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Cristina López G.

Author ››› Cristina López G.
  • White supremacists directly linked to pro-Trump media figure Jack Posobiec. Here’s what you need to know about him.

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G.


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Jack Posobiec, a conspiracy theorist and consummate pro-Trump media figure who often boasts of his access to the White House and other MAGA celebrities, worked as recently as 2017 with white supremacists who advocate for violence. Posobiec has a long record of extremism and ratfucking: He was an outspoken advocate of the “alt-right,” published a book with the help of an “alt-right” figure, and pushed all kinds of smears and misinformation for political gain.

    Posobiec reportedly had links to Jeffrey and Edward Clark, two white supremacist brothers. Jeffrey Clark was arrested by federal authorities in Washington, D.C., for gun charges after relatives contacted authorities about his support for last month’s mass shooting in a Pittsburgh synagogue. As reported by HuffPost, Posobiec teamed up with the brothers in 2017 to film documentary footage; a source provided an image of Posobiec alongside the brothers. HuffPost also reported that anti-fascist researcher Laura Sennett said Jeffrey Clark had told her Posobiec both knew of his Nazi beliefs and was sympathetic to them.

    Posobiec is currently a host for One America News Network, a right-wing news outlet that specializes in sycophantic coverage of President Donald Trump and conspiracy theories. He previously worked for far-right Canadian outlet Rebel Media. Posobiec achieved his standing in the MAGA media universe by embracing the “alt-right”​ and its public figures during the 2016 presidential election and, like many other grifters, eventually rebranding as a member of the “New Right” after the extremism of the “alt-right” made associating with it too toxic.

    Despite his continued efforts to sanitize his role in spreading the “Pizzagate” conspiracy theory, Posobiec repeatedly broadcast to his social media followers and to Infowars audiences the baseless claim that a D.C. pizza restaurant served as a front for a child trafficking ring, showed up at the pizza parlor himself to “investigate,” and then claimed that the arrest of a gunman who also showed up at the pizzeria was a “false flag.”

    Posobiec’s ratfucking record includes spreading forged documents tied to Russia purporting to be then-French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron’s emails; planting a “Rape Melania” sign at an anti-Trump protest to smear activists; and doxxing one of the women who reported that she was sexually assaulted as a minor by defeated Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore. Leading up to the 2018 midterm elections, Posobiec was an administrator in a racist Facebook group that promoted Republican candidates and pushed far-right conspiracy theories.

    He has built his brand by promoting attention-grabbing stunts that masquerade as activism, such as disrupting a theater presentation of William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar that he deemed to promote political violence, filing a civil rights lawsuit over all-female screenings of Wonder Woman, and trolling a congressional press conference on net neutrality to demand that Democratic senators disavow “satanic” internet pornography. He also gleefully participated in an online harassment campaign that resulted in CNN journalist Andrew Kaczynski receiving death threats.

    Posobiec has ridden every controversy and subsequent media coverage to increase his visibility and online followers. He’s used that branding for political access and promotion of his personal business endeavors, which include his self-congratulatory book about the movement that took Trump to victory, and his most recent book, published with the help of with “alt-right” figure Theodore Beale, who writes under the pseudonym Vox Day. Posobiec promoted this book by linking to Vox Day’s website, a depository of white supremacist grievances.

    Posobiec’s clout in the MAGA social universe has risen high enough to earn him a retweet from Trump himself (when Posobiec wrote an accusatory tweet aimed at the media for focusing too much on the 2017 white supremacist “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, VA) and allow him access to the White House. He used temporary White House press credentials in May 2017 to push the debunked conspiracy theory that former Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich was murdered for leaking DNC emails.

    In his role as OANN correspondent, Posobiec regularly showcases his access to pro-Trump celebrities (including Donald Trump Jr.) and his presence at White House and Trump Hotel social functions. Meanwhile, he’s used his OANN platform to hype smears from the defendant in the Seth Rich lawsuit, as well amplify the wild conspiracy theory known as QAnon, giving virulent far-right troll Microchip a platform and taking his word at face value that he is the anonymous poster known as Q. Microchip is an anonymous and prolific user of Gab -- the social media site known for being “haven for white supremacists” -- where he constantly posts white supremacist grievances and anti-Semitic and racial slurs and invites followers to “fuck shit up” legally by pushing and spreading the misinformation campaign QAnon.

    It is clear that Posobiec’s history of extremism, peddling of conspiracy theories, and ties to white supremacists are not a problem for the network that employs him, nor for the pro-Trump universe that has enabled his professional career. In that universe, misinformation and extremism are not deal breakers. They’re assets.

  • After Florida misogynistic killings, online incels call shooter “legend” and complain he “only killed two”

    Incels praise Tallahassee shooter by downloading his online footprint of misogyny and claim “there’s no stopping” hate-inspired rampages

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G.


