On November 22, former President Donald Trump dined with Ye and Nick Fuentes, a known antisemite and white nationalist, at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida. Facing widespread backlash, Trump responded to reports of the meeting by denying that he was aware of who Fuentes is and stating that Ye — the artist formerly known as Kanye West — “unexpectedly showed up with three of his friends, whom I knew nothing about.” Right-wing media figures were divided on the meeting, with some condemning Trump and his team's lack of judgment and others either deflecting blame onto Ye for the surprise guest or dismissing reports of the meeting as part of another smear campaign against Trump.
Fuentes, who rose to prominence after he attended the deadly 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, has been the leader of the white nationalist “groyper” movement and a prominent “Stop the Steal” organizer. On his podcast, Fuentes has likened himself to Adolf Hitler, encouraged killing lawmakers ahead of the January 6 insurrection, and frequently goes on antisemitic, racist, sexist, and anti-LGBTQ tirades.
Ye has recently made a number of antisemitic and conspiratorial remarks that resulted in both celebration from right-wing extremists and his own short-lived suspension from Twitter. Shortly after dining at Mar-a-Lago, Ye announced his 2024 presidential bid, with Milo Yiannapoulos — the former Breitbart editor and pedophile defender who once interned for Rep. Marjorie Taylor-Greene (R-GA) — reported to be managing the campaign.
The mixed right-wing reactions to Trump’s dinner with Ye and Fuentes come amid the growing conservative anxiety over Trump’s 2024 presidential campaign and the post-midterms finger-pointing many right-wing outlets have directed against Trump.
Right-wing figures defending Trump
Many right-wing media figures came to Trump's defense, claiming he was played by Ye and taking the former president at his word that he didn’t know who Fuentes is. Others expressed a full-throated defense of Trump, attempting to paint the reaction to the dinner as yet another instance of a yearslong smear campaign against Trump.
- Conservative cartoonist Scott Adams directly blamed Ye and ignored Trump’s role, tweeting on November 25 that the rapper “just took out the frontrunner. Will he form a third party?” On November 27, Adams tweeted a 2017 article from The Hill about Trump “taking on the intelligence community and its assessments on Russia’s cyber activities,” writing, “If your pattern recognition isn't setting off alarms about Ye and Fuentes trying to end Trump, this might help.”
- Newsmax’s Eric Bolling used the November 26 episode of his show to blame the meeting on Ye, claiming that the rapper “brings this character Nick Fuentes, and I don’t think Trump knew that was happening,” before Bikers for Trump founder Chris Cox defended Trump by stating he was “caught off guard."
- Conservative commentator Will Chamberlain tweeted on November 26 that “Trump had dinner with a prominent antisemite, that was stupid. It doesn't mean Trump himself is antisemitic, he's not, it means that his operation is still incredibly unprofessional despite the fact that it's been running for seven years.”
- National Pulse Editor-in-Chief Raheem J. Kassam tweeted on November 26, “I’m not sure that if I were Donald Trump, I’d have know who Nick Fuentes was by face. As Nick Fuentes himself said in a clip shared on this website earlier?”
- On November 26, commentator Terrence K. Williams tweeted several times in Trump's defense, claiming, “Trump is not a racist or a White Supremacist. Let’s stop spreading lies.” A half-hour later, he tweeted, “Rosa Parks loved President Trump. If he was a #WhiteSupremacists I don’t think she would have took a picture with him.” The following day, he proclaimed, “I’m getting tired of people calling Trump racist & a white supremacist. He is not racist and everything is not racist!”
- Conservative talk radio host and Fox News contributor Leo Terrell similarly focused on Ye, tweeting on November 27 that he should “get some help and stay away from President Trump. #Trump2024.
- In response to those condemning Trump for his dinner guests, radio show host Jesse Kelly tweeted on November 27: “I’m so embarrassed by our side sometimes. How weak and pathetic we are. ‘I condemn this and condemn her and have you condemned him and you haven’t condemned that.’ Barf. Bunch of freaking weaklings. Stop. Playing. Defense. You. Losers. Offense. At all times. Offense.”
- Responding to Jesse Kelly’s tweet later that day, American Greatness writer Julie Kelly wrote, “They fall for it every time—dumbest performative politics I’ve ever seen. ... WHO CARES ABOUT A DINNER grow up.”
Right-wing figures condemning Trump
Many right-wing media figures and outlets criticized Trump for his decision to meet with Ye and Fuentes, with some assuming that he lied about not knowing who Fuentes is, and and others attacking Trump's continued refusal to condemn his guests' hateful rhetoric. Others took a softer approach, claiming that the dinner was a campaign misstep for Trump rather than another instance of the 2024 presidential hopeful fraternizing with white supremacists and antisemites.
