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  • Right-wing media go all-out to denigrate Christine Blasey Ford, who says Kavanaugh assaulted her

    Ford said Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh attempted to rape her when they were high school students, but many media conservatives attacked her or say Kavanaugh should be confirmed anyway

    Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    The Washington Post reported on Sunday that Christine Blasey Ford had written a letter this summer to a Democratic lawmaker saying that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were both high school students. Soon after Ford’s account was published, right-wing media figures and outlets began attacking her credibility, publicly discounting her story, or calling on Kavanaugh to be confirmed by Republicans anyway.

    Details from the letter, which she wrote to Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), leaked out several days earlier, and then Ford “decided that if her story is going to be told, she wants to be the one to tell it.” From the Post’s story:

    Speaking publicly for the first time, Ford said that one summer in the early 1980s, Kavanaugh and a friend — both “stumbling drunk,” Ford alleges — corralled her into a bedroom during a gathering of teenagers at a house in Montgomery County.

    While his friend watched, she said, Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed on her back and groped her over her clothes, grinding his body against hers and clumsily attempting to pull off her one-piece bathing suit and the clothing she wore over it. When she tried to scream, she said, he put his hand over her mouth.

    “I thought he might inadvertently kill me,” said Ford, now a 51-year-old research psychologist in northern California. “He was trying to attack me and remove my clothing.”

    Ford said she was able to escape when Kavanaugh’s friend and classmate at Georgetown Preparatory School, Mark Judge, jumped on top of them, sending all three tumbling. She said she ran from the room, briefly locked herself in a bathroom and then fled the house.

    Ford said she told no one of the incident in any detail until 2012, when she was in couples therapy with her husband. The therapist’s notes, portions of which were provided by Ford and reviewed by The Washington Post, do not mention Kavanaugh’s name but say she reported that she was attacked by students “from an elitist boys’ school” who went on to become “highly respected and high-ranking members of society in Washington.” The notes say four boys were involved, a discrepancy Ford says was an error on the therapist’s part. Ford said there were four boys at the party but only two in the room.

    Notes from an individual therapy session the following year, when she was being treated for what she says have been long-term effects of the incident, show Ford described a “rape attempt” in her late teens.

    Kavanaugh has denied the report after Ford went public, calling it “a completely false allegation.” He previously said, “I categorically and unequivocally deny this allegation.” The immediate reaction from many conservative media figures was terrible: Many cast doubt on her account, others suggested they might believe her but said Kavanaugh should be confirmed as a Supreme Court justice anyway, and others impugned her motives, suggesting a political or personal grudge.

    Conservatives who cast doubt on Ford’s account

    FoxNews.com’s Stephen Miller: “This was not a sexual assault. … Hold the vote. Confirm him. … It was drunk teenagers playing seven minutes of heaven.”

    Breitbart’s John Nolte: “GOP blows Kavanaugh, falls for this, they will be massacred in November.”

    Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones mocked Ford’s accusation: “Brett Kavanaugh in 1986 came to Dallas, TX, and I was in high school, and he raped me.”

    Trump ally and conservative political operator Roger Stone: “This is a woman looking for her Anita Hill moment. This is her 15 minutes.”

    Turning Point USA’s Candace Owens: “Nothing to see here, folks,” Ford is “just another woman who conveniently tripped and fell out of amnesia.”

    Conservative radio host Erick Erickson: “If the GOP does not stand up to this character assassination attempt on Kavanaugh, every judicial nominee moving forward is going to suffer last minute sexual assault allegations.”

    Erick Erickson: “I do not believe Brett Kavanaugh’s accuser. I do believe there is a Democrat PR firm working this story.”

    Erick Erickson: “People who want to keep killing kids really shouldn’t be throwing Jesus in the face of those who don’t believe the accusation against Kavanaugh.”

    Fox News’ Tomi Lahren: “Decades-old allegations against Kavanaugh come out just days before a vote….victim or opportunist?”

    Tomi Lahren: "Female empowerment is NOT using sexual assault allegations to torpedo someone you disagree with politically."

    Fox contributor Tammy Bruce: Report of assault by Kavanaugh is “an attempt at a political assassination.”

    Newsmax’s John Cardillo: “No, 35+ year old dubious allegations about a non-crime made by a left-wing activist … do not hold water.”

