Faded image of Ryan Walters overlayed on a purple backgrouund
Andrea Austria / Media Matters

Oklahoma is having right-wing media figures rewrite its social studies curriculum. Here’s what you need to know about them.

On July 9, Oklahoma’s superintendent of public instruction Ryan Walters announced that a number of people — many of them key figures in right-wing media — would be rewriting the social studies curriculum in the state.

The list includes right-wing hosts with ties to Walters like Steve Deace, Dennis Prager, and Stacy Washington. Also included is Kevin Roberts, the head of The Heritage Foundation, which has organized Project 2025.

Below is a selection of these right-wing media figures’ remarks — including many virulent anti-LGBTQ comments.

  • Walters, who has embraced right-wing curricula before, announces committee to rewrite Oklahoma’s social studies curriculum filled with right-wing media figures and close associates

    Ryan Walters
    • Walters announced an “executive review committee” to revise Oklahoma’s social studies curriculum. Members include Dennis Prager, Robert Pondiscio, David Barton, Kevin Roberts, Everett Piper, John Dwyer, David Goodwin, Mark Bauerlein, Steve Deace, and Stacy Washington. [Oklahoma State Department of Education, 7/9/24]

    • After implementing a mandate that the state’s public schools teach the Bible, Walters claimed that right-wing commentator and pastor Jackson Lahmeyer, who has promised to “embrace Christian nationalism” and previously ran for U.S. Senate in Oklahoma, encouraged him to implement such a policy last year. [Media Matters, 7/8/24]

    • Walters has a close relationship with BlazeTV host Steve Deace. In one appearance on Deace’s show, Walters thanked the host for “responding to late night calls and texts that I've given you throughout the last couple of years.” [Media Matters, 10/6/23]

    • Walters has approved PragerU Kids — which is widely criticized for pushing right-wing propaganda, such as including distorted histories about slavery in its history lessons — as curriculum for Oklahoma public schools. In one supposedly educational video, for instance, a cartoon version of Fredrick Douglass describes slavery as a “compromise to achieve something great.” [MSNBC, 9/7/23; Media Matters, 9/8/23; NBC, 8/10/23]

    • Walters appeared on PragerU founder Dennis Prager’s program to defend and praise the outlet’s far-right content after objections to its use in Oklahoma public schools. Walters told Prager: “Your product is allowing our kids to have that conversation, to be exposed to that type of curriculum, and that’s why they hate it so much. Because it undermines their very ability to control our kids doing indoctrination in our schools.” [Media Matters, 9/19/23; The Black Wall Street Times, 9/6/23]

    • Walters has appeared on Stacy Washington’s Salem show. [Twitter/X, 10/31/23]

    • Walters has appeared multiple times on the show of Kevin Roberts, current head of the Heritage Foundation. The Heritage Foundation has organized Project 2025, a comprehensive transition plan to guide the next GOP presidential administration. Project 2025 is the conservative movement’s most robust policy and staffing proposal for a potential second Trump White House — and its extreme agenda represents a threat to democracy, civil rights, the climate, and more. [YouTube, 4/3/24, 9/6/23; Media Matters, 3/20/24]

  • Dennis Prager

    Dennis Prager is an anti-LGBTQ pundit who has hosted The Dennis Prager Show since 1999. In 2009, he founded the conservative nonprofit organization PragerU, which publishes short videos on political and international issues.

    • Dennis Prager’s PragerU features misleading history lessons. “A cartoon Booker T. Washington distorting the history of the Civil War. A narrator explaining that embracing climate denialism is akin to participating in the Warsaw Uprising. An instructional video telling girls that conforming to gender stereotypes is a great way to embrace their femininity. A dramatization of the supposedly civilizing, benevolent era of British colonial rule in India. These are just some of the episodes of PragerU Kids — an offshoot of right-wing propaganda organization PragerU — that Florida has just approved for use in its public school classrooms, reflecting and potentially accelerating the state’s hard conservative turn.” [Media Matters, 7/27/23]

    • Prager: “Left-wing Jews are of no help to the Jewish people.” [The Salem Radio Network, The Dennis Prager Show, 9/26/23]

    • Prager: “The vast majority of your kids' teachers lie about whites.” [The Salem Radio Network, The Dennis Prager Show, 8/8/23]