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Scott Beierle, a man with an online footprint of far-right misogyny and a police record of groping women, opened fire at a yoga studio in Tallahassee, FL, on November 2, killing two women before shooting himself. As reported by Buzzfeed, in his online videos, Beierle had openly praised Elliot Rodger, who went on a misogyny-fueled killing rampage in 2014 and has become a hero for the women-hating “incel” (involuntary celibate) community online. This is the fourth incident of violence connected to far-right extremism in the U.S. in just the past two weeks.

    In reaction to the shooting and reports of Beierle’s record of misogyny, members of the anonymous online forum incels.is -- a new domain established after the forum reportedly got suspended for violating its past registrar’s anti-abuse policies -- shared and gleefully consumed the content of Beierle’s YouTube videos; and at least one person claimed he downloaded Beierle’s video presumably as a contingency in case social media platforms took it down. The same poster claimed to have found the shooter’s website and promised to post it to the forum.

    Another poster claimed that comments on the shooter’s YouTube videos that denounced his misogyny are the sort of thing that radicalize white men.

    In their comments about the shooter's rants in which he condemned white women who date Black men, some posters underscored the intersection between misogyny and white supremacy: One claimed that Beierle’s “views on race mixing are not wrong,” and another questioned how many white incels would follow the shooter’s example in response to interracial couples. As shown in the screenshot, one poster is already using a picture of Beierle as the profile's avatar.

    A member of the forum characterized the shooter as a “legend,” while another complained that he "only killed 2" women:

    Another thread warned readers that nothing will stop sexually frustrated men from going on rampages. The thread featured “an open letter to cucks” (the far-right’s go-to insult against those perceived as weak for embracing political correctness) supposedly explaining “why you can’t do shit about people going ER,” using incel shorthand for Elliot Rodger.

    The poster warned “cucks” and “foids” (a dehumanizing term incels apply to women) that they will “NEVER, EVER, EVER” stop men who are frustrated sexually from seeing “blackpill content online” and getting inspired to go on killing rampages. “Blackpill content” refers to messaging telling men who consider themselves involuntary celibate that the world is stacked against them and there “can be no personal solutions to systemic problems.”

    Replies to the open letter looked like battle cries: “We’ll get down every one of you,” one user wrote; another, who bragged about having an AK-47 semi-automatic rifle, posted, “Come and take me”:

    Other posters called on other incels to build "muscular physiques" that make them strong enough to "hurt others":

    A member of the forum speculated about whether an account that had posted “going ER” on November 2 in a similar forum for incels, Truecels.org, belonged to the shooter. Truecels includes a board called “hall of heroes” that honors -- among others -- Rodger, terrorist Timothy McVeigh, and Yamaguchi Otoya, a far-right assassin who killed the leader of the Japanese socialist party in 1960. Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes recently honored Yamaguchi Otoya by re-enacting the violent murder at the Metropolitan Republican Club in New York City.

    Accounts in these forums are anonymous, so anyone with an account can participate on different message threads. Members can also participate on Discord and Telegram chats after some vetting from the community. In the Truecels forum, posters also questioned whether the shooter had an account, expressing concern that screenshots of his profile could inspire a feminist “to stage a crisis to make it look like incels are violent … right before an election:”

    In just the past two weeks, four far-right extremists have gone on violent, hate-fueled attacks around the U.S. On October 24, 51-year-old Gregory Bush attempted to enter a predominantly Black church in Jeffersontown, KY, before heading to a Kroger grocery store where he shot two Black people, the first in the store and the second in the parking lot. Two days later, a man with a long record of posting right-wing content and threats online mailed explosive devices to prominent Democratic figures and the cable news network CNN. On October 27, a man who posted virulently anti-Semitic messages on the website Gab, known as a “haven for white nationalists,” went on a murderous rampage in a synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA.

    Given the violent posts about women, racial and ethnic minorities, and religious groups that can be easily found in online forums, and the common thread of far-right content posting among attackers, it’s not far-fetched to think that the next far-right violent attack might be brewing online. On mainstream social media platforms like Twitter, extremism is not particularly difficult to find: The incels forum links to its an official Twitter account, and accounts that post anti-Semitic and white supremacist content fly under the radar undisturbed. And yet, right-wing media figures refuse to either connect the dots between far-right rhetoric and the extremism it inspires or take responsibility for mainstreaming and empowering extremists.

  • As Rep. Steve King takes heat for ties to neo-Nazis, white supremacist media urge racists to support him

    White nationalist YouTubers and podcast hosts are going to bat for Rep. Steve King (R-IA), the Republican elected official 4chan racists call “our guy”

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G.


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters
     

    As the Republican Party and corporate donors are forced to grapple with what has been perfectly apparent for a while -- the fact that Rep. Steve King (R-IA) unapologetically embraces white supremacy -- white supremacist media are stepping up to bat for him.

    A week before midterm elections, National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH) condemned King’s “recent comments, actions, and retweets,” breaking the long trend of indifference the GOP had applied to King’s well-documented extremism. Corporate donors Land O’Lakes and Purina Pet Care also withdrew their financial support of King in the wake of a horrific anti-Semitic massacre at a synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA, that put an even brighter spotlight on King's white supremacist rhetoric.

