President Trump issued a stark warning to antifa, the collective of militant anti-fascist leftist groups, ahead of a rally on Saturday in Portland, Oregon, where antifa activists were widely expected to confront far-right activists.
“Major consideration is being given to naming ANTIFA an ‘ORGANIZATION OF TERROR,’” Trump tweeted. “Portland is being watched very closely. Hopefully the Mayor will be able to properly do his job!”
Notably, the president did not warn or criticize the controversial right-wing group organizing the rally that antifa was planning to protest against. Organizers Joe Biggs and Enrique Tarrio, who did not receive a permit for the rally, are members of the Proud Boys, a group of self-proclaimed “Western chauvinists” with links to the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville in 2017 and a history of violence against left-wing activists. The Southern Poverty Law Center has designated them as a hate group.
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler told the Oregonian he believed self-described members of the alt-right like Biggs and Tarrio come to Portland hoping to foment violence, well aware that it is home to a large antifa contingent, Rose City Antifa. “I think they come to Portland because it gives them a platform,” Wheeler said. “They know that if they come here conflict is almost guaranteed.”
Of Trump’s tweet, Wheeler said, “Frankly, it is not helpful.”
Trump’s disinterest in criticizing the Proud Boys is part of a longer trend in which he’s remained completely silent or, at most, has been mildly critical of the threat posed by white nationalist and white supremacist organizations, many of whom view his presidency as a boon for their cause and whose language echoes that of the president.
Trump often undercuts his criticism of hate with statements that run counter to the point he seems to be making, and with political talking points. As Vox’s Aaron Rupar writes, following a mass shooting that killed 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue, “Trump responded by reading a speech in which he denounced the ‘evil anti-Semitic attack.’ But during unscripted comments later that same day, he lamented that there wasn’t an armed guard inside the synagogue.”
And following the recent shooting in El Paso — in which the shooter left writings that made it clear he hoped to target members of the Latinx community — Trump said “one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigotry, and white supremacy,” but also blamed mental illness and video games for the violence.
The president also, infamously, responded to the death of Heather Heyer amid the violence in Charlottesville by saying there were “very fine people on both sides” of a protest that included neo-Nazis and members of the Ku Klux Klan.
Trump has been repeatedly critical of antifa, however, and has threatened in the past to label the association a terrorist organization. GOP lawmakers have already made symbolic gestures to the same effect: In July, Republican Sens. Ted Cruz (TX) and Bill Cassidy (LA) introduced a nonbinding resolution that would label antifa activists as terrorists.
“Antifa are terrorists, violent masked bullies who ‘fight fascism’ with actual fascism, protected by Liberal privilege,” Cassidy said in a statement. “Bullies get their way until someone says no. Elected officials must have courage, not cowardice, to prevent terror.”
Part of what would make Cassidy and Cruz’s effort difficult (beyond the fact that antifa has not yet committed any terror acts) is that antifa is not a centrally organized organization. Its members mostly participate in actions anonymously, making it difficult to pin down a clearly stated ideology or code of ethics toward violence.
“The group of typically black-clad activists are radicals who believe the best way to deal with the rise of white supremacy and hate groups in the Trump era is by confronting them on the street,” Vox’s Zack Beauchamp has explained. “Sometimes, this means organizing demonstrations against them; other times, it means brawling in the streets.”
In anticipation of a standoff between antifa and the members of the alt-right who gathered in the city Saturday, Mayor Wheeler and Portland Police Chief Danielle Outlaw ordered that no police officers would have the day off, and more than two dozen other agencies, including the FBI, were involved in preparation. Fortunately, despite some altercations, the protests remained largely peaceful and the bulk of the alt-right demonstrators were escorted out of the area police had cordoned off for them following a brief event.
Both antifa and alt-right representatives called the event a success; Trump, however, did not tweet what he took away from his close watch of the situation.
Imagery for the QAnon conspiracy movement has become increasingly present at Trump rallies and among pro-Trump social media users. It even made a campaign ad.
Now, the president has breathed yet more life into it.
During his morning Twitter session Thursday, Trump quote-tweeted an anti-immigrant post by “MAGA Michelle.” The user’s bio includes the hashtag #WWG1WGA — short for “where we go one, we go all” — a phrase that followers of the deep-state conspiracy frequently attach to their social media posts.
“My children & grandchildren are dreamers & should COME FIRST! Trump we got ur back, build that wall 100 ft tall!” MAGA Michelle wrote over a video of a black Trump supporter. “Hey Democrats that plantation is getting smaller by the day!”
Former Arizona Diamondbacks pitching great Curt Schilling said he is “absolutely considering” running for the U.S. Congress in Arizona, and it appears he has the support of President Donald Trump.
In an email to the Arizona Republic, Schilling, 52, who retired from baseball in 2007, cited immigration issues as motivation for his possible move into politics. The newspaper report notes that Schilling would run against one of the state’s five Democrats, but he did not specify which district he is considering.
“The state is not the state I grew up in. Making Arizona citizens of EVERY Race, religion and sexual orientation 2nd class citizens to illegal immigrants is about as anti-American as it gets,” wrote Schilling. “When you have homeless veterans, children, and you’re spending tax dollars on people smuggling drugs and children across our border someone in charge needs their ass kicked.”
The three-time World Series champion first revealed his plans for a political future on Sunday in an interview with Armed American Radio’s Mark Walters.
“I haven’t said anything publicly, but I’m considering going back to Arizona and running for a congressional seat, one of the blue ones,” he said Sunday. “It’s something that my wife and I have talked about, and she’s now becoming more and more pumped at the potential. Obviously, we’re still quite a few discussions away, but yeah, it’s something we’re absolutely considering.”
In a tweet Tuesday morning, Trump called the news “terrific,” writing, “Curt Schilling, a great pitcher and patriot, is considering a run for Congress in Arizona. Terrific!”
Schilling has been the center of controversy in the past for his race-baiting tweets and harsh anti-Muslim sentiment. In August 2015, Schilling shared a meme on Twitterthat compared Muslims and Nazis.
The Trump administration has known since at least April that alleged white supremacists were responsible for every single act of race-based domestic terrorism in the U.S. in 2018, yet not only took no action to combat the growing right wing violent extremism, but actually substantially reduced or even eliminated funding and programsthat combat white supremacist extremism, violence, and terrorism – and then blocked the data from reaching the hands of Congress.
“Domestic Terrorism in 2018,” a document (embedded below) prepared by the State of New Jersey’s Office of Homeland Security Preparedness, “shows 25 of the 46 individuals allegedly involved in 32 different domestic terrorism incidents were identified as white supremacists,” Yahoo News’ Jana Winter and Hunter Walker report.
That document finds there were “32 domestic terrorist attacks, disrupted plots, threats of violence, and weapons stockpiling by individuals with a radical political or social agenda who lack direction or influence from foreign terrorist organizations in 2018.”
The report was “circulated” throughout the U.S. Dept. of Justice “and around the country in April just as members of the Senate pushed the DOJ to provide them with precise information about the number of white supremacists involved in domestic terrorism.”
The Justice Department, under President Trump’s hand-picked Attorney General Bill Barr, refused to hand over the data or the document to Congress.
ADL reported that “Right-wing extremists were linked to at least 50 extremist-related murders in the United States in 2018, making them responsible for more deaths than in any year since 1995, according to new data from the ADL.”
1995 was the year domestic terrorist Timothy McVeigh blew up the Oklahoma City federal building, slaughtering 168 people and injuring more than 680 others.
“The tally represents a 35 percent increase from the 37 extremist-related murders in 2017,” ADL reported, “making 2018 the fourth-deadliest year on record for domestic extremist-related killings since 1970. Last year saw the highest percentage of right-wing extremist-related killings since 2012, the last year when all documented killings were by right-wing extremists.”
Why the Dept. of Justice and the White House blocked the data from reaching Congress is now yet another investigation Congress should take up.
Here’s the document the DOJ refused to hand over to Members of the House and Senate:
A current State Department official served as the leader of a white-nationalist organization in Washington, DC, according to a report from the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) released on Wednesday.