    NRATV’s Grant Stinchfield: “I have no idea if Judge Kavanaugh pushed this woman down on a bed at a high school house party where she wriggled free and ran away or not. What I do know is in the 35 years since, not one other woman has raised such an allegation. Sixty-five other women have, in fact, now come to his defense.”

    Fox Business host Dagen McDowell: “You have to press [Ford] on any potential bias that’s there” against Republicans.

    Fake news site TruthFeed: Ford’s story has “more holes than a slice of swiss cheese.”

    The despicable Democrats are pulling out all the stops to try and derail the Judge Kavanaugh vote for SCOTUS.

    They’re now claiming that Judge Kavanaugh attacked a woman in high school, nearly killing her. The woman, whose story has more holes than a slice of swiss cheese, claims there was a man in the room who witnessed the entire thing.

    One big problem. That man, says it never happened.

    Facebook page Silence is Consent posted a meme misleadingly claiming Ford was “so ‘devastated’” by incident “she contacted Feinstein 35 years later.”

    Fox Business host Bob Massi:The thing that’s remarkable to me” is that someone “with amazing credentials, amazing resumes, and an allegation like this comes out … and their entire career credibility is gone. … That’s the trouble with this.”

    Sean Hannity radio show guest David Schoen: "The real crime here that happened" is Sen. Dianne Feinstein "presenting this thing under ... this veil of mystery."

    Fox News host Sean Hannity cast doubt on Ford's accusation because of "everything else you see about Judge Kavanaugh's life ... this is a guy that spends a lot of time feeding the homeless."

    CRTV's Gavin McInnes: Ford is "clearly full of crap." 

    CRTV's Mark Levin on Ford's accusation: "This whole thing to me sounds like a sham and a setup. ... This is an entire political scam and sham as far as I'm concerned."

    Ethics and Public Policy Center Lance Morrow's Wall Street Journal op-ed likened Ford's accusation to Salem Witch Trials, diminished alleged rape attempt: "No clothes were removed, and no sexual penetration occurred."

    The Salem witch trials turned on what was called “spectral evidence.” That was testimony from witnesses—either malicious or hysterical—who claimed the accused had assumed the form of a black cat or some other devilish creature and had come visiting in the night in order to torment the witness with bites and scratches, or to rearrange the bedroom furniture, or to send the baby into paroxysms.

    ...

    Three hundred twenty-six years later, an anonymous woman—a spectral and possibly nonexistent woman, for all that one knew when the story emerged—accused Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her 36 years ago, when he was a high-school student. It seemed as if the American constitutional process might be drawn back to the neighborhood of Salem, Mass. According to this phantom testimony, 17-year-old Brett held the girl down, pawed her and tried to force himself upon her, and held his hand over her mouth when she screamed, until a second prep-school devil piled on top, they all tumbled to the floor, and the girl managed to slip away. The boys were “stumbling drunk,” according to the account.

    ...

    The thing happened—if it happened—an awfully long time ago, back in Ronald Reagan’s time, when the actors in the drama were minors and (the boys, anyway) under the blurring influence of alcohol and adolescent hormones. No clothes were removed, and no sexual penetration occurred. The sin, if there was one, was not one of those that Catholic theology calls peccata clamantia—sins that cry to heaven for vengeance.

    The offense alleged is not nothing, by any means. It is ugly, and stupid more than evil, one might think, but trauma is subjective and hard to parse legally. Common sense is a little hard put to know what to make of the episode, if it happened. The dust of 36 years has settled over the memory. The passage of time sometimes causes people to forget; sometimes it causes them to invent or embellish. Invention takes on bright energies when its muse is politics, which is the Olympics of illusion. 

    Conservatives who indicated that whether or not they believe Ford, Kavanaugh should be confirmed

    Federalist contributor Tom Nichols: “I’m good with the story being true,” but it shouldn’t “derail [his] nomination.”

    Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh: Ford’s report can’t be proven, “so he should be confirmed.”

    Cato Institute’s Ilya Shapiro: “The Senate should just vote” on Kavanaugh.

    The Federalist: Kavanaugh “should be confirmed” despite Ford’s report.

