The record turnover rate of Donald Trump’s administration bled into the media outlets in its orbit, as outlets like CNN were quickly relegated in 2016 and the President’s favoured Breitbart and Infowars enjoyed brief spells in the White House and at the President’s ear.
The bear-esque Hungarian Sebastian Gorka – who proudly wears the Nazi Collaborationist Medal of Vitéz during TV interviews – and his former colleague Julia Hahn joined Trump’s new team from Breitbart News in 2016. Gorka’s short-lived political career terminated somewhat shamefully with a series of firearm offences, in both Hungary and the US, and the revelation that his PhD was invalid and quite possibly bought over the internet.
In the UK, Jacob Rees-Mogg welcomed to Parliament Candace Owens of Turning Point, who was directly implicated in the manifesto of the Christchurch shooter. Steve Bannon also stopped by on his global anti-globalist tour to praise the fascist and repeat violent offender Tommy Robinson alongside then-MEP Nigel Farage on LBC radio.
These assorted stragglers and grifters who managed some brief level of White House and Westminster access are of no concern, however, compared to how established and extremely popular conservative networks, newspapers and institutions have adopted identitarian talking points after Trump kicked open the door.
The Spectator magazine fully embraced the alt-right in 2016 as noble ‘vigilantes of conservativism’ who have bravely taken guard at the front lines of the culture war where ‘cuckservatives’ deserted them. The author of the piece titled ‘why the alt-right isn’t wrong’, James Delingpole, is a personal friend and biographer of David Cameron. He glazes over the inherent and defining antisemitism of the movement as simply ‘mischievous internet kids experimenting with irony’, wisely choosing to keep quiet two years later when these cheeky antics manifested in an unmistakably alt-right attack that took 11 Pennsylvanian Jewish lives.
In 2019, a UK google search for the term ‘cuckservative’ can now either lead you to the podcast The Daily Shoah – a holocaust pun on The Daily Show – or the Spectator, the UK’s largest right-wing current affairs magazine, established in 1828. It’s impossible to escape the conclusion that the two have somewhat merged ideologically.
Across the Atlantic, Fox News boldly embarked on an alt-right direction after Bill O’Reilly groped his way into an early retirement and was replaced in the primetime slot in 2017 by Tucker Carlson. He quickly established a style of race-baiting showmanship that emitted a reverberating racist dog whistle to wholesome American middle-class homes so effectively that Andrew Anglin of the Daily Stormer described Carlson as ‘literally our greatest ally’.
Giving a nod and his textbox shit-eating grin to the Unite the Right thugs in Charlottesville who famously screamed ‘Jews will not replace us’, on one Tuesday evening Carlson dedicated a whole segment to explaining how white Americans are ‘not replacing ourselves’ thanks to an ‘elite’ who are happy instead to ‘import new children’ from abroad. If that is cryptic enough to sound plausibly deniable, he burned any benefit of the doubt later in the segment by summarising a nuanced immigration debate as ‘like, shut up, you’re dying, we’re gonna replace you’.
It’s not just the ‘new right’ nationalist rat pack who have thrusted the Overton window so far to the right that the Instagram ethno-chic queen Tomi Lahren got away with admitting that seeing tear-gassed migrants on the border was the ‘highlight’ of her Thanksgiving weekend. Older and more traditionally conservative pundits have also dipped their toes in the water.
In December 2018 the Republican Party titan Laura Ingraham floated to her Fox News audience that protestors against the Deep South’s confederate monuments possess ‘the destructive mindset of, let’s say, ISIS’. It would be a standard (if laughable) Fox News soundbite had it not occurred on exactly the same day that the prosecution of the Charlottesville terrorist played a recording of the culprit accusing the antifascist protestors who were mown down by his car of ‘waving the ISIS flag’.
A month earlier Erick Erickson, the CEO of the vastly influential conservative blog RedState and a former CNN and Fox contributor, signalled that he had also plunged the depths of 4Chan and liked what he saw by repeating their ‘helicopter ride’ meme on Twitter. It’s a reference to the preferred execution style of Augusto Pinochet, an alt-right hero and a rare example of a far-right dictator whom you can openly praise without showing your colours too much – a gateway to dabbling in Mussolini and the harder European stuff.
From print media to cable television, the alt-right are nibbling at the commercial hegemon of conservative media from the corners and enjoying some success, if not just mere amusement. Unlike broke and scattered leftist media which famously can’t sell toffee, the right-wing press is a billion-dollar industry that hypnotises hundreds of millions of eyes. If hard-right nationalists are able to get themselves a slice of the pie it would be more than just a leg up for a community that have thrived on Japanese imageboards until now: it could promulgate a nationalist phenomenon with serious political power, beyond the most far-fetched dreams of its founders who largely remain living at their mother’s houses.
We are sitting back and allowing bowtied cable news hosts to baptise our grandmothers into the fascism that our grandfathers fought.