    While it’s not a secret that white nationalists openly support King, his sympathy for them has only recently come under fire from GOP leadership. This sudden change of heart prompted users of the anonymous message board 4chan’s “politically incorrect” forum (known as “/pol/”) to gin up support for him, calling for “meme magic” to help King against the “media onslaught” supposedly trying to kick him out of Congress.

    In the October 30 edition of his show America First, white nationalist YouTuber Nick Fuentes took a break from an anti-Semitic rant to praise King for “talking about white genocide,” saying, “He retweets some of our guys, and he goes over to Austria, I believe it was, and he rubbed shoulders with some of our guys. I mean, he basically gets it, he knows what's going on.”

    On the October 20 edition of Third Rail, a podcast of white supremacist website The Right Stuff, the host known online as Borzoi declared, “We know about Steve King. We know what he’s all about. We’ve got Steve King’s back.”

    Later on the show, in the context of a discussion mentioning The Camp of the Saints -- a “stunningly racist” anti-immigrant novel popular with right-wing media -- Borzoi mentioned King’s tweet that “we can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies,” as a reference to the white supremacist conspiracy theory “the great replacement.”

    King’s white supremacy rhetoric often comes in the form of dog whistles that his racist supporters hear loud and clear, as evidenced by an October 30 thread on /pol/. The since-archived thread celebrated King’s tweet which mentioned “the diversity” among the dogs present in his pheasant hunt, writing, “We had English Setters, Brittanys, German Shorthairs, and black, yellow, chocolate & white Labradors all assimilated into a fine working team.” “Steve King is a white nationalist and shitlibs HATE him for it,” wrote the user who started the celebratory thread, while another poster praised the “great line” of “comparing dog breeds to different races.”

    Like Fox’s Tucker Carlson, King has also earned 4chan’s affectionate title of “our guy.” An October 23 thread put forward a list of reasons why King fit /pol/’s definition of “/ourguy/,” which included “Neo Nazi” and “likes the confederacy.” Responding to the original post, another user wrote, “Of course he’s our guy.”

    It’s not hard to see why /pol/ would consider King to be on their side. In addition to his repeated dog whistles, he’s quote tweeted neo-Nazi Mark Collett, whose YouTube channel features incendiary anti-Semitic commentary that includes videos titled “The Jewish Question Answered in 4 minutes” and “The Holocaust: An Instrument of White Guilt.” After receiving backlash for his infamous “somebody else’s babies” quote, King doubled down on the statement. The phrase and similar derivatives have become a battle cry among his supporters on 4chan, where users post it on King-related threads as a reference to “white genocide” conspiracy theories.

    King also endorsed openly anti-Semitic white nationalist Faith Goldy in her unsuccessful mayoral bid for Toronto. He defended his endorsement in a media appearance, saying he had talked to Goldy “a number of times” and “took her through a lot of philosophy.” In the same appearance, King bemoaned that white nationalist “is a derogatory term today. I wouldn’t have thought so maybe a year, or two, or three ago.” Before that, King gave an interview to a far-right Austrian outlet about “his belief in the superiority of European culture over others,” his fear of “falling fertility rates in the West,” and “his belief that Europe and America are threatened by Muslim and Latino immigration.”

    King reacted to the latest backlash on Twitter by posting recent endorsements of Republican congressmen and supporters and celebrating President Donald Trump’s intentions of ending birthright citizenship. King’s response to Trump’s statements echoed his fellow white supremacists on social media, leaving few outside of GOP leadership to wonder why former Klu Klux Klan leader David Duke refers to him as the “Future King of America.”

    Madeline Peltz provided research for this piece.

  • White supremacists and the far-right are thrilled with Trump’s plan to try to end birthright citizenship

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G.


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    For extremists and MAGA internet trolls, ending birthright citizenship as enshrined in the 14th Amendment of the Constitution is a campaign promise that President Donald Trump must deliver. After Trump told Axios that he’s considering using an executive order to eliminate the right to citizenship for those born to noncitizen parents on U.S. soil, white supremacists and pro-Trump trolls celebrated online, while some acknowledged that the timing of the announcement -- one week before midterms -- and the fact that any executive order on the issue would undoubtedly go to the courts likely made it an electoral strategy rather than a policy goal.

    White nationalist Cameron Padgett:

    White supremacist author and Fox regular Ann Coulter, who referred to children born in the U.S. to noncitizen parents with a slur:

    Host for the white supremacist podcast Fash the Nation, known online as Jazzhands McFeels:

    Scott Presler, staffer for the anti-Muslim group Act For America and pro-Trump activist:

    “Pizzagate” conspiracy theorist Jack Posobiec:

    Other Trump sycophants on right-wing media also went on Twitter to defend the president’s attack on the 14th Amendment, with some referring to the children of noncitizens born in the U.S. with a demeaning slur:

    The white nationalist publication VDare called Trump’s statement a “big moment” for the outlet, consistent with the group’s first attack in 2001 on American babies born to immigrant parents in U.S. territory:

    Neo-Nazi publication The Daily Stormer called Trump’s statement to Axios “an October Surprise DOUBLE SIZE for y’all Jews” while celebrating that Trump had suggested to Fox’s Laura Ingraham that the U.S. build tent cities for migrants seeking asylum: “Trump announced O P E N A I R C O N C E N T R A T I O N C A M P S for the wetback human garbage invading OUR COUNTRY!”

