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Cristina López G.

Author ››› Cristina López G.
  • Member of violent men-only fraternal organization Proud Boys goes on Infowars to recruit

    Proud Boys member: “But you know, if you want to get involved there is no better time than now”

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G.


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    During the July 17 edition of Infowars’ The Alex Jones Show, Alex Jones hosted Ethan Nordean, a member of Proud Boys who goes by the alias “Rufio Panman.” As reported by The Guardian, Nordean garnered viral fame after a fight between him and a counterprotester at a right-wing rally was caught on video, earning him his organization’s designation of “Proud Boy of the Week.” Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes also amplified the violent encounter on his Twitter account:

    Proud Boys is a self-described “Western chauvinist” men-only fraternal organization. While McInnes has included a disclaimer (“We are not a violent group”) on the organization’s website attempting to distance the group from the violence its members somehow keep involving themselves in, violence is in reality ingrained into the group’s ethos. To earn a low-level membership (or “second degree”), prospective members have to subject themselves to continuous punches by other Proud Boys while naming five breakfast cereals. The highest membership level, the fourth degree, is earned only if the member has engaged in violence with anti-fascists. McInnes has also attempted to add “clarification” around what that entails, but his hedging is at odds with his record of glorifying violence. He’s on the record saying he “cannot recommend violence enough. It is a really effective way to solve problems.”

    On its site, Proud Boys also displays its affiliation with the violent organization Fraternal Order of the Alt Knights (FOAK), which, essentially operates like a “fight club” and which Proud Boys refers to as its “military arm.” As recently as June 22, McInnes introduced his CRTV show CRTV Tonight with a bizarre montage glorifying violence and fighting in which he claimed, “What's the matter with fighting? Fighting solves everything. The war on fighting is the same as the war on masculinity.”

    Nordean used his appearance with Jones to recruit for an upcoming rally, saying "As long as there’s 50 to 100 of us, we can take on a thousand of them ... [I]f you want to get involved there is no better time than now.”

    ETHAN NORDEAN: We do have the up-and-coming rally in Portland August 4.

    ALEX JONES (HOST): Yeah. That's August 4. Tell the folks about that.

    NORDEAN: Well, obviously we’re eager to get back, because of the failure of the protection of the citizens that the city showed down in Portland. It was a complete failure on their part, complete lack of leadership, and people's lives were put at risk. And thank God that the Proud Boys showed up in numbers and protect those people. I don't know what would have happened if we weren't there, but it wouldn't have been good.

    JONES: And maybe we should show the police marching antifa up against the demonstration and the prayer vigil -- let's show that footage if we can -- and then what transpired out of that. Because this was -- first they have a rally a few months ago, women and children get beaten up. So you guys come out, you still kick their ass, but the police stand down. So you’re saying three is the trifecta, it's the charm, have a really huge group come out and once and for all let antifa know this is still America.

    NORDEAN: Yeah. Well, it doesn’t take -- as long as there’s 50 to 100 of us, we can take on a thousand of them, that's fine. But if you want to get involved, there is no better time than now. Get involved, find your local chapter, hit him up. We'll be in Portland August 4.

    JONES: And, again tell folks about the rally, why you're doing it again?

    NORDEAN: Well, we're going to see how the city reacts, and we'll see if they step up their leadership and actually provide security and protection against these antifa thugs. We're also going to take another stand against antifa because of their violence that they've portrayed against the people of Portland and really up and down the West Coast.

  • This far-right online campaign has found an ally in the Trump administration

    By lobbying on behalf of the British anti-Muslim troll Tommy Robinson, the Trump administration is carrying water for the international far-right

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G.


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    After months of relentless online (and occasional offline) hysteria, the far-right campaign #FreeTommy has found an ally in the administration of President Donald Trump. According to reports, Sam Brownback, U.S. ambassador for international religious freedom, lobbied Britain’s ambassador to the United States on behalf of the British anti-Muslim troll known as Tommy Robinson. Robinson is imprisoned in the United Kingdom after pleading guilty for contempt of court for disrupting a trial.

