Gavin McInnes | Media Matters for America

Gavin McInnes

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  • Meet The Press sanitizes Proud Boys’ involvement in Miami protests

    Host Chuck Todd discusses “angry people left and right” ahead of midterms, doesn’t mention that one party has a violent extremist group on its side 

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    On October 17, protesters organized by the Republican Party of Miami-Dade, FL, gathered outside the campaign headquarters of Democratic congressional candidate Donna Shalala ahead of scheduled appearances by Reps. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Barbara Lee (D-CA). The chair of the local Republican party was recorded aggressively knocking on the door of the venue as members of the violent extremist group Proud Boys yelled expletives at Pelosi.

    As The Miami Herald reported:

    [Miami-Dade Republican Party chair Nelson] Diaz, who is Cuban-American, was videotaped during the protest repeatedly banging on a locked door used moments earlier by Pelosi to enter Shalala’s campaign offices. He stood by as a member of the so-called Proud Boys, a national organization characterized as a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center, heckled and hurled expletives at Pelosi as she walked inside.

    “You don’t belong here you f**king communist,” the Proud Boy, Enrique Tarrio, is heard yelling. “Open up, it’s the Proud Boys in here.”

    Diaz later told the Herald that he apologized for his own behavior. He also denied knowing about the group prior to the protest and said he did not invite them.

    In a panel discussion on the October 21 edition of NBC’s Meet The Press, host Chuck Todd addressed “anger on the left and right” ahead of the midterms, and showed part of the video of the protesters and Proud Boys members heckling Pelosi and later banging on the door as it closed. He then noted vaguely, “Dade County Republican Party chairman actually apologized for the treatment of that.”

    Based on this sanitizing statement, viewers might believe that the local GOP chair was admonishing a protest that got out of hand -- not that he himself was knocking angrily on the door alongside members of the Proud Boys. In fact, Todd didn’t mention the group “Proud Boys” at all in the discussion, let alone give any hint of its well-documented white supremacist ties or violent history, including when its members violently beat protesters on the streets of New York City days earlier as they yelled anti-LGBTQ slurs.

    Below is the full panel segment with some selected transcript.

    CHUCK TODD (HOST): We’ve had a couple of mob scenes where leaders of the Democrats and of the Republicans were both publicly harassed. Here’s a scene with House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi down in Miami earlier this week.  

    [CLIP]

    TODD: Dade County Republican Party chairman actually apologized for the treatment of that. Meanwhile Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader -- TMZ posted this video from Friday night in a restaurant in Louisville where he is getting harassed. Take a listen.

    [CLIP]

    TODD: You know, [panelist] Peggy Noonan, each party -- and I’ve watched them and it really disgusts me -- they try to weaponize these incidents on the other side, saying “look at what an angry mob” you know saying on the left or, “These angry people on the right.” We have angry people left and right. This isn’t made-up. It’s ugly. It’s bad. And I think leaders of both parties need to accept that.

    To bolster its “both sides” framing, Meet the Press’ evidence of “anger on the left” comprised a clip of protesters interrupting Sen. Mitch McConnell’s dinner at a Kentucky restaurant. And later in the segment, panelist David Brody revived a nonsensical right-wing media smear suggesting former Attorney General Eric Holder wants people to literally kick conservatives.

  • Republicans have already empowered gangs and extremist groups

    From the Proud Boys to Turning Point USA, extremists are ascendant on the right, but legacy media are too often playing catch-up

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G.


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Let's be clear about the state of things. A well-connected sitting congressman endorsed a neo-Nazi for political office, and it wasn't the first time this sort of thing happened. To the contrary, GOP candidates across the country have links to white nationalists. The GOP president -- who is the undisputed center of the party -- is a former game show host whose administration has repeatedly defended violent extremists. And his son has even appeared on a white nationalist show. The debate is over. The extremists have taken over the party.

    And yet, legacy media outlets are too often caught completely unaware.

