Right-wing media are exploiting the ethnicity of the Monterey Park shooter to downplay dangers of white supremacy and anti-Asian hate

John Bachman and Representative Kevin Kiley (R-CA) above the chyron "anti-Asian hate narrative returns"

Instead of focusing on the tragic deaths of nearly a dozen people committed by the Monterey Park shooter at a Lunar New Year celebration on Saturday, right-wing media have spent their coverage emphasizing that the shooter's Asian heritage proves that white supremacy is not a threat. 

On January 22, a Lunar New Year celebration in Monterey Park, California, was the target of a mass shooting, with 11 people killed and many others injured by the shooter. This tragedy comes on the heels of an alarming increase in hate crimes against Asian communities during the COVID-19 pandemic, including the shooting of eight people at spas in Atlanta, Georgia. Former President Donald Trump also notably used inflammatory rhetoric against Asian people, repeatedly referring to COVID-19 as “kung flu” and “the China virus.” Experts have linked his language with a notable surge in anti-Asian attacks and violence. 

With their own long-standing history of anti-Asian bigotry and racism, right-wing media quickly used reporting of the Monterey Park shooter’s Asian heritage to dismiss the threats of white supremacy and anti-Asian racism. Right-wing outlets and figures argued that the shooter’s background threw “the ‘white supremacy’ narrative out the window” and that any efforts to link the shooting to racism were the products of leftist propaganda. While the shooter in this instance may not have been white, that does not negate the harrowing reality of increasing anti-Asian hate crimes or the real-world danger of white supremacist violence. 

Here are examples of right-wing media using the Monterey Park shooter’s heritage to suggest that white supremacy and anti-Asian racism are not a threat: 

  • Fox News published an article titled “Schumer, Schiff, other liberals blame Monterey Park shooting on 'bigotry' before facts come out.” 
  • The Gateway Pundit smeared one TikTok user as a “deranged communist” for claiming that mass shootings are a part of U.S. culture, writing, “It didn’t take long for one leftist lunatic to blame white dominant culture for the shooting.” 
  • The Washington Times mocked concerns about anti-Asian American Pacific Islander violence in a piece headlined, “Dems quick to blame ‘bigotry’ in California shooting before suspect identified.”
  • PJ Media refused to recognize the seriousness of white supremacy, writing that “the usual suspects blame ‘bigotry’ without waiting for the facts. … No motive has been announced, but it certainly isn’t ‘anti-Asian hate.’”
  • Twitchy.com boasted that “gun-grabbing Lefties” are “devastated” that the gunman was “NOT an evil Right-wing white supremacist.” Instead of recognizing the shooting as a horrible tragedy, the article went on to claim: “We expect this story will only be around for as long as gun-grabbers can milk it to push their narrative. Without an evil WHITE GUY to use as an example of how evil the Right is though, there won’t be much interest in this, especially if it was a domestic dispute gone REALLY wrong.”
  • Far-right commentator Ian Miles Cheong mocked concerns about the attack being racially motivated, tweeting, “The Monterey Park shooter is described as an Asian male. There goes the ‘white supremacy’ narrative out the window.”
  • Instead of recognizing the tragedy of the shooting, right-wing pundit Liz Wheeler celebrated that the attack doesn’t fit the “political narrative” of the left: “It's only a matter of minutes until the left goes silent about the mass shooting in Monterey Park because the shooter was a middle-aged Asian man and he didn't use an ‘assault weapon’ so it doesn't suit the leftist political narrative.”
  • Discussing the alleged shooter’s Asian heritage, Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade complained, “Here's the amazing thing: When people knew almost nothing, right away it's guns, bigotry, and white supremacy. No one knew anything about the case except for ‘10 shot,’ and all of a sudden everyone just goes to the knee-jerk reaction.” 
  • After calling the shooting “an Asian-on-Asian attack,” Newsmax host John Bachman claimed that “some people in the media and government are using the anti-Asian hate to score political points or to support a certain narrative.” Rep. Kevin Kiley (R-CA) agreed that some people, “before we really have any facts at all, are already jumping to conclusions and trying to exploit the tragedy to promote their own narrative or for their own political interest.” 
  • Mocking reporting from USA Today that the shooting has “revived the fears and trauma brought on by a wave of hate incidents and tragedies that have struck the community over the last few years,” PJ Media columnist Steven Green wrote, “Because everything must be blamed on racism or anti-whatever ‘phobia.’ Even when there’s no racism or phobia to be found. It’s better for The Cause to stir up fear, hate, and division than to honestly report the news.”
  • Townhall’s Matt Vespa dismissed concerns about racially motivated violence from the media, writing, “You already know why this story isn’t going anywhere, or at least not getting the same intense reporting: the shooter wasn’t a white male. It was an Asian guy.” The piece concluded that “the sick part is that this serial embarrassment from their participation in identity politics makes these trip-ups a punchline.”