    As documented by Hope not hate, an organization that combats far-right extremism, Robinson was arrested for “breach of the peace” while he livestreamed about an ongoing case outside Leeds Crown Court in Britain. By livestreaming and sharing information regarding the case, Robinson violated restrictions on reporting about the case, a common legal practice in the U.K. to ensure that members of the jury aren’t influenced by media pressure or outside information. He pleaded guilty, and his legal representative said Robinson had “deep regret” for what he had done, but many in the online far-right ecosystem have painted him as a free speech martyr through the #FreeTommy online campaign and its offline, sometimes-violent demonstrations.

    By lobbying for his freedom, the administration is putting its weight behind a troll whose prominence derives from his extremist anti-Muslim rhetoric. Robinson, whose actual name Hope not hate reports as Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, is the co-founder of the anti-Muslim English Defense League (EDL), which he built “into the premier street protest group within the far right.” While addressing an EDL audience in 2011, he blamed “every single Muslim watching this video on YouTube” for theJuly 7, 2005, bombings in London, saying, “You got away with killing and maiming British citizens.” A 2013 guest appearance on Fox’s now-defunct show The O’Reilly Factor shows how American right-wing media helped elevate his extremist rhetoric; Robinson claimed on the air that “Islam is not a religion of peace. It never has been, and it never will be.”

    Robinson was once refused entry into the U.S., but he still traveled to the country in 2013 on a friend’s passport. The stunt got him banned from the country. Twitter has also permanently banned Robinson from its platform for reportedly violating its “hateful conduct” policy.

    Before the Trump administration picked up Robinson’s case, the #FreeTommy campaign found acolytes among the American MAGA universe and far-right conspiracy theorists. Alex Jones of conspiracy theory outlet Infowars (which has hosted Robinson as a guest on different occasions) has mischaracterized Robinson as a “political prisoner”; Lucian Wintrich, White House correspondent for the right-wing site The Gateway Pundit, which struggles with getting things right, warned that what happened to Robinson was “what is coming to the United States,” a take similar to that of opportunistic right-wing troll Mike Cernovich. The president’s son Donald Trump Jr. once again displayed his well-documented love for the far-right internet trolls by commenting on Robinson’s situation. Fox host Tucker Carlson hosted anti-Muslim troll Katie Hopkins on his show to advocate for Robinson:

    The developments surrounding the #FreeTommy campaign are illustrative of two notable points: American right-wing media and their prominent online personalities provide a built-in amplification network for the messaging of the international far-right, and the Trump administration is extremely susceptible to its narratives.

    Robinson’s rhetoric reportedly inspired a man to commit an anti-Muslim terror attack in Finsbury Park, London, that left one person dead and 10 others wounded in June 2017.

  • A GOP Twitter account is helping spread the baseless internet conspiracy theory QAnon

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G.

    An account that identifies itself as the “official Twitter account for the Hillsborough County Republican Executive Committee” spread the 8chan-originated baseless conspiracy theory called QAnon by tweeting out on July 4th a YouTube explanatory video. While not verified by Twitter, the account is linked on the official website for the Florida county GOP.

    Supporters of the QAnon (also known as "The Storm") conspiracy theory baselessly believe that President Donald Trump’s cryptic October 2017 comment alluding to a “calm before the storm” was in reality a hint at a master plan he has set in motion to kneecap members of the “deep state” while dismantling pedophilia rings supposedly tied to powerful celebrities and politicians. Anonymous posts on anonymous internet forum 8chan signed by “Q,” who claims to be “a high-level government insider with Q clearance,” set “The Storm” in motion. Trump supporters claim the posts are clues informing the public of Trump’s plan, shared on the message board to circumvent what they believe is mainstream media’s anti-Trump agenda.

    Prominent right-wing media figures are increasingly using their public platforms to add fuel to the fire and legitimize the anonymous posts. Breitbart's Curt Schilling amplified QAnon on his podcast, both celebrity Trump supporter Roseanne Barr and Fox’s Sean Hannity pushed the bogus claims on Twitter, while conspiracy theorist site Infowars tasked Jerome Corsi with the QAnon beat, only to backpedal when QAnon supporters started attacking Corsi after he criticized “Q.” Turning Point USA’s executive director and Donald Trump Jr. confidante Charlie Kirk also spread bogus statistics seemingly originated in the QAnon universe on a now-deleted tweet.