    On October 12, the Metropolitan Republican Club hosted Gavin McInnes, founder of the self-identified “gang” Proud Boys. During the event, McInnes re-enacted the violent 1960 murder of Japanese socialist party leader Inejiro Asanuma. After McInnes' appearance, a number of Proud Boys were taped nearby brutally beating and kicking several individuals” and shouting homophobic slurs at protesters. Videos show "more than a dozen" Proud Boys, including at least three skinheads, punching and kicking protesters on the ground.

    In response, The New York Times has covered McInnes' exploits with kid gloves and reduced his extremism to mere provocation. Just look how thrilled white supremacist Ann Coulter was with the piece:

    The Times’ irresponsible description of McInnes as simply a "far-right provocateur" is already memorialized on Wikipedia, potentially the most widely read source of information by audiences that might never have heard of him before. As Jacob Weindling wrote, "You can quote Gavin McInnes directly while describing events that happened and get a harsher description of McInnes than the NYT wrote. ... I don't know how you can call the beginning of this article anything other than white nationalist propaganda."

    Weindling is correct. Just look at McInnes’ speech to the Manhattan Republican Club, in which he told Republicans that they need Proud Boys as “foot soldiers," because of what they have in common. Or look at what McInnes said on his podcast on October 14, when he defended the use of anti-LGBTQ slurs.

    And this characterization matters. While the Times is describing McInnes as a "provocateur," and NBC News is portraying the Proud Boys as a "nationalist movement," the reality is that we're in far more dangerous territory. As Daily Beast reporter Kelly Weill noted, by making alliances with groups like the Proud Boys, “mainstream Republicans can sort of outsource the political and physical violence that they’d like to enact against opponents.”

    And McInnes is not an isolated figure: He and the Proud Boys are deeply entwined in right-wing media. McInnes was a contributor to Fox News for eight years, appearing on Sean Hannity’s show at least 24 times. In 2017, Hannity hosted another Proud Boy with ties to the violent white supremacist “Unite the Right” rally to discuss political violence. Fox host Mark Levin has given McInnes two shows on his online outlet CRTV, where McInnes has pushed extremist bigotry like promoting men’s rights activism, calling female journalists “colostomy bag for various strangers’ semen,” and glorifying violence and fighting. Fox host Tucker Carlson happily posed with Roger Stone and two Proud Boys in a Fox green room and “declined to disavow” the group when asked about it. McInnes shows up on right-wing radio and on right-wing YouTube. In an era in which the right-wing is doing everything it can to suppress opposition, it's no wonder that the Proud Boys are now part of the Republican machine.

    It's not just the Proud Boys, either.

    On the October 17 edition of Today, NBC gave a platform to Identity Evropa -- a white supremacist group actively seeking to rebrand its racism as identitarianism. The network referred to Identity Evropa as a “fringe group,” yet NBC still gave its leaders a softball interview on a show that consistently reaches the coveted demographic of adults ages 25-54; its affiliated channel MSNBC also aired segments featuring the group and other white supremacists.

    NBC’s Peter Alexander played into Identity Evropa's obsession with “optics” and rejection of “anti-social behavior” by remarking on how “clean cut” its representatives look. The segment allowed the white supremacist organization to expand its reach beyond YouTube and social media to recruit followers and promote its talking points, which include blatantly pushing white nationalism using the Republican Party as a vehicle. The group's leader was thrilled was the exposure.

    It's clear that the communications wing of the GOP has no problem with these groups.

    On October 16, Fox News host Laura Ingraham invited Patriot Prayer’s Joey Gibson on her show for a softball interview. Patriot Prayer is a far-right coalition whose membership overlaps with the Proud Boys and whose unity relies on their common “hatred for the left.” Gibson has personally encouraged his followers to instigate violence, promising that counterprotesters “are going to feel the pain.” Ingraham's interview conveniently ignored a report by The Oregonian that the group had "a cache of guns" including "long guns" on a rooftop in Portland, OR, before a summer protest. That's where we are: One of the president's favorite television hosts did a friendly interview with the type of person whose group sets up a cache of guns during a protest of that president.