    On a discussion thread in Stormfront, a message board for white supremacists, users characterized “stopping birthright” as essential and speculated that Trump had waited until there is a “conservative majority in the supreme court” to go after the 14th Amendment:

    Similarly, a user on the anonymous message board 4chan praised Trump’s timing, alluding to “the supreme court which Trump just secured” and saying that the caravan of migrants seeking asylum made for “the perfect time for the optics”:

    On the anonymous forum 8chan, a thread praising “God Emporer (sic)” Trump celebrated the news, claiming “/pol/” (the “politically incorrect” board on chan) “was always right” in supporting him. The poster also mentioned Trump’s assertion that “it doesn’t take an act of Congress” to end birthright citizenship, writing, “see midterms for reversal of this if we lose,” a reminder of the overwhelming support for the Republican Party among anonymous online extremists.

    Talia Lavin contributed research to this piece.

  • Breaking down Gab: What you need to know about the social media platform that is a "haven for white nationalists"

    The Pittsburgh synagogue gunman posted anti-Semitic messages on Gab. Gab is full of neo-Nazis and extremists.

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G.

    In the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in American history, a mass shooting on October 27 left 11 dead in a synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA. Reporters unearthed violently anti-Semitic messages the shooter had posted on the platform Gab, using an account that has since been deleted. Legacy media and companies that enabled Gab to sustain itself online are starting to grapple with the prominence of hate speech on the site, but for Gab, extremism has always been a feature, not a bug.

    While activists had alerted some companies working with Gab that the site was transparently violating terms of service, it took a fatal mass shooting for payment processors Paypal and Stripe and cloud host Joyent to drop Gab. The site’s CTO has reportedly resigned, Gab was temporarily inaccessible, and its founder Andrew Torba is “working around the clock” for the site to remain online. Torba asked for prayers for his plight and in a particularly tone-deaf post characterized the site as being "under attack."

    Trolling and harassment have been part of Torba’s business model since Gab’s founding in 2016. Torba himself was sacked from the alumni network of a startup accelerator he was a part of after he engaged in pro-Trump online harassment of a Latino, and he was photographed next to Milo Yiannopoulos, a Nazi sympathizer who was booted off of Twitter after organizing racist harassment of Black actress Leslie Jones.

    Gab was born in reaction to social media platforms that ban hate speech, extremism, and harassment, explicitly meant to provide a haven to those whose extremist content had gotten them banned from other platforms, specifically Twitter. Since the beginning, Torba and Gab’s chief communications officer, Utsav Sanduja, claimed that free speech came above anything else, and that they included harassment under free speech, telling Mic in March 2017: “Political incorrectness is a First Amendment right. ... We support freedom of speech and reject the politically correct definitions of what constitutes 'harassment.' [Social-justice warriors] do not get to define the verbiage, lexicon, culture or societal politics of the internet. Gab ... will repeal this politically correct, censorship culture.”

    They knew extremism was what motivated users to go on their site. So much that, as Sanduja acknowledged in 2017, they were looking into removing the downvoting feature (a feature similar to reddit’s in which users can “upvote” or “downvote” posts so that posts can jump above others and get more prominently featured) because it was enabling targeted harassment and driving women away from the site. (During the email exchanges with Mic, Sanduja addressed journalist Melanie Ehrenkranz in a sexist manner.)

    Extremists embraced the platform as an opportunity, and white nationalist darling Tucker Carlson hosted Torba during his prime-time show on Fox to promote Gab, failing to mention the extremism that had already festered on the site.

    After Twitter enforced new rules in December 2017 that resulted in a purge of several “alt-right” accounts filled with hate speech, users on Gab welcomed Twitter refugees warmly.

    Prominent white nationalist Christopher Cantwell -- dubbed the “crying Nazi” following his teary reactions to the 2017 Charlottesville, VA, Unite the Right rally -- posted a message for newcomers with an anti-Semitic greeting, compelling them to not “worry about the racism” on the site, while recognizing that “it can be a little weird at first”:

    The racism that Cantwell called “a little weird” was rampant and uncensored on the site, until neo-Nazi Andrew Auernheimer (best known online as weev) became the first person to be banned from Gab. weev, who has now migrated to guest appearances on racist shows on YouTube, was banned after Asia Registry, which used to host Gab, threatened to boot the site over a post in which weev wrote: “Jews have cornered the whole Internet. … And I think the only way we’ll have any freedom of speech here is if someone teaches them a lesson.”