    8chan, when not the source of this wild conspiracy theory, is best-known as an online message board connected to hoaxes and organized harassment campaigns.

    These conspiracy theories matter. “Pizzagate,” a similar pedophilia-focused conspiracy theory fueled by far-right media during the 2016 presidential election inspired a shooter to open fire inside a Washington, DC, family restaurant. Not only can the same happen again, it has already started. A man is facing terrorism charges in Arizona for just recently using an armored vehicle to stop traffic on a bridge near the Hoover Dam. His demands and his letters have both been linked to the Qanon conspiracy theory. And now that conspiracy theory has been endorsed by an element of the Republican party.

    UPDATE: The Twitter account of Hillsborough County Republican Executive Committee has deleted its QAnon tweet.

  • Despite YouTube’s vows to “do better,” white supremacist David Duke keeps going on livestreams

    YouTube’s restrictions are not enough to discourage extremists from using the platform to spread white supremacy

    Blog ››› ››› MADELINE PELTZ & CRISTINA LóPEZ G.


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

     As evidenced by a recent appearance former Klu Klux Klan’s leader David Duke made on a YouTube livestream, the company’s measures to deal with content produced by extremists are seemingly not enough to dissuade white supremacists from using the platform to evangelize and make money. While YouTube has put other appearances by Duke behind a warning explaining that users have flagged the content as inappropriate, the June 27 livestream has no such label.

    On June 27, Jean Francois Gariepy hosted a livestream -- which, as of this writing, has over 22,800 views -- on his channel featuring Duke and known neo-Nazi Mark Collett. According to The Daily Beast, Gariepy has called in the past for “a white ethnostate” and featured other extremists like Richard Spencer on his YouTube channel. Collett, a neo-Nazi who was recently elevated by Rep. Steve King (R-IA) on Twitter, has repeatedly collaborated with Duke and expressed his admiration for Adolf Hitler. The livestream included the Youtube feature Super Chat, through which users can pay for their messages to stand out during a live chat, allowing Gariepy to earn money from users paying to highlight racist slogans like “it’s OK to be white.” During the livestream, Collett bragged about the success of his channel despite YouTube’s restrictions on his “most successful video,” an anti-Semitic tirade titled “The Jewish role in the refugee crisis.” Though his anti-Semitic video displays a warning from YouTube that users have flagged the content, it is still easily accessible after a click.

    Duke complained that his appearance on a June 19 livestream on Gariepy’s channel had been restricted, but Gariepy claimed that YouTube didn’t delete the video meant the platform was “admitting that there was no hate speech in there.”

    DAVID DUKE: I’m still kind of recovering from our last show. I’m really kind of angry at YouTube and it’s just amazing to think that this broadcast -- there was no hatred in it, it was very decent, it was just criticizing some aspects of racism in a different way, and it had a 95 percent positive rating, it had hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of comments and they were overwhelmingly positive, and they even blocked out the ratings, they blocked out being able to comment, they blocked out being able to share directly, which really hurts a video, and they also wouldn’t put the numbers -- I think you’ve had about 40,000 views now, only you can see that, the average person cannot see that around the world. It’s just -- it’s amazing. That is very powerful propaganda, right? Because they don’t want people to know and people to see that there’s a lot of support for an idea when 95 percent of the watchers say this is great. They know that when people see that, that it makes people also tend to understand it’s OK, it’s alright to like it, psychologically, and that’s what they always do on the other side. So it’s OK to like this interview, and it’s OK to be white.

    JEAN FRANCOIS GARIEPY: Absolutely. And by choosing to censor in that way and not delete the video, they’re essentially admitting, YouTube is admitting, that there was no hate speech in there. There was not a single sentence that could be interpreted as hate speech. However, as we’ve seen many times in the past, the subject of Zionism, of the involvement of Jewish people in certain industries, has always been a subject that YouTube tries to hide, tries to hide any form of encouragement and any form of social sharing. It is sad. We’ve documented right here on the show, the “Frame Game” reports the kind of advocacy groups that are behind that kind of censorship. They are advocacy groups that are tracking our activities. They are organized and financed for the purpose of reporting these videos as hate speech when in fact they are not.