    Fox also frequently hosts Turning Point USA’s most prominent members, Charlie Kirk and Candace Owens, close allies of the president. Left unmentioned are the extremist views of TPUSA. The Miami New Times unearthed online chats from one TPUSA chapter that feature members warning each other about not using racial slurs too often, talking about "watching underage cartoon pornography and deporting Latina women," and sharing memes about "Syrian men raping a white Swedish woman at gunpoint." An attendee at a TPUSA conference was filmed praising Nazi Germany. And when TPUSA pushed out the person who wrote "I HATE BLACK PEOPLE. Like fuck them all. ... I hate blacks," the replacement was someone who said, "I love making racist jokes." Undeterred, Fox News hosts and top allies of the president happily attend TPUSA events, and TPUSA members openly raise money off of Fox segments that fearmonger about the liberalization of college campuses. It's quite the con.

    Or look at Fox host Tucker Carlson, an innovator in this space. Instead of mainstreaming an extremist group, Carlson is cutting out the middleman and mainstreaming men's rights and white supremacist propaganda himself.

    Make no mistake: People across America are seeing all of this and speaking up. But at some point, it'd be nice if the legacy media would notice too.

  • Sean Hannity claimed he had "never heard of" the Proud Boys. He hosted a member on his show in 2017.

    Jovi Val is a "prominent Proud Boy" who recently spoke at the second edition of the white supremacist rally, Unite the Right 2. He was also a guest on Hannity's radio show in 2017.

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G.

    In reaction to the violent incident in which pro-Trump group the Proud Boys assaulted protesters after attending an event at a Manhattan Republican club by group founder Gavin McInnes, Sean Hannity falsely claimed on the October 15 edition of his radio show that he "had never heard of" the Proud Boys. In addition to hosting McInnes 24 times on his Fox News show, Hannity also hosted "prominent Proud Boy" Jovi Val on his radio show in 2017, giving him and far-right conspiracy theorist Laura Loomer a platform to talk about "political violence."

    Val has participated in Proud Boy events and last August was a speaker at the second edition of the Unite the Right rally, a white supremacist melee organized by white nationalist Jason Kessler. The first edition of Unite the Right, held in Charlottesville, VA, resulted in the death of counterprotester Heather Hayer after a white supremacist rammed a car into a crowd.

    From the July 20, 2017, edition of Premiere Radio Network's The Sean Hannity Show:

    SEAN HANNITY (HOST): There was an incident that occurred while dancing at a bar, OK? A person has a Make America Great hat on their head and it falls on the floor. Then a bar patron, Emma Rodriguez, allegedly stomps on this person Val’s hat. Val told The Rebel that after he asked her to stop and he placed his hand on her shoulder to move her away, Rodriguez’s boyfriend allegedly attacked Val from behind with a beer bottle. Anyway, so this individual and Rodriguez allegedly continued the assault against Val bleeding out on the floor of the bar. Anyway, here to give us more information about all of this, Laura Loomer is a commentator for Rebel, and also joining us is Dr. Joseph Pober is with us and pro-Trump activist Jovi Val. ... All right, Jovi, you’re the person that's a victim in all of this. So tell me what happened. You have a -- so I guess the --

    JOVI VAL: I was leaving a party and then we decided to go to another bar, me and my friends, and I had the Make America Great Again hat, red with white lettering, you know, the iconic one. And I’m there for a few hours just dancing and the people that attacked me were there too and finally my hat falls on the floor and I guess she took advantage of that and started stepping on it. I gave her the benefit of the doubt -- I was like, you know, maybe she accidentally stepped on it so I gave her some time to redeem herself, and it was like, nope, she’s stomping on it, she’s scraping it against the floor, mind you there’s liquor and glass on the floor, she doesn't care, she’s so angry. And I’m just looking at her like, “What are you doing?” And then she’s like, “I hate the hat, I hate you.” And I’m like, this is not -- I’m not for this right now. This is not the time for this. So I moved her away to get my hat and I go to get my hat and then the guy sees me do that to her, he sees me move her away, and next thing you know, he puts his hands on me, he punches me right in my nose, breaks my nose, cuts my face, she hits me in the back of the head with a glass bottle and I know for sure if I did not have the hat on this would have never happened. And people are saying that, you know, “Oh, you should have just waited for her to get off your hat” and I’m just like, “No, I’m sorry, but -- “