    Instead of acknowledging that extremism was a problem in the site, Torba claimed weev was among users posting extremism to “break the guidelines on purpose”; the idea was that they were trying to goad leadership into banning them to show they would break their commitment to free speech. A Gab user protesting weev's ban noted that the hashtag “gas the kikes” “is a constant statement on here and people are not getting banned.”

    After white nationalist Paul Nehlen -- who ran as a Republican in a 2017 attempt to unseat Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) -- became the second person to be banned, it became clear that Gab’s application of its own rules was arbitrary. Despite obvious guideline violations, it wasn’t Nehlen’s often violent posts or his blatant white supremacy that got him sacked from the site. It was the politics over his revealing the true identity of the white supremacist known online as Ricky Vaughn, to which Gab’s leadership reacted inconsistently. First, Torba shrugged off what was being called a doxxing (revealing someone’s contact information to enable their harassment), only acting to remove Nehlen from the platform after the overwhelming support for Vaughn among Gab users made supporting Nehlen’s presence on the site untenable.

    Nehlen doxxing one of his critics was consistent with other doxxing operations -- in which trolls organize to spread the contact information of a person they want to make the target of harassment -- going on undisturbed at Gab in ways identical to on anonymous message boards 4chan and 8chan. For example, after Judge William Young ruled in favor of upholding current Massachusetts gun regulations that ban assault weapons, pro-gun trolls on Gab set their sight on Young and doxxed him in retaliation. Another instance of organized harassment on Gab was an “operation” in which trolls targeted progressive voices on Twitter, instructing each other to use Twitter reporting mechanisms against a list of progressive accounts in what they felt was retaliation for their own banning from Twitter in the first place. Torba not only tolerated such operations, he encouraged them, calling followers to engage in fraudulent mass reporting on Twitter in the name of causing chaos.

    For those of us tracking extremism on the site, the ways in which it served as an alternate universe where public opinion was supplanted by hate speech, became obvious. On any given day, activism took the form of white supremacy and users would fearmonger about diversity. Under the site’s “groups” feature, extremists openly organized under explicitly racist categories.

    More specifically, Gab offered racist interpretations of current events daily. After HuffPost reported that an anti-abortion activist was in fact a white nationalist, posters on Gab reacted with a shrug, complaining that “ethnonationalism” was “socially controversial,” and saying they hoped mainstream media reports like that would help “more people become white nationalist or identitarian.” On April 20, posters openly celebrated Adolf Hitler’s birthday, as evidenced by the site’s popular topics that day, and the reactions to the verdict that declared Bill Cosby guilty of assault were an intersection of racism and misogyny. On International Women’s Day, a sample of Gab takes included complaints that women had abandoned their “one job” of raising the next generation by joining the workforce, as well as statements like, “Women only belong in one place, and that’s in my basement shackled to the radiator; only to occasionally be let out so they can make me a sandwich.”

    The site’s extremist content often went beyond hateful words and into explicit exaltations of violence. Before he was banned, Nehlen prompted a discussion of a caravan of Central American immigrants in 2017 that included talk of armed militias, killing “every last one” and using them as “target practice.”

    Neo-Nazi Andrew Anglin openly called for shooting Middle Eastern refugees and blamed Jewish people for waging “a psychological war” to push for the right of refugees to come to the U.S.: “All it would take to stop this is a few bullets.” And that wasn’t the first time Anglin had posted about shooting up Jewish people, but Gab leadership told a journalist asking for a reaction that he hadn’t crossed a line.

    Another post that did not raise to the level of crossing a line for Gab was Anglin’s slur-laced, homophobic endorsement of corrective rape for lesbians.

    However, even for someone as toxic as Anglin, unregulated speech on Gab was seemingly starting to get too toxic. In March, he complained that the trolling and abuse he was subjected to by fellow posters on Gab was made more burdensome by the site’s lack of a block button. Anglin felt that Gab’s mute button wasn’t enough.

    Gab’s Sanduja responded to Anglin, seemingly taunting him to leave the site if he didn’t like it. Anglin claimed he used to encourage “people to use this site” but that posters replying to “every post” he made by “promoting terrorism” and “posting gay porn” was causing him to stop. Sanduja responded to Anglin’s tantrum and his troll supporters by exchanging slurs with them. After a user seemingly insulted his ethnicity by alluding to a type of visa foreign workers with specialty occupations use, writing “typical H1B monkey,” Sanduja responded, “You’re welcome for the free speech, Stormfag” (in reference to Anglin’s site the Daily Stormer).

    Gab’s leadership has always downplayed evidence of the extremism that festered on the site, potentially to avoid scaring away investors; leaders once told Daily Beast’s Kelly Weill that they thought “some of Gab’s Nazis are actually fake Nazis, who are just trying to make Gab look bad.” Neither Torba nor Sanduja offered proof of this claim, relying instead on the conspiracy theory that progressive organizations were supporting fake Gab accounts that post extremism to give the site a bad image, a theory that echoes somewhat the “false flag” reaction the far-right has faced with instances of right-wing extremism.