The official, identified as Matthew Gebert, “hosted white nationalists at his home and published white nationalist propaganda online,” the report said.
A State Department spokesperson on Wednesday told INSIDER that Gebert is a foreign-affairs officer assigned to the Bureau of Energy Resources in Washington, DC.
When asked whether the allegations in the SPLC report would affect Gebert’s employment status, the department spokesperson told INSIDER, “The Department of State cannot comment on personnel issues but is committed to providing an inclusive workplace.”
Gebert joined the department in 2013, according to the SPLC report, during the Obama administration. Based on his position as a foreign-affairs officer, he’s a civil servant and not a political appointee.
According to the SPLC report, Gebert operated online under the pseudonym “Coach Finstock.”
“Through that alias, he expressed a desire to build a country for whites only,” the report said.
President Donald Trump spent part of Tuesday morning tweeting about a
segment from Fox Business host Lou Dobbs’ show which championed Kevin
Cernekee, a former Google engineer who claims he was fired because of
the company’s purported anti-conservative bias. “All very illegal,”
Trump concluded of the company’s purported actions, adding, “We are
watching Google very closely!” This is at least the third time Trump has
publicly suggested he would take action against Google based on what
he’s seen on Fox.
Right-wing media have trumpeted Cernekee’s story over the
past few days, with outlets fitting him neatly into their narrative that
tech companies have it in for Republicans. But the story is more
complicated than that: While it portrays him as a rank-and-file
conservative, Cernekee appears to have repeatedly defended white
nationalists on internal Google message boards.
How Cernekee’s story ended up on the president’s Twitter
says a lot about the right-wing media ecosystem, their obsession with
finding supposed conservative martyrs of tech companies, and Trump’s
reckless consumption and promotion of whatever Fox News happens to put
in front of his eyes.
The cautionary tale of “Republican engineer” Kevin Cernekee
On Thursday, The Wall Street Journal’s Rob Copeland profiled
Cernekee, portraying him as a “Republican engineer” fired from the
company for the conservative views he expressed on the company’s
internal message boards.
“Google told Mr. Cernekee in a termination letter that he
was let go for multiple violations of company policies, including
improperly downloading company information and misuse of the
remote-access software system,” Copeland reported. “Mr. Cernekee, who
hasn’t spoken publicly before about his status at Google, denies that.
He says he was fired for being an outspoken conservative in famously
liberal Silicon Valley.”
Copeland largely paraphrased Cernekee’s message board posts
or accepted his explanations of them rather than quoting their content.
This made it impossible for readers to assess precisely what his views
were. But the story’s 28th paragraph provides a tantalizing detail: A
fellow conservative engineer “internally circulated a dossier describing
Mr. Cernekee as ‘the face of the alt-right’ at Google” (that engineer
was also later fired).
It remains contested whether Cernekee’s views triggered his
termination. But the Journal’s framing of Cernekee as simply a
“Republican” with “conservative take[s]” who stands up for other
“right-leaning employees” created the impression that it is open season
on anyone to the right of Hillary Clinton. That makes his actual
The Daily Caller, which has its own complicated history with the alt-right, pulled on that thread a few days later
(though only after producing multiple stories amplifying Cernekee’s
claims). Deputy Editor J. Arthur Bloom reported that Cernekee had
“suggested raising money under the auspices of the company’s free speech
listserv for a bounty to identify Richard Spencer’s assailant.”
After Spencer, one of the nation’s most prominent white
nationalists, was punched while giving an interview in January 2017,
Cernekee suggested putting together a group donation to support the
search for the puncher through racist troll Charles Johnson’s website.
Cernekee identified Spencer only as a “well known
conservative activist.” When other Google employees pointed out that
Spencer is “a prominent, vehement racist and anti-Semite,” Cernekee
Bloom also reported that Cernekee had criticized a media
description of the “Golden State Skinheads” as a neo-Nazi group, and he
praised the organization for “[standing] up for free speech and free
“Conservatives angry at big tech may view such postings as a
cautionary lesson in the importance of vetting their cause célèbres,”
Conservative media made Cernekee a cause célèbre
Right-wing media outlets have spent the last several years trumpeting complaints
that social media platforms are biased against conservatives. This
behavior is consistent with conservatives’ decades-long strategy of
decrying the news media as biased against them in order to influence
media coverage. But it is inconsistent with the facts.
“There is no evidence that Google, Facebook, or any other
major tech company is biased against conservative employees or
conservative content,” Recode reported
in response to Cernekee’s allegations. “While it is true that most tech
employees lean liberal in their personal beliefs, that doesn’t mean
that their employers discriminate in the workplace, or in the products
they build and maintain.”
Cernekee’s story echoed the conservative narrative
about tech companies’ bias, and it rocketed through the right-wing media
after Thursday’s Wall Street Journal profile. He was treated as both a
conservative martyr and as a credible source for information on Google’s
Notably, these aggregations portrayed Cernekee as a
typical conservative, with only the Post mentioning that Cernekee had
been linked to the “alt-right.”
By Friday night, Cernekee was being feted on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show, a regular home for both deceptive attacks on tech companies and white supremacist talking points.
After providing the former engineer the platform to repeat his
allegation that he was fired for being a conservative, Carlson turned
his attention to Google’s influence on the 2020 election.
“Do you believe that Google will attempt to influence the
election outcome or will attempt to try to prevent Trump from being
reelected?” Carlson asked.
“I do believe so. I think that’s a major threat,” he replied.
“And yet, Congress, including Republicans are just sitting
back and acting like it’s not happening,” Carlson responded. “It’s
disgusting. Kevin, thank you for sounding that alarm.”
Fox’s morning show Fox & Friends hosted Cernekee on Monday where he repeated his allegation that Google intends to prevent Trump’s reelection.
That interview, in turn, became the basis for a segment on the Monday night edition of Fox Business’ Lou Dobbs Tonight, which aired several hours after the Daily Caller published its story detailing Cernekee’s postings.
“That is nasty stuff,” the host commented of Cernekee’s
allegations, “and by the way, it’s illegal.” He later added that the
Justice Department “should be sitting right inside the Google complex”
to prevent “a fraud on the American public.” His guest, Breitbart.com’s
Peter Schweizer, added that DOJ should be “monitoring what Google is
doing in real time now.”
Dobbs’ show attracts fewer than 400,000 viewers on average. But Trump is often one of them, and he was apparently watching Monday night.
Cernekee’s allegations enter the Trump-Fox feedback loop
Trump is obsessed with Fox, watching hours of its
programming every day and frequently tweeting about segments that catch
his attention. This Trump-Fox feedback loop regularly influences the Trump administration’s policy, personnel, and political strategy.
On Monday morning, Trump promised
to “honor the sacred memory of those we have lost” during mass
shootings in El Paso, TX, and Dayton, OH, by “acting as one people.”
That night, he tweetedthreeclips
from Dobbs’ show. Two of the president’s tweets dealt with the
program’s discussion of Cernekee’s claim that Google is biased against
The next morning, after tweeting twoquotes from the morning’s edition of Fox & Friends, Trump returned to the issue of Google’s bias.
In a tweetstorm, the president contrasted what he said he
had been told by Google CEO Sundar Pichai with what he had heard on
Dobbs’ show the previous night, including from Cernekee.
Trump-Fox feedback loop is particularly salient in giving the president
targets for his ire, and the network’s obsession with tech platform
bias has repeatedly resulted in angry Trump tweets. This is at least the
third time Trump has responded to Fox segments by tweeting that his
administration would take action against Google.
In August 2018, in response to a conspiracy-minded Dobbs segment,
the president accused Google of illegally “suppressing voices of
Conservatives” adding that his administration would address the
And last month, Trump tweeted that his administration would review whether Google has committed “treason” after he saw a Fox & Friends news brief in which one of his supporters baselessly floated that claim.
Conservatives have a political and financial interest in
ginning up claims that the tech platforms are biased against them, and
right-wing media eagerly amplify their claims for their own interests.
This pattern will continue and such issues that don’t hold up to
scrutiny will be thrust into the mainstream discourse because the
president of the United States loves to watch Fox News.