    HANNITY: Now, how many other people, Laura, because I know you spend a lot of time on social media, and Twitter, and I know you’re been doing a lot of reporting and commentating for Rebel, but how many instances of this are happening that nobody is reporting?

    LAURA LOOMER: There's a lot of them, all across the country, but Jovi was the second friend of mine and the second Trump activist in one week here in New York City to be attacked and beaten. There were a group of Proud Boys who went to a bar in New York the same week that Jovi was attacked and they were wearing their hats and they were with a disabled individual, and a Democrat who described himself as a member of antifa took the cane away from the disabled Republican and used it to beat the other Trump supporters over the head. So, one of my friends, he had to get staples in his head because his head was cracked open because he was a victim of left-wing political violence. Another one of my friends who was there received a broken -- I don’t know if he broke his nose but he definitely had a black eye and some cuts on his face. So, the injuries are severe and Dr. Pober, after examining Jovi’s face, had said that if he had been hit a little harder Jovi’s face could have been paralyzed, he lost a significant amount of blood and it could have actually killed him. So when are we going to start classifying antifa and these violent leftist groups as terrorist organizations, when is [New York City Mayor] Bill DeBlasio going to take a stand against these hate crimes against conservatives?

    Previously:

    Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes: "I have a lot of support in the NYPD and I very much appreciate that"

    Gavin McInnes advocates using the slur "faggot"

    Fox News attacks liberals after far-right group Proud Boys assaults protesters on the streets of New York

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

    Video by John Kerr. This post has been updated with additional information.

  • Fox News attacks liberals after far-right group Proud Boys assaults protesters on the streets of New York

    Fox & Friends Sunday makes no mention of the Proud Boy's violent attacks, but does call for civility

    Blog ››› ››› BRENNAN SUEN

    During Fox & Friends Sunday's headlines, host Pete Hegseth said that conservatives were calling for "civility" because of protesters at New York City's Republican headquarters, leaving out the fact that the far-right group Proud Boys assaulted several protesters at the event. On October 12, the Metropolitan Republican Club in New York City hosted Proud Boys founder and right-wing media host Gavin McInnes to speak. After the event, Proud Boys assaulted three protesters, with videos showing "more than a dozen" Proud Boys, including at least three skinheads, punching and kicking protesters on the ground. 

    On the day of the attacks, Fox News immediately blamed liberal protesters and warned about Antifa and "swords," even though McInnes was the person brandishing a sword as his group attacked protesters McInnes was brandishing a sword because the event was apparently to commemorate when the murder of a Japanese socialist in 1960 via a sword.

    Members of the Proud Boys brutally beat people, shouted "faggot" and "cocksucker," and bragged about "smashing" a protester's head "in the pavement."

    Fox News has been has been harshly criticized for suggesting liberals were to blame. Despite this, Fox & Friends Sunday's coverage of the event continued to leave out the Proud Boy's violence and instead just attack liberal protesters.

    From the October 14 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends Sunday:

    ​PETE HEGSETH (HOST): ​Calls for civility are growing after protesters storm GOP headquarters in New York City. Conservatives calling on all Democrats to denounce left-wing vandals after Antifa thugs defaced the New York City Republican headquarters. I'm also just glad to know that there is a New York City Republican headquarters.

    Hegseth, incidentally, interviewed McInnes in 2017 on Fox News without disclosing who McInnes even was. McInnes used to also be a Fox News contributor.

  • 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.