The Periscope that shows how there's no difference between the “new right” and “alt-right”

Lucian Wintrich's Periscope video featured praise for Hitler, racial slurs, homophobic imagery, and a swastika flag

Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

For over an hour and a half, Gateway Pundit’s White House correspondent Lucian Wintrich broadcast a Periscope session that was meant to show “three gentlemen ... exchang[ing] ideas” but in actuality featured praise for Adolf Hitler, racial slurs, homophobic imagery, and a swastika flag. If Wintrich and his companions were aiming to troll and trigger social-justice-warrior (SJW) snowflakes, they had just the right ingredients: Consider me triggered! However, the Periscope session -- dubbed “Alt-Right Vs New Right, Debate Of The Century” -- managed to do a lot more by also offering clear evidence that the attempt to rebrand the “new right” as different from the toxic “alt-right” is merely performative, and that the movements are more alike than dissimilar.

The October 18 Periscope video, an episode of Wintrich’s podcast Wintrich Report, featured “new right” personality Ali Akbar, an avid supporter of President Donald Trump, and Matt Colligan, who goes by “Millennial Matt” online and was a participant of the “Unite the Right” white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, VA. Wintrich and Akbar kicked off the broadcast by setting the rules of engagement, which included Akbar clarifying, “We’re not going to be mean. We’re not going to be super racist -- funny racist is a whole different story. And for the most part, we’re going to leave ethnicities alone, but there’s no problem talking about power structures and people who control certain industries and stuff like that.”

The “honest exchange of ideas” included Millennial Matt waving a swastika flag in front of the camera, saying “Adolf Hitler, he was a great man,” and referring to white nationalist Richard Spencer as “a good guy.” Wintrich passionately defended Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee as “one of the most brilliant generals that has come out of the United States” and bemoaned that his “legacy” was being destroyed. Both Wintrich and Akbar sat through the conversation and laughed at Millennial Matt’s jokes -- including his sporting of a T-shirt that read “Fags R gay” -- only politely objecting, “We don’t fully share views,” but with Wintrich eventually seeking common ground in the argument that “there are huge cultural problems where white people in this country are being demonized.”   

The Periscope session  follows months of ostensible feuding and debating between representatives of the two factions, led by -- in one corner -- Will Chamberlain, newly minted executive director for the MAGA Meetups group, and Mike Cernovich, the most prominent MAGA troll, and -- in the other --  YouTuber James Allsup, Nick J. Fuentes, and Richard Spencer. The two groups have been publicly criticizing and debating each other, mostly for show, a strategy the “new right” trolls, in a quest to gain legitimacy, use to show contrasts with the vitriolic, outwardly racist “alt-right” by attempting to prove that the latter’s leaders dislike them.

By hosting Millennial Matt -- a Holocaust joke lover who agrees “almost a hundred percent with” the “alt-right,” Wintrich managed to shed light on just how similar the two factions are. They talked about uniting against pedophilia in Hollywood to combat “these Marxists, these progressives … who are oppressing white people,” apparently unaware of the fact that one of the most prominent apologists of pedophilia is closer to the “alt-right” than to any progressive.

During the conversation, Millennial Matt described the “new right” as “a bunch of guys and girls who got social media presences during the Donald Trump election,” to which Wintrich quipped, “Much like yourself.” Inadvertently, the exchange highlighted the common genesis of the factions. The overlapping nature of the factions was similarly apparent when Millennial Matt mentioned “free Kekistan,” alluding to a fictional country invented by message board users that tells the “tongue-in-cheek ethnic origin” of online trolls. Millennial Matt noted it as part of the culture of the “new right,” but Wintrich said it belonged to the “alt-right” just as much.

By the end, the disastrous video -- during which Akbar reminded audiences that it wasn’t a debate, “there’s no winner, there’s no loser” -- managed to effectively blur the fictional lines between the factions. Members of the “alt-right” called it “refreshing,” and the groups showed they share an audience that enjoys anti-Semitism. Coincidentally, it might have poured cold water on attempts by supposed new-righter Cernovich -- who participated by trolling other users in the chat and even promoted the live broadcast in a now-deleted tweet -- to legitimize himself by doing “a big pivot” away from the toxic elements of the groups with which he’s been associated. Most importantly, though, it was useful in showing clear evidence that the attempt by some supposed members of the “new right” to rebrand is bullshit. They might purport to condemn and disavow racism after events like the rally in Charlottesville, but they allow it as long as it’s the “funny racist” kind. Their effort to draw contrasts with extremists did nothing but highlight their similarities, including how their origin story is the same -- hate speech and extremism disguised as meme culture.

h/t Right Wing Watch for Cernovich's deleted tweet