President Donald Trump took to Twitter on Friday to embrace former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon as one of his “best pupils” after his ex-aide appeared on CNBC and dissed Trump’s 2020 rivals. “Nice to see that one of my best pupils is still a giant Trump fan,” the president wrote on Twitter. “Steve joined me after I won the primaries, but I loved working with him!” The tweet, which also included a clip of Bannon praising Trump as a “great leader,” was a far cry from Trump’s earlier Twitter takedowns of his former aide, in which he mocked Bannon as “Sloppy Steve” and claimed he’d “cried” when he was booted from the White House. In his comments to CNBC, Bannon talked up Trump’s chances of winning a second term and said no current Democrat in the presidential race could beat Trump. “If the Democratic Party wants to take on Donald Trump, I got a news flash for them: They’re not going to take on Donald Trump with Joe Biden,” he said, adding that Biden likely couldn’t take Trump’s “withering assault” during the campaign. He described the rest of the Democratic field as “a pillow fight” that couldn’t withstand the “amazing campaigner” Trump is. “If they want to take out Donald Trump, I don’t see anybody on the stage on either night that are going to come close to taking out Donald Trump,” Bannon said.
President Trump on Saturday doubled down on his defense of his handling of a rally crowd this week that chanted “send her back” when he took aim at progressive Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), maintaining that he didn’t “lead people on” and was not “particularly happy” with the chant.
Trump in a tweet also reiterated his praise for the crowd, calling it “very big and patriotic.” The president on Friday afternoon similarly praised those who took part in the chant at his rally in North Carolina, calling them “patriots” after earlier distancing himself from the chant.
“As you can see, I did nothing to lead people on, nor was I particularly happy with their chant. Just a very big and patriotic crowd. They love the USA!” Trump tweeted early Saturday, sharing a tweet that included video of the chanting crowd from his rally on Wednesday night.
Trump first distanced himself from the chant on Thursday as a number of GOP lawmakers spoke out against the chant, with Republicans saying they did not want it to become a narrative for the party heading into the 2020 elections. Trump said he disagreed with the audience reaction, but has since spoken out in defense of the crowd while blasting what he called “crazed” media coverage of the controversy. The rally chant punctuated days of political uproar over tweets Trump sent last weekend in which he called on four minority congresswomen to “go back” to where they came from, comments widely denounced by Democrats and a number of Republicans as racist. All four Democrats targeted by Trump – Omar and fellow Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), Rashida Tlaib (Mich.) and Ayanna Pressley (Mass.) – are U.S. citizens and each was born in the U.S. with the exception of Omar, who was born in Somalia before immigrating to the United States as a refugee. Omar was greeted by a crowd chanting “welcome home” when she arrived at a Minnesota airport this week. On Friday, Trump ratcheted up his attacks on the four Democratic congresswomen who are all outspoken critics of his administration, telling reporters at the White House before departing to New Jersey for the weekend: “I don’t know if it’s good or bad politically. I don’t care.” “Many people say it’s good. I don’t know if it’s good or bad,” he continued. “I can tell you this: You can’t talk that way about our country. Not when I’m the president.”
Donald Trump retweeted a deceptively edited clip by Katie Hopkins, a known white supremacist who calls immigrants “cockroaches” and praised the racist “send her back” chants, to claim he did not lead the crowd… to repeat his own words that women of color should “go back to the crime infested country they came from.
If the video was more honest, you would see moments before Trump was whipping up the crowd with various lies about Rep. Ilhan Omar.
During an Oval Office event on Friday that was ostensibly to honor Apollo 11 astronauts, Trump cut off a reporter who tried to ask him about his effort to distance himself from the chants, and instead offered a full-throated defense of not only his supporters who made them but also racist tweets he posted last Sunday that incited them.
“You know what I’m unhappy with? I’m unhappy with the fact that a congresswoman can hate our country,” Trump said, alluding to Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), one of a group of four congresswomen of color whom he last Sunday admonished on Twitter to “go back” to the countries they came from (Omar is a Somali refugee; the other three women were born in America). “I’m unhappy with the fact that a congresswoman can say anti-Semitic things. I’m unhappy with the fact that a congresswoman — in this case, a different congresswoman — can call our country, and our people, garbage. That’s what I’m unhappy with.”
Trump then turned to defending the people at his rally, who chanted “send her back!” after he viciously attacked Omar using misleading claims like the ones he made on Friday. (For instance, despite what Trump claimed in the Oval Office, none of the congresswomen in question have called America or its people “garbage.”)
“Those people in North Carolina, that stadium was packed,” Trump said. “It was a record crowd and I could’ve filled it 10 times, as you know. Those are incredible people, those are incredible patriots. But I’m unhappy when a congresswoman goes and says, ‘I’m going to be the president’s nightmare.’ She’s going to be the president’s nightmare. She’s lucky to be where she is, let me tell you. And the things she has said are a disgrace to our country.”
Trump’s comments came hours after he similarly suggested on Twitter that the racist chants were somehow justified because there were so many people — “packed Arena (a record) crowd” — at his rally.
Trump’s “incredible people” line echoed how he defended white supremacists following violent rallies in Charlottesville, Virginia, two summers ago, when he infamously characterized them as “very fine people.” And for those who have been paying attention, the president’s latest defense of racism shouldn’t come as a surprise.
Trump told us this week he isn’t concerned about his or his supporters’ racism because “many people agree” with him
Asked during a White House event that day if it concerns him that “many people saw that tweet as racist and that white nationalist groups are finding common cause with you on that point,” Trump said he is not.
“It doesn’t concern me because many people agree with me,” he said.
These comments provide a window into how Trump thinks about the world. Moral judgments take a back seat to whatever people around him think. Racism is okay because many of his supporters are also prejudiced, and they agree with him when he makes loaded attacks on women of color. And as a matter of expedience, Trump views stoking his supporters’ sense of white grievance as a way to motivate them to go out and vote, and hence as a premeditated strategy to win a second term in office.
Trump is concerned with doing what he perceives to be most beneficial for himself, not about rightness or wrongness in any sense beyond that. To that end, he’s now walked back the insincere effort he made just the day before to distance himself from an ugly incident that represented a new low in his long history of racial demagoguery. And as long as he perceives that Omar and other congresswomen are useful political foils for him, it’s likely that such chants will become a staple at his rallies going forward.
A conspiracy theorist, a meme creator and a plagiarist. Those are just some of the eyebrow raising attendees who will descend on the White House on Thursday for an event that will likely become a forum for airing claims of anti-conservative social media bias.President Trump is calling it a “social media summit,” but the White House did not extend invites to representatives from Facebook or Twitter. Instead, the White House has invited its political allies to the event.In addition to inviting leaders from traditional conservative think tanks, such as the Heritage Foundation and Claremont Institute, the White House has requested the presence of far-right internet personalities and trolls, some of whom have pushed conspiracy theories, lies and misinformation.It’s perhaps the clearest example yet of President Trump legitimizing fringe political allies.The White House has repeatedly declined to release a list people it expects to attend, but some of the recipients have turned to social media to boast about being invited.Among them are Bill Mitchell, a radio host who has promoted the extremist QAnon conspiracy theory on Twitter; Carpe Donktum, an anonymous troll who won a contest put on by the fringe media organization InfoWars for an anti-media meme; and Ali Alexander, an activist who attempted to smear Sen. Kamala Harris by saying she is not an “American black” following the first Democratic presidential debates.