    Townhall.com editor Guy Benson: “Absent additional evidence, I don’t know how it would be remotely just to derail the nomination” of Kavanaugh.

    The Wall Street Journal editorial board suggested Ford possibly misremembered "in the cauldron of a therapy session to rescue a marriage," and stated that letting Ford's accusation "stop Mr. Kavanaugh's confirmation would ratify what has all the earmarks of a calculated political ambush."

    The woman accusing Brett Kavanaugh of a drunken assault when both were teenagers has now come forward publicly, and on Monday it caused Republicans to delay a confirmation vote and schedule another public hearing. Yet there is no way to confirm her story after 36 years, and to let it stop Mr. Kavanaugh’s confirmation would ratify what has all the earmarks of a calculated political ambush.

    ...

    Mr. Kavanaugh denies all this “categorically and unequivocally,” and there is simply no way to prove it. The only witness to the event is Mr. Kavanaugh’s high school male friend, Mark Judge, who also says he recalls no such event. Ms. Ford concedes she told no one about it—not even a high school girl friend or family member—until 2012 when she told the story as part of couples therapy with her husband.

    The vagaries of memory are well known, all the more so when they emerge in the cauldron of a therapy session to rescue a marriage. Experts know that human beings can come to believe firmly over the years that something happened when it never did or is based on partial truth. Mistaken identity is also possible.

    ...

    This is simply too distant and uncorroborated a story to warrant a new hearing or to delay a vote. We’ve heard from all three principals, and there are no other witnesses to call. Democrats will use Monday’s hearing as a political spectacle to coax Mr. Kavanaugh into looking defensive or angry, and to portray Republicans as anti-women. Odds are it will be a circus.

    ...

    Letting an accusation that is this old, this unsubstantiated and this procedurally irregular defeat Mr. Kavanaugh would also mean weaponizing every sexual assault allegation no matter the evidence. It will tarnish the #MeToo cause with the smear of partisanship, and it will unleash even greater polarizing furies.

    Conservatives who attacked Ford’s motives

    Mike Cernovich: “Christine Blasey is a far left wing activist. ... this is straight activism on her part.”

    The Gateway Pundit: Ford is a “far-left activist.”

    Gateway Pundit’s Jim Hoft: Ford is an “unhinged liberal professor who former students describe as dark, mad, scary and troubled.”

    Fox News host Laura Ingraham: “Apparently this accuser was fine with leaving Brett Kavanaugh on the second highest court of the land. … But it was when he was up for the Supreme Court that suddenly the stakes got higher.”

    Laura Ingraham: "This all has the whiff of a political smear masquerading as a sexual assault allegation."

    Fake news site RedstateWatcher: Ford is a "registered Democrat and Democrat activist.”

    Conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh: Ford is "a political activist. She's an angry political activist. She's much more than just a victim of alleged attempted rape."

    Fox News host Tucker Carlson: "Does anyone really believe this story would have surfaced if Brett Kavanaugh had pledged allegiance to Roe v. Wade? Of course it wouldn't have."​

    Right-wing Facebook meme pages and groups engaged in a smear campaign against Ford

    Many right-wing meme pages attacking Ford falsely painted her as a Democratic political operative. [1, 2, 3, 4]

    Some pages tried to undermine Ford’s allegations by questioning her timing in coming forward and her memory of the incident. [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]

    A woman from a Shuttershock photo of an anti-Trump protest in New York City was falsely attributed as Ford. [1, 2]

    Alex Kaplan and Natalie Martinez contributed research to this post.

  • With Trump’s South Africa tweet, Tucker Carlson has turned a white nationalist narrative into White House policy

    White nationalists reacted in elation as the white-grievance narrative they’ve been pushing grabbed the president’s attention. This is how it happened.

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G. & TALIA LAVIN


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Inspired by Tucker Carlson’s coverage on Fox News, President Donald Trump has taken interest in the narrative of white oppression in South Africa that white supremacists have spent months using misleading statistics to build.

    During the August 22 edition of his show, Carlson devoted a segment to fearmongering about land reform in South Africa, presenting the South African issue -- in which the government is attempting to address the Apartheid-influenced concentration of land ownership by whites -- as the “definition of racism.”

