Stephen Miller emails reveal white nationalist origin of Fox News talking points


The Southern Poverty Law Center has obtained emails from 2015 and 2016 between White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller — at the time an adviser to then-Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) — and then-Breitbart editor Katie McHugh. The emails show both Miller’s dedication to a number of prominent ideas in the white nationalist far-right circles and his determination to see them gain further exposure in the media.

Four years later, the ideas that Miller secretly mentioned in his emails are now being openly discussed on Fox News and saturate right-wing media.

Miller pushed the “great replacement” conspiracy theory

Fox News hosts have avidly pushed the “great replacement” conspiracy theory, the idea that white people are being systematically “replaced” by non-white immigrants. Tucker Carlson, for example, has become Fox’s most prominent mouthpiece for white nationalism by decrying immigration and diversity for “radically and permanently changing our country.”

In one message to McHugh in September 2015, Miller praised a Carlson segment as “a good chance” to attack pro-immigration talking points.

For years, commentators on Fox News have praised Miller’s ideas for screening out and deporting refugees and asylum-seekers, and even potentially closing the U.S. southern border with Mexico entirely.

This racist rhetoric became a major story in August when a white nationalist gunman, citing talking points regularly aired on Fox News, murdered 22 people in El Paso, Texas. Media Matters had long identified Fox News as a nexus of white nationalist rhetoric in the Trump era; after the shooting, a major New York Times investigation found the same. Just look at how often Fox News talked about an immigrant “invasion”:

Despite deadly consequences, Fox News still pushes extreme nativism to generate ratings: Just last night, in a monologue denouncing European policies on immigration and refugees, Laura Ingraham said that the 2020 election in the United States would be about preserving “our history and our heritage.” And earlier this week, Carlson said that admitting more migrants will turn the United States into “a place you wouldn’t want to live.”

Miller praised Calvin Coolidge and immigration policies based in racism

The email messages show Miller’s great admiration of President Calvin Coolidge, who signed the restrictionist Immigration Act of 1924, which lasted as the basis of American immigration policy until major reforms in the 1960s. (Coolidge also held racist views that were inextricably tied to his immigration policy, declaring: “Quality of mind and body suggests that observance of ethnic law is as great a necessity to a nation as immigration law.”)

In April 2015, Miller joked about new additions to the immigration museum at Ellis Island: “Something tells me there is not a Calvin Coolidge exhibit.”

In an email from June 2015, Miller linked to an article about the Immigrant Heritage Month and wrote: “This would seem a good opportunity to remind people about the heritage established by Calvin Coolidge, which covers four decades of the 20th century.”

Coolidge’s immigration policy has also been championed at Fox. The network’s website published a column defending his immigration restrictions by professor and author Barry Strauss in November 2016, a couple of weeks after Trump was elected, declaring that Coolidge “was not a racist, at least not by the standards of the day.” And just this past July, Fox contributor Cal Thomas ran a syndicated column titled “The bold solution we may need to fix our broken immigration system,” praising Coolidge’s record for having immigration “reduced to a trickle.”

In an email thread in August 2015, another then-Sessions aide, Garrett Murch, wrote: “Mark Levin just said there should be no immigration for several years. Not just cut the number down from the current 1 million green cards per year. For assimilation purposes.”

Miller praised the idea from the right-wing talk show host and tied it back to the former president: “Like Coolidge did. Kellyanne Conway poll says that is exactly what most Americans want after 40 years of non-stop record arrivals.”

Levin now has his own weekend TV show on Fox News on which he talked about Democrats allegedly using immigration to take over the country politically: “For the left, it’s about power, politics, taking red border states, making them purple, and eventually blue. And you know what? They’re succeeding.”

Miller touted racist novel The Camp of the Saints

Another one of Miller’s fascinations detailed in the emails seems to be with a racist French novel, The Camp of the Saints, published in 1973. Telling the tale of a wave of non-white refugees who ultimately destroy French society, it has gained a wide far-right following. For his part, Miller urged Breitbart to get in a mention of the book in September 2015, writing, “You see the Pope saying west must, in effect, get rid of borders. Someone should point out the parallels to Camp of the Saints.” (Such an article was soon published, titled “‘Camp of the Saints’ Seen Mirrored in Pope’s Message.”)

Right-wing commentator Mark Steyn has repeatedly promoted The Camp of the Saints during his own appearances on Fox News, often as a guest or a substitute host for Carlson.

Miller shared content published by white nationalist websites

In his emails, Miller shared content from white nationalist sites VDare and American Renaissance, echoing the behavior of some Fox News hosts. Carlson’s comments on Indigenous Peoples’ Day and Columbus Day this year, for instance, directly mirrored the language of American Renaissance’s Jared Taylor, a well-known white supremacist.

Taylor has praised Carlson’s show for attacking diversity. Carlson’s website The Daily Caller has published a number of white nationalists, at least one with links to Taylor.

Laura Ingraham also uses her cable show to promote Miller's brand of anti-immigration extremism. Her August 2018 rant directly used rhetoric from Taylor and other white nationalists. Ingraham’s anti-immigrant rant in August 2018 also directly used rhetoric from Taylor and other white nationalists. A Fox News op-ed in 2018 linked to an American Renaissance article by Taylor which accused Democrats of subjecting “whites to outright racial plunder.” Another 2018 Fox News article cited a white supremacist whose book had been endorsed by Taylor.

There are also links between Fox News and white nationalist website VDare. VDare thanked Carlson after he defended far-right figures who had been kicked off social media platforms for violating their policies. Carlson’s The Daily Caller has also published VDare’s Peter Brimelow.

Breitbart and Facebook

And to bring this back to the start, a quick word on Breitbart’s own reach. It’s not really new that Breitbart is white nationalist -- we already knew, for instance that the site even let neo-Nazis ghostwrite articles.

And the white nationalist rhetoric didn’t just jump from Breitbart to Fox News. It also jumped into Facebook as a whole, which is now deeply infested with white nationalist memes and talking points. It’s an entire self-contained ecosystem. (And it's not just Facebook either.)

Instead of addressing this problem, Facebook’s news initiative teamed up with Breitbart as a trusted partner. Meanwhile, the site can’t go even a few days without grossly violating ethical standards, such as naming the whistleblower in the ongoing Trump impeachment inquiry.