstrating this to the trio, told them to tell the truth (which she referred to as the trio's "weapon") and to reach as many people as possible with it, moments before she was kidnapped by a group of mysterious men. This group included X, who was apparently the original inspiration behind both the publication's title and the trio's collective name; he had encountered the three men shortly before assisting in Modeski's kidnapping, leaving them with the words "I heard it was a lone gunman", in reference to the Kennedy assassination. (TXF: "Unusual Suspects")
The three men began publishing The Lone Gunman later in 1989. One of the trio, Byers, was driven by a desire to expose those who would destroy the American dream and to write the stories that those people didn't want the American public to read. (TLG: "Pilot")
The threesome's publication of The Lone Gunman magazine was among one of the first facts about them that FBI Special Agent Fox Mulder told Agent Dana Scully, shortly before Mulder introduced Scully to the Gunmen, in early Spring 1994. (TXF: "E.B.E.")
In November 1996, a door from the publishers' offices to the street described the Gunmen as "publishers of 'The Magic Bullet' newsletter", excluding any explicit mention of The Lone Gunman publication. (TXF: "Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man")
In 1998, Scully read an edition of The Lone Gunman while she and Mulder were visiting the offices of its three publishers, who the agents were consulting while investigating the recent death of Donald Gelman. (TXF: "Kill Switch") Morris Fletcher read and criticized The Lone Gunman while visiting the publication's offices with Scully, during a warp in the space/time continuum that caused him to assume Mulder's identity in 1998. (TXF: "Dreamland II")
Competing Main Stories
In 2000, the Gunmen tried to steal an Octium IV chip from the headquarters of E-Com-Con Computer Corp. (the chip's manufacturer), as proof that the chip invaded its user's privacy, but the chip was seized from them by a beard-wearing Yves Adele Harlow and they were subsequently caught by the building's security staff. After the Gunmen returned to their own offices, Byers questioned whether — over the past eleven years that they had been publishing their newspaper — their efforts had made a difference and/or improved America. Despite Byers lamenting their failure to obtain proof, Langly suggested that they still speculate about the chip and call it "editorial commentary". Byers cited the newspaper's circulation of the previous week as evidence that they were "preaching to the converted" but Langly argued that readership did not matter as he thought the impact on the black ops was more important; he was convinced that members of the NSA and CIA not only read the publication but even trembled every time a new edition was released. Although Byers doubted that members of E-Com-Con were trembling, Frohike remarked that they would be, if the Gunmen managed to reacquire the chip.
Shortly thereafter, Byers found a stack of The Lone Gunman editions in the residence of his father, Bertram Roosevelt Byers. After Bert Byers told his son about a government faction that was conspiring to increase arms sales by committing a terrorist act against a commercial aircraft, the younger Byers suggested that, if his father had come to the Gunmen with news of the conspiracy, the publishers would have run the story, but his father immediately dismissed this notion.
While Byers and his father later tried to stop the terrorist act from on board the plane, Frohike blackmailed Yves Adele Harlow into using the Octium IV chip to save the aircraft, threatening to expose the secret of her real name in The Lone Gunman if she did not cooperate.
After the group successfully prevented the plane from being remotely flown into the World Trade Center, Byers still initially intended to go public with news of the plot, using his father's testimony as evidence, but Bert Byers was too reluctant to testify against the government faction. Consequently, although the Gunmen at first planned to feature news about the narrowly-averted terrorist act as the main story for their next edition, Byers reminded his fellow publishers that they had insufficient proof to run such a story. Langly worried that they had no other story for that week but Frohike demonstrated that they could instead headline their next edition with news of the Octium IV chip's invasion of privacy, before revealing that he had stolen the chip back from Yves. Byers was eager to write the story, which the Gunmen subsequently began. (TLG: "Pilot") The Gunmen published their expose of the chip, before returning it to its manufacturer — the chip's rightful owner. (TLG: "Bond, Jimmy Bond")
Financial Crisis & "Lone Gunwoman of the Week"
Soon thereafter, the Gunmen spent their last $1200 on obtaining a story about Japanese whaling but saved no money for publishing it. When Byers went to collect The Lone Gunman from the printers, they refused to give him the papers on credit. Consequently, the papers were left sitting on a loading dock and Byers returned to the offices of The Lone Gunman empty-handed, without having even learned of the papers' location.
Having figured that the group would fail to save enough money to publish their paper, Langly had come up with a solution; he planned to make it easier for the group to sell more papers by using a feature that he referred to as "Lone Gunwoman of the Week" — essentially, the image of a scantily clad female model on the front cover, accompanying the main story. Byers immediately revoked the idea but Frohike initially thought the feature was "amazing", until a look from Byers convinced Frohike that the image did not belong on the cover of any legitimate publication. In frustration, Langly reminded Byers that it was easy to talk about the stories the group needed to write but asked him how far he was willing to go to publish such stories, to which Byers declared he was not willing to go as far as accepting Langly's suggested new feature. When Byers momentarily left them, Langly continued trying to persuade Frohike into approving of the feature, but without success.