    This mindset explains why financial pressures have been the only incentives that have made Gab’s leaders act against extremism on their site. Torba has always framed pressure from his third-party providers to regulate Gab’s content as “censorship” to free speech, going on like-minded Alex Jones’ Infowars outlet repeatedly to complain. He’s apparently aware of the ways violent neo-Nazi groups like the Atomwaffen Division use Gab and has done nothing.

    Back in August, Gab’s hosting provider, Microsoft Azure, gave the site 48 hours to remove two virulently anti-Semitic posts made by defeated neo-Nazi congressional candidate Patrick Little (who also ran as a Republican in a primary and is verified by Gab on the site). Little was suggesting raising Jewish people “as livestock,” and vowing to attack Holocaust memorials in the U.S. with a sledge hammer. After Azure’s pressure, the site removed the posts in contention, but before the site was taken offline, Little was still on Gab, where he reacted to the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting by urging his followers to blame the victims.

    In an email statement to its users a full day after the synagogue shooting, Gab disavowed and condemned “all acts of terrorism and violence” but also condemned the press by saying, “We refused to be defined by the media’s narratives about Gab and our community.” In the statement, Gab’s leadership continued to take no responsibility for the extremism the platform has enabled since its inception by saying, “Criminals and criminal behavior exist on every social media platform.”

  • "We want you here": Turning Point USA bans anti-Semitic YouTuber from event only because of “the optics"

    TPUSA is fine with bigotry, just not with looking like bigots

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G. , MADELINE PELTZ & BRENDAN KARET


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Turning Point USA, the pro-Trump grift masquerading as a conservative college organization, has made it clear that it doesn’t reject anti-Semitism.

    TPUSA, which raises funds off of Fox fearmongering about the liberalization of college campuses, is hosting its Young Black Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C., from October 25 to October 28. The group is leveraging the coziness between founder Charlie Kirk and the first family by having Donald Trump Jr. speak at an event and scoring participants a visit to the White House complete with an address from the president.

    Referring to the ongoing summit, Bryan Sharpe -- who is known online as “Hotep Jesus” -- claimed on October 25 that he had been banned from TPUSA events. Sharpe has a record of expressing anti-Semitic views (which didn’t keep him from appearing on Fox’s The Ingraham Angle to attack Starbucks for holding a racial bias training), and he has appeared on the explicitly white supremacist Red Ice TV. He also once said, “I’d rather align with a racist white than a cry baby Black.”

    Sharpe later posted a Periscope video in which TPUSA Director of Urban Engagement Brandon Tatum explained to him the reason he couldn’t be in TPUSA events: “the optics of the anti-Semitic rhetoric.” Tatum cited concerns that Sharpe’s record of anti-Semitic rhetoric could be reported by the press if he was in attendance. Tatum added, “You’re a grown-ass man -- I can’t force you out of here. But I want you to understand where we are coming from. You understand?” He summarized TPUSA’s position as being “between a rock and a hard place” because while “personally, none of us have a problem with you -- we want you here. It’s the optics. The media.”

    The transparently cynical concern Tatum articulated -- not with bigotry but with the appearance of bigotry, -- is consistent with TPUSA’s record of embracing extremism but rejecting accountability for it. TPUSA might have banned Sharpe from its events, but its communications director, Candace Owens, personally reached out privately to him to smooth things out, according to Sharpe. As reported by the Miami New Times, members of a TPUSA chapter were OK with racial slurs in their online chats as long as they weren’t used too often. At a different TPUSA conference, an attendee was filmed praising Nazi Germany. And when TPUSA fired an employee for writing "I HATE BLACK PEOPLE. Like fuck them all. ... I hate blacks," the organization’s replacement hire had previously said, "I love making racist jokes."

  • Pro-Trump media push ridiculous conspiracy theories about the van of the alleged MAGA bomber

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G.


    On October 26, Cesar Sayoc was arrested and charged with mailing improvised explosive devices to prominent Democratic figures. Pro-Trump media had previously pushed conspiracy theories about the mailed bombs, and following Sayoc’s arrest, these media figures and the far-right online networks of misinformation pushed a conspiracy theory that the stickers on a van that he reportedly owns show that the whole incident is a false flag.

    The van Sayoc reportedly owns was covered in stickers with right-wing themes and pro-Trump and anti-CNN imagery.

    Pro-Trump media theorized that the van was fake because the stickers were not worn down.

    Rush Limbaugh: "None of the stuff on that van, the stickers and the decals, very little of it looks faded, meaning it doesn't look like it's been there very long."

    RUSH LIMBAUGH (HOST): None of the stuff on that van, the stickers and the decals, very little of it looks faded, meaning it doesn't look like it's been there very long. It's certainly -- this guy's van is parked outside, he's been driving around in this thing.

    We have inclement weather here in south Florida. There's been some rain, but it's a hot, baking, wet sun -- and even if these stickers are plastered on the insides of the windows, there would be some fading of this stuff.

