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Madeline Peltz

Author ››› Madeline Peltz
  • YouTube placed ads on a live stream that featured a white supremacist, “alt-right” trolls, and Hitler apologism

    Andrew Anglin: “[Hitler] was a good person.”

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

    Despite powerful advertisers growing increasingly concerned about the “toxic content” on Facebook and Google that is getting monetized by their ads, Google’s video platform YouTube is still showing ads before a five-hour video (initially live streamed) that features racial slurs and apologism for Adolf Hitler.

    On February 10, Tim Gionet -- known on the internet as Baked Alaska -- hosted a “debate” on his YouTube channel featuring “alt-right” personalities and white nationalists. Gionet’s guests were The Daily Stormer’s Andrew Anglin, Red Elephants’ Vincent James, “alt-right” sympathizer Andy Warski, far-right troll Nick Fuentes, and Carl Benjamin -- who uses the name Sargon of Akkad online and doesn’t shy away from dropping the N-word during live broadcasts.

    Baked Alaska’s extremism has already gotten him permanently booted off Twitter. Now, he is using his YouTube platform to give a voice to “alt-right” figures like Paul Nehlen who recently appeared on his channel to defend his anti-Semitic views. And YouTube is helping Baked Alaska profit from this hateful rhetoric as is evident by the ads on his latest video.

    During live streaming, Baked Alaska also used “YouTube Super Chat” (a pay-to-be-noticed feature), which lets audiences pay for their messages to stand out in the live chat; the streamer can then choose to make those messages visible on screen. The feature allowed Baked Alaska to earn money from viewers paying to highlight their pro-Hitler statements and offensive references to Holocaust gas chambers. He also read some of those comments aloud during the show. As Right Wing Watch’s Jared Holt explained, these debates on YouTube are becoming a profitable tool for the “alt-right”:

    Alt-right YouTube personalities are happily using the debates to make money via the streams’ “Super Chats” and to expand their reach among young audiences.

    During the “debate,” Gionet teased an upcoming live stream session that would feature white nationalist and altright.com founder Richard Spencer and “new-right” proponent Mike Tokes. Though YouTube has attempted to cut off monetary incentives for content creators who engage in extremism on their videos, Baked Alaska’s channel is an example that the platform’s efforts still have a long way to go.

  • Thanks to Trump, white supremacists had a big year in 2017

    ››› ››› MADELINE PELTZ

    White supremacist, white nationalist, and “alt-right” figures successfully infected the scope of acceptable discourse in 2017 by regularly inserting racist right-wing extremism into the media conversation. From Confederate statues to the defense of the “It’s OK to be white” propaganda campaign on Fox News prime-time, the media normalized white supremacy during the first year of the Trump administration.

  • NBC Charlottesville affiliate shows how not to interview Richard Spencer

    Charlottesville's NBC29 failed to challenge Spencer on his white nationalist extremism

    Blog ››› ››› MADELINE PELTZ

    Billed as an exclusive "rare" interview, an NBC affiliate in Charlottesville, VA, aired a segment with well-known white nationalist Richard Spencer without highlighting the extent of his racist, anti-Semitic, "alt-right" hatemongering history.

    The segment, which was posted on NBC29’s website on October 11, was accompanied by an article that focused on Spencer's plans to continue leading hate rallies in Charlottesville, a community that fell victim to hate during the August 12 Unite the Right rally where a counter-protester was killed. Spencer used the local platform to advertise his white supremacist rallies, “vowing to come back to Charlottesville with smaller unannounced rallies" "until he gets a seat at the table.” The segment failed to mention that counter-protester Heather Heyer was killed by a white supremacist at the August 12 Unite the Right rally which Spencer headlined.

    The report did more to promote Spencer’s white nationalist think tank the National Policy Institute than it did to hold him accountable as a racist extremist and the self-proclaimed founder of the “alt-right.”

    According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Spencer has advocated the “peaceful ethnic cleansing” of minorities, called Martin Luther King Jr. a “fraud and degenerate”, and said that immigration is the “last stand” for white Americans. Spencer also claims that a ban on Muslims in Europe and the United States “must” be done and even likened homosexuality to a “birth defect.”