- On November 25, Fox columnist David Marcus tweeted, “Trump is too Twitter savvy not to know who Fuentes is. He pulled the same thing with pretending he had no idea who David Duke was in 16. The angle is a kind of free speech absolutist position mixed with refusal to bend the knee. But it’s getting old.”
- On November 25, Washington Examiner writer Kimberly Ross tweeted, “You can’t and shouldn’t attempt to defend Trump having dinner with Nick Fuentes. So don’t even try.”
- Right-wing radio host Michael Savage slammed the former president for the meeting, tweeting on November 25, “Why would TRUMP dine with the Black racist West & Fuentes the HOLOCAUST denier?”
- Right-wing commentator Will Chamberlain tweeted on November 25, “Say what you will about Ron DeSantis, he doesn't just randomly have dinner with antisemites.” Chamberlain dismissed the idea that Trump didn’t know who he was hosting, declaring, “Fuentes has been playing the tar baby game for years.Trump's been running for President for more than seven years, and there's still not a professional operation in place to stop stuff like this from happening?”
- The Washington Examiner’s Byron York tweeted a report from Breitbart detailing the dinner on November 25, adding, “A former president, now in another campaign, just can’t have enough disreputable people at the table.”
- Bulwark editor Bill Kristol tweeted on November 26: “Aren’t there five decent Republicans in the House who will announce they won’t vote for anyone for Speaker who doesn’t denounce their party’s current leader, Donald Trump, for consorting with the repulsive neo-Nazi Fuentes?”
- On November 26, The Bulwark Culture Editor Sonny Bunch tweeted, “Denouncing Nick Fuentes is an easy win. The people being called on to denounce him should do so.”
- On November 26, The Hill columnist Joe Concha tweeted, “There’s no defending having dinner with Kanye West or Nick Fuentes after what they’ve said particularly about Jewish people. Everything else is just noise.”
- Townhall’s Kurt Schlichter tweeted on November 26: “I expect a presidential candidate in my party to know exactly who he is sitting down to have dinner with. I will not make excuses for a presidential candidate in my party failing to perform the most basic acts of organizational discipline. You can if you want. I won’t.” Schlichter later attempted to largely blame Trump's campaign staff, tweeting, “There is no set of facts where a guy who was the president and is running for president again sits down anywhere near a guy like Nick Fuentes and it is not a complete screwup. It may have been one of his minions who let it happen, but he’s the boss so he gets the blame.”
- Fox News columnist Bethany S. Mandel tweeted on November 26: “The most charitable reading of the Ye / NF meeting with Trump is that he was okay with Ye’s antisemitism and his staff didn’t bother doing the very very basic due diligence of asking everyone with him for ID and running a quick Google search. You don’t get more unserious.”
- On the November 26 edition of former Trump strategist Steve Bannon’s War Room podcast, The Post Millenial’s Libby Emmons said the dinner “feels like a massive trolling operation that someone was perhaps looking to disrupt Trump.” She went on to call the meeting “abysmal” and further speculated that Ye may be “trying to get in Trump’s way to a certain extent.
- During the November 27 edition of Fox News’ MediaBuzz, right-wing columnist Meghan McCain slammed Trump’s decision to have dinner with Ye and Fuentes, saying, “He shouldn't be meeting with Kanye West, period, after the virulent antisemitic bile he's been saying and tweeting and doing for weeks on end. We've all, unfortunately, had a front row seat to watching this kind of extremely dangerous bile at a time where antisemitic hate crimes are at a historic high.”
- In a pointed tweet from November 27, Daily Wire founder Ben Shapiro criticized Trump for allowing the dinner at all: “A good way not to accidentally dine with a vile racist and anti-Semite you don't know is not to dine with a vile racist and anti-Semite you do know.”
- On the November 28 edition of Newsmax’s Wake Up America, host Mark Halperin said Trump “shouldn't have had the dinner, and he should more explicitly denounce it. It'll prove to be a distraction of the kind we've seen before. But this isn't the right way to keep his core team united because many of them are deeply troubled by the president – former president – holding this event, and his unwillingness to condemn the views of those who he dined with.” Newsmax contributor Kelly Sadler called the dinner “a stupid self-inflicted wound” and that the fact that the dinner even happened “shows you how President Trump's team is very small and disorganized.” Sadler also claimed she believes Trump when he said that he had no knowledge of who Fuentes is, but Trump’s lack of knowledge “doesn't excuse him for sitting down at the table with him and Ye, who clearly has some mental issues going on right now.”