    Now, if you look at the guy's Twitter feed, oh yeah, Cesar Sayoc has a Twitter feed, and the best I've been able to tell, it can trace back to 2016.

    This guy sounds like a well educated, straight down the middle conservative. As best I can tell, his twittering, or tweetering dates back to 2016, which is quite timely.

    Now, I don't know that any of my thoughts here mean anything, obviously. I'm just sharing with you some of the thoughts that I've had, that I -- and I've processed them.

    You know, I just didn't blurt these out when I first started noticing this stuff.

    Infowars’ Alex Jones: The van is “all perfect and brand new with all these perfect stickers on it.”

    Facebook page Liberty Hangout posted a meme saying that the van looks “brand new” and that “these stickers also look like they were printed yesterday.” The meme had a hashtag: #FakeBombsFakeNewsFakeMemes

    On Twitter, Infowars’ Paul Joseph Watson dismissed the pro-Trump stickers on the van because “on Twitter, he only follows 32 people - many of whom are left-wingers like Lina Dunham, Barack Obama and Jimmy Kimmel. What gives?”

    Far-right conspiracy theorist Laura Loomer posted a series of conspiracy theories on Twitter, including that the stickers couldn’t be authentic because Sayoc’s congressional district is liberal and that the bomb is a false flag because of how “new” the stickers look. She also suggested the stickers would have faded under the Florida sun.

    Michael D. Moore, aka “Thomas Paine” and True Pundit, pushed conspiracy theories about the stickers on the van.

    Many other right-wing and pro-Trump figures also pushed conspiracy theories about the van and its stickers:

    On one of the most influential pro-Trump online forums, the “The_Donald” subreddit, users also echoed skepticism about the van stickers in different posts, with some claiming they “look like single print collages” as opposed to “individual stickers,” or that they looked different depending on where you were looking.

    Posts in a number of wide-reaching pro-Trump Facebook groups said that the van looks fake:

  • Far-right media declare explosive devices sent to Obama and Clinton a false flag

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON & CRISTINA LóPEZ G.

    Following reports that law enforcement intercepted explosive devices sent to the residences of the Obamas and the Clintons, far-right media immediately claimed the incidents were a left-wing hoax.

    The situation is still unfolding. Law enforcement has linked the explosive devices sent to Clinton and Soros to a bomb discovered in financier and philanthropist George Soros’ mailbox earlier this week. A suspicious package was also sent to the New York City offices of CNN. There was also a report that a suspicious package had been sent to the White House, but Reuters and the Secret Service later said the initial report was incorrect. And there are additional reports of explosive devices being sent to politicians, though they have not all been corroborated. In light of this complicated set of circumstances, far-right media seem to agree on one thing: The explosive devices sent to Obama and Clinton are a hoax or false flag attack.

    Conservative provocateur James Woods tweeted:

    Far-right radio host Wayne Dupree tweeted:

    Right-wing radio host John Cardillo wrote in a now-deleted tweet:

    Townhall columnist Kurt Schlichter called the explosive threats a hoax:

    Far-right radio host Michael Savage claimed the explosives were election stunts:

    Similarly, far-right conspiracy theorist Laura Loomer tweeted that the timing was suspect:

    Far-right pundit and Proud Boys member Chadwick Moore accused Democrats of “sending themselves bombs”:

    Staffer for the anti-Muslim Act For America and pro-Trump activist Scott Presler called the suspicious packages “false flags”:

    Fox News columnist and discredited pro-gun researcher John Lott suggested Democrats were behind the bombs: 

    Posters in the anonymous message board 4chan echoed right-wing media’s reactions

    On the “/pol/” board of 4chan, reports of explosives were met with “false flag” reactions on several threads. A poster explained the false flag theory by claiming that “if it was a real radical right winger the bomb would have gone off”

    Reacting to the suspicious package addressed to the CNN offices in New York City, a 4chan user recalled Infowars’ Alex Jones’ fondness for conspiracy theories by posting, “Alex Jones predicted this”

    This post has been updated with additional examples. 

  • Republicans have already empowered gangs and extremist groups

    From the Proud Boys to Turning Point USA, extremists are ascendant on the right, but legacy media are too often playing catch-up

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G.


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Let's be clear about the state of things. A well-connected sitting congressman endorsed a neo-Nazi for political office, and it wasn't the first time this sort of thing happened. To the contrary, GOP candidates across the country have links to white nationalists. The GOP president -- who is the undisputed center of the party -- is a former game show host whose administration has repeatedly defended violent extremists. And his son has even appeared on a white nationalist show. The debate is over. The extremists have taken over the party.

    And yet, legacy media outlets are too often caught completely unaware.

    On October 12, the Metropolitan Republican Club hosted Gavin McInnes, founder of the self-identified “gang” Proud Boys. During the event, McInnes re-enacted the violent 1960 murder of Japanese socialist party leader Inejiro Asanuma. After McInnes' appearance, a number of Proud Boys were taped nearby brutally beating and kicking several individuals” and shouting homophobic slurs at protesters. Videos show "more than a dozen" Proud Boys, including at least three skinheads, punching and kicking protesters on the ground.