    Yet for some reason, this local media outlet still decided to give Spencer an uncritical platform. From the October 11 edition of NBC29’s HD News:

    HENRY GRAFF: Richard Spencer says he believes “history chose Charlottesville” but obviously going to UVA, living here after graduating, were also factors to bringing that fight here. Spencer says he admired that Robert E. Lee statue in that park when he lived here and the debate over that statue actually gave him an opportunity here which Spencer seized.

    [BEGIN SEGMENT]

    RICHARD SPENCER: We are not going away.

    GRAFF: A stern warning from the leader of the National Policy Institute. White nationalist Richard Spencer says this scene –

    PROTESTERS: The south with rise again!

    GRAFF: -- Of flames and fury

    PROTESTERS: You will not replace us!

    GRAFF: Marching through the streets of Charlottesville will be repeated.

    […]

    GRAFF: Spencer claims his views of white identity are being threatened and until he gets a seat at the table, Spencer and others are vowing to come back to Charlottesville with smaller unannounced rallies like the one on Saturday night.

    SPENCER: That event was tightly coordinated. It was -- everyone was operating on a need to know basis. It was an operation.

    GRAFF: Richard Spencer says interest has grown in the National Policy Institute located here in Alexandria since the events of August 12 in Charlottesville. While he couldn’t provide us specific numbers, he does say his message is now reaching a much larger audience.

    SPENCER: At some point, one can’t stifle any idea whose time has come.

    GRAFF: Spencer admits the torch rallies are meant to make a splash, give them an image, and communicate a message through the media who cover it. And just like his warning about coming back, Spencer feels just as confident about moving his message forward.

    SPENCER: They’re going to lose because I understand how to play this game and I’ll win.

    [END SEGMENT]

    GRAFF: When pressed, Spencer says torches he believes are not intimidating, in fact he actually described them to me as “beautiful, magical, and mystical.” He says they are not planning any more August 12th style rallies mainly because these smaller pop up torch rallies are very effective in getting his message across and not drawing too much attention from counter demonstrators.

    STEVE RAPPAPORT: Let’s talk about his last comment there, about this is a game, he’s going to win. A lot of people will argue it’s more than a game and he knows his legal rights obviously but he’s also said he knows what he’s doing in terms of what will incite people, what will anger people, what will get people going and emotions boiling.

    […]

    GRAFF: He knows how to play the city of Charlottesville.

    KASEY HOTT: And he’s going to continue doing it, he says.

  • Debunking right-wing media myths on DACA

    ››› ››› DINA RADTKE & MADELINE PELTZ

    Following President Donald Trump’s announcement that he would reverse the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), right-wing media rushed to praise Trump’s actions by stereotyping DACA recipients, or “Dreamers,” as criminals and gang members. They also falsely claimed that the program constitutes a form of “amnesty,” that DACA recipients take jobs from native-born Americans, that the program is unconstitutional, and that President Barack Obama did not take any action to pass comprehensive immigration reform during his tenure.

  • Amidst calamitous Harvey flooding, Pence speaks to a racist, a hurricane conspiracy theorist, and other right-wing radio hosts

    Blog ››› ››› SANAM MALIK & MADELINE PELTZ

    In the ongoing efforts to mitigate the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, Vice President Mike Pence appeared on several right-wing radio programs in Texas to give updates on the recovery and rescue efforts. According to the transcripts posted on the White House website, the vice president appeared to limit his radio outreach mostly to conservative shows, including Rush Limbaugh and Michael Berry, who is notorious for mocking black victims of gun violence in Chicago and other racist programming.

    Limbaugh has a history of using hurricanes to attack Democrats and further his fringe conspiracy theories. During Hurricane Matthew in October 2016, Limbaugh stated that “it's in the interest of the left to have destructive hurricanes because then they can blame it on climate change” and that the National Hurricane Center is “playing games” to convince people of climate change. Limbaugh also told his listeners that “there is politics in hurricanes” because “there are votes.”

    During Tropical Storm Isaac, Limbaugh questioned the National Hurricane Center’s forecasting, pointing out “the degree of coincidence” that the storm was headed for Tampa, the location of the National Republican Convention. Limbaugh implied, according to The Atlantic, that “the weather service was collaborating with the liberal media to invent narratives that are unpleasant for the GOP.”