    On the June 19 appearance that YouTube placed behind a warning, Duke claimed Washington, D.C., is “occupied by the Zionists.” He also went on to say that Jewish people “control most of the media conglomerates” and control “Hollywood, which dishes out horrific hate propaganda, the destructive propaganda against our people, against our heritage, against true values of humanity, the true human values.”

    After issuing an apology to advertisers for placing their brands over toxic content and allowing extremist content creators to make money, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki had reiterated her promises, saying, “We can, and we will, do better.” Yet Duke’s repeated appearances on Gariepy’s thriving channel clearly demonstrate that the mechanisms the platform has put in place to identify and combat extremism are not enough to deter content creators who profit from spreading toxic messaging.

  • Townhall senior columnist amplifies white nationalist tropes to troll followers

    Kurt Schlichter made multiple tweets with just the phrase "14." "14" is a common neo-Nazi phrase.

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G.


    Media Matters

    Twice over the weekend, Townhall senior columnist and Rebel Media host Kurt Schlichter tweeted "14" at Twitter users with whom he appeared to be having political disagreements. “14” is a common white nationalist trope that refers to the slogan coined by white supremacist David Lane: “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.”

    Schlichter is not the only right-wing media figure to use rhetoric linked to white nationalism in order to troll progressives. Milo Yiannopoulos, the far-right troll with Nazi sympathies struggling to stay relevant, recently sent a Jewish reporter $14.88, another code tied to white supremacy (the digital money transfer company Venmo kicked him off the platform, and PayPal did as well).  Similarly, a Department of Homeland Security February press release recently raised questions among journalists for echoing the trope.

    By willingly associating with tropes so tightly tied to white nationalism, whether in jest or intentionally, Schlichter is revealing either that he has white nationalist sympathies, or he is comfortable with carrying water for white nationalists in order to “trigger the libs.” As New York magazine laid out, “ironic” trolling using white supremacist tropes has provided cover to genuine acts of hate and violence. 

  • Far-right online message board users celebrate Annapolis newsroom shooting

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G.

    A shooting at the Capital Gazette newspaper building in Annapolis, MD, caused multiple injuries and fatalities. Even before anyone knew details about the shooting, message boards known for their far-right vitriol reacted gleefully, echoing the anti-journalist rhetoric President Donald Trump has made so prominent.

    On the “politically incorrect” boards in 4chan and 8chan, users immediately set out to comment on the breaking news, some dismissing it as a “false flag” meant to distract from Trump “winning all week,” or warning of “a parade of crisis actors” was forthcoming, echoing the narrative pro-Trump media pushed to dismiss survivors of the Parkland, FL, school shooting and their calls to reduce gun violence afterward. More disturbingly, a significant amount of users celebrated and encouraged the violent incident, celebrating what they saw as an attack on journalists.

    These disturbing reactions mirror the sentiment Nazi-sympathizer Milo Yiannopoulos expressed when he called for “vigilante squads” to shoot journalists in response to media reporting he disliked. In response to the Annapolis shooting, Yiannopoulos tried to blame his violent comments on the journalists he had made them to and who had then reported it, taking no responsibility for the impact his comments could have on his far-right followers. Media outlets and journalists are a common target of pro-Trump trolls, who have turned “brick a journo” (which refers to throwing bricks at journalists) into a recurring pattern to threaten journalists with violence by tweeting pictures of bricks at them.

  • After Sanders tweeted about Red Hen, pro-Trump trolls unleashed Pizzagate-style targeted harassment

    Trolls harassed the restaurant, its owners, its culinary team, and even an unrelated restaurant with the same name. Past similar campaigns have inspired violent acts, including a gunman shooting inside a Washington pizzeria and an armed police team being deployed.

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G.


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    On Saturday, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted via her official Twitter account that the owner of the Red Hen in Lexington, VA, had asked her to leave the restaurant because of the Trump administration’s policies.

