After openly gay presidential candidate Pete Buttigeg helped a child come out as gay, The Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh freaked out that progressives will legalize pedophilia, claiming, “I can predict that nearly every leftist who today is arguing that 3-year-olds can choose their gender” will eventually “be arguing in favor of legalizing pedophilia.”
On February 22, a 9-year-old asked Buttigieg to “help me tell the world I'm gay” at a campaign rally. Walsh responded by calling him “creepy Pete,” going on a rant about child sex and pedophilia, and claiming Buttigieg was “exploiting a child's emotional confusion.”
Walsh is a podcast host and columnist for The Daily Wire, a right-wing website that regularly promotes extremely anti-LGBTQ, racist, sexist, and anti-abortion rhetoric. The Daily Wire has several anti-LGBTQ pundits with large media platforms: Walsh, Michael Knowles, Andrew Klavan, and Ben Shapiro, who is the site’s founder. They routinely push hateful rhetoric and play an influential role in making transphobic content go viral.
Last year, Walsh led The Daily Wire’s online crusade against the mother of a trans child in Texas involved in a custody battle over whether to affirm the child’s gender identity. Walsh’s article on the topic said the mother “should be locked in prison for the rest of her life” and earned over 282,000 interactions on Facebook. Other related content on The Daily Wire has earned more than a million interactions outside of Walsh’s blog. Walsh also started a hashtag to promote the case on Twitter, which was promoted by Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). The online outrage eventually inspired a state government investigation into the mother, who was subjected to harassment, vandalism, and threats on her life. The Daily Wire’s coverage of this situation helped set the stage for a slate of state-level anti-trans bills that would prevent youth from accessing life-saving affirming medical care.
Further, The Daily Wire provides a notable example of how social media sites allow right-wing content disseminators to break rules -- and how successful the outlet's content is online. According to a Popular Information investigation, The Daily Wire operates a “clandestine network of 14 large Facebook pages that purport to be independent but exclusively promote content from The Daily Wire in a coordinated fashion,” also noting that ”this kind of ‘inauthentic coordinated behavior’ violates Facebook's rules.” The Daily Wire has leveraged this network in the past to fearmonger about trans athletes and spread dangerous misinformation about health care for trans youth.