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White nationalism

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  • Charlottesville reveals dangerous new phase in right-wing assault on college campuses

    ››› ››› BRETT ROBERTSON

    The white supremacist rally this past weekend in Charlottesville, VA, which began on the campus of the University of Virginia, has raised concerns about similar activities happening at other colleges. Higher education media report college officials are growing concerned as white nationalist groups seek to hold similar events on more campuses throughout the U.S. These attempts represent an escalation of an ongoing right-wing assault on colleges.

  • A defense of Trump’s unforgivable statements on Charlottesville may be airing on your local news

    Sinclair stations are airing pro-Trump propaganda

    Blog ››› ››› PAM VOGEL

    Former aide to President Donald Trump and current administration media shill Boris Epshteyn is now using local television news spots across the country to back Trump in his disgraceful “both sides” treatment of violent neo-Nazism and white supremacy in Charlottesville, VA.

    Epshteyn is the chief political analyst of Sinclair Broadcast Group, a conservative local TV giant that currently owns and operates 173 stations in 33 states and the District of Columbia. He produces several 90-second commentary videos each week, which Sinclair dictates must be aired on all its stations nationwide. There is apparently no required disclosure Epshteyn must make in the segments he produces to inform viewers across the country that they’re hearing commentary from a former Trump staffer, even as his defenses of Trump’s most indefensible moments grow increasingly embarrassing.

    Epshteyn may have reached a new low last night with his take on Trump’s chilling defenses of neo-Nazis and white supremacists who rallied in Charlottesville last weekend.

    On August 11, a white supremacist "Unite the Right" rally kicked off with a tiki torch-wielding mob chanting "Jews will not replace us" on the University of Virginia campus in defense of a Confederate statue. The next day, the large gathering turned violent, when a neo-Nazi drove a car into the crowd of ralliers and counter-protesters, murdering anti-racism activist Heather Heyer. On Saturday, Trump issued a short statement refusing to specifically call out the white supremacists and neo-Nazis behind the rally, instead pointing to blame "on many sides." Following two days of intense criticism, Trump issued a low-energy statement Monday nominally condemning the KKK and white supremacists, then completely undermined that statement in an unhinged Tuesday press conference where he returned to pinning blame on "both sides," and claimed that there were "very fine people" included among the white supremacists.

    And yet, Epshteyn’s segment begins, “The sky is blue. Does the president have to repeat that fact day-in and day-out for us to believe it? No, he does not.”

    The “Bottom Line with Boris” segment completely ignores Trump’s statements on Charlottesville aside from his Teleprompter-dependent, hostage video from the White House on Monday afternoon in which he finally specifically condemned neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups. Epshteyn did not acknowledge Trump’s initial comments about the rally, in which he referred to violence “on many sides,” nor did he acknowledge Trump’s Tuesday press conference in which he gave “white supremacists an unequivocal boost.”  

    Epshteyn ends the segment with a personal note, explaining that he is Jewish and thus knows that Trump is not anti-Semitic. This analysis, however, does not account for years of Trump’s public footsie with prominent white nationalists and anti-Semites, including former KKK grand wizard David Duke.

    Sinclair’s other two right-wing “must-run” commentary segments -- “Behind the Headlines” with Mark Hyman and the “Terrorism Alert Desk” -- have yet to address the terror in Charlottesville. (Here are the “Terrorism Alert Desk” segments that ran on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday on Sinclair-owned Virginia station WSET.)  

    Local TV news viewers from Maine to Utah -- including some in Charlottesville’s backyard -- may have seen this segment last night or this morning as they turned to their local station for the news of the day. Folks in other cities and states across the country are also watching, waiting to hear if Sinclair will soon own their local TV station and extend the reach of its Trump apologism to Chicago or New Orleans, too.

  • Right-wing media provided home for white supremacist before he organized Charlottesville rally

    Daily Caller has now removed Jason Kessler’s work from its site

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    Before he organized the recent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, VA, Jason Kessler wrote for The Daily Caller and the white nationalist site VDare and appeared as a purported expert on Alex Jones’ Infowars network.