    • Prager said that “if there's racist graffiti at a college or at a high school" he assumes “it was Black kids that did it.” [The Salem Radio Network, The Dennis Prager Show, 3/16/23]

    • Prager: “Women, until the recent past, did not regard" sexual harassment “as trauma.” [The Salem Radio Network, The Dennis Prager Show, 3/15/23]

    • Prager: “What has any fifth-grader done to have made the world better because he or she is in it?” [The Salem Radio Network, The Dennis Prager Show, 9/15/22]

    • Prager: “There's no secular argument against adult incest.” [The Salem Radio Network, The Dennis Prager Show, 10/11/22]

    • Prager complained that most LGBTQ+ people are incapable of thinking “as a person, not just as a gay.” [The Salem Radio Network, The Dennis Prager Show, 6/8/22

    • Prager: “I don't know why women are disproportionately wrecking the West. I don't know why. But it is a fact. Look at the teachers unions.” [The Salem Radio Network, The Dennis Prager Show, 2/13/23]

    • Prager has said that same-sex marriage will lead to legalized incest and polygamy and has argued instead for a definition of matrimony that requires women to consent to sex with their husbands as often as possible, regardless of their “mood.” Prager later defended his claim that women should have sex with their husbands even if they don’t want to, saying: “If you love your husband and he is a good man, then don't let mood alone determine whether or not you'll have sex with him, because it's an important thing to him, so give it a try, OK?” [Media Matters, 3/18/14;  The Salem Radio Network, The Dennis Prager Show, 10/31/18]

    • Prager: “January 6 is a smokescreen like the Nazis used the Reichstag fire. That's all it is.” [The Salem Radio Network, The Dennis Prager Show, 1/6/22]

  • David Barton

    David Barton

    Citation Daily Wire / YouTube  

    David Barton is a pseudo-historian and Christian nationalist well-known for spreading the idea that the country was supposed to be a Christian nation.

    • On WallBuilders Live! influential Christian nationalist David Barton and his son Tim Barton frequently criticized the separation between church and state. The elder Barton reportedly “has the ear” of House Speaker Mike Johnson. [Texas Tribune, 11/3/23; Vox, 1/25/18; Southern Poverty Law Center, accessed 7/10/243; National Association for Christian Lawmakers, accessed 11/30/23]

    • David Barton is a pseudo-historian well-known for spreading the idea that the country was supposed to be a Christian nation. He recently applauded churches and Christians for getting more involved with education and school boards during a speech in which he argued for incorporating Christmas and the country’s motto, “In God We Trust,” back into schools. He also encouraged students to push for prayers in school because “it’s OK to have prayer in schools if students lead it.” [Media Matters, 6/14/23]

    • David Barton claimed God is blocking a cure for HIV/AIDS to punish LGBTQ people. Right-wing pseudo-historian and event speaker David Barton has a long history of spreading anti-LGBT rhetoric, including claiming that God is preventing scientists from finding a cure for HIV/AIDS as a “consequence” of “homosexual behavior,” questioning why the federal government doesn’t “regulate homosexuality” like it does trans fats, and declaring that “homosexual indoctrination” is found in public schools. In the 1990s, Barton spoke at events hosted by the racist and antisemitic Christian Identity movement, which asserts that Jews are “the synagogue of Satan” and that Black people and other people of color are “subhuman.” [Right Wing Watch, 4/27/12, 1/24/11; Media Matters, 10/7/10, 10/7/10]

    • Opposing military service by gay people, Barton argued homosexuality “was long considered too morally abhorrent and reprehensible to openly discuss.” In a 2001 post to the website for his group Wallbuilders, Barton posited his historical basis for “maintaining the ban on homosexuals in the military.” [Media Matters, 8/23/11]

    • Barton reportedly twice spoke to the antisemitic Christian Identity movement and claimed that the United States was founded as an explicitly Christian nation. In its 1994 book, The Religious Right: The Assault on Tolerance & Pluralism in America, the Anti-Defamation League wrote that Barton “purveys a slick, cut-and-paste revisionist history of the United States and the Constitution.” ADL further stated that Barton spoke at events hosted by the Christian Identity movement, which “asserts that Jews are 'the synagogue of Satan'; that Blacks and other people of color are subhuman; and that northern European whites and their American descendants are the 'chosen people' of scriptural prophesy.” Barton later claimed he was not aware that the events were hosted by groups with a racist ideology. [Media Matters, 5/20/11]

  • Kevin Roberts

    Kevin Roberts is the president of the Heritage Foundation, the right-wing think tank leading Project 2025.