Other eyebrow raising attendees include James O’Keefe, the guerrilla journalist whose group Project Veritas tried to trick reporters at the Washington Post by planting a source who told the paper that she had been impregnated as a teenager by failed Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore; Charlie Kirk, the founder of the right-wing student group Turning Point USA who sometimes posts misleading information on social media; and Benny Johnson, the journalist-turned-activist who was fired for plagiarism by BuzzFeed and demoted at the Independent Journal Review for violating company standards.Asked about the unconventional resumes of the people invited to the summit, the White House declined to comment beyond a statement released Tuesday. That statement, from spokesman Judd Deere, referenced an online tool the White House released in May for people to report instances of perceived social media bias.”After receiving thousands of responses, the President wants to engage directly with these digital leaders in a discussion on the power of social media,” Deere said in the statement.At least one of the individuals invited proved to be too far off in the fringe even for the White House. An administration official told CNN on Wednesday that the White House had rescinded its invitation to cartoonist Ben Garrison, who had drawn a cartoon widely condemned as anti-Semitic.Deere did not return a request for comment seeking more information about Garrison’s invite being rescinded.Garrison said in a statement that he had spoken to the White House on Tuesday and they had concluded his “presence at the social media summit would be a media distraction.” Garrison said he was “asked to remain silent about the whole thing,” but then the White House informed media about his invitation being rescinded, which he said “disappointed” him and prompted him to speak out about the allegations of anti-Semitism.
“It is obvious to anyone with common sense I am not anti-Semitic,” Garrison said in the statement. “I have received many emails of support from my Jewish friends. I’m not anti-Semitic merely because the [Anti-Defamation League] says I am.”It’s unclear exactly what will take place at Thursday’s summit. The White House has declined to release any information about the event, including a general format of how it will be conducted or what is expected of attendees.
One person who plans to attend, who spoke to CNN on the condition of anonymity, said, “We’re not sure what to expect. We’re not sure if it’s going to even be about policy.””All I know is there is going to be a bunch of people in a room talking about social media,” the person added. “It could be just more general, it could be vague. You know the president will be there so it could go in a number of different directions.”Claims of anti-conservative social media bias are nothing new. Republican lawmakers and conservative media personalities have for years lobbed claims of anti-conservative bias at Silicon Valley companies, whose employees tend to be largely left-leaning.But Trump has poured fuel on the fire, attacking large technology companies on a regular basis and suggesting they need to be regulated by the government.In a meeting earlier this year with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, Trump asked about the number of followers he has on Twitter. The president has suggested, without evidence, that Twitter makes it difficult for his supporters to follow him.Republican lawmakers in Congress have also held hearings over the past year in which they have questioned social media executives about their company practices.Such hearings have often strayed far from being fact-based conversations. At one hearing last year, Republicans invited the pro-Trump social media duo “Diamond & Silk” to testify. The two women spent the hearing spreading misinformation about social media companies. At other hearings, Republican lawmakers have cited articles from sites such as the right-wing Gateway Pundit to make their points.
Mitchell has boosted the “QAnon” conspiracy theory. Mitchell has regularly used his radio show and Twitter account to boost and legitimize “Q,” the central figure of the “QAnon” conspiracy theory, sometimes hosting major QAnon believers. Mitchell claimed on his show, “What Q is trying to do is motivate and encourage the base” by opposing media coverage that is critical of Trump. [Media Matters, 8/2/18; Right Wing Watch, 4/11/19]
Mitchell pushed a hoax smearing Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg. Mitchell helped spread a debunked hoax created by right-wing trolls Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman targeting South Bend, IN, Mayor and Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg. [Media Matters, 4/30/19]
Mitchell called for George Soros to be jailed and his assets seized. Last October, Mitchell tweeted that billionaire philanthropist George Soros was “guilty of seditious conspiracy against the United States” and questioned what would happen “if we threw Soros in prison and seized his assets as an enemy of the United States.” [Twitter, 10/6/18]
Donktum, a pro-Trump meme creator, won an Infowars “meme contest” and has been a repeated guest on the conspiracy theory outlet. Donktum is a meme creator whose videos lauding Trump and targeting his perceived enemies have been tweeted by the president’s Twitter account. He also won a 2018 “meme contest” held by the conspiracy theory outlet Infowars, where he has been a regular guest (including an appearance only days before the summit). [The Verge, 2/15/19; Infowars, 7/3/19; Twitter, 7/8/19]
Donktum helps run a media outlet with far-right figures. Donktum has assisted with the creation of the site Culttture, which is reportedly helmed by multiple far-right figures, including fellow summit guest Ali Akbar. [The Daily Dot, 1/22/19]
Donktum regularly posts on subreddit “r/The_Donald,” which has been quarantined for calls to violence. Donktum regularly posts on the subreddit “The_Donald,” which was quarantined by Reddit in June due to multiple posts calling for violence against law enforcement. [Reddit, accessed 7/8/19; Media Matters, 6/26/19]
Donktum has ties to white nationalist Stefan Molyneux. In May, Donktum defended Stefan Molyneux, a YouTube host and white nationalist who has also pushed anti-Semitism, tweeting an image of himself with Molyneux. [Twitter, 5/20/19; Media Matters, 5/20/19; Angry White Men, 7/8/19]
Kirk leads Turning Point USA, an organization with a history of racist incidents. Kirk’s group, which focuses on increasing right-wing political influence on college campuses, has a long history of involvement in racist incidents; for instance, its members have used social media to praise white supremacy and shared “racist memes and rape jokes” in chat messages. [Media Matters, 5/10/19]
Kirk has used social media to push lies and racist, anti-immigrant, and anti-Muslim messages. On his Twitter feed, Kirk has posted a number of tweets that malign immigrants and Muslims. He also once tweeted a flawed statistic that minimized police brutality against Black people, claiming that “a police officer is 18.5 times more likely to be killed by a black male, than an unarmed black man is to be killed by a police officer.” [Southern Poverty Law Center, 2/16/18; Media Matters, 5/10/19]
Kirk and other TPUSA members have pushed hoaxes and smears originating from believers of the “QAnon” conspiracy theory. In December, Kirk amplified a false claim that protesters in Paris were chanting, “We want Trump.” The claim had originated from a video tweeted out by a pro-QAnon Twitter account, but it was not part of the protests Kirk was referring to — in fact, the video wasn’t even shot in France. Trump himself retweeted Kirk’s false claim. Additionally, Joel Fischer, a member of Turning Point USA’s advisory council, pushed a baseless claim about Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) originating from believers of the “QAnon” conspiracy theory. [Media Matters, 12/4/18, 12/20/18]
Prager University is the viral social media video enterprise of anti-LGBTQ figure Dennis Prager. Prager, a right-wing pundit whose record includes falsely claiming “heterosexual AIDS” is an “entirely manufactured” myth and calling campus rape culture a “gargantuan lie to get votes,” founded his online video outlet Prager University to push right-wing doctrines and content that opposes social justice activism on social media. Despite Prager’s baseless claims that big tech is biased against his content, PragerU’s videos have racked up over 2 billion views since its 2011 founding. [Media Matters, 7/2/14, 10/30/14; Mother Jones, March/April 2018; Fox News, Fox & Friends, 6/26/19; PR Newswire, 3/14/19]
In 2018, BuzzFeed News reported on PragerU’s online success and on the site’s use of far-right internet personalities to deliver divisive messages:
Many of the people presenting these topics are establishment, PBS NewsHour–conservative types like [Bret] Stephens, Charles Krauthammer, and Steve Forbes. But more importantly, PragerU’s faculty includes an all-star lineup of internet and media personalities who have made their bones in the Trump era antagonizing the campus left: Ben Shapiro, Jordan Peterson, James Damore, Steven Crowder, Dinesh D’Souza, Christina Sommers, Adam Carolla, Charlie Kirk, and many more. They are, according to PragerU’s founder and namesake, the conservative talk radio host Dennis Prager, “the best thinkers presenting their best ideas.” Their goal: to “undo [the] damage” inflicted by an education system that teaches US students that their country is “a land of inequality and racism” and a place of which to be “ashamed.”
These ideas — each one expressed in a five-minute video with titles like “Facts Don’t Care About Your Feelings,” “Black, Millennial, Female and… Conservative,” “Why I Left the Left” and “Why Isn’t Communism as Hated as Nazism?” — have found an enormous, and growing, audience. According to PragerU’s annual report, in 2017 the organization’s videos received 625 million views between Facebook and YouTube, up from 250 million the year before, and 75 million the year before that. Individual videos frequently garner more than a million views; at least 10 PragerU videos gained more than 5 million views in 2017, and at least six gained more than 10 million.