    Trump continued his live-tweeting Fox News by promoting the segment on Carlson’s show and adding that he had directed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to look into the issue:

    While Carlson presented his segment as an “exclusive investigation,” he was merely lifting a narrative that has been brewing in this country -- in the far-right corners of the internet -- for the better part of 2018. Pioneered by the Apartheid-minimizing organization AfriForum -- which has successfully leveraged its relationships with the international far-right to put its agenda on the map -- what’s presented as a crusade against land reform that the organization claims is linked to violence against white farmers has been embraced by white supremacists abroad and at home as evidence of white genocide.

    Carlson had already given a platform to AfriForum back in May, during a visit its leaders Kallie Kriel and Ernst Roets made to the U.S. During the trip, they also met with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), the U.S. Agency for International Development, and conservative and libertarian think tanks. While hosting Roets, Carlson lectured, "This is not what Nelson Mandela wanted." As reported by Michael Bueckert at the time, AfriForum’s tour of America was “met with outrage and mockery” back in South Africa, with government authorities, academics, and journalists issuing condemnations of what they saw as an effort to “mobilise the international community against their own country.” The outrage in their country wasn’t baseless, as experts have pointed out that while some white South African farmers have been killed, AfriForum and its supporters base their narrative of white targeting on problematic statistical methodology and mischaracterizations of the current state of crime and violence in South Africa.

    Carlson wasn’t the only right-wing figure elevating the issue on August 22. Earlier in the day, Alex Jones, who sees in Tucker Carlson an ally in his fight against the globalists, devoted one of his unhinged tirades on his conspiracy theory outlet Infowars to what he framed as whites being “wiped out” in South Africa while claiming that Black South Africans think “the more barbarous the better.”

    Both Carlson and Jones’ comments are evidence that the narrative, which had been brewing for months, had reached boiling point. Days before, Drudge Report tweeted about the issue, while bigoted radio host Michael Savage lobbied for signatures in support of white South African farmers (Savage is now accusing Carlson of pushing his talking points without giving credit). The day before, Newsbusters -- the Media Research Center project that has promoted white nationalist propaganda in the past -- bemoaned the lack of American media coverage of South African land ownership issues.

    As early as January, in a now-archived thread, users of 8chan (an anonymous message board known for its popularity among “alt-right” supporters and connections to harassment campaigns and hoaxes) had portrayed events in South Africa as a “race war” while using racist slurs against Black South Africans.

    Lauren Southern, a prominent far-right troll who gained prominence on YouTube, seized on the narrative by going to South Africa in January to shoot a documentary aimed at raising the voices of those advancing the idea of white oppression connected to land ownership reforms. Following Southern, notoriously bigoted Rebel Media commentator Katie Hopkins announced her own project to expose the supposed “ethnic cleansing of white farmers.” As reported by Media Matters in March, both of their projects did more to amplify the interests of white supremacists in advancing a narrative of victimhood than actually show any plight of white South Africans. Southern’s documentary revealed her ties to white nationalist-affiliated Afrikaner activists like Simon Roche. Roche leads Suidlanders, a group that aims to protect the South African white minority against what it claims is an inevitable race war. He has links to American white supremacist Jared Taylor, whose conference he’s attended in the past, and has benefited from Southern encouraging donations to his group.

    As the site Angry White Men accurately described in February, Southern’s project was “agitprop dressed up as a documentary.” But it successfully inserted South Africa as a convenient talking point for far-right figures attempting to find a case study for their argument that white people are under siege, with no regard for historical context. By February 28, the #whitegenocide hashtag had been trending for two days on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s hate tracker, a tool that maps out trending topics among far-right Twitter users. Prominent far-right trolls, like former Gateway Pundit White House reporter Lucian Wintrich also helped popularize the narrative.

    By March, prominent American white nationalist figures, including Occidental Dissent’s Brad Griffin, The Right Stuff’s Mike Peinovich, American Renaissance’s Jared Taylor, and League of the South’s Michael Hill, were using their platforms to promote Suidlanders’ cause and crusade for white South Africans. On social media, extremists were resorting to hoaxes in their efforts to illustrate the South African narrative in the most gruesome light. In a now-deleted tweet, Proud Boy Kyle Chapman posted a horrifying picture claiming it depicted a child brutalized for being white in South Africa. The picture turned out to be a 4chan hoax unconnected to South African politics, but it got attention on Twitter.