    • Heritage Foundation President Kevin Roberts celebrated the Supreme Court immunity decision: “We are in the process of the second American Revolution, which will remain bloodless if the left allows it to be.” [Real America’s Voice, War Room, 7/2/24

    • Roberts: Project 2025 framework will carry on for the next 10 years. [MSNBC, The Weekend, 6/22/24

    • Roberts called Project 2025 the “second American Revolution” intended “for the next century in the United States.” [Real America’s Voice, War Room, 6/22/24

    • Roberts wrote in the foreword to Project 2025’s policy book that “the Left is threatening the tax-exempt status of churches and charities that reject woke progressivism,” adding that “they will soon turn to Christian schools and clubs with the same totalitarian intent.” [Media Matters, 3/20/24]

  • Steve Deace

    Steve Deace is a host for BlazeTV who has made many anti-abortion and anti-LGBTQ remarks.

    • Deace: “They'll go from trans-ing the kids to euthanizing them.” [BlazeTV, The Steve Deace Show 6/20/23]

    • Deace called for the Catholic Church to issue a “fatwa” on the entire Los Angeles Dodgers organization for hosting an LGBTQ group. [BlazeTV, The Steve Deace Show 5/24/23]

    • Deace called Vice President Kamala Harris “one of Montel Williams' hoes.” [BlazeTV, The Steve Deace Show 4/12/23]

    • During a 2015 GOP primary debate, Deace posted about then-Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina: “Wow ... Fiorina goes full vagina right away.” He later retracted the statement. [Media Matters, 1/3/16]

    • Deace suggested divorce may make children gay. [USA Radio Networks, Steve Deace Show, 5/27/15]

    • Deace spent 13 minutes defending a pundit whose racist and antisemitic messages were published by Breitbart. [BlazeTV, The Steve Deace Show 6/28/23]

    • Deace called a Kentucky clerk refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses “a modern-day Rosa Parks.” [Media Matters, 9/3/15]

    • Deace on Trump's fake electors scheme: “Joan of Arc's a hero today. At the time, she was burned at the stake for doing things like this.” [BlazeTV, The Steve Deace Show 7/20/23]

    • Deace: Supporters of equal rights for LGBTQ people are part of a “rainbow jihad.” In a Washington Times column headlined “The Rainbow Jihad Of The Cultural Marxists,” Deace attacked LGBT supporters whom he claimed have “hijacked” the rainbow, declaring that “most of the media are all in for the rainbow jihad.” [Media Matters, 7/31/15]

    • Deace: “Jesus says Obama is not a Christian." [Media Matters, 7/31/15]

    • Deace: John McCain's political career “nullifie[s] any purpose to his persevering” as a Vietnam prisoner of war. In a 2013 article headlined “From American Hero to American Zero” in Townhall.com, Deace wrote that then-Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) had “nullified any purpose” of surviving as a prisoner of war because he has supported bipartisan cooperation in Congress. [Media Matters, 7/31/15]

  • Stacy Washington

    Stacy Washington with Donald Trump

    Photo from Washington’s Facebook page.

    Stacy Washington is a commentator, radio host, and Air Force veteran who has appeared in many right-wing outlets. She was formerly a host of a program aired on American Family Radio, the radio arm of extreme anti-LGBTQ group American Family Association, before the network culled much of its programming and its dedicated Urban Family Communications network.

    • Trump surrogate and right-wing radio host Stacy Washington praised Russia’s LGBTQ crackdown and touted discredited and harmful conversion therapy. [Media Matters, 1/29/20]

    • Washington promoted conspiracy theories about the 2020 presidential election. On Newsmax, Washington said, “There's no way I believe that Joe Biden got 81 million votes. If he did, why did he have to lock the Capitol down for his inauguration? He should have had the biggest celebration in the history of this country.” [Newsmax, Wake Up America, 2/1/21]

    • Washington promoted Steve Bannon’s allegedly fraudulent “We Build the Wall” effort. [Media Matters, 8/20/20]