The site is screaming with its own statistics. A massive rolling ticker on the front page shows an ever-increasing view count. (Currently: 1,167,125,834.) Beneath the ticker, demographic information and claims like “86% of viewers reference our videos in political discussions online” cycle through. Stay on the page more than a few seconds and a box pops up asking for your email and phone number. [BuzzFeed News, 3/3/18]
PragerU offers a platform to extremists. PragerU has offered a platform to extremist figures, including anti-Semitic bigot and conspiracy theorist Owen Benjamin and anti-LGBTQ bigot Steven Crowder. In his five-minute rant for PragerU, Crowder took issue with Columbus Day conversations centered on America’s original inhabitants in a video featuring racist cartoon depictions of indigenous people. PragerU is also home to a podcast hosted by former TPUSA Communications Director Candace Owens, who raised her profile through YouTube and Infowars punditry that included dismissing white supremacy and likening Black Lives Matter protesters to animals. She has also defended Adolf Hitler’s actions by saying, “If Hitler just wanted to make Germany great and have things run well, OK, fine. … I have no problems with nationalism.” [Media Matters, 2/4/19, 10/8/18, 4/24/18; PragerU, The Candace Owens Show, accessed 7/8/19]
PragerU’s videos often “function as dog whistles to the extreme right.” As documented by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a number of PragerU’s videos “function as dog whistles to the extreme right” by including anti-immigrant screeds that characterize immigration in Europe as the “suicide” of the continent or claim to explore whether some cultures “are better” than others. As scholar Francesca Tripodi explained to SPLC, some PragerU presenters have “connections” to “white nationalist thinkers” and the PragerU channel is “very blatantly algorithmically connected” to YouTube’s far-right content. [Southern Poverty Law Center, 6/7/18]
Ben Garrison (no longer invited)
Garrison’s cartoons have been used by white nationalists and far-right figures. A 2017 ThinkProgress profile reported that Garrison’s cartoons — which regularly laud Trump and target his perceived enemies — “have helped white nationalists spread their message online by coating the themes of racism, anti-Semitism and misogyny in layers of humor and irony.” The report also noted that his “work regularly features at the top of the popular sub-reddit, r/The_Donald, and has been shared by Mike Cernovich and Julian Assange.” Another profile, from Wired, noted that “his cartoons constantly trend on alt-right social media platforms like Gab.” [ThinkProgress, 9/7/17; Wired, 6/19/17]
Garrison has ties to multiple far-right figures. The Wired profile noted that “thanks in part to the support of alt-right figureheads like Mike Cernovich” — who also pushed the Pizzagate conspiracy theory and has connections to white nationalists — “Garrison’s income continues to swell,” and added that he “has a similarly warm relationship with pro-Trump YouTube personality and alleged cult leader Stefan Molyneux and frequently includes prominent ‘alt-light’ figures like Infowars’ Paul Joseph Watson and Yiannopoulos in his cartoons.” [Wired, 6/19/17; Media Matters, 8/21/18]
Garrison drew an anti-Semitic cartoon of Soros for far-right figure Mike Cernovich. In 2017, Garrison drew a cartoon showing Soros using puppet strings to control then-national security adviser H.R. McMaster, with another hand labeled “Rothschilds” using puppet strings to control Soros. Garrison later wrote that his “good buddy” Cernovich commissioned the cartoon. The Anti-Defamation League called it a “blatantly anti-Semitic cartoon.” In 2018, Garrison drew a cartoon claiming Soros was behind the migrant caravan. [HuffPost, 7/6/19; Twitter, 10/27/18]
Garrison has boosted the “QAnon” and Pizzagate conspiracy theories. Garrison has repeatedly drawn cartoons and written tweets that have pushed the “QAnon” and Pizzagate conspiracy theories. He also pushed a conspiracy theory originating from QAnon believers that falsely claimed “Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is hiding a secret illness or is even dead.” [Twitter, 6/6/19, 6/6/19, accessed 7/8/19; Right Wing Watch, 7/9/18; The Daily Beast, 1/31/19]
Garrison pushed a hoax smearing Christine Blasey Ford. Garrison pushed a hoax circulating on social media that Ford claimed to have called a friend on a cell phone in 1982 after her reported sexual assault by now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. [Twitter, 10/2/18]
Garrison has defended multiple far-right figures, falsely claiming one was thrown into a “Muslim prison.” Garrison drew a cartoon claiming Amazon was targeting far-right figures Tommy Robinson, Jared Taylor, and Daryush Valizadeh (also known as Roosh V). Garrison also drew a cartoon claiming Robinson would be put in jail with “Muslim Pedophiles, Rapists and Murderers” after Robinson was sentenced to 13 months in prison. [Twitter, 4/11/19; Media Matters, 1/19/17; The Daily Beast, 6/18/18]
Garrison drew cartoons implying Michelle Obama is a man and that David Hogg is controlled by CNN. In 2016, Garrison drew a cartoon of a muscular Michelle Obama with “a not-so-accidental looking bulge near Obama’s crotch area” that implied she was a man. In 2018, he drew a cartoon of Parkland, FL, mass shooting survivor David Hogg as a “ventriloquist’s dummy controlled by CNN, which was in turn controlled by the ‘Deep State.’” [Mic, 5/14/16; Vice, 3/21/18]
Garrison pushed the Seth Rich conspiracy theory, which was reportedly planted by Russian intelligence. Garrison drew a cartoon pushing the conspiracy theory that Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich was gunned down by people working for Hillary Clinton, which Yahoo! News reported was planted by Russian intelligence agents. [Twitter, 7/9/19; Yahoo! News, 7/9/19]
Garrison has a long history of pushing other conspiracy theories. When pipe bombs were mailed to multiple figures who had criticized Trump, Garrison drew a cartoon “entitled Raising a false flag, featuring Hillary Clinton, CNN media reporter Brian Stelter, and former CIA director John Brennan – all bombing targets.” Garrison also drew a cartoon of “a leering Obama” watching “as the South African state steals farmland from tearful whites,” a reference to a white nationalist conspiracy theory. In response to the death of Hillary Clinton’s brother in June, Garrison tweeted that “no one is safe around Hillary Clinton, not even her own brother.” [The Guardian, 10/26/18; Right Wing Watch, 10/26/18; The Atlantic, 8/23/18; Media Matters, 8/23/18; Twitter, 6/9/19]
Chamberlain pushed a likely hoax smearing protesters as pedophiles. In 2017, Chamberlain, a lawyer who co-runs the conservative site Human Events with Breitbart alum Raheem Kassam, pushed what clearly seemed to be a hoax that protesters of a Cernovich speech at Columbia University had supported pedophilia. [The Washington Post, 3/1/19; Media Matters, 10/31/17]
Chamberlain’s Human Events pushed a smear from a far-right troll linking journalists to antifascists.Human Events pushed a smear from far-right troll Eoin Lenihan that claimed certain reporters were “closely associated” with antifacist activists. Lenihan’s methodology was described by a social media researcher as extremely suspect, but Chamberlain defended Human Events for pushing the smear, saying “that it considered Quillette” — where Lenihan published a piece pushing his smear — “a ‘reputable outlet’ and would not independently fact-check work appearing on its site when commenting on it ‘in broad terms.’” [Columbia Journalism Review, 6/12/19]
Bozell’s Media Research Center promoted white nationalist pieces that claimed Black people are “a threat to all” they encounter. In 2015, MRC published a piece directing readers to an article on American Renaissance, a site headed by white nationalist Jared Taylor, that said Black people are “a threat to all who cross their paths.” In 2017, another article from the same contributing editor who penned the MRC piece linked to VDare, another white nationalist outlet, calling it a “center-right” outlet. [Media Matters, 7/11/18]
Bozell criticized social media platform bans on Infowars. After multiple social media platforms banned Alex Jones and his conspiracy theory outlet Infowars, Bozell released a statement saying, “I don’t support Alex Jones and what InfoWars produces,” but that the bans were “part of a disturbing trend” meant “to satisfy CNN and other liberal outlets.” [Media Matters, 8/6/18]