    Reports on the rising interest in South African land politics and violence were met with criticism from far-right media figures, who unfairly accused researchers covering the issue of supporting brutal murders.

    After Tucker Carlson hosted AfriForum in May, bigoted Proud Boys founder and violence instigator Gavin McInnes devoted an episode of his CRTV show Get Off My Lawn to the supposed plight of white people in South Africa. He hosted Willem Petzer, a white South African who makes appearances on far-right media to frame anecdotal incidents of violence as oppression of whites. McInnes opened the show with a monologue in which he characterized former South African President Nelson Mandela as “a terrorist" and claimed that current South African land politics are not related to "Blacks trying to get their land back -- they never had that land" but instead are "ethnic cleansing" efforts against whites.

    It came as no surprise then that Carlson -- who has used his platform to champion white nationalist causes, has notably abstained from criticizing white supremacists, has neo-Nazis fawning all over him, and is referred to lovingly as “our guy” by some extremists on 4chan -- would seize upon the narrative and present it without appropriate context. What’s more worrisome is that the president of the United States, who oversees the most powerful foreign policy operation in the world, would prefer to get policy advice from Fox News.

    Actual experts on the issue debunked the narrative pushed by Carlson and Trump. The former U.S. ambassador to South Africa was among the many who condemned the racist undercurrents and factual inaccuracies of Trump’s statement:

    As Laura Seay -- a political scientist researching governance in central Africa -- explained, the claim of “white genocide” comes from “exaggerate[d] isolated stories.”

    Africa analyst Lauren P. Blanchard cited a Guardian report showing that research points to a current 20-year low in “murders of farmers in South Africa:”

    Michael Bueckert, who’s written extensively about the topic, also added context to Carlson’s segment and Trump’s tweet:

    Along with celebrating the role Carlson was playing in carrying white supremacist narratives all the way up to the White House, White supremacist Mike Peinovich called the moment “very big”:

    Infowars’ go-to white nationalist, Nick Fuentes, praised Trump’s acknowledgement:

    The “alt-right” group Identity Evropa framed the issue as “a warning to people of European heritage all around the world:”

    Right Wing Watch’s Jared Holt showcased the reactions of other white nationalists celebrating Trump:

    Madeline Peltz provided research for this piece.

  • Fox & Friends sanitizes anti-government extremists

    The Three Percenters is an armed anti-government militia; Fox & Friends called its members “pro-gun demonstrators”

    Blog ››› ››› TALIA LAVIN


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    In Fox & Friends’ ongoing quest to smear anti-fascists protesters as a collection of violent extremists, a Monday morning segment of the show glossed over the history and activities of the group anti-fascists had turned out to protest against. Over the weekend in Seattle, WA, heavily armed members of far-right groups Patriot Prayer and the anti-government militia group Three Percenters protested, along with several men wearing the insignia of the violence-prone, men-only organization Proud Boys. Rally-goers were protesting a gun-control initiative that, if passed, would raise the age for buying semi-automatic rifles to 21.

    As the show aired clips of counter-protestors shouting “Nazis go home,” Fox & Friends host Brian Kilmeade described the Three Percenters, Patriot Prayer, and Proud Boys as “pro-gun demonstrators.” “Where is the outrage from Democrats?” he asked, seemingly indignant at the idea that these far-right groups could be cast as extremists. The Three Percenters and the Proud Boys had strong presences at the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, which culminated in deadly violence.

    The Three Percenters is named after the historically inaccurate claim that only 3 percent of American colonists fought against the British government during the American revolution. It is a loosely organized group that insists it is not a militia but aligns with the goals and practices of the American militia movement. Over the past few years, the group's members have developed a reputation for providing heavily armed security to white supremacist groups. The Three Percenters have also engaged in their own political activities in alignment with right-wing and extremist groups. A Three Percenters rally in 2015 protested refugee resettlement in Idaho, decrying “radical Islam”; some group members also showed up at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge standoff with the aim of serving as a "buffer" between the anti-government Bundy clan and law enforcement. In 2017, a man claiming to hold the Three Percenters ideology was arrested for a bomb plot explicitly meant to emulate the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. While a popular Facebook page for the Three Percenters features dozens of explicitly anti-immigrant memes, the group has also organized offline armed operations to go after immigrants near the U.S. border.

