Frank Gaffney, who is reportedly advising President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team, previously praised and promoted the “wonderful” work of leading white nationalist Jared Taylor. Gaffney later retracted the adulation after criticism.
Trump’s presidential transition period has already been marred by ties to white nationalism. He appointed Stephen Bannon, who has a history of pushing anti-Semitism and white nationalist “alt-right” views, to a senior White House position. Trump's entrance into politics has energized and emboldened the white nationalist movement.
Gaffney is the founder and president of the Center for Security Policy, which has been designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). Gaffney has questioned President Obama's birth certificate; was banned from the Conservative Political Action Conference after accusing prominent conservatives of somehow being Muslim Brotherhood operatives; and has been described by SPLC as “one of America's most notorious Islamophobes.” Media Matters and a coalition of civil rights groups last month released a report documenting anti-Muslim extremists who regularly appear in the media, including Gaffney, and called on the media to hold them accountable for their rhetoric.
Gaffney hosted Jared Taylor on the September 29, 2015, edition of his Secure Freedom Radio program. The Southern Poverty Law Center, which first noted Taylor's appearance, wrote that Taylor is one of the country's “most outspoken and prominent white nationalists.” The non-profit group explained that Taylor hosts a conference “where racist intellectuals rub shoulders with Klansmen, neo-Nazis and other white supremacists” and “founded the New Century Foundation, a pseudo-intellectual think tank that promotes 'research' arguing for white superiority.”
As Media Matters previously documented, Gaffney introduced Taylor by saying, “I'm very pleased to have him with us. He is the editor of a wonderful online publication, American Renaissance ... and the author of six books, including White Identity.” SPLC wrote that American Renaissance “has been one of the vilest white nationalist publications, often promoting eugenics and blatant anti-black and anti-Latino racists. In 2005 for example, after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, Taylor wrote, 'When blacks are left entirely to their own devices, Western Civilization -- any kind of civilization -- disappears.'”
The Anti-Defamation League wrote that Taylor “upholds racial homogeneity as the key to fostering peaceful coexistence,” and they called American Renaissance a “white supremacist journal.”
During the interview, Gaffney and Taylor attacked the “invasion” of Muslim refugees worldwide. Gaffney warned about the alleged dangers of Muslim refugees regarding violence and Sharia law, and later suggested such problems could come to the United States "if President Obama has his way.”
Gaffney concluded by telling Taylor: “I appreciate tremendously the work you're doing at American Renaissance and The New Century Foundation. Keep it up and get back to us again very soon.”
Following the controversy, the Center for Security Policy posted a statement on its website claiming Gaffney “strongly disagrees” with “much” of the American Renaissance website and “Had due diligence been done beforehand, such disagreements would have resulted in Mr. Taylor not being invited on the show, routine compliments to such guests not made and an offer to appear again not extended.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center noted that Gaffney’s backtracking rang hollow since he “wasn’t repulsed by Taylor’s views and complimented American Renaissance [during the interview]. That's not surprising given Gaffney's own comments.”
UPDATE: Trump spokesman Jason Miller has claimed that Gaffney is not advising the transition team. NBC News reported that though the Trump camp has “denied that Gaffney is advising the team, a source close to Gaffney said while he's not formally involved, he ‘has advised them on nominees and policy through [former UN Ambassador John] Bolton and [Ret. Gen. Mike] Flynn,’ both advisers to Trump's transition.” Gaffney reportedly released a statement that he “had not been contacted by anyone from the team and appreciate the campaign's clarification today.” He added, “I look forward to helping President-elect & the national security-minded team he is assembling in whatever way I can.”