Bozell called far-right actor and conspiracy theorist James Woods “one of the top conservatives” on Twitter. When Twitter briefly suspended actor James Woods — who regularly pushes conspiracy theories and narratives from the far-right — for pushing a 4chan meme that falsely claimed Democrats were urging men not to vote in the midterm elections, Bozell tweeted that he was “one of the top conservatives” on Twitter. [Media Matters, 3/19/19]
Bozell: It would be “fun” to start banning reporters from covering the White House. Bozell said on the May 9, 2018, edition of Fox Business’ Varney & Company that it would be “a whole lot of fun, if [President Donald Trump] were to follow through on that tweet and start banning these people from covering the White House because they have no vested interest in objectivity.” [Fox Business, Varney & Co., 5/9/18; Twitter, 5/9/18]
Bozell likened President Barack Obama to “a skinny, ghetto crackhead.” On Fox News’ Hannity, Bozell said, “How long do you think Sean Hannity’s show would last if four times in one sentence, he made a comment about, say, the President of the United States, and said that he looked like a skinny, ghetto crackhead? Which, by the way, you might want to say that Barack Obama does.” [Fox News, Hannity, 12/22/11, via Media Matters]
Bozell said rapper Common’s invite to the White House is another example of the “Obamas surrounding themselves with … anti-American, American hating people.” When First Lady Michelle Obama invited the rapper Common to the White House for a poetry event, Bozell responded by accusing the Obamas of “surrounding themselves with … anti-American, American hating people.” [Fox News, Hannity, 5/12/11, via Media Matters]
Bozell claimed “the gay agenda endorses the right of gays to marry and teach children, and that’s in utter opposition to mainstream America.” The Hartford Courant quoted Bozell as saying that “the gay agenda endorses the right of gays to marry and teach children, and that’s in utter opposition to mainstream America.” [Hartford Courant, 9/14/92]
Bozell described an episode of Ellen which featured Ellen DeGeneres coming out of the closet as “thrusting garbage down the throats of children.” After ABC aired an episode of Ellen which featured Ellen DeGeneres coming out of the closet, Bozell said of the show: “There’s this sense almost of horror … there are some elements in Hollywood who are bent, come hell or high water, on thrusting garbage down the throats of children.” [Associated Press, April 1997, via Media Matters]
Bozell complained Glee‘s Chris Colfer, Hollywood are “Evangelists for … sexual immorality.” In a CNSNews.com column, Bozell complained that Entertainment Weekly, Glee‘s Chris Colfer, the Hollywood Foreign Press awards (Colfer won a Golden Globe for playing a bullied gay teen on Glee), and the entertainment industry in general are “evangelists for a revolution of sexual immorality.” [CNSNews.com, 1/28/11, via Media Matters]
Bozell said of Whoopi Goldberg: “[D]og muzzles, for people’s mouths, sometimes are a very good thing.” As a guest on CNN’s now-defunct Crossfire, Bozell said, “[W]hen I think of the people like Whoopi Goldberg and the kind of things they say, I’m reminded that muzzles, dog muzzles, for people’s mouths, sometimes are a very good thing.” [CNN, Crossfire, 8/5/04, via Media Matters]
Bozell blamed Hollywood for “eroding America’s moral character on ‘gay marriage,’ ” and selling a “radical devolution in moral standards.” In a NewsBusters.org column, Bozell wrote that “Hollywood has played a part in eroding America’s moral character on ‘gay marriage.’ ” He added: “It’s about time somebody admitted that Hollywood isn’t just persuading people into buying Wrigley’s Gum or McDonald’s burgers. In between the commercials, they’re selling a radical devolution in moral standards.” [NewsBusters.org, 5/12/12]
Heritage advocates against LGBTQ equality and uses dehumanizing rhetoric about trans people.Heritage has railed against LGBTQ equality for decades, including opposing marriage equality, gay Boy Scout leaders, and inclusive nondiscrimination protections. In 2019 alone, it has hosted at least five panels targeted at the transgender community, including opposing nondiscrimination measures to protect trans people, spreading misinformation about affirming medical care for trans youth, fearmongering about trans athletes, and opposing trans inclusive language in international policy. Panelists and Heritage staff repeatedly misgendered trans folks, a behavior considered harassment that stigmatizes trans folks and invalidates their identities. These panels are also livestreamed and posted on YouTube by the Heritage Foundation. Heritage staff have also expressed support for the harmful and discredited practice of conversion therapy and compared being transgender to having an eating disorder. Heritage senior fellow Ryan T. Anderson wrote an entire book attacking trans people that misgendered trans people throughout its text and also deadnamed Caitlyn Jenner, referring to her by her former name. [Heritage Foundation, 8/3/15, 8/3/00, 3/25/19; Media Matters, 4/18/19; The Daily Signal, 7/2/19; ThinkProgress, 1/25/18]
A co-author of a Heritage study claimed Hispanic immigrants have lower IQs than whites. Jason Richwine, the co-author of a 2013 Heritage Foundation study criticizing an immigration reform bill then under consideration in the Senate, had written in 2009 “that Hispanic immigrants generally had an I.Q. that was ‘substantially lower than that of the white native population’ — and that the lower intelligence of immigrants should be considered when drafting immigration policy,” according to The New York Times. [The New York Times, 5/8/13]
A Heritage panel on the Benghazi attacks mocked a Muslim student. A 2014 Heritage Foundation panel about the September 2012 attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya, mocked a Muslim law student who pointed out that not all Muslims supported terrorism. Panelist Brigitte Gabriel questioned whether the student was “an American.” Gabriel is a major anti-Islam leader who has said that “a practicing Muslim … cannot be a loyal citizen to the United States.” [Media Matters, 6/17/14, 5/31/19]
A Heritage associate director claimed universities have become “laboratories with madrassas attached to them.” During the June 17 edition of Salem Radio Networks’ America First with Sebastian Gorka, Arthur Milikh, associate director of Heritage’s B. Kenneth Simon Center for Principles and Politics, claimed that U.S. universities had become “laboratories with madrassas attached to them.” [Salem Radio Networks, America First with Sebastian Gorka, 6/17/19]
Fournier is a pro-Trump social media influencer with ties to extremists and the Trump campaign.Fournier is the founder of Students for Trump, a grassroots group and self-identified “social media phenomenon,” which organizes high school and college students in support of Trump, primarily on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. In July, Turning Point USA acquired Students for Trump, keeping Fournier on its board as co-chairman. [Students for Trump, accessed 7/9/19]
As national chairman of Students for Trump, Fournier brought on white nationalist James Allsup as director of the group’s Campus Ambassador Program. Allsup, an alt-right YouTuber and member of the white nationalist group American Identity Movement (formerly known as Identity Evropa), was on Student for Trump’s leadership team in 2016. He resigned as president of his college Republican chapter after footage surfaced of him marching at the white supremacist Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville. [Students for Trump, 10/9/16; Mother Jones, 6/18/18; Southern Poverty Law Center, 3/12/19]
Fournier has also claimed to have connections with the Trump campaign. Fournier and the former vice chairman of Students for Trump (who was recently arrested on charges of wire fraud) met with Trump campaign officials in 2016. According to an open letter published by Students for Trump, Trump and campaign officials “expressed how proud they were of our efforts and members getting involved in the campaign.” But the director of communications for Trump’s reelection campaign disputes the campaign’s relationship with Students for Trump and claims to have sent cease and desist letters to Fournier. [Politico, 5/9/19]
In addition to his connections with white nationalist personalities, Fournier has promoted false and anti-immigrant content on Twitter. In 2018, Fournier falsely claimed that California was registering noncitizens to vote. Fournier also promoted Brian Kolfage’s scam GoFundMe campaign to raise funds to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. [Twitter, 7/25/18; FactCheck.org, 9/14/18; Media Matters, 12/20/18; The Washington Post, 5/11/19]