    In 2016, Limbaugh attacked Hurricane Katrina victims as “liberals” on welfare who lacked “self-reliance.” He also compared the Katrina disaster to “a reality show.” In 2008 following significant flooding in the Midwest, Limbaugh minimized the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina relative to the floods and accused Katrina victims of “waving guns at helicopters,” “shooting cops,” and “raping people on the street.”

    As evidenced by the White House's posted list of transcripts of the vice president’s radio appearances, Pence appeared almost exclusively on conservative radio shows, including KTRH during a joint interview with Michael Berry and Shara Fryer. Berry has been known for making sexist, homophobic, anti-Muslim, and anti-African-American comments on his radio show.

    Berry has posted several racist videos to his show's YouTube channel that criticize African-Americans and has referred to African-Americans as “jungle animals,” “pack animals,” and used blackface comedian “Shirley Q. Liquor” on his show to tell jokes based on racial and religious stereotypes. Media Matters President Angelo Carusone pointed out to TheWrap that “the idea that the vice president would dignify that kind of a program with his office should be alarming.” Carusone said the fact that the White House has sent out transcripts of Pence’s interview with Berry shows that “they’re proud” of his appearance and “they’re not even hiding it.” When asked to explain the vice president’s choice, a White House official told TheWrap that Pence’s team was unaware Berry would be conducting the interview.

    Pence also granted an interview to Trey Ware, host of The Trey Ware Morning Show on KTSA. As reported by Right Wing Watch, Ware said America is suffering through riots, terrorist attacks, and same-sex marriages because it has left God. Pence also spoke to Chris Salcedo on The Chris Salcedo Show on KSEV. Salcedo is a conservative radio host in Houston who believes liberalism makes America "less successful" and that President Obama is “sympathetic to radical Islam.” And in a tweet about North Korea directed at far-right troll Jack Posobiec who has appeared on Salcedo's show, Salcedo claimed “This is the danger of uninformed libs. They’d sacrifice the lives of Americans just to prop up brutal dictators who starve their own people.”

  • Media have found their latest Trump pivot: General Kelly

    ››› ››› MADELINE PELTZ & SANAM MALIK

    Media figures promoted the idea that President Donald Trump’s administration is heading towards a reset, this time following the firing of White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci along with the swearing in of former Marine General John F. Kelly as the new White House chief of staff. Kelly’s move to chief of staff is just the latest example of the media’s obsession with the fantasy of a Trump “reset” that will never happen.

  • Trump ally Michael Savage cites white nationalist website, warns college students will be shot

    Savage: “Just think of the Kent State massacre. That’s how this is going to end.”

    Blog ››› ››› MADELINE PELTZ

    In the wake of the shooting at a GOP congressional baseball team practice, right-wing radio host and Trump ally Michael Savage cited the white nationalist website American Renaissance and invoked the Kent State shootings of 1970 as a warning for anti-Trump protesters.

    On June 14, James Hodgkinson gunman opened fire on a congressional baseball practice and shot five, including Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA). The attacker was shot by U.S. Capitol Police and later died from his injuries. 

    Savage responded to the shooting by citing the white nationalist website “American Renaissance” referring to “an interactive map” they published that identifies “two hundred acts of violence and hatred against Donald Trump supporters that have taken place since he declared his candidacy.”

    American Renaissance is a online magazine, published by white nationalist Jared Taylor. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Taylor “believes black people are genetically predisposed to lower IQs” than white peoples and that black peoples “are sexually promiscuous because of hyperactive sex drives.”

    Later in the show Savage warned, “acting out children who just think that they can shoot congressmen,” by saying “it’s not going to end well” for them. In his warning to anti-Trump protesters, Savage invoked the Kent State shootings, warning “I’ve lived through this before and I know how it ends. Just think of the Kent State massacre. That’s how this is going to end.” On May 4, 1970, 4 college students were killed by the Ohio National Guard during a campus protest against the Vietnam War.

  • Trump's media allies want him to fire special counsel Mueller - and he may be listening

    Blog ››› ››› MADELINE PELTZ

    President Donald Trump appears to be listening to right-wing media’s calls to fire Robert Mueller, the former FBI director who was appointed as special counsel in the investigation of Trump’s campaign and Russian officials.

