Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate and state Sen. Doug Mastriano did an interview with Andrew Torba, the CEO of the social media platform Gab, which is known as a haven for white nationalists. During the interview, Torba and Mastriano, who is a front-runner in the Republican gubernatorial primary, praised each other, with Mastriano saying, “Thank God for what you’ve done.”
Founded in 2016, Gab is known for giving a platform to numerous white nationalist figures, including the alleged shooter behind the 2018 mass shooting at a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, synagogue that killed 11 people. The platform has also sponsored events by white nationalist Nick Fuentes’ group and white nationalist outlet VDare. Torba has regularly pushed Fuentes’ content, lauded the Capitol insurrection as it was happening, and urged the insurrectionists to storm the U.S. Senate. He also promoted a call for then-President Donald Trump to declare martial law and overturn the 2020 election, endorsed the white nationalist “great replacement” conspiracy theory, and cheered Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as Ukraine being “liberated and cleansed from the degeneracy of the secular western globalist empire.”
Leading up to the interview, Torba repeatedly promoted Mastriano’s campaign. During the interview, Mastriano pushed false voter fraud claims after Torba spurred him on, and he praised Torba for “giving us a platform for free speech.” At one point, he told Torba, “Thank God for what you’ve done” and also told him he “liked that one meme” that Torba shared. Torba, in turn, lauded Mastriano, saying, “What I really like about you is that you have a backbone, you have a spine, and you’re a fighter.” Right after the interview, Mastriano claimed Gab and Torba “has a reach of like 4 million people, which is fantastic, and apparently about a million of them are in Pennsylvania, so we’ll have some good reach.” He also promoted the interview on his social media, and Torba aired the interview on Fuentes’ streaming platform.
There has been an increasing number of Republican political figures using Gab. Mastriano previously pushed the far-right QAnon conspiracy theory, appeared on a QAnon show, and attended an event hosted by QAnon supporters and featuring QAnon material. He has also been linked to a QAnon-connected “coalition” to recruit and elect secretary of state candidates around the country (in Pennsylvania, the governor appoints the secretary of state). Mastriano was also apparently present outside the United States Capitol during the January 6 insurrection and was subpoenaed by the House January 6 select committee.