    Kessler was the organizer for the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville that featured white supremacists and neo-Nazis. President Donald Trump responded to the violence by issuing a generic condemnation of problems "on many sides" and declining to specifically call out white supremacists -- behavior that fits his history of emboldening the white nationalist movement.

    Right-wing media outlets like The Daily Caller have also played a role in cultivating white supremacist organizers like Kessler.

    The Daily Caller contracted with Kessler “to contribute reportage to” the right-wing site this spring. He wrote two pieces in April with the headlines “Trump Supporters Vow To Rally In Berkeley Without Ann Coulter” and “Uncle: MS-13 Gangsters Mutilated Va. Teenager’s Body In Grisly Murder.” Both pieces promoted Kessler’s organization Unity and Security for America and his Twitter account.

    Kessler then wrote a May 14 piece about white supremacists Richard Spencer and Sam Dickson rallying in front of Confederate monuments. ProPublica subsequently reported that the Caller failed to disclose that Kessler “is supportive of white supremacist groups, and on the day of the march had himself made a speech to the protesters in which he praised fascist and racist organizations, thanked a prominent Holocaust denier, and declared the beginnings of a cultural ‘civil war.’” While the Caller suspended its relationship with Kessler, Executive Editor Paul Conner defended Kessler’s work:

    “The story is factually accurate and plainly states what happened at the event,” said Paul Conner, executive editor of The Daily Caller. “But in light of his activism on the issue, we have mutually agreed to suspend our freelance relationship with him.”

    Asked about the substance of Kessler’s speech in Charlottesville, Conner offered no comment on Kessler’s statements. In an email, he said only, “We pay writers for journalism, not their opinions.”

    An editor’s note was appended to Kessler’s article after ProPublica reached out to the Caller about the piece, stating: “The author notified The Daily Caller after publication that he spoke at a luncheon May 14 on behalf of an effort to preserve the monument.”

    Media Matters contacted Daily Caller editors this morning about the outlet’s relationship with Kessler, whether the editors regretted publishing him, and if they would consider publishing him in the future. Shortly afterward, the publication removed Kessler’s author page and all his pieces on the site. Media Matters followed up by asking for a clarification about why the site deleted those pieces. The Caller did not respond to a request for comment by publication time.


    Screenshots of Kessler's Daily Caller work

    Infowars has also had a role in promoting Kessler and his racist work.

    Editor Paul Joseph Watson, who himself has a history of racism, aired a roughly 30-minute interview with Kessler in January to “discuss the insanity of the left and how they have lost all grip on reality.” The interview is featured on Alex Jones’ Youtube channel with the headline “Jason Kessler: Anti-White Racism Must End.” Infowars also posted a roughly 20-minute April interview with Kessler during which he warned Infowars viewers that there’s a “very pressing danger with these people” who are trying to take down Confederate statues. Both interviews promoted Kessler’s nonprofit and Twitter account.

    Alex Jones aired a roughly 15-minute interview with Kessler on August 13, the day after the Saturday rally. During the segment, Jones complained that the media is “penalizing this guy because he’s saying one-third of the racist stuff that I disagree with against the [George] Soros group that’s a total cutout, just make us fight with each other. So how does media say he caused all the violence when clearly antifa was the ones attacking?” (Infowars has been claiming that philanthropist and one-time Media Matters donor George Soros has been purposely funding the Charlottesville violence.) Jones later said during the interview that Kessler walked into a “trap” set by Kessler's enemies by being at the Charlottesville rally this past weekend.

    Kessler wrote three pieces for the “alt-right” affiliated outlet GotNews from January through March. Trump has reportedly received news from that outlet, which is headed by racist troll Charles C. Johnson.

