Breitbart News is covering up its recent promotion of an openly white nationalist and anti-Semitic congressional candidate, Paul Nehlen. Meanwhile, Joel Pollak, the site’s senior editor-a-large and frequent spokesman, is falsely claiming the site hasn’t covered him in “months.”
In reality, Nehlen’s public association with white nationalists dates back more than a year and was contemporaneous with Beitbart’s relentless promotion of his primary challenge to House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI).
On December 18, just 10 days ago, Nehlen was a guest on a Breitbart radio show, Whatever It Takes with Curt Schilling. The interview was posted to Breitbart’s account on SoundCloud but quietly removed in the last few days.
In a clip of the Breitbart interview posted by Right Wing Watch, Nehlen explains that he has adopted increasingly radical positions to “move the Overton Window” to the right. Schilling, the Breitbart host, repeatedly voices agreement with the strategy.
The interview occurred weeks after Nehlen began regularly using the phrase “It’s OK to be white,” which has been adopted as a motto of white supremacists, including former KKK grand wizard David Duke.
Nehlen’s embrace of the white nationalist movement began much earlier. For at least six months, he has promoted his candidacy on Gab, a social media network that caters to white nationalists. Its app was was banned by Google and Apple for hate speech. In a video published five months ago, Nehlen can be seen displaying a hand gesture popular with white nationalists. On his hand, he has written “Gab Fam.”
Four months ago, Nehlen reposted a message from Gab blasting Paul Ryan for criticizing the white supremacist march in Charlottesville that left a counter-protester dead.
On Twitter, at about the same time, Nehlen retweeted celebrations of the Charlottesville rally by its white supremacist organizers, including one calling it an “incredible moment for white people.”
All of this got plenty of attention at the time, but didn’t stop Breitbart’s laudatory coverage of Nehlen’s campaign. An October 26, 2017 article about Nehlen criticizing Ryan’s position on DACA is virtually indistinguishable from a press release. A June article about Nehlen’s bid against Ryan in 2018 was bullish on his chances, even though he lost by more than 60 points in 2016. His early announcement “will give Nehlen an ability to build his name ID in the district, fundraise, and gain steam against the Speaker of the House,” Breitbart’s Matthew Boyle wrote.
The recent coverage is typical of Breitbart’s coverage over the last several years, much of which has been written by Boyle.
Nehlen was also an occasional opinion columnist at Breitbart until Breitbart disappeared his contributor page earlier this week. A cache of Nehlen’s page is here.
Pollak, appearing on the Jamie Weinstein podcast on December 21, was asked why Breitbart was supporting Nehlen, who Weinstein described as a “kook” and someone who is “certainly not denying he’s a white nationalist.” Weinstein also noted that Nehlen, earlier in December, had appeared on a white supremacist podcast called “‘Fash The Nation’ where they routinely ask about the Jewish question, the JQ as they call it.”
Pollak pleaded ignorance, saying that he had only seen something in his Twitter mentions about Nehlen’s “Fash the Nation” appearance and would look into it. “I probably shouldn’t talk about it because I just don’t know. But if he did that, it’s awful,” Pollak said.
But this wasn’t Nehlen’s first appearance on “Fash the Nation” — he also appeared on the program in December 2016.
Pressed on why Breitbart continued to support Nehlen when he has “basically has come out as a white nationalist,” Pollak did not criticize Nehlen but said he “didn’t know” if Breitbart was supporting him “at the present moment.”
As Nehlen’s behavior has grown even more outrageous in recent days, he tweeted that he was reading an anti-Semitic text and reposted messages on Gab from the notorious white supremacist famously featured in the Vice documentary, Breitbart’s response has been extremely muted.
Instead, Boyle penned a rambling piece attacking CNN’s Jake Tapper for calling Nehlen a “Breitbart favorite,” a statement that accurate describes Nehlen’s relationship with Breitbart over the past several years. In the piece, Boyle acknowledges that Nehlen has made a “series of anti-Semitic and pro-white supremacist comments.” But Boyle claims that Nehlen’s embrace of white supremacy is very recent and that Breitbart cut off ties “weeks” ago.
Neither of those statements are true. As the Schilling interview indicates, Breitbart was still actively promoting Nehlen as recently as 10 days ago, while his open embrace of white nationalism stretches back more than a year.
Breitbart, it seems, realizes this is a problem and is covering its tracks.
UPDATE (12/28, 10:04PM): ThinkProgress obtained the audio from Breitbart’s December 18 interview with Nehlen. The host, Curt Schilling, agreed with Nahlen on a range of issues including the depravity of Paul Ryan, the fact that the allegations against Roy Moore were totally fabricated and absurdity of a society “that believes the women over the man.”
Schilling also endorsed and promoted Nehlen’s campaign:
“You can go to his website electnehlen.com. Follow him on Twitter at pnehlen. He is the one and only Paul Nehlen.”
“You are very much a constitutionalist which is one the reasons why I’m a fan.”
“I want you to tell people how they can help you out.”
“Hey buddy. God bless you. Look forward to having you back.”