    Following her tweet, supporters of President Donald Trump and pro-Trump trolls started targeting the restaurant, its staff, its owner, and her family online. The avalanche of harassment so far has included doxxing her (publishing her personal contact information) on multiple online platforms including Twitter, Facebook, and message boards Voat and 4chan. Previous harassment campaigns organized by pro-Trump trolls have had dangerous, real-life consequences for their targets, including acts of violence and potentially dangerous pranks.

    On Voat, pro-Trump trolls called for a comprehensive harassment campaign and posted the personal online profiles of the members of the restaurant’s culinary team:

    Trolls uploaded pictures of the owner’s family, including her son, on 4chan threads that included death threats. They also posted what seemed to be her personal phone number on a now-archived thread:

    Another since-archived thread included her personal address and called on people to send her some “love mail”:

    On Twitter, even though the platform specifically prohibits users from sharing such sensitive information, people shared the restaurant owner’s personal phone number:

    Pro-Trump pages on Facebook were also part of it:

    The doxxing has been accompanied by promises of violence, and prominent trolls are already connecting the restaurant to the dangerous “Pizzagate” conspiracy theory and to “Q,” a fictitious person from a related conspiracy theory about the “deep state,” “QAnon.” Pro-Trump trolls pushed the Pizzagate conspiracy theory during the 2016 presidential election, claiming that celebrities and Democratic politicians had links to a pedophilia ring hidden in the basement of a Washington, D.C., pizzeria. Even though the conspiracy theory was debunked, the story still inspired a man to open fire inside the family restaurant, which he claimed he had entered to self-investigate.

    It is extremely worrisome to see trolls sharing the restaurant owner’s personal information, particularly given the dangerous incident that followed the targeted harassment of Parkland shooting survivor David Hogg. After trolls made his personal information public and spread it on message boards, someone made a prank call to the police and claimed there was a hostage situation inside Hogg’s home, prompting deployment of an armed police team. The act is known as “swatting,” and it’s a harassment tool that trolls aim at their targets; on at least one occasion, it has proved fatal.

    Another terrifying consequence of harassment campaigns unleashed by pro-Trump trolls is that they sometimes target parties with no connection to the situation spurring the attacks. In this case, a D.C. restaurant with the same name as the Lexington establishment has been "bombarded with calls, emails," and "death threats" -- and was egged over the weekend --  despite having no connection to the Virginia Red Hen. Similarly, after the February school shooting in Parkland, FL, Infowars host Alex Jones accused an innocent man of being the shooter, unleashing “ridicule, harassment, and threats of violence” against him.

    Media outlets, however, seem to be focusing their coverage on whether the actions of a private business owner who followed her conscience reflect intolerable incivility. Meanwhile, reporting on the dangerous harassment and attacks that have followed is taking a back seat.

    Natalie Martinez provided research for this piece.

  • I’m a Salvadoran immigrant. This is why watching Fox News was unbearable this week.

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G.


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    If you share a part of your identity with the families targeted by President Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy that criminally prosecutes those caught entering the country unauthorized, watching Fox News this week might’ve been a special kind of horror. The network has architected its discussion of the 2,000 children torn from their parents, branded as criminals upon arrival, to help government officials justify the crisis, blame the victims, and criminalize all immigrants. Thankfully, while Fox and other pro-Trump media outlets are working to exonerate the government from any responsibility in creating this humanitarian crisis, CNN’s coverage has offered a far more accurate depiction of reality, and MSNBC’s focus on the real-life consequences of this cruel policy enforcement truly has reflected the pain, fear, and uncertainty that thousands of immigrants fleeing worse conditions are being subjected to under Trump.