    So when Kilmeade asks, smirking, if they are “Nazis or pro-gun demonstrators” -- there may be more to the question than what the sanitizing frame of Fox News allows.

  • Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes and a men's rights activist spent an entire show attacking Black women

    Tommy Sotomayor is a men’s rights activist with a record of making anti-Semitic comments, including on David Duke’s show

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G.


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Gavin McInnes, the founder of the violent, fraternal men-only organization Proud Boys, devoted the July 16 episode of his CRTV show Get Off My Lawn to criticizing Black women, starting with Beyoncé. McInnes, whose misogyny is well-documented, also brought on Black men’s rights activist Tommy Sotomayor to avoid sounding “too white” in his critique. Sotomayor has built an online punditry career by bashing Black women and Jewish people.

    McInnes kicked off the discussion by falsely claiming that the targeted harassment campaign that far-right troll Milo Yiannopoulos led on Twitter against actress Leslie Jones was evidence of “Black women potentially being “double protected” in America. According to McInnes, the fact that Yiannopoulos was permanently banned from Twitter as a consequence showed that the platform was being deferential to Jones because she’s Black and a woman. McInnes’ revisionist history conveniently ignores the fact that Black women tend to be targets of online harassment at higher rates than white social media users.

    Sotomayor, whose real name is Thomas Jerome Harris, has built his internet presence around making inflammatory attacks against women, the Black community, and Jewish people. Sotomayor once said that then-President Barack Obama “shouldn’t try to ban guns, he should ban niggas.” The video was embraced and amplified by then-CNN pundit Harry Houck, who has a long history of repeatedly suggesting African-Americans are prone to criminality and are to blame for the police violence of which they are victims. Sotomayor also once referred to Black Lives Matter protesters as the “retarded kids in the class.” He hosted former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke on now-deleted YouTube livestreams, and appeared on Duke’s podcast to discuss “the destruction of the black community due to the cultural pollution that is being spewed out by the Jewish media elite.” One of Sotomayor’s discussions with Duke was even featured on the neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer.

    Sotomayor is also a recognized men’s rights activist whose anti-feminist punditry has been amplified by the misogynistic website A Voice For Men. In a since-deleted YouTube video, Sotomayor once took issue with a toilet paper ad that gave a “poignant salute” to single mothers on Father’s Day, claiming it showed that Hollywood was taking “aim, just like everyone else, at the American male.” An archived page of several of his now-deleted videos shows pejorative language and critical commentary about Black people.

    On his website, Sotomayor lists a number of YouTube channels as his own. He once explained that he has many channels because YouTube users keep flagging his content and “every video I put up, they take it down.” Sotomayor’s comment demonstrates just another way extremists circumvent YouTube’s weak attempts at dealing with hate speech.

    On McInnes’ Get Off My Lawn, Sotomayor enthusiastically enabled McInnes as he bashed Black women, agreeing with him that they are prone to violence and calling them “irresponsible being[s]” who are raising children with “100 percent autonomy” and making them violent as well.

    In an attempt to demonize Black mothers, Sotomayor shared an anecdote of a woman who had put a “sew-in weave” in her child’s hair, claiming “a normal person, a white woman” called his show saying that if she had “bleached” her 4-year-old’s hair, the school would’ve sent child protective services to her house. “It goes back to, again, no father,” Sotomayor claimed. “If a father’s there, he’s not even going to let his child dress up in this whore’s outfit.”

    Sotomayor also complained that President Donald Trump hasn’t done enough in terms of “cutting off the welfare,” claiming it is financially incentivizing people to have “children … in bad situations.” He bizarrely suggested that aiding single mothers and “all these rape cases that are coming up” were evidence of the way men are being mistreated in America.

    TOMMY SOTOMAYOR: I promise you, if you take away the financial benefit from having children -- it’s the same thing with all of these rape cases that are coming up and I know I’m opening up a different can of worms -- but when you see how men are being treated in the United States, there’s no wonder why Bruce Jenner decided to put on a dress and tuck his wang.