    In response, The New York Times has covered McInnes' exploits with kid gloves and reduced his extremism to mere provocation. Just look how thrilled white supremacist Ann Coulter was with the piece:

    The Times’ irresponsible description of McInnes as simply a "far-right provocateur" is already memorialized on Wikipedia, potentially the most widely read source of information by audiences that might never have heard of him before. As Jacob Weindling wrote, "You can quote Gavin McInnes directly while describing events that happened and get a harsher description of McInnes than the NYT wrote. ... I don't know how you can call the beginning of this article anything other than white nationalist propaganda."

    Weindling is correct. Just look at McInnes’ speech to the Manhattan Republican Club, in which he told Republicans that they need Proud Boys as “foot soldiers," because of what they have in common. Or look at what McInnes said on his podcast on October 14, when he defended the use of anti-LGBTQ slurs.

    And this characterization matters. While the Times is describing McInnes as a "provocateur," and NBC News is portraying the Proud Boys as a "nationalist movement," the reality is that we're in far more dangerous territory. As Daily Beast reporter Kelly Weill noted, by making alliances with groups like the Proud Boys, “mainstream Republicans can sort of outsource the political and physical violence that they’d like to enact against opponents.”

    And McInnes is not an isolated figure: He and the Proud Boys are deeply entwined in right-wing media. McInnes was a contributor to Fox News for eight years, appearing on Sean Hannity’s show at least 24 times. In 2017, Hannity hosted another Proud Boy with ties to the violent white supremacist “Unite the Right” rally to discuss political violence. Fox host Mark Levin has given McInnes two shows on his online outlet CRTV, where McInnes has pushed extremist bigotry like promoting men’s rights activism, calling female journalists “colostomy bag for various strangers’ semen,” and glorifying violence and fighting. Fox host Tucker Carlson happily posed with Roger Stone and two Proud Boys in a Fox green room and “declined to disavow” the group when asked about it. McInnes shows up on right-wing radio and on right-wing YouTube. In an era in which the right-wing is doing everything it can to suppress opposition, it's no wonder that the Proud Boys are now part of the Republican machine.

    It's not just the Proud Boys, either.

    On the October 17 edition of Today, NBC gave a platform to Identity Evropa -- a white supremacist group actively seeking to rebrand its racism as identitarianism. The network referred to Identity Evropa as a “fringe group,” yet NBC still gave its leaders a softball interview on a show that consistently reaches the coveted demographic of adults ages 25-54; its affiliated channel MSNBC also aired segments featuring the group and other white supremacists.

    NBC’s Peter Alexander played into Identity Evropa's obsession with “optics” and rejection of “anti-social behavior” by remarking on how “clean cut” its representatives look. The segment allowed the white supremacist organization to expand its reach beyond YouTube and social media to recruit followers and promote its talking points, which include blatantly pushing white nationalism using the Republican Party as a vehicle. The group's leader was thrilled was the exposure.

    It's clear that the communications wing of the GOP has no problem with these groups.

    On October 16, Fox News host Laura Ingraham invited Patriot Prayer’s Joey Gibson on her show for a softball interview. Patriot Prayer is a far-right coalition whose membership overlaps with the Proud Boys and whose unity relies on their common “hatred for the left.” Gibson has personally encouraged his followers to instigate violence, promising that counterprotesters “are going to feel the pain.” Ingraham's interview conveniently ignored a report by The Oregonian that the group had "a cache of guns" including "long guns" on a rooftop in Portland, OR, before a summer protest. That's where we are: One of the president's favorite television hosts did a friendly interview with the type of person whose group sets up a cache of guns during a protest of that president.

    Fox also frequently hosts Turning Point USA’s most prominent members, Charlie Kirk and Candace Owens, close allies of the president. Left unmentioned are the extremist views of TPUSA. The Miami New Times unearthed online chats from one TPUSA chapter that feature members warning each other about not using racial slurs too often, talking about "watching underage cartoon pornography and deporting Latina women," and sharing memes about "Syrian men raping a white Swedish woman at gunpoint." An attendee at a TPUSA conference was filmed praising Nazi Germany. And when TPUSA pushed out the person who wrote "I HATE BLACK PEOPLE. Like fuck them all. ... I hate blacks," the replacement was someone who said, "I love making racist jokes." Undeterred, Fox News hosts and top allies of the president happily attend TPUSA events, and TPUSA members openly raise money off of Fox segments that fearmonger about the liberalization of college campuses. It's quite the con.

    Or look at Fox host Tucker Carlson, an innovator in this space. Instead of mainstreaming an extremist group, Carlson is cutting out the middleman and mainstreaming men's rights and white supremacist propaganda himself.

    Make no mistake: People across America are seeing all of this and speaking up. But at some point, it'd be nice if the legacy media would notice too.