Ali Akbar (Alexander)
Akbar pushed a racist smear that Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) was not Black. In June, Akbar, a Republican political operative who co-launched the site Culttture with other far-right figures, tweeted a racist smear that Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris is “*not* an American Black” and “is half Indian and half Jamaican.” The same language was later tweeted by a network of bot accounts and Donald Trump Jr. pushed the tweet. Smears questioning Harris’ background had been circulating online for months and were popularized by an Obama birther and neo-Nazis. [Observer, 10/30/18; The Daily Dot, 1/22/19; BuzzFeed News, 6/28/19]
Akbar co-hosted a Periscope session with a Charlottesville rally participant where a Nazi flag was waved around. In 2017, Akbar co-hosted a Periscope session with Matt Colligan, who goes by “Millennial Matt” online and was a participant in the “Unite the Right” white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, VA. During the Periscope stream, Colligan waved a swastika flag in front of the camera, saying, “Adolf Hitler, he was a great man,” and referring to white nationalist Richard Spencer as “a good guy.” [Media Matters, 10/19/17]
Akbar was briefly suspended from Twitter after he tweeted about an upcoming “civil war in America” and called for people to buy guns and ammo. [Media Matters, 1/9/19]
Akbar co-created a film with far-right trolls smearing Ilhan Omar, during which they filed a false police report. Akbar co-created a film with far-right trolls Wohl and Laura Loomer suggesting Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) was a threat to the country. During the film, the trio went to a Minneapolis police station to report supposedly threatening messages they received on Twitter. The film, according to Right Wing Watch, “shows a threat that was sent by an account using the name ‘Drake Holmes’ that NBC News’ Ben Collins reported to be controlled by Wohl.” [Right Wing Watch, 3/13/19]
O’Keefe has repeatedly pushed doctored and misleading “undercover” videos. O’Keefe has repeatedly made “undercover sting” videos that are false and misleading. He has hired a woman to pretend to be an accuser of then-Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore, made deceptive videos targeting the community organizing group ACORN (for which he was forced to pay $100,000 and publicly apologize as part of a court settlement), put out a video claiming that a voter was dead (he was later found to be very much alive) and that non-citizens were voting (they were actually citizens), and selectively edited a video of census workers to falsely suggest supervisors were encouraging employees to falsify information on their time sheets. Multiple purported exposes done by O’Keefe of targets like CNN and the Russia narrative were complete duds. [Media Matters, 6/27/17, 11/28/17, 1/12/18]
O’Keefe attempted to lure CNN reporter Abbie Boudreau onto a boat he called his “pleasure palace,” where he would secretly record his attempts to “hit on her” with props including a “condom jar,” Viagra, pornography, a ceiling mirror, and “fuzzy handcuffs.” Boudreau reported that a document she obtained explained the motivation: “The joke is that the tables have turned on CNN. Using hot blondes to seduce interviewees to get screwed on television, you are faux seducing her in order to screw her on television.” [CNN, 9/29/10; Media Matters, 9/29/10]
O’Keefe pled guilty to a misdemeanor in a scheme where he entered Sen. Mary Landrieu’s [D-LA] office under false pretenses. [New York Times, 5/26/10]
O’Keefe stung himself, detailing his plans to infiltrate a progressive philanthropist’s organization on its own voicemail. O’Keefe accidentally detailed his plans to infiltrate and smear progressive organizations on the voicemail of Dana Geraghty, an employee of liberal philanthropist George Soros’ Open Society Foundations. [Media Matters, 5/20/16]
O’Keefe criticized social media platforms for banning Infowars and has been boosted by Infowars. After social media platforms banned Infowars and Alex Jones, O’Keefe tweeted, “Infowars targeted, taken off social media. These tech companies’ practices are opaque and given their power must be made more transparent. We will expose the entire rotten tech machine.” O’Keefe has also been an Infowars guest multiple times, appearing, for instance, with Roger Stone in 2016 to push claims that the 2016 election would be rigged against Trump. A week prior to that Jones made an on-air fundraising pitch for O’Keefe while hosting him, calling him “an example … to everybody else on how you can go out and take on these criminals.” [Media Matters, 8/6/18; Genesis Communications Networks, The Alex Jones Show, 10/20/16, 10/27/16]
O’Keefe attended events featuring multiple far-right figures. In 2017, O’Keefe attended the “Real News Correspondents Gala” in Washington, D.C., which was sponsored by far-right blog The Gateway Pundit and which was attended by Cernovich and Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes. During the event, Gateway Pundit founder Jim Hoft gave O’Keefe an award, and in an acceptance speech O’Keefe said, “Not only do they not do the journalism, but they’re too afraid. … We really are the only ones left to actually do the job.” In 2018, O’Keffe made a video appearance at a panel also put together by Hoft complaining about social media that included anti-Muslim figure Pamela Geller. [Media Matters, 5/5/17, 2/9/18]
The Donald J. Trump Foundation previously gave a $10,000 donation to O’Keefe’s Project Veritas in May 2015. [Media Matters, 10/20/16; ThinkProgress, 10/20/16]
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL)
Gaetz falsely suggested Soros was funding a migrant caravan. Last October, Gaetz tweeted a video and wrote, “Footage in Honduras giving cash 2 women & children 2 join the caravan & storm the US border @ election time. Soros? US-backed NGOs? Time to investigate the source!” The video was actually was from Guatemala, and there is no evidence that Soros was involved. [The New York Times, 10/20/18]
Gaetz was an Infowars guest and has been praised by Infowars hosts. In 2018, Gaetz appeared on Infowars and host Alex Jones called him “one of the strongest, most focused, eloquent, on target voices” defending Trump. Another Infowars host, Owen Shroyer, the following month said that he thought Gaetz and Fox host Tucker Carlson “agree with the things we say and they probably like us.” [Genesis Communications Network, The Alex Jones Show, 1/29/18, 2/13/18]
Gaetz invited a far-right Holocaust denier to the State of the Union address. Gaetz invited Chuck Johnson, a far-right troll and Holocaust denier, to Trump’s 2018 State of the Union address, and later falsely told a Fox host that Johnson is “not a holocaust denier, he’s not a white supremacist.” [Mediaite, 2/1/18]
Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN)
In 2017, Blackburn claimed Twitter was censoring her campaign ad that included the phrase “baby body parts.” In October 2017, Blackburn claimed that Twitter was censoring a video announcing her run for Senate (which she eventually won). In the video, Blackburn alleged that she “fought Planned Parenthood, and we stopped the sale of baby body parts” in reference to her time as chair of the House Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives — which was convened following the release of deceptive videos about Planned Parenthood by a discredited anti-abortion group. Twitter initially refused to let Blackburn’s campaign pay to promote the video because the platform claimed it violated “inflammatory” content rules (though it was still allowed to remain on Blackburn’s Twitter account). Twitter backtracked the next day and allowed the ad to run as promoted content. In 2019, Blackburn referred to this incident during a Senate hearing on social media censorship and received an apology from Twitter’s representative at the hearing. [Media Matters, 10/12/17, 4/11/19; Vox, 10/30/18]
A study found that Pool was at the near center of network of far-right YouTube accounts. A study published last September from Data & Society’ Rebecca Lewis about what she called the “Alternative Influence Network” — a group of YouTubers that push far-right content and appear in each others’ videos — put Pool at nearly the direct center of this network.