    As a Salvadoran, I understand what these families are running from. As an immigrant, I understand how incredibly broken the current immigration system is and the many assumptions -- of criminality, of alienness, of backwardness -- projected onto those identified as immigrants, with no regard for whether they’d fit more neatly into the category of refugee. Many like me understand what it feels like to be the subjects of sentences rendered operative by dehumanizing verbs like “infest.” But Fox decided to essentially ignore those who could voice alternative perspectives. Instead, the network centered and overly relied on the government authorities who’ve had a hand in creating the chaos in the first place. This week, Fox repeatedly provided a platform for Customs and Border Patrol officials and for ICE Acting Director Thomas Homan to blame the victims unchallenged and to justify the horrors of Trump’s policy enforcement. On Fox & Friends, the president’s favorite show, Griff Jenkins sanitized the daily work of the border patrol, while the network at large virtually ignored the heartbreaking audio of terrified immigrant children weeping after being separated from their parents. The exceptional times the network brought on essential voices like a DACA recipient or an immigration attorney, they were drowned out by Fox’s drive to trivialize the crisis and exploit tragedies, all in the service of criminalizing immigrants. In doing so, the network is creating a false dichotomy in which its focus on gangs and crime is at the expense of the victims of those very gangs, threatened into fleeing their countries.

    By contrast, CNN and MSNBC used the substantial resources they deployed to the border to cover the family separation crisis and feature commentary from experts, advocates, and immigrants. CNN’s correspondents on the ground offered a crucial view into what a zero-tolerance policy looks like for those it targets. The network often fell back on its model of a packaged news report followed by commentary from its political punditry, which serves as a reminder of the importance of having a roster of diverse voices to accurately represent the demographics of the issues being discussed. But its reporters opened up a window into the struggles of those seeking asylum and the cruelty they face from Trump’s policy.

    MSNBC, on the other hand, offered audiences a unique window into what these families are experiencing. Its coverage elevated the stories not being told elsewhere; countered pernicious misinformation; and, by featuring a slew of immigrants, immigration attorneys, civil rights activists (like RAICES), members of religious organizations and medical professionals, better illustrated the tapestry of the complicated human consequences of what happens when cruel policies are inhumanely implemented.

    Correspondent Mariana Atencio, in particular, was uniquely positioned by “her ability to connect, report, speak and translate” to bridge the gap between the lived experiences of audiences and those of the protagonists of this humanitarian crisis. By translating immigrants’ words live on camera, Atencio humanized the coverage, giving viewers the opportunity to put faces to the stories and providing immigrants the ability to speak directly to those responsible for the crisis. And when Atencio talked to border patrol, her nuanced framing was informative and clearly distinguished innocent undocumented immigrants from criminals. While the issues were painful, MSNBC’s coverage was consequential and compassionate -- the kind that builds empathy and makes immigrants feel seen and heard.

    Cable networks are in a unique position to offer a transparent view of what’s happening at the border to audiences who can’t witness it. What issues they choose to prioritize in their coverage, how they frame it, and who they decide to interview is a good indicator of the audience they are catering to: the American public or Trump’s administration.

  • Rep. Steve King elevates a neo-Nazi on Twitter

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G.

    On June 12, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) quote-tweeted an anti-immigrant tweet from British neo-Nazi Mark Collett. It's not the first time King has elevated white supremacist talking points on Twitter.

    Media Matters reported on Collett’s history when Fox News host Laura Ingraham quoted him in a tweet in January. At the time, we noted that Mark Collett is a former chairman of the youth division of the British National Party (BNP), a far-right political organization in the United Kingdom, who was eventually dismissed from the party and arrested for death threats against its leader, a political rival. Collett has repeatedly collaborated with former Ku Klux Klan leader and radio host David Duke, who has endorsed Collett’s book. Collett once expressed admiration for Adolf Hitler, has said that he considered AIDS a “friendly disease because blacks, drug users and gays have it,” and has referred to asylum seekers as “cockroaches.” Collett also campaigned in support of Brexit with his girlfriend, who has multiple Nazi tattoos.

    Angry White Men, a blog that tracks far-right people and groups, flagged King’s quote-tweet and shared a number of pieces laying out Collett’s racist extremism in a Twitter thread.

    King has a record of pushing white supremacist narratives on Twitter. He once tweeted that "we can't restore our civilization with somebody else's babies" and then doubled-down on his statement after receiving backlash. Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke praised King for his tweet:

    As Vice documented, King’s bigotry has been on display beyond Twitter as well. He’s compared undocumented immigrants to livestock, pushed the birther conspiracy theory that claims Barack Obama was born in Kenya, and referred to the former president as “very, very urban,” and said that only Europe and the U.S. have contributed to civilization.

