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.
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.
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.