Right-wing media figures have defended bigoted social media influencer Andrew Tate after Romanian officials arrested him on December 29 and charged him with human trafficking, rape, and forming an organized criminal group.
Tate has styled himself as a self-help guru who, according to The Guardian, is “capable of radicalizing men and boys to commit harm offline.” His rise to stardom in the right-wing media ecosystem has been in part fueled by his online course “Hustlers University,” which Insider compared to “a multi-level marketing scheme.” As Tate’s fan base grew, clips of his virulently bigoted rhetoric rapidly spread across social media, particularly on TikTok. In these clips, Tate expressed his deeply misogynist beliefs, including claiming that the “easiest way to judge the value of a female” is based on how many sexual partners she has had. He has also asserted that a relationship works only when the woman “obeys like she’s supposed to” and it is OK for men to cheat on women, but not for women to cheat on men because “women show their love through sexual loyalty.”
In August 2022, Meta banned Tate from its platforms under its “dangerous individuals and organizations” policy after he posted videos in which he described, in graphic detail, how he would assault a woman if she accused him of cheating. TikTok, Twitter, and YouTube have also banned Tate from their platforms. In response to Tate’s deplatforming, right-wing outlets cast him as a free speech martyr and the conservative video sharing platform Rumble recruited him to his site.
After Tate’s arrest, several right-wing figures defended him and baselessly claimed that he was arrested because he is “effective and he’s going against the system”
Following Tate’s arrest, some right-wing influencers openly expressed their continued support for him and defended his bigoted rhetoric. Many denied the allegations against him and even claimed that he was set up in an effort to silence him.
- Nico Kenn De Balinthazy, a right-wing streamer and an associate of Tate’s who goes by the handle Sneako, posted a video to Rumble after Tate’s arrest. He began the video by seemingly asking his viewers to write “Free Top G in the chat. Free Andrew Tate. Free Andrew Tate.” (Tate refers to himself as “Top G.”) Balinthazy added, “He said this was going to happen and it happened.” Later on in the video he said that he has been to Tate’s house in Romania, and “I know them personally. Andrew and Tristan Tate are not human traffickers. It’s all a lie.” [Rumble, 12/29/22]
- Right-wing influencer An0maly said, “I don’t think he’s doing what they’re saying he’s doing, I think they’re mad at him because he’s effective and he’s going against the system.” [Facebook, 12/30/22]
- Students for Trump co-founder Ryan Fournier expressed disbelief after Tate’s arrest, tweeting, “Andrew Tate was arrested for ‘human trafficking.’ Really? After all of the BS we’ve seen this year, do you REALLY think this is true?” [Twitter, 12/29/22]
- Infowars’ Alex Jones came to Tate’s defense on his show saying that the charges against Tate are “completely, absolutely, totally made up” and that “Tate is well known for being neurotic about not breaking the law, about being neurotic about knowing when they’re trying to set him up. And it’s well known that when people try to start fights with him and stuff, you know what Andrew Tate does? He walks away. And so, I know his M.O. he was not trafficking women and all this crap.” [Infowars, The Alex Jones Show, 12/30/22]
- Republican commentator Mike Crispi tweeted: “BREAKING: Andrew Tate arrested. He said they’d come after him. Yet Jeffrey Epstein’s black book culprits still roaming freely. #FreeTate” [Twitter, 12/29/22]
- Crispi later claimed, “Andrew Tate is being set up to be silenced. This is what they do- They accuse someone of doing exactly what they are doing themselves.” [Twitter, 12/29/22]
- Dave Rubin, host of The Rubin Report, speculated about Tate’s arrest and implied that it was a result of him trying to provoke climate activist Greta Thunberg on Twitter, saying, “OK, so I'm just piecing something together here that I don't know exactly what's going on here, but it does strike me as a little odd that this guy who has become an internet sensation, gets into a fight with the protected child of the climate movement, and then literally two days later, he is arrested in Romania.” [BlazeTV, The Rubin Report, 1/3/23]
Right-wing media have a record of embracing Tate despite his misogynistic and violent messaging
Following Tate’s string of bans from social media platforms last year, several right-wing media figures came to his defense, despite his harmful comments and previous run-ins with law enforcement -- including a 2015 investigation for sexual assault and physical abuse and an early 2022 investigation for human trafficking.
- In August 2022, prime-time host Tucker Carlson interviewed Tate for his Fox Nation show and defended him on Fox News, asking his audience, “They really think he is a worse influence on the youth than, say, Cardi B? Tell us how? They’re telling us he’s a criminal. OK. Has he been charged? Who are the victims? What are their names?” [Twitter, 8/25/22, 12/29/22]
- After being removed from mainstream social media platforms, Infowars host Alex Jones played an interview with Tate, introducing Tate as “a good friend of mine” and a “good guy with incredible pull and that scares them to their very core.” [Infowars, The Alex Jones Show, 9/12/22]
- Far-right conspiracy theorist and Infowars correspondent Paul Joseph Watson also came to Tate’s defense, tweeting, “Andrew Tate is being demonized by the regime right now because he’s an authentic maverick. They hate these kind of people the most, because they are all boring losers who hate themselves.” [Twitter, 8/10/22]
- Breitbart interviewed Tate, writing that social media companies banned him due to “outcry over his pro-masculinity message. Breitbart News sat down with Tate to explore why leftist tech platforms felt the need to silence him.” [Breitbart News, 10/8/22]
Shortly after Tate was removed from Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, and Twitter, he was recruited to join right-wing video site Rumble. Rumble has branded itself as a free speech alternative to YouTube that is “immune from cancel culture,” has received financial backing from the likes of far-right investor Peter Theil and now-Sen. J.D. Vance (R-OH), and has become a haven for those on the right who have been banned from other platforms. When Tate joined the platform, Rumble heavily promoted and celebrated his presence:
- On Twitter, Rumble claimed that it was “holding the line” to be a platform for free speech, mentioning Tate as one of the examples of people who had been unfairly deplatformed. [Twitter, 8/19/22]
- After Tate was banned from Facebook and Instagram, the platform tweeted, “Rumble is ready for Andrew Tate. We do not take part in shutting down opinons.” [Twitter, 8/19/22]
- Rumble posted a clip to Twitter from Tate’s appearance on Tucker Carlson Today, in which Tate plugged the platform, saying, “I know my young fans will come with me.” [Twitter, 8/25/22]
- Rumble’s Twitter account celebrated Tate and the platform in a tweet, claiming, “I guess Andrew Tate wasn't joking when he said ‘this is just the beginning of a mass exodus (to Rumble)’ We are #10 and rising fast (and we don't even deep link yet).” The same day Rumble’s Twitter account celebrated Tate’s growing following on the platform, saying it just surpassed 100,000 followers. [Twitter, 8/26/22, 8/26/22]
- Rumble CEO Chris Pavlovski expressed his commitment to giving a platform to Tate’s content in a tweet, stating, “We are going to do whatever it takes to hold the line for free speech, whether we agree or disagree with what's said.” [Twitter, 8/23/22]
- Pavlovski also referenced him in a December 2022 tweet as one of the examples of a “free thinker” who is “going to lead the way in 2023 and beyond.” [Twitter, 12/24/22]
- A day before Tate’s arrest, Rumble shared a Tweet from Tate, seemingly celebrating his presence and promotion of its platform.