Following backlash from far-right figures, Fox News edited an already published column to remove criticism of extreme-right figure Nick Fuentes, instead characterizing him as just an anti-vaccine activist. After the edits were stealthily made, Fuentes thanked Fox.
Fuentes is a Holocaust-denying white nationalist who attended the deadly 2017 white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, and encouraged the January 6 insurrection. He also led a campaign to have followers for his group, America First, harass those who they perceived as more mainstream conservatives. Fuentes called this the “Groyper War,” with his followers calling themselves “Groypers” and claiming membership in a “Groyper Army.”
On November 8, Fuentes reportedly announced that he would be holding an event in Staten Island, New York, later in the week. Per journalist Nick Martin, Fuentes planned to end his event at Mac’s Public House, which had infamously defied COVID-19 protocols earlier in the pandemic, leading to glowing coverage on Fox News. (The owner was indicted over the flouted protocols at Mac’s, though he escaped charges for allegedly running over a sheriff’s deputy with a vehicle while fleeing arrest.)
As The Daily Beast’s Will Sommer reported on Sunday, Fox News posted an article about the Fuentes march but then edited it after far-right backlash:
The article’s original headline read “Antifa members clash with White nationalists over COVID vaccine mandate outside NYC’s Gracie Mansion.” The first version of the article described how Fuentes’ fans call themselves “groypers,” and included an Anti-Defamation League description of them “as a white supremacist group.”
The story soon prompted online criticism from Fuentes and other far-right activists, including columnist Michelle Malkin. On social media app Telegram, Fuentes declared that Fox was “scum” for quoting the ADL.
“Fox News using ADL talking points about me and AF,” Fuentes wrote. “Scum.”
Within a few hours of its initial publication, Fox had edited the article and its headline to remove every mention of Fuentes’ name. The headline’s reference to “White nationalists” was removed, and changed to describe Fuentes followers instead as “anti-vaccine protesters.”
Fox also deleted references to the Anti-Defamation League’s criticism of Fuentes. The initial article included a quote from the ADL and the sentence, “The Anti-Defamation League considers the ‘Groyper Army’ as a white supremacist group.” Both lines were absent in the article’s new version.
After the edits, Fuentes was thrilled with the whitewash:
Fox News personalities have galvanized around the white nationalist great replacement theory, with Tucker Carlson name-checking it on air (to the delight of Fuentes). The ADL has called for Carlson to be fired as a result, with Carlson responding, “Fuck them.”
In his letter supporting Carlson, Fox Corp. CEO Lachlan Murdoch talked about how he and his father “support” the ADL and share its values.
Apparently, that respect stops when enough white nationalists and other extremists complain on Telegram.