    The same day that Newsmax CEO and Trump ally Chris Ruddy was seen leaving the West Wing, he appeared on PBS Newshour saying that the president is “considering perhaps terminating the special counsel.”

    Ruddy’s announcement comes after conservative media figures called for Trump to end the investigation and fire special counsel Mueller. On Fox News Sunday, Fox contributor Newt Gingrich attacked Mueller, claiming his investigation will “be a witch hunt” and saying Congress should “abolish” the special counsel. Other conservatives argued that the president has the legal authority to fire Mueller, citing his close friendship with ousted former FBI Director James Comey.  

    Fox News host Sean Hannity devoted an entire segment of his show to attempting to “expose” Mueller’s friendship with Comey, arguing that their friendship shows not only that the special counsel should be fired, but also that the entire investigation into the Trump campaign’s possible collusion with Russia should be shut down immediately:

    UPDATE: On the June 13 edition of CBS This Morning, Gingrich announced that Trump had called him the night before to discuss Mueller, saying, Trump "called me because I have been very clear about the fact that Mueller, hiring four Democrats, -- his first four attorneys are all Democrats, one of them worked for the Clinton Foundation. He apparently couldn't find a single pro-Trump attorney to hire, and I just think that that's a rigged game. And I think it's a mistake to pretend this is going to be a neutral investigation." Gingrich added, "In this kind of environment, I don't give the benefit of the doubt to somebody who can only hire Democrats who claims that we ought to trust him."  

  • Seth Rich's family sends cease and desist to Fox News contributor behind evidence-free smears

    Rich family: “Your statements and actions have caused, and continue to cause, the Family severe mental anguish and emotional distress”

    Blog ››› ››› MADELINE PELTZ

    According to NBC News, the family of murdered DNC employee Seth Rich sent a cease and desist order to Fox News contributor Rod Wheeler after his recent allegations led right wing media figures to smear Rich as the person responsible for providing WikiLeaks with DNC emails. Wheeler alleged that the murder was somehow related to a purported relationship between Rich and WikiLeaks, despite finding no evidence that Rich had ever been in contact with WikiLeaks. The Rich family previously demanded an apology but did not receive one.

    In a May 15 article and subsequent newscast, Fox 5 quoted Rod Wheeler as saying  “a source inside the police department” told him the department was “told to stand down on this case.” Wheeler also claimed it was “confirmed” that Rich had links to WikiLeaks. According to CNN, “no real evidence has been provided to support such claims and Washington's Metropolitan Police Department.”

    Right-wing media seized on this story with Sean Hannity and Lou Dobbs smearing Rich as potentially being behind the WikiLeaks release of DNC emails.  The right-wing One America News Network has also fueled the conspiracy, even offering $100,000 for information about Rich’s death during a conspiracy-fueled report.

    Conservative media’s exploitation of the Seth Rich murder spurred the family to threaten Wheeler with legal action, saying, “Your statements and actions have caused, and continue to cause, the Family severe mental anguish and emotional distress. Your behavior appears to have been deliberate, intentional, outrageous and in patent disregard of the Agreement and the obvious damage and suffering it would cause the family.” From a May 19 NBC News report:

    The family of slain Democratic staffer Seth Rich is threatening legal action against a private investigator after his "outrageous behavior" has given fuel to right-wing conspiracy theories about the unsolved murder of their son.

    An attorney representing the family of Rich, who was 27 when he was killed last July, sent a cease and desist letter Friday to Rod Wheeler, a Fox News contributor and former Washington, D.C., homicide detective who was employed by the family and earlier this week told a Fox affiliate that he believed police were covering up details about the crime.

    "Your statements and actions have caused, and continue to cause, the Family severe mental anguish and emotional distress. Your behavior appears to have been deliberate, intentional, outrageous, and in patent disregard of the Agreement and the obvious damage and suffering it would cause the Family," wrote Joseph Ingrisano of the law firm Katuk Rock, according to a copy of the letter shared exclusively with NBC News.

    "Your improper and unauthorized statements, many of which are false and have no basis in fact, have also injured the memory and reputation of Seth Rich and have defamed and injured the reputation and standing of the members of the Family," Ingrisano continued.

    The letter demands Wheeler "immediately and permanently" cease and desist from making any comments about Seth Rich or his death and suggests he could face further legal action either way.