  • Even conservative women are shredding Candace Owens' attack on the #MeToo movement

    Owens claimed #MeToo treats women as “stupid, weak & inconsequential.” Even conservatives clapped back.

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G.

    Candace Owens, communications director for Turning Points USA, attacked the #MeToo movement on Twitter on June 11, claiming that it treats women as “stupid, weak & inconsequential.” Owens, whose profile skyrocketed after rapper Kanye West promoted her brand of hot takes on Twitter,  also stated that #MeToo had “turned sexual assault into a trend,” an absurdity akin to claiming that fire alarms are turning fires into a trend.

    By elevating the voices of accusers, the #MeToo movement has been pivotal in spotlighting powerful figures who had gotten away with sexual misconduct and violence. Owens’ ignorant attack faced immediate criticism. Even conservative women, who typically espouse anti-feminist views, spoke out against it.

    Kimberly Corban, a rape survivor and an NRATV favorite due to her pro-gun advocacy, said she disagreed with Owens and suggested they “get together” to talk:

    Corban also pointed out why Owens’ words could be damaging to survivors and victims, while explaining that #MeToo “isn’t a problem with women” but rather a problem that stems from a culture that forces victims into silence.

    Amber Athey, a breaking news editor for The Daily Caller and a columnist for Catholic Vote, called Owens’ tweets “an ignorant take” and “ridiculously unfair”:

    According to Athey, Owens’ cluelessness on #MeToo comes from taking “the conservative idea of personal responsibility” and warping and twisting it to “unimaginable levels.” 

    Rita Panahi, who works for the Herald Sun, a subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp Australia, and hosts The Friday Show at conservative network Sky News, responded to Owens that “blaming the victim for being victimised isn’t helpful”:

    Cassandra Fairbanks, who writes for The Gateway Pundit, a conspiracy theory-friendly and error-filled outlet, called out Owens for her “bad tweet”:

    Some conservative men were also shocked by the ludicrous comments. Benji Backer, founder and president of the American Conservative Coalition, shared his own experiences of being subjected to sexual misconduct and called Owens’ attacks “abhorrent” as well as “asinine & cowardly”:

    Jerry Dunleavy, an alum of Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign who works for Judicial Watch, explained why Owens’ take was “exactly wrong”:

    Caleb Hull, a senior editor at Independent Journal Review, suggested Owens “will do or say anything for the attention”:

    Hull might be onto something. Owens is slated to speak at Turning Point’s upcoming Young Women’s Leadership Summit in Dallas, TX. With her tweet, she was likely attempting to exploit a sensitive topic to draw more attention to her speech, in which she has promised to explain why she hates the #MeToo movement.

    Owens’ skyrocketing ascent to conservative fame has, after all, always rested on wildly inaccurate assertions. She has claimed that police brutality is not an issue the Black community faces, blatantly dismissed the threats that white supremacy presents, and volleyed toxic, inaccurate attacks at the immigrant community, including claiming that undocumented immigrants are voting illegally and that they are “directly harming the black community” by taking jobs.

    Kennedy Copeland, an advancement associate at Owens’ own Turning Points USA, attempted to distance the organization from Owens’ views after she tweeted about #MeToo, claiming to “respectfully disagree” with her statement. But given that TPUSA considers “grab them by the pussy” apologist Jeanine Pirro and enforced-monogamy supporter Jordan Peterson worthy ambassadors for its young women’s leadership summit, TPUSA’s views on women and victims of sexual violence and misconduct may actually be in lockstep with Owens’.

    UPDATE: Following backlash, Candace Owens took to Periscope, calling #MeToo "a witch hunt on men" and blaming it for causing the men she speaks to refusing to hire women.

    UPDATE (7:15 PM): On Twitter, Mediaite's Caleb Ecarma shared a leaked message in which TPUSA's executive director and founder Charlie Kirk asked fellow conservatives to refrain from critizising Owens or the organisation and to backchannel their disagreements to avoid hurting the group's image.