Yves Adele Harlow ridiculed the proposed feature as evidence of a connection between "conspiracy theories and masturbation." She later teasingly implied that the feature suggested the possibility that the Gunmen were no longer journalists but had instead become "budding pornographers."
Investigation of Alex Goldsmith's Murder & Jimmy Bond's Initial Involvement
Yves informed the Gunmen of the recent mysterious murder of hacker Alex Goldsmith, claiming she was notifying the group of the incident because she felt that it obviously resembled a story to be uncovered. The police explanation for the murder was that it had been a drug deal gone bad but, when the Gunmen visited Alex Goldsmith's mother, she told them to include, in their article about her murdered son, that he had not sold drugs.
Upon the Gunmen first encountering Jimmy Bond during their investigation, they used the cover story that they were journalists interested in doing an article about a blind football team that Bond was coaching. He at first guessed that the visitors were from Sports Illustrated, until Langly admitted that they were actually from The Lone Gunman, which Bond approved of but mistakenly assumed was about "huntin' and fishin'." He would keep this incorrect impression of the Gunmen throughout their investigation.
Despite the fact that their murder inquiry involved large sums of money, the Gunmen were unable to obtain any finances for their own publishing needs. A frustrated Langly detailed the situation, after their investigation was concluded, when he said to his fellow journalists, "We're still flat-assed broke, we're sitting on yet another great story we don't have the money to publish and last week's issues are still sitting on the loading dock." However, they returned to their offices to find that Jimmy Bond had payed for the previous week's Lone Gunman and that the papers had been brought to the offices, where Bond was sitting outside with them when the Gunmen arrived; he was intent on volunteering assistance to the triumvirate of journalists. (TLG: "Bond, Jimmy Bond")
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As the published main stories often revolved around unbelievable events, many people dismissed the newspaper, considering it to be improper journalism.
During the warp in the space/time continuum in 1998, Morris Fletcher's criticisms of The Lone Gunman included insultingly referring to it as "crap". Even though Byers then argued that his team of publishers "uncover[ed] the truth", Fletcher continued to emphatically claim that the contents of their publication consisted of nonsense that he himself had made up, some of which he had fabricated with his workmates from Area 51 and some of which he had "dreamed up while sitting on the pot." Fletcher seemed delighted that the Gunmen not only believed such nonsense but that they also published it. (TXF: "Dreamland II")
When Langly encountered Yves Adele Harlow soon after she stole the Octium IV chip from the Gunmen, she asked him what they had intended to do with the chip, mockingly asking if they would have written about it in the group's "silly little rag." Frohike later repeated this phrase back at Yves, upon blackmailing her to use the chip.
In response to Byers suggesting that the Gunmen could have published a story based on his father's claims that a government faction was plotting to commit a terrorist act on an aircraft, Bert Byers not only dismissed the idea but did so by demeaning the publication, referring to it as "bird-cage liner" and comparing its stories with such "wild-eyed crap" as "'Elvis is an alien' and two-headed babies." Even though the younger Byers thought it obvious that his father read the periodical (probably due to the stack of Lone Gunman editions in his father's house), Bert Byers told his son not to be so naive and doubtfully asked whether his son believed the publication would "save the world." (TLG: "Pilot")
Use as Telephone Greeting
The Lone Gunmen often mentioned the name of their publication upon answering a telephone call.
In spring 1994, Langly answered at least two phone calls with the simple greeting "'Lone Gunman'". He did so to an anonymous caller, during a discussion in which Mulder first introduced Scully to the Lone Gunman, and later to Mulder when the FBI agent called the newspaper offices. (TXF: "E.B.E.")
In early 2000, Byers similarly answered another phone call, in which he was informed that his father was dead (as Bert Byers had faked his own death), with the greeting "'Lone Gunman' newspaper group." (TLG: "Pilot")
Contents of Editions
- "Infrared Technology: Who's Monitoring Us Now" (TXF: "Kill Switch")
- "Saddam Testing Mandroid Army in Iraqi Desert" (TXF: "Dreamland II")
- "Monica: Minx or Mandroid?" (TXF: "Dreamland II")
- "FBI Fabricates Hacker Crimes" (TLG: "Pilot")
- "Teletubbies = Mind Control" (TLG: "Pilot")
- "ATM's Steal DNA" (TLG: "Pilot")
- "Supermarket Bar Codes Used to Track You" (TLG: "Pilot")
- "Terrorist Act Narrowly Averted" Abandoned headline (TLG: "Pilot")
- "Octium IV Chip Invades Privacy" (TLG: "Pilot")
- "Criminal Whalers Exposed" The original version of this headline, as displayed along with the abandoned "Lone Gunwoman of the Week" feature, was "Exposed Criminal Whalers" (TLG: "Bond, Jimmy Bond")
- "Double Agent Captured, Cap'n Toby Vindicated" (TLG: "The Cap'n Toby Show")
- The edition of The Lone Gunman from April 1994 contained an article about the C.I.A.'s then-new CCDTH-twenty-one thirty-eight fiber-optic-lens micro-video camera.
- The edition from August of that same year had an article about lysergic dimethrin and purportedly arrived in Mulder's apartment on the same day as his subscription to "Celebrity Skin". (TXF: "Blood")