    Kessler has also written several posts for the anti-immigrant white nationalist site VDare. A June 19 post (his most recent) concludes that the “governments of the West are waging a campaign of slow extermination against their own core populations. It is white genocide.”

    VDare recently announced that it will host a conference next year at Cheyenne Mountain Resort in Colorado Springs, CO. The 2018 event will feature VDare Editor Peter Brimelow, Breitbart.com columnist and former Republican Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo, and writer John Derbyshire, who describes himself as a “mild and tolerant” “homophobe” and “racist.”

    Brimelow has also contributed op-eds for The Daily Caller. His website posted a defense of the rally on August 12 by “Charlottesville Survivor,” which concluded that “it’s not Unite The Right that is ‘dividing’ America. Whites who aren’t comfortable with being dispossessed in every single Western country, or with seeing the symbols of their heritage wiped out, gathered to protest peacefully. … Why should Unite The Right apologize for anything? Indeed, how can the ‘Far Right’ be regarded as anything other than an incredibly moderate protest movement against a deliberate campaign of genocide?” (The white supremacists did not actually “protest peacefully.”)

  • After Charlottesville terrorism, black voices provide vital perspective on the pervasiveness of racism in America

    Blog ››› ››› DINA RADTKE

    After a white supremacist, neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, VA, left one person dead and many others injured, black voices in the media conveyed a powerful and unequivocal rebuke of the resurgence of emboldened white nationalism in America.

    Black voices took to Sunday news shows to share the pain felt by them and their community and rebuke the argument that “many sides” were to blame for the white supremacist rally. The “Unite the Right” demonstration on August 12 was designed to be “one of the largest gatherings of white nationalists in recent times, attracting groups like the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis and movement leaders like David Duke and Richard Spencer,” according to The New York Times. The rally prompted counterprotesters to turn out en masse to collectively denounce the hateful demonstrations, and clashes between the sides quickly ensued. One 20-year-old who stood with white nationalists at the rally and has been described as a Nazi sympathizer drove his car through a crowd of counterprotesters, killing one woman and leaving 19 injured. President Donald Trump has received widespread criticism for personally failing to denounce white supremacy or call it out by name following the incident and instead condemning “violence on many sides.”

    On CNN’s State of the Union, Van Jones bluntly noted that “an American citizen was assassinated in broad daylight by a Nazi” who “the day before had been marching with torches down American streets … this is not a time to talk about both sides.” Jones said that it was “almost painful” that he had to point out the distinction, adding that “people watching this show gave their lives to stop Nazism. Dr. King gave his life to stop the Klan.” Jones also admonished the president for sending “a signal to people that this is all right” by decrying “many sides, many sides.” From the August 13 episode:

    Another guest on the panel, Nina Turner, communicated the deep pain felt by African Americans, asking, “Do you understand the pain? My heart is skipping beats right now to think about all that my foreparents went through to get to this point in time in America’s history. … People are in pain, having flashbacks. In the 21st century, we shouldn’t be going through this.” From the episode:

    NBC’s Joy Reid noted that Trump’s response marked an “extraordinary” moment in history, saying, “The idea that a president of the United States cannot unambiguously denounce Nazism is extraordinary, and Donald Trump has placed himself in a history. There is no way that I think the American people could have contemplated that their president could not unequivocally condemn David Duke and Nazis. And he couldn’t, and he didn’t.” From the August 13 edition of Meet the Press:

    And on CBS' Face the Nation, as the panel debated the motives behind Trump's ambiguous condemnation of violence at the rally, Slate's Jamelle Bouie highlighted that "in the context of an event that was held to defend Confederate statues in Charlottesville, VA, to say we need to ‘cherish our history,’ to me, sounds like a dog whistle to the ‘Unite the Right’ demonstrators.” From the August 13 episode:

    Politicians and media figures from across the political spectrum have come together to denounce the racism, anti-Semitism, and outright bigotry exhibited at the rally, despite Trump’s failure to call out the racism by name. But it was black voices that shined through with important perspective and historical context.