    This is not the first time Sotomayor has been a willing participant in the online crusades of far-right white men to victim-blame Blacks or attack women. During a guest appearance on “intellectual dark webrenegade Dave Rubin’s YouTube show in April 2017, Sotomayor blamed single mothers for not picking “the correct person to have the kid with” and complained that “the only person that’s being held responsible is the guy.” He said he was bothered by the fact men could be held responsible to help financially with the kids they had with women who claim, “It’s my body. I can do what I want to with it. But once I do it, I need help.” Rubin, a dramatically unsuccessful comedian, joined Sotomayor in complaining about the double standards that limit white comedians from making jokes about anything “remotely politically incorrect.”

    Sotomayor also joined one of YouTube’s professional misogynists, Stefan Molyneux, for some “man talk.” Molyneux has built a reputation out of bemoaning feminism and complaining about the plight of men (and promoting eugenics and scientific racism). During the discussion, Sotomayor complained that a man on trial for killing his wife couldn’t say “she was verbally abusive to me” as a defense but that “there are women who’ve gotten away” by saying the same thing.

    Sotomayor and the far-right media personalities he's joining are enjoying mutually beneficial relationships: Sotomayor gets additional venues to spread his hateful rhetoric, and the white men he's collaborating with get cover as they push racist and misogynist attacks on their shows. 

  • Member of violent men-only fraternal organization Proud Boys goes on Infowars to recruit

    Proud Boys member: “But you know, if you want to get involved there is no better time than now”

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G.


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    During the July 17 edition of Infowars’ The Alex Jones Show, Alex Jones hosted Ethan Nordean, a member of Proud Boys who goes by the alias “Rufio Panman.” As reported by The Guardian, Nordean garnered viral fame after a fight between him and a counterprotester at a right-wing rally was caught on video, earning him his organization’s designation of “Proud Boy of the Week.” Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes also amplified the violent encounter on his Twitter account:

    Proud Boys is a self-described “Western chauvinist” men-only fraternal organization. While McInnes has included a disclaimer (“We are not a violent group”) on the organization’s website attempting to distance the group from the violence its members somehow keep involving themselves in, violence is in reality ingrained into the group’s ethos. To earn a low-level membership (or “second degree”), prospective members have to subject themselves to continuous punches by other Proud Boys while naming five breakfast cereals. The highest membership level, the fourth degree, is earned only if the member has engaged in violence with anti-fascists. McInnes has also attempted to add “clarification” around what that entails, but his hedging is at odds with his record of glorifying violence. He’s on the record saying he “cannot recommend violence enough. It is a really effective way to solve problems.”

    On its site, Proud Boys also displays its affiliation with the violent organization Fraternal Order of the Alt Knights (FOAK), which, essentially operates like a “fight club” and which Proud Boys refers to as its “military arm.” As recently as June 22, McInnes introduced his CRTV show CRTV Tonight with a bizarre montage glorifying violence and fighting in which he claimed, “What's the matter with fighting? Fighting solves everything. The war on fighting is the same as the war on masculinity.”

    Nordean used his appearance with Jones to recruit for an upcoming rally, saying "As long as there’s 50 to 100 of us, we can take on a thousand of them ... [I]f you want to get involved there is no better time than now.”

    ETHAN NORDEAN: We do have the up-and-coming rally in Portland August 4.

    ALEX JONES (HOST): Yeah. That's August 4. Tell the folks about that.

    NORDEAN: Well, obviously we’re eager to get back, because of the failure of the protection of the citizens that the city showed down in Portland. It was a complete failure on their part, complete lack of leadership, and people's lives were put at risk. And thank God that the Proud Boys showed up in numbers and protect those people. I don't know what would have happened if we weren't there, but it wouldn't have been good.

    JONES: And maybe we should show the police marching antifa up against the demonstration and the prayer vigil -- let's show that footage if we can -- and then what transpired out of that. Because this was -- first they have a rally a few months ago, women and children get beaten up. So you guys come out, you still kick their ass, but the police stand down. So you’re saying three is the trifecta, it's the charm, have a really huge group come out and once and for all let antifa know this is still America.

    NORDEAN: Yeah. Well, it doesn’t take -- as long as there’s 50 to 100 of us, we can take on a thousand of them, that's fine. But if you want to get involved, there is no better time than now. Get involved, find your local chapter, hit him up. We'll be in Portland August 4.