Pool has done videos and otherwise interacted with multiple white nationalists and far-right figures.Pool has done multiple YouTube videos with white nationalist figures such as Brittany Pettibone, who has worked with other far-right figures to prevent refugees from reaching Europe and was banned from the U.K. with her fiance, Martin Sellner, a leader of the white nationalist Austrian Identitarian movement.Pool has also appeared with Lauren Southern, who amplified the white supremacist conspiracy theory of a white genocide occuring in South Africa. Pool has also socialized with James Allsup and Tim Gionet (also known as Baked Alaska), who often tweeted neo-Nazi imagery and Hitler apologism. Pool has also been a guest on Infowars, and in 2017 he offered to help Infowars’ Paul Joseph Watson investigate an area of Sweden that Watson called “crime ridden migrant suburbs.” [Twitter, 3/5/19, 3/27/19, 5/7/19; Media Matters, 11/20/17, 3/28/19, 4/8/19; Mashable, 2/21/17]
Pool pushed a smear from a far-right troll linking journalists to anti-fascists. Soon after far-right troll Eoin Lenihan pushed a smear that certain reporters were “closely associated” with anti-facist activists, Pool amplified the smear in a YouTube video titled “Verified Journalists Exposed Working With Antifa And Far Left Activists.” [Columbia Journalism Review, 6/12/19; YouTube, 5/17/19]
Pool pushed a flimsy rumor that anti-fascist protesters threw cement milkshakes. Pool pushed an extremely dubious claim fueled by far-right “Pizzagate” conspiracy theorist Jack Posobiec that anti-facist protesters in Portland, OR, threw milkshakes containing cement at right-wing protesters. There has been no actual evidence for the claim. [Twitter, 7/1/19; Media Matters, 7/1/19]
Johnson is a serial plagiarist. Johnson, who joined Turning Point USA in February, was fired from Buzzfeed News in 2014 “for repeatedly copying others’ work.” He was reportedly later caught plagiarizing again while working at Independent Journal Review. [The Daily Beast, 2/6/19]
Johnson was suspended from IJR for pushing far-right conspiracy theory about Obama and Trump’s Muslim ban. In 2017, Johnson was suspended as chief content officer of Independent Journal Review after pushing a far-right conspiracy theory that former President Barack Obama’s then-recent visit to Hawaii influenced a federal judge’s ruling that froze Trump’s revised Muslim ban. [Media Matters, 3/22/17]
Johnson hinted at far-right conspiracy theory that Obamas were involved with Jussie Smollett’s incident and its aftermath. After charges were dropped against actor Jussie Smollett for what police say was a staged attack, Johnson posted a meme on Instagram of the Obamas with Smollett and the words “there is more to this story.” Johnson also wrote on Instagram about the Obamas’ past connections with Smollett and claimed that “there is a deeper story here.” Before Johnson’s post, far-right figures, social media accounts, and message boards had suggested that the Obamas were directly involved in the staged attack. [Media Matters, 3/29/19]
Johnson kicked off a TPUSA event by saying, “Oh my God, I’ve never seen so many white people in one room. This is incredible!” [Twitter, 3/30/19]
Johnson suggested Kanye West was born into poverty because he was Black. After rapper Kanye West expressed support for Trump, Johnson defended him by writing in a since-deleted tweet, “A black man, born impoverished & into a broken home, works his way into a multimillionaire global pop star, fashion guru & cultural icon. He dares think different politically.” West actually grew up in a middle-class family. [Splinter News, 10/12/18]
The Gateway Pundit
Gateway Pundit has repeatedly pushed misinformation, and one of the victims of its false stories sued the site. The site has regularly pushed false stories and inaccurate information, such as a parody article (presented as if it were real) about former President Barack Obama’s birth certificate (which it called a “forgery” in another piece), a piece claiming Obama was “photoshopped into famous Situation Room photo” during the Osama bin Laden raid, and an article suggesting Hillary Clinton had a “a seizure on camera.” It has also repeatedly accused the wrong people of mass shootings and attacks, including after a white nationalist drove a car into a crowd of counterprotesters during the white supremacist Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville. The wrongly blamed person in turn sued Gateway Pundit, along with other far-right outlets, that had misidentified him. [Media Matters, 1/25/17; The Daily Beast, 3/13/18]
Gateway Pundit published an Internet Research Agency tweet later directly cited in one of Robert Mueller’s indictments. In 2016, the site embedded a tweet from Twitter account @TEN_GOP in a piece to allege that voting fraud was occurring in Florida. @TEN_GOP was later revealed to be one of the Twitter accounts run by Russia’s Internet Research Agency (IRA) to interfere with the 2016 presidential election, and special counsel Robert Mueller’s indictment against the IRA specifically cited that @TEN_GOP tweet. [Media Matters, 2/16/18]
Gateway Pundit defended the QAnon conspiracy theory. Last August, the site published a blog criticizing media outlets that tried to “mischaracterize and discredit” the QAnon conspiracy theory and questioning whether “QAnon’s central theme” is “truly farfetched.” [The Gateway Pundit, 8/12/18]
Gateway Pundit relied on a QAnon account to push a false smear against E. Jean Carroll. After author and advice columnist E. Jean Carroll reported that Trump sexually assaulted her in the 1990s, the site cited a QAnon Twitter account to push a smear that Carroll took her allegation from a Law & Order: SVU episode. A person “with knowledge of how the ‘Law & Order: SVU’ episode came together” told CNN that there was “no correlation — none whatsoever” between Carroll’s account and the episode. [Media Matters, 6/26/19; CNN, 6/27/19]
Gateway Pundit pushed an 8chan hoax that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was in a medically induced coma. In January, while pushing a QAnon-popularized conspiracy theory about Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s whereabouts and health, the site embedded a tweet with an image of a post from voat, a Reddit clone popular with alt-right trolls, that in turn pushed a hoax from 8chan that Ginsburg was in a medically induced coma. [The Daily Beast, 1/31/19; Twitter, 1/29/19]
Gateway Pundit pushed forged documents uploaded to 4chan to smear Emmanuel Macron. In 2017, the site pushed forged documents uploaded to 4chan alleging that then-French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron was evading taxes. [Media Matters, 5/5/17]
Gateway Pundit pushed the Seth Rich conspiracy theory. The site played a major role pushing the Seth Rich conspiracy theory, using the theory to falsely claim Russia did not hack the Democratic National Committee in 2016 and suggesting Hillary Clinton was involved in his death. [BuzzFeed News, 5/22/17]
Gateway Pundit pushed a Twitter hoax smearing Roy Moore accusers. In 2017, the site pushed a tweet from an anonymous Twitter account claiming The Washington Post offered money to one of the women who reported sexual misconduct by then-Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore. The person behind the account was, according to The Daily Beast, “a serial fabulist who has been using the identity of a Navy serviceman who died in 2007” and who “repeatedly invented stories in the past.” [The Daily Beast, 11/14/17]
Gateway Pundit pushed a hoax smearing Pete Buttigieg. The site helped spread the hoax from Wohl and Burkman targeting Pete Buttigieg. [Media Matters, 4/30/19]
Gateway Pundit held a gala for multiple far-right figures. In 2017, the site held a “Real News Correspondents Gala” in Washington, D.C., which included Cernovich and McInnes as attendees. [Media Matters, 5/5/17]
Minds.com is filled with white nationalist content. Social media platform Minds.com features content that has included Holocaust denial, celebration of swastikas, racist memes, anti-Semitism, and misogyny. Google has barred the platform from using its AdSense advertising service to monetize content. [Media Matters, 2/22/18]
Neo-Nazi groups used Minds.com for recruitment. Vice reported that “miliant neo-Nazi groups connected to Atomwaffen Division—a violent American hate group connected to several murders—was using Minds as a platform for recruiting and spreading propaganda.” [Vice, 7/10/19]
Villa has pushed the QAnon conspiracy theory. Joy Villa, a singer who says she is a delegate for the California Republican Party and a former member of Trump’s campaign advisory board, wore “Q” earrings at the Conservative Political Action Conference in February. She has also tweeted about the conspiracy theory. [Twitter, 1/7/18, 2/19/19, 3/1/19; The Daily Beast, 7/11/19]
Rose, founder of the anti-abortion group Live Action, fundraised off inaccurate allegations that social media platforms are censoring her organization. In 2017, Rose appeared on the June 26 edition of Fox’s Tucker Carlson Tonight and claimed that Twitter was censoring Live Action’s ads. In reality, the content remained on the platform — Live Action simply wasn’t allowed to promote the ads because the group had violated several of Twitter’s content policies. During the same appearance, Rose also mentioned that Live Action had a $40,000 fundraising goal to meet within the week. By June 30, the organization had reached its fundraising goal and was asking supporters to continue donating in order to “guarantee” it could continue working “to expose the abortion industry” in spite of alleged censorship. More recently, Rose claimed Pinterest was censoring anti-abortion content when her group was banned from the platform. However, as Pinterest explained, the group was banned for promoting “misinformation related to conspiracies and anti-vaccination advice.” In spite of these continuing allegations of “censorship,” Live Action regularly dominates abortion-related news, at least on Facebook. [Media Matters, 7/6/17, 4/18/18, 4/11/19, 5/28/19, 6/5/19, BuzzFeed News, 6/11/19]