    JONES: And, again tell folks about the rally, why you're doing it again?

    NORDEAN: Well, we're going to see how the city reacts, and we'll see if they step up their leadership and actually provide security and protection against these antifa thugs. We're also going to take another stand against antifa because of their violence that they've portrayed against the people of Portland and really up and down the West Coast.

  • Far-right figures spew toxic and dangerous bullshit after Anthony Bourdain's death

    Members of the far-right fever swamp spread conspiracy theories, blamed “political correctness” for spikes in suicide rates, personally attacked Bourdain, and blamed women 

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G.

    Anthony Bourdain stood for everything that far-right figures and online message boards hate. Following the tragic news of the CNN host and legendary chef’s death by suicide, these fever swamps went into overdrive with absurd conspiracy theories and toxic hot takes that personally attacked Bourdain and women with whom he had relationships. Instead of discussing the importance of mental health and guiding audiences to anti-suicide resources, these figures tried to use suicide to win a news cycle for some amorphous culture war benefit.

    Alex Jones, a host for conspiracy theory site Infowars, dismissed the reports of suicide to claim without evidence that Bourdain was murdered. Jones, who has never missed a chance to irresponsibly insert absurd conspiracy theories into the news, said Bourdain was “planning to go public against the deep state" and someone wanted to stop him from doing “a Kanye West”:

    Jones also implied Bourdain’s death was a result of his criticism of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton over her response to the numerous reports of sexual assault and sexual harassment committed by movie mogul and former Democratic donor Harvey Weinstein. Jones’ claim echoed posts found on 4chan, which also attempted to connect the tragedy of Bourdain’s death to the “Pizzagate” conspiracy theory. That theory holds that powerful celebrities and Democratic politicians are linked to a pedophilia ring housed in the basement of a Washington, D.C., pizza parlor; it spurred one believer, who was trying to self-investigate the claim, to open fire inside the restaurant.

    The conspiracy theory linking Bourdain’s death to Clinton also spread through several YouTube channels and appeared on Twitter accounts and fake news-peddling websites like True Pundit, Liberty One News, and YourNewsWire.

    Others in the far-right fever swamp displayed, at best, tone deafness and staggering ignorance about suicide as a public health issue, and at worst callous and dangerous disregard for the harm their words could do. Jacob Wohl, self-appointed editor-in-chief of the pro-Trump Washington Reporter, called Bourdain “soft.” Wohl’s tweets echo sentiments that can also be found in the “politically incorrect” board on 4chan, and they reach more than 150,000 followers.

    During the June 8 edition of his show CRTV Tonight, Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes used Bourdain’s suicide to make disrespectful word plays around the word “hanged” and baselessly speculated that cocaine had played a part in both Bourdain’s and fashion designer Kate Spade’s recent death, also by suicide. McInnes followed with a rant about the spike in the suicide rate, blaming “political correctness:”

    The women-hating site Return of Kings, founded by a misogynist who has blamed the pattern of violence by incels (short for “involuntary celibates”) on the women who don’t sleep with them, used the news of the tragedy to blame women, mirroring sentiments also found on 4chan.

    This is only the most recent episode of far-right figures injecting a tragic news cycle with toxic, poisonous bullshit. In pushing lies about the deceased, they cowardly exploit the fact that their subjects can no longer set the record straight while cynically profiting by gaining attention or clicks. Like clockwork, they do it after reports of mass shootings or news of celebrities dying by suicide.

    This news cycle should be centered around celebrating Bourdain’s legacy, life, and contributions, and reporting on suicide as a public health issue. But far-right figures and users of toxic message boards like 4chan have no qualms about co-opting the story to attack him and insert their own agendas.

    Notably, Bourdain had a history of using his platform to advocate for issues like protesting violence against women, standing with the population of the Gaza strip, calling out the crimes of Henry Kissinger, documenting the repression of dictators like Vladimir Putin, and advocating for Hispanic restaurant workers.

    Bourdain was the opposite of these far-right figures because the issues were never about him. It is particularly despicable for these people to attack Bourdain after his death because he stood tall for everything they hate -- and he did so by listening to the voices of others.

    To get help for suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

    Natalie Martinez contributed research to this piece.